How to Pick the Perfect Maldives Resort

Dreamy resort

A sunny Bank Holiday Weekend was an inspiration to invest a bit of time on Maldives Complete and revamp the Best of Maldives section a bit. With now over 300 distinctions, I’ve had to add yet another tabbed page (‘Service’) to hold them all. I split out sub-categories in a few areas like adding a ‘Sweets’ section for ‘Food’ and splitting ‘Drinks’ into ‘Soft’ and ‘Bar’. I added a new section called ‘Workplace’ distinctions since good management and workplace innovation are pet professional subjects of mine.

With more resorts with more distinctions than ever, it has never been harder to wade through the riches of choice to find the resort for your often once in a lifetime trip. The Sunday Times featured a piece a short while back on ‘How to Pick the Perfect Resort’, but it focused on skiing). I often get emails and other contacts from Maldives Complete fans looking for advice on choosing the best resort for them (there is no ‘best resort’, there is only ‘the best resort for you’). I thought I would document the steps I often go through to help them winnow down the selection…

  1. What’s your budget? – Don’t ever say ‘Money is no object’ in the Maldives unless you are a billionaire.  This is the single most important question to ask to start with and will narrow your search significantly (resorts vary in cost from £1,000 per week to over £10,000).
  2. Large or small island? – Some people prefer the intimacy of a place barely larger than a plot of sand and palm tree. Others prefer more to explore and more infrastructure to support a broader range of options and activities (islands range in size from 5,000 square metres to to over 2 million)
  3. How important is off-beach snorkelling? – This is also known as the “House Reef” question. You can snorkel on any Maldives island. But real snorkelling afficionadoes eschew the limited fish and coral life of the sandy lagoons for the thrill of the ‘main event’…house reefs that plummet from the shallows into deep open water where large schools of fish and forests of variegated coral fill the wall between land and ocean. The most active and enthusiastic snorkelers will often insist on a great house reef. Those who just want to try a bit of great snorkelling are happy with going on a few snorkel safari excursions.
  4. Seaplane ride? – The resorts split roughly down the middle between (a) those that are a speed boat ride away from the main Male airport, or (b) those that require a seaplane transfer to a more remote atoll (81 out of 132 resorts are a seaplane ride away). The advantages of the the seaplane ride is that it opens up more resort options, but more importantly the trip can be an exhilarating experience in its own right. The birdseye view of the mottled blue tapestry of island, reef and ocean is almost like visiting another planet. The disadvantages of the seaplane include…
    • Extra cost – Typically about $500 round trip.
    • Extra time and logistics for the transfer – Especially on the return leg where the resorts need to book lots of extra time into your transfer to make sure no weather delays have you miss your plane.
    • Noise – You can’t even talk to your seat mate the small turbo props are so loud in the cabin (ear plugs are standard issue on all flights to reduce the irritation).
    • Fear of flying – You pretty much had to get on a plane to arrive in the Maldives in the first place (unless you are on a cruise stop), but nervous flyers who can just about handle jet planes can find smaller planes a bit to unsettling.
  5. Children? – Some resorts actively cater for children. Other resorts (or sections of them like their water villas) actively discourage them (or a few even prohibit them).
  6. All Inclusive? – Some people prefer ‘all inclusive’ plans so they know what total costs they are on the hook for and don’t have to keep track of the extra charges that they are racking up. (38 out of 132 resorts offer all inclusive).
  7. Pool? – While the resorts are ostensibly surrounded by the world’s biggest swimming pool, an actual pool is often appealing to some for lounging, refreshing, exercising or playing. We often found that the children could only take so much irritation from the salt and sand of the beach and preferred spending a chunk of time at a more sanitised pool environment (86 out of 132 resorts have pools).  [ADDENDUM October 2020] In my first post, this comment referred to a common area resort pool, but a decade later, pretty much every resort has a main pool so this is no longer a distinguishing feature.  What is a distinguishing feature is whether you want your OWN private pool at your villa.  This villa feature has skyrocketed in popularity to the point that fully half of all room categories now include a private pool.
  8. Any favourite activities? – The old myth (and mystique) about the Maldives is that there is nothing to do.  Now with over 120 resorts, there is something for everyone and virtually every activity and pastime are catered for.  If you have a particular interest or hobby like kite surfing, painting or cigar smoking, finding the resorts that offer these will get you right to a short list of places that will offer these special treats for you.

The answers to the first 6 questions typically will get you down to a manageable shortlist through the Maldives Complete Resort Finder. From there people use question 7 as a tie breaker or just surf the Maldives Complete Profile section to see which property most captures their fancy.

143 Thoughts on “How to Pick the Perfect Maldives Resort

  1. Pingback: Maldives Complete Blog

  2. Hi Bruce,

    Hope your well and you could help me find the right resort/island,
    I want to book for my honeymoon, my budget is around £3000 including flights,
    Looking for island which has jet ski, and fun activities, my partner is worried she will have nothing to do,lol
    We are not interested in snorkeling, just a chill out holiday really,
    We don’t mind seaplane or boat transfer, there will be no children, looking
    for cheap island with water villa/bungalow,
    Any help is appreciated.

    Kind Regards

  3. Mo – Happy to help if I can. Where are you flying from?

    A browser through the database indicates that 30 active resorts have jet skis so that won’t be difficult to find.

    If your partner is concerned about “nothing to do”, tell her to glance at this page – (and if there are any particular activities that strike her fancy, that will help to narrow down your search).

  4. Hi Bruce,

    A little help required. Me and my spouse are travelling for our honeymoon (3N/4D stay). The resort guide was indeed helpful, and we were able to find one in our budget. Only constraint, each resort is charging exorbitant price for airport-resort transfer and back. Any suggestion so that these high prices can be avoided, I mean any alternative way to travel to the resort at cheaper prices?

  5. Ankit – Apologies for the delay of response (I am actually travelling myself at the moment). It depends on the resort. Some of the medium distance resorts have the option of a seaplane transfer or a boat transfer (for example, you can get to Kuramathi by 20 minute seaplane or a 2 hour boat ride). Other resorts that are very far away (eg. South Ari, Haa Alifu) offer the cheaper alternative of a domestic flight. But if it is a resort that you can only get to by seaplane, the costs for the seaplane are always high. That’s just what it costs to fly these things. They are very expensive pieces of equipment and only carry a modest number of people across which to spread their costs.

  6. Caroline on August 16, 2016 at 12:35 pm said:

    Hi Bruce,

    My husband and I are planning to visit the Maldives again after visiting Mirihi last June. Can you recommend a resort has good house reef and lots of fishes?

  7. Caroline – Probably the best way to get a short list is to go to the Finder section of Maldives complete and select “Resort”. Then you can filter on “House Reef” selecting “Distinctive” or “Very Good”.

    Be aware that (a) “Distinctive” means that some aspect of the reef is amazing, but other aspects might not be so great, and (b) most of the house reefs have changed (for the worse) dramatically over the past year due to global warming (sea temperatures are record highs) exacerbated by El Nino as well as the COTS epidemic.

  8. Hello. I am female traveling alone. I would like a suggestion for a place I can get to by boat that has great snorkling and possibly also a snorkeling trip near by as well. Not expensive where I can wear a swimsuit and possibly have a drink if I want. I will be there 3 to 4 days.

  9. All resorts will have “snorkeling trip near by” to the best snorkeling spots in the area.

    Depends on your definition of “great snorkeling”. For Maldives aficionados, that usually means a very accessible ‘house reef’ (one where you can get to in a minute from the beach) with lots of both coral and animal sea life. With the recent bout of warm seas (amplified by this year’s El Nino) and the COTS outbreaks, many reefs have been hit hard.

    If you want to “get to by boat” (which makes a lot of sense for a short stay of “3 to 4 days”), then you are pretty much limited to North Male and South Male atolls.

    I would look at the following…
    – Kurumba: Not great coral on the house reef, but amazing animal life (sharks, turtles, rays, morays). Very diverse and lively place where a single person would be able to socialise and mix a bit. Not cheap as a 5-star property, but probably the best value 5 star in the Maldives –

    – Club Med Kani – Not great house reef at all, but plenty of fine snorkeling excursions to get your snorkeling fix. Some very good value villas. Definitely great ambiance for a single person –

  10. Bruce – You indicate that most of the house reefs have changed dramatically (for the worse) the last year. We are planning a trip for March 2017 and I’m now concerned that given a great house reef with snorkeling is a must for my wife and I, the Maldives may not be the place to go…at least yet. Is the impact primarily to the coral or has the fish life also been impacted? We visited Biyadhoo in 2002 and found the house reef excellent. Wishing to go to a different island (and less dated), we are considering the following resorts: Vilamendhoo, Angaga, Angsana Ihru, Ellaidhoo and Eriyadu. Want easily accessible house reef with good snorkeling plus good dive center (will do some diving…but mostly snorkeling). For a treat, also looking at spending a few days at Mirihi or Kandolhu. Any suggestions on best islands (1 high end, 1 lower end)? Or should we wait another year or two? Thanks.

