Known as the ultimate honeymoon destination, the Maldives might not automatically register as a family friendly vacation spot.
However, thanks to the warmth and kindness of Maldivians who genuinely seem to find kids delightful, the extraordinarily rich marine biodiversity and a range of fun excursions and activities, these 26 atolls floating in the Indian Ocean are a natural playground for kids of all ages.
Is the Maldives good for kids?
The journey to the Maldives, especially from Europe or North America can be a long slog and may be easier for older children. However, once you arrive, the islands offer so many unique activities for families. Go on an underwater snorkeling safari, walk along a glowing beach, journey beneath the waves in a submarine or delve into the rich culture and cuisine on local islands.
The Maldives is a Muslim country. Prep your kids before arrival on any cultural norms, etiquette, and respect for local customs that may differ from their own home experiences. That may include being calm and quiet during prayer times, the call to prayer (Adhan) and the expectation for modest dress even on the beach. It’s also fun to teach your children some basic phrases, like “Dhanee” which means goodbye and “Shukriyaa” to say thank you.
A trip to the Maldives can be expensive, but most resorts offer packages where kids can stay and eat for free. Families can save even more by traveling in the off-season (May-November), staying at guesthouses on local islands and using local transport like ferries. Research ferry times before you arrive, but be warned that they can be unreliable and schedules can change. However, other forms of transport are available between islands and they’re fairly cost-effective, with speedboat rides from Male to Gulhi and Maafushi costing around $30 per person.
You can visit the Maldives with babies and toddlers and have a great time, but kids aged seven and up will really appreciate all the adventures on offer and arguably get the most out of a vacation here.
Where is best in the Maldives for kids?
Combine independent travel to budget-friendly local islands like Maafushi – where you can get a real taste of life in the Maldives – with a comfortable stay in a resort with facilities like swimming pools, kids clubs and water parks. Opt for a little luxury with a few days at a private island resort or just visit for the day to use the facilities for a fee, which is a popular option here.
Kids will play for hours at Siyam World, the Indian Ocean’s biggest floating water park. It also has a Kidz World club catering to children between the ages of four and 12 that offers a variety of activities, from crafts to storytelling. Dhigurah island, on which Siyam World is situated, is accessible thanks to fun purple buggies that look like stretched golf carts with stops named after cities around the world.
At the Soneva Fushi resort on Kunfunadhoo, children can play at the largest playground in South Asia, which is the size of six tennis courts and features a pirate ship and giant musical piano keys built into the floor. Qualified childminders supervise all the fun so the parents can take a break.
Best things to do in the Maldives with babies and toddlers
Play on the beach
The Maldives offers the ultimate beach holiday, and although babies and toddlers may not remember this experience, their parents certainly will! Many resorts large and small will have beach toys you can borrow, so check ahead of time to save space in your luggage. Find a sandbank to create a mini swimming pool filled with warm shallow water and let your little one splash and play.
Best things to do in the Maldives with kids
Go on a snorkeling safari
Most resorts loan fins, a mask and a snorkel so that you can explore the house reefs right from the beach, or even from your overwater room. You can also book excursions to go a little further out and see a rainbow of shimmering blue surgeonfish, blue stripe snapper, parrotfish and triggerfish.
Ride in a submarine
Book a trip inside the Whale Submarine, the only passenger submarine in Southern Asia where you can view ocean life up to 150m (492ft) below the surface. Children aged three and older are warmly welcomed aboard the submarine for this unique underwater experience. The dive site is just 500m (1640ft) west of Male so the company offers same-day trips as your departure and ensures you get to the airport in time for your flight.
Visit Vaadhoo Island’s glowing beach
Bioluminescent beaches in the Maldives showcase a natural phenomenon where certain marine organisms, like plankton and dinoflagellates, produce a chemical reaction that emits light. This results in luminous blue and green shorelines at night, creating a surreal, magical atmosphere that will delight your kids. Visit Vaadhoo Island, Mudhdhoo Island, Rangali Island and Baa Atoll, just some of the remarkable locations where these bioluminescent events occur.
Best things to do in the Maldives with tweens and teenagers
Learn about conservation
Many resorts have a house marine biologist and sustainability officer on staff to ensure that the protection of the environment is part of your vacation experience. Older kids and teens will love doing their part by spending the afternoon coral planting, which helps renew the coral reef to repopulate damaged areas. Both Milaidoo Maldives, Milaidhoo, and Sun Siyam World, Dhigurah offer coral planting.
Try some watersports
You’ll find opportunities to try different watersports like kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and jet skiing at many beaches in the Maldives. But why not try something a little different, like a Seabob ride? This water scooter lets you fly across the water’s surface or dip down below to new depths. Most resorts offer Seabob rentals, but you can also book with Maafushi Dive and Water Sports directly if you’re not staying at a resort.
Tour Male City
Add a tour of the capital Male to either the beginning or end of your trip to enjoy another side of the Maldives away from the luxury resorts and serene beaches. Stops should include the white-marbled Old Friday Mosque (open to visitors outside of prayer times), the playgrounds at Rasrani Bageecha, and shopping for kid-friendly souvenirs like candy, fridge magnets and trinkets at Majeedhee Magu market.
- Pack a basic first aid kit with items like child-friendly insect repellent, reef-safe sunscreen and any necessary medications. A pharmacy or clinic might not be readily accessible, especially on more remote islands, although most hotels will have an on-call doctor should you need one. It’s a good idea to bring along motion sickness medications suitable for kids to help them cope with plane, boat and ferry rides galore.
- If you’re traveling on a seaplane, invest in some noise-canceling headphones for your kids, as they can be very noisy. Bring along a carrier, car seat, or umbrella stroller to secure your little one if you travel on a local ferry – most of them are open at the back. Strollers are more of a hindrance in the Maldives because of the sand, so carriers and wraps may be better options for babies and small kids.
- Make sure you pack enough diapers to get you through your entire stay. Local islands may not stock the brands you prefer and the prices at resorts for baby care items are very high.
- Although your initial flight to the Maldives is likely to have had an environmental impact, once you arrive, take advantage of the many more sustainable (and fun) ways to get around, like rental bicycles and local ferries.