All the resorts are self-contained so they have at least one restaurant, which generally serve the type of cuisine expected by their guests. ( i.e. modern European or generic Asian). Breakfast is almost always included, and most resorts offer the option of half-board, which means you get a dinner buffet, and full board, which means you get a lunch and dinner buffet. These can limit the damage compared to ordering a la carte, but your options are typically very limited and drinks are often not covered, not necessarily even water. If you're planning on drinking a lot, it may be worthwhile to go all inclusive, but even this typically restricts you to house drinks.
The only other place to find food is Male. This comes in two forms. Either small restaurants aimed at the tourists (of which there are a couple of nice Thai restaurants), which are often expensive, or small cafes called hotaa, selling local Maldivian food at prices as low as MVR20 for a complete meal.
Maldivian food revolves largely around fish (mas), in particular tuna (kandu mas), and draws heavily from the Sri Lankan and south Indian tradition, especially Kerala. Dishes are often hot, spicy and flavoured with coconut, but use very few vegetables. A traditional meal consists of rice, a clear fish broth called garudhiya and side dishes of lime, chili and onions. Curries known as riha are also popular and the rice is often supplemented with roshi, unleavened bread akin to Indian roti, and papadhu, the Maldivian version of crispy Indian poppadums. Some other common dishes include:
- mas huni — shredded smoked fish with grated coconuts and onions, the most common Maldivian breakfast
- fihunu mas — barbequed fish basted with chili
- bambukeylu hiti — breadfruit curry
Snacks called hedhikaa, almost invariably fish-based and deep-fried, can be found in any Maldivian restaurant.
- bajiya — pastry stuffed with fish, coconut and onions
- gulha — pastry balls stuffed with smoked fish
- keemia — deep-fried fish rolls
- kulhi borkibaa — spicy fish cake
- masroshi — mas huni wrapped in roshi bread and baked
- theluli mas — fried fish with chili and garlic
As the Maldives are Muslim, alcohol is banned for the local population. However, nearly all resorts, live-aboard boats and the Hulhule Island Hotel (on the same island as the airport) are licensed to serve it, usually with a steep markup. Expatriate residents have an allowance that they can use in Malé.
Maldivians generally do not drink alcohol although this is less true of the younger generation. They are, however, unhappy about being filmed or photographed while drinking.
Tap water in resorts may or may not be drinkable -- check with management. Bottled water is extortionately priced, with US$5/bottle being typical.