  11. Jim – All of the resorts that you have listed have excellent house reefs. As you note, with the impact of warm oceans and COTS, it’s hard to know really which have been the most effected. I generally think that the Kaafu atolls (near Male) have been hit harder (but none of your islands are there). I’m also wondering if island closer to the open ocean (ie. edge of the atoll) might get colder water and fare better? Just speculation. Most of the best house reef islands are traditionally well inside the atoll where (a) they are protected more, and (b) where the topology of the islands tends towards the small, island “dots” which male the reef accessible and have a drop-off.

    • Bruce – Thanks for the input. Any other resorts that are in the price range of $300-$500/night that you’d recommend be on our short list (outstanding house reef + good dive center+nice beach)? Also, if we are looking at 2-4 days at a resort running around $800-$1000/night, with same criteria, any other suggestions? And does spending twice the money at these resorts actually give you twice the quality in accommodation and food? I don’t want to pay a bunch extra for amenities we’ll never use.

  12. Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for this great site. I am having hard time choosing a place for me and my 6 friends. We want some place quiet with beaches and something to drink. Couple of us including me love everything related to water so snorkeling is a must. we’ll be staying for 2 nights and don’t want anything fancy. I would really appreciate if you could help me out

  13. It depends on what you mean by “anything fancy”. As the post describes, the range of budget in the Maldives is quite extensive. ‘Not fancy’ could still be thousands of dollars a night. What’s you budget? You mentioned “having a hard time choosing”…do you have a short list?

  14. Pingback: Best of the Maldives: Weather Site – - Maldives Complete Blog

  15. Hi Bruce! A Long post coming your way:

    First, thank you for the comprehensive Maldives analysis on your site, it has been very helpful!
    I am planning a 5-day holiday with my partner to the Maldives on January 2017 (10 year anniversary!)

    Thanks to your site I have managed to reduce the huge list of options to 5 resorts that -barely- accommodate our budget 🙂 I could use your help to make a final decision!
    Our top picks are: 1) Dusit Thani Maldives, 2) The Residence, 3) Velassaru, 4) Sun Aqua Vilu Reef and 5) Ayada Maldives.

    We are in our late-twenties and looking specifically for a water villa with pool. Privacy within our villa is very important, i.e. we don’t want that neighbors can easily peek at us. Also we would like well maintained facilities, doesn’t have to be high-end luxury, but we wouldn’t like it to look outdated or show excessive wear. Any advice?

    Also, I’m having a hard time deciding between all inclusive and breakfast only. With breakfast only, I’m scared about the price of everything else. How much can it cost on average per person per day to eat and maybe a couple of cocktails? With all inclusive, besides the added cost, I’m concerned about the quality/variety of what is actually included.

    One last thing: we are a gay couple, we are aware of the country’s views on this matter, and although we are not into public displays of affection, do you think we can still receive discriminatory treatment for staying together on a villa and such? Will you still recommend Maldives?

    Sorry for the long post and thanks again for the help!

    • Of those resorts in your short list, my favourite is Ayada. Primarily for its reef which is the best of your list (though all the reefs have suffered damage from warming seas). Dusit and Velassaru are superb properties as well.

      I would recommend looking at the back area pictures of the rooms you are considering in the Maldives Complete Room Profiles to see if the privacy is what you are looking for. I think they have pretty decent dividers on the sides.

      The best thing to do is to look at the menu for the dining and think about your eating and drinking habits. My wife and I have huge breakfasts, then a snack for lunch (or a pina colada!) and then a nice diner. As a result, we don’t consume a lot on our third meal and we don’t drink a huge amount so half-board tends to suit us. AI is really designed for people who eat and drink a lot. That said, it is also easier on the mind because it is more convenient and you are not constantly thinking about how much something costs.

      Do not worry at all about being gay on a Maldives resort. I have many gay friends who have visited there regularly and have never experienced anything discriminatory. You will be fine.

      I hope this helps.

  16. Iris Santiago on November 13, 2016 at 10:59 pm said:

    I want to take my family on a four day trip to the Maldives I have a 12 and 15 year old boys! I really want to be in a fun resort preferably and overwater bungalow. I also have a budget of 400 a night the max can you help me please

  17. Take a look at the following resorts which have the most value priced over-water villas – Cinnamon Dhonveli, Embudu, and OBLU by Atmosphere.

    I would also give a look at Club Med Kani. Unfortunately, its over-water villas are a higher standard and are considerably more expensive and likely out of your budget. But the resort itself is full of activity and superb for a 12 and 15 year old (you will love it too).

  18. Shubhod on December 19, 2016 at 1:17 pm said:

    Hi Bruce,
    Thanks for this great blog. I am having hard- time choosing a place for me and my wife. We want some place quiet with beaches and with lots of animals. As we ain’t masters in swimming water sports are no for us. we’ll be staying for 3 nights(2N beach bungalow and 1N water bungalow)budget restraint and just want to enjoy the peaceful beaches. I would really appreciate if you could help me out.

    If you could help me out from the picks to take the final decision.
    1.Club Raanhali
    Thank You.

    • Shubhod –

      1.Club Raanhali: Very quiet, relatively convenient
      2.Kurumba: Highest quality. Very good for weak swimmers as it is surrounded by shallow lagoon protected by seawalls. Least quiet as near Male – so you will get periodic sounds of airplanes taking off and landing at the nearby airport. Most convenient as just a few minutes from airport.
      3.Veligandu – Least convenient. I don’t know much about it as I haven’t been to it.

  19. Just starting my search. Looking for a water villa with excellent shore snorkeling/right from our deck…$1000 US dollars price…per night preferable. Can’t decide between boat or seaplane transfer…staying 10 nights…should we split between 2 locations? Good snorkeling is top priority. Thank you for directing us to some locations.

    • Nancy,

      10 night split – Some people really like just getting into chill mode and once there not disrupting it all, but we found that after about a week, we were keen to explore a new reef, new resort, new menu, etc. It would be ideal if you could split your trip with a very nearby resort that would require just a short resort boat transfer. Transferring with a sea plane will eat up the better part of one day of your treasured holiday time.

      Some ideas:

      SOUTH ARI – You could do something like Vakarufalhi and Lily Beach (they are right opposite each other and both have superb house reefs). You might be able to manage Athuruga and Thudufushi (not only nearby, but same ownership so very easy to manage a combo trip).

      NORTH ARI – Halaveli, Kandolhu and Ellaidhoo are all nearby each other, all have great, accessible house reefs, Halaveli is a bit pricier, but Ellaidhoo is a bit more value range so it might balance out to something manageable.

  20. Warren on January 17, 2017 at 3:52 am said:

    Hi Bruce,
    First, thank you for putting together such a website. The information available is second to none.
    My wife and I are thinking of heading to the Maldives in the first week of April, 01 – 08 April.
    I’m looking for overwater accommodation, all inclusive package, with excellent snorkeling. I’m an experienced snorkeler and diver (but after an unfortunate accident I am now unable to dive) and my wife is of more moderate experience and skill level so I would be looking for a resort with excellent reef snorkeling as well as a drop off.
    In terms of eating and drinking, we like to do both and preferably more premium drinks.
    Budget would be around the AUD$1,500 (USD$1,100 – 1,200) per night but could go higher to USD$1,400 – 1,500 for the right resort.
    Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated as neither of us have been to the Maldives previously.

  21. AUD$1100-$1500 is essentially the 4 star. Any other criteria to help filter? Have you tried using the Room Type Finder, filtering for AI=Yes and WaterVilla=Yes and seeing what comes up?


  22. felisita on February 15, 2017 at 11:21 am said:

    Dear Bruce, Quick question: As a female solo traveler who doesn’t want to bump into too much honeymoon couple, where is the best island to hop in for about 5 nights? :).

    I would love the opportunity to go surfing, any water sports activities, probably diving (depends on the current as I have equalizing challenges..), snorkeling and just do nothing.

    Appreciate if you don’t mind to give an advice of course,

    thank you so much!

  23. The first resort that comes to mind is Club Med Kani. See my post here – As the post says, they have tons of activities including surfing and are right next to one of the great dive sites in the Maldives (Lankan Point, a major manta feeding station). Also, the proximity to Male will reduce transfer time eating into your holiday time for the relatively shorter stay of 5 nights.

  24. Hi Bruce, thank you very much for this very useful & informative blog. I am planning my husbands 63 years old birthday in June. since our flight arrives just before 9 PM, we wish to stay in a hotel that does not require a transfe by seaplane. My husband would love snorkelling/scuba-diving. All that I hope is unblocked Seaview & not noisy. After much research, it seems our choices are limited to (1) Baros -highest rating (2) Taj Exotica – lovely design with bath room overlooking the Seaview (3) One & The Only (4) Coco Island-with snorkelling & scuba-diving/fishing & dining on the Dhoni. Which one would you recommend? Grateful for your thoughts.

  25. All four of those are excellent properties. Each of them has a completely different vibe and strengths. Baros and Cocoa have snorkeling from their beach, while Reethi and Taj require a short boat trip. Baros and Cocoa are tiny, while Taj and Reethi are quite a bit bigger. All will have virtually identical scuba diving. Reethi will be considerably more expensive while Taj will likely be the best value. Lots of small differences that entirely depend on your individual preferences.

