The Maldives is not just a place to spend your days sunbathing on the soft sandy beaches. There is so much to do and explore amongst these islands that you’ll never get bored. Excursions are the best way to do just that and luckily there are plenty of them to choose from. These are the 11 best things to do in Maldives during your vacation. These excursions can be done whether you are staying on a local island in a guesthouse or at a resort.
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Stay in a Maldives Overwater Bungalow
Staying overnight in a Maldives water villa is one of the most iconic things to do in this island paradise. Located on most of the resort islands, these stilted Maldives overwater bungalows are private suites situated directly over the ocean.
From your over water villa Maldives you can jump right into the ocean from private steps and snorkel around the house reef. The area surrounding the villas is filled with flourishing marine life and plenty of small reef sharks.
Many of these Maldives overwater bungalows have their own private infinity pool or small hammock hanging over the ocean. The water villas range in price depending on the location, resort and size of the villa.
You can also stay in an all inclusive Maldives resort such as Lily Beach Resort and Spa. The benefits of staying at an all inclusive resort in the Maldives is that the fee includes all alcohol, food and non-motorized water activities. This way you won’t have any major surprises at the end of your stay.
Keep in mind that staying at a resort in the Maldives typically does not include the transfer cost of either a speedboat or sea plane. These costs can be upwards of $200 per person one way depending on how far the resort is from the Malé airport.
Also, check with the resort to see if the 12% goods and services tax is included or excluded from the booking rate. There will also be an environmental tax of $6 for resorts and $3 for local islands. This fee will be per person per night. Additionally there is a 10% property service charge for the resorts.
Scuba diving is one of the top things to do during your Maldives vacation and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some incredible marine life.
You can either do a shore dive or a boat dive while in the Maldives and both offer incredible views of the reefs. Typically during a shore dive you will explore around the house reef while a boat dive will take you out to small reefs within the atoll.
Depending on what marine life you want to see you should research while atoll you’ll want to be in.The whale sharks can be seen year round in the South Ari Atoll and the mantas are seasonal in the same area. Additionally, there are hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and thresher sharks which can be seen around different islands as well. Keep in mind that some of these species can be seen year round while others pass through seasonally.
Even if you aren’t scuba certified you can still dive with certain restrictions. This is called a Discovery Dive and is ideal for people who are interested in diving but don’t want to commit to an open water certification course just yet. During a Discovery Dive you’ll be fitted with a BCD, regulator and weight belt. a one on one dive instructor to a maximum depth of 12 meters (39 feet). Luckily in the Maldives the opportunity for marine life sighting are still incredible even at such a shallow depth.
Most of the dive shops in the Maldives also offer courses where you can complete your open water certification all the way up to your diver master certification. Can you imagine a better place in the world to get scuba certified?
In addition to dives through the guesthouse or resort, you can also join a Safari boat. This is basically a liveaboard boat that you will stay on the entire time which travels around to different atolls and islands for the daily dives. Most safari boat packages include multiple dives per day, full room and board and transfers if applicable.
Maldives Private Island- One of the Best Things to do in Maldives
One of my favorite excursions is to head out to a Maldives private island first thing in the morning and stay all day. The small islands are uninhabited and are the perfect place to spend the day soaking up the sun along the white sand beaches.
Referred to as ‘picnic island’ by the locals, these island vary in size. Some are super small, resembling a large sandbank and some can be quite large.
The best thing to do during a Maldives tour to a private island is to snorkel around the house reef. Here you’ll see tons of marine life which will probably include turtles, spotted eagle rays, reef sharks and a variety of fish species.
A lot of the resorts have their own private islands nearby the resorts meaning you’ll most likely have the place all to yourself. However, some of the guesthouses on the local islands frequent the same uninhabited island so you might have to share it with other guests. Luckily, the islands are large enough that you never really feel bothered by other people anyways.
Snorkeling in the Maldives is one of the best ways to get out and explore the underwater world. There are multiple options for getting out and snorkeling including excursions to different reefs or the house reef. The house reef in the Maldives is basically the reef that surrounds each island whether it be a resort or a local island.
The resorts and local guesthouses with have snorkel gear that you can use in the case that you don’t bring your own. The snorkel gear will include a mask, snorkel and fins. Typically snorkeling the Maldives house reef is free while exploring nearby reefs will cost a little bit of money.
