Tourist arrested for wearing bikini in the Maldives – The facts behind the headlines

A western tourist was arrested recently in the Maldives, allegedly for wearing a bikini. It made dramatic headline news around Europe. So let’s look beyond the headline a little.

The tourist, who it seems was British and apparently a UK Government advisor (capacity unknown), was staying on the island of Maafushi, which is located about 16 miles south of the capital island Male. Unlike many of the islands in the Maldives, which are exclusively for tourists and tend to be single resort, Maafushi has a local population of around 3,000. It has no international hotels, however, it does have over 50 simple guest houses.

These were encouraged by the Maldives Government , in an attempt to diversify their tourism and to give opportunities for  more  of the local population  to be involved.


It also opens up a different pricing level. Plus there could be clients who deliberately shun the exclusive resort island and want something which is much more simple and authentic. By choosing this style  of holiday any traveller realistically accepts local standards on dress etiquette and traditions. This happens throughout the world and not just in the Maldives.

Yes, the island police could have been heavy handed in dealing with this matter, following complaints from some of the local population. The tourist was seemingly released after a few hours and then moved to another island before flying home.

 Lessons learnt are several. The Maldives Government maybe needs to be more specific when promoting this type of holiday. Also overseas clients travelling to any area need to be respectful to local traditions, and this particularly applies when “homestay“ type accommodation has been selected.

 Just as an aside on this , all of the holidays offered by Chic Locations in the Maldives are to exclusive resort islands where bikini type swimwear is accepted. Although it is expected, this will be suitably modest rather than heart attack inducing!  Day visits to locally inhabited islands can be arranged depending on atoll location.

“There’s no such thing as the best hotel, just the right one…”


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All price guides are Per Person Sharing Double Room (Entry level), based on travel between May and/or June when prices are generally at their lowest and include promotional offers.

Supplements will probably apply at other times, particularly mid-summer in the Med, and for rooms and/or transfers arranged for single travellers.

For example, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean prices for winter can be approximately double the May – June level and about 50% more in Asia.

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*For Sri Lanka and Far East we show a per person per night hotel guide, excluding air fare, as arrangements tend to be individually tailored multi-centre itineraries.

Please refer to Travel Advice on our home page or look at as the Foreign Office may have issued specific destination information on safety and terrorism.


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