Are you one of those travellers who avoid island destinations because you can’t swim? There’s no need to restrict your vacation options just because you struggle to stay afloat. When it comes to the beautiful Maldives, there are many activities you can participate in, whether deep in the waters or without even getting wet. Find out what to do in Maldives for non swimmers, and no, it doesn’t include taking swimming lessons!
The moment you step out of the Malé International Airport in the Maldives, you will be amazed by the distinct turquoise colour of the ocean which is covered by barrier reefs. You might also notice a dark blue shade some distance away – that is where the coral lagoon ends, meeting with the rest of the vast Indian Ocean.
Select from countless Maldives tour packages that are loaded with interesting things to do in this archipelago. Don’t forget to pack your best beach clothes to look glamorous on the white sand beaches of this Asian paradise!
#1 Sunbathe on a Sandbank
Maldives sandbank tours are a great way to get really close to the coral lagoons without the need to swim. Sandbanks are small patches of land which seem to float in the middle of the ocean and only extend a few metres. Also known by other names such as sandbars and sand strips when the formation is elongated, sandbanks are actually submerged islands that reveal just a part of their full size.
Sandbanks are great for picnics or just getting some vacation tan on a bright, sunny day. Some Maldives honeymoon packages offer exclusive sandbank experiences for you to take your partner out on a date. You can have the entire secluded sandbank to yourself as you laze on your beach blankets under a large sun umbrella. A few resorts in The Maldives also offer a bubby to go with your lunch date on the private sandbank.
Take selfies against the sparkling blue water that surrounds the deserted sandbank or wet your feet as you would at any regular beach. If you have chosen from Maldives vacation packages that let you snorkel on the house reef of a sandbank, ask the guide to assist with floats so you don’t worry about not knowing how to swim.
#2 Glimpse Underwater via Glass-Bottom Boat Tours
The Maldives is located in a region rich with marine life and rare corals. You cannot miss watching the magical underwater scene unfold when you are in a country so magnificent. There is no need to sulk if you’re a non-swimmer, though. Glass-bottom boat tours will ensure you have all the fun of snorkelling without even having to snorkel!
Thoughtfully designed, glass bottom boats have a large sunken section at the centre which is made of glass or transparent fibre to allow the passengers to see through the otherwise opaque vessel. Marvel at the sight of colourful corals, shoals of fishes, sharks and marine plants as the boat cruises through the ocean.
You can either take the glass-bottom boat tour with a group or book a private cruise to have a clearer view of the underwater world. Also, you may be asked to remove your shoes before stepping on the clear panel to avoid sullying it. You can even try sitting on the glass floor and taking pictures for social media!
#3 Join a Walking Tour
Walking tours are one of those activities to do in Maldives which are not often spoken about. It is assumed that an island nation is all about water. However, it is so much more about land. The life-breath of The Maldives comes through its people who dwell on the public islands. Learn about their livelihood – fishing and boat-making, taste their authentic fish-based cuisine, and even get a whiff of tropical fresh produce at the local markets through comprehensive Maldives guided walking tours.
There are about 200 inhabited islands in this archipelago, scattered across the equator. While Dhivehi – local language of The Maldives is mainly spoken by all, slight variations exist as the dialect changes from one island to another. Nevertheless, you will have an English-speaking guide when you get on one of these walking tours that let you explore Maldives’ history and culture.
Sign up for a half-day or full-day walking tour of Malé – capital city of The Maldives to discover a number of heritage sites such as the Old Friday Mosque or have a leisurely stroll inside the lush Sultan Park. Guided walks are available for many other local islands such as Villimalé, with a focus on important ecological matters like the conservation of the island’s mangroves or coral population.
#4 Go on a Fishing Trip
If you love the thought of angling, go on Maldives half day tours that are geared around fishing. On some packages, you will also be able to eat your catch after it is prepared by the local chef once you are ashore. Broadly, there are three types of fishing that you will be able to do in this country – trophy fishing, fishing in the coral reefs, and freshwater fishing in lakes surrounded by mangrove forests.
Being a tropical country, the best time to visit Maldives is between December to April. However, Maldives fishing tours are possible at any time of the year. Catch different varieties of snappers, groupers, moray eels and reef sharks among other types of fish that are abundantly found on coral reefs. Sweetwater fish are generally smaller than their saline water counterparts, and are fun to watch, especially for the little kids. If you wish to go trophy fishing though, January and February are the best months, especially for sailfish, marlin, dorado and wahoo.
Try out different fishing techniques guided by an expert on the Maldives day tours. Spin fishing is ideal for beginners while bottom fishing is best suited for catching fish on coral reefs. If you wish to venture into the high seas, you will have to use trolling for the tunas and other trophy fish.
