Best things to do in the Maldives
Updated: Feb 23
True, overwater villas are a stunning sight, and those photographs are what initially lured us to the Maldives. However, is there anything more to do in the Maldives besides relax? Definitely! The Maldives is a paradise for adventurers, water sports enthusiasts, and lovers. Below are the best things to do in the Maldives!
The whale shark is a gentle and beautiful sea creature that lives in the ocean's depths. It is believed to be one of the sea's largest fish. These gentle giants can be spotted swimming in the ocean's currents in the Maldives, most frequently in South Ari Atoll.
These excursions are available virtually every day of the week, and tracking whale shark sightings is made simple via the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme's Whale Shark Network Maldives app. Numerous island resorts and guest houses organize their own Maldives tour for this thrilling adventure, for more information check out our post on where to swim with the Whale Sharks in The Maldives.
Vaavu Atoll is home to one of the most iconic and instagramable monuments in the country. This semi-submerged wreck is believed to be an Indonesian Vessel that got lots in the shallows and never made it out. Day trips can be organized from local islands, where you can climb on the boat and jump off into the water, then also head down below and swim through the stern. This is one of our favourite stops on our Maldives Island Hopping Tour and one where you will get some fantastic photos.
The Maldives is a paradise on Earth. With turquoise lagoons, white sandy beaches, and palm tree-lined islands, there is no better place on the planet to enjoy the view from up above and take in the countries exceptional natural beauty.
Take the chance to fly way up high in the air with a parachute whilst being slowly pulled through the archipelago via a speed boat. You will take in some of the best perspectives in the country and no doubt see a range of resorts and local islands from afar. This is one of the most popular experiences among the tourists and one of the most exciting.
Swimming with a Manta Ray is a truly majestic experience. Commonly confused with Stingrays, which spend most of their time scavenging the sandy ocean floor for a snack, Mantas are much larger and prefer to spend time in the open oceans of the tropics. It is not until you get in the water with a Manta that you realize how huge these mesmerizing and playful creatures really are. Some interesting fact about Mantas is that they must constantly swim to stay alive and the origin of the word 'Manta' actually stems from the Spanish word for 'blanket' or 'cloak'.
Some places where you can swim with Manta Rays in The Maldives are South Ari Atoll, Baa Atoll, and Addu Atoll. Although, this is seasonal so to be sure that you are not disappointed, do your research before organizing your trip and make sure that you are going in season.
The Maldives is a surfing destination of international renown and offers a number of world-class breaks. Surfers travel on liveaboard boats, stay at island resorts or venture out to some of the local islands to tick surfing in The Maldives crystal blue waters off their bucket list.
If money isn't a problem, you can stay at the Cinnamon Dhonveli Hotel attracts world-class surfers who come to experience its uncrowded break. This break is widely regarded as one of the world's best, and Dhonveli is even a pro circuit stop. Adaaran Hudhuranfushi is also home to another one of the countries most popular surf breaks, known as Louis. Both of these resort options are a little more expensive than the local islands and the breaks are exclusive to the resort.
Surfing is undoubtedly one of the top activities to do in the Maldives for ocean addicts, but if you're not a pro, have no fear; there are other places in the Maldives islands where you may take surfing lessons for a fraction of the cost. Thulusdhoo and Guraidhoo are two local islands that are close to the Malé International Airport and offer a quality surfing experience in The Maldives. You will have the opportunity to stay in a local guesthouse or hotel and enjoy a real Maldivian experience.
If diving is not for you, snorkeling is an excellent alternative for an exciting day trip! The Maldives' reefs are so immaculate that you don't need to go deep to see a lot! Most snorkeling stops will give you the opportunity to see reefs with vibrant colors and an abundance of marine life. If you are staying in an overwater water villa in a resort then, it is a must to walk off your deck into the crystal blue waters for a swim. Snorkeling in the calm crystal blue waters is unquestionably one of the top activities in the Maldives.
If you want to take the next step and go a little deeper, you could try freediving! To be honest, with exceptionally high visibly and calm waters, this is probably the best place in the world to learn. If you are experienced you can venture out to a local reef or if you want to learn there are a few freediver courses available in dive centers, which are scattered around the local islands.
The Maldives is the best scuba diving location while traveling the Maldives alone, and there is no better place to give it a try than here. There are numerous reasonably priced PADI & SSI dive facilities where you may take a discovery dive if you are not qualified, complete a qualification or just sign up for several dives to one of the numerous reefs or unique dive sites.
