Spread over an area of ocean 510 miles long and 75 miles wide, this remote destination is on many people’s bucket lists, for good reason. The warm, translucent water sparkles a hundred different shades of blue and green. The underwater world is thriving and even during the rainy season, visibility for diving and snorkeling is superb. Beaches are long lazy affairs with pearly white sand and a palm-fringed shoreline.
And practically every resort has its own island. So a visit here really is a private island experience. There are 87 resort islands in the Maldives, and choosing isn’t easy. If budget is no issue, you can stay in one of the world’s most expensive suites. But those with mere mortal budgets won’t be disappointed by slightly more affordable five-star resort masterpieces.
Here are three favorite Maldives resorts:
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is home to the most expensive suite in the Maldives, which is one of the priciest in the world. If you want to go all out, book The Muraka Suite for around $50,000 per night (four-night minimum).
The Muraka takes the overwater bungalow experience to a whole new level with its master bedroom in what feels like an aquarium more than 16 feet below sea level. The bedroom has a 180-degree curved dome ceiling that lets you see the sea and all the fish, sharks and rays floating around you. The bathroom has floor-to-ceiling windows and a tub facing them.
The two-level suite is separated from the resort, so you feel like you’re having a private island vacation. Should you wish to mingle with other guests, you can pop over to the main portion of the Conrad in your personal speedboat.
Jet Skis are also included in your stay, while a fitness instructor and masseuse are just a phone call away. Meals are cooked by a personal chef, and should you wish to create social content, a film crew is standing by (all-inclusive in the rate).
If this suite is a little out of your price bracket, the Conrad offers a range of accommodations including the requisite overwater options. And you can still have dinner in an aquarium at their Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. Here you’ll dine under a glass dome with marine life swimming at eye level around you.
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
On Dhaalu Atoll, just a 35-minute seaplane ride from Malé International Airport, the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort has a sublime location with 26 dive sites nearby and two house reefs for swimming and snorkeling. If you love the St. Regis brand, with its trademark sunset champagne sabering ceremonies, personal butlers, bespoke bloody marys and overall exemplary service, this property will not disappoint.
There are a total of 77 villas, with 44 over the water. It’s almost always worth paying for an overwater bungalow in the Maldives. They truly make the experience unique. That said, at the St. Regis all villa classes are beautiful, done up in contemporary style with Maldivian touches. The entry-level rooms are the garden villas, but even these come with private pools. The sunset overwater villas are perfect for honeymooners. They have direct sunset views, infinity pools facing the sea and overwater hammocks.
The St. Regis has six dining and drinking establishments on-site, so you won’t get bored if you stay a week. The overwater spa has six treatment rooms, including one reserved for couples. There is a small gym, a fitness studio and complimentary stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkeling. The resort’s luxury yacht, Norma, is also available for private charter.
Coco Bodu Hithi
Just a 40-minute speedboat ride from the international airport in Malé, Coco Bodu Hithi offers more accessible five-star luxury than the previous two resorts. Despite a slightly lower price point, it still feels extremely exclusive and is set in beautiful surroundings.
The Escape Water Villas are the resort’s most luxe accommodations and offer direct access to the clear turquoise lagoon from your private deck, which has its own infinity swimming pool. The indoor and outdoor spaces blend effortlessly in these villas with thatched roofs, floor-to-ceiling glass window panels that open completely and bathtubs built for two.
The resort has multiple restaurants including Stars, which fuses the flavors of the Mediterranean with the East and is located at the end of a boardwalk surrounded by the sea. Aqua is a fine-dining restaurant specializing in seafood dishes.
All the usual resort amenities are offered. You can book diving and snorkeling trips where you’ll often see sharks and manta rays. Other water sports, sunset cruises and fishing trips are available.
One of the most popular excursions is being dropped off by dinghy on a deserted island for an afternoon with a deluxe picnic lunch packed by Coco Bodu.
Also don’t skip the spa. The treatments are inspired by Indian, Thai and Indonesian techniques.
Getting to the Maldives
Reaching the Maldives takes some effort. There are no direct routes from the U.S. From Fort Lauderdale, one of the best options is via Qatar Airlines, which has a direct flight from Miami to Doha (around 14 hours). From Doha, the airline flies direct to Malé International Airport (about a five-hour flight), where you’ll pick up transport to your resort. Depending on the distance, this will be by seaplane, small jet or speedboat.
Qatar Airlines’ Q Suites offer one of the world’s best business class experiences, and even wary flyers will be distracted enough by the top-quality service, excellent served-anytime food and beverage selections and the private pods with sliding doors, to forget how long the flight takes.
Best Time to Visit
The weather is best between December and April, when skies are usually sunny and temperatures average around 88 degrees during the day and 78 degrees at night. Water clarity is best for diving too. But these months are also the high season and resorts are at their priciest.
Visiting between May and November means lower prices, but may also bring days of nonstop rain, which can ruin a Maldives holiday. We recommend booking the high season.