The Mesmerizing Maldives: An Insider's Guide

travel advisor Susan Anderson in a black sweatshirt on a beach
Curated By

Susan Anderson

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  • Maldives

  • All-Inclusive Travel

  • Babymoons

  • Beaches

  • Couples Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Honeymoons

  • International Travel

  • Island-Life

  • Bucket-List

  • Snorkeling

a row of bungalows over turquoise water
Curator’s statement

My husband and I first journeyed to the Maldives 12 years ago and like so many others we found ourselves drawn back over and over again - I have heard it referred to "Maldivitus". We are currently planning our seventh 3-week trip with a three-resort split, 7 days each. We have visited 13 resorts thus far with the majority being 5-star and 5-star plus. One island, one resort is what makes the Maldives so unique! Here, I have specifically outlined the best things to do and places to eat & drink at Anantara Kihavah and Milaidhoo, two wonderful resorts in the Maldives.

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in the Maldives

Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

Enchanting Maldives resort surrounded by nothing but turquoise lagoon which melts into sapphire blue — perfect for a romantic vacation.

Milaidhoo Maldives

A lovely boutique luxury resort on Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, complete with a private coral reef.

Fora Perks
  • $50 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

travel advisor Susan Anderson in a black sweatshirt on a beach

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Things to do in the Maldives

A beautiful image of the crystal clear water of the Maldives, with a white sand beach and hub of trees in the distance under a cloudy blue sky.

Anantara Kihavah

  • Snorkeling: The vibrant house reef around AK is stunning, with incredible amounts of fish soup, endless "Nemo" moments and close-up encounters with every size and color of tropical fish imaginable. We swam with friendly reef sharks, turtles, eagle and sting rays, moray eels, lobsters, etc. The Indian Ocean is warm and has excellent clarity. We swam around the island drop-off several times daily where there are massive amounts of fish!

  • Dining: The food is also excellent, especially the buffet breakfasts at Plates on the Beach. We always have half-board and recommend this as the buffet breakfasts are so huge at most of the resorts and we are not heavy drinkers. The hotel gave us a complimentary underwater dinner which was an experience not to be forgotten!

  • Room: The overwater rooms are labeled the most Instagrammable in the world and I can see why! It’s hard to describe how beautifully laid out the AK OW rooms are ….they are so incredibly breathtaking we have never felt so surrounded by water between the large private pool which literally lays alongside the length of the room and the wide views of the Indian Ocean with the endless horizon in the distance. The decks are huge, and when all of the long sliding doors are open you feel like you are living outside. The rooms feel luxurious, especially the bathrooms which have glass floors in the bathtub, outdoor rain shower and lavatory. There are stunning views of the ocean from the open-air bathroom! These rooms are the best of the best we have experienced so far! Just as an observation, the gorgeous renovated beach rooms are completely in the trees with the utmost privacy. Their outdoor bathrooms with a waterfall are fabulous!

  • Activities: Paddleboarding, kayaking, stargazing in the observatory, eating at the underwater restaurant and enjoying the spa, which has free hot and cold pools, as well as a Finnish and infrared sauna. It is a relaxing area to spend time in. There is also a well-outfitted second-floor gym with a ping pong table and a pool table. Bike riding is another great activity - we love islands with bikes! Riding a bike through a Maldivian island to dinner in a beach dress with the warm tropical breeze all around is enchanting!

All in all, Anantara Kihavah is worth every penny and is a fabulous 5-star Maldivian gem. It really sparkles! AK is located in Baa Atoll, and we transferred to Milaidhoo in 20 minutes to experience another resort.


Milaidhoo was our last resort on our three-island, three-week stay. It was our sixth trip to the Maldives. We enjoyed our stay on this newer, smaller and quieter island.

  • Snorkeling: We loved the house reef and spent hours snorkeling/swimming around the island. There is a respectable amount of fish soup, and the corals (as in other areas of the world) are recovering from the 2016 bleaching. We also swam with friendly reef sharks, eels, lobsters, eagle rays and turtles. There were very large schools of fish in the area of the drop-off that was steep. It really is an aquarium! It’s a fun reef to swim around it takes a little over an hour and the reef zig zags in and out in parts which makes it interesting .

