So you’re headed to the Maldives!
Hopefully that means that you have some water activities planned, as it’s said that the Maldives can be among the best for snorkeling.
But with the Maldives being a relatively conservative country, does it really matter what you wear in the Maldives?!
Well that does mostly depend on whether you’re staying on a private island (in which case it matters less or not at all), or if you’ll be visiting one of the “local islands” (in which case it would be good to think about it further).
Either way, in addition to ideas for what to wear snorkeling, there’s also a short list below of what you might consider packing for the Maldives when it comes to snorkeling… whether you are snorkeling off the beach of your resort island or off the beach of a local island… or if you’re going on a snorkeling tour in the middle of the ocean!
And be sure to see this 4-day Maldives itinerary for ideas on things to do during your trip.
If you’re headed to one of the local islands (in which case you’ll also get a chance to see a bit of local life)…
What to wear in Maldives for snorkeling?!
Again, if you’re staying at a private island resort and will be going snorkeling, you may not have to think so hard about what to wear snorkeling.
But if you’re planning on going snorkeling (or swimming) at the “local” beaches, then that’s when you might think a little harder.
Although, even if you are NOT going snorkeling at any local beaches, it’s still worth considering the same beach outfit… in the name of the coral reef of the Maldives! (More on this in a bit.)
So if you go to the swimming beaches or snorkeling spots where the locals go, it can seem that pretty much everyone in the water is fully clothed, especially women.
You can say it’s a cultural thing in the Maldives. (It’s a Muslim country.)
I once saw someone in a burka (basically fully covered with nothing by the eyes showing) walking waist-deep through the water. (From what I saw, burkas weren’t very common in the Maldives though. Most women had everything but their face covered.)
It seems that some foreigners take this as a negative thing when it means that they can’t go to these “local” beaches in swimsuits that show skin.
But instead, you can take this as an opportunity… to wear less sunscreen!
Sunscreen in the Maldives
So, with the Maldives being at or near the equator, you can probably figure out that the sun is strong. (And living in the northern hemisphere, you really do cross the equator when staying at Equator Village in the Maldives!)
This means that you definitely SHOULD wear some kind of sunscreen when you’re outside, especially if you’re not used to this kind of sun!
While these popular sunscreen brands DO have sunscreen products that can be good for the Maldives, they also have many in which you ideally will avoid bringing with you to the Maldives.
Why does what type of sunscreen you wear in the Maldives matter?!
Coral reef. (And the marine life that comes with it that makes the Maldives a prime snorkeling and scuba diving destination!)
It’s generally agreed upon by the snorkeling community that the sunscreen you wear can have an effect on the life of coral reef.
It’s believed that the chemicals found in leading sunscreen brands is toxic and harmful to coral reef… and even killing them.
While there doesn’t seem to be any sort of sunscreen ban in place in the Maldives, in order to help the coral reef of the Maldives (that keeps the colorful fish coming for a good snorkeling experience!), it can be good to also follow the lead of the sunscreen ban.
So know before you go!
What to wear on local islands
As a general “rule” when visiting local islands, it seems that shoulders covered and thighs covered is the minimum.
I saw a tour to the local islands advertised when staying at a resort in the Addu atoll and it advised this “etiquette.”
So, this made me feel comfortable about wearing knee-length shorts around the local islands in the Maldives.
Based on this…
What is an ideal snorkeling outfit in the Maldives?!
There are affiliate links below. Because you should totally check out some of these things on Amazon.
The quick list of snorkeling clothes for the Maldives:
- women: short sleeve UPF shirt
- women: long sleeve UPF shirt
- men: short sleeve UPF shirt
- men: long sleeve UPF shirt
BOTTOM (board shorts)
Why wear a rashguard?
From the “cultural” perspective, it gets your shoulders covered.
But it’s not just culturally that people wear rash guards.
It’s not uncommon to find people wear these kinds of shirts when snorkeling in Hawaii for example. And that’s even though there’s no problem wearing a bikini there if you want!
Rash guards are basically shirts that provide UV protection. (They also provide a “guard” against getting a “rash” if you accidentally knock into coral reef.)
These types of shirts are designed so that you’re protected against the sun’s UV rays.
Aside from being friendlier to coral reef in case you’re wearing sunscreen that has some less-than-reef-friendly chemicals in it…
The more covered up your skin is, the less sunscreen you have to use.
This can also make it so that you don’t have to be as concerned about re-applying sunscreen constantly.
