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The Maldives airport, your main gateway to paradise on Earth

Maldives airport from Male is the main airport from the archipelago located in the North Male Atoll.

The airport in Maldives is called Velana International Airport.

The code for the airport is MLE. The airport is also called Male International Airport because it is located in Male, which is the capital of Maldives.

Velana International Airport is the largest airport in Maldives and it is most likely the place where you will land when you visit Maldives.

The airport in Maldives is very good and has connections to many other airports around the world.

This is another reason why Maldives would be a good choice for your next vacation.

It also has great connections with other airports from Maldives and is within a few minutes’ drive from the main seaplane terminal.

The largest airport for Maldives has 3 terminals: the international terminal, the domestic terminal, and the seaplane terminal used for inter-island transfers and hotels’ private flights.

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Where is Maldives airport

The Velana International Airport is the main airport for the archipelago.

It is located on North Male Atoll, Hurhule Island. The airport is near the capital city of Male.

Where is Maldives Airport Male on map
Where is Maldives Airport Male on map

Maldives major airport is built on an artificial island, that is connected by the capital city of Male.

If you stay in the capital city, you can take a taxi from the airport to your hotel.

The island resorts from the archipelago are accessible by speedboat or seaplane depending on how far away they are.

Velana is owned and administered by a private company called Maldives Airports Company Limited.

Airport for Maldives arrival

The first thing you need to do when you get to the Maldives is go to the Immigration Office and get a visa.

You have to fill in an Immigration form and then wait in a queue to get your visa for arrival.

Remember that Maldives is a Muslim country. This means that it is not allowed to bring alcohol into the country.

Do not try to trick the customs officers by hiding alcoholic drinks in non-alcoholic bottles.

Maldives Islands Atol from above
Maldives Islands Atol from above

If you do not have the right papers, you might not be able to enter the country. You could get a big fine or even go to jail for a few days.

I like this airport because it is small, and you do not have to walk very far to get from one place to another.

After you go to the immigration office, you will reach the baggage carousel. It is important to know that there are only 3 rollers.

Within a few steps, you will pass customs and then you will be outside of the airport.

After you go through customs, you will find the exit area.

There will be a lot of people there with papers and names written on them. They are waiting to help you get to your hotel island resort.

Read everything you need to know on Where is the Maldives located and how to get there

Maldives International airport facilities

It might not be as big as most international airports, but Male Maldive airport is still the biggest in the archipelago so you can find a lot of facilities available here.

Maldives Airport 60
Maldives Airport Male

I drop below a list of the facilities that can be found in Male Maldives airport:

ATM and Bank at Male airport for Maldives

The biggest Maldivian airports have a branch of the Bank of Maldives.

You can also find ATMs inside the airport to get Maldivian currency using your Amex, Visa, or Mastercard.

ATM Bank at Male airport in Maldives 60
ATM Bank at Male airport in Maldives 60

There is a place inside the terminal where you can change your dollars and euros into the local currency.

But the rates are not as good as other places.

It is not a good idea to exchange money at the airport. The rates for exchanging are not good and you will lose money.

Sim card services at the Maldives airport

There are two mobile operators in the Maldivian archipelago: Oooreddoo and Dhiraagu and both have offices inside the terminal.

The offices are on the right side of the exit and both companies are good, so I cannot recommend one over the other. We tried both and we were happy with both.

Maldives resort near airport

If you booked a seaplane transfer, you will have to spend the night on Male island if you arrive after 5 o’clock.

This is because seaplanes don’t fly at night. The first seaplane to your island resort will leave in the morning.

There is a hotel located just 5 minutes away by bus. And the ride from the airport to the hotel is free.

Hulhule Island Hotel is the only hotel located on the same island as the airport and the bus stop from where you take the bus to the hotel is located on the right side of the arrival exit.

This hotel is not the best one on the island, but it is a good choice if you need to stay near the airport.

The food court at the airport in the Maldives

Maldives airport international is where some of the most famous food brands from different parts of the world and Asia are.

