As a small island nation that’s heavily dependent on tourism, the Maldives have reopened to travellers, including Canadians, since the earlier stages of the pandemic.
With an expanding set of luxury resorts dotted across the Indian Ocean archipelago, the Maldives will be one of the top destinations among Canadian travellers and points collectors for their first post-pandemic getaways. Here’s the key information you need to know if you’re planning a trip to the Maldives.
Maldives Travel Restrictions
The Maldives resumed international flights and welcomed back foreign tourists from all countries as of July 2020, albeit with several travel restrictions in place.
How Can Canadians Enter the Maldives?
All Canadians are allowed to enter the Maldives with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours prior to their scheduled departure from the first point of embarkation en route to the Maldives. At this time, travellers need to present a negative test regardless of their vaccination status.
Travellers will also need to fill in the Traveller Health Declaration form within 24 hours prior to their departure.
The Maldives grants on-arrival entry visas of up to 30 days’ duration to visitors of most nationalities, including Canadians. To qualify for the visa on arrival, you must have a confirmed booking at a place of accommodation and a ticket for onward travel.
Testing & Quarantine Upon Arrival
Individuals will undergo on-arrival testing if they are displaying symptoms at the time of arriving in the Maldives. If the individual is travelling in a group, all members of the group must undergo testing.
They will also need to stay at a designated transit facility until test results are available (typically 24 hours), with both the tests and the transit stay coming at the traveller’s own expense.
Individuals who do not display symptoms may also be asked to undergo on-arrival testing on a random, voluntary, and complimentary basis.
Testing & Quarantine Upon Return
Travellers must complete a negative PCR test within 72 hours of boarding their flight back to Canada.
Fully vaccinated Canadians can return to Canada by air without undergoing quarantine, upon completing a negative test at the airport on arrival into Canada. Canadians are considered fully vaccinated if they’ve received a full series of one of (or a mix of) Health Canada’s approved vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson – at least 14 days before entering Canada.
Canadians who are not fully vaccinated must undergo a mandatory hotel stopover, a 14-day quarantine at home, and a self-administered test on Day 8. As of August 9, 2021, the hotel stopover will no longer be required.
Current Health Requirements in the Maldives
If you’re headed to the Maldives, you’ll most likely be spending almost the entirety of your time at one of the 500+ overwater resorts in the islands. It’s about as “normal” of a getaway as you can imagine anywhere in the world.
Nevertheless, there are still a couple of restrictions to be aware of. If you need an overnight stay in the capital, Malé, at the start or end of your trip, these will take place in designated transit hotels rather than booking your own Malé hotel (as in pre-pandemic times).
All of the Maldives’ resorts have COVID-19 management plans in place, including designated rooms for isolation and quarantine if necessary. If a tourist exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, they must self-isolate in their room, complete a test, and remain isolated until symptoms clear up.
(I certainly can’t think of any better places to self-isolate than an overwater bungalow in the Maldives, though.)
Splitting your time in the Maldives across multiple resorts is allowed, although you should submit your request for a “split stay” to the Maldives Ministry of Tourism at least two days prior to arrival.
If you stay in the Greater Malé area (the nation’s capital) for 48 hours or more, you’ll need to complete a pre-departure test within 72 hours before moving elsewhere. Also, if you stay at a tourist guesthouse rather than a resort at any point during your visit, you’ll need a pre-departure test within 72 hours of leaving the Maldives.
Where to Stay in the Maldives
With many travellers having accumulated large volumes of hotel rewards points during the pandemic with nowhere to spend them, a stay in the overwater paradise of the Maldives will surely top many travellers’ post-pandemic bucket lists.
The major hotel chains have been rapidly expanding their presence in the Maldives in recent years, giving you a plethora of options to redeem points for a luxurious overwater stay.
Marriott Bonvoy resorts include the following:
- St. Regis Maldives Vommuli: 70,000–100,000 points per night
- The Ritz-Carlton, Maldives Fari Islands: 70,000–100,000 points per night
- JW Marriott Maldives: 70,000–100,000 points per night
- W Maldives: 70,000–100,000 points per night
- Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort: 50,000–70,000 points per night
- Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa: 40,000–60,000 points per night
- Le Méridien Maldives: 30,000–40,000 points per night
Hilton Honors resorts include the following:
- Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi: 120,000–150,000 points per night
- Conrad Maldives Rangali Island: 95,000 points per night
- SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection: 85,000 points per night
- Hilton Maldives, coming soon
And you can also consider the following locations with other loyalty programs:
Which resort you choose will depend on just how luxurious you’d like your experience to be, along with how many hotel points you’ve racked up.
Many Maldives-bound travellers consider it a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip, in which case saving up your points and splurging for an otherwise very expensive location makes a lot of sense.
In addition, you can also leverage Marriott and Hilton’s Fifth Night Free benefit to unlock maximum value for your points.
Keep in mind that even though your Bonvoy or Hilton points will go very far in terms of value, the overall trip is still likely to cost you a good chunk of change. Depending on the resort, the seaplane or speedboat transfer from Malé begins at US$400 and go all the way to US$800+ per person round-trip.
Having at least Marriott Platinum Elite status or Hilton Gold status will come in very handy, as the complimentary breakfast (at all resorts except the Ritz-Carlton) will help you save on the exorbitant cost of food and beverages at the property.
How to Get to the Maldives
While it’s possible to buy or redeem points for flights to the Maldives in economy class, I imagine most travellers will have their eyes on a premium cabin redemption for such a special trip.
In terms of routings, the most straightforward options are likely via the Mediterranean or Middle East, with one-way pricing as follows:
- Qatar Airways Qsuites business class, from Montreal via Doha for 70,000 AAdvantage miles (with no fuel surcharges), 90,000 Asia Miles (with fuel surcharges), or Alaska miles (pricing soon to be announced)
- Turkish Airlines business class, from Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver via Istanbul for 100,000 Aeroplan points
- Etihad Airways business class, from Toronto via Abu Dhabi for 100,000 Aeroplan points
- Emirates business class, from Toronto via Dubai for 85,000 Alaska miles (bookable until July 31, 2021)
If you wanted to spruce up your trip even further, consider the following First Class routings:
- Etihad Airways First Class, from Washington DC or New York JFK via Abu Dhabi for 130,000 Aeroplan points
- Emirates First Class, from Toronto via Dubai for 160,000 Emirates Skywards miles
During normal times, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines also provide connectivity to Malé from Hong Kong and Singapore, respectively, but these options are currently limited due the pandemic.
That makes it a bit tricky to build the Maldives into a round-the-world routing, at least until Singapore Airlines restores access to their award seats for partner programs.
As a last resort, SriLankan Airlines offers frequent direct flights from Colombo. From there, you could more easily build a separate itinerary on a wider range of Star Alliance and Oneworld airlines. Business class on this short segment is bookable for 12,500 Avios + $169.
The Maldives have opened their borders to international travellers since last summer.
With a range of luxury resorts to choose from where you can redeem hotel points for high value and endless ocean horizons that have remained absolutely untouched by COVID, it’s easy to see why the Maldives makes for an ideal post-pandemic destination.
Just be sure to get your negative PCR test within 96 hours of departure, and your journey ought to be a smooth one. The Maldives had briefly dropped the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers back in April, but soon reinstated it in May, so we’ll wait and see whether the testing requirement will be relaxed again in the future.
As always, you can refer to our Travel During COVID-19 Resource for Canadians for the most up-to-date information on travelling in the pandemic era.