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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.

Officially known as Velana International airport (airport code Maldives: MLE) or Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and also called Male International Airport because of its location, Velana is the largest airport from the archipelago and most probably the place where you will land.

The airport has very good connections with the most important airports from all over the world and this is another reason why you should consider Maldives for your next holiday.

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

Velana International Airport is the main airport of the archipelago located on North Male Atoll, Hurhule Island right 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 or a boat, while the island resorts from the archipelago are accessible by speedboat or seaplane, depending on the distance.

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

Airport for Maldives arrival

In order to enter the Maldives you need a visa so your first stop after landing will be at Immigration Office and custom control.

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

Bear in mind that Maldives is a Muslim country so bringing alcohol with you is strictly forbidden and please don’t try to deceive the vigilance of customs officers by hiding alcoholic drinks in non-alcoholic bottles.

Maldives Islands Atol from above
Maldives Islands Atol from above

You might end you with no permission to enter the country and a huge penalty or even maybe a few days in jail.

What I like most about this airport is that it is very compact, and you can get from one point to another after a short walk.

Once you pass the immigration office you reach the baggage carousel, and by the way, there are only 3 rollers, and within a few steps, you pass the customs and hop! you get outside the airport.

Once you pass the customs you get to the exit area where you will find dozens of agents with papers and tourists’ names written on them and hotel representatives who will wait for you to help you get easier, faster, and more stressless to the island resort booked.

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 largest of the Maldivian airports host a branch of the Bank of Maldives and you can also find ATMs located inside the airport from where you can withdraw 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 also an exchange office located inside the terminal where you can exchange mostly dollars and euros into local currency, but as you might expect the rates are not among the best.

We strongly advise you to avoid exchanging money at any airport as the FX rates used are quite bad and you will end up losing 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 located on the right side of the exit and both companies are OK, so I will not recommend you one or another (we tried both and are OK).

Maldives resort near airport

Seaplanes don’t fly during nighttime, so if you booked seaplane transfer and you arrive in Maldives after 5 o’clock then you have to spend the night on Male island and take the first seaplane to your island resort.

There is a hotel located just 5 minutes distance by bus and the transfer from the airport to the hotel is free of charge.

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.

It is not the best hotel in the archipelago but certainly is an option if you have to spend the night close to the airport.

The food court at the airport in the Maldives

Maldives airport international is home to some of the most famous international and Asian food brands like Burger King, The Pizza Company, Coffee Club, Dairy Queen, and Thai Restaurants.

There are also cafeterias and some shops that sell sandwiches and salads located after security in the International Terminal, while the Domestic terminal has just a coffee shop.

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

Beware that you are not allowed to drink alcohol while in the airport so even if you buy something duty-free leave the bottle in the bag until you reach home.

Information desk at airport to Maldives

Right at the main gate, there is an information office providing useful information about the Maldives, transportation means, things to see and do, and many other interesting facts about the archipelago.

Velana Maldives main airport Male
Velana Maldives main airport Male

If you need to give a call anywhere in the Maldives the information desk can help you can give the call free of charge.

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 located inside the terminal.

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

Pharmacy and clinic

Inside Male airport Maldives there is a FIRST AID point and a small health emergency point ready to give you a helping hand if something happens to you.

Besides this emergency point, there is also a pharmacy, right near the Bank of Maldives branch that operates during flight hours and here you can find the most popular medications.

The second pharmacy is located right near the main exit area if you need some medication that could be bought without a prescription you can buy it from here.

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 have a longer waiting time at arrival or departure, you can take a short tour of Male island and leave your luggage in the designated area from 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 and the daily fee is around 5 US you can leave your luggage for a few hours and explore the city in peace.

Prayer room

Like most of the airports from Muslim countries, Velana Airport in Male Maldives also has a prayer room where people can pray.

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 is not permitted areas is strictly forbidden and the fine for this is 35 USD; there are specially designated rooms and places where smoking is allowed so we strongly advise you to use them each time you want to smoke in the airport area.

The shopping area at Velana International Airport

Besides the restaurant area and the eating area, there is also a shopping area from where you can shop for souvenirs and presents to remind you about this magnificent country.

You can find a duty free where you can buy perfumes, drinks, toys, clothing items, electronics, books, and sweets as well as a long list of goods and services.

There is also a souvenir shop located right in the transit area and another one in the departure lounge packed with all kinds of handcraft things and items made by locals.

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.

As alcohol is prohibited in the Maldives public areas, most of the lounges do not serve alcohol but don’t worry as most of the resorts do serve a long list of cocktails and alcoholic drinks.

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

Before passing the security check, there is also the Wellness lounge by Premium Plaza available upon fee and Leeli Lounge available only for business and first-class passengers.

Famous hotels like Four Seasons, Jumeirah, and Anantara have their own private lounges inside the airport, so the royalty treatments start 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 lounges’ affiliates with famous hotels are found in the seaplane terminal that is a short drive from the main airport.

Maldives Airport
Maldives Airport

Hotels like the W, Constance Resorts, St. Regis, and some other welcome their guests at the arrival terminal and offer transfer to the lounges from the seaplane terminal where a beautiful seaplane ride awaits you.

Airport Maldives Departure

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

Right at the entrance of the departure terminal you are required to present your passport, then it is the security screening and the baggage scanners and right in front of you, the airline check-in counters appear.

Once you get your passport scanned you cannot exit the departure terminal so make sure you have all the luggage with you, and you 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 you will fly take the electronic stairs and go to the first floor where the boarding gates are located.

Here, on the first floor, is a duty-free, a few restaurants, a smoking area, and a bank where you can exchange the last Maldivian money you have.

The domestic terminal at Male Maldives island airport

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

It is located on the right side of the arrival gate of the international terminal and it is also a very compact airport as space is quite a problem 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

Because there are no roads between islands and some of them are too far from Male, the cheapest way to get to those islands is with a domestic flight and then take a speedboat from the domestic airport to your final destination.

Right in front of the check-in counters, you will find the boarding gates with planes that take off and land to and from all the 16 airports from the archipelago.

Most of the domestic flights last for 30 minutes or one hour, while the flight to GAN, which flight lasts for about 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.

If it happens to arrive earlier at the terminal you can leave your luggage in the luggage storage and take a tour to Male, the capital city of the Maldives.

Or if you have enough time you can take a day tour to a resort located in the vicinity of the airport.

If you don’t want to go that far, then just cross the street and find a place to stay and admire the turquoise waters of the ocean.

Boats come and go, there is a lot of things happening around and you might find it interesting to simply 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

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)

Maafaru airstrip 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.

FAQ

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 policy is extremely attentive to this matter.

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