Examples include Burger King, The Pizza Company, Coffee Club, Dairy Queen, and Thai Restaurants.

There are cafeterias and shops in the International Terminal that sell sandwiches and salads.

The Domestic Terminal just has a coffee shop.

There are no bars inside the airport and the only place where you can buy alcohol is the Duty-Free.

You are not allowed to drink alcohol in the airport, even if you buy it from a duty-free shop.

Leave the bottle in the bag until you get home.

Information desk at airport to Maldives

As soon as you enter the gate, there is an information office that can help you with anything you need to know about the Maldives.

They can tell you how to get around, what there is to do and see, and other interesting facts about the place.

Velana Maldives main airport Male
Velana Maldives main airport Male

If you need to make a call in the Maldives, the information desk can help you do it for free.

Tourist police at Maldives airport International

If your luggage is missing or you have any other issue after landing in Maldives, you can contact the police. They are located inside the terminal.

You can go directly to their office or you can call them at 332-2111 ext 3322112.

Pharmacy and clinic

There is a First Aid station and a small health emergency station inside Male airport in Maldives in case you need help.

Besides the emergency point, there is also a pharmacy near the Bank of Maldives branch.

The pharmacy is open during flight hours. You can find popular medications at the pharmacy.

The second pharmacy is located near the main exit area.

You can buy medication that does not require a prescription from this pharmacy.

Pregnant ladies and small babies can ask for assistance at the healthcare center opened inside the terminal.

Luggage storage at Maldives island airport

If you arrive at the airport early or need to wait for your flight, you can explore Male island.

You can leave your luggage in a special area at the airport.

Maldives International airport 60
Maldives International airport 60

The luggage storage is located next to the departure gate, near the toilets and the room of the mother and child.

The daily fee is around 5 US. You can leave your luggage for a few hours and explore the city in peace.

Prayer room

Most airports in Muslim countries have a prayer room where people can pray.

This is also true for Velana Airport in Male Maldives.

Muslim Prayer Room Male Maldives 60
Muslim Prayer Room Male Maldives

The prayer room is located inside the terminal right in the waiting hall and near the restrooms.

Smoking area

Smoking in areas where it is not allowed is against the law.

If someone catches you smoking where you’re not supposed to, you have to pay a $35 fine.

There are special rooms and areas for smoking at the airport, so make sure to use them if you need to smoke.

The shopping area at Velana International Airport

In addition to the restaurant and eating areas, there is also a shopping area.

You can buy souvenirs and gifts here to remind you of this wonderful country.

A duty free is a place where you can buy things without having to pay taxes on them.

You can find perfumes, drinks, toys, clothing items, electronics, books, and sweets as well as a long list of other goods and services.

There is a store near the area where you wait for your transportation. This store has things that were made by people who live in the area.

There is another store in the area where you wait before you leave. This store also has things that were made by people who live in the area.

Lounges at Velana, Maldives main airport

As you probably guessed the largest Maldives airport comes with a long list of lounges, most of them affiliated with the luxury resorts in Maldives.

In the Maldives, you are not allowed to drink alcohol in public. So, most of the places that serve drinks do not have alcohol.

But don’t worry! Most of the resorts have a long list of cocktails and other alcoholic drinks that you can enjoy.

International Terminal

In the international terminal, you will find Plaza Premium Lounge which serves the business class from all the airlines that land at Male International Airport.

Velana Maldives Internationala Airport
Velana Maldives Internationala Airport

There is a place called the Wellness lounge by Premium Plaza where you can go if you pay a fee.

Only business and first-class passengers can go to the Leeli Lounge.

Famous hotels like Four Seasons, Jumeirah, and Anantara have their own private lounges inside the airport.

This means that you will be treated like royalty from the moment you get off the plane.

Domestic Terminal

Before reaching the check-in and security gates you will find the Moonimaa Lounge which is available only for passengers with Priority Pass for both international and domestic passengers.

