The Maldives islands are famous for crystal clear blue waters and pristine white sand beaches. But, the serene shores aren’t the only unforgettable Maldives attractions.
This cluster of islands, south of Asia, boasts an array of attractions and experiences unique to this archipelago. From beautiful reefs teeming with marine life to beaches that glow at night, there are so many things to do and see in the Maldives.
In this guide, we’ve put together some of the best Maldives islands’ attractions and activities to ensure your stay is fun-filled and memorable.
Whatever type of traveler you are, you’ll find something to love in the Maldives. There is plenty for adventure lovers to discover among the islands and endless opportunities to relax and indulge for those looking to enjoy the serenity.
If you’re not up to navigating the archipelago on your own, the Maldives islands offer many tours and excursions that take you through the beautiful atolls and local communities.
One of the best Maldives activities is exploring the islands on a luxury yacht charter. In fact, this archipelago is one of the world’s top superyacht chartering destinations.
The Maldives has over a thousand islands and about twenty-six major atolls, which can be hard to see on a short vacation. That’s why island hopping on a yacht is the best way to experience everything this island cluster offers.
Luxury charters offer a unique experience, bringing Maldives resorts’ five-star finesse to the water. To suit your itinerary, many private charters are available around the atolls. These charters stop at different places to visit in Maldives, like the busy capital of Malé or more remote spots like Hanifaru Bay.
Hanifaru Bay is among the Maldives’ best locations for snorkeling and diving. This bay sits on the islands’ Baa atoll in the archipelago’s northern region. The Baa atoll was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO because of its magnificent marine life that people from around the world flock to see.
Throughout the year, Hanifaru Bay attracts hoards of underwater creatures like whale sharks and manta rays. These magnificent animals are drawn in to feed on plankton that is swept up to the surface by the annual monsoon.
For inexperienced divers, snorkeling is safe, exciting, and offers plenty to see in terms of marine life. More experienced ocean enthusiasts may enjoy scuba diving to delve a little deeper beneath the surface.
The best time to visit Hanifaru Bay is from late June to October for optimal diving conditions. To further guarantee your dive is fulfilling, make sure to book when the tides are high.
Like the Baa Atoll, there are plenty of spots to experience the islands’ unique underwater environment. The Rainbow Reef is one of the best places to visit in the Maldives. It offers a colorful display of coral and stunning marine life like octopus, angel fish, and reef sharks.
Other ideal diving locations in the Maldives include Vadhoo Caves, The Victory Wreck, and Fuvahmulah Atoll, to name just a few.
To escape the bustle of Malé, embark on the Villamalé Eco Walking Tour just 15 minutes from the capital city. This guided tour explores a different side of the archipelago’s main atoll by focusing on local communities, conservation, and traditional cuisine.
The tour begins at Malé’s ferry terminal, where you’ll get a taste of the city’s life before a short ferry ride to a much quieter Villamalé. This is an excellent opportunity to chat with locals on the ferry who are always excited to communicate with tourists.
You’ll spend a total of four hours on the tour, exploring the local communities, chatting to locals, and learning about indigenous plants, animals, and ocean conservation.
Before heading back to Malé, you’ll enjoy a traditional hedhika, a savory snack from the Maldives, with black tea, and watch the sky as the sun sets.
Glowing beaches, also known as the ‘Sea of Stars,’ is a phenomenon unique to only a handful of beaches around the world. The Maldives offers a spectacular display of the Sea of Stars thanks to bioluminescent plankton that wash up onto the shore.
These creatures are similar to fireflies. However, they emit a mesmerizing blue glow—a defense mechanism against predators—that lights up the sand. This glow is often triggered by the crashing waves that bring the plankton ashore.
You’ll need to visit Vaadhoo Island in the Raa Atoll for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. This small, more remote atoll is only home to about 500 inhabitants but also has a handful of luxury resorts.
The best time to catch this phenomenon is from late June to October. Although that’s usually the islands’ quiet months for tourism, it is also the best time to dive and see marine life.
For travelers who want to learn a little bit about the archipelago’s history, one of the most popular of Maldives’ beautiful places is Utheemu Ganduvaru on Haa Alif Atoll.
Also known as the Wooden Palace, Utheemu Ganduvaru is the birthplace of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu and his brothers of the Utheemu Dynasty. The Sultan and his brothers led the famous eight-year fight against the Portuguese invaders that occupied the Maldives in 1558.
Since then, the palace has been well-preserved and is one of the archipelago’s most important heritage sites. The Wooden Palace offers visitors a window into the Utheemu Dynasty’s opulence and history.
If you’re looking for Maldives tourist attractions, the National Art Gallery is definitely something to add to your list. Established in 1999, this gallery is home to both international and local art pieces.
Visiting the gallery is the perfect way to admire local talents without venturing into the busy hub of the city. The National Art Gallery regularly hosts events and exhibits, which are great fun and a fantastic way to meet arty locals.
Addu City in the heart-shaped Addu Atoll is the second-largest urban region in the Maldives. This area served as bases in various wars but has since developed shops, hotels, and residences that stand alongside the historic barracks.
The British base area holds great significance to World War II. It’s located in the Bonda Badi memorial area and is open to visitors. It’s an excellent experience for travelers interested in the Maldives’ history.
This city is a lot quieter than the archipelago’s capital of Malé, which is perfect for visitors to truly appreciate the local way of life without the hustle and bustle.
This man-made island was created to alleviate the strain on the overcrowded capital of Malé. Building of the island began in 1997 and it was officially established in 2001. It’s one of the popular Maldives places to visit because of its location and pristine beaches.
If you’re wondering what to do in Maldives, chatting to locals and other tourists at Hulhumalé’s beaches is always a lot of fun. Otherwise, bring some beach towels, snacks, and an umbrella and enjoy a day of wave watching.
Hulhumalé was designed to be eco-friendly. Although it’s man-made, this island is one of the greenest spots around the Maldives islands. Residential areas at Hulhumalé were constructed within 100 to 200 meters from stores, schools and recreational areas to encourage locals to walk and use bicycles.
The clean city streets and pristine beaches are enough to attract most travelers to this island. But, Hulhumalé is also a great place to spend some time within the urban greenery.
Visit the Maldives from late June to October to experience the best of the islands’ crystal clear diving conditions, the array of marine life, and relatively quiet tourist highlights. While the weather may not be as warm as during the peak season, temperatures at this time still average at about 86°F (30°C).
Besides the essentials, the most important thing to remember when traveling to the Maldives is plenty of swimwear and sunscreen. Most activities here are in or around the ocean, so it’s advised that you come prepared.
You should also bring t-shirts and wraps to cover yourself when venturing to public places where modest dressing is essential.
Don’t worry about bringing your snorkeling or watersport gear, as most Maldives resorts have them available to rent.
Many tourists wonder, ‘what is there to do in the Maldives besides lounging on the beach?’ But, with the right help, you’ll find that the Maldives’ things to do and see are almost endless.
This archipelago offers fun for the whole family with so many islands, beaches, and historical sites to explore.
Make sure to spend time island-hopping to make the most of your time and experience the local culture and cuisine in the Maldives. Even if you’re not big on water sports or venturing below the ocean’s surface, the islands’ spectacular ocean life might just change your mind.