What to Wear in the Maldives

July 14, 2017

Maldives is scattered across the equator and experiences humidity and tropical climate throughout the year. A nation composed of over 1200 tiny coral islands, there is an almost endless holiday options to suit all sorts of budgets, whether it is in the backpacker central island of Maafushi or the luxurious beauty of St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, the Maldives has something to offer everyone. However, if you are planning a trip to the Maldives, you might want to consider reading this before choosing and packing your clothing.

Many travel guides and websites suggest wearing lightweight cotton, loose-fitting and linen garments when visiting the Maldives. Sun seekers also claim that white is the ideal way to keep cool in the summer, and that’s perfectly true, this is why you see thousands of Instagram photos of the Maldives with visitors wearing white at the beach. White complements around the edges of a picnic — when our eyes look at white, we are looking at a combination of all possible visible light. It means white clothing reflects a great amount of wavelengths of energy coming in, and it reflects the sun’s rays back, instead of scorching us. So, pack all your cool t-shirts, cotton shirts, shorts and beachwear.

You will also have to understand that there are different dress code guidelines depending on where you are staying at, whether it is a resort, a village in a locally inhabited island or the capital Malé. While the majority of guests at a resort island will spend most of their day in swimwear; similar to dress codes regulated on major commercial airlines, some of the resorts disapprove guests entering their restaurants and reception area in swimwear, they are at least expected to wear clothing covering the upper part of their torso (like tank tops or halter tops), clothing covering the lower part of their torso (like shorts), and footwear (unless they have a disability or physical condition that prevents this.

Bikinis and two-piece swimwear are acceptable on women in the resort islands, but nudity and topless sunbathing is illegal across all parts of the Maldives. Sarongs are sufficient for the ladies, but check with the resort island as dress code regulations differ from one another. It is important that you ensure you are dressed in decent attire and does not offend the social, cultural norms and customs of the Maldivians. See-through clothing and overly skimpy swimsuits can be offensive and should be avoided, and is not just culturally offensive, but also an offense that could be punishable by the Maldivian law.


Bikini beach at Maafushi island

The dress code is more modest on inhabited islands and in Malé, shoulders and thighs should be covered for both men and women. Maafushi island includes a bikini beach where foreign visitors can wear swimwear in public, but not all local islands offer this. If there isn’t a bikini beach available on your island please be aware that even modest swimwear by western standards will not acceptable. Please leave vest tops, cami-tops and strappy tops at home, and wear loose t-shirt, rash-vest, shorts, trousers, skirt or dress that covers your knees, you’ll be perfectly comfortable. If you’re unsure if you should wear something, it’s best to change.


Does my attire look appropriate considering my surroundings?

Lastly, if you are planning a business trip to the Maldives, then it is very much obvious that you must to carry light formal wear, and by any means, you will not require any coats, no matter the time of year!

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  • Reply Rachel Silverstein August 23, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I guess just skip Maldives altogether. There are other places in the World, where one does not offend some cultural norm.

  • Reply Rachel Silverstein August 23, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    To clarify, I don’t want to be stressed out of being harassed / watched by some dress police.

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