Some useful tips about arriving and departing from the Maldives at Velana International Airport.
Maldives Airport pier © firstname.lastname@example.org
The main airport of the Maldives is Male Airport – officially known as Velana International Airport. Currently Male Airport’s international terminal is small, old and cramped, and is set to be replaced by the new international terminal which is in the finishing stages of construction. The new terminal should be opened in the second half of 2023.
Arriving In The Maldives – Fill In The Arrival Form Online
The Maldives have stopped using paper arrival forms for passengers to fill in while on the plane. You need to fill in an arrival form online before you arrive or scan a QR code in the Immigration hall before you arrive at the Immigration officer. If you haven’t filled in the form, you’ll be sent to go and scan the code and have to go to the back of the queue.
You can scan the QR code in the image below and fill in the form before you board your flight to the Maldives, which will save some time and hassle on arrival.
Maldives Immigration Arrival Form QR code © email@example.com
Male Airport Arrivals Area
The current terminal is definitely showing its age – it’s a low rise building with basic amenities.
Arrivals and Departures are next to each other rather than on separate levels.
Coming through the Arrivals doors there’s SIM card sellers for the two major networks, a lot of small desks for representatives of specific resorts and check-in counters for seaplanes to the southern Maldives resorts.
Maldives SIM cards
Ooredoo and Dhiraagu are the two major mobile networks in the Maldives and it’s easy to get a SIM card in the airport at one of their booths. The mobile network staff will set it up for you – it’s around $30 for 10 GB of data. You can also buy an eSIM card for the Maldives before you leave home too.
Resort booths, Male Airport © firstname.lastname@example.org
There are several ATM machines (which dispense US dollars).
There’s a food court where you can hang out if you have time to kill. Burger King, Dairy Queen, Coffee Club, Thai Express and Pizza Company are the main outlets.
Everything is priced in US dollars and you can use Apple Pay and contactless cards for payment.
For reference, a black americano from Coffee Club was $4 on my visit, $1 for a 500 ml bottle of water, $15 for a Whopper meal. It’s not cheap.
Food court, Male Airport © email@example.com
The toilet area is small and basic but clean. There are a couple of showers in the men’s area.
There’s a another food court area in a newer, separate building just outside the terminal with a KFC and Costa Coffee which looks out over the water from the 1st floor of the building.
Besides that there really isn’t much else to do at Male airport. There’s no bars or restaurants. There is a lounge which can arrange arrival and departure services.
Exit to the sea, Male Airport © firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the cool things about arriving into Male airport is that you can walk directly out of the Arrivals area and onto the boat transferring you to your resort or liveaboard (assuming you located your pickup guy).
However, the terminal is built so that you wouldn’t even know the sea is right next to it unless you walk out of the building – there’s on a road separating the terminal from the piers where the boats come in. You can also see the tall buildings of Male in the background.