    When people have a shortlist, I often recommend that people read through my “Best of the Maldives” post and see which distinctions appeal to them most.

  26. Louise Murray on March 3, 2017 at 2:11 pm said:

    HI Bruce – thanks for your message on trip advisor. I am considering a water villa with a slide at Soneva Jani for a family of 4 but its coming just outside of our budget – can you recommend any other hotels that offer OW rooms with a slide around the £1,500-2,000 per night range?

  27. bruce on March 6, 2017 at 10:27 pm said:

    The other “Soneva heritage” resorts (Gili Lankanfushi, Six Senses Laamu) also have water villa slides, but only on their biggest residences.

    Centara Grand has a “slide-mobile” for water fun you can get from their water sports centre-

  28. Hi Bruce
    i love your website!!
    i have few questions that i would need your help in !!

    1- i would like your recommendation on a 5 star hotel that have amazing white sands but also we can do snorkeling for hours
    2- is it worth the money to spend on sunset villa ? or we go for a sunrise villa?
    3- a lot of people are advising me to take the sea plane as the experience is amazing – what about the boat trip?
    4- what are the activities that we can do in Maldives ? beside snorkeling , diving .. is it true we can do island jumping ?
    5- i am not sure if there is an ideal resort , where the island is big enough , a lot of good activities and nice ambiance at nigh yet its an amazing site for snorkeling !!

    • Dee – Glad the site is useful to you.

      1. Anantara Kihavah, Maafushivaru and Kandolhu comes to mind for the mixture of white sands and fine snorkeling.
      2. Here’s the post on the differences. It really depends on whether you enjoy watching the sunset from your villa –
      3. The boat trip is just fine…but the seaplane ride is indeed *amazing* (but it’s also pricey).
      4. The activities found in the Maldives are boundless (though each island only will offer a few select activities) – Resorts will often provide excursions to (a) uninhabited “picnic” islands, and (b) inhabited local islands. You can’t easily just visit another resort island (unless you break your trip into pieces staying for a bit at one and then moving to another).
      5. There are plenty of big islands with lots of activities. The bigger the island, in general the snorkeling from shore is weaker (big islands tend to sit on the atoll edges on big plateaus, while small islands are intra-atoll dots with steep house reef drop offs). Take a look at Kuramathi and Kuredu who have quite sizeable islands with lots of activities and very good snorkeling.

  29. Krishna on April 13, 2017 at 9:39 am said:

    Which of the three Fihalohi or Kandoma or Olhuveli better for a family of 2 + 2 (aged 13/17)? Water Villa and Snorkeling are key factors apart from the budget.

  30. Krishna – I have only visited Kandooma (of the 3 you have listed) so it would be hard for me to compare them directly. Sorry.

  31. Zahidah on May 11, 2017 at 4:57 am said:


    Me and my friend will go to Maldives on 26 June till 1st July 2017.

    We are still confused in which island should we stay? We are planning to stay on a budget guesthouse for 3 days then 1 night stay in over water villa. Do u have any recommendation? Some said we should go to Maafushi island cos it;s cheaper and all excursion activities offered at a super cheap price. Then we are looking for the cheapest over water villa with the cheapest transportation cost as well.

    Thank you in advance.

  32. bruce on May 11, 2017 at 12:15 pm said:

    I don’t really know much about the new guesthouse segment. I haven’t stayed in them and I haven’t researched them much. To save on transportation costs, you want to stay in the South Male (or maybe North Male) atoll. The cheapest water villas I know of in those atolls are at Embudu (it is a lovely little resort too…I stayed there last summer).

  33. Kanika Tewari on August 22, 2017 at 6:31 am said:

    Dear Bruce,

    I am looking at a 4 star property and a water villa. i would like to see animal life of turtles, sharks and sting rays. Ideally would not like to take the plane as it increases cost.

    can you please help, ill be very greatful.

  34. Kanika – Turtles, sharks and sting rays are all among the most common creatures in the Maldives. I would look at a place like Olhuveli, Bandos or Embudu which are 4 star resort with lively and easily accessible house reefs within a speedboat transfer of Male.

  35. Hi Bruce,

    Thanks so much for all of your helpful information. My fiancee and I will be going to the Maldives for the last week of September this year (so in less than 3 weeks….!). Our priority is scuba diving. We are looking to be as budget-conscious as possible (I do not want to pay over $250 per night), and really could care less about amenities, food, drinking, etc. All we want is the best diving possible for our stay. We’d like to be semi-close to Male to maximize our time (but preferably far enough to not hear planes). And we’d just like to be in the water as much as possible. Considering that we want to be budget-conscious and as much accessibility to the best reefs as possible, what resort do you recommend?

    Thank you!

  36. Lu – Your budget with limit you most of as there are very few resorts at $250 or less. Being close to Male (or at least in the North or South Male atolls will both reduce some time spent transferring, but also eliminate what can be an expensive charge for a seaplane transfer. Frankly, the *best* diving spots are scattered all over the north and south Male atolls. You will taking boat trips to get to them. There is no one cluster of superb dive spots that you can get a resort next to. I would look for deals at the value priced resorts like Olhuveli, Club Med Kani, Summer Island, Centara Ras Fushi, Cinnamon Dhonveli, Embudu, Rihiveli.

  37. sanjeev on September 9, 2017 at 1:03 pm said:

    Compare Paradise island resort and Sun island resort in terms of ratting / fascilty/infrastructure /activity

  38. Sanjeev –

    Similarities: Large islands, not really a house reef (so you take a boat to snorkel spots), value-priced, older properties.

    Differences: Sun Island – South Ari Atoll (which some claim is better diving, but at least has the potential to see nearby whale sharks), bird sanctuary, jungle restaurant, huge spa facility. Paradise Island – run by Italians which gives it a lively vibe, generous snacks set out in afternoon and evening, sporty (squash courts, golf driving into lagoon, beach tennis).

  39. Lorna Boyle on January 21, 2018 at 7:33 pm said:

    Hi Bruce
    I am trying to book a holiday for myself and my daughter who loves snorkelling. The following hotels are within our budget Adaaran Select Hudhutsn Fushi and the Adaaran Select Meedhupparu what would be the best option for snorkelling. thanks.

  40. Meedhupparu is much better for snorkeling. Hudhuranfushi is on an atoll-edge plateau which makes for difficult snorkeling on the outer atoll edge and in general the access is considerably further away from the beach. Meedhupparu is an inner atoll island so it is a round island with a house reef dropping off quite close to the beach edge.

  41. Ken de guia on February 23, 2018 at 11:27 am said:

    Hi bruce! Question about the bioluminescent beach in maldives, is there a specific season where you can see them often? Planning to go this june with my family. For first times, would you suggest we stay in a resort that has a good reef or marine life? Or is there a resort that offers both? Thanks!

    • bruce on March 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm said:

      Ken – First and foremost, do not get your hopes up. I have been travelling to the Maldives for 20 years and I have never seen the bioluminescent beaches. They are a bit like the Northern Lights…a lot of things have to be in alignment. Also like the Northern Lights, you need a very dark night for the luminescence to be more visible (ie. New Moon). Remember, the photos that you have seen on the web have been enhanced with long exposure shots and a bit of Photoshop colour tuning magic. The other thing you need is lots of plankton (they are the things making the light). Plankton blooms vary by place and time. I’m not sure how predictable or seasonal they are. In short, I would choose your resort on considerations other than bioluminescence and then just stroll the beach every night in hopes that you are blessed with a sighting.

      I definitely recommend “marine life” over “good reef” these days. The Maldives are still recovering from water temperatures of El Nino as well as the COTS problem a while back. As a result, the coral is not in its greatest glory even on the best reefs. Some reefs have been hit a bit less than others, but it is hard to confidently determine which ones those are (even Maldives experts don’t get to revisit dozens of reefs each year to get an updated check).

  42. Jimmy Adam on March 1, 2018 at 7:41 pm said:

    Hi Bruce,
    Your blog is so informative & helpful.

    We will be there on July staying at the Maafushi….Ocean beach hotel for 6 nights.

    Family of four (2 kids age 14 & 20)

    We are planning to:
    1) Full day Excursion to one of the Resort Island near Maafushi to experience the real luxury & beauty of Maldive resort.
    2) Snorkeling…. hopefully with lots of varieties of fish and / or turtle.

    Would highly appreciate for your guidance on which is the best place to choose.
    Here’s some places from iCom Website:

    Thank you very much !

  43. bruce on March 6, 2018 at 12:55 pm said:

    Jimmy – Thanks for the kind words. Your choice of resort to visit from Maafushi will be entirely dependent on which nearby resort (if it’s not nearby you will struggle to get a boat transfer to take you) will allow daytrippers to visit. Most resorts to do allow people to visit from other islands. Maafushi is somewhat near Male and some of the resorts closer to Male do have a visitor protocol (you pay a day fee) mostly in response to demand from the cruise market which stops in Male. I would pull up a map of the Maldives resorts, see which 3-4 star ones are a 15 minute boat ride north of Maafushi (ie. closer to Male) and email them to see if they permit visitors from other islands.

