This post is a biased towards females, but being female I have a better insight into what female volunteers need – plus we have stricter rules! However males will also benefit. This post is a guide and shouldn’t be taken as exact, having been here a little over a month so far there is things I wish I’d known before I arrived and I hope this helps with your packing.
First things first, you MUST bring snorkeling equipment no matter which programme you are part of! There is plenty opportunities to snorkel, and directly in front of the marine centre you could spot and eagle ray, sting ray, moray eel, spiny lobster, turtles or octopus along with many colourful and interesting fish. For females, you m
ust be covered from shoulders to knees whilst around the island and this includes swimming, a rash vest and ¾ sports
leggings work well. Ensure vest and leggings are not light coloured and wont go see through when wet. Make sure you bring a couple bikinis too for wearing underneath and
when we get the odd chance to show some skin!
For guys you can go swimming in trunks, but a rash vest is also advisable – the sun is strong in the Maldives and a rash vest is a good way to save on sun cream without burning.
I love having my GoPro in the Maldives, there is so many underwater photo opportunities.
The Maldives is strictly Muslim, this means that females must be covered on local islands and that includes Naifaru. I find the best clothing is loose t-shirt paired with harem trousers (loose cotton trousers with elasticated ankles), these keep you fairly cool and prevent mosquitos biting your legs. A maxi or midi length skirt is a very useful item, particularly for in the evening. Leggings are good too, but bear in mind mosquitos can bite through them. The mosquitos are only a problem at the marine centre and I rarely notice them on other parts of the island. If you are a marine volunteer a few pairs of loose trousers is useful as you tend to need to wash them after every couple wears. For deep cleaning of the tanks, leggings are best as you tend to get wet – I usually wear my swimming leggings. For teaching and medical volunteers you need to have formal wear for going into the school or hospital. Flip flops are a must, I have worn nothing but my flip flops since my arrival! Take a light waterproof jacket, on the off chance it rains, it will rain hard! You will start to acclimitise and evenings can be a bit cooler, a cardigan is a useful layer to have.
When we go on excursions (once a week) we will be able to let our shoulders see the sun! It is therefore useful to have a 1 or 2 vest tops and a pair of shorts. You really don’t need many as the only opportunities to wear them are on excursion or in the house. You do need to be covered to get to the boat to go on excursion so a sarong, or something similar, always comes in handy, and then for lying on the beach too.
Guys you really just need shorts and t-shirts, your shorts don’t need to cover your knees but don’t wear them too short. Again teaching and medical volunteers will need formal clothes.
You will be provided with bed sheets but you will need to bring your own towel. Do bring plenty sun cream, the sun is strong and you don’t want to burn or get wrinkles! Shampoo, conditioner, soap etc can all be bought on Naifaru but its not cheap and you are better to bring your own, at least to start if you are here for a couple months. Sanitary products are possible to find, but the range is not large, so do bring sanitary products.
Antihistamines are good to take along with bite cream, those pesky mosquitos can get you from time to time – take a DEET insect repellant to keep this to a minimum. The Maldive’s people do not use toilet paper but a hose instead, because of this toilet paper cannot be bought on Naifaru. We encourage our volunteers to embrace the Maldives way of life, but if you would prefer to stick to the western style we will provide a bin for your convenience, but toilet paper is your expense. Toilet paper cannot go down the toilet, the toilet will block and that’s always awkward! Bring a roll of toilet paper to start off your time in the Maldives and if the hose is not for you, buy tissues in the shops.
A few other useful but not essential items – a dry bag for going on excursion, sometimes we have to disembark the boat at waist height; a sunhat to shield your face from the sun; sewing kit; the Maldives use UK plug sockets so an adapter if required; moisturiser to prevent pealing and movies on a USB stick. Makeup is not an essential, I think I’ve put on mascara twice in six weeks! I took far too much makeup and it just sweats off!
Most importantly do not forget your sunglasses and your camera!