The Maldives is in the Indian Ocean, a 10-14hr flight from the UK, around 370 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. It is made up of 1200 islands, stretching over 500 miles from north to south. The main arrival airport for all flights to the Maldives is Male's airport island (MLE).
The Maldives is famous for its great snorkelling, manta cleaning stations, whalesharks, shark dives and fast drift dives through channels. The water remains a constant 27-28 C year round.
Covid Travel Information
On the 15th of July 2020 Maldives reopened it's borders for international travel.
For British nationals The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises against all but essential international travel to the Maldives at the moment. We expect this to change soon.
Many other countries already consider it safe for their nationals to visit the Maldives.
Effective from 10 September, all tourists and short term visitors must present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 on arrival to Maldives. The test and negative PCR certificate must be issued no more than 72 hours prior to departure.
All travellers travelling to and from Maldives are required to submit a self-declarative health declaration within 24 hours prior to their travel.
Traveller Health Declaration has to be filled and submitted via the online portal of Maldives Immigration, "Imuga", imuga.immigration.gov.mv.
All tourists will undergo non-intrusive temperature checks and screening on arrival to the Maldives.
All tourists are required to wear face masks and respect social distancing practices at the airport the airport, during domestic travel and in all enclosed public spaces.
Tourists are not allowed to travel to visit other islands than their resort. Liveaboards will not offer visits to local islands.
Most resorts have their own additional routines for keeping their guests safe.
If you're returning to the UK, you will need to:
provide your journey and contact details
self-isolate for 14 days
Weather and Climate
Whilst there are 2 monsoon seasons (Nov-Apr & May-Oct), the diving remains excellent year round. Diving operators will changes their dive sites in each season to find the best hot spots for the big fish! Traditionally, our summer months tend to be windier with a higher chance of rain, whilst the winter months are flatter. However, the seasons are much less predictable in reality and its a fabulous place to dive whatever time of year!
Our holidays to the Maldives can be quoted with most major airlines. If you would like to depart from a regional UK airport (eg. Glasgow/Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham or Gatwick) or have a specific airline you prefer to fly with, simply let us know in your booking request. Times and any applicable supplements will be confirmed by your travel consultant before you finalise your holiday. We are unfortunately not able to redeem airmiles on your behalf.
If you make your own flight arrangements to Male, please check the transfer arrangements before confirming your flights. Please do not finalise any flight arrangements yourself before your liveaboard space is confirmed as being held.
As most flights are not direct, it is simple to add a stop over en route - simply ask your travel consultant for a quote.
Sri Lanka is our most popular, up coming destination - with beautiful beaches, it's a great alternative to staying in the Maldives resorts. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, why not head into the jungle for look for elephants and leopards. Or if you are a culture vulture, we highly recommend a Kandy city tour. The choice is yours!
As we are able to book most major airlines to the Maldives, you can also add a stop to break up your flight. Popular locations include Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi.
Arrange before you go
UK passport holders are able to obtain a free 30 day visa on arrival. Do ensure your passport has 6 months validity from your return date to prevent any issues with immigration. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid and you fulfil entry requirements. Regulations can change: please review current FCO advice: click here . If transiting via Sri Lanka you must have a visa prior to travel click here
Scuba Travel requires all of our customers to have diving insurance. Please make sure that you have appropriate cover for your diving activities.
We also strongly recommend you have travel insurance. It's worth taking out travel insurance once you have paid your deposit to ensure you are covered for unforeseen events and cancellation.
Find out more about our combined dive and travel policy click here
Please speak to your local GP or check out the latest NHS advice on travel immunisations: click here
Preparing to fly
You will be able to manage your booking online once you have been ticketed (after you have paid your holiday balance). Most airlines will now enable you to select your seating at this point. There may be a small charge for prebookable seating before online check in opens. Please speak to the airline for more information about charges.
As you are flying with a scheduled airline, you will be able to check in online with your airline. Please visit their website for more information about when online check in opens.
An airport lounge is a great way to start your holiday or to while away flight connections in comfort. Scuba Travel works with Lounge Pass to offer a huge range of affordable airport lounges around the world.
Prebook your airport parking to save money! If you have a long way to travel, why not also look at booking an airport hotel. These aren't as expensive as you might think.
What happens when I arrive?
On arrival in the Maldives, you will need to clear immigration and collect your baggage. You will then be met outside of arrivals by a representative from your liveaboard or resort. They will be holding a board with either your destination or your name on it.
If you have any issues at all locating your rep, please turn left from arrivals and go to the information desk at Male airport. We have an emergency contact, manned by a member of the team here in the UK. Please call 0044 7747 488 002. We will be able to help your rep locate you in the airport.
If your holiday begins in Male you will be met and taken to your boat. The transfer takes around 20mins.
Many of our Maldives holidays will include either a domestic flight or seaplane transfer. It takes approx 45mins -1 hour to clear immigration and collect your baggage at Male airport. We endeavour to keep the transit between flights as short as possible and your transfer will normally take place within 3 hours of your international arrival, but please be aware, you may have to wait at the airport between flights.
The domestic terminal is right next door to arrivals. This has AC, bathrooms and a small cafe. You will usually be met by a rep, who will assist you in moving between the terminals. The baggage allowance on domestic flights is typically 20kgs hold and 5kgs hand baggage. Excess baggage is charged locally $2-$5/kg.
