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Best activities to do in the Maldives

Many people’s idea of things to do in the Maldives involves lying on a beautiful white sand beach sipping cocktails. However, there are so many activities to do in the Maldives, mainly water activities and marine adventures! Here is my list of the best activities to do in the Maldives followed by some tourists’ favourite experiences here in paradise islands. 

  1. Snorkel with turtles
  2. Scuba dive with sharks
  3. Swim in crystal clear water
  4. Explore local islands
  5. Wreck diving
  6. Freedive with manta rays
  7. See wild dolphins on a dolphin cruise
  8. Go on a liveaboard boat
  9. Stay at a luxury resort (even if you’re on a budget!)
  10. Visit a sandbank
  11. Eat local Maldivian food – kottu roshi is my favourite!
  12. Go on an excursion, usually includes several snorkelling trips and a sandbank visit
  13. Experience a resort spa
  14. Jet ski
  15. Kite surf
  16. See bioluminescence plankton lighting up
  17. Kayak around islands
  18. Watch boduberu – a Maldivian drum and dance show
  19. Fly on a seaplane
  20. Have a drink on a party boat
  21. Snorkel with whale sharks
  22. Take photos with graffiti art
  23. Buy lacquerware souvenirs made in the traditional Maldivian way
  24. Go surfing
  25. Go fishing (all fishing is done in a sustainable way in the Maldives)
  26. Stroll or cycle around the whole island
  27. Smoke sheisha on the beach
  28. Do Stand Up Paddle Boarding
  29.  Fly a drone and take amazing photos
  30. Try parasailing

Cal from Mar Pages loved his manta ray experience

Soneva Fushi is known to be one of the top barefoot luxe hotels in the Maldives. Situated on the mostly untouched and jungle-esque Kunfunadhoo island, it’s a locally owned hotel chain with a focus on exploring the uniqueness of the area – over any glitz and glam. After flying in the Maldivian seaplane, you’re welcomed to a world of luxury among the foliage. Water-based experiences are second-to-none at Soneva Fushi, as it’s based in the UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve Baa Atoll, which is in close proximity to some of the country’s most epic dive sites. It also has one of the most popular manta areas, where you can jump in the water and swim with the soaring creatures in season. As Soneva has its own dive centre with freediving lessons, you’re almost guaranteed a perfect experience. Personally, it was sensational to be surrounded by these gentle giants who seemed to want to get closer and closer. I had to make sure not to stretch out my legs and arms to avoid touching them and really enjoyed seeing them dance around in the ocean. Even if you’re not a swimmer, there are tons of dry water-based activities at Soneva Fushi. The most extravagant is hopping aboard the Soneva in Aqua Luxury Chartered Yacht which includes a glass-bottomed spa bath. There are day experiences or even surfaris available to Goidhoo, one of the country’s most premium breaks.

best activities to do in the Maldives

Suzanna from Meandering Wild loved Wreck Diving in Addu Atoll

When you think about diving in the Maldives, wreck diving is not the first thing to come to mind.  However, in Addu Atoll it is possible to dive on a fairly intact shipwreck.  In the Second World War, Addu Atoll was a secret British naval base. It is the most southerly of the Maldivian Atolls and is over 500 miles from Malé. The British Loyalty was an oil tanker that was hit by a torpedo in 1944 and spent the rest of the war in the atoll.  In 1946 when the British Navy withdrew they scuttled her (intentionally made holes to make her sink).  She sank on her starboard side into 33 metres of water just offshore inside Addu Atoll. 

The dive is gentle and if you are not qualified to dive to 33metres the port side is a beautiful coral garden at 16metres.  Dropping over the edge of the port side you can find the hole where the torpedo struck which allows you into the hold and engine rooms to explore.  It is also possible to find the stern section with the propeller still in place, covered in black coral and surrounded by elegant batfish.

To dive the British Loyalty you will need to book onto a dive boat.  The easiest to use is Aquaventure based out of Maradhoo.  They are not linked to a resort and can provide all the kit and training you need. 

