Top Things to Do in The Maldives: 40+ must do Activities to Try

SUMMARY: The Maldives offers an array of activities, some of the top things to do in The Maldives being thrilling water sports like snorkeling and parasailing to serene island hopping and luxury resort experiences. Discover vibrant marine life, indulge in local culture through picnics and bike tours, and unwind in style with underwater dining and coral planting.

If you’re currently panicking while checking out the options for activities to try in The Maldives, you’ve come to the right place. As a visitor to both local and resort islands, I can tell you that there’s most to The Maldives than amazing beaches and awesome marine life. By reading further, you’ll find out:

  • The top water activities you can try while here
  • What are your options for general, non-water activities.
  • How can you immerse yourself in local culture through unique island experiences.
  • What are some options for resort-based adventures.

Stick around to navigate through the Maldives with ease and make memories that last a lifetime.

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Water Wonders: Enjoy the Ocean’s Embrace

The Maldives, a gem nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, offers an aquatic playground like no other. From the vibrant coral reefs to the clear azure skies mirroring the equally magnificent waters below, every inch of the sea around this paradise island beckons water lovers to dive in and explore. Check out each activity below and imagine your next days (weeks?) and the fun you’ll have.

Snorkeling

Gear up to meet an array of marine life that calls the endless blue home. The Maldives is world-renowned for its snorkeling opportunities, offering unparalleled underwater visibility to witness the dance of colorful fishes among the corals. Most islands will offer you amazing coral reefs and rich underwater views, but this is actually one of the top free activities to try here, as a potential way to save money on your trip.

Snorkeling Tours

While this will incur a cost, the snorkeling tours are usually planned for an area where the coral looks amazing as it’s not very close to inhabited islands. On a snorkeling tour, we saw about one hundred eagle rays, I think there was a party there to be honest, this is how many there were. Check out the option below and see if it’s a good fit:

Diving

Diving in the Maldives, oh boy, where do I even start? Imagine being suspended in a crystal-clear ocean, surrounded by an array of vibrant sea life as if you’ve just stepped into a Disney movie. Maybe not “Finding Nemo”, although Nemo can be found here, chilling in an anemone. Don’t touch the anemone though, as it’s one of the things that can harm you, even if hey look cute. This is one top tip to keep yourself safe in The Maldives, but if you’re PADI certified, you should know this already.

The Maldives is a diver’s paradise, home to an abundant variety of marine species, from colorful coral reefs to magnificent manta rays, amazing sharks and playful dolphins. You don’t need to be Jacques Cousteau to dive here either. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or just starting out (yes, newbies are welcome too, you can even get PADI certified here), there’s something for everyone.

And the best part? You can dive all year round! Even though there are best times to visit the Maldives and worst times to do so, the water clarity is great during most of the year and the underwater world is absolutely stunning. Keep it this way by being a responsible traveler and by finding out the do’s and don’ts before you go.

Are you overwhelmed by all the options? Discover your perfect island match below!

With this nifty tool, you’ll get from a list of 100+ resorts that look great and no idea where to start to a short list of islands that fit your wishes and desires. And yes, it also has the links for Booking and Agoda so you can book your stay straight away.

Check it out below!

Diving Tour

There are a few islands where you can start your diving experience right from the beach, most islands will offer you various options to go on a diving trip with a boat, an instructor and all the necessary equipment.

If you’re visiting one of the resort islands, they might offer you everything you need for this trip. Check out if the gear is included in the price so you can maybe not carry your full gear with you. But if the gear is a rental and you plan to go on multiple trips, bring your own gear as much as possible. This is one of my favorite budget tips that can save you hundreds of dollars, money you can better invest in more diving trips or spa experiences.

Now, if you’re going on one of the local islands, going on a diving trip is a great way to discover The Maldives. Especially if you’re staying here for about 10 days, and you plan to go on both local and resort islands, it’s a great idea for you to do these trips from the local islands, so you can enjoy better prices. This is just one way to spend less in the Maldives, but I think the price difference will be worth it.

One top island for tour options is Maafushi. While it’s not the most beautiful or the most picture-perfect, it is the one with the most available tours and trips to choose from, so think about it as a potential hub for all your trips. You can also check out the tour below to see if it’s a good fit for you.

