An interesting article about the shops and shopping in Maldives, opening hours, markets, and overall, what a tourist can expect from the retail network on the Maldivian islands. There will be a lot of useful information that probably won’t save you any money, but it will tell you about the pitfalls you may encounter.
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Maldives without these websites
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Shopping in Maldives: general information
To give you a better idea of shopping in Maldives, here are a few facts (you can find even more general facts about the Maldives in the article at the link):
- The country’s population is just over half a million people.
- All of them live on a vast territory of more than 150 islands.
- There is only one city here – the capital, Male. An overview of the capital for tourists, what to do, and what to see.
As a result:The shops in Maldives, and generally the retail network, are represented by small businesses and small retail facilities. You won’t find huge hypermarkets, international supermarket chains, or Ikea or Zara here.
People don’t come to the Maldives for shopping. Yes, there are a few global brands in duty-free shops at the airport, but shopping is not what the Maldives is known for.
There is at least one or several grocery stores on every local island. They carry only the most essential assortment of products. Even on popular tourist islands like Maafushi, Thoddoo, and Ukulhas, don’t expect a wide variety of goods.
The selection is standard everywhere:
- Juices, water, soda
- Ice cream
- Chips, chocolate, snacks
- A small variety of fruits and vegetables. By the way, the Maldives is not a fruit paradise, and the country does not excel in fruit diversity. You can find more details about this in the article: Maldivian Cuisine or What to Taste as a Tourist.
Important:There are no shops on resort islands. They are only available on local islands.
All grocery stores in the country, on any local island, will accept not only Maldivian Rufiyaa, but also US dollars. However, you are likely to receive change in Rufiyaa at an unfavorable exchange rate.
About the markets in Maldives
I am often asked about markets on local islands, especially the fish market, where you can buy fresh seafood. I must say that there are no markets on the Maldivian islands except for two in the capital city of Male.
- The fruit and vegetable market, located at coordinates 4.180370690605753, 73.50999117308835, is popular among tourists who are interested in fruits and edible souvenirs to take back home, such as dried tuna and national sweets called “Bondi.” You can read more about this in the article “What to bring back from the Maldives as a souvenir.”
- The fish market is located across the road from the fruit market at coordinates 4.179966393492386, 73.50959501064146. Here you can buy fresh fish, shrimp, mollusks, and other seafood. However, it is not very popular among tourists as there is no one staying in Male, and nobody knows what to do with the seafood afterwards, considering that most tourists have to spend half a day traveling by boat to get back to their hotel.
At the market, just like in the store, they will accept dollars from you, but it’s better to have small bills and exact change. Remember that on the Maldives, dollars older than 2009 are not accepted, so bring only new dollars with you.
- Another important point is that neither markets nor small grocery stores in Maldives accept card payments. Only cash is accepted. Sometimes there may be a bank terminal in the store, but this is rare, and the conversion rates for your currency to rufiyaa are always exorbitant when paying by card.
Opening hours of shops in Maldives
In the Maldives, there is one sacred rule: Friday is a day off! In the country, even ferries between islands do not run on this day. Almost all trade does not work on this day. But there is one feature:
- In the last year or two, on large local islands with many tourists, grocery stores are open on Friday. Not all of them, but some are working.
- The store hours in the Maldives on Friday are reduced. Usually from lunchtime until sunset. Always clarify the working hours as it’s strictly individual.
On all other days, grocery stores in Maldives usually operate from 8 or 9 in the morning until 9 or 10 pm.
- For more information on time in the Maldives, time zones, punctuality of locals, and clock conversion, check out the article at the link.
Here are some general things to know about shops in the Maldives:
- There are no large supermarkets here.
- There are no chain stores.
- Only small grocery shops, more similar to a small village shop.
- You won’t be able to pay by card in most of them.
- US dollars are accepted everywhere alongside Rufiyaa. The exchange rate is not the best, but it’s not extortionate either.
- You don’t need to count on shopping in Maldives. The Maldives is about beach vacations and a rich underwater world, not shopping.
In conclusion, markets and shops in Maldives lag behind European countries by 25 years. Large businesses have not yet come here, and may not come soon, as the country is not attractive to them due to its small population, complex transportation, and numerous small islands. There is an opinion that in 10 years, everything in the Maldives will be exactly the same as today. The only hope is for widespread implementation of bank terminals, but there is still a lot of work to be done in this area.
If you enjoyed the article and the content in this guide, you can buy me a coffee ^_^
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives
- Flight tickets and the best deals
- Tour packages (from budget to luxury): Expedia
- Hotels and guesthouses on any island:
- 12go is the largest Asian transfer service. It gathers all Maldivian carriers, even the small ones that operate between local islands.
- Tours and excursions: Viator – a limited selection of excursions, but convenient and reliable.
- Comprehensive insurance: EKTA
- eSIM at the same price as in telecom office in Male.