Inside the lounge, there is free Wi-Fi, refreshments, a spa area with massages available for a fee, and showers.

Seaplane Terminal

Most of the places where you can buy a ticket for a lounge are found in the seaplane terminal.

The terminal is a short drive from the main airport.

Maldives Airport
Maldives Airport

Some hotels, like the W, Constance Resorts, St. Regis, offer a transfer from the seaplane terminal to the hotel.

This is so you don’t have to worry about getting lost or having to carry your luggage very far. Plus, it’s a great way to see the city from above!

Airport Maldives Departure

There are 4 departure gates on the left side of the arrival terminal on the Hurhule artificial island.

When you get to the airport, you have to show your passport at the entrance. Then you go through security and baggage scanning.

After that, the airline check-in counters will be in front of you.

Once you get your passport scanned, you cannot leave the departure terminal.

This means you need to have all your luggage with you, and that you have bought everything you want from the island.

Velana Maldives main airport Male 60
Velana Maldives main airport Male

After you get your ticket from the airline counter, take the electronic stairs to the first floor.

That is where the boarding gates are located.

On the first floor, there is a duty-free store, some restaurants, a smoking area, and a bank.

You can use the last of your Maldivian money to get new currency at the bank.

The domestic terminal at Male Maldives island airport

The distance between the domestic terminal and the international one is just 3 minutes walking time.

The airport is located on the right side of the arrival gate at the international terminal.

It is compact because there is not a lot of space on this artificial island.

Once you reach the domestic terminal you already see the check-in counters and a lot of people roaming around.

Airport for Maldives
Airport for Maldives

The best way to get to an island is by domestic flight and then speedboat.

This is the cheapest option, and it will take you directly to your destination.

You will find the boarding gates for planes in front of the check-in counters. The planes go to and from all 16 airports on the islands.

Most of domestic flights last 30 minutes or one hour. The flight to GAN will take 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Things to do at Maldives airport

There are not many things to do inside the airport but here are some ideas about how to spend your layover.

You can go shopping, get something to eat, or read a book. If you have a long layover, you can sleep or take a nap.

If you arrive at the terminal early, you can store your luggage and take a tour of Male, the capital city of the Maldives.

Or if you have time, you can take a day tour to a resort near the airport.

If you don’t want to go very far, just cross the street and find a place to stay. You can admire the ocean’s turquoise waters from there.

Boats come and go, there is a lot of things happening around and you might find it interesting to sit and watch the crowds and the ocean.

Seaplane terminal at Maldives airport

A new seaplane terminal is scheduled to be open next year, but until then the old terminal is still used.

The distance between the seaplane terminal and Velana International Airport is just a few minutes’ drives and usually, the hotel takes care of this transfer once you book the seaplane.

With a fleet of more than 55 seaplanes owned by 3 operators, Maldives has the largest fleet from all over the world.

Seaplane on water Maldives Airport
Seaplane on water Maldives Airport

The three operators from the Maldivian archipelago are Trans Maldivian, Manta Air, and Maldivian.

Most of the hotels have contracts with one of these operators so basically, you cannot choose the operator for your inter-island transfer.

The prices are almost the same and the flight conditions and the seaplanes are almost the same so there are not many things to choose from.

Maldives Airport Sea Plane Seaplane terminal at Maldives airport
Maldives Airport Sea Plane Seaplane terminal at Maldives airport

Each of these operators has its own lounge where you will still until your flight is ready and transfer you to your resort.

I must say that flying with a seaplane has nothing to do with a normal flight and it is a one-of-a-kind experience.

It might cost you more than taking a domestic flight from Male Maldives airport and the speedboat, but worth every cent spend.

Other Maldives airports

There are in total 16 airports in Maldives spread all across the archipelago with Velana International Airport also known as Male International Airport is the largest from the archipelago and the main gateway to the world.

I drop below a list containing name of airport in Maldives and I will tell you a few words about each of them.

