Guesthouse culture in Maldives
Crystal clear seas, powdery white sand and indulgence beyond measure are three things that come to mind whenever the Maldives is mentioned.
While the country is famous for its unique beauty and extravagant resorts, it is not solely dedicated to the wealthy tourist – it offers various accommodation options catering to a diverse range of preferences. These facilities are broadly categorised into four types: resorts, hotels, guesthouses and liveaboards.
Ever since the relaxation of tourism rules, which restricted tourism to resorts on uninhabited islands, the guesthouse industry has boomed in the Maldives. Since then, many guesthouses have been developed in inhabited islands, with the greater Male region being the main hub.
The styles of guesthouses range from budget to boutique, B&Bs and more.
The amenities, service and luxury vary from that of resorts but guests have access to similar types of activities that resorts offer. Opportunities for excursions to nearby islands and sandbanks, watersports, snorkelling and diving are available. Most of the islands with guesthouses also have watersports and dive centres.
By staying at a guesthouse, tourists will have the prospect of experiencing the rich culture of the country like a true local; make new friends, discover the history of the island by visiting accessible historical hotspots or even partake in day-to-day activities. For the budget traveller, the backpacker or the knowledge-seeker, the stay will surely reap benefits to last a lifetime.
The biggest difference one may notice is that while resorts adhere to the one-island-one-resort concept, guesthouses do not. This means that tourists must bear in mind to be respectful of the local community, its customs and traditions.
As the Maldives is a 100 per cent Muslim country, women are expected to dress more modestly on inhabited islands than in designated resorts. Consumption of alcohol and pork, while not forbidden for tourists, is also usually frowned upon.
But this is offset by the many other wonderful opportunities the islands have to offer. Witness kids as they play in their own imaginative worlds, play a game of football in the evening, hang out on the beaches while sipping a cuppa and eating hedhikaa (short eats), or simply join in the chit-chat among the locals.
Guesthouses across the Maldives are currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they will be allowed to reopen from August 1.
Meanwhile, resorts can begin hosting guests from July 15.