Getting around in the Maldives takes three forms: boats, sea planes air taxis and private yachts. The boats are the Maldivian equivalent of a car, while planes and private yachts are mainly reserved for tourists.
Air taxis and boats prefer not to operate at night, so if you arrive at the airport after dark and are going to a distant resort, you may have to spend the night in Male or at the airport hotel in Hulhule. Private transfers, though expensive can be opted for resort transfers, instead of spending the whole night at Male. Private transfers could cost anywhere between US$500-800. On the way back, there may also be a significant gap between the time your transfer arrives and your flight departure. Check with your resort or travel agent.
Independent travel to inhabited islands other than Male requires an Inter Atoll Traveling Permit IATP (http://www.customs.gov.mv...), and receiving one requires Rf.10, a copy of your passport and — the hard part — an invitation from a resident of the island you wish to visit. Permits are not necessary for the organized island-hopping tours arranged by resorts and liveaboards.
No point in the Maldives is more than 90 minutes away by plane from Male, and visitors to the more far-flung resorts use air taxi services. There are two main operators: Maldivian Air Taxi (http://www.maldivianairta...), with red and white planes, and Trans Maldivian Airways (http://www.tma.com.mv/), with yellow and blue planes. The services are largely identical, with both flying DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplanes that take around 15 passengers.
Scheduled inter-island services are provided by Island Aviation (http://www.island.com.mv/), which flies from Male to Gan, Hanimaadhoo, Kaadeddhoo and Kaddhoo. Travel permits are required.
The taxi boats generally take tourists to and from the islands in the North and South Male atolls. They come in all different shapes and sizes depending on the quality of the resort you stay in — the Four Seasons has a large enclosed motor cruiser with drinks and food, while the lesser resorts have open sided dhoni fishing boats.