Discover the best things to do in the Maldives. A handy guide to a tropical paradise unlike any other, where over-the-water bungalows, pale turquoise seas, and white sandy beaches are standard. 

I know, I know. I’ve really sold the Maldives to you, haven’t I?

If you’re planning your trip to the Maldives, you’ll likely be trying to create a killer itinerary. So I thought I would make it a little (alright, a whole lot) easier for you by writing about my favourite things to do. 

And trust me, narrowing it down was tricky – there are plenty of Maldives activities for you to make the most of your holiday. 

From taking to the skies to exploring the reefs or simply soaking in the local culture, you’ll be able to find some inspiration in this article for the best things to do in the Maldives. 

Looking for somewhere to stay in the Maldives? I stayed at Curio by Hilton SAii Lagoon on a recent trip and was blown away (but more on that later). 

Top 5 Things to Do in the Maldives

Go Scuba Diving


If you didn’t know that the Maldives is one of the premier locations for diving worldwide, now you do. And you can’t pass up this opportunity. 

Don’t panic if you’re a total newbie – there are plenty of PADI dive centres that will accommodate first-timers on the island.

Once you dip below the beautiful blue waves, you’ll see a shimmering world come to life before your eyes with pristine visibility, perfect for spotting marine life. Look out for stingrays, whitetip reef sharks, sea turtles, and whale shark migrations as you float through the briny blue and enjoy the colours and wonder of the reefs. 

Maaya Thila is one of the most popular dive sites thanks to its abundant sea life (hello, reef sharks), while Nassimo Thila has incredible rock formations and caves covered with soft yellow and blue corals. 

For the extra adventurous, head to the Victory Wreck or Kuda Giri Wreck for some shipwrecks that became the home of new coral reefs. I could go on and on, but seriously, make sure you do one of the top things to do in the Maldives: DIVE. 

Take a Dolphin Watching Cruise


Who doesn’t love dolphins? And taking a cruise to watch them up close is a soul-refreshing adventure. You’ll see Spinner dolphins mainly, but there’s the chance of seeing Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphins inside the atolls, too. 

The Maldives is one of the top five locations in the world for dolphin watching because they’re almost guaranteed year-round, plus they’re exceptionally playful here. 

If you visit in the dry season from January to April, you have the best chance of encountering them because, guess what — dolphins love nice weather, too. 

If cruises aren’t your thing, why not stay at one of the two resorts on Medhufushi Island and hang around the Muli Channel? It’s one of the best places to spot dolphins in the Maldives, on or off a boat. 

Top Tip: Plan your safari between 9 am and 10:30 am or 3 pm and 5:30 pm for the most dolphin action. 

Wander Through the Streets of Malé 

Malé, Maldives

Although the capital of the Maldives, Malé isn’t what you’d call a tourist destination. 

While visitors to the island spend their time away on the beach, the city’s beating heart slips past their notice. But not you, being the seasoned traveller you are. 

Malé offers a truly local experience with an energy completely different from the tranquil pace of life in the relaxing atolls. It’s a densely populated island city with more than 250,000 people living within 3.2 square miles of colourful buildings and historical places. 

The Fish Market is a thriving sector as the catch of the day rolls in, and the Old Friday Mosque is captivating with its beautifully carved coral stone. It offers local Maldivian life at its best, with restaurants, shops, lively markets, and authentic cuisine at its finest. 

All in all, it’s one of the best places to visit in the Maldives.

Top Tip: The best times to visit the Malé Fish Market are in the afternoon and early evening when most fishermen return with their catches.

Hop From Island to Island

Maafushi island, Maldives

The Maldives has a whopping 1,190 coral islands grouped in 27 circular atolls, with about 187 of them inhabited. The rest are beautiful blank slates of nature just waiting for your feet to leave their mark along the untouched beaches. 

You’ll find the real Maldives, where the local flavour is truest when heading away from the touristy resorts to inhabited islands like Maafushi, Huraa, and Hithadoo. The beaches are dreamy, the local cafés are adorable, and the people are downright friendly.

