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  4. How to get to the Maldives

There are two ways to get to the Maldives. The first and most common way is to fly by plane. And the second one - by water. Let’s talk about each of them in detail.  

Flight connections

International flights arrive only in one airport in the country - named after Ibrahim Nasir (IATA: MLE, ICAO: VRMM). It is located on a separate island, Hulhule.

Today, there are flights from the Maldives to more than 40 destinations in two dozen countries in Europe and Asia. Most of them are seasonal. The most popular international destinations are:

  • Colombo, Sri Lanka (over 200 flights per month in high season)
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates (120 flights per month)
  • Doha, Qatar (about 90 flights)

The longest direct flights to the Maldives are from Paris and London. Their duration is about 11 hours.

In addition to scheduled flights, there are many charter programmes from different countries. Often, to get to the Maldives, people combine scheduled and chartered flights.

Пассажирский самолет на Мальдивах
Asad Photo Maldives

Which airlines operate

International passenger traffic with the Maldives is carried out by 35 airlines, including:

  1. Aeroflot
  2. Air Asia
  3. Air France
  4. Air India
  5. Alitalia
  6. Austrian Airlines
  7. Bangkok Airways
  8. British Airways
  9. Cathay Pacific.
  10.   China Eastern
  11.   China Southern
  12.   Condor
  13.   Edelweiss Air
  14.   Emirates
  15.   Etihad
  16.   Finnair
  17.   Fly Dubai
  18.   GoAir
  19.   Hong Kong Airlines
  20.   Iberia
  21.   IndiGo Airlines
  22.   Korean Air
  23.   Japan Airlines
  24.   Lufthansa
  25.   Maldivian Airlines
  26.   Malaysia Airline
  27.   Oman Air
  28.   Qatar Airways
  29.   Saudia
  30.   Scoot
  31.   Singapore Airlines
  32.   SriLankan Airlines
  33.   Spicejet
  34.   Thai Airways
  35.   Turkish Airlines

The national carrier Maldivian Airlines (Q2) has the largest number of flights - about 260 flights weekly to 15 destinations, but they are mostly domestic. Its international flights are operated only to India (Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram) and Thailand (Bangkok).

Next is the airlines Emirates with about 150 flights a month from Sri Lanka and Dubai.

A little less than a hundred flights a month to Male Airport are operated by Qatar Airlines from Doha and almost 70 - by Srilankan Airlines from Colombo.

Most often, in the direction of the Maldives, you will fly on a Bombardier Dash 8, Airbus A31X / 32X, Airbus A330, ATR 72/42 or Boeing 777.

Direct scheduled flights from Europe

There are not many direct flights from Europe to the Maldives, and almost all of them operate only during the high season. These are departures from the following airports:

  • Italy: from Fiumicino (Rome) by Neos and Alitallia; from Malpensa (Milan) by Alitallia - seasonal
  • Russia: from Sheremetyevo (Moscow) by Aeroflot - all year round
  • France: from Charles de Gaulle (Paris) by AirFrance - seasonal
  • Austria: from Vienna by Austrian - seasonal
  • Germany: from Frankfurt by Condor and Lufthansa
  • Switzerland: from Zurich by Edelweiss Air
  • United Kingdom: from Heathrow (London) by British Airways

In October 2020, British Airways plans to launch an additional flight to another airport in the capital, Gatwick. So far, Heathrow - Male flights are operated from October to March three times a week. They are very convenient in terms of timing: an evening departure from London and a morning arrival in the Maldives.

The shortest European flight from the islands is to Moscow - 9 hours. The longest journey is from London to Male - 11 hours 20 minutes.

Самолет авиакомпании British Airways
British Airways | Isaac Struna

Direct scheduled flights from Asia

Six countries in the Middle East and Central Asia offer direct flights to the Maldives:

  • UAE: from Dubai by Emirates - seasonal; from Abu Dhabi by Etihad Airways - all year round
  • Bahrain: by Gulf Air - all year round
  • Oman: from Muscat by Oman Air - seasonal
  • Qatar: from Doha by Qatar Airways - all year round
  • Saudi Arabia: from Jeddah and Riyadh by Saudi Arabian - seasonal
  • Turkey: from Istanbul by Turkish Airlines - all year round

From India, you can get to the Maldives from 8 airports in different cities. There are three Maldivian and three Indian airlines operating. Also, 9 international carriers operate flights from Sri Lanka (Colombo) to Nasir Airport in Male. Some of them are seasonal, and some are year-round. The duration of such flights is from 1.5 to 3 hours.

So far from China, Male can only be reached from Beijing on the seasonal eight-hour flight by Beijing Capital.

Cathay Pacific has seasonal flights from Hong Kong to the Maldives, and all-the-year-round, this route can be flown with Hong Kong Airlines.

During high season, Maldives and Bangkok Airways fly from Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, to the Maldives, and Thai AirAsia has all-the-year-round flights from Don Mueang Airport.

