Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory in the Maldives as 10% service charge is added to everything - but given the low salaries earned by the staff and the excellent level of service generally offered, it is a nice gesture to help the staff of resorts to earn some extra money.  It is also not entirely certain that the 10% service charge is passed on to the staff.

Over the years the tipping culture has changed in the Maldives, mainly due to Europeans & visitors from other continents giving varying amounts of cash as tips.  This article is designed to give an insight as to what is an acceptable level of tipping.  This will obviously vary from person to person based on the term 'what is acceptable'.  All quotes are in United States $ as this is the most widely accepted currency.  It is a good idea to take small denomination notes to aid the tipping process.

The figures below are intended purely as a guide and the dynamics of the island you stay on may impact considerably on who and how much you tip: ie shared dinner tables/ more than one waiter/room boy:

  • Baggage / Porters -  1-5$ per bag
  • Room Boy - 10-20$ per week
  • Waiter(s) - 10-20$ per week
  • Bar staff - 10-20$ per week
  • Garden maintenance/sweeper - 1-5$ as a gesture ??
  • Specialist Chef - 10-20$ per week
  • Boat crew -   5 - $10 per trip to be shared (depending on number of crew)
  • Spa staff - 5 - $10 per treatment
  • Unseen staff tipping box - usually found in Reception or Main Restaurant - $10-20 per week (this is for all the staff you do not see).  Generally staff outnumber guests by 2-1 but on some resorts by as much as 5-1 - it is the unseen staff that usually do not feature highly on tips so it is important to find a tipping box for this purpose. 
  • If you dive, then you will probably want to include all or specific members of the team when handing out tips.

 There are a variety of ways in which you can tip.  Many people like to tip on a weekly basis, some everyday,  while others prefer to leave it until the end of the holiday.  Each has its merits and will not affect the service you receive.  However, be aware that your last evening/morning may co-incide with time off for one or more of your regular staff and plan your tipping accordingly.



Etiquette

Islam is the predominant religion in the Maldives.  However, the resort islands are very relaxed  and casual dress is the norm.  Note though that beachwear is not acceptable in the restaurant(s) on resort islands or away from the resorts.  Guests entering the restaurant in swimwear will be asked by a member of staff to cover up.  See-through cover ups eg: sarongs made from sheer fabric, are also not acceptable in the restaurant.  When visiting the capital Male, or local islands, visitors should adopt a more modest form of dress and ensure that shoulders and thighs, at least,  are covered.  Topless sunbathing is against the law, although it is seen from time to time from tourists who choose to show a lack of respect for local customs.