Ultimate Travel Guide to Maldives

Beach at Baros Maldives

There’s no place on Earth quite like the Maldives. Coming from me, that’s a big statement since I’ve traveled to 113 countries and seen incredible places. I keep going back to the beautiful islands, so I decided to put together the ultimate travel guide to Maldives — and 7 reasons to book a vacation.

Everything you’ve heard about the Maldives is true: perfect-temperature, crystal-clear lagoons; whimsical, gigantic overwater villas; sunsets you only see in dreams; completely deserted, white-sand beaches; and private butlers at beck and call.

The Maldives is what vacation dreams are made of, and it’s high on everyone’s bucketlist. A vacation here is not only worth the splurge, it’s also worth the trek. It can take up to 24 hours to get there from the United States as there are no direct flights, but affluent travelers and honeymooners make no qualms for their dream trip. It’s why I needed to put together an ultimate vacation guide to Maldives, so you know all these crucial things!

Is the Maldives safe?

I get that question a lot, especially from gay travelers. Unfortunately, the Maldives is under Sharia Law, known to be an anti-gay Islamic practice. However, and thankfully, Sharia Law is *only* contained on the main island of Male, the capital city, which you will not go to. Velana International Airport is actually on a small island adjacent to Male, and there is no tourism infrastructure in Male, so there’s no reason for anyone to visit. As soon as you arrive at the airport, you’re picked up by a butler and your vacation starts right away (read below).

Another note about safety: Maldives resorts are *very* choosey about who they hire as staff, and employees have to go through extensive training on accepting and tolerance with all types of guests. From my personal experience, it is also extremely competitive getting a job at one of the island resorts. No employee would ever jeopardize their job for narrow-mindedness, and the ones who work in the island resorts do it to a) save money and b) get away from Male!

If you haven’t already, treat yourself to new sunglasses like I did! Honestly, Bloomingdales in my opinion has the best selection. Check them out here.

The island resorts are predominantly run by major hotel chains, who will not tolerate any sort of prejudice among staff, so you can rest assured any tourist vacationing here will be safe. Honestly, it’s why I needed to do an ultimate vacation guide to Maldives. You need to know these things!

Ultimate vacation guide to Maldives
Kudadoo in Maldives.

How much does a vacation cost?

This is another frequent question I get, and I’ll be quick to tell you: The Maldives is expensive AF.

First, you have to consider you’ll spend a lot of money on your flight. From the United States, you’ll likely fly to the Middle East or Asia, then take a connecting flight from there (there is no direct flight), so that’s already about $1,000 to $2,000 per person (in economy). Depending on what island resort you choose to book, you’ll then have to hop on a puddle jumper with Trans Maldivian Airways for a short flight, and a round-trip costs around $500 per person. 

Trans Maldivian Airways in Maldives Airport.

Resorts average $1,000 a night. You can find rates as low as $600 to $1,000 a night mostly in low season, but after adding up all the taxes and resort fees, just safely assume you’ll spend about $1,000 per night. I added a link to Booking Buddy because the site scours the best booking sites to find you the best deal, so you may be able to find better discounts.

It’s uncommon for a resort to be all-inclusive, and meals can average $100 per person per day… and don’t forget about the spa, where you’ll definitely book a treatment or two.

Ultimate vacation guide to maldives
5.8 Undersea restaurant in Maldives.

So, depending on your budget and how long you stay, or whether you want to save money or splurge, you’re still going to spend thousands of dollars, with a safe average of $10,000 per couple for at least 4 nights.


I spent a total of 6 weeks in the Maldives in the past few years, and I won’t hesitate to return. If you want to vacation here, it’s worth the splurge and worth the trek, and I highlighted the reasons why below in my ultimate vacation guide to Maldives.

These are the top reasons why Maldives is perfect for your next vacation. 

Ice skating rink at Jumeirah Vittaveli

1. The Maldives is incredibly romantic.

Villa with waterslide at Soneva Jani

The Maldives caters to couples who are splurging on honeymoons. 80% of visitors to the Maldives are couples, which is why it’s a hot spot for honeymooners. Honeymooners want a once-in-a-lifetime experience they can’t have anywhere else, and The Maldives is that place.

Hurwalhi infinity pool in Maldives.

There’s no other place in the world where you can stay in an oversized, overwater bungalow, have a butler, gourmet meals and be in perfect, tropical weather on a private island where you don’t have to see anyone else for days. 

Resorts also have spas with overwater views, infinity pools, and private nooks and crannies throughout the property that are very romantic, like tucked-away cabanas and hammocks in various secret places.

2. Overwater villas are sexy, but put your money on the beach villas. 

Beach villa at Hurawalhi.

