Getting around in the Maldives is done in three ways: boats, seaplanes (air taxis) and private yachts. Boats are the Maldivian equivalent of the car, while planes and private yachts are mainly reserved for tourists.
Air taxis and boats prefer not to operate at night. So if you arrive at the airport after dark and travel to a resort far away, you may have to spend the night in Male or at the airport hotel in Hulhule. Private transfers, although expensive, can be chosen for the transfer to the resort instead of spending the whole night in Male. Private transfers can cost between USD500-800. On the way back, there may also be a large gap between the time your transfer arrives and the departure of your flight. Check with your resort or travel agent.
No point in the Maldives is more than 90 minutes by plane from Male, and visitors to the resorts further afield use air taxi services. Since 2013, the only operator is Trans Maldivian Airways, which flies DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplanes that can take about 15 passengers.
Scheduled flights between the islands are offered by Island Aviation, which flies from Male to Gan, Hanimaadhoo, Kaadeddhoo and Kaddhoo. Travel permits are no longer required.
The taxi boats generally take tourists to and from the islands in the North and South Malé Atolls. They come in all different shapes and sizes depending on the quality of the resort you are staying at – the Four Seasons has a large enclosed motor cruiser with drinks and food, while the smaller resorts have open dhoni fishing boats.
Public dhoni ferries and cargo boats are available for more independent and price-conscious travellers. The main operator is MTCC, which lists timetables and prices on its website.
The previous system that required written invitations and Inter Atoll Travelling Permits (IATP) for travellers to visit other islands has been abolished, you are now free to travel wherever you want. IATPs are still required if you want to moor your own yacht.