#5 Embark on a Culinary Excursion
If you cannot swim and are not interested in popular activities such as Maldives’ diving tours, you can do something that most tourists are unaware of. Foodies will jump with excitement at the very mention of food tours in Maldives through this tropic island. Maldives offers a selection of culinary excursions which let you explore various flavours from the country’s indigenous cooking styles apart from mingling with Maldivians for a glimpse into their culture.
Looking to book activities in Maldives during the Islamic month of Ramadan? A dinner experience with a local family is a nice way to go about it. During this religious period, the Muslim inhabitants do not eat or drink until sunset when they break their fast and feast on a lavish meal.
You could be served delicacies such as kulhimas (spicy tuna salad), chicken biryani (fragrant pot rice), huni roshi (coconut-infused flat bread), fen folhi (soft crepes), fish curry and kankun beef. For dessert, look forward to pirni, bis haluvaa (sliced custard), saagu bondi bai (sago pudding), and a wide range of locally sourced tropical fruits and dates. Sip on a glass of fresh fruit juice or faloodha (a cold milk-based drink made of basil seeds, ice-cream, rose syrup and vermicelli) while you digest the big meal.
#6 Catch the Sunset on a Dolphin Cruise
Who said you can only have fun underwater? The Maldives has a number of activities to do over water. Cruising is a top favourite of couples and those travelling with family. If your children are too young to be patient on any of Maldives’ full day tours, take them out on an evening cruise to watch the lovely dolphins of this island country.
While cruising can also be enjoyed just after sunrise, evening cruises offer a chance to witness the dramatic effects played out by nature on the sky. Watch the clear blues change to different hues of yellow, orange, pink, purple and finally pitch black. Dolphin sightings in The Maldives are phenomenal, with several pods showing up around sunset, especially in some areas away from Malé – the world’s smallest capital.
In this part of the Indian Ocean, you will have a greater chance of spotting spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins than the other species. It is delightful to watch their rhythmic movement as they cross the seas, huddled together in small pods and leaping for breath. It is possible to take this cruise either on regular speedboats, dhonis – traditional Maldivian wooden boats or a private chartered yacht.
#7 Hop from One Local Island to Another
Did you know that The Maldives is made up of more than a thousand islands? The number hovers around 1,200. These little islands are further grouped into 26 atolls. If you only stayed on one island every time you took a vacation to this paradise, you would run out of life before this country ran out of isles!
A smart way to see multiple islands in the course of a single trip is to go on Maldives island hopping tours. Explore different islands of North Malé Atoll, South Malé Atoll, North Ari Atoll and more, depending on the tour you pick. Island hops provide a great opportunity to interact with locals, apart from admiring the art scene, quaint cafés and pristine beaches of the Maldives.
Get a chance to stroll through the narrow streets of Maafushi – the Maldivian island which took local tourism in The Maldives to great heights through guest house tourism. Be inspired by the simple lifestyle of those who dwell in Gulhi, and get a walkthrough of a boat building yard.
Browse through the curio shops of Himmafushi be mesmerized by the mangroves and freshwater lakes of Huraa. Learn the pole-and-line fishing technique to catch tuna in the lagoon of Fulidhoo. Many more local islands wait to be explored!
#8 Underwater Scooter Ride
A novel concept in the world of underwater exploration is the underwater scooter ride. Currently only available on the local Maldivian island of Maafushi, underwater scooters don’t require the rider to know swimming. In fact, you won’t even have to breathe through your mouth the way you do through a snorkel.
Working on the same principle as that of seabed walking, the underwater scooter has a head-cover which ensures you can breathe freely through your nose as your head remains dry. A minimum of one and a maximum of two riders can sit on this special scooter as a professional diver guide steers through the Indian Ocean.
Also known as an underwater submarine scooter, this device helps you explore coral reefs at a depth of 5 metres. Non-divers can make the most of this unique water sport which allows you to ride at a maximum speed of 2 km per hour. The oxygen cylinder is attached to the scooter so you can breathe as you go.
If you wear spectacles, keep those on so you can clearly see the vibrant schools of fish, seaweeds, coral columns, and other flora and fauna. You need no prior experience, nor any certification to ride the underwater scooter.
#9 Water Sports for Non Swimmers
One can also try various water sports in The Maldives despite being a non-swimmer. Explore an assortment of activities such as parasailing, flyboarding, jet skiing, wakeboarding, canoeing, kneeboarding, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boating, especially if the Maldives water villas you’re staying at offers those.
For something more light-hearted and less on skill, get on a banana boat or a fun tube which are inflated tubes in the shape of a banana or a couch. You only have to sit on the fun tube as the operator pulls you through a rope tied to his jetski. Hold on tight and enjoy a good splash!
If all of these options don’t whet your appetite, there are more ideas on what to do in Maldives for non swimmers. Be entertained by cultural tours which expose you to the local music and dances such as bodu beru – a dance procession accompanied by the beating of drums. Photo-shoot trips are another option which is truly rewarding, thanks to the gorgeous landscape of The Maldives.