International airports

Gan International Airport (code: GAN)

The second-largest international airport from Maldives is Gan located on Addu Atoll, about 544 km south of Male.

It operates a limited number of international flights operated by SriLankan Airlines from Sri Lanka airports and domestic flights from Male and other airports from the archipelago.

Gan International Airport GAN 60
Gan International Airport GAN

There are two terminals, one for domestic flights and for international flights, and the other one is used exclusively for the guests from Shangri-La’s Vilingili Resort.

If your hotel is located on the same island as the airport then you can take a taxi to get the other, while speedboats are used for transfers between islands.

Services and facilities: restaurant, medical facilities, and prayer room.

Hanimaadhoo International Airport

The Airstrip of Hanimaadhoo is the third international airport from the Maldivian archipelago located on Hanimaadhoo Island in Haa Dhaalu Atoll about 290 km from Male.

Hanimaadhoo International Airport 60
Hanimaadhoo International Airport

It has a single runaway used for both domestic and international flights and is operated by Maldives Airports Company Limited.

The international flights that operate at this airport bring tourists and passengers from India, while domestic flights connect Hanimaadhoo with other parts of the archipelago.

Maafaru International Airport (NMF)

The airport of Maafaru is located on the island with the same name from Noonu Atoll and it was opened in December 2019 operating domestic and international flights.

Maafaru International Airport NMF
Maafaru International Airport NMF

The airport construction was funded by Abu Dhani Fund of Development and it has a single runway long enough to accommodate the landing of big planes like Airbus 320s and Boeing 737s.

This is the place where you will land if you choose to stay at Soneva Jani, Velaa Private Island and Cheval Blanck Randheli and choose to take a domestic flight to get from Male to this part of the world.

Maamigili International Airport

Located on the island with the same name from Alif Dhaal Atoll, Maamigili airstrip was opened in 2011 as a domestic airport, and two years later, in 2013 it was upgraded to international airport standards.

Maamigili International Airport 60
Maamigili International Airport

The airport is located 2 meters above sea level and has one single runway mostly used by Flyme, the company that operates on this airport.

There are direct flights to the most important airports in Maldives like Kaadedhdhoo, Male, Gan, Dharavandhoo, Kadhdhoo, etc.

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Domestic airports

Villa International Airport (code: VAM)

This airstrip is mostly used by the private company Flyme also known as Villa Air which operates domestic flights from various locations from archipelago like Male, Dharavandhoo, or Gan.

Villa International Airport VAM
Villa International Airport VAM

Villa airport is located on the southwestern part of Male island, about 110 km away, and here land private flights for guests that book their holiday at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa, and also Sun Island Resort.

From this airport you can take the speedboat or the seaplane to get to your final destination, depending on your budget and the arrival hour as seaplanes don’t fly at night.

Dharavandhoo Airport (code: DRV)

Located on Baa Atoll about 115 kilometers northwest of Male and operated by the Island Aviation Services, Dharavandhoo is a domestic airport that operated about 8 flights per day to destinations like Ifuru, Male, and Hanimaadhoo.

Dharavandhoo Airport DRV
Dharavandhoo Airport DRV

Kadhdhoo Airport (KDO)

Building in 1980, Kadhdhoo airport is the oldest airstrip built in the Maldivian archipelago located about 260 km away from Male.

This airstrip serves Haddhunmathi Atoll, it is owned by Maldives Airports Corporation and it has only one runaway.

Inside the terminal, you will find a restaurant, a mosque, a lounge, and a waiting room and this is the main connection with the rest of the archipelago, operating domestic flights to Male, Kooddoo, and Gan.

Kaadedhdhoo Airport (KDM)

Located about 340 km away from Male International airport, Kaadedhdhoo Airport was opened in 1993 and it serves the islands of Huvadhu Atoll.

It is operated by Maldives Airports Corporation and it lies on an inhabited island so you cannot spend the night here, you have to get a speedboat or a seaplane to the guesthouses and resorts located on the islands nearby.

