20 Best Things to Do in the Maldives + Costs (Some Free!)

Rasdhoo Sandbank, Maldives

The Maldives, known for its crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and amazing underwater life, offers many best things to do, some even for FREE!

When you visit the Maldives, chances are high that you’ll experience some of the best beaches and water activities you’ve ever done. This country is truly unbeatable in this regard. Explore now the 20 best things to do on in the Maldives and their costs.

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Koimala Beach Hotel Room

20 Best Things to Do in the Maldives

1. Local Islands Hopping

Maldives Local Ferry
Maldives Atoll Map

Since there are many local Maldivian islands, hopping between them is the best way to explore a lot during your time in the Maldives. We suggest picking an atoll, consisting of a group of islands, and exploring some of its islands. 

Although the islands within the atoll may be close, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are similar. Each island has its own charm and character.

Typically, a local ferry operates between the islands within the atoll. The islands Ukulhas, Rasdhoo, and Thoddoo in the Alif-Alif Atoll (also called North Ari Atoll) are all situated very close to each other, around a 1-2 hours ferry ride away. Head to the pier and inquire about the ferry timetable. Alternatively, you can arrange a speedboat through your homestay.

You have the option to base yourself on a single local or private island and explore some local islands on a one- or two-day trip. Alternatively, as we did, you can go for a more extensive island-hopping experience by spending several nights on each one.

The local Maldivian islands have a strict Muslim culture. It’s important to dress respectfully, covering shoulders and knees, and there won’t be alcoholic drinks available for purchase.

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The local ferry between Thoddoo, Rasdhoo, & Ukulhas costs 22 MVR (≈1.40 USD) per way, per person.

2. House Reef Snorkeling

Maldives Sea Turtle

Snorkeling is truly one of the best things to do in the Maldives, a country known for its underwater beauty. 

Many local Maldivian islands have their own house reef with colorful reefs and diverse marine life like turtles and rays, allowing you to snorkel directly from the beach. What more can we ask for?

Rasdhoo, Thoddoo, and Ukulhas all have a house reef, with Ukulhas having the best one, with lots of sharks, and Thoddoo boasting many turtles.

Alternatively, you can book this highly-rated snorkeling tour starting from Malé.

Our Tour Recommendation

Travel by speedboat from Hulhumale to explore the underwater world with your snorkel guide.

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It’s free if you have your own snorkel gear or if your accommodation provides them for free. Otherwise, you can rent one from your accommodation at an affordable price.

3. Sandbanks

Rasdhoo Sandbank, Maldives

Visiting a sandbank in the islands of the Maldives is a magical experience. Ask the locals when they recommend visiting the sandbank you’ve chosen. 

From our experience, it’s best to go during low tide to see the sandbanks fully; they might disappear during high tide.

Our personal recommendations:

  • Rasdhoo has two beautiful sandbanks nearby called Sandbank Rasdhoo (1 km) and Rasfinolhu (1.5 km), perfectly reachable by kayaks.
  • Ukulhas doesn’t have a proper sandbank, but it has a sandy extension, which is pretty cool and gives a similar feeling.
  • Our friends visited Mathiveri Island and were amazed by the fact that you can swim to the it’s sandbank called Mathivery Finholu (100 m). 
  • Dhigurah island, famous for whale shark encounters, has a sandbank connected with the island during low tide, which you can reach on foot. We can’t wait to visit this one.
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The costs vary. It’s free to walk to the sandbank in Dhigurah and to swim to the sandbank in Mathiveri. If you choose to rent a kayak, the prices start at 25 USD for a double kayak for 4 hours.

4. Dolphins, Sharks, Mantas & Whalesharks

Sharks & Manta, Maldives
Swimming with Dolphins, Maldives

Do you share our love for ocean animals? The Maldives is the perfect place with high chances to spot and swim with dolphins, sharks, mantas, whale sharks, and more ocean creatures in their natural environment.

Our favorites were the dolphins, very playful animals, and the whale sharks, impressive gentle giants with enormous mouths.

Accommodations on the local islands offer various watching or swimming with ocean animals tours for the surrounding waters. These tours can be quite expensive, especially on more remote islands, like Thoddoo, Rasdhoo, and Ukulhas, but you can try negotiating the price, especially if you’re with more people.

If you wish to do a lot of tours, consider spending some days in Maafushi, a touristy island, close to the capital and the Male Airport. Here, instead of paying 40-60 USD for a 2-3 hour boat trip to swim with mantas, you can get a full-day boat trip with dolphins, sharks, mantas, and a sandbank for 50 USD.

