The Maldives: a little bit of heaven on earth. Everyone that visits falls in love with this amazing country. Famous for incredible blue seas, white sand beaches, coral reefs that are a diving and snorkelling dream – and also their seaplane transfers.
Located close to the equator in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives consists of 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls. International flights arrive into Male – this is the main gateway to paradise for tourists. But with the islands spanning close to 90,000 square kilometres, there are various transport options to get you – and your luggage – from your international flight to your chosen resort. This includes transfers by boat, domestic transfer, and seaplane.
PackThePJs recently visited the idyllic Kandima resort, in Dhaalu Atoll. This is 170 km from Male and there are two transfer options:
- Option 1 is a domestic transfer, which consists of a 30 minutes flight to an island near Kandima, followed by a 20 minutes speedboat transfer.
- Option 2 is for a seaplane transfer from Male straight to the resort, which takes around 30 minutes. The seaplane option is a ‘premium’ option, at extra cost.
We were really fortunate in that we travelled to the resort by seaplane and then back to Male at the end of our visit by domestic transfer.
So let me tell you about each one in turn.
Seaplane transfer (Male to Kandima resort)
After an extended stopover in Abu Dhabi (we missed our connecting flight), we landed in Male early in the morning. We were met in arrivals by a Kandima buddy who escorted us to the Maldivian Airways seaplane check-in where our bags were tagged. We then hopped into an awaiting mini bus for the short 5 minutes drive to the seaplane terminal.
From here we could watch the seaplanes land and take off 🙂
The terminal building was comfortable, quiet, cool and relaxed. When it was time for our flight we were led to the plane, where we could pick our seats. The seaplane – a DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplane – holds 15 passengers in a 1 : 2 seat configuration. Once comfortable with seatbelts fastened we were all given ear plugs. The seaplane IS noisy – but that added to the sense of adventure (and to us it wasn’t noisy enough to require the ear plugs).
Take off was really smooth and the route flew us over some amazing island scenery. Here’s my favourite photo – the start of the Kandima resort as we came in to land!
Arriving at Kandima was beyond exciting. From the sky it looked incredible. The only slightly discerning moment was when the pilot started his descent … he basically tipped the nose down. A very weird sensation indeed! Landing on water was quick and quite soft. Taxiing to the pontoon, to meet up with Kandima’s transfer boat, was probably the noisiest part of the whole journey. From there we were quickly whisked the short 100m to the landing jetty at Kandima resort. We were met by lots of smiling faces and a lovely cold flannel to freshen up with. It was then that I truly acknowledged the clear blue lagoon water, and I realised that I was living my dream 🙂
We have SO much to write about our stay at Kandima. Please keep a look out for our next Maldives post soon!
Domestic transfer (Kandima to Male, via Dhaalu Airport, Kudahuvadhoo)
Leaving Kandima was incredibly emotional. Basically, I didn’t want to leave! I had adapted to, and was loving the laid-back island life (I should still be there now). When our high speed transfer boat arrived to whisk us away, I could easily have turned around and run back to our villa! But as Huw pointed out, we had a plane to catch (as a we missed one on the journey out, we didn’t want to do it again).
As it turned out, the boat journey was amazing! Comfortable seating and amazing views as we sped around islands – some inhabited, some not. We saw lots of flying fish skimming over the water around us and we were all looking in case the spinner dolphins came by to check us out. It was a 20 minutes adrenaline rush – it was a fast ride! At journey’s end, we alighted in the harbour on the island of Kudahuvadhoo) and hopped into a mini-bus for the short drive to the airport.
Dhaalu Airport, Kudahuvadhoo
Dhaalu Airport, like Kandima, is brand new. The first plane landed there on 1 June 2017. The airport, which has two boarding gates, is built entirely on 63 hectares of reclaimed land. The runway is 1,800 metres long, allowing Dash-8, ATR-72 and large private jets to land/take off.
Upon arrival we were quickly checked in. As we sat in the small departure lounge we watched the staff load our bags into aircraft. This was a Maldivian Dash-8(300) aircraft that seats 50 passengers.
When ready to board we walked out to the plane and settled into our seats. The passengers were a lot of fun: The local Kudahuvadhoo football team travelled with us, and they were all in high spirits!
The flight took 30 minutes and was very smooth. Cabin crew served juice and a small packet of snack biscuits mid-flight. The views out the windows were, again, amazing …
In no time at all we arrived at Male Airport. We were met by a Kandima buddy who escorted us to the international flights check-in area. And then we started our journey home 🙁
So – Seaplane or Domestic transfer?
Gosh, this is a tough one! The truth is, you’re in the Maldives. It’s a beautiful, amazing place. It honestly doesn’t really matter which mode of transfer you choose – we liked both equally. So long as you have a window seat, you’ll be able to see all the islands as you fly over. The seaplane is ‘different’ (in that you land on water), and is a little quicker – but there’s a premium price to pay for this. The domestic transfer gives you a tiny glimpse into the ‘real’, non-resort, Maldives which we found fascinating.
So to summarise – if you can’t afford the seaplane, DON’T WORRY! The only negative about the domestic transfer it that you’ll arrive at Kandima ever so slightly later than if you fly by seaplane. Every second at this ‘anything but ordinary’ resort is special, you see … X