Landing into Male airport in the Maldives is breathtaking. Our advice is ideal for Maldives virgins on what to expect on arrival / departure.
Window or Aisle?
First time heading to the Maldives? Bagsy a seat by the window on the plane if you can. The scenery as you approach Male airport is breathtaking. I will never forget the sheer excitement and wonder that first time. When you come to land, there may water either side of you and the planes front camera may show the end of the runway (and more sea) rapidly approaching - but don't worry. I've never seen Male airport on one of those runways from hell documentaries on the TV.
Customs & Luggage - don't bring in booze
Sometimes, if a couple of planes have landed at a similar time, the queues at Customs can be daunting. But let's be honest, you're in the Maldives so there's no need to worry - or rush.
Once you've headed through customs head to the carousel to collect your luggage (I think there are just two belts to choose from!). Then it's through another scanner. It's at this point that if you're bringing in booze that it gets confiscated. DO NOT bring in booze. You won't see it until you return to the airport for your flight home!
In the arrivals hall
Out into the arrivals hall you'll find your resort representative (either holding a sign or behind a small 'booth').
You may want to strip down to a t-shirt ... there's no air con!
So whilst you're waiting at the airport for your boat there's a coffee shop, a pharmacy and toilet facilities - they're quite limited so perfect for 'essential business' but not really for showering.
Transfer to your island
There are 3 modes of transport to get you to your resort:
Boat - typically a speedboat
Sea Plane - operated by Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) or if you're in a super-duper posh place, then it'll be the resorts own plane.
Go by Boat
Travel time can be anything up to an hour (so use the loo at the airport before you go). Sometimes the boats are air conditioned and there's usually a bottle of water to hand. I've never experienced choppy waters but having said that I'm not usually a seasick kind of girl.
Sea Plane Experience
Once you've met your resort rep in the arrivals hall, they will take you over to the TMA check in (from the arrivals hall, head to the back right). Remember, you're on a sea plane so whilst your Emirates flight allows you a 30kg allowance, it's only 20kg on the seaplane. Hand luggage is also weighed - so be mindful of that too. You'll next see your luggage on the sea plane (but if it's a busy plane, your luggage may follow on).
Once you've checked in your luggage, a minibus will be waiting (always with air conditioning). That will take you on over to the sea plane terminal (takes about 5 minutes).
In your resort lounge, there'll be welcome drinks (soft drinks, water, tea, coffee) and some light snacks. There's also WiFi. Gives you time to settle in and fill out the guest registration forms!
Be prepared for a wait .... but it's great to watch the sea planes coming and going, especially if there's some outdoor seating.
The sea planes can be very hot so dress appropriately ... but the safety cards come in handy for a fan! You may not go direct to your resort as the sea plane may touch down and drop off other guests at other resorts.
Do the Domestic Airport
From the arrivals hall turn right and you'll find the domestic airport. They're normally quite small planes (so luggage restrictions apply). Think along the lines of the type of planes that go to places like Jersey and the Isle of Man. When you reach your destination, typically it's a short boat ride to your resort.
Other FTM Top Tips:
Take your flip flops and slip them on at the airport
Be prepared for a little wait in non-air conditioned places so ditch the roll-neck sweater and strip down to a T shirt.
Have some sun cream, swimwear and a cover-up in your hand luggage - just in case your luggage gets delayed.
If you've got sensitive ears, take your own ear plugs for the sea plane as they're not always available.