Last Updated on November 3, 2021
One of our absolute dream destinations, the Maldives are an exotic and beautiful collection of islands located right in the Indian Ocean. Over one thousand islands make up the nation, creating isolated and private destinations for travelers. Deservedly, the Maldives are listed as one of the 1,000 places to visit before you die. For many couples, the Maldives are the ultimate honeymoon destination, or just a serene place to go to get away from it all and splurge on a luxurious resort. In this article, you find the top five reasons why you need to visit the Maldives at least once in your lifetime, plus the best places to stay in the Maldives for budget, mid-range and luxury travelers.
Five reasons why you need to visit the Maldives
The breathtaking scenery
Each of the many islands that make up the Maldives is located in the heart of the Indian Ocean and offers some remarkable views. Beautiful peaks on the interior of the islands and stunning sandy shorelines lined with palm trees are just a few of the scenic memories you can make in the Maldives. Most travelers claim that the best views occur right as the sun sets each night over the ocean, ideally while you have a cold drink in your hand.
Experience pure luxury
While there are a few budget accommodation options in the Maldives (see below for some great budget-friendly places), most of the resorts are incredibly upscale and luxurious. And that’s what most people want when they visit the Maldives: pure luxury. Resorts have spacious suites, exclusive guest patios and butler service. Expect to find fitness facilities, spas and onsite dining in every resort in the country. Staying in an overwater bungalow is a dream for many people, and there’s no better place than the Maldives to make this dream come true.
Guests in the Maldives have three options for dining. They can enjoy upscale international fare in the resorts, affordable local meals in the rural areas or dining in the cities of Male and Addu. Most visitors stick to the delicious food served in the resorts, but the dining in Male is much more affordable and can be a great way to try local favorites like riha curry and spicy fish cakes called kulhi borkibaa.
If you are treating yourself to a stay in a luxurious resort, you can expect divine dining every day of your stay – and don’t worry, you won’t be eating regional dishes every day: the resorts are known for their exquisite cooking from all over the world.
One of the most popular pastimes in the Maldives is scuba diving. The sheer number of atolls makes it ideal for scuba diving, but also snorkeling, among the coral and the native marine life. Compared to other exotic destinations, scuba diving in the Maldives is incredibly safe as well. SUP has become an increasingly popular activity to enjoy while on holiday, and most of the resorts also offer daily yoga classes. You might also be interested in kayaking and canoeing – don’t forget to pack your waterproof camera!
Privacy and Seclusion
Although almost every visitor who arrives in the Maldives will pass through the airport in the capital city of Male, most of the resorts and accommodations are located on nearby islands. Since there are well over 1,000 islands that make up the country, resorts are often located on private islands accessible exclusively to guests and staff. If you want to see more than just one island when you visit the Maldives, you can break up your stay into two parts and stay on two different islands.
How to visit the Maldives
How to get to the Maldives
The Maldives are made up of 1,192 coral islands, which are grouped into 26 coral atolls. 200 of the islands are inhabited, and there are another 154 islands which have tourist resorts on them. Most of the resort islands have only one resort, so you’ll basically have an island to yourself.
The island nation’s only international airport is in Male, the capital. From there, you will connect onto a small sea plane to reach your resort island.
Male has direct connections to Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong and a few other hubs. To find the cheapest flights to the Maldives, I recommend using flight aggregators such as Expedia, OneTravel or Google Flights.
Check for a flight & hotel combo when you visit the Maldives, which can save you hundreds of dollars! Expedia is a good place to start your search.
Sea planes & ferries
From the main airport, you will take a sea plane to the island your resort is on. Take this additional cost into consideration – these sea plane rides are NOT cheap. Most resorts arrange the seaplane transfer for their guests.
If you are planning to visit the Maldives on a budget, choose an island that is closer to Male, so that you can reach it by ferry, which is much cheaper.
Do you need a visa for the Maldives?
The Maldives issue a free 30-day visa on arrival at the airport. Double check that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry. You may need to show proof of a pre-paid hotel booking and a return ticket.
Where to stay in the Maldives
Some of the best resorts in the Maldives, sorted by price range:
Maldives hotels for budget travelers
The best islands for budget travelers are Maafushi, Guraidhoo and Fulidhoo – all of three have inexpensive guesthouses, and all three can be reached by ferry or speed boat from Male for US$20 – $30.
