The BEST things to do in the Maldives!
You will be able to tick off some of the biggest items off your list, all at once!
Once in a life time activities like swimming with the whale sharks and turtles, snorkelling at a shipwreck, night fishing and seeing the amazing over water bungalows!
Getting into the Maldives
The ultimate bucket list destination! The Maldives is the dream destination for anyone, whether you are a couple, a family, backpackers or flying solo. There is an abundance of awesome things to do across this spectacular archipelago and if organised correctly, you could possibly have the best holiday of your life!
It can be quite confusing trying to work out where to start in the Maldives, and after spending nearly two months there and covering 15 different islands I feel that this article will help you get a better understanding of how to travel in the Maldives. Also feel free to contact us to and work out how to get the best value out of your trip and make sure you don’t miss out on one of the many hidden charges or an awesome activity that is not offered in that area!
This tropical paradise make a name for itself by showcasing its fluro blue waters and the white sandy beaches covered it palm trees.
The Maldives are a nation that is built up of around 1,200 tiny little islands located in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Sri Lanka and South West India. Of all of these island, there are approximately 200 inhabited islands plus 100 resort islands (which continues to grow at a rapid rate). This country is broken down into a further 26 atolls, which are tiny naturally formed island groups.
Male is the capital of the Maldives, and one of the most densely populated areas on the planet! Valeria International Airport is the only international airport in the country so all flights with be coming in and out of here. It is located on the man made island of Hulhemale, which is connected to Male via ferry and soon by a bridge that is currently under construction.
The Maldives offer a 30 day visa on arrival for most nationalities, but it is best to check with your local embassy to see if you are eligible. The currency is the Maldivian Rufia although USD is widely accepted, even on the local islands, just expect to get a mixture of change back. There are ATMs at the airport and even a currency exchange which, but they only exchange certain currencies. All money is exchanged into Maldivian Rufia, which can be a pain because you will need to hold on to your receipt if you want to convert it back into your local currency when leaving the Madlives. You can also pick up a sim card from the airport which will cost 40 USD for 10 days or $20 USD for 7 days and 3 GB, which you are able to purchase from the airport in cash money.
Please note that the Maldives are a Muslim country and alcohol is illegal unless you are on a resort island. You bags will be scanned at immigration to ensure that you are not trying to sneak in any to the country.
This is the closest you will get to living like a celebrity! In this form of where you can pay an exuberant amount of money to spend time in a resort on an exclusive self contained island. You can select from various types of accomodation levels which range from Garden View, Beachfront or the world famous Water Bungalows. The entry level Water Bungalows are generally priced between $700 USD - $1,500 USD per night depending on season.
If you do seem them advertised cheaper than this I would assume that it does not include the taxes which amount to around 23% in additional charges. This tax will also be added to any food of beverages that you consume during your stay if you have not already paid for an All-Inclusive Package which is generally an additional $200-300 USD per person on top of the room - once again this price will depend on the resort!
One more hidden charged that you will be slugged with by the resort is also the transfer fees from the Airport! All resorts will arrange for someone to meet you at the Male International Airport (the only Airport that you can fly into the Maldives) and then escort you via boat, domestic flight or seaplane to your island paradise! Transfers being from $150 USD per person for some of the shorter boat trips, and up to $1,000 for the far away resorts which require direct flight from a seaplane. One other thing to note is that the seaplanes do not fly after sunset for safety reasons so that is another important thing to take into consideration when booking your accommodation. Finally, the question a lot of people always ask: Can you just book your own transfers? In a short answer; No. Unfortunately the resorts have a monopoly on this and there are no other options for accessing the resort islands and even if you did find a local boat and paid them to take you there, the resort would still charge you for the compulsory transfer fee!
Prices in the resorts will begin at around $8-$15 USD for a beer, $12-20 USD for a cocktail, $15-$30 USD for a pool side snack, meals are upwards from here with no limit in particular and don’t forget to add another 23% on top for tax. At one resort we were charged $10 USD for a bottle water - I nearly fell of the chair as there was a free drinking fountain two metres away which I assumed that they would just bring over! Just be careful in the resorts as everything comes at a price!
