Where is the Maldives and How Do You Get There?

Just about everyone you ask will admit to spending at least some time daydreaming about the balmy, palm-strewn island nation, but where exactly is it? The ‘where is Maldives’ answer may not be quite what you thought it was. Let us break it down for you, and the next time someone asks you, share the love and show them this guide – complete with a Maldives map.

Where is the Maldives located?

An island nation of Southern Asia, the Maldives is an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean. Each of the coral islands rises no more than 1.8 metres above sea level. Comprised of a chain of 26 coral atolls, the Maldives spans just less than 300 square kilometres and lies to the north of the equator, in both the northern and eastern hemispheres.

The Maldives

Which country owns the Maldives?

The Republic of Maldives is an independent island nation, although historically it hasn’t always been this way. Dating back to the fifth century, rule over the Maldives changed hands numerous times, from Portuguese possession to Dutch, British and sultanate ruling powers. Once sultanate rule was abolished, independence was claimed in the Maldives on 26 July 1965 and the day is still celebrated today.

Are the Maldives safe?

Part of the reason you are travelling to the Maldives is probably to enjoy some rest and relaxation, so rest assured you will be just fine, especially within the confines of a resort. As an Islamic country, only resorts are permitted to supply alcohol and dressing immodestly outside of your resort is not recommended. The crime rate is low, and your biggest concern may come down to taking care in the notoriously strong ocean currents.

Which airlines fly direct to the Maldives?

The term ‘direct flights’ shouldn’t be confused with ‘non-stop flights’. While non-stop flights will transport you from your departure airport to your destination airport without any stops, direct flights may include a short layover or technical stop, such as refuelling of the aircraft.

While non-stop flights from South Africa to the Maldives are currently unavailable, airlines operating between the countries will get you from Johannesburg to the Maldives Malé International Airport within roughly 13 hours and 45 minutes. The main airlines operating flights to the Maldives are Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines.

Where is the Maldives located

How do you get around the Maldives?

Once you reach the archipelago, you’ll most likely need to get from the airport to your island resort. You can charter a helicopter or seaplane and take advantage of the sightseeing opportunities, but keep in mind that luggage space may be limited due to the size of the aircraft. Unless included in your package, this mode of transfer could set you back a few hundred dollars.

A dhoni (or traditional Maldivian boat) ride is another popular mode of transport for nearby island resorts and is usually included in your package. You can also get around by speedboat, or catch a public or private ferry at a far reduced rate, although these are available less frequently.

Where is the best place to stay in the Maldives?

The Maldives map is basically categorized into the northern, central and southern atolls, each with a unique set of attributes and charm. Where is the Maldives best atoll? That depends on what you are looking for.

Northern Atolls

Comprised of the North and South Malé Atolls, the Northern Atolls are dotted with white sand islands, world-renowned Maldives surf spots and enjoy favourable weather conditions virtually year-round. This region of the Maldives is somewhat less developed, making it the perfect place to experience Maldivian life at its roots.

Where to stay: Make the most of the swell and stay near the famed ‘Chickens’ surf spot at the 4-star Adaaran Prestige Ocean Villas in Lhohifushi or retreat to the northern shores of Hanimaadhoo and restore mind and body at The Barefoot Eco Hotel.

North Male Atoll Maldives

Image courtesy of @sareejourdain via Instagram

Central Atolls

Less frequented than its counterparts in the north and south, the Central Atolls are a surfer and beach lovers paradise. Pristine islands offer an uncrowded Maldives experience in the more remote locales of the Central Atolls.

Where to stay: Six Senses Laamu is the only resort on its namesake atoll and promises the epitome of luxurious, authentic Maldives holidays. Or splash out on an exclusive, intimate stay at Niyama Private Islands on Olhuveli island in the Dhaalu Atoll, with its twin islands of ‘Play’ and ‘Chill’ offering vastly different and enticing experiences in one destination.

Southern Atolls

Synonymous with luxury resorts, the Southern Atolls are also home to exquisite dive sites and snorkelling spots. Although not as frequented by surfers as the Northern Atolls, they are also equipped with excellent surf breaks.

Where to stay: Visit one of the world’s deepest atolls, at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. Enjoy access to a private beach on the pristine island of Gaafu Alifu, the luxury resort pulls out all the stops. Or venture further south for a stay at Canareef Resort on Addu Atoll, with its private white-sand beach and spa.

The best time to visit the Maldives

What is the best time of year to go to the Maldives?

The best time to visit the Maldives is, well, anytime really. With its close proximity to the equator, the Maldives enjoys balmy, tropical temperatures of 26 to 28 degrees Celsius throughout the year and tepid seas. There is some variance between the Northern and Southern Atolls, but the seasons are distinctly based on the monsoons. May to October marks the wet season, while November to April the dry season.

Also read: Top things to do in the Maldives

Do I need a visa to visit the Maldives?

Provided you meet the minimum Maldives visa requirements, South African passport holders will be issued a 30-day free visa on your arrival in the Maldives, which can be extended to up to 90 days. Make sure your passport will not expire for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the Maldives.

Maldives map

The network of atolls and islands of the archipelago can be confusing and are best explored by examining a Maldives map.

Northern Atolls of the Maldives
Central and Southern Atolls of the Maldives

Never again will you find yourself musing over the debate, ‘where is the Maldives?’, because now you know! So turn your tropical dreams into a reality with the click of a mouse. Find cheap flights to the Maldives on Travelstart, and save for the splurge on an array of the best places to stay in the Maldives.

Have you found yourself in the idyllic setting of the island archipelago recently, with whitewashed sands and nodding palms? We would love to hear about your experience and where in the atolls you went to?


All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

Our Readers Comments

  1. i and all my friends are going to Maldives and we all think we will have a great time there .

    • Hi Daria,

      Sounds amazing!

      Have the best time every.

      Safe and happy travels.

  2. Hey Meghan! Thanks for the information! I have a plan to go there with my partner. My partner is in Europe, which exactly is in Croatia. May I know how to get the visa for the european? I am Asian, which doesn’t require the visa, but he does. Thank you for the kind help and response!

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      You would need to contact your nearest Embassy of that country you are wanting to apply for a visa.

      They will advise on the correct procedures to follow when applying for a visa, what documents are required and the cost.

  3. My husband and I will be glad to celebrate our 26th year anniversary! I hope we can find a good deal in your resort

    • Hi Marie,

      Happy 26th anniversary! Maldives will be the perfect destination to celebrate.

      Should you wish to get assistance in receiving a quote and making a reservation, we have a team of Travel Experts that would love to help.

      You can contact our MyAgents team by sending an email to live@travelstart.com with all details exact dates, routing, budget and number of passengers and one of our agents will get back to you with a quote for that dream holiday.

      Or feel free to check out our packages page: https://packages.travelstart.co.za/ and you can email our MyAgents at: holidays@travelstart.com

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