The Maldives is exactly the paradise you see in photos. It lives up to the hype and exceeds all expectations as one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces. It’s the kind of place where you need to make sure you have all of your phone/camera memory available because you will take 1,000 pictures daily of the same exact thing. You’ll start to think, “am I crazy? I just took this same picture yesterday.” But you’ll look back in your camera roll and see the subtle change in the clouds, and how the water is a deeper shade of aqua, and how the sun is hitting the beach differently. You’ll know you’re not crazy. Your senses have just been awakened by the magic of these islands, and you will be forever changed.
Maldives Planning Guide
- Where to stay: Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa
- Flight details: Fly into Velana International Airport (MLE)
- Time of year visited: Spring
- Time in Maldives: 6 days, with 12 days total in Asia. The other 6 days were spent in India.
Save this Maldives map to use on your trip:
- Click the star to the right of the map title
- Open the Google Maps app on your smartphone
- Click on the three lines in the upper left corner and select “Your Places”
- Select “Maps” and the map will be saved there for you to use on your trip. Have fun!
Maldives Favorite Moments
Adults Only—Maldives Style
On this trip, G surprised me with a marriage proposal 😍, so my now fiancé, made sure to steer us towards a resort in the Maldives that was high on the romance factor. I’m so glad he did! Vilamendhoo has all the makings of a top romantic vacation. And this is why so many couples choose it for their honeymoons, dreamily gazing into each other’s eyes poolside over piña coladas at 10AM (hey, it’s island time!).
Even though it’s more expensive than a regular room (and for good reason), you absolutely have to stay in an overwater bungalow. The overwater bungalows in Vilamendhoo, Maldives are on the adults-only side of the island, and your privacy is completely respected. The other guests are even told that they aren’t allowed to snorkel near the bungalows, so you can enjoy your privacy. The rooms allow you to wake up in the morning and literally walk off your deck directly into the Indian Ocean. Plus, you have your own lounge chairs, a private hot tub, and an indoor/outdoor shower. Meow.
In addition to the around the clock romantic ambiance we enjoyed in our bungalow, G also planned a romantic spa day and private beach dinner for the day of our engagement. Even if you aren’t planning to pop the question, don’t miss either of these when you visit the Maldives!
The spa is so dreamy. Each of the facility rooms is its own overwater bungalow, complete with a deck where you can take an aromatherapy bath and have your feet washed pre-treatment (a cultural tradition in the Maldives, we were told). They also feature a glass floor, so you can watch the fish swim by while you’re face-down getting massaged!
The private beach dinner is so completely private, it felt as if they told other guests they couldn’t go on the beach. You choose your dishes in advance and then you’re dined into a coma with the amazing five-course meal. We chose the seafood menu, and the lobster in the main course was about as big as my arm (don’t worry; I made it through!). The resort’s photographer also offered to take some photos of us pre-dinner since he didn’t have anything else booked!
The resort allows you to split your stay between the overwater bungalows and more affordable garden or beach rooms. If you decide to go this route to save a little dough, reach out to the resort directly to ensure a seamless booking process. You should also reserve beach dinner should in advance by reaching out to the concierge since they only do a small number of them each night. The spa treatments can all be reserved upon arrival, and there is a price incentive if you book a spa treatment for the first two days of your stay.
The Life Aquatic in the Maldives
That water though. The Indian Ocean is ridiculous. The color is a shade of blue-green that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s so nice and warm yet refreshing all the time, even after the sun goes down. And the marine life, oh the marine life! There are fish everywhere. Hundreds of fish. And sharks, rays, starfish, sea cucumbers, coral upon coral. It’s such a feast for the eyes that you will basically live in the water.
Plan to snorkel daily while in the Maldives. If you don’t, you will miss a huge part of the experience. Vilamendhoo is entirely surrounded by a coral reef, which means that there is pristine, stellar snorkeling without having to leave the resort. They also offer snorkeling excursions if you want the option to see what else is out there, but an undersea adventure is right there waiting for you, so no need to leave.
The rooms all come with guides to the local marine life, so you’ll know what to look out for, and what to avoid (there’s a kind of pink coral that can kill you apparently! We didn’t see any of it). Lookout for the unique specimens mentioned above, in addition to all of the myriad of colorful tropical fish! The reef sharks and rays like to hang out right along the shoreline to gobble up the schools of fish, so you don’t even have to snorkel to see them—but, of course, I did! They are about as big as your forearm, so we’re not talking Jaws here, but they’re still sharks, so keep your fingers where you can keep ’em!
If you don’t want to snorkel (because you are cray!), there are tons of other water sport options at the resort including kayaking and windsurfing.
The resort will rent you snorkel equipment for a daily nominal fee, and it’s easiest to keep your equipment for the duration of your time in the Maldives. Alternatively, you can bring your own. Make sure you either bring water shoes or wear the rented flippers because you can easily cut your feet swimming near coral. Often, it’s easiest just to float and watch the live-version of Planet Earth before you. As always, make sure you don’t interrupt the marine habitat and be respectful of the fishies’ home.
When you set off kayaking or doing any of the water sports, stick to the north side of Vilamendhoo (where the spa is located). The water on the north side is generally more protected, so the current won’t be as rough.
The Maldives—So Many Islands, So Little Time
An essential piece of planning your Maldives trip is choosing an island. The country’s official borders make it the size of Portugal, yet it’s made up of 90% water, with the other 10% comprised of those magical atolls (islands) popping up out of the Indian Ocean. This, in addition to the fact that getting from island to island is hugely expensive (I was quoted $125-150 USD per hour via private speedboat, which is only an option for close islands), means the island you choose matters. The island needs to be a place you’re happy staying in for the duration of your time in the Maldives.
What to consider when choosing an island:
- Price: There are moderately priced islands all the way up to astronomically expensive.
- All-inclusive or pay as you go: I recommend all-inclusive since it’s easier to not have to worry about cost when you’re there to relax.
- Adults-only or kid-friendly
- Distances from Malé, Maldives (where the only international airport is located): You can get to the other islands via seaplane (Trans Maldivian Airways is fantastic). If you’re going straight to a small island after being on a long international flight, consider your tolerance for how long you’re willing to be on another plane.
- Amenities: Do you want a spa, water sports, excursions, multiple restaurants, etc.?
- Modesty: The Maldives is a Muslim nation, and as a responsible traveler, you should be prepared to respect their modesty guidelines whenever you’re in a public space. Most private island resorts are not considered “public spaces,” so the modesty guidelines will not apply, but observe the guidelines if you’re at a public beach, for example.
In the end, we chose Vilamendhoo because it checked off what we wanted: overwater bungalows on a private island resort; adults-only area; snorkeling and water sports on-site, 25-minute flight from Malé, all-inclusive; multiple restaurants with a varying menu; and a spa. It also came recommended by a college friend whose opinion I trusted. No one wants to travel half-way around the world and not be 110% satisfied with their vacation. And that’s why you came to me—I got you covered 😉.