Also remember that when you’re snorkeling, your back is directly exposed to the sun for as long as you’re out there looking for the fish!
Why wear board shorts?
Again, this can be for a cultural reason to wear longer length shorts as opposed to short shorts.
But the other benefit of board shorts (also often thought of as surfing shorts) is that they are generally made of material that’s quick to dry.
That means that if you’re going out for multiple swimming or snorkeling sessions in one day (because you’re staying somewhere that will allow you to do so!), it makes it so that you don’t always have to feel like you’re wearing wet clothes.
Or, you might feel less inclined to change because your shorts will dry quite quickly as you’re walking around at the beach or on the streets.
Rashguards can also generally be quick to dry too.
More things to pack for the Maldives
1. Waterproof phone case
Well, surely a waterproof camera like this one would be better.
But if you’re just looking for a cheap option to take a few underwater pictures…
Then you might be happy with this cheap waterproof phone case!
There might be a slight learning curve to it – mainly, you’ll need to press a button in order to take the picture underwater since the touch screen won’t work. For my phone (Samsung Galaxy) it’s the volume button that you click to take a picture.
2. Camera (or phone) float strap
If you have a waterproof camera, then you can attach this camera float so your camera won’t sink to the bottom of the ocean in case you let go of it.
You can also attach this to the above cheap waterproof phone case so your phone won’t sink to the bottom of the ocean either.
This does actually float in the water.
I attached it to my phone and let it float too, and it seems to work!
3. Water shoes
If you won’t be wearing fins, I think water shoes will be quite useful.
When snorkeling off the beach, you might come across beaches in the Maldives that aren’t just pure sand.
They might be a little rocky, or they might be full of dead coral.
The same thing goes for when you get in the water.
This might not make it so fun to wade in the shallow parts of the water when you’re barefoot.
So have a look to bringing water shoes with you on your beach snorkeling excursions!
4. Personal buoy
To be clear, this sort of personal buoy float with dry bag isn’t meant as any sort of life-saving device.
But a few things can make this type of thing ultra useful when you’re swimming at the beach.
This is basically a dry bag float with a strap that you put around your waist. (You can also find one without the dry bag part.)
With the dry bag attachment, you can put your valuables inside so that you don’t have to leave them on the beach.
In general, this also makes it so that you can be spotted in the water more easily.
So in a way, this can be nice if you’re swimming alone.
It can also be nice if you’re swimming with a buddy in case you don’t always stick together.
Your buddy can look up and easily spot you.
Similarly, if there’s someone in your family who’s staying on the beach and not going in the water, it can be a way for you to be spotted more easily in the water.
You’ll attach the strap to your waist, and then basically you’ll drag the float behind you as you’re swimming. You’ll hardly notice it.
And, not its intended use, but if you’re in the water with waves, it can be fun to ride the waves while holding onto the float!
I’d often bring my phone (with waterproof case) into the water with me, and when I wasn’t trying to take pictures, I found it useful to store my phone in this dry bag.
Then if I happened to spot something worth taking a picture of, I can grab my phone.
You can fairly easily put in and take out small things of the dry bag portion, even when the float is blown up.
If this float doesn’t really interest you, you can bring along a waterproof pouch like this one with you in the water to keep your valuables with you.
5. Snorkeling mask set
Bringing your own snorkeling gear means that you can pick a beach, any beach, and see if you can find colorful fish.
If you’re going on a snorkeling tour, you can expect that this will be provided.
If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, there is probably snorkeling gear available for rent.
You can opt for getting just the snorkeling mask and snorkel, or you can opt for the bundle that includes fins too… and then you can also buy fins individually.
Fins help propel you through the water. If you’re not wearing fins, that’s when the water shoes can help.
Or if you don’t mind coming up for a breath frequently, you can save some space in your suitcase by bringing along just regular clear swimming goggles!
HAPPY PACKING FOR THE MALDIVES!
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train!
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Where to stay on the backpacker trail in Kerala
- Fort Cochin: Zostel Kochi
- Alleppey: Zostel Alleppey or Funky Art Beach House for chill beach vibes! (see my pics - zostel / funky) OR Dream Nest to be closer to town // and see how to spend one day in Alleppey
- Alleppey backwaters: cottage right on the waters
- Munroe Island: cottage backwaters homestay right on the waters (and see why you should consider munroe island!)
- Varkala cliff: Seawin or Prashanthi with ocean views