For more about wreck diving in Addu read Suzanne’s post here

Wreck Diving in the Maldives
 

 

Claudia from My Adventures Across the World  loved her sandbank visit

One of the most unique things to do in the Maldives is visiting a sand bank. These can be found scattered in the archipelago, there are various of different dimensions, and they are nothing more than just a line of incredibly white sand surrounded by the clearest waters you can imagine. Close to the sand bank you will also find a coral reef, which is perfect for snorkeling.

In order to reach a sand bank you need to hire a boat – most islands (local or privately owned by luxury resorts) will be able to provide this service and a captain that knows where to find the closest sand bank.

As the sand is bright white and there is absolutely no shade, you will need to apply a lot of sun block and preferably wear a t-shirt for the duration of your stay. Most boats will provide umbrellas or other forms of shelter from the sun. Some boats are too big to be able to get directly on the sand bank, so you may have to walk in the water to make your way there.

Best activities to do in the Maldives
Visiting sandbanks

Best activities to do in the Maldives

 

Jacs from Flashpacking Family loved seeing turtles

Our family holiday to the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa in the Maldives is, hands down, one of the best holidays we’ve ever had. Not ones for sitting around on a beach all day, particularly our adventurous boys, we were slightly concerned about whether we would get bored, but as it turned out, those fears were completely unfounded.

On arrival, we were given a run-through of all the activities on offer and suddenly realised that we may not have enough time to do all of them. We decided that we absolutely had to go on a snorkelling trip and try some diving as the Maldives is one of the best destinations in the world to do this. If you have never been diving before, the Centara Grand offers dive courses ranging from introductory to full PADI courses. 

Thankfully, the resort had the best kids’ club which the kids loved going to, so we were able to take a few trips. Although the corals are mostly bleached, we saw so much marine life, but a turtle gliding by within a metre of us was a big tick on our bucket list.  They are the most graceful and ancient creatures and to have one swim by us of its own choice and in its own home, was mesmerising.

Best activities to do in the Maldives
Snorkelling with turtles in the Maldives

For more about the Maldives read my other blog posts to discover more about this amazing country!

To explore local islands

For a suggested Maldives itinerary

For a Maldives packing list on what to wear and bring to the Maldives

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Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase/booking after clicking on one of my links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

One Week in the Maldives Itinerary

One week itinerary for the Maldives

For a short vacation to the Maldives you could consider the below one week itinerary for your Maldives trip.

Is a week long enough to visit the Maldives?

I think it is definitely enough time to visit two islands in your one week trip without feeling rushed. You can also experience snorkelling, scuba diving and surfing within this itinerary, and all within 30 minutes by speedboat from Male airport so you won’t waste your week in the Maldives travelling around.

I recommend visiting two islands in one week. If you are planning a budget trip to the Maldives then visit local islands near Male so that you can take speedboats and ferries rather than a domestic flight which can be expensive.

 

Photo of local island Thulusdhoo
Visit Thulusdhoo: One of my favourite local islands only 30 minutes from Male airport

Where to go for one week in the Maldives?

If you love water activities and are happy to stay on local islands then stay on Thulusdhoo or Gulhi which are islands close to Male airport.

One week trip to the Maldives: Visit Thulusdhoo local island

Thulusdhoo is one of the best islands to visit in the Maldives as it is great for surfing, has some decent scuba diving sites and some gorgeous boutique guesthouses. It also has a floating bar which is a nearby party boat where you can still drink alcohol which you cannot when on Thulusdhoo island itself.

One week in the Maldives: Visit Gulhi

Gulhi is one of the best island destinations for beautiful bikini beaches, it even has swings for your Instagram shots. It is a much quieter island but still offers some surfing and scuba diving and great local Maldivian food.

local island Gulhi beautiful beach
The beautiful bikini beach in Gulhi – local island near Male

Resort Day Pass

If you want a taste of the a resort experience but without the high price of a luxury resort in the Maldives, try a resort day pass like at Club Med. For a fraction of the price of staying overnight you can use the facilities, all inclusive drinks and food and sometimes transfers can be included too. Message them on their Facebook page for up-to-date prices.

How much is a week in the Maldives?

The cost of a 1 week Maldives vacation will depend totally on if you decide to stay at a luxury resort. The price of Maldives resorts usually range from $300 per night up to $18,000 and more.

