The Maldives is a dream destination for many travellers, with its crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, and vibrant marine life. But for photography enthusiasts, this paradise presents an even greater allure. With endless opportunities for capturing breathtaking landscapes and seascapes, as well as the chance to snap photos of unique wildlife, the Maldives is a photographer’s paradise. However, to make the most of this picturesque location, it’s important to have the right camera gear. With the right equipment, you can capture stunning images that will transport you back to this island paradise long after your trip has ended. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best camera gear for Maldives photography, including camera options, lenses, and accessories, as well as tips for shooting in this beautiful location.
What to take photos of in the Maldives?
The Maldives is a photographer’s dream, offering endless opportunities for capturing stunning images of its natural beauty and cultural heritage. The archipelago is made up of more than 1,000 coral islands, with each one boasting its own unique charm and character. The beaches, in particular, are a highlight, with their powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters providing the perfect backdrop for photographs. Whether you want to capture a peaceful sunrise or a dramatic sunset, the Maldives’ beaches offer plenty of photo opportunities.
In addition to the beaches, the seascapes of the Maldives are equally breathtaking. The turquoise waters are home to a diverse array of marine life, including colourful coral reefs, schools of fish, and even majestic manta rays and whale sharks. Underwater photography is a must in the Maldives, and whether you’re an experienced scuba diver or a beginner snorkeler, you can capture stunning images of the underwater world.
The Maldives is not only about the natural beauty but also about the local people and their traditions. The Maldivians are known for their warm hospitality, and capturing images of their daily life and cultural practices is a great way to add depth to your photo collection. You can photograph local markets, traditional music and dance performances, and even the iconic dhoni boats that are a ubiquitous part of life in the Maldives. Finally, the Maldives is home to a variety of unique bird species. This includes the white tern, the Maldivian plover, and the black-crowned night heron. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or just enjoy capturing images of wildlife, the Maldives offers plenty of opportunities to add feathered friends to your photo collection.
Based on what your specific photography goals are, here are some of our suggestions for camera gear to pack for your trip to the Maldives.
If you’re travelling to the Maldives and don’t already own a DSLR or mirrorless camera body then make sure that you leave enough time to familiarise yourself with your new gear before travelling to the Maldives. if you are buying new gear, I would recommend starting with an entry-level camera system as the learning process will be significantly easier. See this article if you’re interested in camera great for beginners.
If you already own a camera use this for your trip to the Maldives. It’s not necessary to purchase a new camera since the photography opportunities in the Maldives are quite varied. There is also little need for any specific camera features as the range of genres is quite diverse.
A camera feature that can be beneficial is weather sealing. This is mainly due to the sand and spray, but if you’re careful this can be avoided with the correct storage.
If you own a suitable waterproof camera housing the Maldives is the perfect place for it! The snorkelling is absolutely incredible and being able to capture these moments with a camera would be incredible. If you don’t, keep your camera away from the water. Instead, purchase a waterproof case for your phone or use an action camera such as a GoPro for your underwater photos and video.
Due to the heat, sand and water, I wanted to avoid lens changes as much as possible when out and about. For this reason, I usually put a lens on and left the others in the room. I took three lenses, a wide angle (Tokina 11-16mm), a superzoom (Tamron 16-300mm) and one prime lens (Nikon 50mm).
These are the reasons this combination of lenses works well, explained further below:
I really enjoyed being able to capture the entire width of the island with the Tokina 11-16mm wide-angle lens on my Nikon D7200. There were also many options for compositions which also included the walkways in the foreground as the perfect leading line. It’s not always possible to move backwards to get more in the frame, therefore having wide-angle options is useful.
The Tamron 16-300mm was my go-to lens when I had no specific shots in mind and was looking for flexibility. 16mm provides a fairly wide focal length whereas having the option to go up to 300mm gives options for leveraging lens compression. As shown in the photo below shot at 110mm, making the dramatic clouds appear closer than in reality.
This lens was also my go-to choice for wildlife photography as shooting at 300mm gives great bokeh, especially when down at the animal’s eye level. Check out the lizard below!
I used this lens the most during our time in the Maldives and would recommend taking a zoom or superzoom.
A prime lens is the ultimate lens for bokeh with a wide lens aperture. I took the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 with me, however, this was the lens I used the least. I was reluctant to rely on this lens during the day due to its fixed focal length, which limited flexibility. This being said it’s a great lens for portraits and shots when you’re up close to wildlife and it’s also fairly compact and lightweight so still worth taking with you.
See the post on Best lenses for Nikon D7200 for travel photography for other recommendations.
I’m not usually a fan of filters, however, in the Maldives, a circular polariser can be very useful. The main reason to use a polariser in the Maldives is for the vibrant blue water as it can help increase colour saturation to really bring out the turquoise waters. It can also be used to control reflections on the surface of the water. I would recommend both Hoya and NiSi filters.
Top Tip: Not all lenses use the same filter size. Use step-up/down lens filter ring adapters to avoid requiring an expensive polariser for each lens. Allowing you to purchase just one polariser filter for your largest lens filter size.
A tripod can be a useful addition for photography at night or low light in the morning or evening. If it’s not something you use regularly then it’s not worth buying one for the trip. Alternatives are to find somewhere to support your camera securely, e.g. on a bag, rock or table.
Storage / Protecting your gear
It may not seem like it, but the Maldives has some fairly challenging conditions for camera gear. The heat, water and sand can cause damage to your gear if it’s not looked after carefully.
It’s best to therefore carry your gear in a waterproof bag to protect it from the sand and water. This can also be handy for your phone and other valuables for when on the beach. Even your sun cream can make lens cleaning a real challenge if the grease/oil gets on your front element.
Due to the conditions, after each day it’s best to clean your camera and lens. Ensure you use a lens blower on your front element prior to using a cloth to sand and debris which could scratch your lens if wiped across the front element. Clean your camera body with a damp microfiber cloth, especially after exposure to salt spray.
More tips for shooting in the Maldives
Now you’ve selected the right camera, lenses and accessories to get started. Check out the following articles to get the most out of your photography in the Maldives.