Ah, the Maldives. Just thinking about it makes me feel calm and relaxed already. It’s certainly a happy place I would go to, and I dare say that even the crew onboard the flights are usually quite relaxed, apart from the fact that they have to serve an unreasonable number of celebratory cakes onboard since so many people are on their honeymoons or the like.
This was my 9th time to the Maldives, and my husband’s 10th because one year he went on a liveaboard without me, but our first time selecting a resort which required a seaplane transfer.
Let me first tell you about my virgin experience with the seaplane transfer.
Seaplanes only fly during daylight, and because we took the late SQ flight out which arrived at 2210, I booked us into Hotel Jen for a night. We’d previously stayed there when our return flight from the Six Senses Laamu was delayed. We have also stayed in a 2 star hotel on Male, which costs around USD$100, and it was pretty basic. Hotel Jen starts from less than USD$200, so I opted to spend the money on that instead.
After arriving at 2210 hours, I found the transfer quite tiring. We had to wait for a group of people from the flight to head together to the jetty to wait for our boat, wait for the guys to load the luggages on, and then took all of 5 minutes to shimmy across to Male city. Then we had to wait for the guys to unload, and, well, you get what I mean. There is a short 2min walk from the jetty to the hotel and thank goodness I knew the way so I brisked walked to be ahead of the crowd to check in. Sometimes kiasuism pays off! They are now building a bridge from the airport island to Male city island, so I think that would make the transfer much less painful and much faster.
Prior to our departure, I had written to Per Aquum Niyama to confirm the seaplane timing, but was told that this would only be done the night before the seaplane departure, and that Per Aquum Niayam would liaise with Hotel Jen on this. Just to be doubly sure, I made a similar seaplane enquiry with another resort and was told the same. That night, Hotel Jen could only tell me the time to meet at the lobby, and still couldn’t tell me what time the seaplane was.
So, the next morning, we were escorted back to the airport by a Hotel Jen staff, and to the Per Aquum lounge (actually it’s just a small room with some air con and drinks and wifi). From there a Per Aquum staff helped us check in our bags etc and brought us to the seaplane terminal where there is a Per Aquum lounge (more in the next post).
Only at this point did we know roughly what time our seaplane was going to depart.
On our return trip, when we were are the lounge, there were some people waiting and judging by their body language, they were getting anxious about when their seaplane would depart. So, it’s probably common that planes aren’t scheduled tightly.
Our outbound flight was scheduled for 2325 hours and since seaplanes only fly during the day, we had to take the 1500hours seaplane out and spend some time in the seaplane lounge, before waiting outside the airport, since check-in did not start until almost 2030. Hubby thought that the whole return journey was doable, but I don’t understand how he can think a 13 hour journey door to door can be “doable”. I’d probably want to spend the last night at another resort, or take the day flights out of Male. The only problem is that the day flights are flown by Silkair, and the night flights by SQ, and there is not much price difference between the two flights, but that’s a first world problem for you.
On our previous experience at Six Senses Laamu where we had to take a domestic flight, and on the return flight no airport staff could really tell us what time the plane was coming or the route it was taking (that route usually has 2 stops in total), and in the end we missed our connecting international SQ flight, but spent another night in Male city at Hotel Jen. I certainly didn’t mind spending another night in paradise (even if it was just Male city).
So long story short, I think the lesson learnt is that if you’re going to take any domestic or seaplane flights in the Maldives, just remember that you’re on holiday and take things easy. Hey, you’re on an island right? Just gotta go with the flow.
But for all the trouble, you’ll be rewarded of the most amazing views of some of the 26 atolls that make up the Maldives. Did you know that atolls were created from seamounts or volcanos? And that the word “atoll” is derived from the Maldivian language? Here is where you will find the epitome of atolls. The Maldives islands span across almost 1000km, and you will just look out upon endless sea.
Being on the seaplane was like being in a drone or looking at Google maps with the satellite view on. I even recognised a resort (confirming it later with Google maps) while enroute! It was really amazing for us to see the atolls, and I would love to take a seaplane again. When I can figure out the least painful way to get to one, that is.
I have written quite a number of posts on the Maldives, including some tips which I hope will be helpful, especially for those who have never been (what are you waiting for?!), and I hope these seaplane tips will definitely be useful.