Looking for things to do in Maldives? You’ve come to the right place. Visiting the Maldives will transport you to paradise. With luxury bungalows extending over turquoise waters reaching out from the white sand beaches, the Maldives is a dream destination.
I must admit, we expected to do nothing more than bask in the sun, sip cocktails, and watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean, but once we arrived at our little island oasis, we found out that there are more things to do in the Maldives than we originally thought.
Top Things to do in Maldives
It’s true, over the water bungalows are a spectacular sight and those images are what drew us to the Maldives in the first place. But are there things to do in Maldives besides relaxing? Definitely!
The Maldives are made for adventure, water sports, and romance. We stayed at two private islands in the Maldives but we managed to do several day trips to explore the surrounding atolls and the capital city of Male. These are the best things to do in the Maldives for everyone!
1. Scuba Diving
The Maldives is one of the premier scuba diving destinations on earth and if there is one place you need to give it a try, it’s here. There are many affordable PADI dive centers where you can take a discovery dive if you are not certified, or sign up for several dive options to one of the many reefs.
There are many dive sites in the Maldives with Baa Atoll being one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. It is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve making it one of the best places to dive in the Maldives. It’s known for its manta rays and whale sharks.
The Maldives has an abundance of marine life for its manta rays and stingrays, whale shark migration, reef sharks and sea turtles. The crystal clear blue waters offer incredible visibility and there’s no need for a wetsuit here, the water’s warm and inviting. This was definitely one of our favorite things to do in Maldives.
2. Snorkeling Trips
If diving isn’t your thing, snorkeling is a great option. The reefs are so pristine in the Maldives that you don’t have to go deep to see a lot! We went snorkeling with sea turtles and saw more than half a dozen munching their lunches at the reef.
Spending a solid two hours in the water, we also managed to see so much more marine life than just sea turtles. Snorkeling is truly one of the best things to do in the Maldives.
My favourite moment was being surrounded by immense schools of colourful fish flocking together as they floated with the tides. When three masses came together, we felt as if we were in our own giant aquarium.
- 3 Point Snorkelling Safari – a snorkeling trip to three different snorkeling locations.
- Submarine Tour from Male – Don’t want to get in the water? See the underwater world of the Indian Ocean while staying dry from a submarine.
3. Dolphin Watching
When we arrived at Cinnamon Hakurra, we asked our greeter what she thinks is one of the best things to do in the Maldives is. “Hands down, The Dolphin excursion” She said. So we decided to do it.
Just before sunset, we set out in search of pods of dolphins. It didn’t take long for our captain to spot one. We’ve seen a few dolphins in the wild, and we must say, the dolphins in the Maldives are some of the most active and playful we have ever seen!
We were also very pleased to see that the captain of our boat didn’t get too close to the dolphins or chase them too much. He kept a safe distance letting the dolphins swim off should they choose to do so.
4. Island Hopping
Believe it or not, there is a large settlement in the Maldives and many locals live and work on the islands. If you stay on a private island in the Maldives, make sure to book an excursion to visit the nearby local islands and communities. This was a great day trip around the islands. Excursions can be booked directly from your hotel, or you can book in advance at Get Your Guide.
The Maldives people follow a strict Muslim culture so be sure to dress respectably in long skirts/shorts and no spaghetti strap sleeves. I wore shorts but just brought a sarong with me to put on when we landed on the islands. Bring some cash with you so you can buy local crafts and jewelry as well.
Remember that because Maldives is Islamic, you most won’t be able to purchase alcoholic beverages off the resort. Tourism is a huge source of revenue for the Maldives so they allow guests to consume alcohol
5. Meet the Locals
We visited two local islands in Maldives – Mule, Island – the capital of Johnson Atoll. And Naalaafushee Island, a fishing village where we visited the fish market.
Walking through the concrete buildings, we were surprised that there was a proper downtown and square on both tiny islands with schools, community centers, and banks. These islands are probably the smallest inhabited islands we’ve ever seen, but there’s a lot going on there.
6. Surfing in the Maldives
The Maldives is a world-class surfing destination. The Cinnamon Dhonveli Hotel attracts top surfers from around the world to face its awesome break free from crowds. For adrenaline junkies surfing is, definitely one of the best things to do in Maldives.
The surfing was beyond our very amateur skill level, but each morning we loved watching the pros head out to face the pipe as we sipped our morning coffee.
This break is considered one of the best on earth and Dhonveli is even a stop on the pro circuit. If you aren’t a pro, don’t worry, there are other islands in the Maldives where you can take some surfing lessons.
- See how we fared surfing in Sri Lanka
7. Stand Up Paddle Boarding
If you aren’t into surfing, paddleboarding is another great option. You can paddle in safe bays with water so clear you can see fish swimming right below your boards.
The Maldives is great for (SUPping) because most islands are surrounded by calm shallow waters that only ebb and flow with the rising tides. Both resorts rent paddleboards.
8. Visit the Spa
The Maldives was made for romance and when visiting the island paradise, you must take some time to pamper yourself. Most people visiting the Maldives were couples and families and we highly recommend a couple’s massage for upping the romance factor.
As soothing music plays, skilled masseurs rub away the aches and pains from your long flight or day out in the sun. After an hour and a half of luxury, make sure you have nothing else on your to-do list for the day, as you’ll want to relish in relaxation.
- Read: Massage and Spa Etiquette – Tips from Stripping to Tipping.
- Enjoy – The World’s Wackiest and Weirdest Spa Treatments
9. Sunset Romantic Dinner
I don’t think there is a more romantic destination on earth than the Maldives. If you are traveling as a couple and want to splurge on a romantic night out, this is the place to do it. While most food is buffet style in the Maldives, take a break from the smorgasbord and enjoy either a sunset beach or sunset pier dinner.