Fishing

If you’re one of those people that can stay in a boat or on the side of a lake and do nothing while you wait for some fish to bite, then The Maldives is the perfect place for you. While it’s prohibited to do fishing by yourself, as you don’t have a permit, you can definitely join a fishing tour. Check out the option below, it even includes a nice BBQ dinner!

Swimming with Sharks

One of the most exhilarating activities to add to your Maldives itinerary is swimming with the majestic whale sharks. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Whale sharks? Aren’t those…sharks? Well, yes and no.

They’re the gentle giants of the sea, my friend. This is not some adrenaline-fueled Jaws reenactment – it’s more akin to a serene ballet in an underwater paradise. These creatures are naturally curious and incredibly docile, so there’s no need to worry about getting a little too up close and personal.

The South Ari Atoll is the prime spot for these encounters, where these awe-inspiring creatures are spotted year-round. Remember, though, we’re visiting their home; respect for their environment is an absolute must. You can find out more about sharks in The Maldives from my dedicated blog post, or you can book a tour from the widget below.

Dolphin Watching

I don’t know about you, but the first time I saw dolphins in the wild I almost cried. While this didn’t happen in the Maldives, it was in a place where dolphins are not seen very often, their image remained with me and will continue to be the highlight of my stories.

Almost all islands offer an opportunity to go to a dolphin watching tour or cruise, and if this is your lifetime dream, be sure to try it one day. Be aware though that some tourists go way too close to the dolphins and it causes them distress, so please don’t be that person and avoid going too close, especially if you see there are tens of people around already.

Sunset Cruises

Stepping aboard a traditional Maldivian dhoni as the sun begins to dip low in the sky is one of those experiences that truly define a trip to this tropical paradise. A sunset cruise in the Maldives, is not just a must-do, it’s a you-won’t-believe-what-you’re-missing-if-you-don’t kind of affair. As the boat gently glides across the crystal-clear waters, the setting sun paints the sky in shades of pink and orange, creating a breathtaking spectacle that seems almost unreal.

This is an unmissably romantic way to spend your time in the Maldives, perfect for couples seeking a special moment to remember. And let’s be honest here, nothing screams romance louder than sharing an intimate sunset cruise with your significant other in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Just remember to pinch yourself every now and then – yes, it really is as dreamy as it sounds!

Jet Ski

If you’re one of the people who prefer a more active holiday, even if you’re going in paradise, then Jet skiing is for you. Plenty of resorts offer this as an extra you can add to your trip, but you can do this even from a local island, if you feel a need for adrenaline. Check out the tour below that might be the perfect fit for you!

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Parasailing

If staying in contact with the ground (and the water) is not enough for you, a parasailing experience can be exactly what you need. While it’s not something I would do (because I’m the most scared person in the world), I’m sure some people would love to see the views from above, and sometimes getting on a seaplane transfer is not really easy. Check out the option below and see if it’s a good fit!

Kite Surfing & Wind Surfing

As the idea above, kite surfing can be a good way to combine both your love for flying to your opportunity to be in this gorgeous paradise. Be sure to have travel insurance though as you never know when one of these activities may lead to you requiring medical assistance.

Glass Bottom Boar Tour

If you want to go snorkeling without getting your hair (and the rest of your body) wet, then this is for you. You just have to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and appropriate clothes and see the gorgeous underwater world through the transparent bottom of a special boat.

Catamaran Sailing

While I used to think catamarans, like all boats, are highly unsafe, I have recently discovered while on a trip to The Caribbean that they’re actually super stable, you barely feel any movement. Sailing on a catamaran is especially nice for people having a bit of motion sickness, as you can barely feel the waves if the weather is nice. Contact your accommodation and ask about options, if you’d be interested in this activity.

Stand-up paddle boarding

The tranquil waters of the Maldives are perfect for this activity, as most islands have a lagoon or a quiet area of some sort where there are virtually no waves and no currents. If this is your go-to activity, check out the resort you plan to go to and see if they can rent you the equipment free of charge, and plan your trip around this.

Use a Underwater Scooter

Do you love free diving but you never seem to dive deep enough for your liking? Then renting an underwater scooter is just the thing for you! I’m not gonna lie, I have not heard about this before I started researching for this blog post, but we live and we learn. And now I know that you can book this device that can take you deeper in the water, allowing you to see things that only divers get to see, but without the complicated class and equipment. Check it out below!

