Paradise Found in the Maldives: A Tale of Two Islands

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Advisor - Judy & Glenn Tudor
Curated By

Judy & Glenn Tudor

  • Maldives

  • Beaches

  • Babymoons

  • Couples Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Group Travel

  • Honeymoons

  • International Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Bucket-List

  • Island-Life

two loungers on a wooden deck overlooking the sea
Curator’s statement

The Maldives truly transports you to your own private island resort. Everywhere you look are crystal clear waters and reefs to explore. From the moment you arrive, you are surrounded by authentic and exceptional service. Every evening ends with a painted sunset sky and you are lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. Maldives is THE destination for the perfect honeymoon, milestone birthday, anniversary or ultimate beach and water adventure.

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Where to stay in the Maldives

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Things to do in the Maldives

hanging couch on an overwater deck

Baros Maldives Resort

The Baros resort is only a short 25-minute boat ride from the Male airport, which is fantastic after flying all day. After arriving by private yacht at the resort, you are assigned a villa host who will attend to your every need. They offer a variety of accommodations including water villas with and without pools, beach villas, with and without pools, suites and residences. The over-the-water villa with your own private pool is a cozy room with a king bed, shower and bathtub overlooking your pool deck with ocean views. The pool deck has sun loungers and a day bed that is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. The pool deck also has a ladder that gives you direct access to the coral reef.

Insider Tip: The Maldives is made up of over 1,000 separate islands. Some islands are closer than others. Some islands may require a seaplane and a boat to reach the island. Baros and the Waldorf Astoria only require a short yacht ride to the resort. After the long flight to reach the Maldives a short boat ride will make all the difference compared to many other resorts that require a plane ride and then a boat ride, prolonging an already long day.

The resort has abundant marine life and calm waters making it perfect for snorkeling. After all that snorkeling, you will want to enjoy the Baros spa which offers several options for facials, wraps and massages including Balinese and Thai-style massages. Your service will take place in a private suite with an outdoor rain shower and bathtub in a garden for additional relaxation. This resort is genuinely barefoot luxury at its best.

You can walk or bike the entire island in about 10 minutes. The resort has approximately 75 villas that create a very intimate secluded island vibe during your stay. The resort also has a main infinity edge pool for all guests and a world-class diving center on the property to book diving lessons and excursions. Baros does not allow any motorized water sports on their island to ensure the tranquility of this tropical island retreat.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

The Waldorf Astoria is a much larger resort, about two miles long, and spans three islands. The resort has 119 beach, reef, and over-water pool villas in addition to the two secluded Stella Maris villas, and their private island. The Waldorf Astoria is accessible by a 45-minute private yacht from the Male Airport. Their private yacht is well equipped with various indoor and outdoor seating areas and a bedroom and bathroom. A unique point, they are the only yacht approved in the Maldives to serve champagne during your commute to the resort. At the Waldorf Astoria, you are also assigned to a villa host who takes care of all your needs including golf cart rides around the resort for your convenience. All guests are also provided with their own bikes to get around the resort. Because of the size of this resort, bikes and golf carts are commonly used to get to restaurants and activities around the resort.

We prefer the reef villa room accessed via the beach but then goes out over the ocean. This entry-level room is spacious indoors and out. The room has a king-size bed with floor-to-ceiling windows and a seating area for enjoying the views of the ocean and your private pool deck. The bathroom includes an indoor and outdoor shower as well as a tub with views of the ocean. The private pool deck has seating for 13 (yes, we counted), including loungers both in and outside the pool, seating for dining, and two swings that take your relaxation to another level with the ocean breezes. The pool deck also has direct stair access to the ocean for snorkeling. The house reef has plenty of coral and marine life but depending on the weather, the waters can get a little choppy for villas facing outward. However, the resort also has a lagoon area and other beach entries that allow for easy access to daily snorkel if desired.

The Waldorf Astoria has two large infinity-edge pools with respective beach areas, one for families and one for adults only. The beach area has a beach club vibe with multiple beach cabanas and loungers. The beach has a wide selection of motorized water sports options that can be rented or paddle boards and kayaks that are complimentary. The Waldorf Astoria also has an expansive kids club conveniently located near the beach for families. The adult pool is a great option for couples and is far enough away from the larger pool to provide a tranquil atmosphere still. The Waldorf Astoria has a first-rate dive center at the resort where guests can book snorkeling adventures, fishing trips, and open-water dives. The Maldives has some of the best diving in the world and the Ocean dive center at the resort knows where all the best spots are.