Whenever I am in the Maldives I snorkel at least once a day. You will see incredible marine life including rays, sharks, octopus and many species of fish. Make sure that you always go with a local guide while snorkeling (even the house reef) so that you can be safe. The locals understand the currents and will also point out any unique sea life that you may miss!
Swim with Sea Turtles
The Hawksbill sea turtle is the most common species that you will see during your snorkeling or scuba diving excursions in the Maldives. However, there is a chance that you could spot one of the other species as well. Unfortunately most sea turtles are on the endangered species list so it is important to respect these creatures and help protect them from going extinct.
While in the Maldives you can increase your chances of a sea turtle encounter by taking a specific tour to a nearby reef. Most local Maldivian’s know the location or reef where sea turtles are frequently seen and will take you there on a tour.
In addition to spotting some sea turtles, snorkel hopping excursions are a great way to explore other nearby reefs.
Visit a Sand Bank in the Middle of the Ocean
During low tide head to a nearby sandbank to experience one of the best things to do in Maldives. Hidden during high tide, these sandbanks appear when the tide goes out. The Maldives sand banks come in all shape and sizes. It’s especially fun to head out to the sand bank by jet ski!
Just make sure you put your stuff in a waterproof bag if it can’t get wet. The tide can come in pretty quickly and you won’t want to ruin your expensive camera gear!
Go on a Dolphin Watching Sunset Cruise
Pods of playful dolphins are commonly seen around the open waters in the Maldives. In fact, you have a pretty high change of encountering a group while on one of your daily excursions. However, if you want to head out for a gorgeous sunset cruise around the Maldives then you should definitely do so on a dolphin watching boat ride.
The sunsets in the Maldives are exquisite and even more so if you are lucky enough to witness a pod of dolphins. For your excursion your guide will take you out into the open waters in an area where dolphins are more likely to pass through. While dolphin spotting isn’t always a guarantee there is a very high probability that you will spot some along the way!
Go on a Day Trip to a Nearby Maldives Resort
Staying at an expensive resort in the Maldives may not be possible for everyone’s budget. The good news is that you can cut costs of your trip by staying at a local guesthouse while also getting to enjoy some of the resort amenities.
Select resorts offer a day pass excursion for visitors who are not staying at the resort. Each resort has their own specific fee and details of what is included in the cost. Be sure to find out exactly what is included before you arrive on the resort island so you aren’t surprised with any outstanding fees. Your local guesthouse can set up the day trip for you including the transportation to and from the resort island.
Swim with the Whale Shark–One of the Best Things to Do in Maldives
Swimming with the whale shark is one of the top things to do in the Maldives. As year round visitors to the warm waters of the Maldives, the possibility of seeing a whale shark is very high.
The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea and is a permanent resident of the Maldives. It is a filter feeder that only eats plankton making it harmless for humans to swim with. Whale sharks can reach lengths of 12 meters (~40 feet).
There are two options for visitors to have an encounter with a whale shark: snorkeling or scuba diving. Even though whale sharks are slow moving, they do swim against the current which can make it harder to keep up when swimming with them. It is advised for guests to wear life jackets if they are not strong swimmers.
In the Maldives, the whale sharks are most commonly seen in the South Ari Atoll just outside of the Maamigili Island house reef.
The whale shark is a protected animal and therefore you are forbidden to touch or interfere with it in any way. Like all wild animals you need to respect their space and not get too close.
Snorkeling With Giant Manta Rays
Manta Rays are large, harmless rays that can reach up to 23 feet (7 meters). They are the world’s largest rays and are easily identified by their unique horn shaped cephalic fins that are located near their mouth. Manta Rays are filter feeders and only eat large quantities of plankton.
Manta Rays are completely safe for humans to swim with and are mostly curious creatures. They usually swim in groups and live in tropical waters. The manta ray is commonly seen in the Maldives due to the constant warm temperature of the ocean water.
The Manta Rays tend to travel around in the Maldives meaning that they may not be in the same spot year round. The Manta Rays can be seen on the western side of the Maldives from November to April and on the eastern side from May to October. Of course it is always best to check with your resort or guesthouse. Two of the best atolls for swimming with Manta Rays are the South Ari Atoll and the Baa Atoll.
Go Night Snorkeling
The underwater world becomes a different universe at night. From seeing the bioluminescent plankton to the iridescent colors of certain sea life, night snorkeling offers a unique experience. While jumping into the dark waters can be a bit intimidating at first, your fears will subside as soon as you get your first glimpse of how magical things can look with a different perspective.