In resorts, the only place in Maldives where alcohol is legal, there is no shortage of opportunities to drink at any time of day, with fine wines, cocktails, beers and champagne all available, although at significant cost unless you're on an all-inclusive package. Nightlife can barely be said to exist in the country, however, with the exception of a few resorts that have clubs.


The only naturally occurring freshwater in Maldives is rainwater, which is stored in natural underground aquifers beneath each island. This makes getting water quite a feat, and water conservation has always been extremely important in Maldivian culture, to the extent that Maldives Tourism Law states that no water resources may be diverted from an inhabited island to supply a resort. All resorts have their own desalination plants to keep visitors supplied with enough water for their (by local standards incredibly wasteful) water needs. Most resorts include a bottle or two of drinking water for each guest per day; though in many cheaper resorts, you'll need to pay for each one, which can add up quickly.

The main local drinks other than rainwater are imported tea and toddy tapped from the crown of the palm trunk at the point where the coconuts grow. Every village has its toddy man (raa- very). The raa is sweet and delicious if you can get over the pungent smell. It can be drunk immediately after it is tapped from the tree, or left to become a little alcoholic (though not too much, for obvious reasons) as the sugar ferments.

Fermented raa is of course the closest most Maldivians ever get to alcohol; Maldives is strictly dry apart from the resorts. This may be a consideration if you’re planning to travel independently in the country and stay in guesthouses on inhabited islands – your holiday will have to be totally dry, with alcohol available only by visiting a nearby resort, stepping aboard a live-aboard dive boat or swinging by the hotel near Male's international airport. Contraband alcohol is sometimes available on inhabited islands where there are many foreigners, but buying it is a bad idea and quality is rarely good.

Despite the ban on alcohol, nonalcoholic beer is very popular in Male and on inhabited islands. Soft drink, including the only Coca-Cola made from saltwater anywhere in the world (desalinated, of course), is available all over the country at prices much lower than in resorts. Outside resorts the range of drinks is very limited. Teashops will always serve bor feng (drinking water) and, of course, sai (tea). Unless you ask otherwise, tea comes black, with hakuru (sugar). Kiru (milk) isn’t a common drink and is usually made up from powder, as there are no cows in Maldives.