If you’re in a rush: you can find my tips right at the bottom!
Let’s head to the island!
‘A family vacation in the Maldives?’ people ask incredulously. Won’t you get bored? Isn’t it just for honeymooners? And that long flight?!
Well, no, we weren’t bored for a second during our ten days spent in Baa Atoll last April. Yes, we did see some honeymooners, but we mostly encountered families with children, including some the same age as ours (two and four). This vacation actually reminded us of what we thought vacations were all about before we became parents.
But yes, the flight. Oh, man.
Because we couldn’t find any direct flights for our chosen dates, we flew with Emirates via Dubai. This included changing planes at two in the morning (“Yes ma’am, there will be rental strollers!” … “Sorry ma’am, they are all taken!”) with a sleeping son, a wide-awake daughter and, of course, a car seat slung over my shoulder.
A few hours and one seaplane later and it was finally time for us to land in paradise: the Soneva Fushi resort on Kunfunadhoo Island.
And suddenly, everything was just wonderful
Even the kids’ moaning (which is now becoming increasingly rare) was just water off a duck’s back, or more fittingly, seawater rolling off the leaves of the palm trees. The Soneva Fushi resort (which I have written about separately in this article) is a barefoot-only zone, so we jumped on the bikes that had been provided for us and set off.
As you would expect, the Maldives are one huge sandbox – score +100 points for family vacations. Depending on what your resort offers, you can also try out snorkeling, diving, island hopping or a wide variety of water sports, relax in the spa, attend a cookery course, ask a marine biologist to tell you all about the reefs and so on.
Things to do in the Maldives with toddlers
Here are our personal top three activities from a child’s perspective:
3rd place: Watching dolphins at sunset
Together with three other families, we boarded a beautiful dhoni and sailed off into the sunset, enjoying Maldivian delicacies on the way. The kids absolutely loved “sailing the seas” too and our excursion only became stressful (i.e. dangerous) when our son discovered the steps leading down to the lower deck and wanted to go and play “Pirates”.
By the way, we got to see dolphins too. And flying fish. But they were a bit too fast for a photo.
2nd place: Taking a trip to a local island
Up until a few years ago, the tourist islands were strictly isolated from the islands inhabited by the locals. This has since changed in many locations and some “local islands” even offer low-budget accommodation for people travelling on their own.
We were lucky enough to visit “our” neighboring island Eydafushi with Azmeen, who now works at the Soneva Fushi resort but was born and grew up on Eydafushi. Visiting these islands gives you an insight into the real lives of the Maldivians. The people of the Maldives primarily live from fishing or work in tourism and they all loooove soccer.
On this visit, we were yet again impressed and touched by the warmth, hospitality and openness of the locals. I already had the chance to visit a local island for my Swiss travel show “SF unterwegs” (you can see the video here, from approx. 6:04) back in 2010 but this year’s visit was much more special. Our kids were the center of attention: people welcomed them in the national language Dhivehi and couldn’t stop smiling at them!
Another thing that reassured me: the island is home to a relatively large hospital with a pediatrics department. This is good to know, especially given that I am prone to being a mother hen.
1st place: Contact with other children
The availability of a program of events and activities for kids and what it entails depends on your resort. We couldn’t have wished for a better kids’ area (and nor could the kids; after all, they helped to design it – find out more here), but even the best kids’ area ever is completely redundant if there are no kids around.
But other kids were there!
All of the resort’s mini vacation islanders soon formed their own little gang, making plans to help themselves to some ice cream, stroking the island’s tame rabbits and climbing up the trees just like Mowgli.
A photo posted by Andrea Jansen (@anyworkingmom) on
Every evening, our kids sank into bed absolutely exhausted but with a smile on their face. And so did we. Relaxed like never before.
Things you need to know when visiting the Maldives with the entire family:
- Direct flights are more convenient but get booked up very quickly. In Switzerland, Edelweiss flies from Zurich and in Germany, Condor flies from Frankfurt. Where possible, try to organize your flights far in advance and as always, be sure to take out cancellation insurance.
- Be sure to pack plenty of diapers! We ended up taking nearly an entire suitcase containing nothing but diapers and wet wipes. Although you can buy diapers and swimming diapers from most resorts, the prices will bring a tear to your eye (around 5 francs per diaper).
- If you’re planning to fly on a seaplane, it’s well worth taking kids’ earmuffs with you: the engine is really loud.
- The Maldives is the only country in the world that is 100% Muslim. Alcohol and pork are therefore forbidden, so leave your cervelat at home.
- When it comes to tipping, it’s a good idea to bring U.S. dollars in small notes. The currency used on the local islands is the rufiyaa, but you don’t actually need it as a tourist, unless you’re travelling around on your own.
- Don’t forget any special requests your kids might have. We, for example, always have to take a special brand of chocolate milk powder with us….
- Before you travel, find out whether your hotel offers free beach toys for kids. If it does, you’ll have less to drag around with you and more space in your suitcase.
- You should also find out whether you can rent snorkeling gear for kids and adults for free. At the Soneva Fushi resort, we were able to rent some gear from the Soleni Dive School and its Swiss manager Thomas Wälchli.
- Take all of your medicines and first aid items with you. However luxurious it may be, you’re still on an island.
- Be sure to pack your mosquito repellent Depending on the rainfall and the season, the skies may well be full of the critters.
- • The peak seasons in the Maldives are Christmas, the summer vacation (July to mid-August) and January to March. During these periods, hotel prices are often much higher. The rain season begins in May/June but even at this time of year, several weeks without any rainfall are not uncommon. The locals told us that the rain in the Maldives is almost completely unpredictable. Based on this information, attempting to visit the Maldives in the “rainy season” to enjoy the sun for half the price may well be a worthwhile decision.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Soneva Fushi for supporting our stay at the resort. My opinions and experiences are subjective. I am happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments below (if you are using a mobile phone, scroll down to the very bottom!) zu den Kommentaren