There are direct flights to and from Kaadedhdhoo to Male, Kadhdhoo, and Gan.

Fuvahmulah Maldives Airport (FVM)

Opened in 2011 by the Maldivian authorities, Fuvahmulah is among the newest airstrips from the Maldivian archipelago, and it serves Fuvahmulah Island which is located about 500 km south of capital Male.

Fuvahmulah Maldives Airport FVM
Fuvahmulah Maldives Airport FVM

It has a really small terminal with only one runaway and companies like Maldivian and Flyme connect this part of the archipelago with Male and Gun.

Because most of the tourists use seaplanes and the number of locals is quite low, some of the flights might be canceled because of the lack of passengers.

Dhaalu Airport (DDD)

Opened in 2017, Dhaalu Airport is the largest domestic airstrip from the Maldivian islands and also the newest.

It lies on a reclaimed island, Kudahuvadhoo island and it is operated by Dhaalu Airport Holdings.

Atoll Maldives Islands from above Indian Ocean
Maldivas mapas Atoll Maldives Islands from above Indian Ocean

The runway is quite large, and it is designed to handle larger planes, maybe sometimes in the future international charters might land here.

Inside the terminal, there is a small food court, a shop, and a VIP lounge, things quite unusual for Maldivian domestic terminals.

Thimarafushi Airport (TMF)

Located on the island with the same name from Thaa Atoll, Thimarafushi airstrip is located about 225 km away from Malé International Airport.

This is a private airport built by two companies in 2013 and it is now operated by the Island Aviation Service.

Maldives Island from Sea Plane Atol
Maldives Island from Sea Plane Atol

From this Maldives airport all the flights are to Male, and to get to the nearby islands you will mostly use speedboats.

Kooddoo Airport (GKK)

Opened in 2012, Kooddoo airport is located on the island with the same name from Gaafu Alifu Atoll about 385 km away from Male.

The airport is owned by a private company and it is operated by Island Aviation Services; there are direct flights from Kooddoo to Gan, Male, and Kadhdhoo.

Ifuru Airport (IFU)

Ifuru is a really small airport located on Raa Atoll about 180 km away from the north of Male and it was built in 2015 with the main purpose to connect Raa Atoll with Noonu Atoll.

Maldives Islands Atol from above
Maldives Islands Atol from above

Maldivian is the company that operates flights on this airstrip with direct connections to Male, Ifuru, and Dharavandhoo.

Other domestic airports of Maldives are: 

  • Hoarafushi Airport from Haa Alifu Atoll
  • Kulhudhuffushi from Haa Dhaalu Atoll
  • Funadhoo from Shaviyani Atoll
  • Madivaru from Lhaviyani Atoll
  • Kaadedhdhoo from Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll

All these airports operate domestic flights from Male International Airport and other important airports from the archipelago, as flights are the only transportation means to get from one point to another, except for the speedboat which is generally used on short distances.

Maldives Atol Island from Sea Plane
Maldives Atol Island from Sea Plane

Seaplanes are mostly used by tourists as the prices are quite high but the experience is one of a kind and I definitely recommend you to try it when visit the Maldives.


How many airports in Maldives?

Spread all over the archipelago, there are 18 airports, 5 international, and another 13 operating domestic flights.

The largest airport and the main gateway to the world are Velana International Airport located on Male island, the place where you will most probably land.

Which airport do you fly to for Maldives?

You will most probably land on Velana International Airport also known as Male International Airport (MLE) located on an artificial island closely located to Male, the capital city of Maldives.

Is Male airport and Velana airport same?

Yes, it is the same airport as the official name of Male International Airport is Velana International Aiport.

This is Maldives’ main gateway to the world with great connections with main airports from all over the world.

Can I buy alcoholic drink from Maldives airport?

Yes, you can buy alcoholic drinks from Maldivian duty-free, but you cannot drink in public areas as penalties are applied.

Don’t try to put alcoholic drinks in nonalcoholic bottles as the police is extremely attentive to this matter.

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