A woman lounges on a boat during a boat trip in Maldives

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A sea journey in the Maldives is inevitable. When flying in a seaplane to a resort, you still need to take a boat to the main island from the pontoon. Boat transfers in the Maldives range from slow and cheap local ferries to faster and costlier speedboats.

When we speak specifically about leisurely boat outings, the number of options increases dramatically. Sailing in the open waters, the fresh sea breeze hitting your face, beautiful aquatic life all around, a boat trip offers a chance to relax and admire the natural splendor of the archipelago.  

The Maldives is a land of choices. Whether it is in the types of accommodations, modes of transportation, or watersports, there’s always plenty on offer. The same holds for boat excursions that tourists can take while vacationing in this tropical nirvana.

From romantic cruises and daring escapades to family-friendly sailing trips, the Maldives offers different types of boat tours to suit all ages and moods.  

Dhoni sunset cruise

Mixing local tradition with raw beauty, photo opportunities, and the charm of the ocean is a dhoni sunset cruise. A must-do attraction in the Maldives, the very idea of being in the middle of nowhere as the sun disappears into the water is uber-romantic. Sailing on a traditional Maldivian boat, dhoni, the sunset cruise is the quintessential boat excursion for couples as well as families.

Tourists can easily book a dhoni sunset cruise through their resort or guesthouse on a public island. Boats set sail around 6:00 PM, with the trip lasting roughly two hours. A drink and some snacks are usually a part of this package.    

A dhoni sails out for a sunset cruise

A dhoni sails out in the Indian Ocean for a sunset cruise.

Snorkeling tour

Budget travelers in the Maldives who do not want to spend too much on tours can snorkel for free around their island’s house reef. Teeming with vibrant marine life, these reefs allow tourists to observe various fish, blacktip sharks, turtles, and in some places, even manta rays.

However, if you do not wish you take a chance, book a snorkeling tour in Maldives. Led by expert local guides, these boat excursions visit two to four snorkeling destinations known for having abundant aquatic life.

Another advantage of booking a snorkeling tour in Maldives is safety, as you have people around at all times. Additionally, you have access to equipment, a guide, and the trip usually includes lunch or snacks. A three-location snorkeling tour in Maldives costs just under $100.

Dolphin watching tour

A dolphin watching boat tour is among the most popular excursions in the Maldives. An attraction that the entire family can relish, it is not restricted to swimmers. The trip consists of sailing to locations where dolphins usually visit. However, go prepared because dolphin spotting is not guaranteed.

Not to disappoint visitors, operators usually add a stop at a sandbank in this kind of boat ride. Moreover, many resorts offer a complimentary dolphin-watching tour as part of their stay package. If booking separately, a one-hour dolphin tour in the Maldives, without any extras, will cost you around $30.

Preparing for a barbeque after a successful fishing trip in the Maldives

Preparing for a barbeque after a successful fishing trip in the Maldives.


In a nutshell, fishing excursions in the Maldives fall under two categories. For professionals, resorts and guesthouses can book a big-game fishing expedition into the open waters of the Indian Ocean.

A more leisurely possibility is night fishing, usually done near the island. Since it only involves dropping a hand line with bait into the water, even beginners can easily enjoy it. Night fishing costs $50. Many boat tour operators have a barbeque upon returning where they cook the fish you’ve caught.

Specialized diving trips

There’s no doubt the Maldives has direct access to amazingly vivid marine life. From whale sharks and manta rays to hammerheads, a variety of colorful fish, dolphins, and the olive ridley sea turtle, you’ll come across many fascinating creatures during your stay in the archipelago.

Consequently, the Maldives is among the top diving destinations in the world. However, diving excursions here are as varied as the country’s many islands.

Besides the usual diving boat trips one can take, plenty of exclusive marine attractions await enthusiastic travelers in the Maldives. Wreck diving, for one, is a popular choice, as is diving with hammerhead sharks. While limited to experienced divers, blackwater diving is an out-of-this-world experience presently offered only at a few places around the country.

Furthermore, the Maldives is an excellent location to take a beginner’s PADI course. Or else, add a few more dives to completing your certification if you have already started. A single scuba dive in the Maldives costs around $70 and includes transfers, tanks, and weights.