- Sandy Heaven Maldives, Gulhi Island – guesthouse with modern amenities, right by Gulhi’s Bikini Beach. From US$43 per night, breakfast included
- Kokaa Villa on Maafushi – guesthouse with shared lounge right by the beach. Rooms start at US$58 including breakfast
- Amazing View Guesthouse, Thoddoo – guesthouse with spacious, modern rooms, close to the beaches. Standard rooms start at only US$34 (incl breakfast), and a deluxe room including breakfast, lunch and dinner starts at US$102.
The best mid-range resorts in the Maldives
- Paradise Island Resort & Spa – beautiful resort on Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma – This resort on Guraidhoo has private villas, two swimming pools, and tropical outdoor showers. A beach side villa including breakfast starts at US$187 per night. You can reach it by ferry or speedboat.
- SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection By Hilton – stunning resort with an infinity pool, fitness center, and overwater bungalows. Easy to get to by speedboat from Male airport (15 min). King Beach Room starts at US$270, overwater villa starts at US$450 (including breakfast)
- Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa – Beautiful island resort with swimming pool and overwater bungalows. Garden villas start at US$345 including breakfast, lunch and dinner or US$501 all inclusive, overwater villas with jacuzzi start at US$553 (breakfast, lunch and dinner) or US$707 (all inclusive)
- Cinnamon Velifushi Maldives on Keyodhoo – 5-star resort with over water bungalows (superior villas have private pools or Jacuzzi), swimming pool, and fitness center. Rooms start at US$396 including breakfast and US$500 all inclusive.
The best affordable luxury resorts in the Maldives
If you want visit to the Maldives to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you’ll want to splurge on one of the many exquisite resorts in the Maldvies. There are resorts for well over US$3,000 a night, but I am focusing on luxury for less than US$1,000 per night. You can live it up in these fabulous resorts:
- Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru is a luxury resort in the North Male Atoll, a 25-min speedboat ride from Male Airport. The villas are equipped with private plunge pools and jet pools. There is a spa that offers beauty treatments and massages, and yoga sessions are offered twice a day. Oceanview villas with private pools start at US$446 including breakfast, or US$541 including breakfast and dinner.
- Huvafen Fushi is a 5-star luxury resort in the North Male Atoll, only a 30-minute speedboat ride from Male Airport. The resort has spacious bungalows, and each one comes with a private sundeck. Huvafen Fushi has an infinity pool and a yoga pavilion. The bathrooms offer both rain showers and scenic bathtubs. There are six restaurants and a spa with underwater treatment rooms. Beach bungalows with private pool start at US$658 per night (breakfast included), ocean bungalows with private pool start at US$863 (breakfast included)
- W Maldives – the W Maldives has stylish beach villas as well as overwater bungalows. Overwater bungalows with private pool start at only $678 incl. breakfast
- Anantara Veli Resort – adults-only resort with overwater bungalows, swimming pool, reachable by speedboat from Male. Bungalows start at US$687 including breakfast, deluxe bungalows with private swimming pool start at US$1,200
- COMO Cocoa Island on Kaafu Island in South Male Atoll has an infinity pool, a spa and two diving reefs, reachable by speedboat from Male. Overwater bungalows start at US$798 (incl breakfast)
- Baglioni Resort is located in the Dhaalu Atoll, a 45-min seaplane ride from Male. The resort has an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, table tennis and tennis courts, and evening entertainment. Overwater villas start at US$808 including breakfast and dinner.
- Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa – 5 star deluxe all inclusive resort and spa on Fasmendhoo. Garden villa with private pool starts at US$580 including breakfast / US$828 all inclusive
- Taj Exotica Resort & Spa – Luxurious resort with infinity pool and overwater villas in the South Male Atoll – only 15 mins by speedboat from the Male airport. Deluxe villa with private pool starts at US$941 (incl breakfast)
- Six Senses Laamu – sustainable 5-star luxurious resort with spa, the only resort in the Laamu Atoll. Bungalows start at US$880 including breakfast.
- Lily Beach Resort on Huvahendhoo in the South Ari Atoll offers an amazing deal for all-inclusive stays: all-inclusive beach villas start at US$798. There are two swimming pools, a spa, and four international restaurants.
Lily Beach Resort via Booking.com