One Thing Tourists Need To Know Before Packing Swimwear For A Trip To The Maldives

Dreamy beaches, luxurious spas, clear turquoise waters — the Maldives has all that and more, which might explain why so many people flock to the tiny island country. In fact, 2023 saw a record-breaking number of tourists, totaling nearly 1.9 million throughout the year, according to the Maldives' Ministry of Tourism.

The nation, which is made up of over 1,000 small islands and sandbanks, is a tropical paradise all year round. Visitors can expect sunshine-packed days and temperatures that rarely dip below 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit). For many, the climate calls for strappy swimsuits and casual shorts, but these common garments could get you in trouble in some parts of the Maldives.

In 2020, British reality star Cecilia Jastrzembska made headlines after getting arrested during a warm-weather holiday vacation in the Maldives. Her offense: indecent exposure while wearing a bikini. The Maldives is a Muslim country, and as a result, public beaches prohibit bikinis and other revealing swimwear. If you don't want to spend your vacation behind bars, do as the locals do and cover up before heading out.

Some beaches relax the rules

If you thought you saw your favorite influencer or celebrity donning a string bikini in their Maldives vacation pics, your eyes weren't deceiving you. Some beaches in the Asian country don't follow a strict dress code. For instance, beaches owned by private resorts often allow bikinis and other casual, western-style wear. You may also find that entire islands dominated by resorts allow skimpy swimwear, unlike the "local" islands where clothing restrictions are the norm. Becoming familiar with each area's rules ahead of your trip can help you choose the right Maldives island for your vacation style.

If you're in an area frequented by both locals and tourists, seek out designated bikini beaches. These include Picnic Island Beach near Malé, Dhigurah Beach, and Dhangethi Bikini Beach, among others. When in doubt, check the signboards posted at the beach before entering. These signs often list any rules and restrictions, including dress code orders.

What to wear to a public beach in the Maldives

If you're visiting the Maldives for surfing or the local culture and don't want to limit yourself to the touristy or resort-owned beaches, be sure to dress (and pack) appropriately. Near the coasts, you might notice some locals covered from head to toe, but this isn't necessary for most non-Muslim visitors. However, it's a good idea to keep the area between your shoulders and knees concealed.

For women, this can mean wearing modest swimwear sets made up of a sleeved top and legging-style bottoms. For men, a pair of long and loose swim trunks with a T-shirt is often sufficient. Wetsuits can also work in a pinch, though make sure your suit covers the majority of your body while not being too stuffy. Steer clear of winter wetsuits, which are thicker and designed to keep the body warm.

If you don't plan to spend time in the water, opt for a sensible cover-up or other warm-weather outfit. Maxi dresses and long skirts are great for keeping legs covered, while a flowy blouse and a lightweight scarf work to hide the shoulders. T-shirts, long shorts, and linen pants are also safe options.