One week budget itinerary – the Maldives local islands

The cost of a Maldives trip if on a budget can be around $70 per day depending on activities. On local islands, guesthouses can cost around $50 per room so the cost for a couple visiting the Maldives will be around $25 per night for accommodation.

 

One week budget trip to the Maldives

Eating local food on islands can be around $5 per meal so very budget friendly and breakfast is usually included in the room price. Snorkelling trips can cost around $20 per person, the price of scuba dives from around $40+.

One week luxury Maldives

If you want to stay at a luxury resort in the Maldives then I recommend staying for 6 nights and having your final night visiting a local island to experience the authentic Maldives. Lots of resorts offer package and all-inclusive deals so compare them for the best Maldives package. I think it is great to experience a resort for the luxury holiday side but local islands will always be my favourite islands to explore especially for a budget Maldives trip.


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Maldives on the cheap Thulusdhoo Local Island Maldives
The best rooftop infinity pool in the Maldives

One Week in the Maldives itinerary – evening at Crossroads

Another alternative to a resort and local islands is to visit Crossroads. This up and coming island is home to several different resorts, bars and restaurants so is worth exploring and will have much more going on in the evening than local islands. You can take the ferry here from Male Ferry terminal, ferries take 15 minutes, leave every 30 minutes from 11am-11.30pm and costs approximately $42 return for tourists. Work Permit Holders and Locals cost is 160 Rufiya/ $10 return.

One week itinerary in Baa Atoll, Maldives

If you only have one week to visit the Maldives but are keen to snorkel with manta rays in the best spot in the world – Hanifaru Bay then book domestic flights from Male to Dharavandhoo and spend 7 days in Baa atoll. For more information on snorkelling with mantas in the Maldives read my blog post here.

underwater photo of snorkelling with a manta
Snorkel trips to see manta rays in the Maldives

Where to stay in Male, Maldives

I would personally avoid staying in Male unless necessary. I think it can be worth a day trip if you have time to spare but it is extremely busy and crowded. That said there are some great restaurants, cafes and boutique shops that are worth visiting for a day trip in Male. Hulhumale has much nicer accommodation for similar prices. Male has a lot of hotels but most of them are very expensive, they can cost from $150+ per night and the cheap hotels are not particularly nice. The cheapest hotels in Male are usually around $60 per night for work permit holders/locals and will be more expensive for tourist rate.


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One week diving trip in the Maldives

Fuvahmulah in the south of the Maldives is the best scuba diving in the world, and definitely in the Maldives. The marine megafauna in this area is so incredible, in three days of diving we saw thresher sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks and oceanic manta rays. Read my Maldives blog post here for how to get to Fuvahmulah, the best diving destination in the Maldives.

Cheap diving in the Maldives with oceanic manta rays
Me admiring an oceanic manta ray while scuba diving on a budget in the Maldives

For more information about the best islands in the Maldives for budget trips, read here for island advice about Gulhi, Maafushi and Thulusdhoo.

For more information about visiting local islands, what to wear on local islands and where you can drink alcohol in the Maldives, read this blog post

For what to pack for the Maldives, consult my Maldives packing guide.

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Maldives on the Cheap: Thulusdhoo Local Island

Local Island Guide: Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo is one of the most beautiful islands in the Maldives. It is one of the best islands to visit if you are on a budget as it is a local island with a lot of cheap hotels. It also has a mid-range hotel with one of the best infinity pools in the Maldives! I also have to say it’s one of my favourite islands so far, along with the best scuba diving island Fuvamulah.

Photo of local island Thulusdhoo
Hanging out on this picturesque jetty in Thulusdhoo

Maldives on a Budget – What to do in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo island has lots of activities like surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving and all are cheap activities for the Maldives makings this the perfect island for an affordable Maldives holiday! I really enjoyed strolling around the island as many islands are too small to have an enjoyable walk. Other activities can include a tour of the Coca Cola factory that is here.

Surfing in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo has some great surf spots and lots of visitors to this island come for the surfing. From what I saw the surfing looks like it is not so beginner friendly (so not for visitors like me!) as I saw huge waves and a lot of really good surfers out there. There are lessons for beginners available too.

