What to wear in the Maldives? 10 of the best packing list


After a week’s trip to the Maldives, unpacking my suitcase, I realised I didn’t actually wear around a third of what I packed. So far, so normal. But even though we did so many activities in just the one week we were there, I would still say that a lightweight capsule wardrobe would cover it all. We packed a backpackers style rucksack each, due to anticipating carrying them around on seaplanes. Although wheeled suitcases are actually fine, because resort staff carry them here there and everywhere for you as soon as you touch down!

Resorts (uninhabited islands) are totally lenient about what (and how much) you wear, but it is worth remembering to be respectful and cover up your shoulders at least when you travel through the airport, the Maldives being a conservative country. Taking cotton and linen items is a good idea, as the temperature (happily) rarely ever dips below 25 degrees celsius.

So, here is what I would recommend you really need – and what to leave behind…

  1. Bikinis and swimsuits – Obvious, yep. But this is the place you’ll probably need more swimwear than you first thought. I am well known for packing at least one per day, but for some reason, I scaled down on this trip – and regretted it! I liked wearing bandeau tops for sunbathing (the activity we did least!), high neck halter bikini tops (above set from Primark) for snorkelling and paddleboarding, string tie side bottoms (because I find them more flattering than any other style for making legs look slimmer/longer), and swimsuits for wearing under playsuits cycling around the island and for pool time. You’ll be in swimwear most of the time. Putting on actual underwear at the beginning of a day in the Maldives signals only one thing – it’s time to go home!
  2. Playsuits – Rompers, jumpsuits, all in ones… I love these for easy wearing/styling, and the ones I bought from Primark and ASOS were quick dry and lightweight. Plus, they are great for activities, like cycling and being on board a yacht. Clambering around on deck and up onto beanbags – a playsuit will save any blushes! I wore five over a week’s trip.
  3. Sandals – Flat shoes are the way forward. I took a pair of small heels and didn’t wear them. I was either barefoot or in jewelled sandals. I saw some girls in wedges, but honestly, I wouldn’t bother. We were in two of the most luxurious resorts in the Maldives and neither required heels, or shoes for men. Double check with your resort, but I’d say leave them at home. They will most likely end up going unworn.
  4. Reef shoes and snorkel mask – A pair of jelly shoes mean you won’t end up tip-toeing around on the coral. The sand is the most beautiful I have seen in the world, but it is mixed in with tiny sharp piece of coral, which you are likely to step on in the shallows. I bought mine from Decathalon for around £5. Decathalon is my new favourite shop! There is a huge branch in London’s Surrey Quays and (as well as its brilliant neon, quick dry towels), you should definitely either make a trip, or shop online, for the Tribord Easybreath snorkel mask. This was the most used item in my and my boyfriend’s  suitcase! It’s a new type of snorkel mask, which covers your whole face, nose and mouth. You slip it with elastic straps over your head and, hey presto! Easy, fuss free snorkelling.
  5. Floaty, summery dresses – There is a constant gentle breeze on the islands, just another reason why it is the perfect sunshine holiday. And also, the perfect place to wear a loose/floaty/flowery summer dress. These were my staple with bare feet or pair of shiny sandals for evenings. I didn’t bother taking skirts – it’s always much easier to style (throw on) a dress than try to find a matching top when you just want to get back on the beach to watch the sun set.
  6. A hat – A peaked cap, straw hat or leather cowboy hat, anything is a good idea to shade your head from the deceptive heat. Deceptive on account of the breeze. Sunburn peels when it heals, and if apart from being painful, if you burn your scalp, it looks like dandruff when it peels.
  7. Accessorise with an inflatable – I chose a rose gold pink flamingo that I bought from ASOS, and took with me. The hotel actually had a stock of ride on inflatables, anyhow! But none as big or shiny as my Sunnylife one…
  8. Comfy sunglasseses – Necessary, unless you want to deepen those squinty frown lines. I ended up stealing my boyfriend’s Ray Bans, because they were the most comfy and I wore sunglasses all day long, because reflections were so bright. There were no clouds in the sky the whole week *sigh*.Above is another playsuit from ASOS, where I bought most of my holiday bits, as well as buying a few new bits and bobs (bikinis and playsuits) especially for the trip, from Primark and New Look.
  9. Suncream! – Probably the most important thing you will wear. I wore factor 30 on our first day and got horrible sunburn because we went snorkelling and the sun was beating down on my back. Go for factor 50 to start, just to be safe, if you are fair skinned and haven’t seen the sun for a while.
  10. A selection of bras – Owing to sunburn and different styles of tops, I actually wore strapless underwired bikini tops lots of time, which would have saved room in my case, and the bright colours went better under my outfits, anyway!

Standard, wrinkle-resist tunics, kaftans, lightweight maxi dresses… these are all good choices, too, and will look nice in those photos you’ll be taking in front of all the dreamy locations. I didn’t take too much jewellery, because my skin gets hypersensitive in the heat. But pretty necklaces would be good to take to dress up an outfit for the evening, if you felt like it. What do you think? Do you have any more top tips on what to wear in paradise?

Want to read more? Don’t miss my ‘what to wear in hot countries‘ packing list

Heading for some pampering? Read my list of ‘what to take to a day spa

+ Read more articles all about the Maldives…

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