Your Guide To The Maldives

Is it just us, or do our social feeds seem to be cluttered with lucky ducks enviously holidaying it up in Europe or the Maldives? A summer Eurotrip is undeniably noteworthy but at this time of year we’ll happily choose a blindingly white beach, sun lounge and cocktail in The Maldives. Ahhhh, the serenity. It truly IS a bucket list location (those beaches, THAT water) but once you begin frantically googling for all your Maldives travel info it can get overwhelming, quickly. What’s included in the accommodation price? Half board, full board, liveaboard…So. Many. Options. Rest assured we have asked ourselves the very same questions and we’re going to give you all of our answers to those pesky questions in a super neat, getaway guide.

Written by Jade Just – Contributing Travel Editor. Cover image – Soneva Jani.

The Basics

The Maldives, situated south west of Sri Lanka and India, is a nation made up of 26 coral atolls that are comprised of 1,200 islands. Yup…there are LOADS of those beaut little havens of white sand and rainforest, and each resort has its own island. The islands make for an incredible marine environment so the Maldives has all of the good stuff: amazing snorkelling and diving with a bevy of creatures from manta rays to turtles. High season is November to April (in Jan, Feb and March you’re 99.9% guaranteed gloriously cloudless days) but if you’re looking to save on accommodation and can handle a few clouds (and potentially a few showers) then look at the surrounding months e.g. October (shoulder season).

Images: Maldives Capital – Male (Wikimedia). Maldives marine life (Wikimedia)

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Getting There

All flights from Australia fly into the Male – the capital – and depending on the distance and where you’re staying, you either jump on a boat, seaplane or domestic flight to get to your digs. Getting to Male from Aus, you’re looking at a stop in Singapore or KL…the full trip (including stopover) will take anywhere from 11 hours to 17 hours depending on which city you’re coming from, and how long your lay over is. Price wise, golly, so many variations depending on how open your dates are or your preferred carrier. Non-fussy fliers can jump on a budget carrier from around $800 return (not bad!) whereas Singapore Airways, Thai Airways, Emirates and the like will set you back approx $1,000 – $1,300 pp return. Don’t forget, if you’re in no rush (as in, it’s no drama if you have a long stopover) but are travelling on a budget be sure to check out flight sales direct to Singapore then arrange your Male flight separately once that’s locked in. With regard to your accommodation transfer options, if it’s not included then be sure to check the price as seaplane rides aren’t cheap!

Accommodation

Less is definitely more in The Maldives…and by that we suggest opting for a shorter stay in super flash digs, rather than skimping on accommodation to extend your holiday. Generally, the resorts that are the most expensive are furthest away from Male with fewer rooms/suites meaning that you’ll get a super private escape.

What’s included in your room rate is where it gets a bit tricky – it’s worth liaising with your travel agent or the hotel directly on this. The price that you’ll see on booking websites doesn’t usually include meals – that’s for your room alone, and any free extras. Most resorts will offer ‘board packages’ – half board usually includes breakfast and dinner whereas ‘full board’ includes breakfast, lunch and dinner while ‘all-inclusive’ is generally all meals, some snacks and a selection of alcoholic beverages. The fine print is also important, as it might be that your ‘board’ option only applies in certain restaurants within your resort. But again, suss this out with your agent or resort. Either way, adding a board option to your stay is a great way to avoid a surprise at check-out time because with the majority of foods and beverages being imported and sent out to the resorts, you aren’t going to come across pub grub prices. In a nutshell – with a board package you get the full Maldives experience without worrying about the price tag.

With over 100 resorts to choose from, competition is tight! And that’s even before you look at guest houses or liveaboard boats but generally most visitors opt for a resort. The type of resort you’re keen on will depend on your ‘must haves’ and who you’re travelling with (solo, partner, kids…etc). Bear in mind that the average Maldives resort price is upwards of $500 AUD per night (although discounts and seasons drastically change that!). To give you a brief guide to what you can expect price wise, we’ve picked three fab resorts with entirely different room rates:

High End Luxury: Soneva Jani

This mind boggling resort is the Rolls Royce of the Maldives, and is will undoubtedly be on your bucket list based on the pics alone. The resort itself is built around 5.6km of stunning lagoon, and the villas are next level…so much so, that you can opt for one with a waterslide straight into the lagoon. The master bedrooms come with a retractable roof at the touch of a button for optimum star gazing, and each villa boasts its own private pool. During your stay you can head to the jaw-dropping silent cinema (check out the pic below) and watch the latest flicks with bluetooth headphones from an overwater hammock or from dinner; indulge in the all-you-can-eat chocolate or gelato room, or of course chill out and not leave your villa at all. You’ve also got your own bike, so it’s easy to navigate your way between the facilities but if you’re not big on pedal power there are golf buggies too. Activities that are worth splurging on include the sunset dolphin cruise, castaway picnic or guided snorkelling where you’re likely to spot sea turtles and rays. If you want to dish your friends with some serious travel envy, this is the place to be.

Shoulder season per night: $1,754 USD + taxes (no slide) or $2,152 USD + taxes (with slide), inclusive of breakfast. More details here.

Images from top to bottom: Three bedroom villa (credit Jack Brown); One bedroom villa (credit Richard Waite); Cinema Paradiso (credit Stevie Mann); Overwater Hammock credit (Marco Fugazzola).

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Middle Range: Adaaran Prestige Vadoo

Convenience is a winning factor at Adaaran Prestige Vado. After just a 15 minute speed boat ride from Male you’ll be greeted by fifty breathtaking overwater villas. Each villa has its own sunrise or sunset vantage point as well as a plunge pool and sundeck, and a glass floor panel so you can check out the fish without even putting your toes in the water (or get in the water as soon as you see some fish to snorkel with!). Look, we won’t deny that it doesn’t quite have all the bells and whistles of Soneva Jani but if you opt for the ‘all inclusive gold plan’ aside from all meals there’s a huge choice of wines, beers and cocktails, well as a variety of snacks including high tea in the afternoon, ice-cream, and the option to have a set menu dinner in the Japanese restaurant.  

Shoulder season per night: $800 USD + taxes. More details here.

Images from Agoda.

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Budget Conscious: Sun Island Resort & Spa

With 462 rooms this budget-friendly four-star resort is the biggest in The Maldives. An all-inclusive option is encouraged here, which means buffet style meals in the main restaurant as well as various alcoholic drinks at the other bars and restaurants around the island, and also plenty of snacks throughout the day – a perfect option if you don’t want to count your pennies during your stay! Aside from the paid excursions there are numerous complimentary activities and entertainment including live bands, cultural shows and crab racing. For families the stingray and shark feeding is a big hit. For those wanting to check out the local marine life there are plenty of guided snorkelling options and also PADI courses with qualified instructors if you’re keen to learn how to scuba dive.

Shoulder season per night: from approx $150 USD + taxes. More details here.

Images from Agoda.

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Good to know

  • Overwater villas are often the furthest digs from facilities, this is why resorts with complimentary bikes are ideal!
  • Check out transfer costs before you book
  • BYO items such as panadol, sunscreen etc – you’ll pay top dollar at the resorts
  • If you’re keen to do some unguided snorkelling but don’t want to rent the gear consider bringing your own
  • The Maldives is muslim country so outside of the resort islands it’s respectful to avoid showing too much skin
  • Also with respect to the Muslim culture, aside from at the resorts alcohol isn’t available for purchase

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