How to Travel by Seaplane in The Maldives
Air Taxi Transfers to Your Resorts in the Maldives
Updated October, 2023
Seaplane transfer is the fastest way to reach your hotel in the Maldives. With the world's largest fleet of seaplanes, Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) operates flights from Male International Airport to island resorts. Seaplane is the preferred mode of transport between the main Velana International Airport and dozens of resorts, especially those located in outer atolls.
Maldives is home to some of the best luxury hotels in the world, and no matter what you choose for your holiday in the Maldives, your feelings will already be hypnotized, starting with a seaplane flight over a turquoise seascape with an emerald island scatter. Life is a journey and this trip will probably be the most picturesque in your life.
Travelling in a seaplane is an experience in itself. This powered fixed wing aircraft on floats presents you with the luxury of landing and taking-off from the sea. The large windows of the aircraft allow tremendous opportunities for photography while on board. These planes fly tourists from the seaplane port next to Malé International Airport to a variety of resorts. Witness the breathtaking setting of Maldives while you fly over the shallow lagoons, tourist resorts and uninhabited islands.
Meeting at the Velana Int. Airport
After landing, immigration and customs formalities you will enter the arrival hall where resorts and tour operators have their own counters or representatives. If you have booked a seaplane directly through the hotel, show your voucher, or find your tour operator if you booked a tour.
After checking your documents, the resort airport representative will point you in the right direction, or they will personally transfer to the TMA registration desk. After registering and unloading your luggage, you will be invited to a minibus with air conditioning, which delivers passengers to the TMA terminal. In most cases, resorts, hotels and travel agencies arrange for you to meet at the airport representative who will speak your native language. Many luxury resorts in the Maldives operate an exclusive seaplane terminal lounges for its guests offering complimentary refreshments, tea, coffee, light snacks and wifi.
TMA operates by seaplanes from its own Velana International Airport terminal.
Noovilu Seaplane Terminal
In 2022 TMA relocated to a brand new and enhanced seaplane facility: Noovilu Seaplane Terminal. Largest seaplane terminal in the world, Noovilu is a shared facility for multiple seaplane operators, including TMA and Manta Air.
Noovilu has a floating dock area that can accommodate more than 55 seaplanes. The four-story, 28,000 square metre building has offices, arrival lobbies, and boarding gates as well as spacious lounges, most of which are dedicated for a luxury resorts' guests aside from the MACL’s VIP and business lounges.
Counters for Trans Maldivian Airways, – which operates the world’s largest seaplane fleet – the privately-owned Manta Air and national carrier Maldivian airline are located at the entrance.
The team will meet you at the TMA terminal and inform you about the time of your flight and gate number. While you are waiting for your flight, you can order snacks and drinks in the cafe (there are indoors and on the terrace), or explore the TMA boutique with exclusive tourist accessories and souvenirs to commemorate your exciting seaplane trip.
Coral Lounge at Noovilu Seaplane Termina, is located on the 2nd Floor of the building at the North West Corner, offering a VIP guests a chance to relax before their onward flight to their chosen destination. Expect comfortable seats, an array of meals, snacks and refreshments offered, free Wi-Fi access, comfortable wash rooms and Kids play area.
As soon as the seaplane is ready for boarding, passengers are asked to proceed to the exit, where they given a safety briefing and are escorted to a Twin-Otter seaplane. Walking along the docks surrounded by turquoise waters is another unforgettable moment unique to the Maldives!
Manta Air is a new seaplane operator in the sky of the Maldives. Manta Air on November 2019 launched the first scheduled seaplane service changing local airline’s seaplane service in the Maldives. Manta Air’s seaplane operations set a new benchmark for the seaplane service standards in the Maldives, as it follows the high standards already set by Manta Air’s domestic flight operations.
The arrival of Manta Air has already been a game changer in the domestic aviation industry, removing the fears of flight uncertainty for passengers flying in the Maldives, and setting new standards in service excellence along the way with pre-published schedules and a tailored approach to provide an amazing experience to all passengers. For its seaplane service, Manta Air will publish monthly schedules — a first in the Maldives’ seaplane sector as well as in the world. Passengers will receive confirmed flight timings along with their hotel confirmation.
On the Seaplane
Buckle up, relax and admire the fantastic view! The flight time to the destination varies from twenty to forty-five minutes, depending on the distance. Travelling by seaplane is an exciting way to reach the resort but the experience is really all about the aerial views of this unique country. Get your cameras ready! Use the time to make the best photos of atolls, coral reefs and stunning scenic views of the Maldives, from a bird's eye view.
Originally called Hummingbird Island Helicopters, Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) is the oldest and, in many ways the most experienced air transfer operator in the Maldives. TMA, the world’s largest seaplane operator, takes pride in its own seaplane terminal at Velana International International Airport in Malé with 9 exclusive Resort Lounges and a fleet of air-conditioned buses and baggage vehicles for inter-airport transfers.
