Almost ready for your trip to Maldives? Welcome to one of the most unique countries in the world. I am sure you are ready to share all your photos and videos with everyone you love back home so make sure you are connected to the internet. Avoid high roaming costs and buy a Maldives sim card on arrival. In this blog I tell you where you can buy a local sim card, which provider has the best network coverage and give you up to date prices as per June 2021.
All the information in this Maldives blog is based on my own experiences. I have been in Maldives multiple times. Since I was often struggling with weak and slow Wi-Fi in resorts I asked the staff and locals how they were connected and they pointed me in the direction of local sim cards. I tried out buying a local sim card in Maldives and found out that this was so much more convenient.
Every time I now visit the Maldives I get a local sim card and sometimes even hardly use the resort's WiFi, because my 4G is even faster!
If you are traveling to the Maldives on a budget, you definitely want to get a local sim card, but more about that later. The time that visiting Maldives was exclusively for the rich and famous or honeymooners is long gone and more and more adventurers are traveling to Maldives on a budget. I have also visited local islands and LOVED it. Read here more about visiting Fulidhoo for example.
Traveltomtom recommends a Dhiraagu prepaid sim card for visiting Maldives. For $50 USD you get 30 GB data for 14 days.
Getting a sim card in Maldives is very easy on arrival at Velana International Airport but also in the stores in Hulhumale, the airport island and Male. It is easy and fast. Definitely recommended.
Traveltomtom DOES NOT RECOMMEND international sim cards with global coverage! Why? First hand experience first of all and second the prices for data are in most cases outrageous! For my article about the best international sim cards for world traveler I compared and reviewed these travel sim cards and found out that they are NOT WORTH IT!
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Why buy a prepaid sim card in Maldives?
Logistics in Maldives are challenging and with so many tiny islands spread around the country finding good and reliable internet is not easy. Many coffee shops, restaurants and even guesthouses in Maldives do often NOT offer complimentary Wi-Fi.
Even if there is Wi-Fi don’t expect it work like home. You are on a tiny island far away from mainland Asia! So trust me you gonna LOVE having a 4G connection on your phone!
That said even some of the best resorts in Maldives don't have the best wifi. Read some of my luxury hotels in Maldives reviews: Kanuhura Maldives, Soneva Fushi Maldives, Adaaran Club Rannalhi, Westin Maldives or about my honeymoon at Anantara Kihavah. Oh no... I am not married! It was just a photoshoot! ;)
No Wi-Fi on local islands
There is in general a weak or no WiFi signal available on local island, so are you a budget traveler then definitely buy a Maldives sim card with data. Local islands always have a connectivity tower or you are able to connect with a tower of a bigger island nearby. Most tourist destinations in Maldives have a 4G signal.
Weak and slow Wi-Fi on resort islands
Even if you stay in a fancy resort I recommend you to buy a Maldives sim card. You must ask yourself why?
Resorts may be fancy, but Wi-Fi in Maldives is not! Some resorts sincerely have slow Wi-Fi and connectivity across the island is a pain.
Without a prepaid sim card for tourist I would have often gone crazy. Imagine going to breakfast in a fancy resort somewhere on the beach, but there is no wifi signal. If you pay $2,000 a night you may expect good WiFi everywhere, but unfortunately that is not always the reality and I speak from experience.
Some resorts are located on big islands, like Shangri La Villingili, Kuramathi Resort or Kandima. Big parts of the island are NOT covered with a Wi-Fi signal so if you want to do a Live video while playing golf at Shangri La Maldives you wont be able to unless you buy a Maldives prepaid sim card.
A small investment in a Maldives sim card at the Velana International Airport is totally worth it.
PLEASE USE REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN WHEN VISITING MALDIVES!
Please use biodegradable sunscreen and help protect our pristine coral reefs. Standard sunscreen contains chemicals that harm the fragile ecosystems of the Maldives islands. Check out the reef safe sunscreens below.
Mobile providers in Maldives in 2021
Figuring out the best prepaid sim card was a fairly easy task as there are only two mobile providers in Maldives: Ooredoo and Dhiraagu.
Where to buy a Maldives sim card
Maldives Velana International Airport
Most travelers will travel onwards from the airport island straight after they land, but no need to panic. As soon as you walk out of arrivals at Male Airport the Ooredoo and the Dhiraagu shop are on your right hand side and can NOt be missed.
It takes 5 minutes to buy a prepaid Maldives sim card and get it activated! There is no need to buy an international sim card for Maldives when you can just buy a local one straight after you arrived. Both shops are open from 08.00 till 23.00, even on Fridays (holy day in Maldives).
Male and Hulhumale
For the budget traveler that does not go straight to one of the private islands you can also buy a Maldives prepaid sim card in one of the stores in Male or Hulhumale.
