Maldives’ ACTUAL 2 Best eSIMs (2023)

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As a travel photographer who needs Internet access to run my business, I can’t rely on slow Wifi connections or no signal when traveling round Maafushi or Male, and that’s where eSIMs come in.

You could use your home SIM card and network and roam internationally of course, but this usually costs an absolute fortune, and I definitely do not like spending more money than I have to!

So when I was last in the Maldives, I scouted out the actual best eSIMs that would be reliable, fast and wouldn’t throttle my data or kick me off if I hit some arbitrary cap.

So that you don’t have to go through these same hours of research, my quick recommendations for eSIMs in the Maldives that you can set up in seconds are below.

The best value for money is the Airalo Ooredoo with a 4G connection and local calling credit, while the AIS Global card can also be a good choice for some.

If you want to know why I’ve recommended each eSIM, then full details on each of them are below, as well as info on why I would not recommend a local SIM from one of the Maldivian national operators.

best esim for maldives

Quick eSIM Picks for The Maldives

I’ll cover the differences between the performance of each eSIM in detail further on in this article, but if you just want a quick top pick, then choose one of these three depending on the length of your trip and your expected data use.

My Top 2 eSIMs for the Maldives are:

  • Airalo Ooredoo eSIMs are the best value for money as they have plenty of 4G data and come with call credit that can be used for international texts.
  • AIS’ Global eSIM is about the same price but offers 5G speeds, although it has a shorter validity, but can be used in 120+ countries.

Either of these can be an excellent choice, but I would personally recommend Airalo for price and speed. It’s very easy to set up using their app.

You don’t need ID or any KYC checks for the AIS eSIM, but you do need to scan ID documents for the Airalo eSIM.

Should You Get Calls/Texts eSIMs?

In general, eSIMs only offer data and not calls and texts.

In practise this is not a problem, as you can still use WhatsApp with an eSIM. You may need to receive a code by text to your existing number to confirm your identity with your new eSIM, but either way you will be using WhatsApp within seconds without any problems.

You should also be able to keep using Uber and the like, as you keep your existing physical SIM card active, meaning that you keep your current phone number and can still receive texts to it for ID confirmation.

Even if you do need to call a business, most now offer WhatsApp calling, and of course you can still use it to connect with friends and family.

If you do have a definite need for calls and texts, then you should look at the Discover+ from Airalo which you can set up prior to leaving for your trip, or a local SIM card when you get to your destination, but the latter adds a lot more hassle.

How Easy Is It To Use An eSIM?

First, you will need to make sure your phone is not locked to a carrier. If you got your phone at a reduced price under a monthly contract, then your phone may well be locked. You can usually request a code to unlock it from your carrier at the end of your contract.

If you bought your phone without a SIM or use a pre-paid card, then it is almost certainly already unlocked.

Most phones and iPads made in the last few years will support eSIMs, but you should double-check your model to make sure. There’s a comprehensive list here.

You can also check if your phone is compatible from Settings on Android or iOS.

Once you know that your phone is compatible, it’s as simple as scanning a QR code from your eSIM operator, or do it all through the app for providers like Airalo.

how to install an esim on android
How to install an eSIM on a Google Pixel phone.

You will then be able to set your eSIM up in seconds once you have made your purchase.

Local SIMs from Maldivian Operators

eSIM companies do not own their mobile networks – they instead piggyback on local providers.

The potential problem with this is that some local providers will prioritize their customers in times of high traffic load, meaning that eSIM customers (and anyone internationally roaming) could suffer from slower speeds.

But there’s another variable to take into account – local provider’s pre-paid customers.

Because the local providers will make more money from contract customers than from pre-paid, pre-paid customers get pushed to the bottom of the pile, and it’s them that get deprioritized first during high network traffic.

This means that an eSIM from someone like Airalo can actually offer faster data speeds than pre-paid SIMs from local operators.

The other advantage of eSIMs is that you can set them up in seconds, usually using the provider’s app, and you don’t need to wait until you are in the country in question to do this.

Buying a local SIM often has you jumping through bureaucratic hoops, queueing in shops and getting worse deals than locals purely because you are buying the SIM in the airport.

Personally, after a long flight that’s the last thing I want to do.

In the Maldives, you need to have your passport scanned to get a physical SIM. You can avoid this with the AIS eSIM if it’s a concern to you.

Now, let’s get into it and see exactly why I recommend these particular eSIMs.

Airalo eSIMs for the Maldives (Includes Local Calls)

Airalo are one of the most highly regarded global eSIM operators, as not only are they often the cheapest and best value for money for short trips, but they also almost always offer 5G network speeds if they are available in the country in question.

They use local provider networks, but unlike other similarly priced subscribers, Airalo seems to choose the fastest of these networks.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in the Maldives, where their country-specific plan, the Ooredoo, is on 4G using the Ooredoo network.

This is the fastest 4G network in the Maldives, with wide availability across the islands.

Airalo has two plans depending on your trip length and data usage:

  1. Airalo Ooredoo eSIM 20 GB in 30 days – includes MVR 100 call credit
  2. Airalo Ooredoo eSIM 30 GB in 30 days – includes MVR 150 call credit

You can buy the plan now and set it up using the Airalo app in seconds without affecting the validity, although you do need to go through a quick eKYC procedure first, uploading your ID documents.

The timer only starts when your eSIM connects to any one of the supported networks, meaning that it will start as soon as you get in-country.

airalo esim for maldives

The other nice touch of the Airalo’s is that they include some local call credit, which can also be used for international texts.

You either get 100 or 150 MVR credit, with local calls costing 1.39 MVR per minute, and local texts 0.20 MVR. International texts are 1 MVR, but you cannot make international calls.

I know from personal experience that it can be pretty useful to have some local call credit, so that you can call a boat to pick you up from that deserted island that looked so inviting.

the maldives

AIS Global eSIM (Great for Global Trips)

Although a global-specific eSIM rather than a specific location eSIM, AIS offers the best value for money option for medium data use over two weeks if you are visiting multiple countries in quick succession.

For the Maldives only, their single option of 6 GB in 15 days for the same sort of price as the 20 GB / 30 days card from Airalo is not good value for money, but AIS do offer 5G in the Maldives (although only really in Male and attached islands) and there’s no KYC requirements.

ais global esim

Whether this matters depends on how much you value your privacy and how fast a connection you want when you’re in the capital.

The Best eSIM for the Maldives: Conclusion

Out of the two eSIMs available, the best is Airalo’s Ooredoo, with a lot of data and a whole month to use it. The local call credit is the icing on the cake.

AIS are only really valuable if you will need to connect to 5G enroute, or if you don’t want to entrust your ID documents to an eSIM company.

Read More:

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Follow Tim Daniels:

Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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