Maldives SIM Card

Buying a Maldives SIM Card [Data & SIM Cards for the Maldives ]

In a country that’s made up of 1,192 islands, you’d think that staying connected to the internet would be quite difficult.  However, the Maldives, despite being only 2.4 meters above sea level at its highest point is actually really quite well connected to the digital world.  And while WiFi in the average budget hotel may leave something to be desired, the connectivity you’ll get from a Maldives SIM card is pretty darned good.  I’m talking connections on public ferries with no other island in sight and speeds that mean you’ll be streaming live video easily.   We stayed on local islands in the Maldives, we stayed in the capital city and we also stayed on a resort, so we were able to check out a lot of internet connectivity as well as working out what the best SIM card for the Maldives is.


The reviews that we’d read about the local islands on which we were staying in the Maldives, told us that while all the hotels we had on our shortlist had WiFi, it didn’t mean that it would be the speeds that we’re used to. Therefore, we planned to buy a SIM card for our Maldives itinerary.   Of course today there are options for physical sims and esims and our first choice was an esim for the Maldives from Airalo (you can find that here), but it was sadly out of stock when we tried to buy it (no I have no idea how an esim can be out of stock, but it was).   So we reverted to a physical SIM card.


SIM Cards

BEST SIM for the Maldives

The best SIM card for the Maldives is an esim, which lets you get online even before you get off the plane. It saves time, its cheaper and there’s less plastic!

WiFi in the Maldives

WiFi was generally available on all the islands that we visited in the Maldives.  We spent time on 5 of the local islands and one resort island.  All the WiFi networks we connected to had username and password requirements and all the cafes and restaurants that we went to that had WiFi (not all did) also had username and password requirements.  So if you made a purchase you could use their WiFi.  The quality of WiFi varied a LOT.  It was consistently fast at the Malahini Kuda Bandos Resort where we stayed for two nights.  It was excellent at the Malas Island View on Fulidhoo, and it was varied at all the other places that we stayed at.  It went from brilliant to virtually nothing in some places, so the backup of having a local SIM card in the Maldives paid off.

We also used the public ferries a lot in the Maldives and had 4G access for all but about 500 meters of our travel on them.  The two week itinerary that we followed on our trip is here.

WiFi Access at Velana International Airport

There is free WiFi access at Velana International Airport (aka Malé Airport) and it’s a good job as a lot of folks (us included) forgot to complete their digital immigration form, and had to use their WiFi and QR codes to complete it. 

Clearly, they’re very used to this happening because there are signs for the QR code and the WiFi details all around the arrivals area before immigration.

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WiFi Access at Hotels in the Maldives

The best WiFi we had in the Maldives was at the Malahini Kuda Bandos Resort Hotel, but then we were paying hundreds of dollars a night for it, so yeah I’m pretty glad it was decent WiFi.  The Malas Island View Hotel on Fulidhoo also had great WiFi.  Each of our other hotels had WiFi and it was reasonable, but we did turn on the mobile data a few times, especially when we wanted to stream things.  Here’s where we stayed (and recommend) on the various islands we visited in the Maldives.

Sun Shine Villa, Maafushi (excellent place to stay, great host and super snorkel gear)

Malas Island View, Fulidhoo (friendly, great room, huge bathroom, laundry service for 100 MVR)

Malahini Island Resort (our resort island in the Maldives.  Gorgeous, fabulous food, great room, stunning snorkeling)

Batuta Maldives Surf View, Thulusdhoo (right on the beach, great location, excellent breakfast, our room was comfortable but we didn’t get the room with a view!)

Isla, Dhiffushi, Dhiffushi (the best room of the local islands, fabulous room, great location)

UMET Sea View, Malé (great location, good, if small room, lovely staff, and a free transfer to AND from the airport)

Why Get a SIM Card for the Maldives?

We wanted a Maldives SIM card as we planned several WhatsApp calls with family, and then there was a football game we wanted to stream, and of course, making sure that our photos were backed up to the cloud as well as all the usual connectivity that we expected.  We also wanted to make sure that we weren’t reliant on local WiFi, in case there were problems with it where we were staying.

Where to Buy a SIM Card for the Maldives

You’ve got the usual options when it comes to buying a SIM Card in the Maldives.  I’ll start with the most convenient  An esim for the Maldives.

