The extraordinary country of the Maldives consists of 2,000 islands spread over 26 atolls, so it’s easy to imagine that island hopping is one of the most popular activities for visitors and one of the best ways to get a feel for the magical landscape. Island hopping excursions can vary widely, from how far you to travel, to how you get there, to what you do. Most of the resorts in the Maldives occupy their own island, and they will have plenty of day trips and packages available if you want to go island hopping, with options to explore local fishing villages, take in amazing wildlife, or even have a barbecue on a deserted beach. Only 200 of the country’s islands are actually inhabited, making for a wide variety of unexplored territory. If you’re looking for adventure or just looking to relax in paradise, the islands have something for everyone.
1. Water Sports
The Maldives is essentially 99 percent water, so this island nation is one of the best locations in the world for scuba diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, water skiing, and more. And finding the best locations for these activities can often mean taking a boat ride for a half or full day trip to nearby islands. You can travel to submerged coral reefs like Tinga Giri, or head out to Hulhule Island to dive down to the wreck of the Victory. Different locations offer a variety of marine life. Providers in the Maldives estimate there are 150 different species of manta rays in the Lhaviyani Atoll, and snorkeling among them is one of the many unique experiences that the Maldives has to offer. You can also take specialized surf tours, where you travel by boat to find the best surfing spots, such as the great waves in the uninhabited islands of the North Male Atoll.
2. Day Cruises
There are plenty of cruises to the Maldives that can offer you a fantastic variety of islands to explore, but if you’re staying on land, it’s still easy to charter a boat for a single day trip around the nearby area. One of the best things to do when you’re out on the boat is watch for the abundance of whales and dolphins. The Whale and Dolphin Company has spotted over 25 species, and sunset cruises offered at your resort can involve spotting schools of spinner dolphins, which are abundant in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Day trips by boat are also great for fishing or just swimming off of more secluded beaches. Stay at a tourist hotspot such as Dhigu while still being able to enjoy the
dozens of uninhabited islands that surround it. Enjoy a beach picnic or a champagne brunch, on the boat or on the shore.
3. Meeting the Locals
If you’re not staying in the capital of Male, many resorts offer excursions there, where you can take in the Maldives most famous museums, restaurants, and local markets. The incredible architecture, including traditional mosques, also attracts plenty of enthusiasts every year. There are plenty of other opportunities to meet the locals. You can visit fishing villages like Thoddoo or Ukalhas, or even visit unique locations like the dolphin-friendly tuna canning factory on Felivaru or the clinics and mosques of Hinnavaru, with its 7,000 residents. The Maldives is a predominantly Muslim nation with its own festivals and holidays, and most resorts will ask that women cover their thighs and shoulders when interacting with the locals. Because the Maldivian tourist resorts are so isolated from local life, it can be an enriching experience to see how the inhabitants of these islands live.
4. Unique Sightseeing
Touring the islands of the Maldives is not solely reserved for boats. If you’re feeling extravagant, you may want to see if you can charter a seaplane to take you from one island to another, or simply to take you sightseeing. The Maldivian Air Taxi company organizes both airport transfers and half or full-day excursions to various islands. Seaplanes are easier to obtain from certain resorts, especially the more northern atolls, and they are slightly more expensive than boat excursions on average. If you’re more interested in seeing things under the water, you can also take a Submarine tour. Many of the submarines used for tourist excursions hold 50 passengers and submerge an average of 40 meters below the surface, letting you observe a variety of marine life on the way down.
There’s no one secret to having a magic Maldives experience because the islands offer such a wide variety of choices. No matter what you’re looking for in your exotic Maldives holiday, you will surely find an island or coral reef among those turquoise waters that can provide it. And every option for adventure is worth the voyage.