Being one of the more dispersed countries in the world, the most common way of reaching the unique islands of the Maldives is by boat or by seaplane. However, in recent years, the country has built several airports to make the islands all the more accessible.
As of now, there are 5 international airports, along with 9 domestic airports. These airports are scattered throughout several atolls.
1. North Male Atoll
The main international airport of the country; the Velana International Airport is located in the North Male Atoll. To be specific, it is on the island of Hulhule, which is just 10 minutes from the capital Male. Moreover, this airport serves as a hub for domestic flights and seaplanes to other islands.
2. Addu Atoll
The island of Gan in Addu Atoll is home to the Gan International Airport, which serves several international charter flights to make the islands easily accessible. This is further achieved with the operation of several domestic flights, and even private jets to nearby luxury resort islands.
3. South Ari Atoll
The island of Maamigili, aptly nicknamed ‘Whale Shark Island’ is the largest in the South Ari Atoll, which also serves as the major transfer hub to the notable nearby resorts and islands. Villa International Airport, located on the island serves many national carriers.
4. Haa Dhaalu Atoll
The Hanimaadhoo International Airport located in this atoll is one of the newer international airports on the island, and is further being expanded to accommodate long-haul aircrafts. Presently though, it serves as an international airport along with being an important terminal for flights from Velana and Dharavandhoo airport.
5. Noonu Atoll
Opened only as recently as 2018, the Maafaru International Airport in this atoll is capable of accommodating large commercial aircrafts, making it accessible to many. Moreover, it is easily one of the more technologically advanced airports in the country, as it is equipped with state-of-the-art border control systems.
6. Baa Atoll
Baa Atoll consists of one of the highly populated islands and home to the country’s only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Dharavandhoo Airport serves as the main domestic terminal to several island resorts. The atoll is known for notable dive spots as well.
7. Dhaalu Atoll
The island of Kudahuvadhoo is home to the Dhaalu Domestic Airport. This is one of the newer domestic airports that mainly serve flights coming in from Velana International Airport. Moreover, the airport possesses state-of-the-art systems to make sure the airways run smoothly.
8. Gnaviyani Atoll
Known for its surfing, diving, and fishing experiences, the Gnaviyani Atoll is also home to the Fuvahmulah Domestic Airport. Opened in 2011, this island can be reached through domestic flights in just over an hour, which drastically reduces the transfer time when compared to travelling by speedboat.
9. Raa Atoll
The laid back atmosphere of Raa Atoll is popular among locals and tourists,and is home to the Ifuru Domestic Airport. Several domestic flights arrive from Velana, Dharavandhoo, and Hanimadhoo airports.
10. Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll
The island of Kaadedhdhoo is home to one of the older domestic airports. The Kaadedhdhoo International Airport was opened in 1993, but still serves as a major domestic airport as it accommodates daily Maldivian flights coming in from Velana, Dhaalu, and Gan Island.
11. Laamu Atoll
There are 82 islands in this atoll, and only 12 of them are inhabited. However, many of the other islands are in the process of being developed into luxurious island resorts. It is on the island of Kadhdhoo that the domestic airport is located. It serves flights coming in from Velana, Maamigili, Dhaalu, Kooddoo Island, and Kaadhedhdhoo Island.
12. Gaafu Alifu Atoll
Located within the atoll is the island of Kooddoo, which is the home of the Kooddoo Domestic Airport. This airport is one of the more recently upgraded airports that can accommodate private jets, including Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft.
13. Thaa Atoll
Consisting of 67 islands of which 13 are only inhabited, the island of Thimarafushi is where the Thimarafushi Domestic Airport is located. The country’s flagship domestic carrier operates daily with flights arriving from Velana and departing to Velana.
14. Haa Alif Atoll
The island of Hoarafushi in the Haa Alif Atoll acts as a mid-point between several islands, which is why the country built the new Hoarafushi Domestic Airport. The terminal was built in November 2020 to increase safety and ease the travel of locals and tourists to the neighbouring islands.