Buy an Esim for the Maldives

If you have a phone that can accept esims, then this is the simplest, easiest, and QUICKEST way to get a sim for the Maldives.  It works the minute you get off the plane, you’ve paid for it and registered it BEFORE you land at Velana Airport and it just works.

If you don’t want to spend time at the airport, or even in Malé City buying a physical sim, then this is the best option for mobile data in the Maldives.

Buy a Maldives SIM Card at Airport Arrivals

There are two mobile data providers at Velana International Airport.  And as soon as you have got through immigration and are heading towards the “outside world”, you’ll start to see their logos and ways in which you can buy a Maldives SIM Card.

Maldives SIM card machines Velana Airport
Maldives SIM card machines Velana Airport

First of all, there are machines where you can scan your passport.  And put a card in.

Then once you get outside into the main area of the airport there are more machines.  These were broken when we visited.

Maldives Airport Ooredoo Machine for SIM
Maldives Airport Ooredoo Machine for SIM

And then if you turn RIGHT immediately after getting out of the arrivals area, there are two stores.  Ooredoo and Dhiraagu.  They’re right next to each other.

Velana Airport Ooredoo and Dhiraagu SIM Stores
Velana Airport Ooredoo and Dhiraagu SIM Stores

And this, if there are no esims available, or if you don’t have a phone that accepts esims, is where you can buy a Maldives SIM card.  There’s no current way to prepurchase a physical SIM card for the Maldives and collect it on arrival.

However.  The stores take credit and debit cards or cash.

(If you need cash, and if you’re traveling the Maldives on a budget you can read our guide to cash and ATMS in the Maldives here.)

The mobile phone stores at the airport are open if there is a flight that has landed

If you decide to buy a SIM card at the Maldives airport then you’ll need to have the following information

  • Your passport
  • Payment (you can pay by cash or card, foreign cards are accepted)

The process takes just 5 minutes and is quick and easy.

They’ll fit your SIM card for you and it works immediately.  There are also various options here.   The offers in both stores were the same.

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For Mobile Data in the Maldives with a physical SIM here are your options and prices

US$40 – 20GB of Data + 150 local minutes +150 local SMS + Valid for 30 days

US$50 – 100Gb of Data + 300 local minutes +300 local SMS + Valid for 30 days

Or you can get a Tourist MiFi – mobile hotspot

US$100 – 100Gb of Data  + Valid for 30 days.

Ooredoo SIM Card Pricing Tourists
Ooredoo SIM Card Pricing Tourists

Note:  We bought a physical sim at Ooredoo – we bought 20Gb of data and used it via hotspot for two laptops and a second mobile phone.  We streamed two 90-minute football games on it and used it for a lot of connectivity on public ferries as well as in some hotels.  We still had 6.5GB left at the end of our two-week trip.

Ooredoo Tourist SIM Maldives
Ooredoo Tourist SIM Maldives

FAQS about SIM Cards in the Maldives

Here are the questions that we had about getting a SIM card for the Maldives, and the answers we worked out.

Can I use an esim in the Maldives?

Yes.  You can use an esim in the Maldives.  You can check out the options of buying an esim for the Maldives here.

Can you use a hotspot on an esim in the Maldives?

Yes.  You can use a hotspot on an esim or a physical sim in the Maldives. If you’re hot spotting, then your battery will drain quickly. Make sure you’ve got the right power adapter for the Maldives, my guide is here.

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What’s the best mobile operator in the Maldives?

There are two mobile operators available to tourists in the Maldives – Ooredoo and Dhiraagu – both get similar ratings and quality of service and both offered the same options to us.  Both companies have top availability scores.

Can I buy a SIM card in Malé Airport?

Yes, you can buy tourist SIM cards in arrivals at the Velana International Airport.

Tips for Traveling the Maldives

Final Words on Getting a SIM Card for the Maldives

Whether you’re spending time on a resort island in the Maldives or traveling to the local islands, being connected has never been so easy.  There are physical SIM cards available for mobile data in the Maldives and also esims.  This isn’t as cheap as the SIM cards you’ll find in South East Asia, but it’s very easy to get online with a Maldives SIM card and they’re also easy to buy too.  The eSim for the Maldives is the most convenient way of getting online.

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