We found the meal to be a bit pricey at $220 per couple, but it did include a bottle of champagne, a private waiter, and a meal prepared right at your table. However, I think Cinnamon could do a lot better if they just made this option an upgrade from dinner.
10. Scenic Flight over Maldives Islands
There is something magical about seeing the different shades of water below as you fly over the Maldives. Many resorts require a flight on a twin-engine float plane to get out to them.
If you don’t have the good fortune of staying on a private island that requires a flight out over the Indian Ocean, we highly recommend booking a scenic flight over the many atolls. The islands create a pattern in the sea as the deep ocean crashes into sandbars and coral reefs.
Many islands are surrounded by miles of shallow waters low enough to wade through at low tide. From the air, you get a real sense of just how isolated and beautiful the islands of the Maldives are.
11. Over the Water Bungalows
When we started writing this article about the best things to do in the Maldives, we said there is a lot more to it than over the water bungalows and beach villas, but you must take advantage of these beauties and make the most of them while you’ve got them.
With an over the water bungalow, you can jump right into the waters and snorkel or swim. We loved our bungalow so much at Cinnamon Hakuraa we never wanted to leave our room. With a private deck, it’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and pure relaxation.
12. White Sand Beaches
The Maldives are known for their white sand beaches that stretch along the atolls. and the sand is smooth and easy to walk on. Beachgoers will love visiting the Maldives as you can walk far out along the sand bars enjoying the crystal clear waters.
What’s even better, is if you stay at an over the water bungalow, you can walk directly from your deck basking in paradise. And that is exactly what the Maldives are. Paradise Islands.
If you are really into fishing then you will want to try it out here in the Maldives. Tuna is the most popular catch and you can either fish the Maldives way, where you go out spearfishing with a local, or you can go out on a regular fishing expedition.
If a scenic flight is not in your budget then another great way to see the beautiful atolls of the Maldives is to go parasailing. There is no better way to appreciate the beauty of the Maldives than from above.
It is an exhilarating feeling to feel the wind in your hair as you soar high above your boat taking in the beautiful scenery all around you. This is definitely one of the coolest things to do in the Maldives.
15. Explore Malé
You’ll be flying into the Maldives through Male and it’s worth spending a day or two exploring the capital of the Maldives. Malé is completely different from the tranquility of the atolls.
It is a small island with a population of more than 227,000 it is one of the densely populated cities on earth. Spend a day exploring its top sites like the Male Fish Market and the Old Mosque.
The Male Fish Market is the heartbeat of the city with a hectic energy of the catch of the day coming through. The National Museum is worth a stop to see the history and artifacts from the Maldives past and the Old Friday Mosque is the oldest mosque in the Maldives dating back to 1656. And make sure to visit Sultan Park.
- To see everything in Male book a guided tour of the city here.
The Best Resorts in the Maldives
The Maldives is made up of a series of atolls. There is the North and the South Male Atoll as well as smaller atolls where you will find hotels. There is no shortage of beautiful resorts in the Maldives. These are a few of our favorite places to stay.
If you want to go all out on your budget, I would recommend the Hurawalhi Island Resort. Located on the Lhaviyani Atoll, this luxury resort has everything you need. With beautiful rooms and the world’s largest all-glass undersea restaurant, it is a trip you will remember forever. You can check availability here.
Another option that we loved is the Cinnamon Hakuraa Hura for romance and an isolated escape for high-end luxury. Their platinum island has opened for adults 18 and over.
If you are looking for something a little more mid-range then check out Cinnamon Dhonveli – This resort is located in the North Male Atoll and caters more to families than others with kids club and child friendly inclusions. It is just a short boat ride from the capital of Mali.
The Maldives on a budget? It can be done. There are many different guesthouses in the Maldives and also make sure to look into an apartment rental for the best price on the island. It can be a great way to experience the local flair.
Looking for something different? Splurge on a stay at the Huvafen Spa and Resort. It has the only underwater spa in the world.
Plan Your Trip to Maldives
When it comes to planning a vacation to the Maldives there are a few things you should take into consideration. The Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of India and Sri Lanka.
The official language of the Maldives is Dhivehi but many people understand English; Especially the resorts. It was under British rule from 1796 to 1965 but it was already a Sultinate being mainly ruled by the Sultans as of 1958.
For a more detailed breakdown visit our Maldives Travel Guide.
When to Visit the Maldives
There is no bad time to visit the Maldives. The weather in the Maldives is warm all year round. The most popular time to visit is November through April as this is the dry season. If you are looking for some deals then I would suggest looking at visiting in June at the beginning of the rainy season.
The best time for Scuba Diving in the Maldives is from January to April.
The Maldives can be reached through direct flights from Sri Lanka, Dubai, and Qatar. We landed at the Velana International Airport. This is the main place to fly into and is roughly 3 miles from the capital city of Malé.
From there, you will most likely take a boat or floatplane to your resort located on one of the many islands. I don’t think anywhere quite compares with the sheer beauty of Maldives and seeing it from a seaplane is extraordinary. While flying in from Male, we saw one paradise after another.
The islands are so small, they have to build bungalows over the water. And the water is so shallow, they can. These islands are sitting on underwater plateaus just waiting for you to come and visit.
Drones are prohibited in many areas and resorts in the Maldives, so make sure to check if you decide to fly a drone.
The Maldives can be traveled independently, pick up your Lonely Planet Travel Guide of the Maldives
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Our Maldives trip was courtesy of Cinnamon Resorts. They have several resorts in the Maldives, making for the perfect duo destination holiday. It was also in conjunction with Sri Lankan Airlines. Flights daily from hubs all around the world.
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