The spa at the Waldorf Astoria is definitely a highlight and a must-visit during your stay. A multitude of services is available including their massive outdoor hydrotherapy pool. Each service takes place in its own villa over the water or on the beach with a relaxing outdoor area. They even have unique treatments like the starlight couples massage at night or sunset in an over-the-water, open-air pavilion.

For families, multigenerational, or group trips, the Waldorf Astoria has a three-bedroom villa divided into two separate villas with a shared outdoor pool deck. One villa has a living room, two bedrooms with one king and 2 queen beds, and the other villa has a king bed. There is also nanny quarters available that are all connected in this villa suite.

Couples can book one of the two Stella Maris villas for a special anniversary or honeymoon. These two-story villas with indoor and outdoor living areas include a private infinity pool with over-the-water hammocks, a barbecue station, direct ocean access and a rooftop jacuzzi tub. These villas are only accessible by boat and come with several other options, such as in-suite rooftop spa offerings, dining under the stars with a chef-prepared barbecue and private beach cabana at the resort's pool.

Accessibility Tip: As a full-time manual wheelchair user, I like to highlight what you can expect for accessibility. The boats/yachts to get to the resorts are not wheelchair accessible at all. It is a little nerve-wracking to have the staff lift me in my wheelchair, from the dock up into the boat and vice versa. However, they do it with such caution and patience, with sometimes up to 7 people, that it has gone very smoothly on multiple trips.

Baros is a little easier to navigate getting around the island because the sand is packed down well on the walking path and the island is just the right size to walk around, being able to cross the entire island in 10 minutes. They also offer a beach wheelchair for use which makes getting in and out of the water from the beach possible with some help from an able-bodied person. The Waldorf Astoria is a little more difficult to manage because the walkways are very busy with bikes and golf carts. Also, the distance between venues makes using a golf cart more necessary, which then requires assistance from an able-bodied person to get in and out of the carts. We stayed in non-accessible standard one-bedroom villas and the shower and bathrooms were spacious and accessible. There are not any pool lifts at any of the pools so if you are unable to walk, you will need assistance to get in and out of the pools. There were also a few steps throughout both resorts to manage. However, after mentioning this at the Waldorf Astoria by the following day they had made a ramp. At Baros, they proactively put a ramp down for the two steps at their spa entrance for the duration of our stay. I mention this because the service is so phenomenal at both of these resorts, and the staff will truly do whatever they can to ensure you are able to access anything you need.

Day Trips from the Maldives

There are day-long diving trips to remote areas where you can dive with whale sharks, whales and many other uncommon sea creatures.

Places to eat & drink in the Maldives

lounge chairs on a fancy pool deck

Baros has three restaurants. We did not have an opportunity to eat at the Lighthouse restaurant, their signature fine dining restaurant that is two stories high and has beautiful ocean views.

Lime Restaurant: This open-air restaurant overlooks the infinity pool and the ocean beyond. This is where the delicious breakfast buffet is served daily and is not to be missed. The buffet has a variety of western, European and Asian breakfast food. They have a fruit display that has just about everything tropical imaginable. One morning, I asked about pitaya, a bright fuchsia dragon fruit, and about 5 minutes later, they had found some, cut it up, and brought it to my table. Lime also serves lunch and dinner with international and Maldivian cuisine.

Cayenne Grill: This is an alfresco grill restaurant that sits over the water. This restaurant is open for dinner only and serves grilled meats, fish, poultry and vegetables along with various delicious accompaniments.

The Waldorf Astoria has a much more extensive selection of dining establishments with 11 restaurants, with bars and/or lounges in many of these restaurants as well. We have not eaten at two of the restaurants, Terra or The Rock, because neither of them was accessible. Both restaurants are fine dining venues with set-course meals.

Zuma: Zuma is in multiple cities across the globe with one of the newest locations being here at Waldorf Astoria. Zuma is a contemporary Japanese restaurant that has a more upbeat bar vibe. The staff are friendly and energetic and will not steer you wrong with recommendations. Our server recommended the sake no tataki and it was amazing. The cocktails are also very inventive and if you are up for another culinary adventure, ask the sake sommelier to serve some hand-selected sake with your meal. Also do not skip dessert. Zuma felt like a bamboo hideaway over the lagoon waters of the resort. It has floor-to-ceiling windows all around the restaurant that are opened up to give you the feel of being in an open-air restaurant floating out on the sea.

