The Top 10 Things to Do in the Maldives

  • 01 of 11

    Do Everything or Nothing

    Beautiful tropical beach panorama
    ••• levente bodo/Getty Images

    The Maldives conjures up idyllic images of over-water bungalows and pristine beaches. However, visitors are often surprised to find that there are more things to do in the Maldives than what they expected. There's something for everyone, regardless of whether you prefer an active, or inactive, vacation. This makes the Maldives a very versatile destination! Read on to see what activities are popular.

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  • 02 of 11

    Snorkeling

    Snorkeling at Kuda Huraa Island on North Malé Atoll.
    ••• Snorkeling at Kuda Huraa Island on North Malé Atoll. George Steinmetz/Getty Images

    The Maldives is made up of more than 1,000 coral islands. Therefore, the snorkeling is naturally spectacular!  All resorts in the Maldives offer this activity.  However, ideally, you'll want to choose an island with an in-house reef where you can go snorkeling directly from the beach (or your over-water villa!) instead of by a prearranged boat trip.

    The quality of the reefs does vary. Angsana Ihuru, in North Male Atoll, is regarded by many to have the best in-house reef in the Maldives and the resort can easily be reached by speedboat from Male. In the same area, Fihalhohi Island Resort is excellent.

    Other luxury resorts with outstanding in-house reefs and snorkeling are Diamonds Athuruga, Vilamendhoo Island Resort and Spa, Mirihi Island Resort, and Lily Beach Resort. These are all located in South Ari Atoll. In North Ari Atoll, Kandolhu is excellent. The Park Hyatt Hadahaa and Robinson Club are remote options situated within North Huvadhoo, one of the deepest atolls in the Maldives. If...MORE you're on a budget, try Biyadoo Island Resort in South Male Atoll.

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  • 03 of 11

    Scuba Diving

    Green Turtle and scuba diver, Ari Atol, Maldives Island
    ••• Green Turtle and scuba diver, Ari Atol, Maldives Island. Reinhard Dirscherl/Getty Images

    The Maldives is regarded as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. You'll be able to get up close and personal with an abundance of sea creatures including turtles, mantra rays, moray eels, and rare whale sharks. Varied reef structures and deep channels provide exciting diving opportunities. 

    If you're super serious about scuba diving, the best option is to book a liveaboard boat trip. These luxury cruise boats visit some of the most remote reefs and will allow you to explore places beyond the reach of resorts in the Maldives. The optimal time to go scuba diving is from January to April. However, most liveaboards operate from November to May. Top options are Carpe Diem Maldives and Maldive Mosaique.

    Ari Atoll (one of the largest atolls in the Maldives) is home to many popular dive sites and most liveaboards visit it. There are also numerous resorts in the area that have dive centers and offer diving excursions. Maaya Thila, in North Ari Atoll, is particularly famous and...MORE one of the best spots to swim with sharks. South Male Atoll isn't as developed as North Male Atoll, but the dive sites there are just as good and whale sharks can be found there throughout the year. These resorts all rate well for diving on Tripadvisor.

    The superb in-house reef at Angsana Ihuru, in North Male Atoll, has its own shipwreck called the Rannamaari.

    If you do want to stay at a resort but have access to remote diving sites, COMO Maalifushi is the only resort in pristine Thaa Atoll, with 66 islands and diverse marine life.

    Looking for an inexpensive independent dive company? Try Maldives Passions Dive School or Maafushi Dive & Water Sports on inhabited Maafushi Island (the center of the independent travel scene). Or, check Tripadvisor for recommendations in other locations.

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  • 04 of 11

    Dolphin Spotting Trips

    Spinner dolphins in the Maldives
    ••• Spinner dolphins in the Maldives. Felix Hug/Getty Image

    The Maldives isn't just known for its snorkeling and scuba diving. It also ranks highly as one of the world's top dolphin destinations. Dolphins are everywhere in the Maldives. They may even swim past your over-water villa!

    Many resorts in the Maldives offer dolphin watching trips. However, sightings aren't guaranteed. To maximize your chances of spotting some, head to little-known Meemu Atoll and its Muli Channel (the success rate is said to be 85%). There are only two resorts in the area -- Medhufushi Island Resort and Hakuraa Hura.

    Closer to Male, in South Male Atoll, luxurious COMO Cocoa Island is situated near a populous dolphin spot. Sunset dolphin cruises are offered. If your budget doesn't extend that far, the sunset cruise offered by neighboring Biyadoo Island Resort gets good reports.

    For travelers who aren't staying at one of the resorts, the dolphin-spotting trips run by Cruise Maldives on Hulhumale Island are recommended.

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  • 05 of 11

    Water Sports

    Woman kayaking in the Maldives.
    ••• Woman kayaking in the Maldives. EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER/Getty Images

    All kinds of water sports are possible in the Maldives. Kayaking, paddle-boarding, jet-skiing, water-skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, wake-boarding, kite-surfing -- you name it! Many resorts provide a selection of these activities for free.

    For an extra adrenaline rush, the Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavar and Lily Beach Resort are two resorts in the Maldives that have jet-blades that will propel you out of the water.

