One of the most popular posts on Maldives Complete and frequent topics on the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum concerns the best times of year for sunshine. Despite all of the spousal-celebration, scenery, snorkelling, surfing, super-deluxe, the “S” that is the Maldives’ first and foremost allure is the sunshine. Being an equatorial destination, the fact is that pretty much all of the Maldives is sunny and warm pretty much all of the time. Sure, there are bad days and there are a few times of year (eg. January through March) where the sunshine is uncannily persistent. But when people are shelling out for the life of a lifetime, they will split hairs on the securing just the best weather possible (mind you, I maintain that going to such obsessive lengths can lead to major disappointment if you catch some simply bad luck).
People always ask about the sunshine (or its other-side-of-the-coin, rainfall). They also ask about temperatures (air and water). But you don’t get many enquiries about the wind. Actually, the wind, or in most cases “breeze” really, can have as much of an impact on the climate as precipitation and temperature…
- Too much breeze…
- kicks up the water stirring the sand and reducing the crystal-clarity of the waters for snorkelling.
- limits romantic beach dining as sand gets blown into food, candles get blown out and table items get knocked over.
- Good breezes …
- hit reefs from the right direction drive currents into them for world-class surfing.
- off the water on a toasty day is that perfect cocktail of warmth and cooling.
- power great sailing, windsurfing or kite surfing. Comparing the prevailing winds to the location of the water sports center might optimise your fun if this activity is a big priority.
Guests also enquire about “sunset” or “sunrise” depending on whether they like to savour their daily solar ritual with a coffee or a cocktail (sunset is more popular by far). But the wind equivalent is “leeward” versus “windward”. Though this distinction changes with the season. In fact, the “monsoon” seasons are characterised by the shifting of the winds from one direction to another. So a leeward villa one part of the year will likely be windward another time.
So depending on whether you want a wafting or calm, you might want to check out the best resource on Maldives breezes, the “Wind Energy Resource Atlas of Sri Lanka and the Maldives”
For more real time indications, you can also check out the Wind Finder website which includes up-to-date tracking of Maldives conditions.
What goes on tour does anything but stay on tour when it comes to my Maldives running around. I come back from Tour 4 with a wealth of new data for the database, pictures for the profiles (especially the Room Type profiles), Snorkel Spottings, candidates for “Best of the Maldives” posts, and new friends and supporters, as well as a few overall observations about tourism in the country.
RESEARCH – The near final tally is…
- New Resorts Visited – 9
- Snorkel Spottings – 28
- Profile Data – 17
- Room Pictures – 58
- Best of Maldives candidates – 128
Not only have I added to the database this year, but the trip has prompted me to expand it as well with two new fields…
- Walkways – It was Gangehi’s distinctive walkways (post to come) that made me think about (a) how the walkways of the resort islands vary, and (b) the impact this detail has on the experience and (foot) feel of each. In particular, they do tend to fall into one of three distinct categories…
- Soft Sand
- Hard Sand
- Marine Biologist – I now have a pretty full collection of the marine biologists on staff at the resorts which can be a useful filter for people looking for a ore educational or ecological visit.
TRENDS – Each year also provides a chronological benchmark in the tourism trends of the country. In the past, I’ve commented on the escalating flight to quality as resorts renovate with more and more elaborate luxuries. This year I noticed…
- Privacy – In the past, most Maldives resorts featured stand-alone villas littered about a plot of sand. A few islands offered special privacy features or villas (often “Suites” or “Residences”) with special private areas. Now it seems as if lots of resorts are investing in more in enhancing the privacy of stay. Walls, enclosed areas, shrub lines. On this tour alone, the resorts of Vittaveli, Nika, Halaveli, Baros and Kurumba has all made substantial investments in privacy features.
- Diversity – The era of the country-specific resort seems to be waning. Some resorts through heritage, marketing and infrastructure do continue to maintain certain ambiences which evoke certain national cultures. But the number of resorts devoted to a particular market is reducing steadily. Bathala, Gangehi and Nika are three resorts that have traditionally catered primarily to the Italian market, for example. But the rise of Internet direct booking and economic pressures on certain markets have led to these and other resorts becoming increasingly diverse in the provenance profile of their guests. Also, the somewhat feared Chinese invasion seems abated as growth from that market has levelled out. Increasingly you are finding a more diverse and mixed set of nationalities at every island.
SEASONS – When we first started coming to the Maldives, we invariably chose the month of peak sunshine – February – which also coincided with the depths of the English winter as well as the peak prices of the high season. In more recent years, we have been coming in the ‘low season’ of July which suits our schedule better and also offers better prices due to the ‘variable’ climate at that time of year. The weather is one of the biggest draws to the Maldives (“The Sunny Side of Life”) and probably the most frequent asked of the FAQs on the TripAdvisor Forum.