SilkAir and Singapore Airlines provide all-the-year-round flights between the Maldives and Singapore.

And in 4 hours 40 minutes, you can fly from Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) to Male by AirAsia. The flight programme is available all year round.

Лайнер сингапурских авиалиний
Singapore Airlines liner | Troy Mortier

Major transit hub airports

If it is not possible to take a direct flight, especially, when you are planning a vacation in the Maldives in the low season (that is, from April to September), you will need to take connecting flights. The most likely choice will be between Etihad, Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways or Turkish Airlines since the main hubs of these airlines are the largest transit airports:

  • Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) for Turkish Airlines
  • Hamad International Airport in Qatar’s capital, Doha, (DOH) for Qatar Airways
  • Dubai International Airport in UAE (DXB) for Emirates and Fly Dubai
  • International Airport in Abu Dhabi, UAE, (AUH) for Etihad
  • Oman Muscat International Airport (MCT) for Oman Air

A plus for connecting flights can be a stopover at one of these hubs. Airlines often offer them at no additional cost, and you will have the opportunity to visit another city.

Charter programmes from Ukraine and Russia

During the tourist season, travel companies often organize charter programmes to the Maldives. Tickets for charter flights can be bought at travel companies a few days before departure, and their cost is often 30-50% lower than for scheduled tickets.

In Russia, on the initiative of the tour operator ANEX Tour, a charter programme was organised in cooperation with AZUR Air. It was first implemented for the winter holidays 2019-2020. Preliminarily, they plan to launch charter flights from Moscow to Male for the May weekend and winter season of 2021. Last season, the flights were operated on Boeing777-300E, which were previously used by Emirates.

In addition to Anex Tour, TUI Russia also sold tickets for these flights and have already announced charter flights on AZUR Air from the end of April 2021.

Also, for peak dates, a charter programme is offered by Coral Travel on Boeing-767 of Royal Flight.

Unfortunately, there are no charter flights from Ukraine yet, only scheduled ones.

To the Maldives via Sri Lanka

Another spread route to the Maldives is via Sri Lanka. There are many flights there, especially from cities where hub airports are located. 7 airlines fly from Colombo to the Maldives - China Southern Airlines, Emirates, Korean Air, China Eastern Airlines, Saudia, Turkish Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Oman Air, Gulf Air. 3 of them have daily flights, so getting to the paradise islands will not be difficult. The duration of such flights is about an hour. Round trip tickets will cost from $120 per person on average.

Самолет авиакомпаии Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines plane | Kevin Hackert 

Water transport

Despite the geographical position of the Maldives, which presupposes its accessibility by water, it does not have scheduled navigable waterways with any country. Even from Sri Lanka, which is the closest to the Maldives, there are no boats, ferries or cruises. 

Cruises from India to the Maldives

Today, cruises to the Maldives are possible only from India. Most of them start from Mumbai or Kochi, which are the largest ports in the country. The distance from India to the Maldives is over 2,000 kilometres. The average duration of cruises is 3-7 days, but there are also longer ones, for example, 16 days. The route has stops in other places, including Goa and Sri Lanka, if you started from Mumbai or Trivandrum and Sri Lanka, and if you started in Kochi. You can sail on a huge liner or a small cruise catamaran. It all depends on your preference and budget. The estimated cost of the cruise package per person, when accommodated in a double cabin with meals and entertainment onboard, is $400. This price does not include taxes and port charges, as well as excursions.

Круизы на Мальдивы из Индии

Private yacht travel

If you can afford a private yacht, then it will be a sin not to take the opportunity to visit the Maldives on it. But at the same time, consider a few negative points that you will have to face:

  • The maze of reefs makes it difficult to navigate the waters of the Maldives and sometimes even makes it dangerous.
  • You will have to pay rather high fees for permission to sail in national waters.
  • After arriving on the islands, you must go through many formalities.
  • The Maldives has strictly limited places where you can sail on yachts.
  • The Maldives has very few small ports with establishments.

The largest marina, with the only place where professional yacht service is provided, is in the north of the Maldives - at Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa. In the south, you can refuel and, if necessary, moor in a covered parking lot at Addu Atoll.

There are three places where guests on yachts can go through passport and customs control - Uligamu (Haa Alifu) in the north, Hithadhoo/Gan (Addu Atoll) in the south and Male. Upon arrival at one of these ports, call the National Security Coast Guard by Channel 16 VHF (Marine VHF Radio) and follow the instructions. If you just sail by and want to stop for a while, a 72-hour permit is usually issued without problems. But if you plan to stay longer, you will have to go through immigration, customs and port checks and get a cruise permit.

If you decide to stay in Male, head to the east side of Villingili Island, call the Coast Guard by Channel 16 and follow their instructions. Then contact one of the port agents such as Island Sailors or Real Sea Hawks Maldives. They can help with immigration and customs checks, and arrange repairs, refuelling and restocking.

Пристань для яхт
Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa

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