The Maldives has been a bucket list destination of ours for a long time. It has everything we could possibly want in a tropical island getaway – turquoise waters, pristine powdery-white sand and a lagoon full of colourful sea life. We recently had an amazing stay at Finolhu – a retro-inspired luxury resort in Baa Atoll (read Finolhu review here). There are so many stunning luxury resorts to choose from in the Maldives, all scattered across different atolls. Some can be easily reached by a short speedboat trip while others require a seaplane transfer. This blog post is designed to share some insight into the transfer options available in the Maldives, as well as highlight important information relevant to each option.
SPEEDBOAT, SEAPLANE OR DOMESTIC FLIGHT
The transfer options available for you to reach your luxury resort really depends on where your resort is located within the Maldives. Your resort will liaise directly with you to arrange all of the necessary details for a seamless transfer.
If your resort is located fairly close to Malé, you will be able to reach it by speedboat transfer. The resort will arrange for a private speedboat to pick you up from Malé International Airport and immediately whisk you away.
For those resorts located in an atoll that is quite a distance from Malé, a seaplane transfer will be required. Seaplanes only operate during daylight hours, so some planning is required when booking flights to and from Malé.
Some resorts may also offer the option of a domestic flight plus speedboat transfer, if the resort is located near a domestic airport. This option is useful for those guests that are weary of travelling by seaplane; or for those needing to travel outside of daylight hours.
Speedboat transfers are the most cost-effective and convenient option. The process is really effortless – as the resort can whisk you away in the speedboat immediately upon arrival at the airport. The journey is generally fairly quick and smooth and you will be enjoying your new resort in no time at all. Speedboat transfers can generally be arranged at any time of day or night.
A seaplane is a quick and easy method of transfer that also offers stunning aerial views. Although you may have to wait for your seaplane transfer, many luxury resorts have private lounges at the seaplane terminal – allowing you to relax and unwind until your departure time. Do note that seaplanes only operate in daylight hours.
Domestic flight transfers appear to be the least convenient option. Although the flight may only be 20 minutes in duration, it still involves all of the necessary steps of air travel – such as going through security, waiting at the gate to board, collecting baggage etc. On a positive note, domestic flights are available day and night – and allow guests to maximise time at the resort if they have a late-night departure out of Malé.
Travelling by seaplane is an amazing experience that offers stunning aerial views of the atolls. It is such a unique way to travel and really adds an element of excitement! Our seaplane journey was definitely one of the many highlights of our trip to the Maldives. Our little boy loved it too!
Travelling by speedboat is a fun way to arrive at your resort. Relax and enjoy the journey as wait in anticipation for your resort to come into view. You may also pass other islands en route and – if you’re lucky – you may see some dolphins too!
The domestic flight option is useful for those guests that are weary of travelling by seaplane. You will still get some scenic views if you are lucky enough to have a window seat. Travelling on a domestic flight is not really a special experience, but it does get you from A to B.
The cost of the transfers in the Maldives really shocked us! No one talks about the fact that you spend a small fortune on your resort – only to spend another small fortune to actually get there. If you want to minimise the amount you spend on transfers, I would suggest booking a resort that is accessible by private speedboat. Transfer costs to resorts directly accessible by speedboat vary from resort to resort, but are significantly less than the cost of a seaplane or domestic flight transfer.
For our stay at Finolhu, we were informed that transfers would cost US$510 (approx.) per person return – by seaplane or domestic flight (plus short speedboat trip). The cost of the seaplane (or domestic flight) transfer may vary depending on where the resort is situated in the Maldives, but seem to generally be around this price point. Contact resorts prior to booking to get more information on associated costs with transfers, so that you are fully aware of any relevant charges. See below for general information on transfer costs applicable to children.
TRANSFER COSTING FOR CHILDREN
Seaplane transfer (approx.): Children 12 years and under – 50% of adult seaplane transfer rate; Infants under 2 years – free of charge (sitting in parent’s lap)
Domestic flight transfer (approx.): Children 12 years and under – 50% of adult seaplane transfer rate; Infants under 2 years – US$75 (sitting in parent’s lap)
Speedboat transfer (approx.): Contact resort for pricing (varies between resorts) – may be included in resort rates
BAGGAGE AND WEIGHT LIMIT
Both seaplane and domestic flight transfers have strict baggage allowances that must be adhered to. Prior to boarding, all of your luggage will be weighed and excess baggage is chargeable.
BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE (PER PERSON)
Seaplane transfer: 20kg checked baggage plus 5kg hand luggage; Excess baggage charged at US$4 per kg
Domestic flight transfer: 25kg checked baggage plus 5kg hand luggage; Excess baggage charged at US$2 per kg
Speedboat transfer: Check with resort for any baggage restrictions (each resort has own private speedboat, so any restrictions may vary)
*Note: on both the seaplane and the domestic flight, we were able to take our travel stroller and travel cot with no additional charge incurred.
If travelling by seaplane, ensure that you keep your camera on you for the flight. All of the luggage is stowed at the back of the seaplane and you cannot access it for the duration of the flight. Even hand luggage (backpacks, small cases) is kept at the back due to space constraints. So keep any essentials on you for easy access during the flight.
MAXIMISING TIME AT RESORT
With a bit of careful planning, you can really maximise the amount of time you spend at your luxury resort in the Maldives. Most of the international flights arrive into Malé quite late at night. Our Singapore Airlines flight landed around 11pm (Malé time). We chose to stay overnight at a hotel in Hulhumale (the airport island), so that we could take an early seaplane to Finolhu the following morning. By doing this, we got to spend the whole day enjoying our resort. Do note that some of the resorts have their own island time, so you actually ‘lose’ a bit of time. Finolhu is two hours ahead of Malé, so we reached the resort just before 11am (Finolhu time). We were fortunate that we could check-in immediately and hadn’t lost too much of our day travelling.
In order to further maximise our time in the Maldives, we booked a late-night flight out of Malé. This meant that we had nearly all of our final day to spend at the resort too. Choosing which transfer method to get back to Malé was a bit more complex. If we took the last seaplane for the day, we would have to sit at the airport for 4 hours before our international flight. The domestic flight plus speedboat transfer allowed us to remain at Finolhu for a few more hours before making our way to Malé. We opted for the latter option, as it allowed us to enjoy the resort till the very last moment. Although the travel time was greater than going by seaplane, I would recommend using the domestic flight option on the way back if it means you can maximise your time at the resort while minimising your time waiting around at the airport.
Regardless of how you reach your resort in the Maldives, you are bound to have an amazing time swimming in the crystal-clear waters and relaxing on the sandy beaches. Happy travelling xx