Curious about the best things to do in the Maldives? The Maldives is an island nation in South Asia. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India and consists of about 1200 islands, grouped into 26 atolls. Only 200 islands are inhabited.
Boasting luxurious resorts, marvellous white sand beaches and translucent waters, the Maldives is a dream destination for sun-seekers and honeymooners.
The Maldives is the perfect destination for divers and snorkelers, as its tropical waters teem with an abundance of marine life.
There are some fascinating facts. With an average of only 1.5 meters above sea level, the Maldives is the world’s lowest-lying country. The Maldives is also the flattest country on Earth.
Sounds like a place you would want a visit?
But what to do in the Maldives?
To help you with the task of planning we’ve created this list of some of the best places to visit and things to do in the Maldives.
7 best things to do in Maldives
Go snorkelling and diving
The Maldives is a paradise for divers and snorkelers.
Diving is absolutely amazing. Teeming with fish and other creatures, the underwater world in the Maldives is a dream for divers.
Not a diver? We have great news — snorkelling in the Maldives is amazing, too. Even if you go on a snorkelling trip, you will see magnificent sea creatures. Whale sharks, manta rays, sea turtles and colourful fish! Sounds like a dream? This is the reality in the Maldives.
Swimming with whale sharks is one of the best things to do in the Maldives. In fact, this island country is one of the few places on Earth where whale sharks can be encountered all year round.
Highlights of the sea life in the Maldives:
- Snorkelling with sea turtles at Lhaviyani Atoll;
- Swimming with whale sharks;
- Snorkelling and diving in Naifaru island, one of the most visited islands in the Maldives;
- Swimming with manta rays in Hanifaru Bay;
- Diving with the hammerhead sharks at Rasdhool Atoll;
- Banana Reef — one of the most popular dive sites in the Maldives;
- The Maldive Victory — a famed wreck diving spot;
- HP Reef — one of the most beautiful diving sites in the Maldives.
Visit a local island
Most visitors stay on the Maldives’ resort islands, but the “real life” can be witnessed on local islands.
Visiting a local island is one of the best things to do in the Maldives.
Maafushi is one of the most developed local islands in the Maldives. Due to the wide choice of budget accommodation, Maafushi is very popular among budget travellers and backpackers.
Another reason Maafushi is so popular is that it’s very easy to reach. It is located only a short speedboat ride from Malé, the capital and most populous city in the Maldives.
Staying at a local guesthouse in Maafushi is an absolute must. It is one of the best ways to learn about the culture and meet locals.
Do not limit yourself to western food and try local food in Maafushi. Local food in the Maldives is absolutely amazing — it’s delicious and nutritious. In fact, trying out local dishes is one of the best things to do in the Maldives.
Visit a resort island
Most people stay on designated resort islands, but now also offer budget accommodation which can be found on the local islands. If you are staying on a local island, definitely splurge on a day trip to a resort island. Thus you’ll see the luxurious side of Maldives.
Yes, trips to resort islands are rather pricey — at least a 100 USD per person, but it’s totally worth it as you will have the opportunity to enjoy the luxury for a day.
What’s included in the price? Usually, it’s transfer (return), entrance fees, access to the resort’s facilities and a buffet lunch. Some even offer unlimited drinks to visitors.
We recommend you to compare the prices and amenities before buying the pass. So you get the best offer.
The Maldives is not only about the sun, beaches and luxury resorts. First of all, it’s a place where people actually live. Yes, tourism is the largest industry in the Maldives, but there’s more to the Maldives than meets the eye.
Known for its mosques and colourful buildings, Malé is one of the best places to visit in the Maldives. It is the capital and most populous city in the Maldives.
It is by far the best place to get to know locals, learn about the culture, traditions, and witness their everyday life.
Going on a self-guided tour is one of the best things to do in Malé. Check out the routes online. For instance, Lonely Planet has a great route you can follow.
Visiting local markets is a must during your trip. Located right across the street from the vegetable and fruit market, Malé fish market is an interesting place to visit if you love seafood and fish. Smelly, with wet, slippery floors, this fish market boasts a number of stalls with many different types of fish for sale. The market is buzzing with customers — locals and foreigners alike.
Experience bioluminescence in the Maldives
Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism such as plankton. It’s a chemical reaction which happens in an organism’s body.
This biological terminology is indeed very boring, but the actual natural phenomenon is jaw-dropping.
This phenomenon is visible during the night when the sea lights up just like the sky — with thousands, even millions, of little stars.
Bioluminescence can be witnessed in Vaadhoo (Mudhdhoo) island, between June and October.
Cruise in a traditional dhoni
Experience the stunning paradise islands of the Maldives on a traditional dhoni boat!
The dhoni is the traditional fishing boat of the Maldives. It is believed that the shape of the traditional dhoni might have been inspired by the Arabian sailing dhow.
Maldives dhoni cruises let you experience the islands to the fullest. During a cruise you will see the coral reefs, swim and snorkel in translucent waters and spend the night on a remote island.
Short and multi-day cruises can be booked at hotels, local agents and guest houses.
Go on a dolphin safari
Home to some 20 species of aquatic mammals, the Maldives is one of the world’s top dolphin watching destinations.
Dolphins can be spotted from a beach or from a water-villa. But the best chances to see a dolphin is to join an organised tour.
It’s a relaxing dhoni ride where you watch the dolphins jumping and frolicking in the water.
Maldives travel tips
- You don’t need a visa to travel to the Maldives. The Maldives grants a free tourist visa or visa-on-arrival to all nations for 30 days.
- The Maldives is not a cheap destination. But you can lower your expenses by staying in a guesthouse on a local island and eating local food.
- High season in the Maldives is from December to April. It is a dry season — with little rain and lower humidity.
- The Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country. You should bring an appropriate outfit for a visit to local islands and Muslim villages.
- Bikinis are not allowed everywhere. Bikinis, short dresses, shorts and tops should only be worn on resort islands. Dress modestly when visiting local islands and Muslim villages.
- If you are staying on a local island and want to visit a beach, find a “bikini beach” which is meant for tourists.
- Don’t bring alcohol into the country. All luggage is X-rayed, and the bottles of alcohol will be confiscated. However, they will be returned before departure.
- If you want to swim with manta rays, whale sharks and other sea creatures, find out what is the best season for these activities.
- Bring sunscreen. It is very expensive in the Maldives.
- Ferries are the cheapest option when it comes to travelling between the local islands. Note that the ferries do not stop at resort islands.
- Speedboats and seaplanes operate to the resort islands.