A Beginner's Guide to Luxury in The Maldives
The Maldives is heaven on earth. I was in high school when my parents put Windows Vista on our home PC and for the first time I laid eyes on the digital wallpaper called “A dock at sunset on White Sands Island in the Maldives” - a single dock with neon green lights stretched out the horizon, on the backdrop of a blue and cotton candy pink sunsetting sky. It was love at first sight. Paradise is found in The Maldives thanks to its pristine beaches, calm turquoise waters, amazing reefs, luxury resorts and its remoteness in the vast Indian Ocean. The rest of the world may as well not exist when you’re in The Maldives. It is the ultimate beach destination and the perfect place to indulge. Let’s get you there. You deserve it.
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Where to stay
Sun Siyam Vilu Reef
Beachfront property on a white sand island with tropical-themed villas.
Luxe tranquil hotel with overwater villas and a stylish overwater restaurant in the Maldives.
$50 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in whenever possible.
A lovely boutique luxury resort on Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, complete with a private coral reef.
$50 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Day 1: Travel Day
Being that The Maldives is quite literally a chain of remote islands halfway around the world, there is a small marathon of travel involved to reach it.
From the East Coast, you will fly overnight for 8 hours to 14 hours to connect through regional hubs in the Middle East - Dubai International (DXB), Doha's Hamad International (DOH) and Abu Dhabi International (AUH) are common stopovers. You’ll also find connecting flights through Europe.
If you're interested in extending your trip in the Middle East or want more time to adjust to the time change and fend off most of your jet lag before you reach The Maldives, you could easily book separate tickets from the East Coast --> Middle East and then Middle East --> The Maldives.
When coming from the West Coast, you will still typically travel east. It is more common to have stopovers in Europe - think Amsterdam's Schiphol (AMS) or Paris' Chales de Gaulle (CDG) - or even Istanbul (IST). Travel time on your first leg will be anywhere from 10 hours if traveling to Europe to 16 hours if traveling to Dubai. It is also possible to travel through Singapore’s Changi International (SIN), however, typically those itineraries are not as economical.
I know these are long flights, but trust me - it will be worth it!
Day 2: Arrive in The Maldives
You've arrived in the Middle East. A small layover will give you time to (hopefully!) hit the lounge and freshen up a bit. If you're interested in extending your trip in the Middle East or want more time to adjust to the time change and fend off most of your jet lag before reaching The Maldives, you could easily book separate tickets from the East Coast --> Middle East and then the Middle East --> The Maldives.
A four to five-hour flight will get you to Male by mid-day. The Male airport is small but lively, as on-the-ground employees from each resort are outside of baggage claim to assist you with your transfer to your hotel. If you don't spot a representative from your hotel there, walk to the hall of desks for each resort. If you need help, The Terminal Help Desk folks are quite helpful.
You will have pre-arranged transportation to your hotel, made through your hotel pre-departure. The two largest seaplane operators are Trans Maldivian Airways and Maldivian Air. You will be escorted by your hotel's staff to the seaplane check-in desks for your transfer to your resort. Be aware of the baggage weight limitations, as you typically are charged per kilogram if your baggage is overweight. Some resorts, such as Baros Maldives, will transport you by speed boat. If you are staying in Male (which I don't recommend), ground transportation will be sufficient.
You're checked in to your flight to your resort - so now what? You will be transported to the Seaplane Terminal, which is completely separate from MLE and is, in many ways, the start of your VIP experience and luxury vacation. Most resorts have their own lounges in the Seaplane Terminal, allowing you to rest, refresh and enjoy a complimentary meal as you wait for your seaplane flight.
If the skies are clear, your seaplane ride to your resort will be incredible. Grab a window seat so you can enjoy spectacular water and atoll views.
You made it! Your seaplane will drop you off at your hotel's dock, and resort staff will whisk you away for your luxury vacation in The Maldives.
Days 3-8: Soak in The Maldives
Given the travel commitment it takes to get to your resort in The Maldives, I would suggest that you stay a bare minimum of 5 nights. Of course, the longer, the better! If The Maldives sat on your bucket list for a long time before you finally were able to go, you owe it to yourself to enjoy a longer stay.
Each resort typically is on its own island, and as such, you are at the mercy of your resort for your food, activities, and amenities. But don’t let this intimidate you - this is what sets The Maldives apart as an ultimate luxury destination. The remoteness is what makes it divine.
Your resort will undoubtedly have lots of activities for you to choose from - everything from SCUBA diving, snorkeling trips, dolphin watching, motorized and non-motorized water sports, sunset cruises, scenic flights, spa services, private sunset dinners, fishing, cultural activities and so much more. Or if you prefer, shut out the world and indulge in the privacy of your villa or overwater bungalow. There are no rules.
Need to Know
If you're interested in extending your trip in the Middle East or want more time to adjust to the time change and fend off most of your jet lag before you reach The Maldives, you could easily book separate tickets from the East Coast --> the Middle East and then the Middle East --> The Maldives.
*IMPORTANT!* At first glance, you might think that The Maldives is only for the super-rich. Admittedly, many resorts are considered luxury, and prices can be high. But a skilled advisor (hi, it’s me!) can help make a dream vacation to The Maldives more affordable. That’s what I did for myself, and that’s what I can do for you. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page to get in touch with me. Talk soon!
For more travel tips, check out The Heart and Soul of Venice: Where to Eat, Stay & Explore.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to The Maldives, and part of our larger series on beaches.