One of the many experiences in the Maldives that is ranked high up on the list of must-have, the sea plane transfer services are generally on offer for resorts that are located relatively further away from the international airport. Hence, most of the resorts located in Kaafu Atoll (or as locals refer to as Male’ Atoll) do not require a seaplane as they are accessible via speed boat within a matter of minutes.
Maldives is a nation where everything is on its own separate island. Ibrahim Nasir International Airport is on its own separate island, each and every resort is on its own separate little island, there is a separate island for recycling, an island for dumping garbage, numerous islands for picnics and the list goes on.
The 1200 odd Maldives’ Islands span over 90,000 km2 over the Indian Ocean making the total area covered larger than Sri Lanka, Czech Republic or Austria (to name a few). Due to the dispersed nature of the islands, traveling long distances by boat can be a daunting task.
Maldives is home to the largest seaplane operation in the world. With over 150,000 flights within the Maldives every year, Seaplanes have become the number one preferred mode of transportation from island to island in the Maldives.
The first seaplanes took flight in the Maldives back in a time of helicopter tours in the Maldives during the early 90’s. Seaplanes were first introduced as means of transferring guests seeking to holiday in resorts located outside of Kaafu Atoll (Male’ Atoll). Since then the seaplanes have become the preferred mode of transport for guests and locals alike traveling longer distances.
Due to government regulations, the seaplanes are in operation only during daylight times. Seaplanes take off as early as 0500 early morning and is required to be grounded latest by 1630 hours. This limits the availability of seaplanes for guests arriving to the Maldives later than 1530 hours. Guests arriving later than 1530 to the Maldives who have booked resorts which require a seaplane transfer will need to stay overnight at an airport or nearby city hotel in order to catch a seaplane the next morning.
Currently two major companies offer seaplane transfers to remote locations with an additional seaplane operator offering photo flights around the Maldives:
Currently there are two major seaplane companies offering their services:
- Trans Maldivian Airways
Trans Maldivian Airways has been in operation since 1993 and undertakes the largest seaplane operation in the world. With over 40 de Havilland Twin Otter flights flying to over 60 destinations within the Maldives the seaplanes transfer over 960,000 passengers a year.
Maldivian seaplanes are comparatively new and currently operates to 4 atolls of the Maldives. Maldivian is the country’s national airline operator flying to over 20 destinations (domestic and international).
Flies from anywhere between 3500 – 4000 feet above, the seaplane offer a smooth journey in clear weather. The seaplanes take-off and land on water either near a buoyant platform or directly to the shoreline. A total of 20 seat of which 16 are available for passengers offer sufficient space for short, low flying trips over the Maldives.