Shortly after having posted a photo from Maldives on my Instagram profile, I got hundreds of messages from friends and followers. The questions were pretty much the same: “Are you really in Maldives? Where did you fly from? Can you travel to Maldives during Covid-19 pandemics? Did you have any problems on the way?” Followed by typical questions about Maldives vacation: “Which island are you on? How much did you pay?” Since this was a well-deserved yet short winter escape, I didn’t want to spend my week answering all the questions. Hence my response: “After I return, I will write a blog post and tell you everything you need to know.”
Decision to travel during Covid-19 pandemics
The situation with the new coronavirus has been hanging over the world since March 2020 and many countries are still completely closed to tourism. Speaking from a travel addict point of view, I am sure I don’t need to explain the reasons for wanting to travel. Even “normal” people feel imprisoned and want to get away from all the stress that Covid-19 has caused. The situation in Slovenia is not getting any better (slow clap to our government for infamous record numbers because nobody takes them seriously), so in december 2020 I started to watch the travel restriction more closely.
While some of the countries have slowly started to re-open for tourism, a handful already have no travel restrictions. You can check them out in this post from November 2020. However, to travel to one of the countries from this list, one would need more time. I didn’t want to take the risk with longer vacation, hence I decided to go with the safe and well-known destination. Maldives for one week is just about enough what I need to warm up my bones and catch some vitamin D.
Maldives is open, accessible and safe
Maldives depends on tourism; hence their government has decided to re-open in October 2020. This means that the flights to and from Velana International Airport are operating normally and all you need to enter Maldives is a negative PCR test. The islands represent some kind of isolation “per se”, so the chances of massive Covid-19 outbreak due to tourism are minimal. I should mention though that PCR test is valid for the final destination (resort or island) only. If you want to visit Male or some other island during your Maldives vacation, you need to get a new PCR test – they usually provide this service in all resorts.
A guide to travel to Maldives during Covid-19 pandemics
If you want to travel to Maldives during Covid-19 pandemics, you need two preconditions. First, find a reliable Airline with regular flights and free change of dates in case of last-minute changes. Second, you need to get a PCR test valid 96 hours from the time of arrival.
1 – Fly with a reliable airline
Turkish Airlines is one of the few airlines that actually still flies from Ljubljana (Slovenia) even during pandemics. With 3 flights per week, excellent customer service and free “open dates” change of tickets you simply cannot miss with Turkish. Meaning, if your PCR test proves out to be positive or if some other last-minute travel restriction occurs, you just change your flight ticket to a voucher and use it later. Of course, the situation in your country can be different and you have some other favorite airline. Also, check if the airline demands a negative PCR test before boarding.
2 – Accommodation in last-minute
This one is the touchiest – what if your PCR tests turns out positive and you cannot ravel? Resorts in Maldives do offer free cancellation, however usually up to 5 days prior to your arrival. Hence my advice to you: choose your top 3 resorts (or hotels), take the PCR test and book your room as soon as you get the green light. Luckily, my first choice was still available at the same price 3 days before the departure.
3 – 96-hours PCR test
While the official Maldives immigration department states that “you should have a negative PCR result with a sample taken 96 hours prior to your departure to the Maldives”, this is unfortunately not true. We did the test 80 hours before the departure and I almost got a mini heart attack. Once I filled out the form* I got the confirmation that our entrance was valid until Saturday 3 pm, while our arrival was scheduled for Saturday 1.30 pm. If there was a flight delay, we couldn’t enter Maldives. So, the actual interpretation would be: take the test 96 hours before the time of arrival, and calculate the time difference! (in my case Maldives are 4 hours in front of Slovenia).
*It is necessary for all foreign visitors to Maldives to fill in the electronic form, within 24 hours before the arrival, and also 24 hours before your departure. Make sure you save the QR code confirmation becase they scan it at the airport.
4 – How to get to the airport
I don’t know about your country but in Slovenia we are not allowed to travel outside the municipality of our residence. Fortunately, Ljubljana airport is very close to my home so this was not a problem. But just in case I got pulled over by the police I made sure to have a legit reason for travel. For the same reason, you better choose the airport closest to your home, even if the flight ticket is a bit more expensive. Better to be safe than sorry.
5 – Get your travel insurance
As a frequent traveler, I always make sure I have my travel insurance covered year-round. However, in times of pandemics, I suggest you double-check with your insurance agent if you are covered for the potential Covid-19 related health issues. What happens if you get the virus during the vacation, who pays for the tests, who pays for the treatment or for the mandatory quarantine? My agent reassured me that this is all taken care of so I was on the safe side.
6 – Safety measures during the travel
Wearing masks is mandatory in all airports, public places and means of transport. In case you forgot or lost your mask on the way, Turkish Airlines provided a couple of complimentary for each passenger. Throughout the entire journey most of the passengers were acting responsibly, and I actually felt safer than in my own country where people tend to break the rules all the time. The airline also ensured us that they change the air during the flight every 3 minutes. The only “minus” of Covid-19 safety measures is that you cannot choose the meals and drinks – we all got one sandwich, a desert, juice and bottle of water. Bummer, I know.
Is it safe to travel to Maldives during Covid-19 pandemics?
Of course, it would be irresponsible of me to say that traveling during pandemics is a safe thing to do. However, I can say for myself that I felt completely safe all the way to Maldives and back. We got our temperature checked at the airports, as well as each day at the resort, which I thought was a really cool thing to do. We were wearing masks in public places and hand sanitizers were installed everywhere. Not to mention that the island offers some kind of quarantine as well. Maldives is in general an “isolated” territory of islands with limited capacity of guests, and the villas or bungalows are usually isolated units as wel.
Just to be on the safe side, we took the PCR test at Istanbul Airport on our way back (it costs around 30 USD), and got the results within 4 hours. The test was also a green light to get back to Slovenia without quarantine. Safe and sound.
To sum up
I hope I answered to all your questions and doubts about traveling to Maldives during Covid-19 pandemics. It is a great country which I visited 5 times, and you can read more general tips about Maldives vacation in this post. In the end, let me ask you again to act and travel responsibly. Take care of yourself, as well as others. And don’t forget to regularly check the situation in the country of your final destination because it can change within a few days. However, let me end this blog post with a positive thought: the flights are full and people are starting to travel. 😉