Beyond The Waves: Discovering Maldives’ Land Activities

Are you one of the people that would love to go The Maldives, but you’re worried there’s nothing to do beyond water sports to try? I understand, floating in the warm waters is not enough for some people, and it’s definitely not something that everyone would want to do for 10 days or more. So check out the following top things to do in the Maldives besides the water activities.

Island hopping

Island hopping is not just about moving between dots on the map; it’s an immersion into the vibrant heart of Maldivian culture. Just take a moment to see yourself wandering through the local islands, each with its unique charm, from the crowded fish markets to the serene, untouched landscapes. And what’s a visit without a local tour? Check out the option below and see if it will satisfy your need for adventure.

Spa Experience

After a day under the sun,or instead of one, why not rejuvenate your body and soul with massages that melt your troubles away, or find your zen with spa treatments while overlooking the azure ocean? While spas on resort islands are absolutely gorgeous, you can definitely go to a massage place on a local island as well. I’ve tried both, and while there was a stark difference between the two, I cannot say I regret any of them.

Stargazing

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Is she actually going to tell me to just look at the stars? Well, stargazing in the Maldives is not only a great activity to try at night, but it’s also one of the best places to try this. Since the light pollution is very limited here, you have a big chance of spotting amazing views here, views you cannot find in the crowded place you might be coming from. Plus, watching the stars while listening to the waves is about as magical as it can get.

Sunset Dinner

A must do in the Maldives, especially if traveling as a couple, is to enjoy a sunset dinner on the beach. Take a few hours to enjoy together while tasting amazing food, great wine and beautiful views. No matter how many times you have seen the sunset (maybe you even booked a sunset view villa), watching a sunset in The Maldives will always be a memory you’ll cherish. Check out the option below if you’re headed to Maafushi!

Sunbathing

Of course, I cannot avoid mentioning that laying on the beach is just what you do here. Take a book or an eReader with you, fill your bottle with ice cold water, apply plenty of reef-safe sunscreen, put on your bathing suit and choose your favorite spot in the shade. Be sure to avoid dehydration and sunburns as these are two major safety concerns when traveling to this paradise.

View of a beach in the Maldives from a shaded sunbed - one of the top safety tips for the Maldives is to keep out from excessive sun exposure to avoid sunburns

Beach Volleyball

Feeling more active? The beach is your playground, especially if you have chosen a bigger resort where they cater to a more active crowd. See if you can find a few partners with similar interests on the beach, or play with your partner if you don’t need a team. I’ve seen a cool group of guys that have never seen each other before play a really nice match, the whole beach was watching them and cheering by the end.

Badminton or tennis

If volleyball is a bit too much and requires too many people that you just can’t find, a game of tennis or badminton requires only two people, thus giving you more chance of happening. Try to find a place int he shade for this or to do it early in the morning, when it’s not very hot yet, so you get to enjoy your activity for more time.

Yoga

Especially if you have chosen a more quiet resort, there’s a great chance you can follow a yoga class. Some resorts even offer private yoga classes or yoga on the beach, and I can only imagine how cool it is to listen to the waves while doing the corpse pose (the one I’m best at, to be honest).

Cooking Class

If you’re one of the people that would gladly appreciate a “Taste the World” Tinggly gift box (a great idea for your next gift, by the way) then cooking classes offered by resorts will be a great fit for you. Learn the specifics of the Maldivian cuisine and bring back home a new recipe, one of the cool ways to organize your travel souvenirs. And if you’re traveling with children, this is a cool way to spend time together as a family while you learn a new skill.

Watch the Sunset

Now, I know I mentioned a sunset dinner just above. But that’s a more romantic activity you can most probably do on a resort island (although my husband received this as an anniversary gift on the local isnald we’ve been to). Watching the sunset is something you can do on any island and it’s an absolutely free activity you must try. Just grab a beer or a mocktail, setup your GoPro for a timelapse and enjoy the best view you’ll ever see.

What to Do in the Maldives on a Local Island

If you have chosen to visit a local island as part of your trip, then you’re in luck because there are plenty of activities you can try here. Especially if you’re splitting your trip in two, between a local island and a resort island, then this is the place where you should splurge on your activities, as the prices are way lower than what you’ll find on resort islands. This is just one of my tips to spend less in the Maldives, but I can assure you the difference is expenses will be significant if you try it. Check out all the activities you can try!

Enjoy a Picnic

This is usually part of a bigger trip and it takes place on an uninhabited island, but you can do this yourself as well on the very island you have booked your accommodation. Just pack your breakfast or lunch and enjoy it on the beach, listening to the wind and the waves.

