The Maldives is an independent nation of 1,192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean. Renown around the world as a paradise at sea, they are a popular vacation resort for people from all walks of life looking for a place to unwind and relax in unfathomable natural beauty.
Given how this archipelago is an island chain, it's not just enough to fly here. Once your international flight lands, you'll more than likely need transportation from Male airport to resorts where you might stay or do things. The Maldives transfer fee that you face in doing so might carry some serious sticker shock, as Maldives transfer prices aren't exactly cheap most of the time.
Booking a flight into Velana international airport in the capital city of Male is the simple side of the equation, but most resorts, amenities, and activities are spread out over the thousand-plus other islands, meaning you'll need a local way to get from your flight to your accommodations. That might involve a domestic flight, a seaplane, a boat, or even a combination of all three.
Airport Ferry Rides
Male City and Male Airport have regular connections thanks to airport ferry services. Ferries run every 10 minutes starting at 6:00 in the morning all day long until 2:30 the next morning. They run every half an hour from then until 4:00 in the morning, and then every 15 minutes until it is 6:00 in the morning again.
You should note that the ferry to and from Male City proper only goes to the city and none of the resorts on various islands. It's also the only transportation from the airport you can take on a whim.
Anything Else Requires Planning
All other forms of transportation must be arranged in advance, but your resort will usually help you with this when you are reserving your accommodations. Just make sure you know the prices involved with getting around in advance because many travelers are caught off-guard about the expense involved or even having to pay it. These are not complimentary services.
While not complimentary services, your resort will usually advise you of the best options available to you and either help you make arrangements or handle them for you. Whatever the case may be, be sure that details are finalized 24 hours before your arrival. Doing so 72 hours in advance is even better.
Islands close enough to the airport can be reached by speedboat. Your resort can arrange for a private speedboat to transfer you from the international airport to your hotel.
The most popular form of transportation among the many Maldives' islands is speedboating. Many of the bigger resorts and hotels run their own speedboats and will meet you at Velana international airport in Male.
Still, many accommodations simply rely on public speedboats for guest transportation. Given their popularity, reservations must be made in advance.
Public boats are certainly cheaper than private ones. A public speedboat might only cost each passenger $30USD for a one-way trip, whereas private speedboat rides can soar into the hundreds of American dollars, based on distance, for one-way trips.
Seaplanes are common choices for resorts on atolls that are farther out in distance from the international airport. These only operate when it is daytime, so keep that in mind when making arrangements to get to or from the resort and Male.
Many who visit the Maldives leave swearing that seaplane travel is an essential part of the local experience. You can enjoy the rare thrill of taking off from the water and landing on it, too.
However, these flights are not included with your resort fees. Expect price tags ranging from $250 up to $450USD per passenger, with longer distances costing more.
For that price, you'll get astounding views of the Maldives' distinct scenery from the air. You'll have to land in Male prior to 3:30 in the afternoon to catch one of that day's flights. An overnight stay in Male city comes at your own expense.
You're allowed 5kg of your own hand luggage and up to 20kg of your checked luggage.
Local flights are useful for the atoll islands with the most distance from Male Airport. They're also useful for those who simply don't like traveling by seaplane or who need to travel at night.
Maldivian Air and FlyMe are the two primary operators of domestic flights. Give your international flight details via email to your hotel or resort 72 hours or more in advance so they can make domestic flight arrangements for you either directly to their island or an island that is close to them with an airport. Many islands are too small for their own airfield or simply don't have enough passenger traffic to justify it.
If you want to save money, let your resort handle the domestic flight arrangements. They'll know which carriers are the most reputable and pleasant to fly with. Also, they can book flights cheaper than you'd be able to online. In fact, even though you're paying for the flights per passenger, they're likely going to get you tickets at half the cost you'd find looking online through airline websites.
Book in Advance for Guaranteed Seats
Certain properties are only accessible via particular forms of transportation, so your options might be limited. This is a big reason to book in advance.
Another reason to book ahead of time is that you might show up and find that all the tickets and seats have been bought already.
Schedules are also known to change on a regular basis, depending on traffic and weather. This won't impact you if you take care of things ahead of time.
Be Prepared to Pay
Your resort or hotel will either help you make reservations or book them for you. However, it's very unlikely that your transit will be covered in the resort expenses or get added to your bill at the guest services desk. Be ready to pay at the time of transit, but your accommodations can help you understand what the fees will be.
Be Mindful of Fridays
In the local culture, Friday is a day off. Some ferries simply won't run. Be aware of this when making your travel plans.
Other Overnight Stays
In the event of your international flight getting in so late that you need somewhere to stay a night before you get to your resort, then you have two options.
First, you can take one of the aforementioned local ferries to Male City proper in the hopes of finding accommodations there before moving on to your destination atoll the next day.
Second, depending on the distance, you might be able to take one of the longer ferries that head further out into the archipelago. Overnight trips happen on some ferries, where you can sleep on board until you arrive the next day.
Consider the Conditions
Think about the sensitivities of anyone and everyone in your travel group when choosing your options, should you have choices. Anyone prone to seasickness might not be comfortable on a speedboat. Seasickness might also happen on a seaplane, although it's in the air most of the time, so this less of an issue. Ferry rides are more time on the water, but they are much bigger than speedboats, and that can calm down many passengers.
Flying internationally is pretty much unavoidable, so it's just generally assumed that anyone who flies in here across the ocean will be able to handle domestic flights just as well. The planes are smaller, but the flights are also shorter in duration.
Keep in mind that the tropical location means a lot of sunlight and warm weather. While these are big appeals to vacationing here, speedboat passengers should be ready for sea spray and potential sunburn.
The Maldives transfer fee might not be something you budgeted if you treat this like a vacation to most other places in the world. Then again, most other places on Earth aren't island chains where you'll need transportation from Male airport to resorts. Book your transfer in advance to make sure that you have arrangements made in advance so you can afford to overpay sudden expenses that come with Maldives transfer prices.
One thing that can't be reiterated enough is leaving room in your budget for the transit fees getting from Velana international airport to either Male City or your resort atoll. While your accommodations will make arrangements for you, this is not like complimentary hotel shuttles that might pick you up in many other countries where the whole nation is on the same piece of land.
You'll have to pay for your ride, be it by boat, ferry, seaplane, or domestic flight. Also remember that you'll have to pay again on the way out when you leave, although you probably won't ever want to do that.
Pictures just don't do the Maldives justice. Perhaps only the poets can ever accomplish that. You'll know what this means when you get there.