Li Long: Li Long is a fine-dining Chinese restaurant. Their specialty is the wood-fired oven Peking Duck. As a vegetarian, we did not try their famous Peking Duck but heard others rave about it. Everything we had was delicious and the service was impeccable. The restaurant is beautiful and has an over-the-water seating area that should be requested for the best ambiance.

Yasmeen: Yasmeen is an Arabic/Lebanese restaurant that is on the beach. The food here includes cold and hot mezze dishes, grilled meats, seafood, and wood-fired oven dishes. Yasmeen is our favorite restaurant for its wonderful food, warm service and overall outdoor atmosphere. The ambiance is a Middle Eastern village that has intimate seating areas scattered all around the restaurant. The restaurant is outside on the beach with the sound of the waves and the ocean view around every corner. The food is delicious and although we try to go easy on the variety of fresh-baked breads and dips, we always over-indulge and leave full but very happy.

Amber: Amber serves food and cocktails and is definitely the best spot on the island to watch the sunset. It is only open in the evenings for this purpose. This is more of a lounge vibe with seating on couches directly over the water. This is a great place to go before dinner and have a champagne cocktail and caviar or small bites.

Glow: Glow is directly behind Amber on the beach and is an open-air, garden-to-table health-oriented restaurant. The menu has a lot of fresh and light dishes as well as organic international and Maldivian dishes. Amber and Glow definitely create that barefoot luxury vibe for your evening.

The Ledge by Dave Pynt: The Ledge is a smaller version of the famous Michelin-starred restaurant by Dave Pynt called Burnt Ends in Singapore. It is an Australian barbecue-style restaurant next to the main pool area and is open for lunch and dinner. The menu has a large selection of small plates as well as grilled seafood and meats. The food here is very creative and has dishes you will remember long after you leave. His restaurant in Singapore is almost impossible to get into so this is such a treat to be able to try his food here in a beautiful setting.

Nava: Nava has a beach club atmosphere that serves drinks and international cuisine, either in the beachside restaurant or to guests relaxing on the beach or by the pool. They also serve complimentary soft-serve ice cream, a welcome treat for kids and adults after a day in the sun.

Peacock Alley: Peacock Alley is a staple at all Waldorf Astoria’s around the world. It is located in the lobby area of the resort and is open for lunch and dinner serving small plates and cocktails. For Hilton Honors Diamond members there is a free cocktail hour from 4 pm to 5 pm every day. The mixologists here love to create cocktails and are happy to create something special for you.

Tasting Table: The Tasting Table has indoor and outdoor seating on the beach. The restaurant is where breakfast is held every morning. The breakfast buffet here is massive and truly has everything from western dishes to Indian curries, to made-to-order Asian noodle soups, to Arabic dishes. The pastry chef delights guests with new options every day and they have made-to-order fresh pressed juices from their manned juice bar. There is also a special smaller buffet just for children. Be sure to treat yourself to their yogurt, which is shipped from France, and is the creamiest yogurt we have ever had.

Advisor - Judy & Glenn Tudor

A note from Judy & Glenn

Note: Both Baros and the Waldorf Astoria offer private dining options where you can have dinner, barbecues or picnics in a variety of settings including an intimate candlelit meal on a secluded beach or on a sandbank surrounded by the ocean. All are catered with menus you can select from to create a unique and romantic dining experience. These venues can also be booked for hosting group events.

Need to Know

One of the things that make the Maldives such a special destination is the service provided by the staff at the resorts. The staff will truly go out of their way to meet any need or desire you may have. At Baros, our villa host would ensure that the beach wheelchair we were utilizing was moved from our villa back to the beach each morning for our use. At the Waldorf Astoria, our villa host secured an air pump for my wheelchair seat cushion. Another staff person offered to have a chef at the resort make a special Sri Lankan meal just for us when we asked about Sri Lankan food. Even the landscaping staff, who do an amazing job of maintaining the natural beauty of these resorts, will stop what they are doing to greet you or give you a smile throughout the resorts. The hospitality you will receive is warm and genuine, and will make you want to return again and again.

For more travel tips, check out The Ultimate Bangkok Vacation.

Advisor - Judy & Glenn Tudor

Travel Advisor

Judy & Glenn Tudor

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