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- Best Overall: Gili Lankanfushi – See Rates at TripAdvisor "The eco-chic resort set on a private island, is intimate, with fewer than 60 villas that all sit directly over the water."
- Best Budget: Sandy Heaven Maldives – See Rates at TripAdvisor "The friendly hotel staff can arrange special dining experiences for guests, including a romantic dinner for two on the sand."
- Best Boutique: Kudadoo Maldives – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Chic rooms features elements like unvarnished cedar wood intended to weather slightly over time and teak furniture."
- Best for Families: St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Located in Dhaalu Atoll, the property has 77 villas equipped with a private pool and Netflix."
- Best for Romance: COMO Cocoa Island – See Rates at TripAdvisor "The 33-villa property is intimate and relaxed — ideal for unwinding after the hecticness of planning a wedding."
- Best for Nightlife: W Maldives – See Rates at TripAdvisor "There are six dining and drinking options at the resort, including the bars WET (noted for its swim-up bar) and SIP."
- Best for Dining: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – See Rates at TripAdvisor "If you’re into celebrity chefs, there’s The Ledge by Dave Pynt, whose Burnt Ends restaurant in Singapore has earned a Michelin star."
- Best for Animal Encounters: Anantara Kihavah Maldives – See Rates at TripAdvisor "On any given day, you might be able to snorkel with manta rays, Hawksbill turtles, and dolphins, since its famed house reef is so close by."
Best Overall: Gili Lankanfushi
Gili Lankanfushi is consistently the top-ranked hotel in the Maldives—and for good reason. The eco-chic resort, which is set on a private island conveniently just a 20-minute speedboat ride from the airport in Male, is intimate, with fewer than 60 villas that all sit directly over the water and take on a Robinson Crusoe–meets-high-luxury theme.
While the majority of the accommodations are connected to the island via jetties, there are also seven standalone Crusoe Residences that are only accessible by private boat, adding to the castaway experience.
Facilities-wise, there are three restaurants, an overwater bar, a spa, and tennis courts, but numerous activities can be planned by hotel staff, from snorkeling trips to special themed dining experiences held around the island.
Best Budget: Sandy Heaven Maldives
Yes, it’s true that the overwater villas in the Maldives can cost a fortune, but if you’re set on the destination and don’t want to spend your life savings, there are still options for you.
One of the most highly rated budget-friendly hotels in the Maldives on TripAdvisor is Sandy Heaven, a boutique hotel with just seven rooms with traditional Maldivian decor on the island of Burevi Magu, a 30-minute speedboat ride from Male.
Amenities are perhaps more limited than you might find at resorts, but you’re still treated to a 24-hour front desk, a restaurant, and a beach located a two-minute walk from the hotel. Hotel staff can also arrange special dining experiences, including a romantic dinner for two on the sand.
And given that Burevi Magu isn’t a private island, that means there’s civilization around — you can visit a handful of local restaurants or join a fishing excursion where Maldivian fisherman will teach you their secrets.
Best Boutique: Kudadoo Maldives
The terms “boutique” and “all-inclusive” aren’t typically found together when describing beach resorts, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Kudadoo Maldives, a 15-villa adults-only resort on an island in Lhaviyani Atoll, a 45-minute seaplane flight from Male.
Opened at the end of 2018, Kudadoo is highly praised for its modern yet still Maldivian-chic design by architect Yuji Yamazaki, which features elements like unvarnished cedar wood intended to weather slightly over time and teak furniture. Kudadoo’s motto is “Anything. Anytime. Anywhere.” and they embrace it by staffing each villa with a butler who’s always on hand to assist with guests’ stay, whether that’s booking activities like Jetblading or spa treatments—both included within the rates, of course.
The majority of the facilities are in one building, set overwater just like the villas, whose roof is covered in solar panels that power the entire resort. If guests are looking for a more bustling resort experience, they’re welcome to use the amenities like the sports courts at Kudadoo’s sister resort, Hurawalhi. The only thing that will cost an extra fee there is a dinner reservation at the resort’s underwater restaurant.
Best for Families: St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
Though the Maldives is perhaps more commonly known as a honeymoon destination, many resorts offer family-friendly accommodations and activities, perhaps none more so than the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort.
