A tropical paradise, the Maldives offers soft, white sands, bright blue waters, and a perfect place to unplug and truly relax while soaking in the sun. Not to mention, 2020 proved that it’s also an excellent place to have a socially distanced vacation.
With so many resorts offering island buyouts and travel companies offering more affordable airfare, getting one of those adorable ocean-adjacent bungalows in the Maldives could be within your grasp. No wonder the islands have been more and more popular in recent years.
Here are the best times to visit the Maldives, especially if you’re looking for ideal weather, fewer crowds, or the perfect times to get the most out of your next trip to the island country.
Best times to visit the Maldives for ideal weather
The Maldives is warm and sunny for most of the year, so it’s hard to choose a time that’s “better” than others. Although the winter and the summer are slightly different, the main thing to take a look at when you’re booking a trip is choosing between the wet season and the dry season, rather than fall, winter, summer, or spring.
The dry season happens between November and April, and it’s the time when average temperatures are around 30 degrees Celcius, which is particularly perfect for days spent relaxing on a beach. This is considered the “dry” season because average rainfall is typically at its lowest, especially January through March. The sunnier weather means that crowding can be somewhat of an issue, especially if you plan on taking tours of Malé, the Maldivian capital, or enjoying activities on the water.
The wet season is between May and October, and it’s called “wet” because some islands can experience up to nine inches of rain in a single month. While quick afternoon storms are usually a given, it’s not uncommon to still enjoy several days of pure sunshine. Just be ready to change your plans if the weather gets in the way. For this reason, the wet season also means there are fewer people around.
Best times to visit the Maldives for diving and water sports
In addition to wet and dry seasons, there is also a particular time of year when certain water sports, especially surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, and boating, are most popular.
If you’re interested in action and adventure, planning a trip when there are choppier waters and bigger waves – perfect for surfing – between February and November (the end of the dry season through the wet season) is ideal. However, if you prefer calmer waters and slower activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, or canoeing, travelling between December and January is better. Visibility for scuba diving and snorkelling is best between January and April.
Where to dive in the Maldives
One of the biggest mistakes people make on their first trip to the Maldives is staying on one island. The Maldives is made up of several different islands, and each one is slightly different from the last. Drift dives, reef dives, and dives to nearby shipwrecks are particularly popular, according to The Points Guy.
The most popular places to dive are the Ari Atoll, known for being particularly clear and accessible with lots of marine life to see, and Malé Atoll, where you can find lots of other divers, depending on which side of the island you’re on.
If you’re a beginner, The Points Guy recommends Vaavu Atoll and Baa Atoll, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, Fuvahmulah Atoll is home to many rarer species of sharks, including tiger sharks, thresher sharks, whale sharks, and hammerheads, according to The Points Guy. However, be forewarned that this island is best suited for advanced divers.
Best times to go to the Maldives for bioluminescence
You can also see bioluminescent plankton while in the Maldives. These naturally glowing organisms make nighttime on the islands particularly magical as they light up the beach in the evening. According to Airpaz, bioluminescence is best seen between June and October, when there is more plankton around, especially on Vaadhoo Island, home of the “glowing beach.”
Most affordable times to visit the Maldives
Yes, even a visit to the Maldives can be affordable. According to Travel-Information.org, the cheapest airfare is offered during the wet season, when attendance is lower, between May and October. You’re more likely to get package deals during this time. Hotels and resorts also go for less during this time, especially in more bare-bones accommodations, but even over-the-water villas and bungalows go for less (though they’re still pricey). If you’re lucky, you can also find guest houses and Airbnbs for less if you book out in advance.
Worst times to visit the Maldives
Some visitors attest that August is the worst time to visit since it’s smack-dab in the middle of the wet season. However, October is generally considered the wettest month, so avoiding either of these times might be best for your trip. While those little bungalows can be very luxurious, it would probably put a damper on your island vacation if you never got to leave the room.
Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.
This story first appeared on Travel+Leisure India.