Alcohol in the Maldives
Bringing alcohol in the Maldives is strictly forbidden. The Maldives are Muslim islands and this is why alcohol is forbidden. All bags are scanned as you depart the airport and any alcohol found is confiscated. This includes any duty free you have purchased whilst in the airport or on the Plane. You will usually get your alcohol back when you leave the Maldives, but technically you are smuggling and they have the right to put you in jail. However, nearly all resort islands and live aboard boats are licensed to serve alcohol in the Maldives, often with a steep mark up.
There used to be an expatriate alcohol permit that allowed expats living in the Maldives to buy alcohol for their own use, but this is no longer in existence. The only exception, where people can drink alcohol is at the Hulhule Island Hotel, known locally as HIH or the airport hotel. Tourists are very much insulated from everyday Maldives life, where alcohol is banned and skimpy beachwear very much frowned upon. This is because they are taken straight to the resort from the airport and are immediately able to start drinking alcohol in the Maldives. They will then spend the rest of the week relaxing in blissful ignorance of the country around them. It has been this way for many years, the result of a deliberate policy of keeping the wealthy holidaymakers, most of them Westerners and many newlyweds, on uninhabited islands, keeping them separated from the local Muslim population. To completely ban alcohol in the Maldives would be a disaster for the tourist industry, which along with fishing, is the main source of income for the Maldives.
To get round the no alcohol in the Maldives there are actually two different laws, one for the local population and one for the tourists. This is why tourists are not considered to be actually breaking the law when they are drinking in the Maldives on the resort islands. Other laws that are different for tourists are the ability to eat pork products, again, these are banned from being bought in to the country and will be confiscated at the airport. Also pre-marital sex is not allowed, Maldivian women can be flogged in public for this.
The local Maldivians as a rule do not drink alcohol, but this is less true of the younger generation, as on resorts you may see them having a quiet drink. They are, however, unhappy about having their photos taken whilst drinking. To get to know more about life in the Maldives it is a good idea to take an excursion to an inhabited island. Here you get more understanding for local life and the culture of the Maldives. While on the trips you will not be able to drink alcohol, but you can make up for this once back in your resort.