  44. Sonja, Norway on March 11, 2018 at 10:26 am said:

    Hi, Bruce,.

    Thanks for an excellent site! Really informative. Still hard to choose resort due to my large list of criteria 🙂

    We are a family of 6 from Norway who love sports: surfing, snorkling, any water sport really. Our kids (not really kids anymore) are 15 to 23, so we do not want to go to a island for families with very young kids.

    We are going in July, and I am trying to find a resort that has lots of fun for us, a good house reef and which the opportunities to go surfing for a day. It has to offer all inclusive: my boys are tall, hungry Norwegians 🙂

    Not so close to Male so that we hear airplanes /noise/see lights, but not more than an hour away (boat/plane) . Not to crowded. Not the tinyest island, but something you could do a little walk on. Water villas.

    Lots of criteria I am trying to cram in, as you see. Any suggestions?



    • bruce on March 11, 2018 at 7:01 pm said:

      1. Surfing – Surfing is a good criteria because it trims the list down to 19 resorts.
      2. AI – Of these 7 offer all-inclusive:

      Adaaran Hudhuran Fushi
      Centara Ras Fushi
      Cinnamon Dhonveli
      Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa
      Club Med Kani
      Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

      Of these, Centara Ras Fushi has the best traditional “drop off” house reef, but Hakuraa Huraa has a stunning coral garden lagoon. In general, great surf resorts are on the outer edges of the atoll on long plateaus which do not lend themselves to great house reef snorkeling (you certainly don’t want to be snorkeling on the rough, surf side). But that’s fine because you can take short jaunts to great nearby reefs for snorkeling with snorkeling excursions the resorts lay on daily.

      I don’t know what your budget is, but Landaa Giravaaru is nearly twice the price of the others.

      Kani is a very “family” oriented resort and there are indeed a good number of small children, but there are lots of honeymooners and adults and we have never felt that the children we that significant. An outstanding buffet.

      I would do some checking out of the websites and pricing of the short list and see what appeals to you.

      • Sonja, Norway on March 11, 2018 at 7:37 pm said:

        Thank you for your help! I’ll look into these right away.

        One last question: if one would stay at a resort close to a surf resort, but with a better reef for snorkling, is it possible to go to a surf resort for the day?

  45. Corina Garcia on March 22, 2018 at 12:30 am said:

    Hello Bruce,

    Thank you so much for all the information! I’m trying to narrow down between Vilamendhoo or Komandoo for 10 days in July. They are very similar in price for the overwater villa but both look to be a bit dated? Our main objective is to snorkel right off the beach, relax and eat yummy food & drink! Can you recommend one over the other or make another suggestion?

    I appreciate your time and valuable input!!!

    • bruce on March 29, 2018 at 9:14 am said:

      Vilamendhoo and Komandoo are both super resorts with excellent and very accessible house reefs. In order to “snorkel right off the beach, relax and eat yummy food & drink”, you are really splitting hairs. I always recommend that when you get a short list this tight in comparison all you can do is browse their websites, browse their Best Of the Maldives pieces ( , ), and browse their TripAdvisor reviews (remember to take the bad ones and the ecstatic ones with a grain of salt) and just get a FEEL for each property. At this point, you are really down to subtle and subjective distinctions. By the way, there is no wrong answer which ever one you choose.

  46. Wayne Lin on April 29, 2018 at 7:44 am said:

    Dear Bruce: We love and deeply appreciate the helpfulness website u put together. Me and my fiancee are planning a liveaboard diving trip to the maldives and plan to stay 3 nights at a 1000ish usd/night, 4~5 star resort before the dive trip. We’d like to do some prewedding photos with a tripod ourselves as well as try our hand at underwater freedive with white dress shoots with my camera in a dive housing (and me in scuba gear) so would like to find a resort with easy access to Male but quiet, snorkel depth 3~10 meter depth with easy access preferably right off the villa deck, and great sunset/land backdrop for photo shoot. Any input would be great!!!!

  47. bruce on April 29, 2018 at 5:45 pm said:

    Wayne – Thanks for the kind words. The resort that comes to mind is Coco Bodu Hithi (in price range, in Male atolls, good reef for shooting, no seawalls for vista, inner atoll for reef and calm water).

    • Wayne Lin on May 1, 2018 at 3:00 pm said:

      Dear Bruce:
      Thank you for your prompt reply!!! We checked out Coco Bodu Hithi and think it would b great for above water and under water photo shoots~ If we may pick ur brains a bit more, what resort would come to mind if we had 2x our previous budget to burn :)?

      • bruce on May 3, 2018 at 6:21 am said:

        The resorts in the Male area at that price point with a good/accessible house reef would include Huvafenfushi, Four Seasons Kuda Hura, and Cocoa Island. Also, in that price range, I find Velassaru especially photogenic both on the island and the expansive lagoon surrounding it, but it doesn’t really have a house “reef” per se (just sandy lagoon with coral croppings).

  48. Betty on June 7, 2018 at 5:36 am said:

    Helloooo Bruce!
    We just happened upon your blog and have learned so much already! We just booked air for our first Maldives holiday, but USA agents are not too familiar with it.
    We arrive on 10 April 2019 for 7 nights.
    Our top priorities are: 1) Excellent house reef for snorkeling & diving, 2) Premium all-Inclusive with quality drinks & diverse dining, 3) A pool & good socializing.
    Our optional Wish List includes… 4) Whale sharks, 5) undersea restaurant access, 6) Tennis 7) Fishing
    The resorts we’re looking at so far are: Kuramathi, Lily Beach & Centara Grand.
    We would appreciate your personal feedback on them and/or other resort recommendations. Please also advise pricing for said resorts. Cheers!

  49. bruce on June 19, 2018 at 10:24 am said:

    None of those resorts will give you “undersea restaurant access” and only Lily Beach will give you a chance to see whale sharks. It is pretty easy to find premium AI, pool, tennis and fishing. If you want accessible house reef, undersea restaurant and whale sharks, you are really pointing directly at Conrad Rangali. I don’t have direct access to pricing, but most website publish their rack rates on their websites.

  50. Randy Grill on July 8, 2018 at 3:52 pm said:

    Hi Bruce!
    I am planning a trip from NYC to the Maldives in early Feb, 2019 for 7 or 8 nights. I would say my 2 most important considerations would be quality house reef…one either not as damaged from the El Niño a few years ago or one making nice comeback…and cost. I know all quality Maldives resorts (and I do want quality) are not cheap. Just trying to keep it within reason…750 or under per night for 2 including meals…500-600 would be even better. Other considerations would be water skiing with calm water and tennis. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  51. Randy Grill on July 13, 2018 at 6:08 am said:

    Hi again,
    In reading your other responses, I see that you recommend coming up with your own short list which I did. I decided i also wanted an otw bungalow or villa while still staying close to budget. I came up with three so far: Vilamendhoo, Kuredu, and Meeru. I love Meeru for having so many activities on both land and water, but I think there may not be much of a house reef so at this point i’m leaning towards the other 2. I would love to hear your opinion or any other suggestions that fit my criterion. Reading through this page was quite an education in itself! I appreciate all the time and effort you’ve put in to help others like me.
    Thanks again,

  52. bruce on July 21, 2018 at 9:16 am said:

    Randy – Apologies for the delay of response. I’ve been quite busy planning my own tour of the islands (I am there now, at Makunudu).

    Unfortunately, it is very hard to confirm which house reefs are least damaged by El Nino and COTS or which are making the best comebacks. My knowledge of the Maldives goes back two decades, but all of those house reef snorkels are obsolete past the recent few years now. Lots of discussion on the forums about places where the coral is stronger, but no real consensus that I can determine. Some sense that the southernmost atoll (ie. Seenu or Addu) has fared okay, but I can’t vouch for it. Plus, Addu doesn’t have any resorts with the classic drop-off of an intra-atoll island (all the resorts are on the edge of the atoll).

    Your budget is on the value 5-star or good 4+ star range for which there is lots of choice. Of your short list, Vilamendhoo has the best house reef. They also have a tennis court and water skiing.

  53. Valeria on July 23, 2018 at 11:12 am said:

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I found your blog on Tripadvisor and I am reading everything, it’s amazing!

    Could you help me please with a recommendation for a resort? I am travelling for the first time to Maldives this August (we still haven’t booked). We are a couple (late 20s and early 30s) and we are looking for a resort that is not too big, crowded or with lots of kids. We would love to snorkel either there or with tours.

    Thanks for your help!

  54. Hey Bruce, we are a couple in mid twenties. we are headed to maldives on the 1st November for a 4 nights trip. We are looking for a combination where we could stay at a decently prices beach bungalow for 3 nights and 1 night exoerince the water villa at a different resort but nearby to the first one. We are on our babymoon hence dont want to diive but snirkelling with some fun activities indoors and a romantic spot would be preferred. For the 3n stay our budget is about 250 USD a night and for the water villa stay at a good resort we could extend the budget upto 400- 500 US. Can you suggest.

