Maldives is a dream. Shobhit and I are lucky to experience it twice together however I have been luckier that this time it was my 4th visit. It is one of those gorgeous countries that you may call heaven on earth. And one can never be disappointed with the pristine beaches & the incredible ocean life for those who love to dive, and snorkel like me. Having said, not just that there are over 150 resorts to spoil you with luxury. This time we were fortunate enough to spend 10 days in Maldives spreading our stay across 3 luxurious resorts.
Maldives reopened for tourists on July 15 2020. All you need is a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to your arrival in the country and there is no quarantine. You need to fill up a health declaration form within 24 hours of your arrival. And you can stay between different resorts if they allow you to. The hotels fill up the form and completes formalities with HPA to do the needful for your stay.
How to get to Maldives and Airport transfers to the resorts
There are direct non stop flights from India, Dubai, Russia and Sri Lanka. However, we flew from the USA and spent a couple of days in Dubai before arriving into Maldives. You can also fly via Qatar from the US. If you don’t want to stay in Dubai, usually the layovers are long, however you can take a transit visa beforehand and get out for some hours or take a long layover and explore the city for a day or 2. Indian passport holders with valid USA visa for 6 months can also get visa on arrival.
Once you arrive at Male airport, your hotel representative will greet you at the airport and assist you with the transfers. Depending on the resort you choose, there are 3 types of transfers- the seaplane, domestic flight+ speedboat or just the speedboat. If you get a chance opt for the hotel with Seaplane to enjoy the stunning views of the atolls from the air. If you are transiting between 2 resorts, they usually bring you to the airport and then next hotel will pick you up from there. The transfer timings get decided only an evening before your departure so it may happen that sometimes you may have to wait for being transferred to the next resort or to get your flight. However, most premium hotels have their own waiting lounge where they serve you some refreshments, some beds to relax and free Wi-Fi. Male airport does not offer free WIFI yet.
Seaplane transfers are offered by Trans Maldivian Airlines which is the largest seaplane operator in the world. This option is usually the most expensive one however the experience is fantastic. Also, you may want to make a note that TMA offers combine seaplane transfers to most resorts so this means that you may not fly directly from airport to your resort, but may stop at 1 or 2 other hotels on the way to drop or pick up other passengers.
Best time to visit the Maldives & how to save some money
It is as such a year round destination and the tropical weather makes it quite uncertain. However the best time would be between November to April which experiences the least rainfall and also is comparatively less hot. However, December to March can also be the most expensive months to stay with most hotels running on high occupancy in this season. If you want to really save some money then you must look to travel between May to October. Having said that, the weather may not be the best but you may get lucky to have no rainfall all along your stay or have ample of it.
We recommend to stay at least 4 nights. Undoubtedly Maldives is one of the most expensive places to travel. There are several luxury hotels to spoil you or if you are a budget traveler you can find some deals too. If you are looking for a budget stay, you may want to check out hotels closer to Male airport which has speedboat transfers. These transfers cost anything between 100-300$ roundtrip per person depending on the hotel you choose. Mid budget hotels which are far from the island offer domestic flight + speedboat transfers or some also give you an option to upgrade to Seaplane transfers for additional cost.
To save some costs, you can also split your stay between a beach villa and a water villa as water villas in most hotels are more expensive. However, in Kagi Maldives and JW Marriott where we stayed, their beach villas are more expensive. However, you may want to check this when you choose a resort. @Curiocity Holidays offers some great deals for hotels in Maldives whether looking for budget or luxury. Their prices include stay and transfers and meal plans as per your requirement. You will certainly find their prices cheaper than online rates. Maldives is one such destination where booking through a travel agency like CurioCity Holidays can definitely help you same $$.
About our stay:
This time we were hosted on a FAM trip/ PR stay from the resorts directly. We stayed in 3 different luxury resorts and all 3 were very different from each other. As most of us see reviews online, for all the hotels it looks very nice and the same concept. However, the experience can get quite different. And we can definitely say this after having stayed in couple of different resorts.
1) Kanuhura Maldives
We have been literally eyeing this resort for quite some time and finally we had a chance to visit. Everything in this resort was upto the mark. And goes without saying their hospitality is top notch. They WIN HEARTS. Yes, they do. There won’t be a single staff on the island who can make you unhappy or not fulfil your requests. They go above and beyond to make your stay perfect!
We stayed in multiple rooms here, beach pool villa and water pool villa and we liked it so much that we decided to extend a night here and stayed in retreat beach pool villa which is their highest category room. All the rooms have fantastic pools and we loved waking up and jumping in the pool from each of the rooms.
It is super easy to get around the resort as each guest is given a bike and you can use that to travel the island. There are plenty of activities to do at the resort from water activities to spa to romantic dinner setup or watching the movie under the star. We decided to do them all in the resort and particularly enjoyed the movie under the stars! A highly recommended one if you are going to Kanuhura.
2) Kagi Maldives
This little 5-star resort mainly focusses on wellness retreats. We had one of the best spa here in our entire 10 day stay. This resort for everyone who is looking to completely relax their mind and body. Very newly opened, the rooms are wooden built modern looking villas. Also, had some great lagoons making it a great snorkeling/diving location.
We were lucky that the resort was operating at very low capacity so there were very few people at the resort so it felt like our private secluded island. The rooms are very nice and modern and we loved the food here as well. But no doubt that the spa here wins the major attraction in the resort with rooms looking into the coral reefs and a wonderful setup of the whole experience.
Getting around the island is super easy and you can do a complete circle in under 10 mins, further adding to the coziness of this resort.
3) JW Marriott Maldives
The ultimate luxury with huge spacious rooms and a private pool for all the villa. This resort will spoil you with its private butler services and an array of gastronomy. A newly opened resort in late 2019, JW Marriott Maldives has the finest services you would look for in a holiday.
We stayed in the sunset over water pool villa at the resort and the rooms were mind boggling. Firstly, the rooms are huge , with tall ceilings and very nicely decorated and they have excellent outdoor seating and the pool. Getting around the island is easy with walking/buggy rides being readily available. We loved the choices of food at the resort with multiple options to choose from such as Thai, Italian , Japanese, Steakhouse but our favorite was little rum bar which serves over 100 kinds of rum.
There are multiple pools in the resort and we really liked the adult only infinity pool which has amazing views and is next to an excellent snorkeling location. We loved the breakfast here ( including the floating pool brunch) and also recommend the bar at the main restaurant which has some excellent swings. Like Kanuhura, we loved the hospitality of the staff here and how accommodating they were of our needs.
Apart from this, we have also stayed at JA Manafaru (Luxury) & Coco Bodu Hithi (Mid range). Read our previous blog here. Also, in my previous FAM trips, I(Yesha) visited some budget and mid range resorts like the Centara hotels, Paradise Island etc. Feel free to send us a message for any other resorts you may have questions on. We have done quite a lot of research on resorts in Maldives