Singapore - Male
Recommended: Singapore Airlines. Flight leaves Singapore at about 8.30pm. Arrives Male close to midnight. Supper is included on board. May include Magnum ice-cream and plenty of juice.
Changi Airport toilets: excellent
Singapore Airlines toilets: excellent
Male Airport toilets: above average
Direct to Resort If you're staying at a resort that's nearer to the airport, you may be able to get there directly via speedboat. Most resorts in the North or South Male Atoll allow this, except maybe those like Helengeli Resort which is at the tip of the atoll and a bit too far away.
If you're going to Club Med, Full Moon or Bandos, you'll get there reasonably fast, but if you're going to somewhere a bit further like Meeru, you might only reach your room after 1am (ie. 4am Singapore time), after checking in, etc, so bear that in mind if you want to dive immediately the next morning!
Dive operators in the Maldives are quite particular, so they may not allow you to dive first thing in the morning if you only just arrived because tiredness increases the chances of DCS.
Airport To Liveaboard. Most liveaboards check in in the morning, so if you're arriving from Singapore, you will need to stay one night before checking into your boat. You can stay at Hulhule Airport Hotel, or any of the hotels in Male.
To Transit Hotel If your resort's in an atoll too far away to access by speedboat at night, they may not be able to do night transfers directly to your resort. You will then need to stay at Male for one night. There are loads of hotels to choose from. It's no hassle at all to reach them from the airport, and operators are used to arranging the transfers for you.
The trip from the airport to Hulhule is 2 mins by minivan. The trip from the airport to Male is about 15 mins by water taxi. If you're going direct to your resort the trip can take between half an hour to 2 hours. Wherever you're going, the crew will hold your hand as you get in and out of the boat, and people will carry your bag. If you've only been to Tioman and Aur for your dive holidays, and have scraped knees and shins (or completely lost your dignity) when getting onto rocky boats with your heavy dive bag, you will absolutely love Maldives!
Chivalry meter: Excellent
There are no toilets in the water taxi.
Dep 2035 Arr 2155 (daily except Tue, Wed and Sat*)
Dep 2310 Arr 0700 +1 (daily except Tue, Wed and Sat* )
* In low season, Singapore Airlines may cancel some of their flights. For example, in July 2005, they cancelled their Saturday flights at the last minute without warning. They then reinstated the Saturday flights in November (high season).
At Male Airport...
After going through immigration and customs and exiting the airport doors, you should be met by a representative from your tour agency. Otherwise, take a right turn and look for your tour operator who should be at one of the many booths stationed permanently outside the airport's Arrival Hall.
Dhonis are ubiquitous in Maldives. They're used as dive boats, snorkelling boats, island-hopping boats, and in this picture, as water taxis.
From the Airport jetty, you will take a minivan to the Maldivian Air Taxi terminal. This will take another 10 minutes. The minivan is very comfortable, with plush maroon seats and air-conditioning.
At the Air Taxi terminal, there's a bar selling snacks and drinks, and a lounge with a sand floor. But if you're staying at One & Only or the Hilton, you get to wait in an exclusive air-conditioned lounge room (similar to first-class airport transit lounges). These lounge rooms have free flow of food and drinks. The riff raff like us will also peer into the tinted windows to stare at you. Hah.
There's also a souvenir shop selling adorable Maldivian Air Taxi t-shirts and miniature model airplanes. You are also entitled to FREE ear plugs. (Not that you'll need them really). The t-shirts come in small sizes for ladies. They accept credit card.
Tip: buy your souvenirs while you're waiting for your airtaxi to the resort. You might not have time to do that on the way back because you will be shepherded straight from the plane to the minivan and to the Male airport. Don't worry about adding weight to your luggage because you only reach the souvenir shop AFTER you have weighed and paid for your overweight baggage.
If you've booked through an agent, the agent rep will give you your boarding passes.
You will be required to weigh all luggage, including hand luggage and anything that looks heavy (eg big handbags). Each person is entitled to 25 kg. It costs US$2 per overweight kilo for your outgoing trip only. They will not weigh you for your return trip.
About the Air Taxis
Air Taxis are sea planes that take off from water and land on water. They're like a thrill ride and form of transportation in one.
There are a few air taxi operators in the Maldives. Maldivian Air Taxi is one of them.
Crew will carry your luggage and hold your hand when boarding and getting off.
Chivalry meter: Standard
Inside the plane
There are no toilets in the air taxis. There are barf bags, an instruction card and a booklet in front of each chair, just like in a normal plane. The pilot will brief you on the exit points.
All luggage, including hand luggage (except maybe small items like a waistpouch) will have to be stowed at the back of the plane. The plane crew will do this for you.
The plane is a little hot and stuffy inside, but once you're airborne, it's quite cool and breezy. The view from the plane is simply breathtaking.
The airtaxi is very small - don't expect a Boeing aircraft. There's one aisle, and on one side are two-seaters, and on the other side are one-seaters.
The airtaxi ride takes about 25 mins. Depending on who else is in the plane, your stop may be the first or last one. When I went, our stop was the second one. So if you're prone to airsickness especially with ascents and descents, take those pills at breakfast time.
Maldivian Air Taxi Terminal
Boarding the plane (ok to wear skirt)
Inside the air taxi
In the air taxi, you can see into the cockpit and watch the pilot fly the plane. Barefoot.
The airtaxi gives you the chance to enjoy Maldives from above.