The Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am), with hot and humid conditions throughout the year. The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, approximately 250 miles southwest of India and Sri Lanka. The tropical paradise is typically rainy over the year, with abundant sunlight amid running clouds and turquoise waters. Diurnal temperature differences are minimal irrespective of the season. The southwest monsoon, equatorial location of the islands, proximity to the vast landmass of the Indian subcontinent, and the engulfment by the vast Indian Ocean are the main factors that influence the climate of the country.
The Maldives consists of more than 1192 coral islands in 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago stretches 544 miles in the north-south direction between latitudes 1°N and 8°S and longitudes 72°E and 74°E. The Maldives is the world's most dispersed country and has the lowest elevation among all nations. The total area is over 35,000 square miles, out of which only 115 square miles is dry land. The average elevation is just 1.5 meters above sea level, and the highest natural point lies only 2.4 meters above sea level. The country has a natural composition of live coral reefs and sand bars, which sits on top of a vast underwater 600-mile submarine ridge. The atolls in the archipelago generally consist of a ring-shaped coral reef that engulfs numerous small islands less than 1 square mile in area. There are no hills in the flat landscape, but dunes can reach a height of 2.4 meters. Lakes and marshes exist on the islands, but there are no rivers. Gan is the largest island in the Laamu Atoll, with a length of only 5 miles.
Two distinct seasons dominate the weather of Maldives. The northeast monsoon overlooks the dry season from November to April, while the southwest monsoon dictates the wet season from May to October. Temperatures are usually in the range of 24°C (75.2°F) to 33°C (91.4°F) over the year, with average high temperature at 31.5°C (88.7°F) and the average low temperature at 26.4°C (79.5°F). Summers are hot and humid under the sway of the tropical weather. Equatorial currents influence the weather, and the monsoon is prominent in the north than the south. The northern portion of the country has a more pronounced dry period from January to April than the southern part. Few days register below 25°C (77°F) in the winter, and even nights are warm. Days and nights are of equal duration during the year due to location near the equator. Trade winds provide pleasant breezes during the winter. The average daily wind speeds remain in the 8km/h (5mph) to 24.1km/h (15mph) range throughout the year. The tropical cyclone season runs from June to November, and the highest frequency of storms is in August and September.
The Maldives receives abundant annual rainfall that ranges from 2540mm (100") in the north to over 3810mm (150") in the south. The precipitation is throughout the year, but relatively less in the dry season, which contributes up to 20% of the annual amount. The southwest monsoon dominates the wet season, while the northeast monsoon brings rainfall in the dry season. Afternoon thunderstorms with rain for short periods are a standard feature of the climate. The abundant sunshine ranges from 2600 hours to 3000 hours annually, with an average of 7 hours to 9 hours of daily sunshine. The sunlight is intense in the country except for the winter. The average seawater temperatures at 27.8°C (82°F) are favorable for swimming throughout the year. The annual average relative humidity is 80%, with a monthly peak of 82% during the rainy season.
The highest temperature on record for the Maldives is 34.9°C (94.8°F), set on May 19, 1991, in Hanimaadhoo. The lowest recorded temperature is 17.2°C (63°F), set on April 11, 1978, in Hulhule Island.
The best time to visit Maldives
The best time to visit the Maldives is from December to April, with comfortable temperatures and relatively fewer rainy days. Torrential rainfall is unheard, and 24-hour precipitation is short of 25.4mm (1"), even on the wettest day. The winter is usually warm and sunny in the northern half, with at least 8 hours of daily sunshine. Humidity levels are tolerable, the skies are blue, and the waters are calm. Nights are cozy, with temperatures above 25°C (77°F). The end of the cyclone season instills calmness in the atmosphere, and the conditions are pleasant. The southern half receives more rain and afternoon thunderstorms than the northern one.