So what is the difference between February and July. Essential February is stunningly bright and still, while July is more muted and breezy. For most, the former is much preferred (though my wife, Lori, being ‘of a certain age’, in her words, confessed that she preferred the gentle and cooling breeze of the wet monsoon season). I remember waking up each morning on our February trips and pulling back the curtain thinking that surely some clouds must have rolled in over night only to find that the sunshine was as bright as the previous day and the day before that. When I pull back the curtain in July, I’m less certain of what I will get. There are more variations in the atmosphere. By and large, it too is ‘bright’, but there will be clouds peppering the sky and breezes stirring up the ocean. I’ve actually assembled a handy reference table below to try to characterise as simply as possible what general weather one can tend to expect from a February visit versus July…
My first ever guest post and it’s written by Maldivian born and raised Ahmed Shareef who looks at the shifting sands of the Maldive beaches…
Maldives are the poster child of a sinking world. If the world is to be inundated by rise sea-levels, the low lying Maldives, will be the first to go under. The islands of Maldives are about a metre above sea level. Now the question is if it is really sinking or is it a myth? What can the Maldivians do if it is really sinking?
In the Maldives, and you can experience the changes taking place every few years. I'm not a scientist. But, I have been travelling around in Maldives for nearly 15 years and I could notice some obvious changes to the climate. Many islands of the Maldives suffer soil erosion making them considerably smaller in the past 20 years.The place that was once beach where we played beach volley is now a part of the lagoon. Its speed is not fast, but the islands being so small, the small change seems to make a big impact on the country, over a span of many years.
Another effect of the global warming is coral bleaching. Tip of the colourful coral becomes whitish and dies. Again this is not common and usually happens in the hottest periods of year and in some particular reefs that are shallow enough to be affected. Corals are an important of the island ecosystem. Some scientists believe coral could help the islands tackle sea level rise while some don’t event believe in sinking theory.
The islands that suffer soil erosion are erecting barriers to protect sand. The capital Male’ itself has a protection wall all around. The protection mechanism is largely based on the effects. Government has limited funds and it is giving priority to worst-hit islands. Most of the inhabited islands currently have some form of protection against soil erosion, sea swells etc. But, it is usually not enough to protect the entire island.
From my current observation and government’s stance, there is a remarkable chance of Maldives getting submerged in coming 200 years. In the last stage the Maldives would probably pump sand from island to another to form higher land for people to live. This way Maldives could last for more centuries and ultimately may end up in a water village with floating houses and speedboats for transport. It is highly unlikely that the residents would abandon the beautiful paradise, even after many centuries.
About the Author: I was born and raised in the Maldives. Joined a resort as front desk assistance in 2001 and been moving to different resorts and cruises. Prior to starting my first job, I was cruising and visiting different islands for fun. I got weekends to enjoy like that during my studies. After working for many years currently I am doing freelance works for resorts and travel companies.
Today’s Spring Solstice is a traditional turning point to the seasons marking the shift to warmer days in the Northern Hemisphere. In the equatorial Maldives, seasonal shifts are marked more by the change of prevailing winds (especially since the angle of inclination doesn’t change much by definition at that latitude). These shifts typically happen in May and October. But, like this persistent UK winter which is bring us snow well into April it seems, ‘your mileage may vary’.
One of my earliest and most frequented posts is ‘Air and Water Temperature’ which provides a month by month guide of key weather indicators (eg. inches of rainfall, hours of sunshine, air temperature, water temperature). But with the weather such a central part of the Maldives draw (“The Sunny Side of Life” tagline), prospective visitors get even more meticulous in their climatic research. While island by island stats are not available (some people do ask how the weather differs on one island compared to another one a few miles away), there are some web resources which can provide a bit more detail.
The Maldives official government weather website also goes down to the detail of 5 atolls (Weather.com has 4 but omits Hanimaadhoo) –
- Male (Male atolls in center)
- Kaadedhdhoo (Gaafu Dhaalun in far south)
- Kadhdhoo (Thaa atoll in south)
- Hanimaadhoo (Haa Dhaalu atoll in far north)
- Gan (Laamu atoll in south)
Thanks to some diligent work by TripAdvisor contributor Maria Eugene, you can get precipitation stats by month for the North, Central and South regions of the Maldives. The biggest difference is looking at the ‘rainy’ seasons (the periods when the prevailing winds shift) which peak around June and November. The designation of ‘rainy’ season is purely relative as I have often explained. We have visited the Maldives in the peak of the ‘rainy’ season and still experienced more sunshine than we would see in an entire English summer (yes, faint praise I know). The key regional variations seem to be around these ‘spikes’ and the father north you get, the more statistical rainfall one seems to get (about 580mm in November at north compared to 400mm in south). Again, these are just averages and statistics and your mileage is likely to vary. Remember the gods of weather are mercurial croupiers with perverse and volatile senses of humour.