Located in Dhaalu Atoll, a 40-minute seaplane ride from Male, the property has 77 villas each equipped with a private pool and Netflix-streaming capabilities (great for kids!), some of which are over water, some of which are set on the island.
Where the luxurious hotel stands out for families is its vast number of activities: it has a superb children’s club nestled in the jungle featuring a kitchen for kids’ cooking classes, arts and crafts programs, and sports; the Socialite Club exclusively for teens; and adult activities like anti-gravity yoga and wine tastings. It’s also worth mentioning the unique architecture of the resort — the bar takes the shape of a whale shark, and the spa is modeled after a lobster, both animals found in the Maldivian waters.
Best for Romance: COMO Cocoa Island
Let’s be honest — every resort in the Maldives is romantic, given that the destination is one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world. But if we were pressed to name just one as the most romantic, we’d have to pick COMO Cocoa Island on Makunufushi in the South Malé Atoll, which is a 35-minute speedboat ride from Male.
The 33-villa property is intimate and relaxed — ideal for unwinding after the hecticness of planning a wedding. One of the highlights of the COMO Cocoa Island is the COMO Shambhala Retreat, the wellness center that offers spa treatments, yoga classes, and even nutrition consultations.
Another is the Ufaa restaurant, which serves Indian-meets-Mediterranean cuisine made from local ingredients. Private dinners on the beach can be organized, too, which is a popular option among couples.
Beyond wellness and dining, there are plenty of activities to keep guests entertained, from private boat charters for snorkeling trips, windsurfing lessons, and whale-shark-watching tours.
Best for Nightlife: W Maldives
As many of the resorts in the Maldives are on their own islands, the nightlife is typically relegated to the on-site bar or restaurant at any given hotel. But for W Maldives, partying is part of its DNA, so guests have plenty of options when it comes to fun after sundown. There are five dining and drinking options at the resort, including the bars WET (noted for its swim-up bar) and SIP (which has a DJ spinning lounge beats), but the club-like atmosphere can be found all across the property.
There’s plenty to do beyond eat, drink, and be merry, though, from indulging in treatments at the quiet AWAY Spa to chartering the hotel’s private yacht for a journey to the private island of Gaathafushi, where you can actually stay overnight if you’re looking for some seclusion.
The 75-room W Maldives is a 35-minute seaplane ride away from Male, on Fesdu Island in the North Ari Atoll.
Best for Dining: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
With 11 themed restaurants and bars, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is a gourmand’s delight. The 121-villa property, which is 30 minutes from Male by private yacht (the hotel’s preferred transportation method), offers cuisine that ranges from Levantine at Yasmeen to garden-to-table at Glow, or a seven-course contemporary Chinese meal at Li Long.
If you’re into celebrity chefs, there’s The Ledge by Dave Pynt, whose Burnt Ends restaurant in Singapore has earned a Michelin star. And if the ambience is your thing? Check out Terra, a restaurant set in seven bamboo treehouses. Or you could opt for private dining, organized by your villa’s personal concierge.
To work off all that food, head to the fitness center, take a class at the yoga pavilion, or go for a swim (or snorkel) in the sea or in your villa’s private pool, which is big enough for laps. Truly, there’s so much to take in here, you might need to stay a few weeks — if your budget will let you.
Best for Animal Encounters: Anantara Kihavah Maldives
Given its location in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Anantara Kihava Maldives in the Baa Atoll (a 35-minute seaplane flight from Male) is surrounded by all manner of sea life. On any given day, you might be able to snorkel with manta rays, Hawksbill turtles, and dolphins, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot some whale sharks. Kihavah’s house reef, meaning the one nearest the property, is particularly well-known as an ideal dive site — the Golden Wall, as it’s known, has colorful coral teeming with fish.
On the land side, the resort has 80 villas and residences, located on land and on sea, each with its own host and a private pool; six restaurants and bars, including the underwater eatery SEA; the Maldives’ only overwater observatory with guided stargazing sessions; and an overwater spa. There’s also a kids’ club with activities like painting classes and Muay Thai boxing, plus a trampoline park and a rock-climbing wall.