But the tours are incomparable. On the remote islands, you will go with a small boat for 2-3 hours and be the only ones there. In Maafushi, you will go on a shared tour on a bigger boat for the whole day, but you will experience more for a more affordable price.

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Tours can cost between 40-200 USD per person. The more remote the island, the higher the price tends to be. The more touristy the island, like Maafushi, the cheaper the tours.

5. Bikini Beaches

Bikini Beach, Maldives
Bikini Beach Palmtree Swing

The Maldives is known for its white, soft sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, perfect for a peaceful day in paradise.

Every local island has one or more bikini beaches where tourists can relax, sunbathe, and swim in swimwear. If the beach is not designated as a “bikini beach,” you’ll need to respect the Muslim dress code and wear clothes that cover knees and shoulders.

The local Maldivian islands are usually small, which means you can walk to all beaches. In our opinion, Thoddoo Island had the best beaches compared to Rasdhoo and Ukulhas Islands.

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This is a free activity. You can walk to most beaches; there are shaded places under trees and no entrance fee.

6. Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) & Kayaking

Local Islands SUP, Maldives

Looking to stay active while enjoying the breathtaking views? Rent a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or a kayak. Both activities are perfect for the Maldives due to the calm, shallow, and clear waters, offering excellent visibility.

Rent a kayak or SUP to observe coral reefs from above, visit sandbanks (two are found on Rasdhoo Island), and perhaps spot turtles and other wildlife.

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Some guesthouses provide free water equipment, while others offer rentals starting at 25 USD for a double kayak for 4 hours.

7. Scuba Diving

Sea Turtle in Maldives

The Maldives is one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations. The crystal-clear blue waters offer exceptional visibility and the marine wildlife is incredibly abundant and diverse, including manta rays, sharks, whale sharks, turtles, and dolphins, with high chances of encounters.

Of the islands we visited in the Alif Alif Atoll (North Ari Atoll), Rasdhoo Island had the most diving centers and the closest dive sites. The dive centers had affordable prices, offering options from discovery dives to certified dives and courses.

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If you opt for multiple dives, the cost per dive is approximately 40 USD.

8. Sunsets: Beach, Bats & Cruise

Local Island Sunset, Maldives
Bats at Maldives Sunset

For some reason, sunsets in the Maldives are even more spectacular than usual, offering an unforgettable natural spectacle.

Personally, we had the most stunning sunsets on Thoddoo Island at the Thoddoo Sunset Point on the beach. There, we experienced the sight of bats returning to the island from a neighboring one as night fell, making the experience even more magical.

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The best part about sunsets? They’re free and accessible to all.

You can join a sunset cruise, watching the sun dip below the horizon from the calm, orange-painted waters of the ocean.

Our Tour Recommendation

Experience the best of the Maldives on this tour! Discover two colorful snorkel sites near Male, a sandbank and end with a sunset dolphin cruise.

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9. Shark Feeding

Maldives Sharks Above

We discovered that on every island we visited, as the fishing boats return (late afternoon), the fishermen cut and clean their catch right at the pier. There is typically a large table for this purpose. Once they finish, they throw the fish remains into the water, immediately attracting sharks and mantas to the surface.

Observing them so close at the pier is an incredible experience. This activity may not suit everyone; however, if you want, you can ask the fisherman if they’ll give you the remains so you can feed the sharks yourself.

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You can observe the fisherman at the right time for free.

10. Resort Day Pass

Maldives Resort Day Trip

If you decide to stay on the local Maldivian islands, which are more budget-friendly, you can still enjoy the luxuries of a resort with a day pass. This typically includes access to the facilities, such as pools, beaches, and sometimes even meals.

It’s a great way to experience a bit of resort life while staying on a local island.

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Prices for a resort day pass start from 100 USD. Please ask your accommodation for more information.

11. Fishing

Fishing Boat, Maldives

Fishing is a major source of food and income for locals in the Maldives. If you enjoy fishing, give it a try here. You can join a local fishing trip to learn about traditional fishing methods like handline fishing, night fishing, and spearfishing. 

You’ll have the opportunity to visit the best fishing spots and catch tuna, red snappers, and barracuda. If luck is on your side, catch your dinner and enjoy a barbecue meal.

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The prices for a fishing trip start at 50 USD per person.