  55. Hershey – 250 USA per night is extremely low for the Maldives. For starters, I would stay in the Male atoll (North and South) to (a) avoid the expensive seaplane transfer, and (b) avoid the extra time a seaplane transfer usually takes since your stay is relatively short. There are some very good value priced resorts in the Male area – Makunudu, Summer Island, Centara Ras Fushi, Olhuveli, Embudu.

    All of those will be a pushing your budget (you didn’t specify if the budget was just for the room or room and board or room and board and everything else like drinks, activities, etc). Different resorts and different operators often have deals, offers and specials if they have a bit of excess inventory. I would recommend shopping around asking about those resorts and see if any come up with a bargain that fits your price bracket.

  56. Michelle Trotter on November 3, 2018 at 8:09 am said:

    Hi Bruce,

    My husband and I are looking to visit the Maldives for 10 nights Jan/Feb 2019 for our Honeymoon. We have a budget of £4000 (to also include flights and spending money) and are currently trying to figure out which island to stay on and the best accommodation for us. We love sea activities but also want it to be peaceful and romantic. Please can you help us in our search?


  57. That’s a fairly tall order. Flights from the UK that time of year (with taxes, transfers, incidentals) are going to eat up about £1000 for each of you leaving £2000 total for the two of you for 10 nights (£200 per night). February is (a) the highest season (most expensive and busiest), and (b) it is only a couple months away (people often book the Maldives up to a year in advance). As a result, recommendations don’t really matter. What matters is whether there is *any* rooms available for that price left.

    OBLU Select is a very attractively priced brand new resort and they might have a slot in February for you. Malahini Kuda Bandos is delightful and probably just comes in your budget. Maybe even Meedhupparu (but I haven’t stayed there so I don’t really know much about it).

  58. Saumit Deshmukh on November 6, 2018 at 4:18 pm said:

    HI Bruce ,
    This is Saumit From India,
    First of all thanks a lot for the blog and sharing your knowledge and insight here,this is indeed helpful,

    I don’t want to waste time and money on seaplanes and islands far away from the International Airport.
    So after reading your blog and what people have discussed above,i think i would like to visit either BANDOS OR EMBUDU, Both the properties look good for me, What i want to ask is what would be the charges for Water sports activities like Scuba or snorkelling or night fishing as they mention ( if you can give me a generic idea about this ) Also i would like to ask if all the resorts charge any extra fees amount for the usage of the facilities like Spa and Gym or Lawn Tennis and Table tennis @ the club house at the Bandos for that matter…?

  59. Saumit – Most resort provide use of gym, tennis and table tennis and unmotorised water sports like paddleboarding or kayaking for free. I don’t recall the details for Bandos and Embudu. Scuba, spa, night fishing and motorised sports will definitely be charged. I would email the resort and ask for the latest prices.

  60. Antigua on December 14, 2018 at 8:21 am said:

    Hi Bruce,
    Could you please recommend which island to stay at for a romantic couple getaway?
    Travelling end of February for 5-7 night stay.
    Accommodation: either 1. (all inclusive) resort, 2. water bungalow or ocean villa (no children permitted)
    Budget: US$300-$400 / night.
    From airport: prefer speed boat transfer.
    Activity: laying horizontal as much as possible + novice snorkel + good food
    Population: semi-private + some night life is okay
    Thank you, Antigua

  61. Of the adult-only resorts ( a speedboat ride away there are only the following resorts…
    Finolhu Villas – No under 18s
    Anantara Dhigu – No under 18s (though under 18s from Naladhu and Veli welcome at times)
    Centara Ras Fushi – no under 12s
    Baros – No under 8s

    All offer All Inclusive, but I suspect that only Centara Ras Fushi will meet your budget. They do have some night life and they are all ocean villas.

  62. Priyanka ghosh on January 13, 2019 at 1:05 pm said:

    Hi Bruce ,

    We are a family of 4 travelling to Maldives first week of April. This will be our first visit to Maldives .My husband and my sons ( 19 years and 15 years) are marine aquarium hobbyists and my sons want to take scuba diving lessons. After reading through your blog and keeping our budget ( since we want to take two water villas / bungalows) in mind we were thinking of Vilamendhoo . But the question in our mind is along with a good house reef and marine life will it also be a spot for colourful corals. Please advise us on same .If in your opinion we could get to see better colourful corals and diverse marine life in any other atoll / resort please advise .. accordingly we could cross our budget to a certain extent..


    • Vilamendoo has an excellent house reef. Probably in the top ten for the Maldives. Be aware that warming ocean temperatures, El Nino and COTS has had a huge impact on the amount of “colourful corals” across the entire destination. The “marine life” of fish and other animals (eg. turtles) is still very vibrant.

      I highly recommend doing the classroom portion of the scuba diving course (PADI) somewhere at home. It will be cheaper and you won’t be spending a chunk of your holiday sitting in a classroom, Courses allow you to just take the classroom bit somewhere and then go on your certification dives somewhere else. Maldives is a great place to do your certification dives.

  63. Hi Bruce ,

    Our family , 2 adults and 1 teen (12). would like to go to Maldives in the coming August. We plan to spend 5 days 4 nights in the resort. This is our first time travel to Maldives, so we have high expectation for the trip, especially to explore the underwater live.

    I have looked at quite a number of the resorts and read the reviews as well, and it is really difficult to come up with an decision.

    Here are our wish list:

    1. Stay on the Water Villa with direct access to the sea / house reef

    2. The resort with great snorkeling enviornment and good house reef (with many different kinds of sea creatures)

    3. Prefer All inlusive plan / full board, at least half board

    4. Budget within USD4000-5000 (including all the expenses, any extra spending, such as join 1-2 excursions)

    Besides, our departure flight back home, will be late 21:00. So we prefer a resort that can allow us to stay late on the last day. As I have read some reviews stating that some resort asked the visitors to leave early, due to the schedule of the transfer, and they had to wait in the airport for 5-7 hours. If in this aspect, can I still consider resort which requires seaplane, or domestic flight transfer?

    Some of the choices includes: Oblu Select, Centara Grand, Vakarufalhi , Mirihi, Amari, Outrigger, Carpe Diem….

    Which one are the best? Most valuable? or any other suggestions. If it is hard to tell the best, please at least let me know which one is not a good choice. I do like Vilamendoo, however its villa not allowed child aged 12.

    Really appreciated if you can give me some advice. Thanks in advance.

    Best regards, Alice

  64. I only have visited Vakarufalhi and Mirihi. Both are reknowned for their great house reefs that are very easy to access. Both are also in the South Ari atoll so you have the possibility of trying to go see whale sharks which is amazing. I’ve not been to Carpe Diem, but it is one of the most impressive new entries in the affordable luxury class so I would check that out seriously as well.

    • Bruce,
      Thanks a lot!

      Mirihi is very good, just it’s excursions are very costly. Their whale shark excursion is more than USD200 per person.

      If you have more information of Carpe Diem , pls do share , would like to know their house reef condition 😊.

      • I don’t have much more info on Carpe Diem. Best to check their website and some of the early TA reviews. Whale Sharks trips are all costly, but it is a once in a life time experience (but there is no guarantee to see a whale shark either).

  65. mishra on March 18, 2019 at 10:59 pm said:

    Dear Bruce
    Celebrating a 50th and 18th birthdays of twins . teenagers want some fun with snorkelling water sports . we want relaxing . not too big a resort would like luxurious . budget around £1000pp per day incl food
    house reef good food several restaurants
    not too boring

    • bruce on March 28, 2019 at 9:34 pm said:

      Sorry for the delay of the response (been travelling). I would look at Olhuveli or Kurumba (if you don’t mind being near Male).

  66. Mel Clarke on March 25, 2019 at 8:05 am said:

    Hi there,
    I am hoping to get some advice. I would like to find a resort that has:
    – access by boat
    – overwater bungalows
    – accommodation for 2 adults, 2 kids (my two teenagers are male + female and would prefer not to share a bed)
    Thank you in advance

  67. bruce on March 28, 2019 at 9:36 pm said:

    Mel – Your criteria are wide open and a couple dozen resorts would match what you have listed. The most important consideration is price. What is your budget? Any other criteria?

  68. Hi Bruce

    Absolutately amazing work you have here! Many thanks for sharing your knowledge and time. You’re definitely a top Maldives expert and I hope the country appreciates all you’re doing for that bit of Paradise.

    I’ve spent a few hours going thru your site, including blog posts, comments sections and the filter page.

    It’s great and miles ahead of anything we can find elsewhere.

    We’ve used your filter and I appreciate your database has most of the information needed to short list a few.
    However, I decided to ask for your opinion, as this comments section clearly shows how valuable your insights and qualitative opinions are.

    We’re looking for a week in Dec 2019 just for the 2 of us – no kids.

    For a budget around 450-600 / night (full board as minimum and excluding flights; I believe this makes the question “easier” to answer), trying to find recomended hotels considering the following aspects that are more relevant to us:

    – overall environment – modern, not dated, stylish decors, “not too big, not too small”, luxury feel would be nice
    – guest population – we’re not on honeymoon, but the spirit is the same; mostly adults would be a good choice; we’re not focused on “pool socialization” so this is basically to get a quiet and civilized place 😉
    – snorkeling and overall water activities – we’re very keen of bringing great memories, so a great house reef would be a must (I’ve seen and appreciate your comments about global warming impact on coral; hopefylly marine life can make up for this)
    – transfer time – the shorter the better; domestic flights are like to extend the trip for a few more hours
    – restaurants – resort buffets tend to be boring so would be good to have 2/3 alternatives
    – water villa and/or pool are not a must – we’ll go for it only if fits in our budget

    Would you be able to share 3/4 options that I’m sure quickly come to your mind?