Now’s the time to try out some authentic Maldivian cuisine, mainly centred around tuna (you won’t find any other kind of steak here, my friend). 

But the locals are inventive with their limited options: spicy fish cakes, tuna and egg-filled pastries, and fried fish dumplings are just some of the yummy dishes you can expect to find.  

Pay a Visit to the National Museum

In the city of Malé is the National Museum, once part of the Sultan’s palace. The museum has an extensive collection of artefacts belonging to the sultans. These include paper and cloth manuscripts, clothes worn by queens and kings, photographs, and armour. 

The lower level is where you’ll find medieval period pieces, including Thaana- and Arabic-engraved wood from 1153. The upper level is home to more modern objects like the famous Maldivian lacquer boxes and some mildly antique technology. 

There’s even a marine section, including a six-metre skeleton of the extremely rare Longman’s Beaked Whale. The museum has to be one of the most exciting places in the Maldives you’ll see. 

Brilliant Things to See & Do in the Maldives 

Hotels in the Maldives

Indulge in a Spa Break

One of the best things to do in the Maldives, whether you’re there with a partner or not, is partaking in some justifiably indulgent spa treatments. 

Island life isn’t all about suntans and sandy feet; getting some seaweed wraps and revitalising massages are top choices for weary bodies in vacay mode. 

This is the Maldives, so why not have a one-of-a-kind spa experience at Huvafen Fushi Underwater Spa and Resort? This five-star hotel is on Nakatchafushi Island to the northwest of Malé, where crystal beaches and lush vegetation are aplenty. 

The underwater spa offers gorgeous views of coral reefs and colourful fish lazily swimming past the windows in the treatment rooms. Bathing in the blue glow of the ocean while you get all the tension rubbed out of your back is pure heaven. 

There’s also a yoga pavilion, gym, and swimming pool above ground to enjoy – that is, if you aren’t taking advantage of the resort’s many water activities.  

Go Snorkelling

Maldives snorkeling

If diving is off the books, take a snorkelling excursion instead. The reefs are incredible, and the water often isn’t too deep, so there is no need to dive to extreme lengths to see some amazing marine life. 

You can float about with sea turtles, slow-dance with stingrays, and hover near whale sharks. And that’s not even counting the myriads of tropical fish in kaleidoscopic colours that zip past in vibrant schools. 

Many resorts and hotels can help you quickly organise a snorkelling trip. Simply pick one that will take you to the type of marine life and reef you’d love to see. 

Dare to Go Parasailing

If you’re feeling brave, seeing the islands from the sky is an unmissable experience. The place is pancake-flat, with the highest mountain five metres above sea level on Vilingili. So going on a parasailing adventure is one of the coolest things to do in the Maldives.

All you have to do is hang on tight to your camera as you get hoisted into the air by the pull of the speedboat below you. Then get ready to snap away at the peaceful atolls below you and the myriad shades of blue that the ocean shows off. 

The thrill of the wind rushing through your hair as your feet dangle high over the sea is intoxicating. If you can’t figure out what to do in Maldives, pick this. Trust me. 

Unique Things to See & Do in the Maldives: Hidden Gems That are Off the Beaten Track

Spend an Evening Stargazing on a Remote Island


Far from the bright city lights, the remote islands of the Maldives are perfect for stargazing. This activity is undoubtedly one of the most romantic things to do in the Maldives. 

Thanks to its equatorial location, you get the best of the northern and southern skies and their constellations. 

The best time of year for staring at far-off galaxies and nebulae is the dry season from November to April, when the skies are usually clear. A night with a new moon makes for a darker sky, so it’s your best chance at observing the Milky Way in all its glory. 

I recommend avoiding Malé or more populated islands where light pollution will increase. Instead, pick a remote island like Angaga or Medhufushi in the Meemu Atoll. 

Fun Fact: The stars, moon, and sun all rise and set perpendicularly to the horizon in the Maldives, so the moon’s crescent will always appear as a thin smile (or a frown) in the sky. 

