Maldives is a highly sought-after tourist destination, and there are reasons galore for its popularity! Right from the clear emerald waters to the powdery white sands, from the astoundingly stunning beaches to the numerous underwater worlds. Maldives is a destination where natural beauty meets world-class luxury in the most bewildering manner imaginable. And to top it all, the Maldives is home to over 1,000 islands, each more beautiful than the other and offering something unique. So, how to travel between islands in the Maldives?
All You Need to Know About Island Hopping in Maldives
Excited much? Well, you should be. After all, not many destinations offer as many things and experiences as Maldives does.
Now the question arises, how to explore such an expansive destination in the fairly limited time you might have as a tourist?
Well, don’t you worry. We have got you covered. Not only will we let you know of the islands that are worthy of your time and attention, but we will also help you understand how to travel between islands in the Maldives in an efficient yet affordable manner.
Is Island Hopping in Maldives Possible?
Yes, very much so. When it comes to traveling from one island to another, there are many ways to do so including public ferry routes, domestic flights, private seaplanes, and even catamarans.
In the recent past, Maldives has undergone certain seismic changes, which has made it more accessible for tourists, and even backpackers. Now, isn’t that just amazing?
Which Islands in the Maldives Should I Visit?
Of the 1,200 islands and 26 coral atolls that Maldives is home to, only a few have been inhabited as yet – the number being just under 200! That said, it’s not just the inhabited islands that you can visit, but also the uninhabited ones.
Then again, don’t get too ambitious, as you may not be able to visit all the islands within a span of a few weeks. However, if you do chalk out your itinerary in advance, you might be able to get a holistic idea of the Maldivian culture.
Your sojourn can, and in all likelihood will begin at Malé Island. Home to the capital city of Malé, this is the most populous region in the nation and offers vivid imagery of the city life that the locals enjoy. With the busiest international airport in the country, and numerous ports for traveling to the nearby and far-off islands, Malé will help kick-start your island-hopping adventure most excitingly.
What are the Best Islands in the Maldives?
If you are on a romantic trip with your special someone and looking forward to a luxuriant stay with spas, water sports, and the ambiance to match your romantic vibe, we suggest you pick one of the following islands for your stay –
- Biyadhoo Island – Serene Honeymoon
- Maafushi Island – Splendid Resorts
- Baros – Water Pool Villas
- Veligandu Island – Shimmering Waters
- Fihalhohi Island – Beauty And Romance
- Huvahendhoo Island
If you are on the lookout for something more exciting in terms of geographical uniqueness, you can pick one of the following islands –
- Thoddoo Island – The Oval Shaped Land
- Maradhoo Island – Narrow Coast
- Ukulha Island – Cleanest Island
- Hulhumalé Island – Artificial Island (Man-Made Island)
- Vaadhoo Island – Mystical Surprise
Of course, regardless of the island, you choose for your stay, do not forget to visit and explore some of the most picturesque uninhabited islands across the Maldives. These include, but are not limited to –
- Olhuveli – Pristine And Uninhabited Island
- Hondaafushi Island
- Haa Alif Atof
- Shaviyani Atoll
Are you someone with a penchant for history? In that case, don’t forget to revel in the illustrious antiquity that these islands have to offer –
- Utheemu Island – Historic Significance
- Feydhoo Island – True Maldivian Life
- Kaafu Atoll
- Addi Atoll
Want an experience that is as close to Maldivian culture as it gets, make sure to have the following islands on your bucket list –
- Dhigurah Island – A Lesser-Known Place
- Thulusdhoo Island – Path Less Taken
We hope this extensive (albeit not exhaustive) list of islands will help you cherry-pick the ones that you wish to visit during your Maldives vacation.
The next step – understanding the logistics of island hopping – coming your way, right away!
If you are looking for a comprehensive list of Islands in the Maldives – check the Wikipedia page.
5 Fun things to do when in Maldives[Infographic]
What is the difficulty level of traveling between islands in the Maldives?
Well, we do not wish to discourage you, but traveling between islands can prove to be a little tricky. While popular spots like Malé offer numerous options for inter-island travel, smaller islands may not have well-scheduled transport options.
Hence, your best bet is to inform the management of the resort that you are staying at, and request them to arrange for the quickest and/or cheapest mode of travel to the island that you wish to explore.
More often than not, they will be accommodating of your requests, and will even arrange for a private speed boat or a seaplane for you.
Then again, you have the option of booking internal flights and speed boats to your preferred destinations on your own. You can also do the same with the help of local agents/vendors that Malé is often teeming with.
Pro Tips for Island Hopping
- Inform about your Island Hopping plans to your resort beforehand
- Book a resort that offers inclusive travel options
- If you find it reasonable enough, get travel options as add-ons with your room tariff
- If you wish to travel on a budget, public ferries are your best friend
- When booking speedboats or air travel, consider the gross travel time to ensure the best use of your day
- If traveling during the peak holiday season, make sure to have all internal travel booked in advance to ensure the availability of seats and lower pricing
What are the Best Travel Options in the Maldives?
