11 must-do things to do in the Maldives

Are you planning to visit the Maldives, a large archipelago off the coast of South India? Here are the must-see things to do in the Maldives!

What to do in the Maldives? Famous for the beauty of its beaches and seabed, the Maldives are a paradise on the sea: calm lagoons with warm, translucent waters, multicolored fish, heavenly beaches and coral reefs, attracting some 800,000 tourists every year. The Maldives is made up of 1,199 islands, whose capital – Malé – lies 600 kilometers from India and 755 kilometers from Sri Lanka. In 2017, the Maldives had a population of 436,330 inhabitants covering 298 km². A veritable tropical Eldorado, the Maldives are nonetheless regularly criticized for their low religious tolerance and human rights abuses.

If you’ve decided to visit the Maldives and you’re wondering what to do in this island country, here are a few ideas we’ve put together: our 11 must-see and must-do ideas for visiting the Maldives.

1. Malé

Malé, Maldives

Photo credit: Flickr – Nattu

Need a non-taxing escape? Despite an oft-deplored regression in social rights, the Maldives attracts a large number of Western travelers in search of beauty, idyllic beaches and tropical sunshine. The capital is the country’s most densely populated city, with 142,909 inhabitants (2017) spread out – if not crammed – over 5.8 km², with a population density of over 17,884 inhabitants/km². Malé is located on its namesake island, Kaafu Atoll, and is the country’s political, cultural, economic and financial center. Located at a latitude of 4° north, the city’s climate is equatorial.

In the city of Malé, the National Museum in Sultan’s Park is a must-see. It houses collections from the country’s Buddhist and Islamic periods, with clothing and jewelry, weapons and drums. The city has many hotels where you can sleep and, between the mosques, is dotted with green spaces where you can stroll. For a commemorative visit, head southwest to the Tsunami Monument (2004).

2. Mudhdhoo Island

Raies, Île Mudhdhoo, Maldives

Photo credit: Flickr – Abllo™

There’s a rare phenomenon, unique in the world, that can be found in the Maldives, north of Malé, onMudhdhoo Island : as night falls, due to a bioluminescent organ activated as a defense strategy by thousands of tiny crustaceans present on the sand, the beach lights up at dusk. So what can you do in the Maldives? Seeing the beaches of Mudhdhoo Island is a must-do activity in the Maldives, and a rather unusual one at that! It has become a major tourist attraction on the archipelago because of its unique character. While you’re swimming, take in the exceptional marine life, which promises a magical spectacle.

3. Veligandu Atoll

What else is there to do in the Maldives than bask on the sublime beaches of the equatorial and tropical islands? Turquoise waters, warm all year round, drenched in fine sand and at the foot of lush tropical vegetation: the Maldives are an invitation to travel. To enjoy the best beaches in the Maldives, head to Veligandu, the emblematic beach of the Maldives, with bungalows built on stilts where you can sleep with your feet in a peaceful blue lagoon.

4. Alimatha Island

A magnificent island for those who appreciate tranquillity and beauty, swimming in warm waters and sunbathing on fine sand. You can go scuba diving or simply… relax. The hotels on Alimatha will appeal to all tastes: families, children, adults, couples, enjoying succulent cuisine.

5. Ari Atoll

Ari Atoll, made up of 82 islets, is an immense lagoon covering 2,271.75 km². There are also 26 island-hotels, where luxury, calm and pleasure are the watchwords! If you’ve scoured the entire area, head for Meerufenfushi, 40 km northeast of Malé, a sublime uninhabited island-hotel.

6. Ukulhas Island

Located to the west of Rasdu and linked to it by boat,Ukulhas Island offers dozens of hotels for accommodation, restaurants and Bikini Beach, where tourists and locals mingle. It’s also a great spot for snorkeling, with mask and fins.

7. Kuramathi Island

Île Kuramathi, Maldives

Photo credit: Flickr – Mac Qin

One last atoll for the road?Kuramathi Island lies in the center of the Maldives, to the west of the inhabited island of Rasdu. Here again, the beaches are sublime in every way, there are a few hotels to sleep in and the credo is the same: enjoy, in complete tranquillity.

8. Diving and snorkeling

Snorkeling, Maldives

Photo credit: Flickr – Ed Ralph

Aren’t diving and snorkeling the must-do activities in a country of atolls and blue lagoons? If you’re visiting the Maldives, give it a try. The beauty and clarity of the water, lagoons protected from the waves by coral reefs, and multicolored fish are yours for the taking. Lhaviyani Atoll orBaa Atoll – a UNESCO World Heritage site, ideal for snorkeling – and Hanifaru Bay are among the most beautiful destinations in the Maldives. You can even relax on the pontoons in the sun or shade, in the wooden and thatched bungalows: be careful, it’s strong!

9. Night fishing

Pêche nocturne, Maldives

Photo credit: Flickr – Mohamed Malik

Night fishing is often organized by hotels and resorts. If you don’t know what to do in the Maldives, fishing at dusk is a good idea after a lazy day on the beach. What’s the point? Because the biggest fish are easier to hook in the evening, when they come out to feed, than during the day. How about a barbecue in paradise?

10. Swim with sharks

Nager avec les requins, Maldives

Photo credit: Flickr – Ed Ralph

It would be a shame to visit the Maldives without seeing whale sharks and manta rays. In the Maldives, diving with these marine animals is a widespread practice among the tourist activities sold by beach resorts. An extraordinary aquatic universe awaits you, in an element beyond our control: the ocean. You’ll find an abundant population of manta rays, multicolored tropical fish and, between November and April, the impressive whale shark. Diving into the ocean at a depth of 15-20 meters allows you to swim through coral reefs and get close to moray eels, parrotfish, rays and groupers: a gigantic aquarium, except that here, you’re the foreigner…

11. Flying over atolls and islets

Tour en hydravion, Maldives

Photo credit: Flickr – Nattu

If you’re wondering what to do in the Maldives, Generation Voyage has the answer: take a seaplane ride! Why not fly over the atolls in a seaplane and come back with an image that’s almost unique in the world: from the air, enjoy the transparency of the water and the colors of the lagoons, contrasting with the deep blue of the ocean, anchoring almost deserted islands!

How to get to the Maldives

There’s only one way to visit the Maldives: by plane. Malé airport will be your base for visiting the Maldives! Many airlines offer flights from Paris with stopovers (the cheapest flights can be found on the website of our partner Ulysse). You’ll need to take a seaplane or speedboat to reach the other islands, islets and atolls. It’s quite unusual to take a boat after flying, when you’re used to getting on a bus right out of the airport!

Where to stay in the Maldives?

Renting accommodation in the Maldives is by no means cheap: a less luxurious hotel will be more expensive than a top-of-the-range hotel in Sri Lanka or India. Around the country’s 110 island-hotels, you’ll find plenty of hotels to stay in, but they’ll be very expensive, even at the lower end of the market. We therefore advise you to be far-sighted in terms of budget… For a hotel at the best price, don’t hesitate to take a look at this hotel comparator, which will be able to select the best offers for you. From Addu Atoll in the south to Thuraakunu in the north, almost 2,000 islands await you!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Maldives