For those of you with an urge to explore out-of-the-way places, it’s really hard to beat the once in a lifetime experience of cruising the Maldives: a string of islands in the sun. Located in the Asian region about 430 nautical miles West of the Island Republic of Sri Lanka and 1000 miles South of Mumbai (Bombay) in India.
Overview of the Maldives
The Maldive Islands straddle the Equator. They constitute the world’s lowest lying country with an average of 1.5 m above sea level. It is composed of 26 atolls or separate groups of islands and sailing or motoring around these islands is a yachtsman’s dream.
The only major city is Malé that has an international airport with flights from most major European hubs including London and Paris. The usual stop-off point is Colombo in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Airlines is a preferred method of travel.
The String of islands in the Indian Ocean runs approximately 500 miles from North to South and Malé is roughly in the middle so there are plenty of cruising choices. In the Maldives there are three main ways to move around: by domestic flight, by seaplane or by boat.
For several years there were two seaplane companies operating: but these merged in 2013 under the name TMA. The seaplane fleet is entirely made up of DHC-6 “Twin Otters.” There is also another airline, FlyMe, which operates using ATRs to domestic airports, principally Maamagili and some others.
The typical Maldivian boat is called a dhoni. Depending on the distance of the destination island to the airport, resorts or crewed yachts can organize domestic flight plus boat transfers, seaplane flights directly to the resort island jetty, or speedboat trips for their guests.
There are also locally run ferries by large dhoni boats. Speedboats and seaplanes tend to be more expensive, while traveling by dhoni, although longer, is relatively cheaper. The islands of the Maldives have an extensive fleet of fishing boats, built domestically, each of which can carry about eight to twelve persons. Nearly all of these are variants of the dhoni.
Yachting and Cruising in the Maldives
There is a large fleet of very nice fully crewed recreational motor yachts (NOT dhonis) available in the Maldives. There are also some very reputable international bareboat operating companies that do business there as well. We can organize fully crewed charters, sailing bareboats with skippers or sailing bareboats that you can skipper yourself. (Some knowledge required!)
Our itineraries will introduce you to astonishingly lovely white powder sand beaches on one island after another. Some feature local fishing villages you can tour, others are home to elegant resorts with facilities our charterers are welcome to use, and many are uninhabited.
The snorkeling and diving, shelling and abundance of marine life are all beyond compare in water the temperature of a relaxing bath. For honeymooners, sun worshipers, divers, or simply salty dogs in search of new cruising grounds, incredible memories and wonderful stories, the Maldives have everything one could want in an unforgettable sailing vacation.
Hotspots and best cruising locations in the Maldives
Generally speaking you can choose to explore the Northern Atolls, the Middle Atolls or the Southern Atolls.
The Northern Atolls include the Lhaviyani and the Gaafaru atolls that have many wrecks to explore. Of special note is the Baa atoll with it spectacular Hanifaru Bay.
The Central Atolls include North Ari and Rasdhoo, Felihdoo and Mulako.
In the Extreme South of the Maldive archipelago you must see Laamu and Huvadhoo.
And no, you can’t see them all one one trip since the Maldives are about 500 miles from end to end, so you have to, unfortunately, make a choice which group of atolls to explore in advance.
If you’re a bareboater, base is on the main island of Malé, which is the perfect spot to begin a sailing tour of this remarkable country.
If your definition of paradise is a lifestyle stripped to the basic essentials of whether the sky is blue and the sun is shining, where the toughest question to answer is if the beach now astern is more beautiful than the one ahead, one word will suffice in describing the Maldives. Perfection.
Check in with us to book a yacht charter in the Maldives. You can reach us at 877-759-8263 or fill out our super short contact form. Even if you just have questions, we’ll be happy to help. Even if we don’t have ALL the answers, we’ll sure as heck find out!