Travelling by Seaplane in the Maldives

June 23, 2024

Maldives is famous for its seaplanes, boasting the world's largest seaplane fleet. It is a popular choice of transfer for many of the visitors and offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As a general rule, you can get a seaplane to most resorts located between the outer edge of Malé Atoll all the way North to Lhaviyani Atoll and all the way South to Thaa Atoll. Seaplane journeys can vary in length, taking anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on the distance.

Seaplanes operate during the daylight hours only. So, if you wish to experience a seaplane journey make sure your arrival flight is before 3.30 pm and your departure flight is after 9.00 am.

In this guide, we will be discussing the benefits as well as considerations you should have when deciding whether to travel by seaplane around the Maldives.

Travelling by Seaplane in the Maldives: Key Points

  • Seaplanes are offered in most resorts beyond Malé Atoll
  • Seaplanes operate during daylight hours only
  • For international flights, the arrival time should be before 3:30 pm, and the departure time should be after 9:00 am
  • Seaplane luggage allowance is 20 kilos for check-in luggage and 5 kilos for carry-on
  • Separate seats must be booked for all children over 2 years of age

Where can you go by Seaplane in the Maldives?

You can go to resort islands that are located between Malé Atoll and Lhaviyani Atoll in the North and between Malé Atoll and Thaa Atoll in the South via a seaplane. It is not common to get a seaplane transfer to an inhabited island or a guest house.

Seaplanes are not available at all the resorts but are offered at most, please check if your resorts offer it on our designated resort page.

How to arrange a Seaplane Transfer from Velana International Airport to a Resort

If seaplanes are a transfer option offered by the resort you are travelling to, you can book it with your travel provider or with the hotel directly. You cannot book seaplanes directly with the seaplane operators.

Seaplanes need to be booked at the time of booking. International flight details must be provided at least 48 hours before arrival and departure as seaplanes are arranged around the international flights. The seaplane times are confirmed 24 hours prior, resorts will always try to offer a transfer closest to your international flight.

It is essential to check with your holiday provider to see if your resort transfers are included as part of your holiday booking. If they are not, most likely you will have to pay for the transfers separately when you reach the resort.

When you book at your resort transfers will always be included in the package.

Chartering a Private Seaplane Transfer

You can charter a seaplane to most resorts in the Maldives. Even resorts that usually do not offer seaplane transfers. Some resorts have their own branded seaplane that can be chartered as well.

Charters are often used for larger groups or luxury experiences like whale watching from the sky.

What Times do Seaplanes Operate?

Seaplanes operate only during daylight hours. To travel by seaplane, ensure your international flight arrives before 3.30 pm and departs after 9.00 am.

What Happens on Arrival?

Passengers outside the seaplane in the Maldives

On arrival, you will be met by our team or the resort team who will escort you to your seaplane check-in. Once checked in, you will take a short 5-minute transfer to the seaplane terminal which is located on the other side of the airport. Most resorts will have their own lounges for you to relax ahead of your seaplane. The usual waiting period is between 1-2 hours.

Weight Limit on Luggage For Seaplanes

Each passenger can take 20kg of checked-in luggage and 5kg hand luggage (Does not count infants under 2 years of age). If you go over the luggage limit, there is an extra charge from $5+ per kilo.

Do seaplanes go Directly to the Resort?

Seaplane docked at a resort's jetty in the Maldives

Most seaplanes travel directly from Velana International Airport to the resort. However, sometimes the seaplanes would stop at more than one resort and this depends on the number of passengers travelling on the day to the resorts. These stops usually take 15 minutes. This is done for efficiency and sustainability reasons.

Are Seaplane Transfers Accessible for Wheelchair Users?

It depends on the level of mobility of the wheelchair user and moderate mobility is required. There are steps leading up to the seaplane and the seaplanes are very small, so they cannot facilitate an inflight wheelchair.

Further to this we only advise seaplane transfers to hotels that have seaplane docks attached to them. Some hotels have floating pontoon docks in the middle of the lagoon for seaplane landing and take-off, which requires an additional boat ride to reach the island.

Are Seaplane Transfers Suitable for Children?

Yes it is, it is very safe for children. Children under 2 years old will need to travel on the lap of the parent. It is a very good experience for children of all ages. However, if your child is sensitive to noise, we recommend noise-cancelling headphones for a more comfortable journey.

Why should you travel by seaplane in the Maldives?

  • It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Seaplane experiences is a unique and not one you can have in many destinations
  • It is the quickest way to directly travel to a lot of the resorts in the Maldives
  • It is planned around international flights to reduce transit times.

Why and when should you travel by a private seaplane charter?

  • You want a VIP experience with your friends, family, and loved ones
  • You are travelling with a big group of over 10 pax
  • You want a guaranteed direct transfer to the resort
  • You want to travel to another atoll for a luxury experience

Special Considerations for Seaplane Transfers

aerial view of a seaplane in the Maldives with overwater villas behind

Bad weather can cause travel disruptions as the safety of the guests and the crew are of utmost importance. Bad weather conditions may cause delays or cancellations, should this be the case your travel provider will try their best to get you booked on a domestic flight if it's available or on the earliest available seaplane.

If you need to spend your night in Malé, your travel provider can assist in booking one of the many hotels in Malé or Hulhumalé.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I book a seaplane transfer? Seaplane transfers are usually booked through your resort or travel provider at the time of booking your accommodation. Ensure you provide your international flight details to coordinate the transfer.

What are the luggage restrictions? Passengers are allowed 20kg of checked-in luggage and 5kg of hand luggage. Excess baggage incurs additional charges, typically starting from $5 per kilo.

Are seaplane transfers safe for children? Yes, seaplane transfers are safe for children. Infants travel on a parent's lap, and older children have their own seats. Noise-canceling headphones are recommended for noise-sensitive children.

Can I charter a private seaplane? Yes, private seaplane charters are available for those seeking an exclusive experience. They are ideal for large groups or special occasions and offer flexibility and privacy.

What happens if there is bad weather? In case of bad weather, seaplane flights may be delayed or canceled. Your travel provider will arrange alternative transportation, such as a domestic flight or an overnight stay in Malé.

Are seaplane transfers available for wheelchair users? Moderate mobility is required for seaplane transfers. The small size of the aircraft and boarding steps can be challenging for wheelchair users. Consult with your travel provider to assess suitability.

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