We cannot say one option is better than the other, simply because each travel option comes with its own set of pros and cons. Let us discuss each of the available travel alternatives in brief.
One of the quickest and easily available alternatives to get around in the Maldives is the boats. Once you reach your entry point in the Maldives, the resort that you have booked will arrange for a boat transfer for you and the other guests arriving on the same day.
If you wish, you can ask your hotel to book boats/taxi boats for your onward travel.
Price for Boat Rides
- For smaller distances, a shared boat ride costs $25 per person
- For longer distances, a shared boat ride costs $100 per person
Note – Boat Trips including activities such as water sports or exploring islands might cost as high as double the usual charges.
If you don’t wish to hop from one island to another with all your luggage, you can simply revel in the convenience that speedboat tours offer.
You can either opt for a packaged tour offered by your hotel or simply design one for yourself that includes the islands that are on your bucket list.
While it may prove to be a little on the expensive side, you will be able to rejoice in experiences like snorkeling trips, beach lunches, jungle trails, sunset cruises, exploring uninhabited islands, riding on glass bottom boats, and more. And all of this, without having to worry about packing and unpacking your luggage, every time you visit a new island.
Do this for 4-5 days in a row, and you’ll have covered most of what you desired to accomplish on your trip to the marvelous Maldives!
Price for Speedboats
Private Speedboats – $100 per person
Shared Speedboats – $50 per person, $25 per child
Note – The charges may vary slightly depending upon the distance traveled.
So, Maldives isn’t as small as many assume it to be. In fact, the country spans more than 500 miles from North to South and about 80 miles from East to West! Considering the sheer size, you may be able to guess that speedboats don’t prove to be efficient when the traveling distance is relatively high.
In such instances, you can travel using a private seaplane. Again, as you may have guessed, this is an expensive pursuit. Moreover, it requires advance planning and bookings from your end.
Price for Sea Planes
For shorter distances – $200 to $400 per person
For longer distances – up to $900 per person
Traveling by seaplane might incur exorbitant expenses, which is why many tourists opt for a slightly more affordable option – commercial flights. Maldives has a total of 5 international and 13 domestic airports
Price for Commercial Flights
$100 to $ 250 per person
‘Dhoni’ is the traditional, handcrafted sea vessel, that forms an important part of the Maldivian Culture. This unique mode of transport can also be used for island hopping.
However, in order to do so, you will have to book a cruise spanning anywhere between 4 to 7 days, which will be inclusive of your accommodation on the Dhoni, some of the meals, and activities such as swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and more.
The Dhoni can prove to be a good idea if you wish to explore Maldives to the fullest without splurging on resort stays, and/or if you are traveling in a group.
When booking a Dhoni for a larger group, you can place your request for the specific number of days that you want the cruise for, beforehand. You can also mention the islands you are keen on visiting. More often than not, the operator will accommodate your requests (although at an additional cost in some cases).
Price for Dhoni
$150 to $315 per person per day
Time Required to Travel Between Islands in Maldives
When traveling via a speed boat to nearby islands from Malé’s ports, you should expect a sojourn of fewer than 30 minutes. However, far-off islands or coral atolls like Veligandu, Laaalhos, or Thulhaadhoo, might take you anywhere between 1 and 4 hours to reach.
It is for this very reason that we recommend you opt for a seaplane when traveling distances upwards of 50 miles. Flying to the farthest island from your starting point via a seaplane will take you a maximum of 2 hours to reach your destination.
In case of time is not an issue, and you want a cheaper ride, you can opt for a ferry ride from Malé to Maafushi, Thulusdhoo, Guraidhoo, Gulhi, Himmafushi, Hura, Dhifffishi, Kaashidhoo, and Gaafuru Islands. It’ll just cost you $1-$3 to travel up to 15-20 miles.
We hope that you now have a fair understanding of the means and cost of island hopping in the Maldives! So, if you have been planning a visit to this marvelous island country, make sure to plan a stay of at least one to two weeks, to be able to explore the Maldives to the fullest possible extent! Check out our piece on 5 best resorts in Maldives with Sharks
Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Between Islands in the Maldives
How to ensure cheap travel to my resort from Malé Airport?
If the hotel you have reserved for your stay isn’t too far away from the airport, you can request a pickup. In most cases, they will include the cost of the speedboat transfer in your room tariff, or at the least offer this transfer at a discounted cost.
How many Maldives islands can I visit in one trip to Maldives?
If you wish to explore a wide variety of islands on your Maldives vacation, make sure to visit for a minimum of 1-2 weeks. During your stay, opt for three to four day-trips for island hopping. Then again, make sure that your entire stay is divided between 2-4 resorts into distinct areas so that you can enjoy the best of all that Maldives has to offer, especially in terms of geography and culture.
If you are here for a short stay, we still recommend visiting at least 5-6 nearby and far-off islands for a taste of the Maldivian culture.
Is alcohol easily available in the Maldives?
While you may not find alcohol shops in Maldives as it is an Islamic state, most island resorts serve alcohol on request.