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Why the Maldives runs on its own time and what it means for tourists

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This could be you (Picture: Getty Images)

There’s nothing quite like sipping delicious fruit cocktails on a secluded island with a gentle sea breeze sweeping your hair.

Don’t get too relaxed, though, as you may end up running late for your appointment (at the spa, that is) – or even missing your flight home.

That’s because there’s such a thing as ‘island time’. Rather than being just an abstract concept relating to the tranquil settings and slower pace of life, however, it is genuinely a thing in some places – namely the Maldives.

Instead of adhering to the national time zone of the mainland, a number of resorts in the stunning holiday destination move their clocks forward by an hour.

So although the official time in the Maldives is four hours ahead of the UK currently – island time observes a five-hour difference.

The altered hours mean that the while the sun rises at 6am on the mainland, on the islands it would be 7am. It also means sundown is later, as it sets around 7:45pm instead of 6:45pm.

Who cares what time it is when you’re here(Picture: Getty Images)

Some of the resorts that follow island time include JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa, including its umbrella brands – St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort and the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, and Fari Islands.

‘With the sun rising at 7am and setting at 7:15pm, our guests enjoy perfectly timed daylight for early morning jogs or cool evening sports, escaping the peak heat of the day,’ Charles Morris, GM of Soneva Jani told CNN Travel.

‘This also gifts them the serene beauty of dusk till 7:45 pm, perfect for witnessing spectacular sunsets on South Beach.’

Zhilah Vego, director of sales and marketing at the St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, added: ‘Since most resorts in the Maldives are located on their own private islands, and often miles away from mainland Male, they frequently operate according to their own rules, namely the island time so travellers may take advantage of an extra hour of daylight each day to fully indulge at the resort.’

So lush(Picture: Getty Images)

But not all islands have their own time, so don’t arrive with your watches already adjusted.

Some of the islands that do not observe island time include Oblu and Kurumba, the country’s first resort.

If you’re confused, you’re not the only one. One woman, named Linda, wrote on TripAdvisor that she was worried about her flight departures.

She wrote on the board: ‘Can anyone advise me about the time differences? I am sure I read something that the islands have a different time to Male? So do we need to amend watches to island time or Male time? Just worried about missing any departures from the island or airports.’

Another, @Diamna53, replied to the question saying: ‘I always find it best to alter my watch to the destination time when on the flight. I include transit stops i.e. If I am going via Dubai I alter my watch to their time until I have boarded the onward flight from there and then I change to Male time. I only change to island time once I arrive in resort.

‘Don’t worry about missing departures, there will be plenty around to assist at Male airport, either your travel agent’s rep or the resort rep. Also all the other reps at Male airport are super helpful in my experience and will approach you in order to assist you if you are looking lost and puzzled. Once in the resort they will keep you right as they organise the departures anyway.’

So, the good thing is that hotel and resort staff will let you know if they run on island time or mainland time.

And many resorts also arrange airport drop-off and pick-up, so as long as you share your flight details with them, they will sort out the timings for you.

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