The worst time to visit Maldives
The worst time to visit the Maldives is from May to October in the wet season. May and October comprise the two maxima of the rainy season and are particularly humid, cloudy, and wet. Temperatures rarely rise above 32.2°C (90°F) but seldom drop below 25°C (77°F). Torrential rainfall and a high heat index keep the days stifling hot, and the period is uncomfortable for people foreign to tropical weather patterns. Additionally, the cyclone season falls in the wet season and brings stormy weather to the islands. The southern half is suitable for a vacation in the summer as the influence of the southwest monsoon is marginal.
The Maldives is susceptible to tropical cyclones, tsunamis, floods, and rainstorms. Tropical cyclones are active between May and November, with the highest frequency in those two months. Floods are a concern after heavy rain in the wet season due to the flat topography. Cyclones cause damage due to torrential rain, high wind speeds, and create giant waves in the usually calm waters. Fuvahmulah and the southern atolls are more prone to storms due to their proximity to the equator. Even a slight sea-level increase due to global warming poses an existential threat, as the country lies nearly at sea level. Rise in seawater temperatures by -12.8°C (9°F) killed 65% of the country's coral reefs in 1998.
Weather in January
January has pleasant weather in the Maldives, with warm and sunny days. The prevalent northeast monsoon brings moderate precipitation. Running clouds are a standard feature rather than spotless skies. The average temperatures are in the warm range of 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F), with humidity levels between 65% and 75%. Male, the capital in the central atoll, registers a moderate 88.9mm (3.5") of rainfall. Gan, in the south, receives at least 200.7mm (7.9") in 10 wet days in January. Sunny days with 8 hours of bright sunlight are suitable for exploring the chain of islands. The average sea temperatures, at a warm 27.2°C (81°F), are favorable for swimming. The bright sunshine pierces the reef waters to give a clear view of the underwater world. The average daily wind speeds in Male are at a comfortable 18.3km/h (11.4mph). Expect little temperature differences after sunset, but comfortable nights. New Year weather is an open invitation to the Maldives in January that is especially delightful for tourists from cold countries.
Weather in February
February is the driest month of the year, with bright and sunny conditions in the Maldives. The average temperatures are between 25.6°C (78.1°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F) and gradually rise in the second half of the month. Male registers warm temperatures in the 25°C (77°F) to 31.1°C (88°F) range. The cloud cover remains constant above 58%, while February 19 is the clearest day of the year. The humidity levels are in the range of 70% to 80%, and wind speeds decrease from 18km/h (11.2mph) to 14km/h (8.7mph) over the month. Precipitation ranges from 88.9mm (3.5") in the north to 200.7mm (7.9") in the south. February encounters only 5 to 10 wet days with light to moderate rainfall. The 12-hour days see at least 8 hours of bright sunshine, with little obstruction from sun or rain. Scuba diving and snorkeling are particularly attractive in the mornings. Swimming is a popular activity with average sea temperatures at a warm 27.8°C (82°F). A light sweater is enough for the mild February nights in the Maldives.
Weather in March
March is sunny in the Maldives, with light spells of rain. The average temperatures in Male are in the hot range of 26.1°C (79°F) to 31.1°C (88°F). It is prudent to relax indoors between 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. when the ultraviolet index of the sun is at the peak of 12. Ungoofaaru, in the Raa Atoll, in the north is relatively dry, with 76.2mm (3") of average precipitation in the month. March has running clouds in the skies 60% of the time in the Maldives. The 12-hour daylight is suitable for outdoor excursions, although the heat builds up gradually. The colorful reefs and shallow lagoons have calm waters without the threat of tropical storms. Mornings and evenings are perfect to inhabit the beaches, as the average daily wind speeds remain in the 9.7km/h (6mph) to 14.5km/h (9mph) range. March 27 is the calmest day in Male, with wind speeds below 10.9km/h (6.8mph). Expect a rise in temperatures by the second half of March in the Maldives.