    Extreme Maldives at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa on Furanafushi Island offers a wide variety of water sports and is well-managed. Alternatively, there are independent water sports companies on inhabited islands near Male, such as Maafushi. 

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  • 06 of 11

    Surfing

    Surfing in the Maldives.
    ••• Surfing in the Maldives. Richinpit/Getty Images

    You can even catch a wave in the Maldives! Most of the renowned surf breaks are located around Male. Hudhuranfushi (Lohifushi), in North Male Atol, is the main surfing island in the Maldives. Due to spiraling popularity, caps have now been placed on the number of surfers allowed to stay there and surf its Lohis house break at once. Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi has been recognized as the Maldives' leading surf resort and offers special surfing packages.

    Some of the best surfing spots in the Maldives are also close to the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, in North Male Atoll. The resort has an in-house surfing school with instructors from Australia.

    If you want to get away from the crowd, head south. Laamu Atoll and Huvadhoo Atoll (particularly its southern half, Gaafu Dhaalu) have some world-class surf breaks. Check out the hotels in Laamu Atoll and hotels in South Huvadhoo (Gaafu Dhaalu) Atoll on Tripadvisor for the best deals. The surfing is also great at secluded Thaa Atoll....MORE You're unlikely to find any surfing charter boats there, and there's only one place to stay -- the COMO Maalifushi resort.

    Alternatively, specialized companies operate multi-day liveaboard surfing charter trips that visit various surfing spots in the Maldives. Surf Atoll is recommended.

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  • 07 of 11

    Visit a Local Village

    Woman cooking in kitchen of her village home, Northern Islands, Maldives.
    ••• Woman cooking in kitchen of her village home, Northern Islands, Maldives. Felix Hug/Getty Images

    Culture vultures needn't feel deprived at the Maldives! Due to a change in law, tourism is now permitted on inhabited Maldives islands. Many resorts offer excursions by boat to local islands and fishing villages. Guests at the Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa have the option of exploring five neighboring islands by bicycle or on foot. 

    And, if you think visiting the Maldives is expensive and perhaps even unaffordable, think again! Tourists can even stay in village guesthouses (some of which are quite boutique and attractive) and experience the simple local way of living. Most are close to Male, on islands such as Hulhumale, Maafushi, and Guraidhoo. Secret Paradise on Hulhumale offers meals with local families and walking tours.

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  • 08 of 11

    Boat Cruises

    Maldives, Rasdhoo Atoll, Kuramathi Island. A couple wait to board a traditional Dhoni on the sandbank at Kuramathi Island Resort.
    ••• Maldives, Rasdhoo Atoll, Kuramathi Island. A couple wait to board a traditional Dhoni on the sandbank at Kuramathi Island Resort. AWL Images/Getty Images

    Don't want to spend all your time at a resort in the Maldives? Boat cruises are a popular thing to do, with various options from sunset cruises in local dhonis to longer overnight and multi-day luxury yacht cruises.

    Many resorts have their own boats, which are available for guests. The Four Seasons Explorer is one such boat, which functions as a floating resort. Alternatively, Yacht Maldives operates private charters. If you'd prefer to join a group, G Adventures offers this 7 Day Small Group Maldives Dhoni Cruise from Male to Male. Airbnb has some options for boat rental as well.

    What's more, it's possible to visit some luxury resorts in the Maldives on day trips, such as those offered by Cruise Maldives.  Cruise Maldives also operates reasonably priced boat cruises.

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  • 09 of 11

    Spa Treatments

    Young couple getting a massage at Veligandu Island Resort, Maldives.
    ••• Young couple getting a massage at Veligandu Island Resort, Maldives. Caroline von Tuempling/Getty Images

    Need to relax and rejuvenate? There's possibly no better place to get a spa treatment than the Maldives, with the soothing ocean as a backdrop. Many resorts in the Maldives have spas. However, some really stand out for their unusual settings. 

    The Lime spa at Huvafen Fushi is the world's first underwater spa, with two glass-walled treatment rooms. Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa spa is situated on its own separate island, which guests are transported to by boat. Its defining feature is its Night Spa with four special lunar rituals on the beach. If you're a nature lover, don't miss the spa at the Six Senses Laamu. Its cocoon-shaped treatment rooms are made from twigs and branches twined together!

    Check out deals on top Maldives spa resorts on Tripadvisor.

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  • 10 of 11

    Yoga

    A woman practicing yoga poses on an open air, over water platform at a luxury resort in the Maldives.
    ••• A woman practicing yoga poses on an open air, over water platform at a luxury resort in the Maldives. Thomas Pickard/Getty Images

    Yoga retreats are growing in popularity in the Maldives. Secret Paradise arranges reasonably-priced seven day yoga holidays, with twice-daily sessions. A range of yoga styles are practiced.

    Some resorts also offer in-house yoga classes, including morning and sunset yoga on the beach, followed by pranayama and meditation. Kurumba Maldives, BarosFour Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru, COMO Coco IslandJumeirah Vittaveli, and Jumeirah Dhevanafushi are all known to have decent yoga classes.

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  • 11 of 11

    Relax!

    Gili Lankanfushi
    ••• Ismail Niyaz/Getty Images

    With a view like this, you can't miss spending some time (or a lot of time) soaking up the sun in a strategically placed hammock. It's certain you won't want to move!