How to choose which Maldive islands resort
IS BEST for you?
Here is a general overview of how to choose which Maldive islands is a good fit for you. It’s so difficult to choose between which Maldives resort to stay at from brochures and also from reviews on Tripadvisor. Holidays are so important (to me anyway!) and they can be expensive too, so it is important to do your research before booking. Hopefully this will help.
First of all, pretty much all Maldive islands resorts will offer you the same wonderful ocean/beaches/island views/swaying palms and, not surprisingly, fabulous climate. Anyone coming to a Maldive islands for the first time will likely fall in love with the place. We certainly did. So if you are planning a visit, you’ve chosen a wonderful destination. However, with many people visiting for honeymoons and special holidays, there are lots of glowing Maldive islands reviews which owe more to the charm of the Maldive islands and a special occasion than to the qualities of a particular resort. So, with no disrespect to anyone, I suggest you don’t decide based on only that kind of review.
So how to choose the Which Maldive islands are best for you?
This is very unromantic, but think carefully about how much you want to spend when choosing which Maldives resort to stay at. Apart from whatever you pay upfront, the costs of food, drink, water sports, spas and so on can be substantial. As you will be staying on an island, you can’t wander off for a cheaper meal elsewhere, so it’s worth contacting the resort and checking out food and drink prices before you go (ask for PDFs of their menus). And remember that all Maldive islands will add c. 22% in service charges/taxes to every single bill as standard (to my knowledge – check with the resorts you are interested in). It’s worth checking out all inclusive options too, if you’d prefer to know what your trip will cost you upfront.
Resort target market
Find who the resort is aiming to attract. Look at their own website rather than relying on travel agents’ own interpretations. Most agents will describe most resorts as romantic/appealing to couples, but you will find that the resorts’ own websites show that most of them are much more precise in their marketing. Or send them an email and ask who stays there and the sort of vibe they try to create. It will affect the ambience, facilities, staff attitudes, languages spoken, things like entertainment and even the menu. We prefer resorts that are relaxed and understated, but I can think of several occasions when I’ve seen people very dressed up at night, looking so disappointed that they aren’t somewhere more sophisticated, with lots of nightlife. Another example: Do you want to take kids with you and know there’ll be other children there for them to play with? Some resorts target families in a big way, with excellent kids clubs, but these resorts may not be the best choice for your honeymoon.
For scuba divers and snorkellers, another important factor when choosing which Maldive islands to visit is the quality of the house reef – the coral reef around the resort island itself – and access to it. If you love the underwater world, this is really worth investigating. Construction of some resorts has led to serious damage of the coral reef. And this means far less to look at, far fewer fish and aquatic animals to see, and a fairly barren underwater world when you are snorkelling and diving from the resort itself. Others have fantastic reefs, full of spectacular corals, and teeming with a diverse variety of marine animals including turtles, sharks and rays that come there to feed. Access is also important. As a snorkeller, the best house reefs are easy to swim to from the beach or a jetty, with several access points that enable you to enjoy the reef whichever way the current is flowing.
Do you like eating at the same place every meal, every day? Do you enjoy eating from a buffet at every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner? Some Maldive islands have a number of restaurants and offer different types of cuisine and a choice of a la carte or buffets. Others, with only one restaurant, may only offer buffet meals.
This may sound odd but if you find yourself on a very small Maldive islands resort (meaning you can walk right around it in ten minutes) you may get a bit claustrophobic after a few days – particularly if you don’t enjoy water sports, which enable you to explore the environment away from the land. Islands vary in size quite substantially. Some are big enough that you can borrow a bike to explore. Some resorts span several connected islands. Others really are just tiny. Again, it’s a matter of choice.
Probably a no brainer, but check out the facilities and make sure the resort you’ve chosen has the right facilities for you. Most Maldive islands offer competent scuba diving centres, for example, but if you want two tank diving every morning, you need to check this out. Some dive shops offer this. Others not.
Water villas or land
The main points to consider here are 1) whether you want to step out on to a beach or down steps from your villa directly into the water and 2) whether you cope well with the heat and the sun. If you go for the water villa option, check out an aerial view of the resort if you want privacy, to see how the villas are laid out (whether they overlook one another for example) and how close they are to the land. There are several at Anantara Veli that are in a foot or two of water at high tide but otherwise are basically on the beach. If you prefer to sit in the shade, a beach villa may be better for you, as water villa decks, while beautiful, can be very exposed and punishingly hot, even with a sun umbrella, offering little protection from the sun. Beach villas are usually set back behind/under palms, with outdoor space which offers more shade and makes things a bit cooler in the heat of the day.
Distance from Male
You get to your resort by seaplane or by speedboat, depending on location (or in a few cases, via a scheduled domestic flight and then a boat). Pro’s of a boat journey: shorter, obviously, and a much easier/quicker transfer to your resort from the airport. Con’s: Male (city and industrial island) is visible from some of the nearer islands in both North Male Atoll and South Male Atoll). So you need to decide whether the sight of civilization in the distance is a problem for you or not. Some people prefer to feel totally isolated on their desert island (in which case, pick a more distant resort and take the seaplane). The seaplane ride is a fun experience, definitely worth doing at least once. The views are stunning and landing on water is fun. The planes are also very small (c.16 pax), very hot and the engine noise is very loud. You can also have quite a wait at the seaplane terminal at Male (anything from 20 mins to several hours) and there is usually a baggage weight restriction too. Seaplanes can only fly in daylight too, so if your plane arrives or departs late at night, it may not be an option. So take your choice!