I lived in The Maldives for almost a year.
A year in paradise… Well, not quite. I ended up living in the overcrowded, polluted capital witnessing the effects of a recent coup. Not really what you imagine when you think about life in this island state!
But, living in the Maldives did give me easy access to some of the best resorts in the world. I have been lucky enough to visit many of them and I don’t think there has been a single resort I didn’t enjoy. But, there is definitely a big difference between the higher end and the lower end resorts and for once I would recommend splurging: if you ever decide to go to the Maldives, choose one of the better resorts. The pristine beaches, breathtaking water villas, great spa treatments and delicious food… If you are looking to unwind and enjoy a few relaxing days in paradise then a resort island in the Maldives might be your ideal choice.
These are my favorite resorts in the Maldives:
1. W Maldives
W Maldives is a different type of luxury resort. It’s comfortable, romantic and idyllic but it’s not the classic type of luxury. W Maldives is trendy, hip and just a little bit different from your standard romantic resort. And that is what I loved about it! From the fun games they placed in their airport lounge (we played Jenga!) to the ice cream stations (unlimited free ice cream!) they have scattered around the resort island… W is a fun brand and they have integrated that well into this resort.
We took a sea plane to this resort and trust me, if you go to the Maldives and have the opportunity to take a sea plane to your resort instead of a boat, do it! Flying over the different islands and resorts is absolutely stunning and an experience you will remember forever.
As with all resorts in the Maldives, W Maldives is located on its own private island. It is a smaller resort and you can walk around the entire island within half an hour. There is enough to do to keep you entertained and help you relax though. The coral reef in the Maldives is stunning so definitely try some snorkeling or go diving. Sip on a cocktail while watching the sunset, go to the Spa, try some of the resort’s water sports and just relax… Enjoy the fact that you don’t have a care in the world for a few days.
The resort’s best rooms are their overwater villas but their beach villas with private pool, which I stayed in, are great as well. If you are looking for a fun, modern, luxury resort in paradise, stay at W Maldives!
For more information: Starwoodhotels.com
2. Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa
I was fortunate enough to spend a week in what is known as one of the best resorts in the Maldives. Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort is unique. Unlike most resorts it is located on a very large island with lush vegetation. So apart from perfect white sandy beaches you can explore a small piece of tropical jungle. I really enjoyed that contrast and the size of the island makes that there is enough to do. You can use bicycles to cycle around the island; there are 3 great restaurants to choose from; snorkeling around the island is really good and they even have a golf course on the island.
Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort offers beach villas, water villas and tree house villas and it is hard for me to decide which one to recommend. If I were to ever go back here I would stay at the tree house villa just because they feel truly unique and so secluded. It really is like staying in a, very luxurious, tree house! But, staying in a water villa is an incredible experience as well.
For more information: Shangri-la.com
3. Kuramathi Maldives Resort
Kuramathi is the resort I have been to the most and even though I got to know it well, it never bored me. This resort is larger than many other resorts and that made me feel there is more to do. It has a wide range of restaurants and bars with different atmospheres, regular live music, good water sports and a great dive shop. Their spa is really nice and if you are bringing the kids, they have a good kids club.
Kuramathi’s water villas with pool or jacuzzi are what I would recommend, but I also really enjoyed their beach villas with jacuzzi.
Kuramathi is slightly less luxurious than the other two resorts and much more family friendly. If you are looking for a slightly more affordable resort with enough to keep you entertained, then Kuramathi is a great option.
Tip: walk to the far end of the island just before the sun sets. Walking on this thin stretch of idyllic white sand, surrounded by nothing but perfectly clear water will truly make you feel you are in paradise!
For more information: Kuramathi.com
Additional tips for visiting the Maldives
How much time to spend in the Maldives
If you decide to stay in a resort in the Maldives, four nights is generally enough. No matter which resort you choose, you will be staying on a relatively small private island. The islands are gorgeous and the resorts offer as many activities as they can, but apart from beautiful beaches, luxury resorts and really good scuba diving the Maldives doesn’t have much to offer. So if you want to extend your trip I would recommend combining a visit to Sri Lanka with a stay at your favorite resort in the Maldives.
Resort or liveaboard?
If you love scuba diving I recommend booking a liveaboard in the Maldives. Most liveaboards offer a week long trip with four or more dives per day. This way you have access to many more incredible dive sites and get to see more of the Maldives. Or even better: combine your liveaboard with two or three nights in a resort.
About your flight to the Maldives
If you arrive to the Maldives late at night your resort might not offer transfers anymore. This would mean you would have to spend your first night in a different hotel. This is not worth it if you are looking forward to a relaxing, luxurious trip. Therefore, check with your resort until what time they offer transfers and if possible try to adjust your flight to that.
If you do have to spend a night close to the airport and want to explore capital city Malé I recommend staying at hotel Jen Malé (formerly known as Traders hotel) in the centre of Malé. The most convenient option closest to the airport is Hulhule Island Hotel.
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