Monday, January 9, 2017

Where to stay in Maldives?

With 1,192 coral islands distributed to 26 atols in the middle of Indian Ocean, Maldives is probably the most beautiful and romantic holiday destination in the world. It offers perfect honeymoon resorts, water sports, diving and snorkeling opportunities as well as lots of relaxation. With its resorts owning their own islands, it is a fantastic place to do nothing.

Travelers arrive to Maldives by plane and the Male International Airport is the point of entry. You can reach your resort by a speed-boat if it is on a nearby atoll. If not, you need an air-taxi which offers a nice but expensive transportation option. So, since these are pretty much the only options for you to arrive to your resort (there are no hotels in Maldives except in capital city, Male), you need to consider transportation method and time when you are choosing a hotel. Since boats and planes do not work after an hour, a mismatch in arrival – departure time and transport options will make you spend valuable hours in the airport.

So where to stay in Maldives? We will offer some specific hotel recommendations while introducing the atolls and the resort types so you can choose wisely. In Maldives, the distance between Atolls are quite huge and it is important to introduce the most popular once and the reason for their popularity so that you can make a good decision. So before going into the answer, we will first introduce the Atolls of Maldives.

Atolls of Maldives

Maldives has 26 atolls. Atolls of Maldives are large and complex. Just take a look at the North Male Atoll (Kaafu) map below.  It is composed of many islands and has a large diameter.

North Male Atoll (Kaafu) Map
North Male Atoll (Kaafu) Map
And now look at all the atolls of Maldives below. You will get an idea of the orientation in the country. North Male Atoll is somewhere in the middle. It is important to know the distance of the atoll to this central atoll since airport is here. Some Maldives resorts are on the atolls far away from the airport and they will require a sea plane journey. Since this air taxi does not work in the night, if your plane arrives to Maldives in the night and your resort requires air-taxi travel, you may end up spending a whole day in Maldives airport.

Not all 26 atolls of Maldives are open to tourism. Let’s now look at some of the popular the atolls in detail.

Atolls of the Maldives
Atolls of the Maldives
Kaafu (North Male Atoll and South Male Atoll)

The most popular tourist destination in Maldives is the Kaafu which is composed of North Male Atoll and South Male Atoll. Hulhule Island is home to capital Male and Male International Airport. Majority of the Maldives Resorts are also here. The advantage of staying in Kaafu is the transportation : All Maldives resorts in Kaafu are within 1 hour speed-boat journey and 15 minutes seaplane journey. Another advantage is proximity to Male: many resorts here offer shopping and sightseeing tours to Male. For those with health problems, being closed to capital city with its medical capacity is safer than being far far away in a remote atoll.

So if you are an average tourist, Kaafu is best place to stay in Maldives for you. Some popular resorts here are Anantara Dhigu Resort and Spa in South Male Atoll (35 minutes from the airport by boat and equipped with a fantastic SPA and restaurant – 480 USD ++) and Kurumba Maldives Resort (10 minutes from airport by boat and is a very popular luxury Maldives resort). If you are looking for a cheaper Maldives resort, Helengeli Island Resort (160 USD++) and Thulhagiri Island Resort in Kaafu are two good alternatives for you.

For a complete list of North Male and South Male Atoll Resorts, you can check Kaafu Maldives Resorts and Hotels pages.

Ari (North Ari (Alif Alif) and South Ari (Alif Dhaal))

Ari is a two atoll area to do west of Kaafu and is the second most popular place to stay in Maldives. From airport, air taxi to Ari resorts takes 25 – 30 minutes. You also have speed boat option but this mode of transportation will take hours in one way to reach your resort.

Nevertheless, Ari is host to many popular Maldives resorts such as stunning Conrad Maldives and highly raqted Mirihi Ari. Another popular resort here is Vakarufalhi Island Resort. This resort is very popular among divers and is on a circle shaped island. ProDivers here is a popular diving organizer.

For Maldives resorts in this region, check North Ari Resorts and South Ari Resorts pages.

Aerial View of Conrad Maldives
A typical luxury Maldives resort on its own small island (Conrad Maldives)
Types of Maldives Resorts

There are many types of resorts in Maldives but most resorts fall into one of 3 categories : Diving resorts with limited above water facilities but many underwater opportunities and beauties (also tend to be in isolated areas of Maldives), holiday resorts designed mainly for families with relatively less luxury (quite crowded and noisy for honeymoon couples) and luxury resorts for romantic escapes, perfect honeymoons and with very high room prices.

Over water bungalows

Maldives holiday mean over water bungalows to many. These poster child of Maldives Resorts look perfect in the postcards but there are several drawbacks of staying in one of them so you choose one wisely. Most over water bungalows are quite crowded with little privacy. In a day with a gentle breeze they are quite nice but become very scary during strong winds. In low tide, there may be no water body around them to swim. And they are quite far away from the main facilities of the resorts.

Not all Maldives over water bungalows are same so choose a good one if you want to stay in one of these. You can read guest comments about the Maldives resort in your mind to get some idea about these bungalows.

Maldives over water bungalows
Over water bungalows in Maldives
Cheap Hotels in Maldives

Maldives is a luxury holiday destination but there are still cheap hotels in the country to stay. There are some hostels and B&B’s in larger and crowded atolls. Equator Village in Addu Atoll has 78 rooms and offers 100 – 150 USD per night accomodation. Keyodhoo Guest House offers 20 USD per night accomodation. These hotels are located in cities in Maldives where local population is conservative Muslims. So you may not be able to swim with bikini near these hotels.

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