Top 17 Things to Do in the Maldives

Even seasoned travelers get spellbound by the sun, the sand, and the sea that tropical islands can offer. And the Maldives, known as a slice of paradise, seems to have all of them in abundance. But as I discovered in a recent trip with my family, Maldives is not only about sunbathing or luxuries and has a lot to offer, ranging from the unique culture of an Asian nation over 700 km away from the mainland to underwater wildlife unlike no other place.

Here is my list of the top 18 things to do while you will be in the Maldives on your next vacation.

1.   Visit A Local Island:

There are about 200 islands where Maldivians live and around a thousand more uninhabited ones with coral islands, sandbanks, and pristine, virgin nature. To experience the vibrant local culture and lifestyle, you should pay a visit to a local island. Outside of the capital of Male, you can go to islands such as Maafushi (where we stayed), Keyodhoo and Fulidhoo which have plenty of guesthouses and hotels, and also regular, convenient transportation options to get to and from.

2.   Snorkeling and Diving

Maldives is blessed with temperatures ranging from 20-30 degree Celsius (80-88℉) all year round.  The opulence of phytoplankton gives the Maldivian waters the appearance of a crystal. My father kept saying the water looked like someone painted the ground underneath with turquoise paint. The sea remains mostly calm, and there are no hidden or deadly undercurrents. There are 26 Atolls, numerous coral reefs, densely populated marine life, and frequent sightings of Whale Sharks & Manta Rays along with many other wonderful sea creatures.

All of the above make snorkeling a must in the Maldives. You can take a snorkeling excursion starting from just about anywhere in the South Male Atoll. Snorkeling with nurse sharks (not the dangerous type of sharks unless you mess with them) near Fulidhoo was definitely the highlight of my trip. The clarity of the water due to the reefs being protected from strong waves and currents, and a relative lack of pollution also make Maldives one of the best places in the world for Scuba Diving. That’s why I made the decision to try scuba diving for the first time in my life in this place, although it wasn’t as cheap as it would be in some other Asian tropical spots.

Me swimming with nurse sharks on a snorkeling expedition

3.   Watch a Manta Ray Cleaning Station:

Cleaning stations are not what you might imagine them to be. They are large patches of coral where Manta Rays get regular hygiene trimming, by the natural sea cleaners, known as wrasses. To clean their teeth, skin, and gills, Manta Rays visit coral patches, where contingents of cleaner wrasses along with other varieties wait for the big guys to swing by. And if you plan accordingly, you might be able to watch the spectacle firsthand.

4. Explore A Shipwreck:

Shipwrecks happen when accidents occur. and exhibit a precise moment of time, standing still, more like a time capsule. So, diving and exploring in a shipwreck is like archeology in motion. And the Maldives has plenty to offer for amateur archeologists underwater. The Vaavu shipwreck which I covered during my snorkeling excursion was quite the site.  Victory wreck, Rannamaari wreck, Kudhimaa wreck, etc. are a few more from a lot to choose from.

5. Visit A Sandbank:

Sandbanks are tiny-winy bits of sandy islands. They are encircled by jaw-dropping blue and green shades of water. After spending some time in swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling, just relax yourself sunbathing in the white sand. You can also plan a picnic with your family and friends. A few hours of private bonanza, customized only to suit your needs and demands. Again, if you pay a little extra on your snorkeling excursion you can get this covered too.

6.   Visit A Local Market:

It may feel like a surprise to you but the Maldives can hold its ground as a fun place for passionate shoppers. True that it’s not a shopper’s paradise like Dubai but Maldives can satisfy a tourist with its vibrant and colorful street shops, expensive boutiques, and souvenir stores. You will find everything you can think of necessity while you are on the island as a tourist. And you would be bedazzled by the rich collection of mementos and indigenous items to choose from.

7.   Spa Treatments

These days, spa treatments are synonymous with a vacation in a faraway place. The Maldives is surely up for the relaxing treatments that you deserve. Maldives was the recipient of The World Spa Awards for being the best destination for spa treatment in the Indian Ocean in 2017. You will have all sorts of spas here – curated for individuals or customized for couples.

