I’ve got my share of flights in my life but none could compare to my experience in riding a seaplane. It’s a combination of feelings from breath taking to thrilling to scary at the same time!
The seaplane transfer we experience last July during our holiday in the Maldives was a fantastic experience especially for the kids, too. It feels amazing to fly over the Indian Ocean and gaze down on all the small islands dotted around in the turquoise lagoons. It almost seems unreal.
All Maldivian resorts are accessible either via speed boats or seaplanes from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (the airport in the capital city of Male). The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Resort is located in the northern part of the island country and the only way to get there is by seaplane.
* Your choice of resort usually books your seaplane flights.
(This is Ibrahim Nasir International Airport – it’s a very simple and small airport that reminds me of the domestic airports in the Philippines.)
The flight takes about 45 minutes, we were told.
BEFORE GETTING ON THE SEAPLANE
We were met by the resort staff at the international airport and he took us to the check in counter of the seaplane company. Seaplane transfers in Maldives is operated by one single company called the Trans Maldivian Airways. They have a separate terminal away from the international airport in Male and passengers will be taken there by an airconditioned bus.
Each passenger is allowed 20 kg of baggage and 5 kg of hand carry. You will be given boarding passes after check in and advised time of boarding. These times of boarding are mere approximates as it will depend on the weather.
We were taken to Terminal B by bus where The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi has a dedicated VIP lounge that offers relaxing couches with a great view of the seaplane terminal, food, free WiFi and free massage! It’s a refreshing way to relax after a flight, to sip a cup of tea, eat light, update friends online, recharge phones, etc.
It wasn’t long before we were guided to the ‘port’ where the seaplanes are docked. It was a rainy day in Maldives that time and while I know that the pilots are skilled and won’t compromise safety, I was still nervous.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RIDING A SEAPLANE IN MALDIVES
1. The plane can be very noisy.
TIP: You can bring an earplug if it bothers you. It was tolerable for me, but maybe because I was too excited of what awaits at the end of our journey.
2. The plane can be very congested.
The plane can accommodate up to 15 people so it can be very cramped inside when it is full. Not for the claustrophobic, most probably.
It can be hot inside as there is no aircon. You can find two small fans at the front and the pilots open the windows a bit. But I still felt hot and was sweating inside.
Here’s Benjamin in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit. We stopped to pick up some other passengers from the nearby island so the pilots got down on the floating ramp, leaving the cockpit windows open for cool, fresh air.
3. Because of the above 3 things, you could get dizzy, nauseous or experience motion sickness.
I would suggest having a bottle of water in hand, wearing sunglasses as the glare of the sea below can be too much, barf bag at the ready and if you are really prone to motion sickness, take an anti-motion sickness tablet before getting on the plane.
If the plane lands to pick up other passengers before your final destination, the pilots would invite passengers to get out of the plane for fresh air, so it’s a breather. The plane can get hot and very bumpy while in the water. Another technique would be to close your eyes if you’re feeling dizzy but then you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the view!
4. The pilots fly the plane without any shoes!
This is probably one that could surprise you the most. Maldivians feel their best when they are barefoot, no questions asked!
5. Hand carry not allowed! (to take with you in your seat, that is)
Life is about the journey and this seaplane ride is probably the most scenic in your life. They don’t allow handbags with you or under your seat because of the small space so all baggage are kept at the back of the plane. Be sure to take out your camera with you so you won’t miss capturing the views below!
I left my sunglasses in my hand carry and being sensitive to glare, I felt very uneasy. I also felt a bit of motion sickness in the middle of the flight. However, my two kids were superstars. Benjamin slept halfway and Pristine was just chilling in the front seat. I am proud of my little travelers!