Snorkelling in Thulusdhoo

I didn’t snorkel or see many snorkellers around Thulusdhoo so I definitely recommend trying a snorkelling trip to snorkel sites where the snorkelling should be better. That said, from just walking around the island I saw bumphead parrotfish and baby black tip reef sharks cruising around so while the coral may not be decent, there is still a lot of marine life to see.

 

Cheap Scuba Diving in Thulusdhoo

I really enjoyed the scuba diving in Thulusdhoo. We saw some fairly decent coral, white tip reef sharks, two huge schools of bumphead parrotfish and a huge eagle ray. There is also a chance of seeing manta rays on a deep cleaning station. Though for the best place for manta rays in the Maldives, head to Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll, read more about that here. There are package deals for multiple dives and work permit/ Maldivian national discount is $45 per dive.

Maldives on the cheap Thulusdhoo Local Island Maldives
Walking around Thulusdhoo and spotting baby sharks and surfers

Thulusdhoo Island Accommodation: Where to stay in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo has some of the most amazing looking guesthouses in the Maldives. I absolutely loved staying in Seasons Paradise in Thulusdhoo. It has the best infinity pool on a local island, perhaps including resorts as the swimming pool is on the top floor with amazing ocean views. While I was swimming in the pool, I saw spinner dolphins cruising past. The double beds were huge, with TVs in the room and a small balcony outside. The hotel also has a rooftop spa and a gym although I didn’t use either as I was busy enjoying the best rooftop pool in the Maldives. The price is approximately $100 per night with breakfast included on a work permit/ Maldivian National discount so expect to pay a bit more for tourist price. There was also no issue with a foreigner and Maldivian sharing a room. The hotel will also offer Full Board and all inclusive package. I also loved the hotel design of this Thulusdhoo luxury beach guesthouse and it is also directly across from bikini beach.


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Maldives on the cheap Thulusdhoo Local Island Maldives
The best rooftop infinity pool in the Maldives

Bikini Beach in Thulusdhoo

You can wear a bikini on bikini beach in Thulusdhoo. As it is a popular surf spot in the Maldives. many locals seemed relaxed about tourists needing to be covered up and I felt that I could wear shorter dresses around the island that showed my shoulders as some Maldivian women were doing the same. You can wear a bikini while on the beach, however it is not considered respectful to walk around in a bikini or bikini top so take a cover up.

Drinking alcohol in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo is a local island and therefore under Maldivian law you cannot drink or buy alcohol on this island. However, nearby there are some floating bars, liveaboard boats with licenses to sell alcohol so for a small fee ($5) you can take a short speedboat to these safari boats to have a drink or enjoy a party boat evening. Drinks are not expensive, a rum and coke was approximately $5.

Maldives on the cheap Thulusdhoo Local Island Maldives
Instagram perfect photoshoot around Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo Restaurants: Where to Eat

I really enjoyed eating at Santa Rosa restaurant which also looks like a cute guesthouse. Here, we had some of the best kottu roshi in the Maldives! (that I’ve had so far!) and all for very cheap prices. Food costs approximately $5-10 a meal. I also recommend the pizza at Thulusdhoo Surf Camp and the views at Canopus Retreat where we stopped for a coconut on their beds with views of the surfers.

Transport to Thulusdhoo from Male

You can take the speedboat from Male or from the airport to Thulusdhoo. The journey takes around 30 minutes and costs 150 rufiya for work permit holders. There is also an island ferry which takes approximately 45 minutes.

Thulusdhoo Speedboats from Male and the Airport
Thulusdhoo Speedboats from Male and the Airport

Thulusdhoo Location

Thulusdhoo is one of the best islands to visit as it is close to Male and therefore close to the main international airport in the Maldives. It is very easy to travel to islands in Kaafu Atoll because Male has such good speedboat and ferry transport options.

More Travel Blog Posts about visiting the Maldives

For further information about visiting Maldives local islands, read my post of FAQs here

For the cheapest island to visit in the Maldives, check out Maafushi for cheap diving and water sports.

For the quietest island in the Maldives where you can avoid the crowds, check out Gulhi island. It also has the best beach in the Maldives (that I’ve seen so far!)

For the best budget scuba diving in the Maldives (and some of the top diving of my life) find out about Fuvahmulah island.

Planning a Maldives trip? Read my Maldives packing list here

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase on the website I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my Maldives travel blog!