  • Dining: The resort gave us a beach dinner that was excellent and we loved the ambiance. We ate at Ocean as that was what our half-board covered and we loved the food! Alfie was so kind as were all the other waiters we encountered. You could tell they had had 5-star training! The seating is right next to the water, which is lovely in the evenings. Breakfasts were very good and filling with a focus on freshness, health and wellness, although their pastries and bread were also wonderful. There are fresh salads, fresh squeezed juices and a large area with fruit cut up on the spot. Yogurts, international cheeses smoked meats and fish, sushi, nuts, seeds, hot foods, etc. The homemade lime and lemongrass sorbets for dessert were excellent - I had them every night!

  • Room: The rooms are lighter colors and smartly decorated. The pillows on the deck and inside the room on the sofa really added a pop of color and looked lovely. The deck was very large with a swinging chair/bed which we loved also loungers and a seating area.
    The pool was the largest we have experienced in the 13 resorts we have been to. We swam laps in it and it stretches out across the front of the deck so is quite stunning
    We loved the two comfortable cushioned seating areas on the deck - they are really beautiful for photos with the colorful pillows and shimmering turquoise water. I toured the beach villas and they have an outdoor shower and are lovely. Some open up with views others are more in the trees.

  • Activities: The spa was gorgeous extending out over the water. We loved the layout of the circular island to paddle board, snorkel or kayak around - it is picture-perfect with soft sand everywhere. It takes around 10 minutes to walk around. Diving is excellent and you can book packages, just as with other Maldivian Resorts. The infinity pool in front of the bar is great for sunsets.All in all, this is a beautiful property, especially at night and it will appeal to those who appreciate understated elegance and peace and quiet along with fine dining.

Day Trips

  • Hanifaru Bay is a sanctuary and is accessible from both AK and Milaidhoo and during the manta ray and whale shark seasons. From May to November, there is a good chance of watching these magnificent creatures up close and even snorkeling with them!

  • Dive Trips are amazing and all of the resorts offer day trips or multi-day packages.

  • Evening sunset cruises are an option at many resorts.

  • Snorkeling excursions to other reefs are a popular day trip.

  • Some resorts plan a trip to a "deserted island" for a unique dinner experience.

A note from Susan

I am very particular about room location and always strive to research and request the best room possible whether it be a beach villa or an overwater villa. Some beach and overwater villas have open unobstructed views and others offer immense privacy in the trees. Many of the rooms offer magnificent sunsets, some are lagoon views, some are closer to the reef. It is important to me to find out the particular preferences of each client when booking so each and every trip I plan is fine-tuned down to the smallest detail! It is the well-thought-out details that make a trip extra special!

Places to eat & drink in the Maldives

man in an infinity pool overlooking the ocean

Anantara Kihavah

Plates was our go-to buffet restaurant for both lunch and dinner. It is right on the beach and the meals were wonderful! We also enjoyed Manzaru poolside venue which serves Mediterranean cuisine.

The sky bar is the place to go for sunsets, tapas treats and cocktails under the stars. The stairs lead up to an expansive rooftop with exquisite views!

Fire and Spice are also good choices for grilled and Asian food but for a really unique dining experience, the Underwater Restaurant called Sea is the place to go! It is a 7-course gourmet dinner with wine pairing. The resort also offers a private beach dining experience for those special occasions.


The Shoreline Grill offers fresh meats and seafood grilled to perfection.

Ocean Restaurant is where we had our buffet breakfasts as well as dinners along the water with mood lighting in the evening.

Ba'theli is an innovative idea with the dining experience on a traditional Maldivian boat set out on the water. It is lit up at night and is a gourmet experience.

The Compass Bar is right next to the large infinity pool and is an amazing spot to have a cocktail or glass of wine and watch the sunset.

Need to Know

The Maldives "scream "special occasion" and there is no better place in the world for celebrating one's love story, whether it be a honeymoon, a 50th anniversary or anything in between! Many of the resorts also cater to families.

Insider tip: If you are traveling for at least 10 days total, I recommend a two-hotel split to experience more than one island. If you pick two islands in the same atoll, some of the transfers by speedboat are only 20 minutes away. Reach out to me for more tips on navigating the islands and combining your trip to the Maldives with another destination.

Interested in planning a mountain escape? Check out my 3-Day Guide to Year-Round Fun in Breckenridge, Colorado.

travel advisor Susan Anderson in a black sweatshirt on a beach

Travel Advisor

Susan Anderson

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on tropical vacations, and our continuing series on beach travel.