Weather in April
April is hot in the Maldives, with mostly clear skies amid plenty of sunshine. The average temperatures are in the hot zone of 26.1°C (79°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) range. Nights remain warm, with a slight decrease in the temperatures. Gan Island in the south receives 170.2mm (6.7") of precipitation, while the northern islands record between 101.6mm (4") to 152.4mm (6") of rainfall. The sun shines brightly for at least 8 hours, even though the cloud cover lasts for 75% of the time. The probability of rainfall increases rapidly from 19% at the beginning of April to 36% by its end. Light summer clothing is usually best, with a light sweatshirt, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Beach lovers find the seawaters at 27.8°C (82°F) comfortable for swimming. Early risers enjoy the morning air and the beautiful sunrise between 5.55 a.m. to 6.05 a.m. Evenings are comfortable with light breezes and a slight drop in temperatures. Expect the days to heat further with each passing day in April in the Maldives.
Weather in May
May is hot and humid at the beginning of the wet season in the Maldives. The first maximum of the wet season brings more than 203.2mm (8") of precipitation in the country. The average temperatures remain in the 26.1°C (79°F) to 31.1°C (88°F), but the humidity makes the heat oppressive at times. The Addu Atoll in the south receives an average of 226.1mm (8.9") of rainfall in 16 wet days in May. Male records more than 210.8mm (8.3") of precipitation, and most of the islands register high numbers. The humidity between 75% to 90% induces much sweat to the discomfort of the tourists. The skies remain overcast more than 85% of the time, and outdoor excursions are challenging, with the possibility of daily rainfall at 50%. Afternoon thunderstorms are a standard feature of the weather in May. The visibility decreases substantially from an average of 6 miles to less than a mile during thunderstorms. It is prudent to avoid a trip to the Maldives in May.
Weather in June
June is humid and wet in the Maldives, as the southwest monsoon is prevalent everywhere. The average temperatures register in Male are in the range of 26.1°C (79°F) to 30°C (86°F), with relative humidity levels between 75% to 90%. Kudahuvadhoo, in the Dhaalu Atoll in the south, registers temperatures in the zone of 26.7°C (80.1°F) to 30.6°C (87.1°F), with at least 185.4mm (7.3") of rainfall. The chance of daily rainfall decreases gradually from 53% to 43% during the month. The longest days of the year register in the third week of June at 12 hours and 22 minutes. The skies remain overcast for 88% of the time in the first week to June and are the clearest during the last week. Expect 7 hours of daily sunshine and better weather in the second half of the month. A raincoat or umbrella is essential in the wet season. June is an opportunity for budget travelers to take advantage of fewer crowds in the Maldives.
Weather in July
July is humid and wet in the Maldives, with plenty of rain. Temperatures are in the sticky range of 25.6°C (78.1°F) to 30°C (86°F) everywhere, with a slight drop in precipitation. The trough of the wet season still registers at least 127mm (5") of rainfall in the north and 152.4mm (6") in the south. The seawaters are warm above 28.3°C (82.9°F), and a fair number of visitors take advantage of the offseason. The sky is overcast for 87% of the time in July. Although the possibility of clear skies is low, the sunshine lasts for 7 hours every day. The days are muggy, with relative humidity between 75% to 90% and wind speeds mostly below 16.1km/h (10mph). Wind direction is predominantly from the west. Scattered thunderstorms occur in July, and tropical storms touch the coasts. The clearest days are during the first week of the month, with the lowest possibility of rainfall at 40%. July is an offseason for tourism in the Maldives.
Weather in August
August is a wet month in the rainy season of Maldives, with stifling heat and generally humid conditions. The precipitation is on the rise, with an average of 152.4mm (6") in the month amid 15 wet days. The average temperatures in Funadhoo and Ugoofaaru in the north are in the range of 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F), while Viligili and Thinadhoo near the equator are slightly high. The weather is unpredictable, with torrential downpour amid rainstorms on the one hand and 7 hours of daily sunshine on the other. Humidity levels remain high even during the nights, which see a slight drop in temperatures. Wind speeds register in the range of 16.1km/h (10mph) to 17.7km/h (11mph). Wear rain jackets or raincoats and waterproof shoes. The possibility of tropical cyclones is high, but most brush the coast and move northward to the Indian coasts. Watch for storm forecasts, and avoid a trip to the Maldives as far as possible in August.