The Maldives is known for its extensive variety of marine life, including manta rays, whale shark migration, reef sharks, and sea turtles. The pure blue seas provide excellent visibility, calm waters, and no wetsuit is required here; the water is warm and pleasant.
Alcohol is certainly not the be-all and end-all of meeting people, but sometimes it sure does help! Although drinking alcohol in the Maldives is illegal on the local islands, the government has issued licenses to the liveaboard boats that dock offshore, now you just need to know where to find them! Fortunately for us, we are here to help you out and show you where to have some fun.
The Kaani Princess is a nonfunctioning Super Yacht that is docked off the coast of Maafushi. You can organize to get picked up from the port via a local dingy and will be taken out to see free of charge. Once you are aboard the Kaani Princess, you can order drinks just as you would at a standard bar (beer, gin and tonic, a cocktail, etc) and even order food both from the boat or on the mainland via delivery through the crew working on the boat. Once the sun sets, you will party late into the evening as the strobe lights and smoke machine cover the dance floor. The place can get packed and is probably the best option in the local islands to meet people.
Liveaboards are the hotels on wheels for scuba divers! Essentially, a multi-day diving excursion that allows you to venture further from the coast, jump between sites and link up islands, without packing your bags each night, and move from hotel to hotel - What a way to see the world!
The majority of the Liveaboard boats in the Maldives accommodate between 15-30 guests at a time, and most of the people do not know each other. Although there are some couples and groups of friends on the boats, it is a really great way to connect and meet other solo travelers in the Maldives, just make sure that you like scuba diving!
Would a trip to the Maldives be complete without stopping off for lunch at a secluded sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean? Most Resorts, Hotels, and guesthouses will be able to organize a day trip out to a sandbank, whether it is with a group or a private trip. One tip from us would be to take some snorkels, lunch and even an umbrella to get out of the sun if you need it - It can get very hot! Funnily enough, some of the sandbanks actually move around depending on season and currents.
Maldives cuisine is a combination of influences from neighboring nations such as Sri Lanka and India. The traditional Maldivian Food is referred to as Dhivehi Cuisine, and it features an array of flavors and features unique dishes such as Kotthu Roshi, Spicy Curries, Mashuni, and Gulha, along with fresh seafood straight from the ocean. Some resorts, hotels, and guesthouses offer cooking classes, so if you have the opportunity, we recommend sharpening your skills and adding Maldivian to your cooking repertoire.
You cannot go to the Maldives and not visit a resort! Although navigating the locals islands offers an amazing opportunity to travel this beautiful country, we still recommend organizing a day trip to a resort and basking in the exclusivity of the Maldives. Most hotels and guesthouses on local islands have connections to a nearby resort, you will just have to pay for the transfers, then entry to the resort which is usually $100 - $150 USD. Most entries are combined with an all-inclusive package so you can sit at the pool and enjoy a few cocktails whilst you are there! The best thing about this is that you will finally have an opportunity to explore the amazing overwater bungalows!
Alternatively to the above, if you are staying in a resort, we recommend organizing a day trip to a nearby local island to experience Maldivian life. Similar to the resort, it is extremely relaxing and slow-paced, but you will not see all of the bells and whistles. Life on the islands is a lot more humble and raw, but also a lot cheaper.
If you are staying on a local island, you will likely be able to find a tour to take you out on a Sunset Fishing excursion at a local reef, where you will spend the afternoon fishing off-hand reels, then after your adventure, the crew can they cook up your catch for dinner! If you are staying in a resort, your options grow but so does the price. Most resorts offer a full day of Game Fishing out in the open water channels, where you have the opportunity to catch Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna, Barracuda, and Mahu Mahu. You will no doubt have a blast, but these fishing trips generally begin at around $500 UDS per day.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do, so when in the Maldives, do as the Maldivians. When the favourite local pass time in the country is a water sport, you will have no choice but to jump in the water and go for a calm sea kayak, cruise around on a stand-up paddleboard, try wakeboarding or skiing, jump on a jet ski, or if you're looking for something a little wilder, then have a crack at a Jetpack! The most fun things to do in the Maldives are waterbeds so pack your bathers and don't be afraid to explore the waters and try something new!
We truly believe that the best way to explore these amazing places is with a group. The Maldives is full of Bucket List Experiences like swimming with Whale Sharks, Manta Ray, and Turtles, exploring a sunken shipwreck or sandbank, joining a boat party, or drinking cocktails in an infinity pool at a five-star resort, so why would you want to travel the Maldives alone? Our Maldives Island Hopping experience is the ultimate adventure and best way to meet people in the Maldives.
Also Read: Maldives: Before you go!