Pay Your Respects at the Tsunami Monument

Tsunami Monument Maldives

If you’re in Malé’s southeastern section in Boduthakurufaanu Magu, take a moment to pay your respects at the Tsunami Monument. It’s dedicated to those who lost their lives as a result of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis back in 2004 that affected many countries, including the Maldives. 

It’s a moving structure, with central rods and hoops reaching skyward and a loop with 20 spheres rising gracefully in a spiral around them. The shiny steel spheres represent the Maldives, while the rising design symbolises the tsunami’s climbing waves. 

The vertical rods at the centre pay homage to the lives of the 74 Maldivians lost to the disaster, with each of their names inscribed. The entire monument is a beacon of hope after tragedy.

After you’ve offered your respects and taken in the poignancy of the sculpture, you can stop for a surf at some of the best surfing spots in Malé at the nearby beaches. Or simply grab something delicious from local vendors near the monument.

Swim with Whale Sharks

I’ve teased this already I know, but you can see whale sharks all year in the warm waters of the Maldives. They typically measure about eight metres, and the best spot to find them is the Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area in the South Ari Atoll.

November and December are the top months for whale shark sightings, thanks to high visibility and calm seas. But May is also up there as one of the prime sighting times, even though it’s during the wet season. 

If you’re going to the Maldives in May and want to satisfy your whale shark craving, head to Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll instead. The monsoon season ensures a massive build-up of plankton in the narrow section of the bay, where whale sharks and manta rays gather for an all-you-can-eat buffet. 

It’s now a protected area, so no diving is allowed, but you can snorkel (with some limitations on numbers and time spent in the water). 

Explore Isdhoo Island

Isdhoo is part of the Haddhunmathi Atoll and one of the more culturally significant and historical places to visit in the Maldives. The island is far to the south of Malé in the southern part of the Maldives, but tourists will find a wealth of Buddhist history from the island’s pre-Islamic period. 

A 300-year-old mosque complete with a well and cemetery dating back to the Maldivian Buddhist era will be yours to explore. 

Don’t miss seeing some of the oldest Lōmāfānu from as far back as 1194 A.D. inside the ruins. Imagine long copper plates with ancient royal edicts etched onto them in Evēla Dhivehi script, bound by metal rings into a book. 

They’re a superbly important part of the Maldives’ history, so seeing them in person is a treat for the history buff and culture-craving tourist alike.  

Things to Do in the Maldives: Practical Tips for Your Trip

How Long to Visit the Maldives? 


If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, you can see most of the major attractions in the Maldives in five days. But seven to ten days are ideal, particularly if you want extra time diving.

Best Time to Visit the Maldives?


November until March is generally my favourite time to visit the Maldives as the monsoon season is over. But it’s peak season from December onwards, so there may be crowds. 

March until April brings hot, dry weather and quieter resorts – but avoid Easter weekend, as prices tend to soar over this period. 

May to November is Monsoon season with higher rainfall, but the sea is still warm. There are also fewer tourists, so if your primary purpose is scuba diving, you might prefer this time of year.

Where Should I Stay in the Maldives? 

Saii Lagoon Maldives Curio Collection by Hilton (Luxury)

My favourite place to stay in the Maldives is Saii Lagoon – it offers pared-back luxury in abundance. There are plenty of stellar amenities and restaurants, while the rooms are simple, sleek, and stylish. 

Better yet, the resort is only a speedboat ride from Malé.

Check Rates and Availability

Sun Island Resort & Spa (Mid-Range) 

The Sun Island Resort is a five-star destination with fun, contemporary decor and rooms that boast balconies, sea views, and – much needed – air-conditioning. The spa is a hit, as is the gorgeous private beach area. 

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Radisson Blu Resort Maldives  (Luxury) 

With your option of a beach cottage or water bungalow, the modern, clean decor and the tranquil beaches surrounding the Radisson Blu Resort will woo you with their cosy charms. 

There’s a fitness centre, tennis court, spa, and bar and restaurant toting incredible food. 

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Recommended Tours in the Maldives

Things to Do in the Maldives: Map

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