I’ve been a little lax this week, apologies. I wanted to share with you one of my all time favourite ways to travel, the seaplane.
So far, I have only had the pleasure of flying in them in the Maldives although I know they are used in many other countries and for many purposes, not just tourist transport but also for monitoring the welfare of marine mammals, including tracking turtles!
Did you know that seaplanes are one of the few forms of transport allowed on the Great Barrier Reef?
In the Maldives there are two different sea plane companies, Maldivian Air Taxi (MAT), the red and white seaplanes and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), the blue and yellow. The two were recently bought by a single investor and now each brand serves a different area; MAT the south and TMA the north. We’ve had three great flights on the colourful TMA planes, even being flown by the same Canadian pilot twice.
Nothing can really prepare you for your first seaplane journey. Many are worried about safety and I also admit to having my reservations initially but it really is an experience and something to add to your bucket list. Each twin otter craft can hold 19 passengers, in one single row on the left and and one row of two on the right. I think the most passengers we have ever had on our plane was maybe 12/13 which left plenty of room for our hold and hand luggage. This is great news because on rare occasions, luggage will have to follow by boat so can arrive a few hours later.
We have always been handed little yellow foam ear plugs for the journey, these babies are sure noisy! Oh, and did I mention hot? Yes, always very hot although the little fans at the front of the cabin can provide a welcome breeze once they get going. Your seat pocket, just like a jet liner, will contain an inflight magazine and a safety card. Make sure you read them as it’s quite cramped in the cabin and knowing where the exits are in an emergency could make a lot of difference. The magazine will already be tempting you to return with it’s big colourful pictures of islands you might just be about to fly over.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the best part of the seaplane journey is the views of the atolls from above. The first time we flew this way our mouths didn’t close the entire twenty five minutes, we were so in awe of what we saw stretching out below us. Sometimes it’s a small sand spit, ringed by shades of light blue before the colour dramatically changes into an inky midnight blue as the reef wall drops off to unknown depths. Other times it’s a resort island, full of tall palms and lush greenery with a swimming pool that dazzles from the bright sun that drenches it. Spend as much time as I do reading up about the Maldives and this journey becomes a game of ‘name the resort’!
The crew of this little legend are always polite, always willing to help you get on and off the plane and always smiling – well, they do work in paradise! Pilots have also been known to point out anything extra special, like a passing whale shark and will often tell you what side will give you the best pictures. It’s not just a great way to travel but it’s part of our entire holiday experience now and when trying to pick an island we will always plump for those that require a seaplane flight……it’s completely worth it and a true Maldivian experience.