Activities at the resorts can range from snorkel hire where some resorts charge can charge up to $50 USD a day and others allow you to use the equipment for free, other options are to join a deep sea fishing charter for around $200 USD, Jet Ski hire ranges from around $150 - $200 USD, Scuba Dive $100 - $250 for a day, Island Hopping Trip $70 - $200 USD or a Sunset Cruise $100 - $200 USD. Once again all prices are and activities are subjective to the resort and time of year!
Unfortunately paradise comes at a great cost when choosing this option.
In recent years the Maldivian government has changed the laws which has allowed the local communities to open up guesthouses and hotels on the local islands. This has allowed local business to prosper on some of the more developed islands, however overall the infrastructure is still lacking a little in terms of developing enough to cement itself on the Maldivian tourist route.
Ferry system - hard to navigate and always changing, usually operating on ever second day and only to the capital city of each atoll and then you would need to take a further ferry which only operates every second day to get to the island.
You have spent all this time and money to travel to one of the coolest places in the world so tourists don’t seem to waste too much once your there sitting on dingy overnight ferries.
Activities like snorkelling and sandbank trips can be arranged from anywhere between $30 - $70 USD, scuba diving is from $40 - 60 per dive including equipment, SUP hire is around $10 USD per hour, night fishing off a hand real $30, Jet Pack $80 - 100 USD
The only problem is that the facilitates and infrastructure declines immensely when comparing the local islands to the resorts.
The worst part is that the local islands are not linked up by speedboats only by the inconsistent ferries, and the best local islands are located in different atolls meaning that you will have to really pre plan your movements before you go and find a reliable source for the transfers if you plan to move between the atolls.
The marine life in the Maldives is absolutely incredible! I love scuba diving and have been fortunate enough to dive in some of the best destinations in the world; Galapagos, Caribbean, Komodo and Great Barrier Reef to name a few but one place that has a mixture of all of these is the Maldives! There are big sharks, manta rays and turtles, millions of fish and multi coloured reefs, along will some of the best conditions and visibility that I have experienced.
The best way to get out and see as much of the marine life as you can is via a liveaboard dive boat. The biggest problem is that they can extremely expensive the further away you head from Male which is where the best dive sites are. Ranging between $2,000-$4,000 for a one week trip and additional taxes and gear hire may apply depending one the company. All of your meals will be included and most boats are licences to sell alcohol, which will be added to your bill at the end!
Additionally there is a growing popularity for surf liveaboard in the Maldives over the monsoon season. The trips are not for the novice, and will take you out to some of the best breaks in the country but the only bad thing is that the Maldives weather can still be picture perfect with glass like oceans, so there could be days just sitting around or swimming in the clear crystal blue water.. Is that such a bad thing?
A tour company called Gadventures offer a package where you sail around to the local islands and do lots of snorkelling in a group of a maximum of 8 people but there are no advertised options for alcohol, whale sharks, scuba diving or visiting the resort islands to see the famous water bungalows.
There are pro’s and con’s of each and the only way to get the best of both worlds is by a tour
Because we love the Maldives so much we have started organising our own trips there! We see a massive gap in the market between the ridiculously expensive packages and living like a local
Is it just for honeymooners?
The local ferry systems are all linked to the Capital Male. All ferries commence here and generally run to the capital city/island of each Atoll, then spend overnight there, then return the next morning to Male. The process repeats itself each day except for Fridays because of a religious rest day.
To a certain degree atolls are generally shaped in a circular/round formation so once you have taken the ferry to the capital of your desired Atoll, there will also be another ferry service which links the islands of the atoll to the capital of the Atoll that departs in a clockwise schedule and will do a complete circuit back to the capital, then the next day it will do a complete loop back in the counter clockwise direct, with a rest day on Friday.
I have drawn a digram to help any trying to understand how this works as its is hard to explain in words.
Maldives Island Hopping
Want to visit the Maldives with a group of young likeminded adventurers?
Join us at Indy Escapes for a week of fun in the sun as we explore this beautiful archipelago! Whale Sharks, Scuba Diving, Night Fishing and Much More!