The resorts: All Maldivian resorts are on their own island. These range in size from 2.5km across to just 150m across. This means that the facilities on the resort you choose (restaurants, bars, sports facilities, entertainment, etc) are the only ones you will have access to during your stay. Most resorts offer excursions by boat to local fishing village islands, or to the capital Male, but otherwise, you will stay on the resort island for the duration of your stay. There are 106 resort islands to choose from, ranging from affordable to ultimate luxury. If you want to experience the 'real' Maldives then you might want to consider one of the Guesthouses that are now available on 5 inhabited islands, offering rooms at very reasonable rates.
With air travel as it is today, the Maldives has become very accessible. The Male International Airport is also called Velana International Airport. If you read about Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, that was once its name. It is a busy airport receiving flights from all over the world and depending on the time of the day, up to about 13 flights can come in per hour. Popular routes are via the Middle East, Singapore, and India. Velana International Airport has its own island and once you have disembarked, transfer to your resort is usually either via boat or seaplane, depending on the distance. Many of the luxury resorts arrange transfer and however, you get to your hotel will be a unique part of the Maldivian adventure.
Getting to your resort/hotel: International flights arrive at Male's Hulhule airport, which is on an island of its own. Many holidaymakers arrive on chartered flights, but there are scheduled services with Emirates (via Dubai), Qatar (via Doha), Air Sri Lanka (via Columbo) and Singapore Airlines (via Singapore). Starting in October 2009 there is also a direct scheduled service with British Airways from London Gatwick three times a week. Transfers from the airport to your resort island are either by boat, seaplane or domestic flight, depending on the distance.
If your resort requires a seaplane transfer, a few things to be aware of: the seaplanes only operate in daylight hours, so if you arrive after sunset you'll have to stay in Male overnight before being able to transfer to your resort. Ditto if your flight home is early in the morning - you will leave your resort the afternoon before - make sure you check with your tour operator that you will be given accommodation while you wait for your international flight.
The seaplane journey in itself is an experience, as you get stunning views of the atolls - make sure you get a window seat and that you get your camera out before boarding (your hand luggage will probably be put at the back of the plane as there's no space under or over the seats). The seaplane will usually land next to a floating platform, from which you will be picked up by boat to be taken the remaining few meters inshore to your resort.
Some resorts have landing stages that allow the seaplane to deliver you right up to the beaches of your destined resorts. It is an amazing feeling to get off the seaplane & right on to the sunny white beaches of the country where waves are sweeping at your feet. NB - seaplane transfer methods vary from resort to resort.