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The Maldives is a stunning island nation in the Indian Ocean. It’s famous for its pristine waters, dazzling underwater life, water sports, and luxurious over-water villas.
A popular honeymoon destination, the Maldives is truly a place that oozes decadence, bliss, romance, relaxation, and ocean adventures.
Moving around the Maldives can be expensive and difficult. The Maldives is also known for its high price tags—it’s certainly not a place for budget travel!
This list of the best things to do in the Maldives will help you to stop dreaming and to start planning your incredible holiday in one of the world’s most exclusive places. You’ll find recommendations here that few other people speak about, and ways to enjoy local life as well as fancy resorts.
We’ve also hunted high and low to bring you ways to make a trip to the Maldives more affordable. Some ideas are sure to surprise you!
Have a blast with these best things to do in the Maldives and once you have an idea of what you want to do, find the best hotel for your budget with our guide to the 17 best hotels in the Maldives!
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Fun in the Maldives largely revolves around the ocean and water sports, but the frenetic capital of Male offers an alternative look into Maldivian life. Cut loose and have a fabulously fun time in the Maldives with these suggestions.
The Maldives is one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations. The waters are teeming with aquatic life and there are living reefs to explore. Certified divers can take to the waters immediately.
Don’t worry if you don’t already have a certificate—there are several operators that can take you out safely into the deliciously warm waters after some tuition.
Visibility is good throughout most of the year, and you can dive in the Maldives all year round. The ultimate best time to dive here, however, is between December and March. You can expect to come face to face with creatures like sea turtles, stingrays, eels, seahorses, and schools of brightly coloured fish.
While the private islands are exclusively for over-water bungalows, resorts, and tourists, there are many islands where locals live. Board your small boat to see the local way of life—it’s definitely very different from the resorts!
Walk through local markets and fishing villages. Hear the lilting call to prayer coming from the mosques. Try local dishes from street vendors, wave to smiling kids, and contrast the local dwellings with the typical images in glossy holiday brochures and on websites. It’s sure to be an eye-opening experience.
The Maldives boasts some awesome waves, and it’s a great spot for experienced surfers to grab their boards and try to ride the surf.
The waves can be pretty big and you can expect to be thrown about a fair bit if you’re not used to surfing. There are several surf shops that offer instruction and equipment rentals.
A tamer alternative is stand-up paddle boarding. People of all ages can propel their boards through relatively calm waters, gazing down into the clear waters to see a plethora of sea creatures below.
Attracting thousands and thousands of loved-up travellers year after year, the Maldives really knows how to make couples feel special. There are many opportunities for romance and you and your love can strengthen your bond and make many marvellous memories.
If you don’t have domestic flights scheduled to travel between different islands on your holiday, don’t miss taking a scenic pleasure flight over the spectacular islands. If you thought the Maldives was jaw-droppingly beautiful from ground level just wait until you get a bird’s eye view of the nation!
You’ll see strings of islands jutting up out of the cerulean waters like an exquisite necklace. See patches of different coloured water, created by differing depths and reflections off rocks, corals, and reefs.
Gazing down at the wondrous sight is serene and tranquil and something you’ll definitely be glad that you did with your beloved.
The Maldives has a wealth of top-class spas, many of which are located within the stunning luxury resorts. Many accept bookings from day visitors, so you don’t necessarily need to be a guest to benefit from extensive treatment menus.
Some spas offer packages for couples, providing the perfect way to feel pampered alongside your sweetheart. Choose from a variety of massages, beauty treatments, and other therapeutic techniques to refresh your mind, body, and soul.
If you’re staying in an over-water bungalow, spending a day (or more!) simply chilling out with that special someone can be one of the most romantic things to do in the Maldives.
Soak up sublime sea views and watch as marine life swims right beneath your feet. Sit hand in hand gazing out over the blue waters with your toes dangling in the warm soothing waters, savouring the moment together in a place of rare beauty.
Sunbathe on your private deck and order room service if you really can’t bear to mingle with others and break the focus on each other.
Travelling with kids can sometimes add another layer of stress to travel planning. You want the whole family to have an awesome time, yet balancing everybody’s wishes and interests can be tricky at times. Here are ways for everyone to enjoy their vacation in the Maldives.
Taking a boat trip is often exciting for kids, and the experience is even more magical when you see dolphins frolicking in the waves. The anticipation builds as you eagerly scan the waters looking for signs of dolphin activity.
Before you know it, there are sure to be several graceful sea mammals playing close to your boat. Seeing the playful creatures jump out of the waters is really something quite special.
Older kids and teens are sure to love the feeling of swimming through a large open-water aquarium. Because the water is so clear and the sea life is so abundant, you can see a great deal from close to the shore. Get your GoPro ready to capture the moments where your kids’ go wide as large groups of colourful fish surround them.