12. Local Food

Grilled Fish, Maldivian Cuisine

The best part of learning about new cultures is experiencing their traditional food. For those who enjoy seafood and curries, Maldivian food will be perfect for you.

Breakfast is typically included in your accommodation, where you’ll likely be served ‘mas huni‘: a mixture of tuna, onion, coconut, and chili, paired with roshi flatbread.

We recommend trying food at the small eateries or cafes where locals eat. They offer authentic Maldivian cuisine at cheap prices, such as kuli boakiba (spicy fish cakes), gulha (fried fish dumplings), or bis keemiya (tuna and egg-filled pastry).

Additionally, we had the most exceptional kottu at Bamboo Hut Restaurant in Rasdhoo.

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Local Maldivian food is priced between 2-5 USD, which is considerably cheaper compared to dishes (5-20 USD) in tourist restaurants.

13. Romantic Beach Dinner

Romantic Dinner, Maldives Beach

Is there a more romantic destination on earth than the Maldives? Surprise your loved one with a romantic dinner on the beach at sunset, including a bottle of champagne, a private waiter, and a meal prepared right at your table.

As the sun sets and the waves gently sound in the background, tables adorned with candles and flowers create a dreamy atmosphere. For couples, it’s a wonderful way to share a special moment together in a picturesque setting.

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The prices for a romantic beach dinner start at 100 USD per couple.

14. Culture Events

If you’re interested in Maldivian culture, make sure to check the dates of local events and festivals on the islands you plan to visit. If you have the chance to attend a culture event, you may experience traditional dances, music performances, or religious festivals.

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Maldivian people are incredibly warm and generous; they were more than happy to share everything at their event for free, including drinks and food.

15. Surfing

Maldives Local Island Surfing

I bet you didn’t know that the Maldives are a world-class surfing destination. There are some local islands with great surf breaks, offering excellent opportunities for both beginners and experienced surfers.

One well-known Maldivian surfer’s haven is Thulusdhoo, located in North Male Atoll, with a vibrant local surf culture.

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If you bring your own surfboard, this activity is free. Prices for renting a surfboard start at 20 USD per day, and surf lessons begin at 40 USD per hour.

16. Overwater Villas

Maldives Resorts Luxury

If you’re seeking more than a resort day pass, consider spending the night in a overwater villa for a daydream experience.

Imagine waking up to some of the most beautiful views in the world, stepping onto your private deck for sunbathing, and diving into the clear turquoise waters for snorkeling and swimming.

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The prices for a stay at a over the water villa start at 500 USD per night.

17. Flight over the Maldives

Maldives Seaplane on Beach
Maldives Aerial View

Looking for some adrenaline? A seaplane scenic flight over the Maldives gives you all the excitement and a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Enjoy, from a bird’s-eye view, the breathtaking sights of islands, sandbars, coral reefs, and lagoons. If you’re lucky, you might spot some dolphins.

It’s magical to see the different shades of blue from the sky and realize how isolated the islands of the Maldives are. If your resort doesn’t require a seaplane for access, you can simply ask them to book a flight for you.

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The prices for a short seaplane scenic flight start at 150 USD per person.

18. Spa

Local Islands Maldives Spa

Treat yourself to a relaxing and luxurious experience at a local spa. For a romantic touch, opt for a couples’ massage. Make sure you have no plans immediately after the massage to keep the relaxed feeling as long as possible.

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The prices for a spa treatment start at 100 USD per person.

19. Parasailing

Parasailing, Maldives Local Islands

If you want to see the Maldives from above but a scenic flight isn’t within your budget, consider going parasailing. You’ll feel the sea wind on your face while attached to an open parachute, and a motorboat will glide you through the air. It’s a thrilling adventure.

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Prices start at 100 USD for 2 persons.

20. Bioluminescence Beaches

Ever seen those stunning beach photos with the ocean glowing blue at night? Tiny light-emitting creatures in the water create this glow when they’re stirred up.

Some islands, like Vaadhoo Island, are famous for this magical sight, but guess what? It happens across the Maldives! You’ll need the right season, which is from June to October, and some luck, similar to the northern lights.

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This activity is free; simply head to the beach at night and give it a try.

Conclusion

Anyone claiming the Maldives are boring and lacking in activities simply hasn’t discovered these 20 best things to do in the Maldives. 

Not sure how to fill your time in this paradise? Save this guide with the most unforgettable water and beach experiences of your life! Let us know your questions and experiences.

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