Go on a Sandbank

This is another activity that’s usually part of a bigger tour (like the one below) and you won’t be able to do it on your own unfortunately, as you cannot really swim until you find a stretch pf white sand appearing randomly from the water. Especially if you’re bringing in your dron, going on a sandbank is the absolute thing you’ll want to take a video of from above.

Local Island Tour

I will always appreciate people who want to know the place they’re going to and go a bit deeper in the culture of their destination. Going on a local island tour is one way to meet the Maldives outside of the resorts, and it will enable you to find out more about this beautiful corner of the world.

Bike Tours

No matter if you join an organized tour or you just rent a bike for the day, biking around the island is a great way to get to know the place. Some hotels or smaller guesthouses even offer bikes for the day free of charge, so look into it before you book if you think you’ll be interested in this way to spend your time.

Rent a Scooter

If you have a valid driving permit and feel a bit brave, you can rent a scooter or motorcycle in Male and check out the island on two wheels. Of course, you have to be aware of the safety features you should know and you have to be prepared for unusual traffic experiences you don;t get to enjoy in your country, but that’s just the beauty of it, right?

Take a Submarine Tour

This is one of my dreams for a long time now and I really hope I’ll be able to make it come true one day. Especially if you’re not a diver, going on a submarine tour is one way to see the underwater world like a diver sees it, without having to learn how to equalize the pressure in your ears and to breathe through your mouth for so long.

Resort Day Trip

I know, I know, this is meant to be the part about local islands. But you know what? You get to choose what you want it to be. If you want to taste the luxury of resort islands without paying a big price to stay overnight (because some of us don’t care about where we stay the night as long as it has a roof and a shower), then get a day trip to one of the nearby resorts and enjoy it.

Underwater Foto Shoot

Now this is an unique thing to try in The Maldives! If you’re not doing it here, where the water clarify is out of this world and the coral reef is amazingly rich, where are you going to do this? especially if you don’t have a GoPro and you don’t intend to buy one, getting some cool pictures under the waves is one great way to remember this trip.

Bar Boat Trip

One of the first thing you have probably learnt about the Maldives is that on local islands, alcohol is not available for consumption. While it’s definitely advisable to respect the local culture and not to even try to bypass this law, there is a way for you to enjoy a beer or a cocktail, even if you are staying on a local island, and it’s provided by the locals, so it’s absolutely legal: bar boat trips. It’s basically a boat in the middle of nowhere that has the license to serve alcoholic beverages to tourists, and you can hop on a boat to get there like you’d get an Uber in the city. Check out more ways to travel between islands to find out more.

What to Do in the Maldives on a Resort Island

While plenty of people will tell you that staying on a resort island is a must do in itself, I’m here to tell you that while some things you can only do here, some others you can choose where you experience them from. These are just a few suggestions you can try, and I hope I’ll get you inspired for your upcoming trip

Dance the Night Away

If the idea of clubbing with ocean views and sipping cocktails under the stars tickles your fancy, then you’re going to love the vibrant nightlife at the luxury resorts. And yes, dancing in the sand with bare feet is totally encouraged!

Wondering what’s the best party resort you can go to? While I do have a comprehensive guide about this, I can tell you already that Niyama Private Islands is the best spot for you. This is the place where they have the world’s first underwater nightclub, and I think I’ve said it all!

Niyama Private Islands

Check out the best party resort in The Maldives!

Watch Movies in an Outdoor Cinema

Ever saw those open-air cinemas in USAmerican movies and wondered how would it be to experience that, but with the sound of the waves in the background? I’m sure it’s an experience straight out of a dream. Pair it with a themed dinner night where each dish tells a story, and you’ve got yourself a night to remember.

And if you’re looking for a resort that you’re sure it’s going to offer you this opportunity, Six Senses Laamu is a great resort to choose (it even offers glass floor villas!). Be sure to get some insect repellent though as there are mosquitoes in the Maldives, and you wouldn’t want to have your night ruined by this.

Themed Dinner Nights

If you want to know a bit more about The Maldives, but would rather still stay on a resort island, then Maldivian nights are just the thing you need. You get to listen to traditional Maldivian music and see (and even try) their dances but get back to the comfort of your water villa with a slide or a private pool after.

