Maldives Seaplane vs. Speedboat: Which is better?

by | Last updated Mar 15, 2024 | Maldives

International flights booked ✔️. Resort booked ✔️. There is one more important detail you need to consider. Your international flight will plop you down into Male, the capital of the Maldives. But Male is not your final destination. There are over 1,000 little islands around Male and close to 200 operating resorts, each on its own island. How do you get from Male to your little sliver of paradise? Now you must choose … Maldives seaplane or speedboat? Here are the top 5 factors to consider when making this important decision.

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01- International Arrival and Departure Time

Maldives seaplanes can ONLY fly during daylight hours. If your international flight is arriving in Male late in the day, your only option may be the speedboat if you are trying to make it to your resort that evening.

Or you can spend the night in Male and take the Maldives seaplane first thing in the morning.

Flying from Hong Kong to Male in Maldives

First stop: Male, capital of the Maldives

Your international departure time will also play a role in deciding your return transfer. On our last day, our international flight was leaving at 11 pm from Male. If we chose the seaplane, we would have to leave our resort at 4 pm.

Sitting for hours in the airport was not appealing to us. Instead, we choose the speedboat option which bought us 2 extra hours. We were able to leave our resort at 6 pm instead.

02- Cost

In our case, booking the Maldives seaplane was more expensive. On our first visit to the Maldives, we stayed at the Reethi Faru Resort, which was incredible by the way (full review here)! 

If you are still trying to figure out which Maldives resort to pick and SNORKELING is a priority, do not miss my top 6 Maldives resorts with the best house reefs (videos included!).

The cost of the Maldives seaplane and speedboat will depend on the distance it takes to get there and the quality of the resort.

At Reethi Faru Resort, the cost of the speedboat (which also involved a short domestic flight) was $168 per person. The Maldives seaplane was $275 per person.

Rates will continue to increase. On our recent trip to Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa, the cost of a return seaplane transfer was $420 per person.

03- Distance of the Maldives Resort from Male

Your Maldives resort may only offer one option for transfer depending on its location.

If your resort is quite far from Male, your only transfer choice may be the seaplane. In contrast, if the resort is quite close to Male, the hotel may only offer a speedboat.

Trans-Maldivian Airways is one of the major airlines. Here is a list of all the resorts they fly to.

Resorts Trans-Maldivian Airways Flies to

Resorts Trans-Maldivian Airways flies to

04- Time to Destination

Many factors play a role in determining which is faster, the Maldives seaplane or speedboat.

We tried out both methods of transportation.

The seaplane took about 45 minutes to get to Reethi Faru Resort.

The speedboat (40 minutes) + domestic flight from Dharavandhoo to Male (20 minutes) took a grand total of 60 minutes. Clearly, the seaplane was faster to get to Reethi Faru but not by much.

05- Seaplane vs. Speedboat Experiences



We decided to experience both transfers. We landed in Male late in the evening, spent the night, and took the first seaplane out the next morning.

You will not book your seaplane directly. All the reservations are completed by your resort.

I love organizing ahead of time and having a set schedule.

One important thing to know is seaplanes do not operate on a set schedule. The arrival and departure times are figured out on a daily basis based on where they need to fly and the total number of passengers. We were informed of our departure time AFTER we landed in Male.

While some hotels may have their own seaplane, you will likely be flying with Trans-Maldivian Airways or Maldivian Air. The hotel arranged our transfer with Trans-Maldivian Airways. 

Our seaplane also carried guests from other hotels. If your seaplane is making multiple stops, this is a fun way to check out neighboring resorts.

Arriving at Reethi Faru Resort via Seaplane

Deboarding a Trans-Maldivian Airways seaplane

What’s it like flying in a 2 x 1 configuration with 15 passengers max?

It’s a little cramped, warm (no AC but a few fans operate near the front), noisy (propellor operated) … but incredibly exhilarating!

2 x 1 configuration of Maldives seaplane

2 x 1 configuration of Maldives seaplane

PRO TIP: Sit in the first row behind the pilot if you can. Way better view and you’ll be closer to the small fans in the corners. No assigned seating. Even our pilot was in the island mentality and operated the flight barefoot.

Pilot flying barefoot on Maldives seaplane

Pilot flying barefoot on Maldives seaplane

The aerial views are incredible!

The descent can be a little nerve-wracking because the plane has to dive down to make the landing in the water. If you are traveling to the Maldives (especially for the first time!), DO NOT MISS flying in a seaplane.

Flying over islands in Maldives in a seaplane

Flying over islands in Maldives in a seaplane



Because our departing international flight was not until 11 pm, we opted to take the speedboat + domestic flight for the return transfer to gain a few extra hours at the resort.

We left Reethi Faru at 6 pm. If we chose the seaplane, we would have needed to leave at 4 pm.

Our speedboat experience was not great. One big reason was the water was pretty choppy that day, so our ride over to the domestic airport was very bumpy. Not a great choice especially if you are prone to getting seasick.

Maldives speedboat transfer to Dharavandhoo Airport

Maldives speedboat transfer to Dharavandhoo Airport

After getting off the boat, we then waited around a little bit before boarding our domestic flight at Dharavandhoo over to Male.

This 2-step process was not ideal. No epic views. No excitement.

Dharavandhoo in the Maldives

Dharavandhoo in the Maldives

I am glad I was able to experience both transfer methods.

In hindsight, even if it meant a few more hours at the airport, I would have picked the Maldives seaplane both ways.

Final Thoughts

The Maldives is everything and more than what the brochures show you. Powdery soft white sand. Turquoise waters. Snorkeling like you are in an aquarium. And the chance of swimming with a whale shark!

What most do not realize when you book that dream resort is you must then decide what transfer you are going to use to arrive in paradise. There are pros and cons to the Maldives seaplane vs. speedboat question. Hopefully, this article helped you decide which is best for you.

In my opinion, the seaplane is a quintessential part of the Maldivian experience.

Watching a seaplane takeoff at Reethi Faru Resort in the Maldives

Watching a seaplane takeoff at Reethi Faru Resort in the Maldives

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Have you done both types of transfers? Which did you prefer: seaplane or speedboat?

Let me know in the comments below!

  1. Moez ben cheikh ahmed

    Good morning
    Please send me your best offer price for transfer from Dharavandhoo to Kihaa Resorts with return for 4 adults
    Dep 31july
    Return 15 August.

    • Nichole

      Prices are set by the resorts. You would need to contact your resort directly for a quote. Enjoy your trip and safe travels.


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