Discovering the Maldives
How to choose a resort

How to choose a resort in the Maldives

Although not all of the nearly 1200 islands in the Maldives are inhabited, there are a vast array of excellent resorts to choose from, so how do you make that crucial decision about which is the one for you? We’ve been fortunate to visit a a considerable number of the islands and can offer you our candid guidance! To get you started though, here are some initial pointers so you can narrow down the options:

Kayaking Kanuhura, Maldives
Kayaking at Kanuhura

1. Sea plane or speed boat transfer?

Sea-planes can be surprisingly noisy and hot, so may not be the best mode of transport if travelling with young children or indeed for anyone with a fear of enclosed spaces/ small aircraft. You may also have to wait longer for your departure than a speed-boat, in which case it may make more sense staying closer to the international arrival point, Male, especially if your Maldivian break is an add-on to a multi-destination trip (e.g. when combining the Maldives with Sri Lanka or Dubai).  With the advent of more airports, an internal flight and speed boat is fast becoming an option too, but this will likely take the longest of all options, due to the check in time required.

Hotels only a speed boat ride away include OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli Island, Jumeirah Vittavelli and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa.

Sea plane flying over the Maldives
Sea plane flying over the Maldives

2. Luxury level

There are some great 4 star options such as OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli Island and it’s good to be aware that upgrading to 5 star can often double the price. As a guide, based on a one week all-inclusive holiday in the Easter holidays (excluding international flights), a 4 star hotel such as OBLU costs approx £1,500 per adult sharing All Inclusive whilst a 5 star such as LUX* South Ari Atoll would cost from £3,500 with breakfast only (subject to change).

Peak season for the Maldives is typically December – April, with lower rates generally available May through to October / November when the weather is more inclemental (expect more wind and rain, although it is never cold!).

OBLU by Atmosphere Evening beach, Maldives
OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli Island

3. Marine safari or surf break?

Surprisingly not all islands in the Maldives actually have an excellent reef to which you can swim from the shore or jetty. Those with notable house reefs that can be reached without a boat trip include OBLU, Jumeirah Vittaveli, and Island Hideaway. If your resort ticks all the other boxes, check that they offer complimentary snorkelling trips by boat, or factor in the costs of these in to your overall holiday spend. Many resorts also have on-site marine conservationists and the opportunity to help build a coral reef. Manta rays? Whale sharks? Dolphins? Turtles? We know which islands to choose to maximise your chances of seeing these. Six Senses Lamuu even have a pod of 80 – 100 that conveniently pass by the island at sunset on most days. An increasing number of islands also now offer surfing if this is a key activity for you, including Niyama and Six Senses Lamuu.

Most resorts have a dive centre and if your crew are keen to learn, you can often complete the study and even swimming pool work whilst in the UK, thus maximising your time in the Ocean once you reach the Maldives.

Six Senses Laamu Diving School, Maldives
Six Senses Laamu Diving School

4. Family Time

If you are travelling with children, you might like to think about whether you are happy for them to share your room. Many of the Resorts only allow 1 extra bed, especially in their most affordable room types, but some will allow two (such as JA Manafaru in their water villas). However if you are staying for a longer period, you may prefer to have them accommodated in a separate room. Many of the Resorts have Family Suite options with a separate sitting room with sofa bed (and extra bed can also be supplied for individual bedding) such as Niyama, JA Manafaru, Six Senses Lamuu, Soneva Fushi and Island Hideaway. Most islands have 2 bedroom villas but this will add to the cost, often costing over the price of 2 x rooms due to the additional space and luxury offered by communal areas.

Water villas usually come with an age limit but this can vary. We would recommend booking over water accommodation once you are confident in your child’s sea swimming abilities.

Many islands have impressive children’s clubs but will have variable age limits that you may like to clarify if this facility is important to you. Niyama is particularly renowned for its staff whilst the kids club at Soneva Fushi includes its own dress up / lego rooms alongside a pirate ship! We loved the ‘behind the scenes tour’ at JA Manafaru where kids also get the chance to make a mocktail with the bartender, a pizza with the chef and hand out clean uniform from the laundry!

Oh and did we mention the choice of 82 ice cream flavours at Six Senses Lamuu or the chocolate tasting room at Soneva Fushi where you can indulge in your Willi Wonka-style fantasy?!

Niyama Private Islands Kids Club, Maldives
Kids Club at Niyama Private Islands

5. Dining

Especially if you are staying for an extended period, you may want to consider the number of dining options available. Some islands, especially those which operate on a purely All Inclusive Basis such as OBLU and Lily Beach offer all meals in one venue, with the option to dine at a second once a week or so for a supplement. If you are seeking All Inclusive but would like a dining choice, you can upgrade to this board level at LUX* South Ari Atoll for example and still enjoy a wide choice of cuisine and venues.
We do recommend booking on a Half Board plus level.

Senses Restaurant at LUX South Ari Atoll, Maldives
Senses Restaurant at LUX South Ari Atoll

About the author

Bushbaby was founded by Abi in 2004, with the aim of helping families experience authentic and memorable long-haul holidays, whilst not compromising on style and comfort when travelling with young children in tow! Abi has travelled to over 60 countries with her husband Jim (who proposed at Everest base camp) and lives in Surrey with her 3 children.

Abi Shaw - Bushbaby founder and avid explorer!

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