    Many thanks for your help and congratulations for this amazing work! We’re learning a lot!

    Bruno & Marta

  69. Bruno & Marta –

    Thank you for the kind words. I’ll do my best to help as always. Here are some thoughts…

    – budget around 450-600 / night (full board as minimum) – In the peak season of December this is more on the value end of the spectrum.

    – overall environment – modern, not dated, stylish decors, “not too big, not too small”, luxury feel would be nice: Most of the new properties will tick this box and there are lots of new properties (opened in the past 5 years).

    – guest population – we’re not on honeymoon, but the spirit is the same; mostly adults would be a good choice; we’re not focused on “pool socialization” so this is basically to get a quiet and civilized place 😉 – Nearly all resorts are quite quiet, so might use this as a tie breaker.

    – snorkeling and overall water activities – we’re very keen of bringing great memories, so a great house reef would be a must (I’ve seen and appreciate your comments about global warming impact on coral; hopefylly marine life can make up for this) – Since all house reefs are pretty equally affected I will direct you to resorts with traditionally fine house reefs.

    – transfer time – the shorter the better; domestic flights are like to extend the trip for a few more hours

    – restaurants – resort buffets tend to be boring so would be good to have 2/3 alternatives – Your budget is on the value end and usually these properties are primarily buffets (with premium resorts featuring multiple eateries).

    Some of my immediate thoughts…
    Kandolhu – Not quite in your budget.
    Gangehi – Only one a la carte restaurant (in addition to buffet)
    Centara Ras Fushi – Ticks all the boxes (including chance to stay in water villa), but the location near Male puts a lot of people off).
    Anantara Dhigu – Not great house reef.
    Cocoon – Not great house reef. Seaplane transfer.
    Kandima – Not great house reef. Seaplane transfer.

  70. Many thanks Bruce.
    Your help and dedication is second to none.
    I’ll let you know what we decide. I’m learning we may need to stretch our budget further 😉

  71. Bruno on May 10, 2019 at 2:00 pm said:

    Hi Bruce

    Maldives is really complex for newbies, considering all the variables! I’m valuing your work more and more each minute I spend researching.

    So, following your reply, we ended up with an obvious conclusion: our budget needs to go up. 🙂

    After days of research, we came up with the following short list:

    Coco Bodu Hithi
    Anantara Kihava

    Would be keen to get your view, considering your experience with (at least some of) these.

    2 parallel questions, should you have an opinion:
    – some transfers add quite a lot to the overall cost. I’ve seen mentioned in several places as a good site to use for transfers. Have you used it and/or have any feedback?
    – I’m getting quotes from They’re generally good (compared to buying in the UK) but I have mixed feelings about them. Do you by chance have any experience and/or feedback on them?

    As always, many thanks! we’re almost there and your help is precious!

    Bruno & Marta

  72. bruce on May 10, 2019 at 4:03 pm said:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Your short list is a brilliant selection of simply superb properties. I would put Kihavah and Hurawalhi in the top class. Kandolhu doesn’t have as much to offer because it is so tiny, but it is so perfectly formed and so iconically diminutive, it is one of my all time favourites. I would then put Kuramathi and Coco Bodu Hithi…both great resorts who biggest advantage is that I suspect that they would be considerably cheaper in price.

    Your resort will sort out your transfers. The cost of those transfers will be a lot, but you really don’t have much choice. The way the system works is that the resorts arrange the guests’ transfers. is really for transfer to NON-RESORT destinations from Male.

    I’ve never heard of I know most parts of the Maldives travel industry after 20+ years of visiting so if I haven’t heard of them, I would tread carefully. Make sure you have a testimonial from someone you trust. This TripAdvisor thread on the Maldives Forum makes them seem ok – .

  73. Bruno Lopes on May 10, 2019 at 4:19 pm said:

    Bruce, can’t thank you enough.
    I wonder when will Maldives name an island after you!

  74. Kelly Branton on July 12, 2019 at 7:08 am said:

    Dear Bruce
    We are looking to return to the Maldives after 15 years. We will be visiting as a family this time, with children aged 8yrs/11yrs and would like to book a hotel which will cater best for our needs. Our children are not children that want to attend a ‘kids club’ and so as long as the island doesn’t exclude children, this won’t be an issue. Our musts are: good snorkelling, accommodation with space (either 2 bedrooms or a slide door to partition) and if possible a small pool?! Water sports are also important, as we enjoy kayaking etc. We would also rather if on AI, that we have a set menu in the a la carte restaurants and are able to order a bottle of wine. We have been considering the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi but it doesn’t tick all of the boxes…maybe it’s not possible??! We would really value any suggestions you could give to help us find the right place to stay.
    Thanks so much

  75. bruce on July 12, 2019 at 8:54 am said:

    What’s your budget? I don’t understand your comment “We would also rather if on AI, that we have a set menu in the a la carte restaurants and are able to order a bottle of wine”? Can you clarify what you mean by your meal plan requirement? Which boxes does Irufushi not tick? Thanks.

  76. Kelly on July 12, 2019 at 12:06 pm said:

    Hi, so our budget with flights is around £12,000.
    All Incl doesn’t always mean that you can order a bottle of wine, but usually means you have glasses of wine instead of a bottle – in our experience this doesn’t mean the wine is at it’s best. We are only considering All Inclusive, as it seems almost impossible to find a resort that does not offer AI – usually a buffet style dinner. We would rather a three course meal. Some of these things are not ticked by Iru Fushi (but it looks lovely – don’t get me wrong!!), plus i’m not sure whether the snorkelling could be better elsewhere, as this is important. Does this make sense? We don’t usually spend this much on a summer holiday, so want it to be right.

  77. bruce on July 12, 2019 at 12:21 pm said:

    I’m going to assume that your flights will be £1000/person so that is a resort budget of £2000 per person. How many days are you going for? Which of those things are no ticked off by Irufushi? Yes, Irufushi doesn’t have the best house reef. Bruce

  78. Sze Zhenkai on July 18, 2019 at 2:24 am said:

    Dear Bruce,

    Came across your website while going through the arduous search for the right resort based on our travel period and budget and would love your thoughts on possible options.

    Details of travel as below:
    Number of persons – 2
    Dates – 19-24 Dec
    Budget – around USD 4K total for stay period maximum(inclusive of airport transfers)
    Looking for – Good to great house reef, Good activities in and out of resort, All-inclusive package with good food options, well-maintained room and resort facilities, Overwater villas, Great service

    Some shortlist thus far:
    Value category – Meeru Island (No house reef after some reads), Kandima, Komandoo
    Luxury category – Hurawalhi, Anantara Kihavah

  79. bruce on July 19, 2019 at 8:33 am said:

    If you can get Hurawalhi or Anantara Kihavah for your budget, I would jump at it. Kandima (not the most accessible house reef) and Komandoo are also outstanding resort (and more likely to be in your budget range).

  80. Daan on July 27, 2019 at 5:57 pm said:

    Hi Bruce

    What s your opinion on Atmosphere resort?
    I ll be traveling with my children.

  81. Hi Bruce
    Planning to visit maldives for honeymoon from 3rd to 8th Dec (6 days)
    No of people-2
    Budget around-4k usd including flights
    Planning to stay in superior beach bungalows in resort with good facilities
    Any suggestion for that
    And should i go all inclusive, half board or full board.

  82. bruce on August 2, 2019 at 6:57 am said:

    We tend to go Half Board. We don’t drink much (just a pina colada…or two at sunset and maybe Lori will have a glass of wine with dinner) so AI doesn’t make much sense. We also find that with Full Board we just eat too much. The breakfast buffets are so lavish that we just stuff ourselves. When lunchtime rolls around, we are just not hungry. If we are a bit peckish, you can take the money you saved going Half Board and buy something light a la carte. Half board is also a useful strategy to prevent excessive holiday weight gain.

    I don’t know where you are coming from so I don’t know your flight costs, but let’s assume around $500 per person so you have $3000 for 6 day or $500 per day. That’s going to be roughly $300 per night for lodging and $100 per person per day for food, etc. I would look at Thulhagiri that we visited last month. Very impressive resort that you might be able to get for that price. Others you might be able to get would be Summer Island and Embudu.

  83. Hi Bruce, we’re staying in the Maldives for 6 nights at the end if February next year. We’ve provisionally booked the Vilamendhoo Island Resort but would be grateful for your advice on other options in a similar or cheaper price bracket. Our preference is to stay somewhere with off the beach access to a house reef with variety of marine life.
    The website is extremely useful many thanks for the time and effort you have invested in it.

