Maldives consists of 1190 islands, more or less. It is therefore not surprising that the boat is the primary means of transport. In the old days did they use sailboat, and it could take a week to sail from Male to Gan, the southernmost island in Maldives. Today does the journey take just over one hour with an airplane.
The traditional Maldivian boat is called Dhoni. An interesting feature with it is that it is steered by foot. The tiller can be lifted up when the Dhoni is not in use, thus preventing others from stealing it. Modern Dhonies have conventional rudders, and the helmsman’s position is moved forward for better forward vision. Dhonies are extensively used for public transport, for example between Male and the airport. It is cheap to rent a Dhoni for a daytrip or to travel beween islands. But it is slow and has wooden benches, so it is not comfortable for long journeys.
Cargo vessels are used for transportation of all kinds of goods between the islands.
Speedboats are faster than the Dhonies and are used by most resorts and as express service between Male and the major islands nearby. You save time, but youhave to pay more than for travelling with a Dhoni.
Upscale resorts are using yachts to transport their guests. You can also rent a yacht for your vacation in Maldives and sail from island to island. Depending on their size can they accommodate up to 30 guests. Many yacht operators offer dive tours.
Most tourists associate Maldives with seaplanes. There are two companies operating Twin Otter seaplanes from Hulhule, the island housing Male’s international airport: "Trans Maldivian Airways" (TMA) and "Maldivian". Seaplanes are more expensive than speedboats, but save you from a long boat ride and provide excellent views of the beautiful coral islands. On the backside are Twin Otters noisy (you get earplugs), not very spacious and without air condition.
Maldives has 10 airports, and more are under construction. Maldives has two domestic airline companies: "Maldivian" and "FlyMe". Most airports have 1200 meters long runways, only suitable for turboprop airplanes. "Maldivian" operates Dash-8 Q200 and Q300 with 37 and 50 seats respectively. "FlyMe" operates ATR 72 with 68 seats. The ATR is my workplace and the reason why I am in Maldives. These airplanes may not be as glamorous as the seaplanes, but they provide cheaper transportation with more comfort as they have pressurized cabin with air condition. They can also fly at night and in weather conditions leaving the seaplanes on the ground … sorry… on the sea. "FlyMe" also have a Cessna Caravan painted as a whale shark. It is based in Maamigili and used for sightseening flights.
Male' is the capital of Maldives. It is a small island with more than 100,000 residents. For obvious reasons is this not the best place to explore unspoiled coral reefs. But you don't have to go far!
The easiest solution is to ask for a snorkelling trip at your hotel. They will arrange the rest for you. You will be picked up by a boat and taken to some of the reefs nearby. The trip may be for snorling only, or it is a combined snorkelling and diving trip. It will cost you around 60 dollars, including hire of equipment. Here are some nice places to visit:
1) "Banana Reef" is known to be the place they started diving in Maldives. It is also known to be one of the finest reefs in the area.
2) "Bandos House Reef" is also a popular place because of the rich variety of fishes.
3) "Fish Tank", where you are guaranteed to see stingrays. And if you like skindiving will you also se many morays.
If you are staying in Hulhule Airport Hotel or in one of the many hotels in Hulhumale, you have the same opportunity to join a snorkelling (or diving) trip. Just ask your hotel. Hulhumale has a long beach, but the visibility in the water is not the best because the waves stir up a lot of sand, especially at high tide.
If you want to go snorkelling from a beach, I recommend Villingili. Villingili is only 10 minutes with ferry from Male' and is best bescribed a backpackers paradise. In contrast to the busy streets of Male' is Villingili quiet and laid back. You will find two dive centres and a water sports center there. The west beach is the home of the water sports center and is well suited for snorkelling. I prefer early morning or late afternoon at low tide.
Finally, if you want to stay dry under water, you can have a sightseeing trip in the Whale Submarine! Again, ask your hotel for details.