Preparing for the Maldives Dress Code

Traveling to the Maldives is an awesome opportunity. The area is absolutely a paradise and your trip will likely be an unforgettable experience. For some people, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Before you start packing, familiarize yourself with the Maldives dress code.

While it’s not overly strict, Maldives is a Muslim country. There are some areas where you may need to dress more conservatively. There are also some specific restrictions to be aware of.

Understanding what to wear in the Maldives will be useful for having the best trip experience possible while respecting the values of the local people.

What to Wear in the Maldives

What to wear in Maldives

The Maldives is a tropical location with tropical weather that ranges in the mid to high 70s almost all year long.

Many of the private islands allow you to wear whatever clothing is comfortable while you are at the resort. However, you will need to be cautious of what you are wearing if you leave the resort or go to any of the inhabited islands.

Local islands with people living on them might have stricter dress code policies. This is because it is a Muslim country, and you should be respectful while you’re there. Here you can learn more about Maldives people.

That being said, you will need to pack to dress conservatively when you leave your resort island, but you also don’t have to be covered from head to toe. It’s all about modesty.

A general rule of thumb is that you cover your body from knee to elbow when you visit a public island. While women will likely be the most affected by this, it could affect men as well.

Topless sunbathing is not allowed on any of the islands but what you wear at your resort will differ from when you’re going out to public locations.

Here are a few quick notes on the Maldives dress code expectations:

  • Shirts should cover the shoulders
  • Summer dresses and shorts should reach the knees
  • Women should avoid heavy cleavage and plunging necklines
  • Swim fully clothed and covered in public areas
  • Private island and resort locations are not as strict

Keep in mind that wearing anything too revealing is against the law in Maldives. This is enforced in public locations. In most cases, as long as women cover their shoulders and thighs, this is sufficient to be in line with the rules. However, avoid cleavage issues as well. High heels are not recommended and could be frowned upon as well.

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Local Islands Vs. Private Islands

You will find that the substantial difference to be aware of is that what you wear in the Maldives will depend on where you are. The dress code in public or inhabited areas is more stringent, but it’s not unreasonable.

The dress code at your resort or private island will likely be more casual and allow for a higher variety of clothes. Be sure to check your resort and understand what type of clothes they allow or do not allow. Many resorts provide this information.

No matter where you are, the dress code prohibits topless sunbathing and nudity or walking around publicly in bikinis. At your overwater villa, you can wear what you please in your pool and deck space.

At restaurants in Maldives, wear loose and modest clothing, avoiding swimsuits as your attire. On local islands and public beaches, your swimsuits will need to be covered so that guests are showing very little skin from shoulder to knees. In public areas, female visitors will need to plan for covering appropriately and bikinis are not allowed.

You don’t necessarily have to wear Maldivian traditional dress, but you do need to be mindful of what is or is not acceptable for your vacation.

Each of these things are typically acceptable as Maldives clothing:

  • Flip flops
  • Tailored shorts
  • short-sleeved shirts
  • Open or closed-toed shoes (avoid high heels)
  • Pants or trousers
  • Sandals
  • Skirts or dresses that reach the knees

Packing for Maldives Weather

Packing for Maldives

The Maldives is a tropical destination so what you wear in the Maldives should be something that won’t have you overheated or miserable in the warmth. The average temperature of 75-77 degrees and tons of sun will make you want to wear light clothing.

You can adequately be respectful of the dress code on any of the Maldives islands, without being hot and miserable. Remember that at your resort or private island, you can wear different clothing than when walking in public areas, or on the island of Male.

Where women might typically wear swimwear or tank tops and shorts to the beach, you may need to adjust your packing for this trip. Whether you’re going to the beach, spending time in the sun, or touring Male, plan on wearing clothes that provide more coverage, but won’t make you sweat to death in the sun.

Here are some great ideas to be comfortable with your Maldives dressing style, while still being attuned to the local expectations:

  • Tailored shorts that reach the knee
  • Lightweight shirts, possibly with a light cardigan over the top
  • Cotton or linen pants and trousers
  • Casual shoes, including sandals, flip-flops, tennis shoes, and other flat shoes
  • Light skirts of appropriate length
  • Tops that are not too revealing

Also, read our article Maldives weather to learn more.

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Maldives Traditional Clothing for Men and Women

Maldives traditional clothing
Left: ©daveprimov/123RF.COM – Right: ©markeliz/123RF.COM

As you pack clothes for Maldives holiday adventures, look for ways to be comfortable in the summer sun but don’t forget modesty is expected. Your shirt shouldn’t be a spaghetti strap that shows cleavage and shoulders. Instead, look for a light shirt that covers the shoulders. You could also wear a light cardigan over tank tops, as long as you are covered in public.

Men also need to be aware of appropriate clothing and don’t forget modesty is still expected. Men cannot walk around shirtless, or wearing excessively tight clothing. On public beaches and excursions, men and women should be covered and likely not in traditional revealing swimwear.

If you go out on a boat, again wear loose and covering clothing, but guests should be comfortable. Try a pair of loose linen pants or a long skirt for vacation excursions.

Wear lightweight clothes for the warm weather, but you don’t have to throw style down the toilet. Pair comfort with lightweight coverage for restaurants, excursions, travel to the capital, and heading out away from the resorts in Maldives.

When you spend time in the capital or in public areas (like restaurants), what you wear should cover. What to wear in Maldives at these times are layers that allow for modest coverage but won’t make you sweat excessively.

Pack lightly with casual attire that can work for the islands and the beach but be added to or layered as needed.

Don’t Stress Too Much About What to Wear in the Maldives

Maldives summer clothes

While the Maldives dress code might feel a bit strict, it’s really not too bad. When you pack what to wear in the Maldives, think of ways to wear light shirts and casual items, and have some light layers on hand for when you need additional coverage.

These tips are meant to help prepare you for the rules, but they are simple tips that are easy to abide by.

It is easy to follow and respect their dress code with common sense. The key thing is not to wear anything revealing, applies to both men and women.

You can wear bikinis and other more revealing clothes at your resort but common sense is also recommended there. Be modest and respectful and you are good to go.

Your vacation in Maldives will be well worth the slight adjustments to your wardrobe.

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Is There a Dress Code in Maldives?

There is a dress code and set of expectations to abide by. General modesty is the key, with coverage from your shoulders to your knees being preferred in most locations. Refer to your resort for any specific dress codes there.

Can Girls Wear Shorts in Maldives?

Girls can wear shorts, but they should be close to knee length for coverage.

What is Not Allowed in Maldives?

There is to be no nudity, no topless sunbathing, and no wearing revealing clothing in public places.

What Do Ladies Wear in Maldives?

Ladies from Maldives typically wear Muslim clothing, such as a burqa. Guests and travelers may wear their own clothing, as long as they follow the modest guidelines.

What Can I Wear at My Resort in Maldives?

Be sure to check with your resort to see if there are specific guidelines. Resorts that are private or on uninhabited islands will generally allow you to wear whatever you want, aside from open nudity.