This is a useful article for independent travelers. I will tell you everything you need to know about Maldives speedboat transfer between islands. I will explain the differences, ticket prices, where to find schedules, and alternative options. I will provide tips, recommendations, and pitfalls that will save you time, nerves, and possibly even money.
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Maldives without these websites
Table of Contents
Transfer in Maldives between islands: general information
Here is a summary of general information about transfer in Maldives and transportation between islands.
- Maldives is an island nation consisting of approximately 1200 islands, with any island larger than 2-3 square kilometers considered to be large.
- Distances between northern and southern islands are over 1000 kilometers. There is no traditional transportation like cars, buses, or trains that can take you to another city. Transfer in Maldives between islands is almost always expensive, time-consuming, and very complicated.
- Here are the main types of transportation that allow you to move between islands in Maldives:
- Air transportation: seaplanes and airplanes. Read more about it in the link.
- Government public ferries. The network is extremely narrow, and the connection is only available with the closest atolls from Male. They operate once a day at best, and sometimes not every day. Their speed is slow, and they are cheap. Read more about ferry transportation in Maldives.
- There is a whole segment of private transfers and scheduled speedboats that is somewhere between the terribly expensive seaplanes and the incredibly slow and uncomfortable public ferries. This is the golden mean for tourists in Maldives.
Private or public speedboat?
If we look at it globally, the difference between a private (sometimes called private transfer) and a public speedboat is only one thing. It is the same boat, but public speedboats in Maldives operate on a route and schedule, while the private speedboat is also a speedboat that you rent only for yourself (or your private group) for your route and time.
Good to know:If the average speed of ferries traveling between islands is 12-15 km/h, then speedboats in Maldives are four times faster and move at speeds of 50-60 km/h.
Speedboats in Maldives are the main mode of transportation. They can be found on every island, and there is even an emergency speedboat in Male. Since speedboats are operated by private individuals, their rates must be economically feasible; they cannot afford to operate at a loss like ferries.
Advantages of speedboats in Maldives:
- Speed. For example, the Male-Maafushi ferry takes over 2 hours, while a speedboat takes only 40 minutes.
- The route network is well developed, and speedboats operate more frequently than ferries.
- Many speedboats depart directly from the airport to the islands and resorts, while ferries all depart from Male. If you arrive at the airport, reach Male, find your ferry, and only then head to your island.
Disadvantages of speedboats:
- They do not operate in bad weather, storms, or at night. Although in good weather, over the last couple of years, they have begun to depart for the nearest islands to Male at night.
- Friday is a day off in the Maldives. Private speedboats are not affected much by this, but many routes have reduced the number of flights on this day. For example, there are usually 3 flights a day to the local island of Thoddoo, but on Friday, there is only 1. Keep this in mind. Public ferries do not run on Fridays at all.
- They rock on the waves even harder than ferries. Bring motion sickness pills and vomit bags with you (usually provided on-site). Ferries move slower, are larger, and heavier, so they sway less. But speedboats move faster, are lighter, and rock harder.
Speedboats in Maldives: prices, routes, timetable, where to buy tickets
Now for the most useful information. Let’s go in order.
- Speedboats in Maldives should always be booked in advance, at least a day in advance, or better yet, earlier. There may not be any seats available on site. Speedboats also transport the local citizens, and there are discounted rates for them. But if you have purchased a ticket in advance, you will be boarded onto the speedboat in any case; they will disembark the locals, but they will board you, no matter how bad it may sound.
To help you understand the difference between public ferries, below are examples of popular tourist destinations with prices and travel times.
- Public speedboat: from $25, 40-50 minutes, 4-6 trips per day.
- Private speedboat transfer: $180
- Ferry: $1.5, over 2 hours, and only 1 trip per day.
- Male – Thoddoo:
- Speedboat – from $35 to $50 and 70 minutes, with 2-3 trips daily.
- Private transfer – $500.
- Ferry – $3.5, 6 hours with one stop (no direct route), with 3 trips weekly.
- Male – Dhigurah
- Speedboat – from $50, 2 hours journey time, 2 trip per day
- Private transfer: $700
- Ferry – $6, 7 hours journey time with a transfer, as there are no direct ferries. 3 trips per week.
- The local island of Dhigurah is very popular among independent travelers. Whale sharks and manta rays often swim right up to the house reef, and it’s all for free. For those areas where they are not found, excursions to Dhigurah cost $100 or more per person. Here’s an overview of the island of Dhigurah.
I hope you understand why everyone uses speedboats. Renting an entire boat is cost-effective for a group of 8 or more people. Then there is no need to take the scheduled speedboat; it is easier to reserve a private boat for yourselves.
Below are the main resources for checking schedules, prices, and purchasing tickets for speedboats:
- https://icomtours.com/ – They only operate on the Male-Maafushi route, but there are many speedboats available. Private transfers can be arranged.
- https://odi.travel/ – The largest network with many local islands and resorts. You need to download the app on your phone to buy tickets, but you can check schedules and prices on their website via this link.
- 12go – The largest Asian aggregator for transfers. All Maldivian carriers are included, even small ones that operate between local islands.
- https://www.atolltransfer.com/ – Their website is a bit complicated, and their route network is weak, but they have many speedboats available for private rentals, and they always offer good prices.
Important:If you pay for the speedboat ride in cash on site, they prefer dollars over the local rufiyaa currency. Card payment is not accepted here. Learn about currency in the Maldives.
I think you have already noticed that traveling between islands is not the cheapest pleasure. Tickets for a speedboat to a popular tourist island near Male in the Maldives cost on average $30-50 per person one way. That’s $150-200 just for the transfer from the airport to the hotel and back for a couple. And what if it’s a family of four? But that’s the nature of the Maldives; you can take a ferry if it fits your schedule.
- The biggest challenge in the Maldives is the late arrival in Male when there are no more ferries or speedboats to your island. And that’s after 4 pm. Then you will have to buy a private transfer for $300-500-700 or lose a day and spend a night in Male.
- So, book speedboats in advance to avoid spending the night in Male.
- Very often, your resort or guesthouse offers help in booking a speedboat. Once you have booked your accommodation, don’t hesitate to write to them. They know all the companies, schedules, and can make a reservation for you. Then you will only have to find the right counter at the airport in the arrival area.
Important to know:There are 26 atolls in the Maldives, and the distance from Male to the farthest atolls is 500 km or more. Speedboats and private boats do not go there; it is too far. Only airplanes and seaplanes fly there. And the speedboat network is well developed on islands and atolls within a radius of up to 200 km from Male, which is the closest 6-7 atolls. And even 200 km is far for a speedboat.
Useful article: Travel to the Maldives independently or how to rest cheaply. There are many practical tips for organizing a budget holiday.
In conclusion, inter-island transfer in Maldives seems like a difficult issue only at first glance. In reality, certain transportation difficulties will be faced by those who want to travel on ferries cheaply. If you’re willing to pay for a speedboats in Maldives, there are no special problems. It’s fast, generally convenient, but it rocks just as much as ferries, or even more.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives
- Flight tickets and the best deals
- Hotels and guesthouses on any island: Booking
- Tour packages (from budget to luxury): Expedia
- Comprehensive insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual SIM card with internet package at the same price as in telecom store in Male