Boats on clear water in the Maldives

Maldives – Guide to Transportation On & Between the Islands

This post was last updated on February 1st, 2020 at 02:50 pm


The Maldives is an island group of around 1,190 islands. In total there are around 200 islands inhabited and the largest island is only five square kilometers (about 2 square miles) in size. Do not expect any minivans or train routes, all islands can be explored on foot. To travel between the islands, people mainly use ferries. Read all about transportation in the Maldives right here!

 

Transportation in the Maldives

An advantage of a trip or vacation in the Maldives is that you don’t have to sit in crowded buses or trains for hours. The islands are so small that you can easily explore them on foot. This makes transport in the Maldives relatively easy to discuss. And even then you are often no longer than half an hour on the road. Therefore, when it comes to in the Maldives, we will refer to the transport options between the various islands, which are just a few; local ferries, a speedboat or a seaplane.

 

Local Ferries

In terms of transportation in the Maldives, this is the best option. Since 2010, the government has installed a network of local ferries. These boats sail between Malé (the main island) and the local islands, not to resorts.

 

They leave in the afternoon at fixed times from Malé to the islands. From the islands they sail back to Malé in the morning. It is a very cheap option. For example, the ferry between Malé and Maafushi only costs US $2 per person.

 

The departure times of the ferries are not always certain. Therefore, first check the times at the hotel or hostel where you stay!

 

You can find more information at Atoll Transfer. It takes a while to find the right route because it is rather unclear. Route 309 sails to Maafushi, among others. 308 sails to Thulusdhoo.

 

  • Ferry from Malé to Maafushi departs Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 3 p.m.
  • Ferry from Maafushi to Malé departs Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 7:25 a.m.

 

Please note that the local ferries do not sail on Friday!

 

Ferries Time Table for the Maldives
Ferry Time Table for the Maldives. Source: Atoll Transfer

 

Maldives From and To the Airport

The airport is not on the island of Malé, it is next to it. There is only one hotel on the island from the airport. That’s the Hulhule Island Hotel; a quite pricey hotel. If you have not arranged transportation via your hotel or resort, you will still have to come to Malé. This is possible with an airport ferry. These ferries sail 24 hours a day, roughly every 10 minutes.

 

At the airport the ferries are located directly at the exit. If you cannot find it, you can ask for it. In Malé, the Airport Ferry is located in the northeast of the island opposite Nasandhura Palace Hotel. Ask your taxi driver to take you to Airport Ferry.

 

Costs from the airport to Malé and vice versa are $2 per person.

 

Red and yellow colored ferry that travels between islands
One of many ferries that travels between islands

 

Ferries on Friday

Please note that local ferries sailing between the islands do not sail in the evenings and on Fridays. The last ferry to the local islands leaves at 3 p.m. If you spend the night on one of the local islands you must ensure that you land before 3 p.m.

 

If that is not possible you have to spend the night in Malé to take the ferry the next day. You can also contact your hotel and/or resort. They can pick you up with their own speedboat but this will cost a minimum of $150 per boat. The more people in the boat the cheaper it will be for you.

 

Drop off Bags, Suitcases or Backpacks

The ferries from the local islands to Malé almost always sail early in the morning. If you fly in the afternoon or in the evening, you have to wait in Malé. If you want to drop off your bags, you can do so at Jade Bistro.

 

This is a striking green restaurant to the right of the Airport Ferry (at 100 meters). Here you can leave your bags for free so that you don’t have to carry them around all day.

 

Maafushi and Thulusdhoo

The Maldives is such a place that always appears on a “Top 10 Things to See before You Die” list. Everyone knows the pictures of luxurious water villas that seem to float above a magically clear blue sea with a snow-white sandy beach with a few palm trees within walking distance. And everyone also knows the price tag…

 

But luckily you still have Maafushi and Thulusdhoo. Two local islands where the costs for accommodations are much lower ($55 per day). So everyone can go to the Maldives! But how do you get to those islands? On the pages about Maafushi and Thulusdhoo we tell you step by step how to get here.

 

Beautiful view from speedboat in Maldives
Wherever you go with the boat the view will be incredible!

 

Speedboats

By speedboats we mean the speedboats that are part of most accommodations and the companies that use speedboats to transport tourists. Both options are faster than the local ferry and the dhoni boats but more expensive.

 

Most hotels, hostels and resorts have their own speed boat that they use to pick up their guests. This is useful if, for example, you arrive on Thursday evening and the local ferry is no longer sailing (and they do not sail on Friday). You can then spend the night on Malé or book a speedboat. At a resort this costs around $150 per boat, however, the more people in the boat, the cheaper it gets.

 

There are also more and more companies that use speedboats on islands to transport tourists. They offer places between $15 and $30 per person depending on which island you visit.

 

Just like the ferry, these speed boats sail at set times and not in the evening. One of those companies is, for example, iCom Company. At your accommodation you can often find out what other options there are.

 

Try to plan your arrival on Malé before 3 p.m. so that you can either take the local ferry or a speedboat.

 

Dhoni and Vedi Boats

A dhoni is a motorized boat that sails between the various nearby atolls (islands). Before the ferry arrived, it was most commonly used as transportation in the Maldives, especially by fishermen and locals.

 

The boats that travel longer distances are called vedis. Since the arrival of the ferry these boats are actually only used by locals and resorts.

 

Dhoni boats waiting to enter the water
One of the famous Dhoni boats waiting to enter the water

 

Seaplane or Helicopter

For the richer, this is the easiest option in terms of transportation in the Maldives. They can travel between the different islands with a seaplane or helicopter. This is not reserved for the average traveler as it is quite expensive.

 

View of an island from a Seaplane
View of the islands from a Seaplane

 

The seaplanes and helicopters are mainly used to travel to the more remote islands and resorts. To get here by boat can take a few hours or even several days. If you have a larger budget and less time, the seaplanes and helicopters are a good option.

 

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