Diving tours are available on both private and inhabited islands. However, booking through a public island operator is cheaper than booking a diving trip through a resort.

Island hopping during a liveaboard trip in Maldives

Island hopping during a liveaboard trip in the Maldives.

Full-day island-hopping tour

A full-day island-hopping boat tour is an essential excursion when staying in a Maldives resort. It gives you time away from the island and provides the perfect opportunity to observe local Maldivian life.

Island-hopping tours consist of snorkeling stops as well as visits to one or two public islands. You can make the most of this excursion by shopping for souvenirs and handicrafts directly from artisans.

A boat tour to Maafushi and Gulhi, costing $130, includes transfers, visiting the dhoni building yard, learning the basics of drying Maldivian fish, lunch, and an English-speaking guide

If your resort is near Malé, instead of booking a scheduled day tour, simply take a speedboat to the capital city and explore its many streets on your own. 

Surf boat tour

The popularity of surfing in the Maldives is growing at an exponential rate. More surfers than ever are heading to the islands, hoping to conquer its many breaks and swells.

Not surprisingly, there is an increase in surf charter boats as well. Similar to liveaboards, you can now book an entire vessel with a crew and sail the waters hitting all the major surfing spots in a particular region. These surfing safari boats are well-maintained and offer many facilities and features.

Interestingly, there are also fixed-date charters during surfing season in the Maldives. It is possible to join these tours as an individual traveler. Rates for surfing charters start at $90 per night.

Alternatively, you can book a surfing day trip if staying near an area known for its surf breaks. Your resort or guesthouse can arrange a surf trip at the cheapest rate possible.

A young tourist watches blacktip sharks from the comfort and safety of a boat

A young tourist watches sharks play around from the comfort and safety of a boat.

Swimming with sharks or manta rays

Not confident about diving, or experienced enough in it? Still, want a thrilling adventure with Maldives’ marine life? No worries! Simply book a swimming with whale sharks boat tour.

Trips to swim with whale sharks or manta rays, for that matter, typically leave around 8:30 in the morning and last for four to five hours. The per adult cost for this boat trip is about $80. Children above 12, when accompanied by an adult, can also join these tours.

For swimming with whale sharks, the South Ari Atoll is your best bet. On the other hand, manta ray sightings are almost a guarantee at Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll.

Catamaran sailing trip

When the waters are calm, and they usually are around the islands, don’t think twice and book a catamaran tour. The origins of the catamaran go back to 17th-century Tamil Nadu, India. Used by local fishermen at that time, these boats are more of a leisure vessel nowadays.

Morning, afternoon, or evening, a sailing trip is a perfect way to unwind, sunbathe, drink, and take in the freshness of the ocean. Almost every Maldives resort can arrange for a catamaran trip. Some of the watersport providers on public islands might also have access to these boats.

The tours have different schedules based on the type of boat and price. The larger trimaran vessels typically sail on a fixed schedule and have a professional crew on board. Trips last from two to eight hours and may include drinks and a stop at a sandbank. You can also take a one-hour catamaran ride without any extras for $50.

A few private retreats have smaller two to four-person sailing catamarans. The boats come with a skipper. Individuals or couples wanting an uplifting break from the island will particularly enjoy this short sailing adventure

7-day safari boat trip

If you are a true-blue ocean lover, nothing is better than spending a week-long holiday on a liveaboard. Maldivian safari boats sail all around the archipelago. They are an excellent opening for adventurous tourists to discover the best diving and snorkeling spots in the area.

Available in a range of budgets, travelers can opt for a simple diving dhoni or a more luxurious yacht with sundecks and state-of-the-art cabins. Moreover, it’s always good to check the route, activities on offer, and general vibe of the boat, before booking a liveaboard.      

A 7-day safari boat trip in Maldives starts from as low as $1000 per adult. The price typically includes meals and a limited number of dives per day. Some yachts dock near inhabited islands and make arrangements for their guests to stay at local guesthouses.

N.B.: All information is correct as of the post publication date, and prices are subjected to change.