travel

Getting to a Maldives resort

Paradise.
Paradise.

The Maldives might sound like a very exotic location, but as their tagline goes – Closer than you think, for a paradise it can actually be easier to get to than many other destinations. Here are my tips for getting to a breath-taking holiday.

Love that we get to go on the tarmac at the airport!
Love that we get to go on the tarmac at the airport, it’s always breathtaking to see how giant the planes really are!

Getting an international connection

Many international airlines fly to Malé, the capital of the Maldives, and budget carrier Tiger Air has just added the destination to its route, testimony of the destination’s popularity. For those coming through Singapore, Male is a mere 4.5 hours away.

SEA Aquarium? Underwater World? No, it's just the airplane stairs tunnel!  (Actually the steward suggested taking this photo for us!)
SEA Aquarium? Underwater World? No, it’s just the airplane stairs tunnel!
(Actually the steward suggested taking this photo for us!)

Having to walk across the tarmac to get to your plane never gets old, and kudos to the people who came up with the wonderful idea of decorating the airplane stairs tunnel with ocean images so during the day it looks like you’re in an aquarium!

Getting to a resort

Amazing view of the Malé airport where we could even see seaplanes arriving and departing, from the Traders Hotel's pool.
Amazing view of the Malé airport where we could even see seaplanes arriving and departing, from the Traders Hotel’s pool.

The Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, or Malé International Airport as it is otherwise known, is located on its own island and also includes a domestic terminal and the seaplane terminal. The defacto means of transportation from the airport island to nearby destinations such as Malé city or other resorts is by boat, so you will not see any taxis on this island. If you’re travelling with kids, you will probably want to consider the various options below to see which is the easiest.

Speedboat

The speedboat jetties are literally outside the airport terminal. From here you can be at your resort from as little as 10 minutes, depending on where your resort is located.

Enjoying some tea onboard the speedboat. By this time I am so relieved to be on a speedboat because it's been a long journey.
Enjoying some tea onboard the speedboat. By this time I am so relieved to be on a speedboat because it’s been a long journey.

Speedboats can get a little rough depending on the weather conditions and the type of boat, so if you have a high risk pregnancy you might want to discuss this with your gynae first. I’ve been on a speedboat at 5 months into a pregnancy and they advised me to sit where it would be less bumpy and I still remember that particular trip was really quite bumpy, but luckily everything was fine. I suspect that at night the rises are rougher because the drivers can’t see wave conditions, but I really have no clue if that’s true or not.

Seaplane

Source

A short bus ride away from the international terminal is the seaplane terminal, where seaplanes can fly you straight to your resort. Note that seaplanes do not fly at night so if you arrive on a late flight you’ll need to find alternative accommodation in Malé before proceeding to your resort via the seaplane the next morning. Usually resorts will arrange seaplane transportation for guests. We have yet to take a seaplane because there are so many amazing resorts accessible by speedboat, but I can imagine that this is the absolute most scenic way to see the Maldives. Some resorts also offer seaplane excursions (it was around USD$200 years ago, if memory serves me right), so if you take a seaplane transfer you’re kind of saving on an excursion.

Domestic flights

For resorts that are even more far flung, there are regular domestic flights that service several atolls from which you can take a speedboat to your final destination.

This was our domestic plane, a Dash-8
This was our domestic plane, a Dash-8

We feel this is the most troublesome since you still need to take a speed boat after taking a domestic flight. On our last trip, to get to the Six Senses Laamu we walked 20 meters from the international terminal to the domestic terminal, waited for our domestic flight (thankfully guests to resorts have access to the airport lounge), and the flight took a detour to make a stop-over so a 35 minute flight became 1.5 hours or so. In the end it took us almost 8 hours to arrive at our final destination. On the return leg the flight was delayed, causing us to miss our international connection, although we weren’t at all aggrieved, but that meant the entire return journey effectively took us 24 hours!

Thankfully we only had one child with us during this journey, and at 3.5 years old he was pretty manageable, and I was able to get him excited about the journey. “We’re going to take a boat! A small plane! And a big plane!”

For more tips, check out my other posts on the Maldives.

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