Ten years ago a holiday in the Maldives was reserved for the rich and famous. Now there are special offers constantly popping up bringing the prices down to a level the average holiday-maker can afford (outside of the end of year festive season that is!).
The Maldivian government has also started encouraging the development of 3 and 4 star resorts, offering more choice for families and those not wanting to break the bank. And flights are also more easily accessible than ever from Australia.
This really is an unforgettable holiday destination – so what are you waiting for? Here’s our top tips when planning your Maldivian escape.
1. Overwater vs beachfront bungalows: Don’t worry if you can’t afford the overwater option – beachfront bungalows have the sand at your front door and fantastic views, and are usually significantly less expensive. But of course if you are happy to spend more, an overwater bungalow is a unique and wonderful experience. Being surrounded by the crystal blue water and watching the fish go by is truly magnificent.
2. Choosing an overwater bungalow: Check if the room has steps down to the water, otherwise you’ll be trekking back to the beach for a swim. Make sure you choose an overwater room that has a glass floor panel to watch the aquatic life. Check to see if the resort offers a buggy pick up/drop off service or bicycles, as usually overwater rooms are quite a long way from the main part of the resort. Think about the location of the room – sunrise or sunset. Sunset is usually more expensive, but you get to enjoy watching the sun dip into the ocean in the afternoon from your own private deck.
3. Meal plans/all inclusive packages: Half board is breakfast and dinner (sometimes a choice of lunch or dinner), full board is breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all-inclusive packages include all meals and alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks, and often water sport activities. Dining and alcohol are very expensive in the Maldives. An all-inclusive package usually works out much more cost effective. However, read the fine print. Some resorts include cocktails, others don’t. Some have a set all-inclusive drinks menu and anything outside this is additional. Some resorts only allow you to eat at certain food outlets at the resort, and a surcharge applies to go elsewhere in the resort. Having stayed in several resorts, we can recommend that unless you eat a lot of food, a Half Board meal package is more than sufficient. Breakfast is usually a la carte and buffet, and dinner is a 3 course meal. Lunch was almost impossible to fit in, or you only need a snack at most.
4. Thakurus: If you are struggling to decide between the beautiful resorts in the Maldives, we highly recommend going with one that offers Thakuru service. This is the Maldivian version of a Butler, and they are worth their weight in gold! From organising your dinner reservations to ensuring you get the type of pillow you prefer to shuttling kids to the kids club, these wonderful staff make your holiday just that extra bit special.
5. Money: Only credit cards and US dollars are accepted at resorts. Australian dollars cannot be exchanged, so make sure you do this before you leave Australia.
6. Alcohol: You are not allowed to bring alcohol into the Maldives, and it is heavily taxed, so prices are extremely high. All-inclusive packages help reduce the cost.
7. Weddings: You can’t get legally married in the Maldives, but you can have a mock ceremony or renew your vows.
8. Taking the kids: Make sure you check the resort isn’t adults only and has kids facilities. There are several resorts that specialise in family holidays. Your Cherry consultant can point you in the right direction.
9. Etiquette: The Maldives is a Muslim country, but quite relaxed in the resorts. Topless sunbathing is illegal everywhere.
10. Seaplane transfers: This is a great way to see these beautiful islands on the way to your resort and is truly an unforgettable experience. Remember there are strict luggage restrictions, so you will have to pack light.
Our Favourite Romantic Resorts
Baros Maldives. Very romantic resort, beautiful Spa, perfect couples retreat. Rooms are large and very well appointed. Fantastic restaurants including a fine dining over water restaurant. Live music at night in the bar.
Anantara Veli Resort & Spa. This resort offers a huge array of dining options as you can also take a boat over to sister property, Anantara Dhigu. There are 8 restaurants to choose from. This resort is renowned for being romantic, excellent dining and outstanding service. All rooms are overwater.
Six Senses Laamu. This resort is on the larger size with 97 rooms and 4 restaurants and 2 bars. It is a barefoot luxury vibe with a DJ in the evenings and is known as a great surfing spot.
Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa. This is a very reasonably priced 4 star resort with a swim up bar and evening entertainment. Packages come standard with Half Board including drinks, but it is inexpensive to upgrade to All Inclusive.
Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi. This is a luxurious but understated resort. The food and service is exceptional, and the daily free stingray feeding is a lovely experience. Being one of the older resorts it has a very established house reef, so the snorkeling is superb. The underwater Spa is a must do.
Our Favourite Family Friendly Resorts
Centara Grand Island Resort. This is a five star, All Inclusive property, so represents good value. There is an excellent Spa and some great activities and tours which are included (eg. sunset dolphin watch cruise). There’s a real shipwreck off the beach which is good for snorkelling. Kids club and babysitting is available.
Anantara Dhigu. This resort is part of the Anantara 3 resort group – Dhigu, Veli and Naladhu. You can access Anantara Veli’s restaurants at night with children. Dhigu has great beach villas with direct access to the beautiful lagoon. There is a kids club and all restaurants have a children’s menu. This resort is very focused on the family market and one of the few that allows children in the overwater rooms.
Per Aquum Niyama. This is an incredible property, which is the largest in the Maldives, with many activities and a huge choice of dining options. All of the restaurants are themed for a particular cuisine and offer some of the best dining you’ll experience in the Maldives. Room rates also include a personal Thakuru (butler) and free homemade icecream delivered to your freezer daily. The kids club is recognized as one of the best in the world and we guarantee you’ll be dragging your kids away.
Four Seasons at Kudaa Huraa. This luxury resort has everything you could need for the perfect family holiday. Kids club, kids eat and stay free offers, family bungalows, a range of kids amenities in the room including pop-up tents, strollers and baby essentials. There’s even a children’s Spa facility.
Kuramathi Maldives. This is a good quality 4 star resort with excellent kids club facilities and a range of family friendly activities. Rooms are also suited to family travel.