You’ll likely also spot crabs, lobsters, and other creatures that live on the rocks and ocean floor, and if you’re lucky you might also see sea turtles. The waters around the Maldives really are alive!
A terrific thing for families to do in the Maldivian capital, the Whale Submarine lets you experience the fabulous sights and sounds of the ocean deep without getting a splash of water on you.
Peer through the windows and watch an array of interesting sea creatures swim in front of your eyes. If you’re fortunate you might even spot whales, with just a pane of glass to separate you from the wonderful marine creatures.
Even if you don’t see whales, taking a trip in a submarine is thrilling in its own right and sure to keep the whole family happy.
Finding cool freebies is always great, but it’s so much sweeter not to have to splash the cash every day when you’re already splurging on an expensive vacation. Ease the burden a little bit and include some of these free attractions and activities in your travel plans.
Located in the capital of Male, the Islamic Cultural Centre offers insights into local religious practices and the Islamic faith. The main feature of the centre is the large and attractive Grand Friday Mosque, officially called the Masjid-al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al Auzam.
It’s the country’s biggest Islamic place of worship, and it can fit up to 5,000 worshippers at any given time. Unlike many mosques around the world, non-Muslims are allowed inside outside of prayer times. Do remember to dress modestly and respect requests to cover up with provided headscarves and tunics.
The gleaming white building is topped with a golden dome. Inside, there are intricate wooden carvings and grand pillars. You might hear the call to prayer from the tall patterned minaret. The Islamic Centre also houses a library and conference centre.
While the Maldives is most celebrated for its spectacular underwater life and stunning accommodations, the brilliant beaches are pretty special too!
Feel the soft powdery coral sand beneath your toes as you stroll along picturesque shores, and wade into the inviting blue waters to cool off and swim. The pristine white sands are perfectly highlighted by the indigo sea and cobalt sky.
Some of the nation’s best beaches include Hulhumale’, Lily, Reethi, Fulhadhoo, Veligandu, Vabbinfaru, Bandos, and Kurumba. And, this is just a small selection! There are plenty of deserted stretches, perfect for couples and peace-loving families. Remember to cover up when enjoying public beaches in the Maldives—no bikinis!
Male’s markets are positively buzzing with life and they offer the ideal chance to immerse yourself in local life, stimulate your senses, and see a wide variety of local goods and produce.
Although walking around the markets is free, you may be tempted to pick up some inexpensive handicrafts and souvenirs to take home as a reminder of your wonderful vacation.
Male Market is the capital’s main place to shop. The stalls are brimming with wares and the walkways are crowded with people. The fish market lets you see behind the scenes of the fishing industry. Watch as small boats offload their hauls, people gut fish ready for sale, and eager buyers hurry to score the freshest catch of the day.
The Maldives isn’t much of a night owl and, as an Islamic country, alcohol sales are highly restricted outside of the private resorts. Most resorts have bars where you can enjoy a tipple or two, and there are some lively clubs in the main cities, particularly Male.
You can also spend relaxing evenings in your beautiful bungalow, gazing at the stars while listening to the rhythmic lapping of the waves. There are, however, other fun ways to enjoy evenings in the Maldives too.
Fresh fish and seafood can be found all across the nation, perhaps quite unsurprisingly given the plentiful opportunities to fish from the many islands. Foodies, particularly seafood lovers, will definitely be in seventh heaven in the Maldives.
Popular local dishes to try include fihunu mas, which is tangy chilli-coated grilled fish, the fish- and onion-based soup of garudhiya, the deep-fried fish balls of keemia, and mas huni, a favourite breakfast meal of smoked fish with onions and coconut.
Bid farewell to one beautiful day and watch a marvellous sunset over the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The sky changes through sensual shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink as the waves take on a whole new colour as they reflect the last light of the sun.
There are many excellent places around the Maldives to witness one of nature’s best shows. Whether you watch the sun go down from a sandy beach, from a cool cocktail bar, or from the terrace of your water bungalow, you’re sure to feel a stirring of emotions as you see the spectacular sight.
Boasting thousands of picture-perfect islands and islets, the Maldives offers a plethora of delights. Whether visiting with that special someone, with friends, or with the kids, the Maldives cannot fail to impress you.
Chillax on the beaches, explore the underwater world, explore local areas, be adventurous, and pamper yourself. Find out more about the Maldives localities in our guide to where to stay in the Maldives.
Life really is a beach in the Maldives and it’s a destination that is likely to fill your mind and make you smile with wistful nostalgia long after you have left.
Make the most of your time in paradise with this list of the best things to do in the Maldives.
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Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties. When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.