A question that will eventually arise for any tourist is what to bring as a gifts from Maldives for their relatives, friends, and colleagues. Interestingly, the Maldives differ from other resorts in terms of souvenirs. On the one hand, there is not an abundance of souvenirs, but on the other hand, there are souvenirs and gifts with local flair.
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Gifts from Maldives: general points
Common things to know about Maldivian souvenirs:
- Souvenir shops accept both US dollars and rufiyaa without any issues. By the way, you can often exchange dollars here at a good rate. Everything about currency, which dollars to bring, where to exchange, and payment by card.
- Haggling is not appropriate here, as the price is usually fixed. If you buy a lot of souvenirs, you can try to bargain a little. However, do not expect discounts of 30-50% as on oriental bazaars. In the best case, you might get a couple of bucks off.
Useful to know:There are many handmade souvenirs in the Maldives. Moreover, each souvenir shop has different and unique items. This even applies to magnets.
Where to buy Maldivian souvenirs?
Let me tell you right away where and how much it costs. It is important to distinguish between a vacation on a resort island and a vacation on a local island.
- If you are going on a package tour to a private resort island, you will have a maximum of one souvenir shop at your hotel, with a limited selection and high prices.
- For independent tourists who fly to local islands, souvenir shops are available on every island. It cannot be said that there are a huge number of them, but there are always 2-3 souvenir shops. I recommend buying souvenirs from these shops.
You can also buy souvenirs in Male. Many people spend a couple of hours here before their flight. If you plan to walk around Male, you can leave souvenir shopping for the capital, where the prices are the lowest. Here are a few places where you can buy souvenirs in Male:
- If you stand facing the Republic square with your back to the ocean, there are several large good souvenir shops to the right: 4.179262098900635, 73.51045240348878
- All edible souvenirs are best purchased at the market in Male, in the farthest row: 4.180327059204756, 73.50987699207064
- Overview of Male: what to visit and where to walk
For tourists who are staying at a private resort without a souvenir shop and for those who do not have time to walk around Male, the airport remains the only option. There are souvenirs there, and the selection is good, but the prices might be higher.
- Male airport overview: duty-free, souvenirs, baggage storage, and much more.
What to bring as a gifts from Maldives: ratings and prices.
And now, the rating of souvenirs that you can bring as a gift from the Maldives. I won’t list the ordinary magnets, plates, mugs, keychains, and other items. They are available here, and the selection is extensive, with prices starting from $3-4 on the islands and up to $25 at the airport (see the photo above).
- Various wooden and ceramic figurines in the shape of manta rays and sharks are very popular. These two symbols of the country can be easily spotted while snorkeling or diving in their natural habitat. Prices start from $10 per piece.
- Discover how to snorkel for free and encounter mantas or sharks while in the Maldives with this guide on snorkeling.
- Cotton clothing, t-shirts, shorts, and dresses in colorful patterns are also popular, especially t-shirts with prints of the same mantas, sharks, and turtles. Prices start from $7 per t-shirt.
- Bondi is a national sweet made of coconut and cane sugar, wrapped in a banana leaf, resembling a cigar. I recommend bringing some home as gifts for friends and colleagues. It is said that Maldivian Bondi served as the prototype for the chocolate bar Bounty, a truly heavenly pleasure.
- On local islands, prices range from $1 to $3 per candy. In Malé, you can buy a pack of 14 pieces for $10-$12 at the market.
- Dried tuna fillet is also a popular souvenir. Tuna is a common fish in the Maldives and is used in almost every dish. Look for vacuum-packed dried tuna in shops and markets. It is very tasty and unique, and makes for a great snack with a cold beer at home.
- Prices on the islands range from $6 to $10 per kilogram. But when dried, it weighs very little, so you can get quite a bit for a kilogram.
- Corals and seashells. It’s often said that you can’t take them out of the country, but that’s not entirely true. You can take them if you have a receipt from the shop and are carrying a large piece of coral or a huge seashell. If you find small pieces of dead coral on the beach, no one will say anything to you at the airport. Souvenir shops sell large corals for $50-100.
Important:To be honest, even dead corals are better not bought in souvenir shops. You don’t know how or where they were taken, they might have been broken off a live reef. Most people believe that if tourists stop buying corals, souvenir makers will stop selling them. No demand, no supply, and the coral will remain on the ocean floor.
There are also many other interesting things in souvenir shops: drums, ashtrays, coral jewelry, and so on. Since shopping in the Maldives is not a thing, souvenir shops are the only chance for many shopaholics to indulge. Learn all about shopping in the Maldives here.
What is prohibited to take out of the country or what you can’t buy as a gift
This point touches on several issues: what is prohibited to take off the islands, what you shouldn’t buy as a gift even if you want to, and what doesn’t make sense to bring.
- It is prohibited to export any souvenirs made from turtle shells. Turtles are under the protection of the state, and any souvenir made from their chitinous shells is immediately equated with poaching.
- You won’t even find national alcohol here, no matter how much money you have. The country simply doesn’t produce it. This isn’t Cuba, where you can bring back rum, or Vietnam, where you can buy snake wine. There isn’t a single national alcoholic drink in the Maldives, even of local production. Bring Bondi and tuna.
Once upon a time, just like you, I flew to the Maldives for the first time. And before the trip, I read articles about what to bring as a gift from Maldives. I don’t know why people write such things, and why they copy each other, but it’s in every article. Here’s what you can buy in the Maldives, but why bring it as a gift, I don’t understand:
- Maldivian cosmetics. Firstly, it’s an oxymoron; they don’t produce it in the country, or almost don’t produce it. All the quality cosmetics here come from India and Malaysia.
- Tea and coffee. It makes me want to cry when some suggest bringing Maldivian tea. Let’s look at geography for a moment. There isn’t a single plantation in the Maldives, and the arable land here is generally poor. Plus, it’s on the equator, so what kind of tea? The country imports 95% of all products. All tea in the Maldives is from neighboring Sri Lanka.
- And there’s no point in bringing fruit either. To be honest, fruit is scarce here. The country hardly grows anything, and the maximum they have are coconuts, bananas, pineapples, and papayas. And depending on the season, something exotic like pitahaya or passion fruit is imported from Southeast Asian countries. But the Maldives itself is not a fruit paradise.
In conclusion: the most common gifts from Maldives are Bondi sweets, dried tuna, magnets and figurines in the shape of sharks and mantas, as well as any other souvenirs with their images. You shouldn’t expect a wide variety of souvenirs in the Maldives, but one clear advantage is that there are many handmade souvenirs that will delight your loved ones.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives
- Flight tickets and the best deals
- Hotels and guesthouses on any island: Booking
- Tour packages (from budget to luxury): Expedia
- Comprehensive insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual SIM card with internet package at the same price as in telecom store in Male