Although super famous and a tourist destination of note, the archipelago of the Maldives is somewhat isolated. While easily accessible, one of the best ways to enhance your adventure is to experience seaplanes in the Maldives.
A trip to the archipelago is already a magical adventure where stunning white sandy beaches meet crystal clear ocean waters. Populated by the most luxurious resorts that each offer unique Maldivian attractions and are visited by a massive array of marine life — it’s quite magnificent to experience.
One aspect that many travelers miss out on during their Maldives experience is seeing the islands from the skies. And if you follow suit, you will miss one of the best parts of a trip to the islands. But don’t worry, you’re in good hands.
Read on to discover everything you should know about adding a seaplane experience to your Maldives holiday itinerary.
So you’ve decided on the best airline to fly to the Maldives, you’ve booked your luxury hotel accommodation, and your bags are already packed. But, wait, your flight lands on Hulhule’ and your resort is on a completely different island.
While transportation methods to and from many of the islands in the Maldives include hopping on a boat, quite a few luxury resort islands are only accessible via a seaplane, speed boat, or luxury yacht transfer. As for the majority of islands close enough to any of the Maldivian airports, transfer by speed boat or luxury yacht is the go-to. All three transfer options most definitely add to ensuring your trip is as exclusive as possible.
Understandably, disembarking after a long flight and immediately boarding another sounds terrible, but that’s not the case here. Jetting off to your resort aboard a Maldivian seaplane is easily one of the best experiences in the Maldives.
What could be better? Well, booking a stay at more than one resort. Opting for an island close to the mainland offers a speedboat trip. Combining that with another resort reachable via seaplane is an excellent idea to experience the best of the islands.
The unparalleled views of the atolls and the pristine ocean make this another one of those once-in-a-lifetime memories the Maldives is known for.
Beyond the limitless number of attractions that make the Maldives a premier tourist destination, your first intro to the islands is flying to your resort via seaplane. So let’s break down everything you can expect from this unique experience.
First up is getting to the Maldives. All international flights arrive at Velana International Airport on Hulhule’ island, which oddly isn’t the capital of the Maldives. With direct flights from Europe to the island, you have a wide selection of airlines to complete this part of your trip.
Once you’ve arrived, the next step is getting from Hulhule’ to your chosen resort. While some island resorts are close enough to the mainland to allow for a speedboat transfer, the majority can only be reached by seaplane.
If you find yourself worried about the idea of finding an airline service at the airport to handle this leg of your journey, you can put your anguish aside. All resort packages booked to the Maldives will include the transfer via seaplane.
What’s important to remember is that there are currently only three seaplane companies that handle all island transfers from Hulhule’. They are:
- Trans Maldivian Airways
- Manta Air
- Maldivian Air Taxi
These companies work in partnership with the many resorts in the Maldives and plan your seaplane transfer at the time of your initial booking. This means that there is no booking hassle involved with a seaplane experience.
Seaplanes aren’t the default mode of transportation in or around the Maldives. Only islands far from the mainland use this service. And while costs are included in your booking fee, they can range from $450 to $900, with some even pricing at over $1000. You’ll usually find this information within the terms of your booking confirmation.
Flying via seaplane is very similar to that of any other airplane travel. However, certain conditions and regulations apply to these flights specifically. While your international flight baggage policy might allow for more, seaplane companies will limit you to 20kg of main luggage and 5kg of hand luggage.
Secondly, all standard personal information will need to be provided to your resort when booking. This includes all details regarding your international flight information.
Each seaplane can accommodate up to 13 passengers (as passenger luggage takes up some space), and often you’ll find that your plane docks at numerous resorts where passengers depart.
Luxury seaplanes, usually those chartered privately, only have 8 or 9 seats available. The benefit of this is a direct flight from the airport to your resort and back but can cost anything between $7000 and $9000. This is dependent on distance.
Another important flight condition for seaplanes in the Maldives is their operating times. Seaplanes are not permitted to fly after sunset. Thus they only operate between 6 am and 4 pm daily. Much care is taken to ensure your international flight and your seaplane transfer occur harmoniously. Should your international flight arrive after 3:30 pm, for example, you’ll have to book overnight accommodation in Hulhule’ before your transfer.
It’s also best to be aware of when the rainy season is in the Maldives. The northern and southern atolls experience different monsoon seasons, and some unfavorable conditions can occur. These can delay your flight, but chances of flight cancelations are very rare.
Now, while there might be ideal times to dive in the Maldives or perfect times to visit the Maldives, seaplanes only fly by daylight. This means that they only transfer visitors to their resorts between 7 am and 4 pm daily.
Flight times are also a bit of a guessing game. Due to the location of the Maldives, weather and water conditions change relatively quickly and without warning. Your seaplane flight schedule will only be determined and confirmed the day before your arrival in Hulhule’.
Expect the waiting time before boarding your seaplane to be anything up to three hours. Although this might sound exhausting, you can lounge and relax in the many airport lounges beforehand. And don’t worry about missing your flight, as you will be kept up to date on boarding times well ahead of time.
So, first of all, seaplanes are somewhat loud. And your first exposure to that will be the walk to your plane. As all aircraft depart from specified docks outside of the airport, you’ll be greeted by numerous flights taking off and landing.
While take-off is a noisy and, on occasion, shaky experience, once in the air, you can look forward to a few things. The first is the incredible views of the many islands that dot the landscape of the Maldives. These views are amazingly unique and can’t be experienced by any other means than a seaplane.
Another fun thing you’ll experience before the flight is seeing your pilot. While some may find this unsettling, your pilot – although never dressed in floral shirts will sport either flip-flops or go barefoot. But rest assured, they are incredibly skilled.
You’ll find that it’s not just the islands and atolls themselves that provide a picturesque scene. As you fly, getting a bird’s eye view of lagoons, sandbars, and resorts adds so much to your trip. And you’ll have more than enough time to take in all the scenery as flights usually last for 30 minutes to one hour.
Arrival once again happens at a designated dock or on open water, depending on weather, water, and coral conditions. Most often, you’ll land at a specially designed wooden wharf.
Each resort in the Maldives that uses seaplane transfers has its own dock, and these have designated three letter callsigns. In cases where landing at the pier is not possible, planes will land next to a floating jetty, from where you’ll be taken via boat to the dock.
Here you’ll be welcomed by friendly resort staff, and your luggage will be taken to your room or villa. You’ll find most luxury resorts have their own lounges at seaplane terminals. High-end resort staff will take care of every bit of admin, and upon arrival, your personal butler will immediately escort you to your villa.
Should your resort not have a dedicated lounge nor handle your registration admin beforehand, this will be done at the reception post departure.
While most seaplane experiences in the Maldives occur as transfers from Hulhule’ to specified resorts, there are two companies offering private chartered seaplane tours. These are Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) and Maldivian Air Taxi (MAT).
If you’re looking for a spectacular entry into the best things to do in the Maldives, taking flight on a seaplane tops the list. Packages offered include sightseeing tours that last for 15 to 20 minutes. These times can be extended prior to the flight.
Other options to make your Maldivian adventure truly great include whale shark sightseeing tours as well as honeymoon tours.
From the best time to dive in the Maldives to witnessing the famous Maldives beaches glow, the archipelago is many travelers’ dream destination. While every bit of your trip guarantees memories that will last a lifetime, the seaplane experiences over the islands are incomparable.
To make sure you get the most out of your trip, the excitement of flying to your resort adds a new perspective.
Be sure to check out other unique experiences in the Maldives and the many water sports available on the islands. What more could you want?