Stay in a Water Villa (or an Underwater One)

Staying in a water villa is one of the best things to do in The Maldives. This is the place where overwater bungalows were actually invented, so you get to experience this in the very best place possible. And if you don’t even know where to start looking for the perfect water villa for your trip, check out my relevant blog posts below:

And if you want it to be even more mind-blowing, try an underwater room. Yes, you heard (read) that right, you can actually sleep with the fish without it being dangerous to you, as it is in mobster movies. Check out Conrad Maldives Rangali Island if you want to see how it looks like.

Dine in an Underwater Restaurant

OK, maybe an underwater bedroom will freak you out. Or maybe it’ll be weird to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and see a shark right next to you. Then an underwater restaurant is what you need.

Having the opportunity to dine while diving and not even get your hair wet is an absolutely amazing Maldives must do activity to try. And where could you see this? At Hurawalhi Resort, for example. Check it out below!

Hurawalhi Resort

Check out the best underwater restaurant in The Maldives!

Take a seaplane

Speaking of unique experiences, taking a seaplane to get an aerial view of the Maldives is something that shouldn’t be missed. The islands scattered like gems across the turquoise sea make for an unforgettable sight. Choose a resort with seaplane transfer and make this dream of your come true!

Get a Floating Breakfast

For the early risers ()who are you people, by the way?), there’s nothing quite like starting your day with a floating breakfast. Imagine indulging in a sumptuous breakfast spread on a private pool overlooking the ocean. It’s the ultimate blend of luxury and tranquility.

Plant Coral

Last but certainly not least, participate in coral planting activities, a rewarding experience that allows you to contribute to marine conservation. It’s a way to give back to the environment of this beautiful archipelago that provides so much to its visitors.

Things to Do in The Maldives FAQs

What activities can one enjoy in the Maldives besides swimming?

In the Maldives, visitors can enjoy a range of activities beyond swimming, such as snorkeling, diving, dolphin watching, and fishing. Land-based activities include yoga, massages, and exploring local culture through island hopping and bike tours. Luxurious experiences like staying in water villas, underwater dining, and participating in coral conservation are also available.

Is the Maldives suitable for budget travelers?

Yes, the Maldives can be a good fit for budget travelers with options starting from $30 daily. By choosing guesthouses over luxury resorts, eating at local cafes, and participating in free activities like swimming and beach volleyball, travelers can enjoy the beauty of the Maldives without breaking the bank.

Do I need a visa to visit the Maldives?

All international travelers receive a visa on arrival in the Maldives. You need a valid passport, with at least six months of validity upon arrival, and a return ticket for entry. The on-arrival visa allows visitors to stay up to 30 days.

What are some must-do water activities in the Maldives?

Must-do water activities in the Maldives include snorkeling at Male Atoll, diving at Biyadhoo Island, meeting sharks and manta rays at Maafushi, and kayak or skydive adventures at Alimatha Island. These activities offer a glimpse into the vibrant marine life and the crystal-clear waters of the Maldives.

How can I contribute to marine conservation in the Maldives?

Visitors can contribute to marine conservation in the Maldives by participating in coral planting activities. Many resorts offer programs where guests can learn about coral ecosystems and actively take part in restoring coral reefs by transplanting corals. This not only aids in reef recovery but also enhances the understanding of marine conservation.

Is there a lot to do in The Maldives?

While this destination is mostly known for its chill atmosphere and the laid back days it offers, you can still keep yourself busy for months if you really want to. Even if you think you might be bored on an island for a week, you’ll see that you won’t regret going here, no matter what.

Things to Do in The Maldives – The Takeaway

From the clear, turquoise waters housing a vibrant aquatic world, to the immersive cultural experiences and luxury at its peak, the Maldives offers a spectrum of activities to fulfill every traveller’s dream. Here’s a quick recap of what makes this island nation a must-visit destination:

  • Aquatic adventures ranging from snorkeling and diving to fishing and swimming with sharks.
  • Engagement with nature through dolphin watching, sunset cruises, and water sports like jet ski and parasailing.
  • Relaxation and wellness activities on land, including yoga, massages, and stargazing.
  • Local culture exploration via island hopping, picnics, and bike tours.
  • Luxurious indulgences from staying in water villas to fine dining underwater and contributing to coral conservation.

Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush or a tranquil escape, the Maldives provides a stunning backdrop for all your desires. It’s a place where memories are made, adventures are abundant, and relaxation is a way of life.

Ready to explore? Read more about this paradise on Earth!

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