What to pack for a week in The Maldives
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
The Maldives are one of the most photogenic travel destinations I’ve ever been to. Small islands with white sandy beaches, beautiful flora, azure and turquoise lagoons... it is the ultimate getaway! It can be also a tricky destination when it comes to what to wear as the resorts may have a different dress code than the slightly more conservative local islands (not to forget that it's a fine line between that barefoot-sun kissed vibe and looking like you've been washed up on the shore). Use my outfit ideas & tips to pack the perfect suitcase both for the perfect resort or local island stay!
Clothing Style in The Maldives
With high temperatures all year round and a water temperature that barely falls below 25C, you can pack your bag with your most beautiful bikinis and your favourite summer dresses.
It is important to remember that Maldives is a Muslim country; while bathing suits and summer clothing are tolerated on most of the resort islands, you need to cover up if you’re staying at a local-owned guesthouse or resort (for more details check 5 Important Things to know before planning a Maldives trip). If you plan to visit the capital Malé or one of the islands where the locals live you should dress more conservatively.
My packing guide & tips below include clothing to be able to enjoy both local and resort life.
1. Beach bag
Make sure it is big enough to carry all your beach essentials so you don't have to go back and forth to your water bungalow, villa or hotel room. I also recommend having a second little bag for the sun lotions and hair accessories for the time at the beach or pool (comb, crunchy, etc.) and a third little waterproof bag to keep any electronics (kindle, phone, etc.) to keep them from sand and humidity.
2. Sun hat
It gets very hot on the white-sand beaches of The Maldives so you will need a hat. I love hats and I wear them whenever I have the occasion as they give a special touch to any casual outfit so I usually travel with one or two. For days by the resort pool and beach I prefer the big brimmed hats. A baseball cap can also be quite convenient for boat trips and speedboat excursions, just make sure it's tight so it doesn't blow away with the wind!
There was not a single day during my stay in The Maldives when I did not wear a bikini, so everyday is a bikini day in paradise. As I love snorkelling and water activities I usually look for high quality swimwear that is both comfortable and stylish. For this trip I also wanted to take some black and nude pieces as I wasn't very tanned. Dark shades look great on a light, not tanned skin. Pastels are good as well, because your skin is naturally a bit darker.
I recommend you take a minimum of 3 bikinis/swimsuits to have different options, even better if you can find bikinis that allow you to play and combine tops and bottoms like the ones from Syvende a Swedish brand that creates high quality swimwear with fine Italian fabrics made of regenerated plastic waste.
4. BIO Sunscreen & After-sun
Sunscreen is a bigger problem than most people think. Regardless of how much you apply, some of it is going to wash off in the saltwater at the beach. It flows through the water that flows through marine life gills, and it isn’t good.
The sun in The Maldives is very strong so you are hopefully going to be applying regularly a lot of sunscreen to protect your skin, so think how much it will affect the fragile ecosystem of the Indian Ocean. Instead of using traditional sunscreen lotions with damaging chemicals, use a biodegradable reef-safe sunscreen. They’re better for the environment, but they’re also better for your skin.
My bio reef-safe sun screen selection: SUN Bronzed by Grande Nature, Fresh Sunscreen by Ringana, Face+Body by Raw Elements. For my Maldives trip my choice was Sun Bronzed. It works well, love the texture and it doesn't leave a white trace on my skin.
Protecting your eyes is as important as protecting your skin. Take at least 2 pair of sunglasses as you are most likely going to wear them most of the days and time.
I recommend taking robust sunglasses as you are going to be on the sand, going on snorkeling tours with water drops splashing on your face, etc. I made the mistake of taking my very expensive city Jimmy Choo sunglasses to the Philippines and they got back in one piece but all the plenty metal parts and joints were super damaged by the salty water, so I had to buy them again when I got back home (I just love them so much!).
My sunnies selection for The Maldives: Izipizi for a fun colourful touch all the way from Paris (1) , the Florence All back by Kapten&Son (2) and the eco-friendly option Sea2see (3) sustainable quality eyewear made 100% with ocean plastic waste (don't miss their video with Javier Bardem - Tackling Ocean waste).
The one million dollar question, do you need shoes in The Maldives? Many of the resorts have a “no News, No shoes” policy. The pathways are sandy and in general it’s fine to walk around barefoot specially from the hotel to the beach or pool. Most of the yachts and boats have a no shoes policy as well.
That being said, I would suggest packing a pair of flip flops just in case you want to wear them in the restaurants or walking around the local villages. I personally love black flip-flops because they combine with most colours (just don’t leave them under the sun for too long to avoid burning your feet!). Additionally pack a pair of flat sandals that you can combine with your “fancier” outfits. Reef shoes aren’t really necessary either as the beaches in The Maldives are of fine thin sand. If you go snorkelling you will most likely take fins (and if you don’t, you surely shouldn’t be stepping on the reef to avoid destroying it!).
7. Maxidress, Kaftan & Sarong
Maldives weather is warm and humid all your year round so you will want your clothing to be light, breathable and airy. Think of clothes that can be thrown over your beachwear to enjoy a casual lunch by the pool or a walk along the beach during sunset.
Flowing beach dresses, kaftans, fluid skirts or colourful maxi dresses are perfect choices. Another versatile piece to consider are sarongs. Packing a couple of different sarongs and 3-4 different tops will allow you to mix and match to get the most out of your holiday wardrobe.
As an idea you can combine a solid coloured sarong with a white light shirt, a plain knotted t-shirt or crop top. This was by far my favourite outfit during our stay in the local island of Ukulhas, as not only it was comfortable and fancy but it also respected the local culture.
If you are staying in a luxury resort you might want to consider packing a couple of more glamorous options. I recommend sticking to an "Island Glam" vibe instead of tight femme-fatale pieces. Go for some simple, flowing shapes and neutral colour dresses and add the fanciness with some beautiful earrings and classy sandals.