8.   Night Fishing

For many Maldivians, it only takes lines operated by the hand, a sinker, and raw fish as bait attached to a hook, to earn their livelihood. Watch them work their magic, under the magical Maldivian sky, lit by the stars. If you want to try some fishing on your own, you may end up catching your dinner.

9.   Dolphin & Whale Watching

The Maldivian chain of atolls runs nearly 1000 miles from north to south in the Indian Ocean. This provides a resting place for the spinner dolphins. After feeding themselves offshore at night, they choose the Maldivian atolls to take rest. On the other hand, blue whales migrate through the Maldivian waters from November to May. And humpback whales can be spotted from June to October during their migration as well. So, if you time your vacation accordingly, you can enjoy watching these majestic mammals moving, hovering, playing.

10.   Visit A Mosque

Beyond the picturesque beaches, Maldives is also home to more than countless beautiful mosques, many of which are open to visitors. Whether you are a Muslim or not, visiting a mosque will provide you with much-needed tranquility for a soul search. Among the many historic mosques is the unique Friday Mosque in Male which was made entirely out of the coral reef and serves as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its history and unique architecture. Just remember to check what times a mosque allows visitors before you head over.

11.    Visit A Turtle Hatchery

The turquoise waters of the Maldives are home to 5 out of 7 types of sea turtles of the world. Though, you can only see a green sea turtle and hawksbill turtle across the islands. May and June are the nesting months for sea turtles, followed by the hatching season lasting from July to August. So, if you are in the Maldives during this timeframe, make sure you catch the turtles hatching.

12.    Visit A Local Handicraft Workshop

Maldives’ beauty is not only skin-deep. Rather the island nation has a long-lasting heredity of craftsmanship. They practice their masterful acts using what they can source locally. They use reeds, palm leaves, shells, woods, stones, natural oil and paint, and coral. The Maldivian craftsmen create beautiful pieces of art in the form of mat weaving, unique coating through lacquer works, weaving of the thatches, making of fibrous ropes, wood sculpting, and boat making. Visit a local craftsman during their working hour and watch art come to life in real time.

13.   Sunset Cruises

The one reason, you probably have chosen Maldives as your holiday destination in the first place, is its serenity. Opting for a sunset cruise will give utter justification for your decision-making prowess.

It’s breathtaking in every sense of the word. No matter how you travel – with your significant other or with the whole family or maybe with a group of close friends –  a trip in the open waters to watch the sun disappearing is a must. 

14.    Visiting A Private Island Resort & Indulge in Luxury like Never Before

If you prefer privacy and are ready to break the bank, visiting a private resort island is a must for you. You can do it in two ways – make an entire island private by renting the whole resort or hire a smaller island to make the entire island your own.

When you visit with a group of friends and family, rent the entire resort. Each and every requirement of the guest will be catered for. But if you are traveling with your family, go for hiring the island. You will have a master villa with options for guest suites. Both will let you experience luxury like never before. 

15.   Visit The National Museum

If anthropology is your cup of tea, then visit the national museum which is right in the historic center of Male. The museum is well-maintained and can boast of a gigantic aggregation of artifacts from different eras.

The impeccably preserved royal antiquities, coins, embellishments, ancient furniture, manuscripts, armament, etc. can shed light on tracing back the unorthodox history of the archipelago.

16.   Surfing and Watersports

The Maldives is not like Portugal and the waves are relatively gentle, with swells reaching up to shoulder height. But barrels and fun waves are aplenty in the Maldives. So, it’s something that both advanced and amateur surfers should look for. If the physicality of surfing is not for you, you can also just watch people do it if you’re visiting Male and are near Varunulaa Raalhugandu beach.

The reasons that make Maldives cool for surfing, also make other watersports like wakeboarding, flyboarding, parasailing, kayaking, jet skiing, underwater walking, and a host of other watersports immensely enjoyable in Maldives.

17.   Take A Sea Plane Tour

You have seen the serenity from the ground. Now go up and take them all in, again, in a seaplane. The slice of paradise will open up with hundreds of islands.  Tiny specks of white sand adorned by palm trees and graceful turquoise waters will literally take your breath away. So, taking a seaplane tour, although not as cheap as taking a ferry, is worth every penny.

There’s my list of the top 18 things to do in the Maldives. Now strike out a few on your next trip to the Maldives

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