In Male you will find a dozen phone shops that sell Maldives sim cards or pick either one of the official stores of Ooreedoo or Dhiraagu. Prices are the same so it does not matter which shop you will walk in to.
What do you need to bring to buy a sim card?
Always bring your passport, it is strictly enforced and without a copy of your passport you don’t get a Maldives sim card. A driver’s license or any other photo ID will not be accepted.
Prices Maldives prepaid sim card cost in 2021
- Ooredoo Maldives prepaid sim card will cost you only 32 MVR ($2) and it comes with 20 MVR credit.
- Dhiraagu Maldives prepaid sim card will cost you exactly the same.
Ooredoo Maldives prepaid sim card
These are the up to date tourist sim card prices for Ooreedoo as of June 2021 at Male International Airport. All these sim cards packages are data only, but you can buy additional calling packages for a couple dollars.
Basically for $20 you will get 17 GB data for 7 days. Staying longer than you pay $30 for 17 GB and your data is valid for 14 days. For a country as expensive as Maldives this is not too bad.
Staying longer in Maldives then I recommend you to have a look at this prepaid plan for 500 MVR = $32,50.
These are the prepaid offers from Ooredoo, check their website for the latest sim card deals.
Dhiraagu Maldives prepaid sim card
Data packages in Maldives got much cheaper over the last years. But be aware these package are only valid for a short-term stay in Maldives. with Dhiraagu you can already get 4 GB data for 7 days for just $15.
Staying longer in Maldives? These are the prices I found on the Dhiraagu website as of June 2021 for prepaid sim cards for 30 days.
The have significantly smaller data packages, but they offer 2 free social media apps.
Best prepaid data sim card in Maldives
Based on the above I would always ask for one of the 30 days packages, rather than the tourist sim cards they sell at Maldives airport. I am not a fan of 1 GB per day, I rather decide my own.
Therefore Dhiraagu is the best prepaid sim card in Maldives. For 475 MVR ($31) you get 7 GB and 2 social media apps for free.
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How fast is internet with a Maldives sim card?
Considering how difficult this country is in terms of logistics I must say they are doing a pretty good job delivering high speed internet to your mobile. Pretty much every local island has a 4G signal nowadays. Resorts near Male International Airport obviously have faster internet because of their proximity to the capital city.
Other resorts away from Male invested heavily in high speed Wi-Fi. At Lux South Ari Atoll I was able to watch Netflix and do Facebook Live videos.
Is there 5G in Maldives?
Unfortunately there is no 5G in Maldives yet, but 4G is widespread. Maldives holds the 45th spot in the world internet speed ranking for mobile with an average download speed of almost 42 Mbps as of June 2021.
These are the Maldives coverage maps in 2021 for 4G.
Coverage Ooredoo Maldives
Coverage Dhiraagu Maldives
As you can see the 4G coverage of Ooredoo is a little better than Dhiraagu, but there is not much difference.
My experience buying a sim card in Maldives
I have traveled around the Maldives quite extensively and found out that both the Ooredoo and Dhiraagu prepaid sim cards have a 4G signal at most islands. If your trip to Maldives is less than 14 days then buying a prepaid sim card at the airport is definitely worth it.
Prices are fairly the same, it comes down what kind of user you are. I also stayed a lot in local islands and then I used a lot of internet. Fair enough prices are reasonable, so I can live with it. In my opinion it is shit that most prepaid sim cards for tourists in Maldives are only valid for 14 days, but well for most people a Maldives holiday is less than 7 days anyway.
In September 2017 I was actually one of the speakers at the World Travel Writers Conference in Maldives where we discussed how storytelling could contribute to successful destination marketing for Maldives and how to attract all kind of travelers. A trip to Maldives is HOT!
Tourism in the Maldives is picking up quickly (before the Corona pandemic) and with so many developments and investments going on Maldives will soon be a tourist hotspot in South Asia. Cheap flights are reaching Male already from South East Asia, India, Sri Lanka and Dubai. Or even on your way from Europe to Asia you can find stopover flights here with many airliners.
Maldives is working hard to also please the budget traveler and a trip to Maldives is now within reach for everyone. Check out my travel guide for Hulhumale Island, the man-made island attached to the airport island with stunning beaches as well.
Hulhumale is not the only local island I traveled to, I also visited Rasdhoo and Fulidhoo. Did you know that Fulidhoo has one of the best scuba diving in Maldives and is only about an hour by speedboat from Male? This beautiful island is also perfect for beach lovers, people who like snorkeling and a great way to get a slice of local Maldivian culture.
I hope the above tips for buying a prepaid Maldives sim card were helpful for your upcoming Maldives holiday. In case you have any questions don't hesitate to leave me a comment below. Im more than happy to help you out!
Enjoy your trip to Maldives!
Some links in this article about the best Maldives sim card are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using the outgoing links I’ll earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at no extra cost to you, but I have the duty to inform you. Thank you for your understanding!