Updated February 11, 2021
(Published August 28, 2018)
More of us are booking bucket list trips than ever before, whether it’s the trip of a lifetime to a remote hideaway, or a blow-the-budget, luxurious escape to one of the world’s top winter sun destinations.
The Maldives is one of those rare destinations that can tick both boxes. And the best bit? An escape to this breath-taking region doesn’t have to mean blowing your budget – there’s now a wider range of accommodation than ever before, along with some brilliant all-inclusive packages offering fantastic value for money. To prove it, we’ve put together a guide to the best resorts in the Maldives for all budgets.
You don’t have to splash out on an over-water villa to ensure privacy at Reethi Faru – it’s situated on a tiny atoll that’s just 600m long and 350m wide.
It’s a brilliant option for travellers on a budget, and the presence of a thriving, healthy coral reef that’s easily accessible from the beach means you don’t have to be a scuba diver to appreciate the marine life – although guests who fancy learning the basics can also book a session at the on-site dive centre.
Despite the island’s tiny size, there are eight restaurants and bars, which means plenty of wallet-friendly options when it comes to satisfying those hunger pangs.
This is one of the best value resorts in the Maldives – book far enough in advance and you can pick up a holiday in one of the gorgeous beachfront villas for just over £200 for a night.
Although it doesn’t have the extensive range of activities offered by some of the flashier resorts, there are still plenty of options for active types, including tennis and (for a fee) jet-skiing. There are 68 villas in total, including 43 over-water options and 25 on the white-sand beach.
Five-star Fushifaru Maldives is ideal if you’re a fan of wildlife. Located on the eastern fringe of the Lhaviyani Atoll, the island is surrounded by waters filled with eagle rays, parrotfish fish and (friendly) hammerhead sharks.
Our favourite restaurant is the Raakani Grill, where you can enjoy delicious cocktails and fresh seafood – if you can handle the guilt when you realise you probably admired your dinner’s relatives earlier that day.
We also love the luxury touches usually associated with more expensive places to stay. For example, thanks to the “dine anywhere” scheme, you can enjoy your dinner at any spot in and around the resort.
This resort has it all – a short 20-minute transfer time from Malé International Airport; some of the most diverse culinary offerings in the region (our favourite restaurants include Tradition Saffron for South East Asia-inspired dishes, and Sangu Beach for Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine); and a fantastic range of activities, whether it’s scuba diving, kayaking or ice skating sessions. Yes, you did that that correctly. Ozen Reserve Bolifushi has the Maldives’ first ice rink – a 170m² rink right by the beach.
Kuramathi is one of the best resorts in the Maldives for a quintessential Maldivian experience. Pearl-like villas are strung out over gin-clear waters, it has one of the most spectacular spas we’ve ever seen (the seaweed hot stone massage comes highly recommended) as well as one of the best dive schools in the Maldives.
It is also one of the most family-friendly resorts in the Maldives, thanks largely to the Bageecha Kids Club. The club offers a brilliant range of activities for children, including guided nature walks, treasure hunts and marine life workshops, held in conjunction with the resort’s on-site Eco Centre.
You’ll even have easy access to some of the Maldives’ best dive sites, including Shark Point, one of the top places in the world to spot hammerhead sharks.
The five-star Mӧvenpick Resort & Spa Kuredhivaru Maldives is located on the remote Kuredhivaru Island on the Noonu Atoll. It’s ideal for those keen to get away from it all – the Maldives’ first Marine National Park, comprising nine uninhabited islands, is just a 15-minute speedboat trip away, and the resort’s remote location means it’s highly likely you’ll have the region’s best dive sites entirely to yourself. These include Orimas Thila and Manadhoo Beyru, with its whale sharks and mantas.
It’s a 45-minute speedboat journey from Malé airport, but if getting there by boat sounds a little dull, you’ll be able to plump for a transfer on the island’s seaplane instead.
The best bit about this beautiful resort? SKY – the resort’s over-water observatory and bar that’s home to the most powerful telescope in the Indian Ocean. You’ll be able to enjoy nightly star-spotting sessions under the guidance of the resort’s in-house astronomy expert, washed down with a cocktail or two.
Anantara Kihavah is a relatively small resort, which makes it a brilliant option for couples, and its location in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve means there are endless wildlife-spotting opportunities
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, a five-star resort just 30 minutes by seaplane from Malé, unveiled its underwater residence in 2018. But that’s not the only reason we love this Maldivian hideaway. Others include the mind-bogglingly huge selection of activities, ranging from sea fishing excursions and cooking workshops to catamaran sailings and snorkelling trips.
Choosing your food might not be so simple – there are 12 dining venues, including the world's first undersea restaurant.
JOALI has numerous aspects that set it apart from other properties. To start with, it’s a resort filled with art – an ocean-themed art trail, with pieces made primarily by local artists, weaves across the island.
It’s easily one of the most romantic resorts in the Maldives too, with 73 beach and over-water villas and 4 restaurants.
JOALI also has a huge focus on the environment. Minimal plastic is used, and JOALI’s in-house marine biologist, who’s tasked with cultivating and expanding the surrounding coral fields, leads snorkelling tours designed to provide an insight into the impact of coral bleaching on the environment.
Fancy splashing out? Book a stay at this palatial resort, home to one of the largest over-water residences in the Maldives.
Spend the night at the John Jacob Astor Estate villa and you’ll get the added extra of a night on the resort’s super yacht, Norma, along with your very own cinema and 92-square-metre swimming pool.
We also love the wide range of activities, which includes everything from acupuncture, meditation and anti-gravity yoga to kayaking and windsurfing. Plus, all guests enjoy butler service – how’s that for luxury?
Don’t get us wrong – this fabulous resort, a 40-minute seaplane flight from Malé airport, is certainly worthy of the word luxury, but it’s also one of the more affordable resorts in this category, largely thanks to the huge range of accommodation. Choose from a beach villa with a jacuzzi or pool, or if you’re feeling flush, opt for the Presidential Water Villa for pure decadence.
It’s one of the best resorts in the Maldives for families – Emerald’s Dolphin Kids Club has a restaurant and pool area just for children, and the diverse cuisine offered by the six restaurants are sure to tickle the fussiest of tastebuds.
It’s impossible to pick a single highlight of Soneva Fushi, but we’ll start with the ridiculously spacious accommodation – the resort recently unveiled the world’s largest over-water villas. There are 52 villas in total, and guests can choose between the so-called sunset side, with its access to the house reefs, or the sunrise side, which offers a little more privacy.
It’s one of the Maldives’ most innovative resorts, thanks to its collaboration with organisations at the forefront of mosquito control research (it’s on track to becoming the region’s first mosquito-free island) and fantastic packages, created to suit a wide range of needs. Our favourite is the Workation package, which launched in late 2020 and offers lower rates for those booking for 14, 21, and 30-day stays. Suddenly the average office looks rather boring.