If you were to don rose coloured glasses in the Maldives, they would be blue. Take a cerulean-hued look at these Maldives experiences from land and reef vantage spots around Baa Atoll. Explore when and where to visit, along with things to do on your Maldives vacation. From seaplane vistas over the archipelago to intimate wildlife encounters while snorkelling its tropical lagoons and reefs.
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Where is the Maldives?
The Republic of the Maldives is an archipelago of twenty-six atolls, spread over 298 square miles of sapphire Indian Ocean, southwest of India and Sri Lanka. This secluded tropical paradise is known for its white beaches, coral reefs and crystalline waters teeming with wildlife. Maldives is pronounced “Mol-deevz”, not “Mal-dives,” and is a derivative of the Sanskrit word meaning “garland of islands.”
Getting to the Maldives
Here comes the tricky part depending on your point of origin. One thing that is almost certain for all international visitors is that they will arrive through Velana International Airport in the country’s capital of Malé (MLE), and then will require a further transfer by boat or seaplane to their resort.
There are no direct flights to the Maldives from Australia. Departing the east coast, the trip takes about 16–20hr flight time. Most travellers will connect through Singapore or Sri Lanka.
From North America
There are no direct flights to the Maldives from the US or Canada. Most American visitors to the Maldives arrive via Europe or the Middle East and it may take upward of 30hrs travel.
There are few nonstop flights offered between Europe and the Maldives, and some of them are seasonal. Look for nonstop routes from London, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, Zurich and Vienna. The majority of routes require a transfer in the Middle East.
Asia offers the most options for direct flights including, but not limited to, nonstop routes from Singapore, KL, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Dhaka and Mumbai. Flight time will vary from about 5-7hrs depending on the departure city.
Where to stay on your Maldives vacation?
After much research, we settled on Reethi Beach Resort on Fonimagoodhoo Island, Baa Atoll. Baa Atoll is a UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve because of its “globally significant biodiversity” which includes 250 coral species, 1200 reef fish species, sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and seabirds. If you’re looking for an island haven to spend time sipping cocktails and snorkelling an aquatic wonderland in equal measure, this is your dream destination. For a preview of the wildlife you’ll be privy too, see Dive Club Maldives.
Best time to visit the Maldives
There are a couple of factors to consider when planning the timing of your Maldives visit – climate and the activities you might like to partake in.
The Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate with year-round average temperatures ranging 23-31ºC (73-90ºF). The dry season, December through to April, is the most popular for visitors. The dry season isn’t without rain, however, it generally doesn’t have the storms and high winds of the wet season which runs May to October. We visited in early October and experienced only one afternoon of rain. The days were mostly overcast, and therefore the heat was less intensive.
Certain wildlife or at least their location varies depending on the season. See notes below in “things to do in the Maldives” for specifics. This probably won’t change the timing of your travel, but more the selection of your accommodation.
Things to do in the Maldives
Let’s be real here. The Maldives are an expensive destination and chances are you are going to be paying full board or an all-inclusive package in a resort that occupies one of the many small islands. There is little chance you are going to want to hang out in the capital of Malé, or have the budget to go island hopping, so I took this into consideration when making this list of things to do in the Maldives:
Laze on the beach
It won’t take you long to switch on over to island time and disconnect in the Maldives. The sand is white, water is turquoise and you won’t mind spending all day lapping it up.
Treat yourself to a spa day
Assist the unwinding process with a visit your resort spa for a massage or treatment.
You name a watersport and you can probably partake in the Maldives, such as surfing, water skiing, standup paddleboarding etc. Of course, it might depend on the location and facilities of your specific resort.
If you love to snorkel or scuba, the Maldives atolls are teeming with amazing underwater life. Some locations are better than others with regards to reef health and wildlife diversity, so do your research. I can honestly say we snorkelled every one of the five days we were in the Maldives and we saw something new every day. Just like Africa, Maldives has its own Big Five: manta ray, eagle ray, sea turtles, dolphins and sharks.
NOTE: Dry season sees excellent underwater visibility and stronger currents, the opposite is true for wet season. Wet season also has slightly cooler water temperatures which is conducive to seeing hammerhead and reef sharks in shallower waters.
Swim with majestic whale sharks and/or manta rays
Whale sharks and manta rays like to hang out in the plankton-rich waters of the Maldives. They follow the highest concentrations of plankton to the western side of the archipelago during May through December (more or less wet season) and then move eastwards January to April (dry season and Maldives’ high season for tourism).
Witness the spectacle of stingray feeding
Many resorts have nightly stingray feedings where a trained staff member feeds a fever of stingrays lapping at their feet like excited puppies. The opportunity for free food occasionally attracts some other wildlife as well, like the shovelnose shark that circled around during our experience.
Tuna, sailfish, barracuda, dorado, wahoo, and other trophies are all up for grabs in the Maldives. Due to the reliance of Maldives residents on fish stocks for food and livelihood, the country has strict fishing regulations in place. Most resorts also ban shore fishing to protect their house reef. If you are a keen fisher-person, avoid disappointment by doing your research. Read more here.
Take a scenic flight
If you’re staying on one of the atolls closer to Malé you may not require a seaplane flight to get to your resort, instead you’ll be travelling by boat. In this case, it’s worth the splurge to take a scenic flight over the islands.
Enjoy a sunset
Just like in the Cook Islands, watching the sun go down became ritual while we were in the Maldives. We weren’t the only ones, many of the resort guests would gather each evening at the strategically-positioned bar on the western side of the island, and watch nature closeout another day.
Picnic on an uninhabited island
Some resorts have uninhabited islands or large sandbanks nearby where you can make like Robinson Crusoe and take a 3-4 hour excursion armed with a picnic basket of goodies.
Are you dreaming of a Maldives vacation? I hope this guide helps you plan the tropical holiday of your dreams.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,