The overwater villas are the most booked in the Maldives, and with good reason. They’re incredibly private, they’re exotic and you can literally jump off your deck into the crystal clear sea and swim with tropical fish and rays. 

Huvafen Fushi Beach Villa

While I love the overwater villas, spend time in the beach villas, too. They are just as big, just as gorgeous and often come with bigger pools. Also the main reason: There are few places in the world you can roll out of bed and be on the sand in literally 10 steps. This is not an overstatement. I’ve been to Miami, Mexico, Bora Bora, Hawaii… all those places you think this exists doesn’t because of their zoning laws.

Beach villas in Maldives are literally on the beach. In Maldives, you don’t have to get in an elevator, walk through a resort, cross a street, whatever, to be on the beach like other places. You are right on it. 

3. The Maldives is six degrees away from the equator. 


What does this mean? Perfect, hot weather. You can’t get weather more ideal for tropical vacations. It is hot, and you’re surrounded by cool, crystal-clear, transparent and aqua-blue sea, which makes the perfect combination. 

Ultimate Vacation Guide to Maldives
Swinging chair at One & Only Reethi Rah, Maldives.

Bring sunscreen! And drink tons of water.

4. You are on a secluded, private island resort the entire time. 

Secluded beach in Maldives.

Every resort in the Maldives essentially leases a private island (or “atoll”). You don’t share the island with any other resort. When you get to the Maldives to the property you booked, you and the other guests will be the only ones there.

It is basically a deserted island.

There is no shopping center, no nightlife hub, no crowds of tourists. It is super exotic, and these islands are super small. For the most part, many of the islands I visited, I could walk the entire circumference in less than 15 minutes. 

Beach at Jumeirah Vittaveli.

Also, remember, these resorts are very intimate. You’ll be hardpressed to find one that has more than 100 villas. In fact, the average number of villas at luxury resorts range from 15 to 50. So even when a resort is fully occupied or sold out, you will never see more than 100 people. Even on the busiest nights at dinner, we only saw like 4 people because most people will order in their villas.

In-room breakfast at Kudadoo.

Of course, this all depends on the resort you book, but the bigger the resort, the more restaurants they’ll have, which means that guests will be dispersed throughout. It’s why we need to show you the ultimate vacation guide to Maldives. You’d never know!

5. You’ll have the beach all to yourself. 

One & Only Reethi Rah.

The sugary white beaches of the Maldives are so white you have to squint, but they are also completely deserted. You will likely have it all to yourself. I’ve spent a total of six weeks in the Maldives in the past few years, and every resort I have stayed at, even those that are fully book, I was on the beach and rarely saw another soul. 

To reiterate, these resorts are small with very few villas, so the likelihood of you bumping into anyone is very low. While you’re on the beach, other guests may be in the restaurant or spa or swimming in the sea or hanging out in their villa. 

Beach at Baros Maldives.

Most resorts have multiple beaches, too, which further shows that you’ll rarely see anyone. 

6. There are one-of-a-kind attractions you can’t find anywhere else. 

Huvafen Fushi underwater spa in Maldives.

In Maldives, there are underwater resorts, underwater restaurants, underwater spas, and a slew of other one-of-a-kind, unique attractions you can’t find anywhere else in this world.

I wrote about the nine craziest things you can only find in the Maldives here.

I also did a YouTube video. See below.

7. You are taken care of the minute you arrive at the airport.

Kudadoo employee greeting me as soon as I go through customs. 

As soon as you arrive at Velana International Airport, a resort employee will greet you after you pass customs, and you can start relaxing right away. Most resorts have a private lounge, so they’ll whisk you away and take care of any questions you have on the way (some times your connecting flight with Trans Maldivian Airways can be an hour or so later, so this is great, because you can relax in the lounge). If you’re taking a boat or ferry to your resort, the staff will take you there.

You don’t have to figure out where to go, how to get around, how to make connections or anything like that. You’re taken care of as soon as you exit customs!

When you arrive at the resort, you’re assigned a butler, who will pick you up as soon as you arrive to the dock. They take care of your itinerary, any requests, anything you need, any questions you have, etc.

Then, when you leave for the airport, someone from the resort will walk you all the way to the check-in for your departing flight and help you with your check-in process.

This doesn’t happen anywhere else! It’s why we need to do an ultimate vacation guide to Maldives!

Private island at Kudadoo.

Have you been to the Maldives? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments and let us know about our ultimate vacation guide to Maldives!

More stories:

6 most unusual underwater attractions on this planet (that you can visit)

3 sustainable travel trends for 2021, according to Kind Traveler

12 reasons why you should fly first class on your next flight


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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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