Weather in September
September is wet and humid in the Maldives, as the monsoon is relentless. The average temperatures in Male remain in the 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F) range, with relative humidity between 75% and 95%. Precipitation is usually above 215.9mm (8.5"), with at least 15 wet days in the month. Fuamulaku, Seenu, and Addu Atoll in the south register more than 228.6mm (9") of precipitation, with cloudy skies for 85% of the time. The average sea temperatures register at 28.3°C (82.9°F), but beaches see fewer crowds due to frequent showers and torrential rainfall. The days exceed a little over 12 hours, and the conditions are hot and humid, with 7 hours of daily sunshine. The average daily wind speeds gradually increase from 17.4km/h (10.8mph) to 19.5km/h (12.1mph) in the month. The storm season is at its peak in the Maldives in September as moisture-laden winds move over the islands. Expect the precipitation on an upward curve at the end of September in the Maldives.
Weather in October
October brings the second maximum of the wet season to the Maldives. The wettest month of the year brings 228.6mm (9") to 304.8mm (12") of rainfall in most parts of the country. Male registers 231.1mm (9.1") of rainfall in 16 wet days in October. Gan and the southern islands receive more than 274.3mm (10.8") in 18 rainy days in the month. The weather is humid, wet, and uncomfortable, with average temperatures in the 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F) range. Afternoon thunderstorms occur regularly amid mostly cloudy skies. The clearest period is in the last week of October, where clouds occupy the skies for only 28% of the time. The average daily wind speeds decrease from 19.5km/h (12.1mph) to 10.3 over October. The average seawater temperatures remain at 28.3°C (82.9°F), which are comfortable for water activities during clear periods of weather. The southwest monsoon retreats by the month-end to give way to the northeast monsoon. The conditions gradually become comfortable by the end of October in the Maldives.
Weather in November
November begins the dry season in the Maldives, with a slight drop in temperatures. The northeast monsoon is relatively quiet and dry and devoid of stormy weather. The southern atolls receive heavy rainfall in the form of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoons and evenings. The average precipitation is between 177.8mm (7") to 203.2mm (8") over the archipelago, with average temperatures in the range of 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F). Nights are comfortable, but the humidity does not drop significantly. The transition to the dry season brings 12-hour days with 8 hours of sunshine. Wind speeds remain below 14.5km/h (9mph), and evenings mostly see light breezes on the white sandy beaches. The chance of rainfall remains constant at 45% and cloud cover below 72% in November. Expect comfortable weather and calm seawaters with the arrival of the dry season. Light cotton clothing is the order of the day. November sees a rise in tourist footfalls in the Maldives, with better weather on the cards.
Weather in December
December has mild weather in the Maldives, at the beginning of the winter season. The average temperatures in Male remain in the range of 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F), with a gradual decrease in cloud cover. Isolated thunderstorms occur in the afternoons, even though the tropical cyclone season is over. December 22 is the shortest day of the year at 11 hours and 53 minutes and sunset at 6 p.m. The average relative humidity remains in the range of 70% to 90%, with 152.4mm (6") to 228.6mm (9") of rainfall in most islands. A few of the southern atolls receive slightly more than 228.6mm (9") of precipitation due to the activity of the northeast monsoon. Expect 8 hours of bright sunshine that is perfect for swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling in the turquoise waters. Warm clothing is usually unnecessary but wear a light rain jacket or raincoat. Wind speeds are in the range of 14.5km/h (9mph) to 17.7km/h (11mph). December is a pleasant month to visit the Maldives.