The seaplane check in desk is to your right on exiting the arrivals hall. You will check your bag in here and then be transferred to the seaplane terminal by bus. This has AC, bathrooms, a small cafe and shop. The seaplanes run regularly throughout the day and due to the way the scheduling is organised, the exact time of your seaplane cannot be confirmed prior to arrival in Male. Seaplanes do not run in the dark - the fist seaplane is around 06:00 Male time and ends around 16:00 Male time. The baggage allowance on seaplane flights is typically 20kgs hold and 5kgs hand baggage. Excess baggage is charged locally $2-$5/kg.
You will be taken back to Male airport in time for your international flight. Domestic flights and seaplanes will arrive in time for you to make your connections. Typically you will arrive at the airport 1 1/2- 2 hours before your flight time.
There is currently no departure tax when leaving the Maldives.
Tipping is entirely at your discretion. We do not make recommendations as to how much to tip. Should you wish to leave a tip for the guides and crew, it should reflect the level of service you have enjoyed.
The official currency of the Maldives is the rufiyya. However, we generally recommend you take USD as this is the preferred currency for most transactions. Orion will accept euro payments, Do ensure you have smaller denominations handy as larger notes can be difficult to use. Notes should be in good condition. Credit and debit cards can be used, but do be aware of currency conversions and card surcharges. There is a 12%GST (sales tax) applied to all local payments.
The Maldives has good mobile phone coverage throughout. You can purchase a local SIM card at the airport if you prefer. Orion offers free wifi (where there is phone coverage) but this can be slow. If you need internet, we recommend you make arrangements with your provider in the UK.
Plugs and electricity
Electricity is 240V - UK 3 pin plugs are commonplace, although some plugs may have 2pin European connections. Please do not leave batteries charging unattended in your cabins at any time.
We offer a very wide range of rental equipment onboard Virgo. The boat is rebreather friendly and have tanks, softnolime, oxygen upon request.
Orion can teach a wide range of courses on board. These must be prebooked and are paid for on board. Please speak to your travel consultant for current course prices and options
At the moment there are no boat specific souvenirs for sale onboard Virgo. More generic Maldivian souvenirs will be available to buy at the airport.
Free of charge for certified divers, subject to fill availability on board
Deposits and Balances
This holiday is a boat and Male airport transfer package only. Where needed, domestic flights are also included as part of your transfers. A typical deposit for Emperor Virgo is 35% of your total holiday cost. This will be due once your holiday has been confirmed. Your balance will then be due 90 days before travel. If you are adding international flights to your booking, an admin fee will also need to be paid to confirm your flight seat. Depending on your flight option and ticketing deadline, you may need to pay in full for your flight. Your travel consultant will outline the flight payment structure at the time of booking.
Ways to pay
We accept mastercard and visa debit or credit cards. Alternatively, you are welcome to pay via bank transfer. All non sterling card payments and UK business debit cards will be subject to the 2% surcharge. Overseas bank transfers must add £6 to the sterling total to cover international handling fees. We are not able to accept PayPal transactions.
If you have booked as part of a group, you can still call and pay directly without needing to go via your group leader. Please have your trip reference number to hand to help us locate your holiday as quickly as possible. You will receive a transaction receipt - your group leader will forward your ATOL certificate and booking confirmation
Are you one of Scuba Travel's repeat customers? Over 60% of our customers trust Scuba Travel to book their next diving holiday, time after time.
And we believe you deserve a huge thanks for your ongoing support over the years, which is what our repeater discount is all about! Travel with us again in either 12 months or 24 months and you will qualify for a discount. That's all you have to do. No forms, no numbers to remember, no fuss, just a good honest price reduction.
5% off for repeat customers travelling with Scuba Travel within 24 months
5% off plus £100 bonus for repeat customers travelling within 12 months
Plus if you have dived with Emperor Divers in the Red Sea or Maldives 5 times or more, then you can enjoy a complimentary bottle of wine per person, and an Emperor gift voucher to spend locally. If you'd like a free 15lt tank or cabin upgrade, just ask at the time of booking so we can check on availability.
Repeat discounts are not cumulative and cannot be applied to special offer prices
7 nights on board Virgo on a full board basis (3 meals daily plus in between dive snacks), drinking water, tea and coffee. Emperor Maldives includes 1 glass of wine with your evening meal.
You will have 3 dives/day except for the arrival and departure day, 12lt tanks, air fills, nitrox, weights and belts. This will typically include 1 or 2 night dives. Dives are guided.
The local green tax and marine park fees are prepaid. Where needed, domestic flights are also included as part of your transfers.
Airport transfers will be provided and run at fixed times between the boat and airport (visa versa). When required domestic flights are also included as part of your transfers.
You can elect to add international flights to your boat package. If you prefer to make your own flight arrangements, you must notify us of your flight arrangements at least 4 weeks prior to travel so we can make local arrangements as required. It is your responsibility to ensure your flights are booked correctly to match your land arrangements. If you are continuing your holiday in the Maldives at a resort, hotel or another liveaboard, your on-going transfers need to be arranged by you from the airport.
Additional kit hire and any on board souvenirs
12% GST is applied to all local purchases in the Maldives