We found out that we were travelling to the Maldives during Ramadan, after booking our tickets. But we were not too worried. When it comes to travelling in an Islamic country during Ramadan, it is probably the easiest in the Maldives.
Travelling during Ramadan
Ramadan is a holy month of fasting that all adult Muslims observe. It occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic calender, which is tied to the cycles of the moon. The western calender is not a lunar calender, which means that Ramadan occurs on slightly different dates every year.
The main tenant of Ramadan is fasting. All adult Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset. The only ones exempt from this practice is children, travellers, the ill, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, the diabetic, and menstruating women.
Remember, Ramadan is only applicable to adult Muslims who are not traveling or far from home. It does not apply to you. You will still be able to get food during daylight hours, however it may be slightly more difficult.
How will Ramadan affect travel in the Maldives?
If you are going to be staying in a resort, or at either an all inclusive guesthouse, or even a guesthouse with a restaurant attached, then the answer is – very little.
While the hotel or resort staff will likely be fasting, they will have absolutely no qualms about serving food to their guests. We had more food offered to us than we could possibly cram inside us during our trip during Ramadan.
However, if you are outside of the resorts you should probably be a little bit more mindful and respectful. If you are staying in a village, it would be respectful to refrain from drinking, smoking, or eating in public areas.
Things will get a bit more tough if you are staying in the capital city of Male, and if you hotel does not have a restaurant attached. Almost all the cafes and restaurants in the city were closed when we visited. This meant we missed out on the experience of an authentic Maldivian tea house. However we weren’t left to starve, there were a few restaurants still open, mainly the ones which catered to tour groups. Now before you groan, listen to this. We followed an Asian tour group into a restaurant and ended up having some of the most delicious Indian food of our life.
Ramadan affects the public ferry schedule
The public ferry schedule often does change during the month of Ramadan, so be mindful of this when planning your trip. My best piece of advice here, is to liaise with the guesthouse where you are staying in order to find out exactly what day of the week the ferry will be running. We were staying at Jupiter Sunrise Lodge, which can only be reached twice per week from Male. Ivonne was fantastic, and held an open booking for us until she could absolutely confirm the ferry schedule for us.
If you are staying at a resort which offers a private speed boat, or if you are travelling be sea plane, then this should not be an issue for you at all.
Things to remember when travelling during Ramadan
- Be respectful, try not to eat, drink, or smoke in public areas
- Ramadan does not apply to children. We didn’t hesitate to feed our baby in public, and no one minded at all
- Restaurants that cater to tour groups, and those attached to hotels will stay open during Ramadan
- If you are staying in a resort or all inclusive guest house then you probably won’t even notice that it is Ramadan
- The public ferry schedule will change, make sure to confirm the time table with your guest house
- The actual dates of Ramadan is different every year, make sure you check ahead of time