This is the ONLY Maldives Resort Guide you’ll need for your Maldives vacation.
Before you plan your vacations to Maldives, bear in mind of its “One Island, One Resort” policy, of which only one resort is established on each island. Unlike traveling to other countries where you can explore any attractions any time, once you pick your favorite Maldives resort, you will likely be staying in that Maldives resort for your whole vacation. So you must be particularly meticulous in picking the right Maldives resort.
However, selecting a Maldives resort is a very time consuming and difficult task, given there are over 100 different island resorts to choose from and each resort has its own distinct feel, character and style. You might need to go through many resort websites and comments from other travelers on the Internet before you can make a decision to pick a suitable Maldives resort.
I have gone through this exciting yet painful process and I’d like to share my research with you to save you some time.
Maldives Resort Selecting Criteria
I have summarized the factors below which you might need to consider when picking a Maldives resort.
- Distance from Airport
- Room Type
- Resort Size
- Surrounding Environment and Marine Life
Maldives is often described as “the last paradise on earth”. As you can imagine, the price level of Maldives resorts should be much higher than that of other Asian tropical islands like Phuket and Koh Samui.
Nevertheless, price range still varies widely among Maldives resorts. I would suggest you better not to pick those very low-priced resorts in Maldives. Because in general, the overall quality of Maldives resorts is directly proportional to the price. Resorts of lower price usually come with poorer quality. Maldives is a place for you to relax and escape from the busy city life. In fact, there are not many attractions in Maldives and you will be staying in your resort for most of the time when you travel to Maldives. Picking a cheap resort but with poor quality in Maldives is just like not joining a Safari tour in Kenya or not going to casino in Les Vegas. If your budget is really tight, I would suggest you to go to Koh Samui, Thailand, which is also a very nice place where you can still enjoy a sun and sea holiday.
I don’t mean you have to choose the most luxurious Maldives resorts but just avoid those with poor quality. Generally, most Maldives resorts are of high quality, with spacious villas, top rated restaurants, attentive service and absolute privacy. If you do enough research on the Internet, it is not uncommon to find a Maldives resort with excellent quality yet reasonable and affordable price. I will recommend some for you in latter sections.
Distance from Airport
Maldives resorts are all located at coral islands scattered across the Indian Ocean. After arriving at the Male airport, your next step will be traveling to your chosen resort either by speedboat, seaplane or domestic flight, depending on the distance from the airport. Resorts near Male usually offer transfer by speedboat while seaplanes are often used by resorts which are located at atolls far from the airport. The most remote resorts are accessed via a domestic flight and then a speedboat ride, e.g. Six Senses Laamu.
The advantage of choosing seaplane transfer is that flying over the sea at low heights offers you an amazing view on the atolls, islands, reefs and lagoons. But Maldives seaplanes only operate during daylight hours. So if you arrive at Male after sunset, you’ll need to stay overnight at a Male hotel.
Also, if you are sensitive to noise, try to avoid resorts which are too close to Male because seaplanes and speedboats pass by frequently. It is not a problem to me. I have stayed in a resort pretty near to Male and I was totally fine. But if you truly want a real Robinson Crusoe experience where you aren’t going to see planes, boats or other inhabited islands then you would have to get on a seaplane and go somewhere more remote.
Basically, room type can be divided into two categories, beach villa and water villa. Some resorts offer both room types while others offer only one of them.
Beach villa, as its name implies, is a villa built on the beach. Beach villas are generally more spacious than water villas. Secluded by lush tropical greenery, beach villa offers complete privacy to guests and usually features private terrace leading to the beach.
Contrast to beach villa, water villa is built on stilts above the crystalline water of the lagoon and is connected to the island by a walkway over turquoise water. Water villa also offers steps from the balcony for direct access to the Indian Ocean. It means that you can jump into the water from your villa for swimming or snorkeling directly! More than that, some of the water villas even feature with glass floors somewhere in the house. You can just stay in the villa and say a hello to the fish swimming underneath.
As I know, water villas can only be found in very few places in the world and Bora Bora is one of that. If your budget allows (water villas are generally more expensive than beach villas), I strongly recommend you to have a stay in one of the water villas in Maldives.
Other than the water villa and beach villa, another room type is the in-ocean villa, which is not common in Maldives. Unlike water villa, in-ocean villa is a villa with no walkways connected to the island, where ultimate privacy can be found. It is a standalone villa perched in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Unless you are Michael Phelps, you need to take the resort boat to go back to the main island.
Resort size actually refers to the island size, which varies widely among Maldives resorts. Small islands like Mirihi Island Resort can be just 350 meters long and 50 meters and you can walk around the island in only 15 minutes while big islands can be over 6 kilometers of coastline.
Most people come to Maldives are undoubtedly to kick off the shoes and do absolutely nothing but relax and revel in natures delights. But if you are worried about getting bored staying in the resort for your whole vacation and want to do a little more than nothing, you can look for big resorts in Maldives. Most resorts do offer common activities like snorkeling, diving, gym and spa, regardless of its size. But normally, the larger the resort size, the more the recreation activities can be offered. Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, which is one of the biggest Maldives resorts, even offers a 9-hole recreational golf course, the first of its kind in Maldives.
If you go with your kids to Maldives, it’s better to pick a big island as it usually offers facilities and activities specially for children as well as babysitting service.
On the other hand, big resorts usually accommodate with more number of people. If you just want to escape and get away from it all, you can consider staying in a small island, which you are unlikely to bump into any people during your whole vacation. Small islands are especially suitable for honeymooners.
Surrounding Environment and Marine Life
It means how easy you can see the many different species of fish and coral reefs around your resort island. It is one of the most important factors to me when choosing Maldives resorts. Try to imagine you can swim with sharks and sea turtles which you are supposed to see in aquarium only. How exciting!
Maldives is best known for its abundance of marine life. Unlike other Asian tropical islands, it is really very likely to see baby sharks, rays and sea turtles in Maldives. However, not all Maldives resorts come with the rare underwater beauty. It solely depends on the locations of the resorts. Some resorts are surrounded by dead reef with few fish or reef pretty far away which is very difficult to reach, while in other resorts, you can see stingrays and baby sharks from your villa deck or in the shallow water easily. I have seen a lionfish swimming right under my Dhoni Loft Suite sundeck when I was staying in Cocoa Island by COMO.
If you like to see fish and coral reefs like me, please bear in mind to pick a resort with nice house reef around. Also, if possible, try to look for resorts which are close to drop-offs. You definitely won’t regret! Drop-off is the transition zone between shallow and very deep water, which is the region with most of the reefs and fish of all kinds.
I have joined a snorkeling trip when I was staying in Gili Lankanfushi Maldives (fomerly Soneva Gili By Six Senses) and it’s really an amazing experience! We were brought by the speedboat to a nearby drop-off. We then swam along the precipice and we have seen a one meter long black-tip shark, a sea turtle, a stingray, lovely triggerfishes and pufferfishes, and numerous little fish and reefs.
Best Maldives Resorts
Based on the above criteria, I have shortlisted some of the Best Maldives Resorts for your reference.