Trans Maldivian Airways reflects the spirit of the Maldives, where the airline strives to provide a safe, unique and comfortable service, and where a significant part of the island resorts can be reached only by seaplane - the fastest and most convenient transfer in the Maldives.
TMA is a partner of the Maldives concept "one island - one hotel". The company works closely with the resorts to make your experience enjoyable from meeting at the international airport and ending with landing on the island.
How to Book Seaplane Transfer?
The resort reserves the Seaplane transfer on behalf of the guests. The guest is charged at the time of check out from the resort. When you make your holiday booking with your travel agent / tour operator / or resort, please ask them about the mode of transfer and request for a TMA Seaplane transfer. TMA serves more than 70 resorts in Maldives.
In all cases guests must send arrival and departure flight details directly to the property / tour operator at least 48-120 hours before the date of your arrival to the Maldives, so that the resort / tour operator reserved an air taxi for you. Charter flight (convenient for large groups) - also requires your request for a group transfer to the resort. TMA do provide this service to the resorts upon request.
If you’ve already booked your holidays in the Maldives and haven’t chosen the seaplane option, it’s not too late to change your mind. Once you arrive at Malé you can ask about the seaplane transfers at the respective desks of the Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways. The services are largely identical, with both flying DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplanes that take around 10 passengers.
How do I arrange my return transfers back to Male Airport?
All resort seaplane transfers are roundtrip. Please ensure that both arrival and departure flight details are noted on your booking to ensure that your hotel arranges your transfers accordingly.
Do the Seaplanes Fly Night Time?
Seaplanes operate from 6:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., 7 days per week. The uniqueness of flying in these conditions, landing on & taking-off from water, permits the seaplane to fly only from sunrise to sunset. i.e. between approximately 06h00 and 18h00 (local Maldivian time). However, schedules vary depending on the arrival and departure times of all guests on that given day. You must arrive into Male before 3:30 p.m. in order to catch a same day Seaplane transfer. Guests arriving on an international flight that cannot connect to the last seaplane of the day to their resort (usually departing no later than approximately 16h00) may choose to overnight in nearby Male’ at their own cost and see what the local life is like.
Departure: TMA takes care of all guests who have their international flight schedule departure time after 9 AM.
How do I get from Male Airport to my stopover/ layover hotel in Male city?
If the city hotel you book does not include airport transfers, there is a ferry located at the pier just outside the arrival hall. The trip costs USD 1.00 and takes approximately 15 minutes. Taxis are available once you arrive but most hotels are within walking distance from the arrival point. Alternatively, if the hotel provides transfers, their representative will meet you at the airport.
If My International Flight is Late will My Transfer Wait?
Transfers are allocated upon arrival of international flights so transfers are not missed, Trans Maldivian Airways operate during daylight hours and guests arriving during the day will be allocated a same-day transfer.
How Long Will I Have to Wait for My Transfer?
Seaplane transfers don’t always happen immediately; sometimes you can wait several hours before boarding the flight. Your hotel and Trans Maldivian Airways work closely together to ensure that any waiting time at comfortable seaplane lounge is kept as short as possible.
Are Refreshments Available on the Seaplane?
Refreshments are available in the terminal building but not served during the short flight.
Each passenger may carry 20kg of checked luggage and 5kg of hand luggage. Any excess thereof is subject to the additional fees to be paid direct to the seaplane operator. One hand luggage is permitted but should not exceed 20″x 12″x7″ in size or 5 kg in weight. Remember to keep your camera with you as on the seaplane hand luggage is stowed to the rear of the aircraft, not under the seat or overhead.
In most cases, your luggage will travel with you. However, there are very few cases when luggage arrives on the next flight. In such cases, the airline will inform you even before departure and will allow you to take necessary items from the left luggage. Be sure that your luggage will be delivered to the destination by the next flight.
The Carrier does not guarantee to transport baggage on the same flight as the passengers and reserves the right to refuse carriage of out-sized items as well as restricted articles and dangerous goods.
If you would like to carry oversized equipment for your surfing holiday, TMA would need you to charter a flight since due to limitations in the size of the cabin/ luggage compartment, they cannot accommodate on a schedule flight.
Transportation of children under the age of two is free of charge, on their parents ' lap. Children from 3 to 12 receive a 50% discount on the ticket.
What can I carry on my hand luggage?
Make sure you carry emergency and essential items such Medicines , clothing's for you to change no sooner you reach the resort (in case the luggage is not carried along with you) or even the beach clothing.
The De Havilland Twin Otter is a highly maneuverable, versatile aircraft, and the high winger, unpressurized, twin-engine turbine powered aircraft is ideally suited to operate in all conditions and climates. The versatility of this aircraft makes it perform very well on wheels, skis or on floats. The latter, along with the useful Short Take-Off and Landing performance, makes it the ideal aircraft for the 1190-island archipelago of the Maldives.
With a fleet of 48 de Havilland Twin Otters, Trans Maldivian Airways operates the largest seaplane operation in the world.
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