The Maldives, a collection of more than a thousand islands in the Indian Ocean, is known for its clear emerald waters, beautiful beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, and of course, luxurious overwater bungalows.

With features like these, the archipelago makes for an idyllic sanctuary where guests can snorkel, scuba dive, swim, and savor some truly unforgettable sunsets. Aside from being one of the most stunning island getaways in the world, the Maldives is also a perfect addition to an itinerary for travelers visiting magnificent South Asian cities or Middle Eastern capitals.

For those planning to visit the Maldives, there are certain things to keep in mind. To be fully prepared for your trip — whether you’re in the planning stages or are already lounging by your infinity pool in the Baa Atoll — here are nine mistakes to avoid in the Maldives.


Visiting Only One Island

The first thing to know about the Maldives is that most resorts are situated on their own private island — in fact, one island, one resort is the typical approach for hotels within the archipelago.

This makes sense geographically, considering the Maldives is home to at least 1,192 uninhabited and 200 inhabited islands. Whether you tour multiple islands by staying at more than one resort over the course of your vacation, or you charter a boat or take a day tour to an adjacent atoll, make sure to island hop while visiting the destination.


Skipping the Bioluminescent Views

Did you know the Maldives is known for having shores that illuminate at night, lit up by bioluminescent plankton?

In addition to boasting diverse sea life, including manta rays, whale sharks, and more than 2,000 species of fish, most islands are visited by bioluminescent plankton at certain points throughout the year.

To experience this magical light show, you’ll want to visit during plankton high season (mid-summer to mid-winter), when the bioluminescent organisms line the shores and create a glow-in-the-dark effect at the water’s edge.


Not Considering a Liveaboard for Part of Your Trip

The Maldives has 158 liveaboards — also known as localized cruise ships, houseboats, and the like — that offer sea safaris around the pristine waters and coral reefs. The liveaboards come with a wide range of accommodations and facilities, including personal chefs, dive and surf instructors, and other staff members depending on the type of liveaboard you book.

Travelers can even rent out the entirety of a yacht, houseboat, or small cruising vessel, and then customize the staff to their requirements — perhaps adding an on-site masseuse or sommelier.

Renting an entire liveaboard vessel can also make for a perfect distanced vacation — you have the space all to yourself and can tailor your vacation such that, apart from the staff and the other guests in your party, you won’t see another soul.


Avoiding the Local Culture

Because the Maldives is known as a beach destination, its South Asian influences are often overlooked — a plight that often befalls many South Pacific islands as well.

The culture here is a unique melting pot of Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Indonesian, and African influences. This heady blend can really only be experienced here in the Maldives.

You can witness the Maldivian culture firsthand by attending music and dance performances or sampling the local cuisine rather than just sticking to resort food. You can also arrange a day trip to a nearby village island to learn more about the traditional way of life.


Forgetting the Reef-safe Sunscreen at Home

The Maldivian islands sit on the equator, which means the sun’s rays beat down at a 90-degree angle. In other words, the sun is exceptionally strong and your sunscreen should be waterproof, packed with SPF, and constantly reapplied. Also, be sure to pack sun protection like hats, visors (they’re making a comeback), and light, breathable, full-sleeve shirts and long pants for when you need extra coverage.

When visiting any destination where the native reef is a main attraction, reef-safe sunscreen is crucial. To support the ongoing environmental initiatives to preserve the Maldivian reefs, purchase reef-safe sunscreen before traveling to the islands.