  84. Sam – Vilamendhoo is a great resort, very good value for money and renowned for an extremely good house reef in the South Ari atoll. Trying to think of similar standard resorts (both on the island and the house reef) that might be a bit cheaper. Maybe Olhuveli (though reef not quite as good and access is by jetty), or maybe Kudafushi, or maybe Vakarufalhi (again, jetty access).

  85. Hi Bruce,

    I am so pleased to find your blog after searching for suitable resort to stay in Maldives for a while.

    We are family of 4 with 2 teenagers aged 14 and 17. Our search criteria are:

    1. Colourful house reef and marine lives within easy access
    2. Option for overwater villa
    3. Not too touristy

    We have set our eyes on Vakkaru Maldives and Dust Thani Maldives on Baa Atoll and Reethi Faru Resort on Raa Atoll.

    Could you please give me some insight of these resorts if you are familiar with them? or could you please suggest some other great resorts matching our criteria?

    We are going at the end of next May. Our budget is under $8000 including flight(from Dubai), half board, transfer and other fees. Thank you.

  86. I haven’t stayed at Vakkaru, but I understand that it is a very high standard. Dusit Thani is a 5-star while Reethi Faru is a 4+ star so the facilities at Dusit are cut above (you must be getting a good deal). Dusit Thani and Reethi Faru both have comparable house reefs in terms of marine life, accessibility and topology, but don’t get too excited about colourful coral which is still quite low on house reefs across the Maldives.

    • Thank you so much for your insight. You are right. Vakkaru is over our budget, but it looks stunning on the photos (need to put up a strong case to convince the hubby to dig deeper :-))

      One last question please. Seaplane or domestic flight? Is it worth paying $500 more for all 4 of us to take seaplane and save half an hour journey each way?

      Thank you.

  87. Is it $500 more (a) in total, or per person? Either way, it’s totally subjective. The seaplane is a really unique experience. Both flying in one and flying low to get the treat of an aerial the seascape below. The domestic flights don’t really fly that much higher so you get lovely views with them as well. So totally depends of how much the “experience” of the seaplane journey is worth to you.

  88. Hi Bruce
    First I would like to thank you for providing such informative website on Maldives.

    Myself and my husband are planning a trip to Maldives in March or April 2020.
    Our main priority is that the resort should have a great house reef and one that
    Doesn’t require a sea plane transfer.
    We have narrowed it on Bandos.Can you please give your feedback on Bandos also
    Can you suggest other resorts which have a great house reef and that don’t require
    a sea plane transfer.
    Thank you in Advance:)

    • We are also considering Vilamendhoo..which one do u suggest..Bandos or Vilamendhoo

      • Both Bandos and Vilamendoo have great house reefs (very accessible, great drop-offs, lots of marine life) though be aware that the coral side of things are still recovering in the Maldives at all resorts. Vilamendhoo is very much a big step above Bandos in terms of quality of the property. Vilamendhoo does require a seaplane transfer.

  89. Faheem Khan on January 20, 2020 at 7:26 pm said:

    Hi Bruce, I wish I had come across your site sooner. Through weeks and weeks of research, my wife and I have narrowed it down to Cocoon, our decision was based on wanting to experience the seaplane, and one of the northern islands as we read less rain. We are aiming for April 10, 2020 through April 17, 2020. We liked that Cocoon as seen on google maps has a relatively large frontage of shallow water. Here comes my question, how is the current for the over water bungalows at this resort. On your resort map for Kuredu it stated strong currents, my wife is a good swimmer, i on the other hand not so good. I love kayaking and jetskis but prefer both in relatively shallow waters.



    • I don’t recall the current in front of the Cocoon beach villas having a particularly strong current (if any). Current is very dependent on conditions and the best thing to do is always just check with the dive center for their advice as they will check the current every day (what direction it is in, how strong it is). I’m not sure why you mentioned Kuredu?

  90. Faheem Khan on January 21, 2020 at 1:04 pm said:

    Hi Bruce, Kuredu was one of our choices, in doing some reach online, some have said strong currents. When I came upon your site in your searchable database, I opened the large island map you have via a link, on that map it says strong current…


  91. Steven Lee on February 5, 2020 at 2:00 pm said:

    Hi Bruce,

    Many years ago I went to what was a wild and untouched Vilamendhoo. It was Ace.

    I am looking to go to The Maldives with my wife and we are looking for an island with a good house reef for snorkelling, dive centre, cosy accommodation and good food.

    Looking both at your resort finder and elsewhere the number one pick is…Vilamendhoo but I was kind of hoping to go somewhere different.

    Filitheyo looks similar but the rooms don’t appear anywhere near as nice and it is more expensive and has no wifi which is difficult as we would want to keep in touch with our kids who will be staying with their Granny,

    Elaiyadhoo Cinnamon also looks nice but has that horrible concrete wall around it.

    Are we missing anywhere?

    Also, is it better to book a package holiday with one of the major providers or arrange flights ourselves and book the hotel directly?

  92. “Are we missing anywhere?” Hmmm…not totally sure what all your criteria is but it seems like a reasonably priced (eg. $500/night) 4+ star. All resorts will have “dive centre, cosy accommodation and good food” so you are really looking for the “good house reef for snorkeling”. Other resorts that have good house reefs in that sort of price band are Olhuveli, Kurumba (if you don’t mind being by Male), Vakarufalhi, Gangehi, Bathala.

    • Steven Lee on February 7, 2020 at 3:50 pm said:

      Thank you very much Bruce.

      Do you know much about Oblu Helengeli? Purely based on what I can see on the internet it looks good and appears to have a good house reef too but it is also near Male (is that a bad thing?)

      • Helengeli is no where near Male. About an hour’s boat ride away. There are resorts in other atolls that are closer to Male than Helengeli is. I wouldn’t worry about it being “near to Male”.

        I don’t know anything about the reef, but looking at the aerial photos it has all the hallmarks of a good one (especially being in a channel to outside the atoll…though be careful of currents).

  93. Deb Pandit on February 15, 2020 at 12:28 pm said:

    Dear Bruce
    I was struggling through the choices of resorts once we decided to go to Maldives, then I stumble across your website. I wouldn’t even attempt to guess the amount of time and energy gone into develop the database and make it available for the benefit of all. This is absolutely amazing! Thank you for your time and passion.
    This is probably be a silly question and may already explained somewhere in your website, but I have not been able to find the answer.
    1.Could I request you to explain the rating for the House reef, drop off distance, snorkel spotting and lagoon coral? Does 1 mean better than 3?
    2. As family ( with two young adult kids 18 & 20) very new to Snorkelling but got excited about it after having an opportunity to do it at Molokini, Hawaii couple of years ago, hence the plan to go to Maldives. In terms of drop off distance is it better to have a drop off close by or further away?
    3. The dreaded weather question! We are planing to go in first week of July this year. In one of the blog elsewhere it was mentioned that South Atoll might have less chance of rain than North Atolls in July, is it true in your experience?
    4. Finally, If I could trouble you with few suggestions for resorts with best snorkelling experience (house reef & variety of animals) in July 2020 with resort rating 4 or above and maximum cost around GBP 2000 pp (for 7 nights half board and transfer), I shall be grateful for your time.

  94. Deb – Thanks for the kind words. No such thing as silly questions, especially about the Maldives.
    1. “1” is best (1=distinctive, 2=very good, 3=problems, 4=no info)
    2. Everyone prefers a near drop off – (a) less time and effort swimming out to the “main event” (the drop off), and (b) less disconcerting as opposed to being (seemingly) in the middle of the ocean even if waist deep sand is just metre away.
    3. We have been going in July for the past 10 years. You can go through my Tour reports on the TripAdvisor Forum to see my specific weather reports. A “typical” July day is “scattered clouds with light ocean breeze and possibility of a rain cloud coming along, dumping rain for 15 minutes and then moving on”. I’ve never believed the hair-splitting notion that any atoll has discernibly more or less rainfall at ay particular time than any other atoll.
    4. 2000 GBP pp for 7 nights (approx 300 GBP) per night is at the value end of the scale. You probably want to stay in the Male atolls to avoid the cost of a seaplane transfer (which would eat up nearly a quarter of your total budget). Resorts at the more budget end with good house reefs include Olhuveli, Thulhagiri, Kurumba (very close to Male and most luxurious but some great deals and tons of marine life on house reef), Rannalhi.

    • Deb Pandit on February 15, 2020 at 3:04 pm said:

      Thank you very much for your time and answer. This explains a lot and in terms of weather widenss up my choices.
      One more request, if I push my budget to 400 pp per night can you please suggest few more resorts? Again house reef will be the top priority.

      • Frankly, I think you will need close to 400 pp/night for the list I have provided (I erred on the side of more expensive on the hopes that you might get a good deal or you might just stretch a bit more).

      • Richard Roe on June 30, 2020 at 4:12 pm said:

        Hi Bruce,
        I just wanted to say thank you for so much info. This is great.
        Could i ask for some help in picking a resort?
        Here are my answers to the questions above,
        1. Budget about £6000-£7000
        2. Size of island not thought about but are a family of 4 with children aged 9 & 10
        3. Snorkling off beach highly important or at least good marine life for the children to see daily
        4. Sea plane a must if possible for the added experience
        5.2 children
        6.pool be good to get off the beach for a hour or 2
        7. All inclusive needed
        8. Like sport activities and watersports bonus if included

        Islands we have looked at were
        Cocoon maldives (top of budget)
        Cinnamon dhonveli
        Olhuveli beach but have read snorkelling is poor And not sea plane
        Meeru found to be cheapest
        Adaaran select hudhuran was also reasonable
        Someone mentioned sun aqua vilu reef but this was just over our budget

        Any help greatly appreciated.

        • bruce on July 1, 2020 at 11:40 am said:

          Richard – Apologies for the delay of response (busy week). Key question – How many days are you wanting to stay?

  95. Hi Bruce,
    Your info is amazing. I have been researching the Maldives for weeks now and this helps so much.
    My wife and I are 30 years old and have been wanting to get to the Maldives for quite some time now. We are planning a trip for next year February as we think this is a good time for perfect sunny weather. We are from Cape Town, South Africa and will be flying through Doha on Qatar Airways. We just cant seem to decide on the perfect resort to stay at. We would like all inclusive if possible but if not its also ok. We would like an over the water Bungalow and white sandy beaches with great sunsets with the little wind if possible. I think the biggest plus’s for us is the amazing light blue water and great views from our room.

    Budget is around 25000 South African Rand a night (so roughly between 1400 to 1500 Dollars a night at most.)
    Duration of stay will be for 7 nights.
    We wont be doing any diving but we do enjoy a good snorkel.
    We also enjoy going to the spa and love good food and drink.
    We don’t mind travelling by seaplane but my wife is not a huge fan of flying, so if there are any great options you know of that are accessible by boat that is a plus. But we will take the seaplane if it means the resort standard will be a lot better.

    I dont know much about these Resorts but some that have grabbed our eye briefly are Club Med Kani, Dusit Thani, Baros, Ayada, One and Only Reethi Rah, Anatara Kihavah and the residence at Dhingurah.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks so much for the help and have a great day.

    KInd Regards
    Cape Town

    • Thanks for the kind words.

      All of the resorts on your list are superb. I have stayed at all of them except Dhigurah.

      Dhigurah and Ayada are a domestic transfer (jet) away, and Dusit and Kihavah are a seaplane transfer away.

      Reethi Rah and Kani don’t really have house reefs, but do have lovely nearby reefs for snorkeling they take you to on excursions.

      I’d be surprised if you could get Reethi Rah for your budget.

      Out of that list, without regard to flying, I would take Kihavah (great standard, great island, great house reef, great underwater restaurant). If you want to to not fly (Reethi Rah, Baros, Kani), I am thinking Baros is probably your best option.

  96. Hi Bruce,

    We are planing for a Maldives trip for our 10th anniversary. This will be our first time in Maldives.
    Between Havafen Fushi, Naladhu and OZEN Reserve Bolifushi wich one do you recommend?
    The reason I picked these resorts is they are close to Male and no need for a sea plane transfer.
    I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks you in advance


  97. Hi,
    Your info is absolutely amazing and vast. I’d be really glad if you’d help me as well in picking up a resort. My requirements are :
    1. 3 nights in a beach view room and next 3 in overwater villa with a pool
    2. I’d prioritise the views from my room and decent snorkeling
    3. It’d be honeymoon so I’d prefer rooms with decent privacy
    4. Me and better half being vegetarian and non drinker, would you suggest me to go with the all inclusive package?
    5. I’d love a romantic experience with seclusion and candle light dinner in seclusion with a good view.
    6. Out of my wisdom, I’ve shortlisted Aayada, Baros, Ja Manafaru and Hurawalhi
    Please recommend

    • With a short stay, I generally recommend staying in the North/South Male atoll to reduce the somewhat extra time in doing a transfer to another atoll. Of your shortlist, only Baros is in the Male area. It is a superb resort with very good snorkeling and good privacy in the beach villas.

      I never really recommend the all-inclusive package unless you are a big drinker or you really have trouble controlling your spending during your stay.

  98. Suhani on October 3, 2020 at 1:34 pm said:

    Hi Bruce,

    Really loving this blog and all the help you give everyone on the Tripadvisor forums.

    I’m wondering if you can help me narrow down some resorts for me.

    1) £15k budget for accommodation and transfers for 2 weeks. (Higher end of that if all inc, lower if not. I’m not a drinker so all inc doesn’t seem worth it.)
    2) Small to medium sized island -just 2 of us so not a big kids club etc or party vibe too.
    3) Ideally with a house reef

    I’m a vegan so need somewhere that can cater to this well. I want to do a PADI when out there.

    Seaplane or pool – I’m not fussed about either way.

    Thanks in advance

    • Suhani – Thanks for the fine words. Especially with the current deals out there, £1000 per night will get you a very wide selection of solid 5-star properties. You are flexible on pool and location. Small to medium sized is most of the islands (large islands are rare). Only a few islands have a kids focus or a party vibe. All islands will cater strongly to vegan and PADI. So about the only thing that you have specified is a £1000/nt room with a house reef. That produces a short list of about 50 resorts. ANY?? other criteria I can use to winnow it down further?

      • Suhani on October 3, 2020 at 7:25 pm said:

        Hmmm – It’s a 10 year anniversary so somewhere romantic. I also prefer a beach villa as opposed to a water villa. Somewhere with a gym. I’d also love really soft sand as opposed to grainy coral like sand. I love barefoot luxury as opposed to oppulent luxury.

        Apart from that I can’t really think of anything else. I’ve been to Constance Moofushi and absolutely loved it, but would like to see if I can go somewhere even better.

        • Suhani on October 3, 2020 at 11:27 pm said:

          So I’ve been researching more and I think I’d like to split my trip between 2 resorts in either Baa, Raa or Lhaviyani Atolls. Hopefully this will help narrow things down more.

          • Suhani – These two replies are helpful. Here’s the short list I would propose:

            Hurawalhi – maybe a bit out of price range, but maybe coupled with cheaper resort.
            Komandoo – sister resort to Hurawalhi so maybe a deal with the two together.

            Amilla Fushi – very high end, but offering great deals
            Kihavah – one of my favourites and might just fit in your budget. ticks all your boxes.
            Reethi Beach – a bit less expensive option to maybe couple with one of the 2 above

            Raa – tends to have very expensive resorts or lower end ones and only a few with good house reefs so not sure about a duo combo that would work for you.

  99. Suhani on October 4, 2020 at 11:00 am said:

    This is really helpful.

    I’m actually leaning towards AK for the first week (from the TA blogs I gathered its one of your favs, and so I chose it). I’ve read the rooms are old / tired- what are your thoughts?

    I love the idea of Amila Fushi – esp the healthy superfood menus etc, but I can’t get past the eyesore of it. I’m guessing I’m a hut kind of person. With the deals – it fits into my budget- is it worth me revisiting it and not writing it off?

    Alternatively Im thinking of Vakkaru, Heritance Arrah, Emerald. Would you say they are on par in terms of quality? There aren’t many info on these 3 in the TA blogs I’ve read.

    (I did have a brief look at Huruwalhi and can prob just get into my budget, but I didn’t think the all inc option was actually that good for the money.)

    Other resorts further away that I could pair with AK would be SSI or Ayada. But they are further away and would need seaplane transfers as opposed to speedboat. Would you say either of these resorts are worth the travel to?

    • AK – I haven’t seen it in recent years to assess how “old/tired” the rooms are. I suspect that it why it is now so affordable. If you go when they have a refurb, they will also likely jack up the prices out of your range. It really fits your brief to a tee – soft sand (top ten in this area), great house reef, underwater restaurant for romantic celebration. If the AI is not a great deal, go full board or even half board. I often find I is not worth the premium.

      Amilla Fushi is a very modern design which is not to everyone’s liking. I would take a close look at it and make sure that it is not for you. It is an exceptional value for money and the new management are really transforming it.

      I’ve not stayed at Vakkaru, Aarah or Emerald so I can’t comment on them from direct experience.

      As long as you are in the same atoll, you will likely be able to get away with a speedboat transfer. If you are changing atolls, you nearly always have to take a seaplane transfer (which means flight to Male and then flight to next resort).

      • Suhani on October 4, 2020 at 12:01 pm said:

        Thank you.When you say it really fits your brief to a T and then speak of all inc options – is this AK or Hurawalhi that you’re referring to?

        Have you been to Ayada or SSI? How do they compare in terms of luxury / service to AK?

        • Sorry, yes, AK really fits your brief. But Hurawalhi does as well (GREAT underwater restaurant, excellent house reef, more fresh and new if that is a concern, lovely sand though I think AK is a touch softer).

          I have been to Ayada but not Six Senses Laamu. Ayada is similar in luxury, but I would say that AK pips it. Ayada is great value (partly because you have to take a domestic flight to get there, but that’s not too much more effort really). No underwater restaurant. Excellent house reef. Great service.

          • Suhani on October 4, 2020 at 2:31 pm said:

            Ok perfect, so AK defo for my first week. Between Hurawalhi, Vakkaru, Aarah and Emerald for the second.

            Thank you so much for your help- really appreciate it 😃

Leave a Reply to Sonja, Norway Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation