10 Expert Tips for Your First Trip to the Maldives

The Maldives is heaven on earth, and may be my favorite destination in the world. To me, there’s just nothing better than endless blue waters, and vacation days spent swimming, snorkeling, and soaking up the sunshine in an overwater bungalow. After traveling to the Maldives a few different times, I’ve learned a lot about how to maximize your trip to the Maldives, and all the best tips and tricks to traveling to the Maldives. Here are 10 expert tips to make sure your first trip to the Maldives is as incredible as you’ve been dreaming it up to be. 

When deciding on your accommodation, research what it takes to get there (and the cost of the transfer)

Every hotel in the Maldives will charge you a ‘transfer’ cost on top of your room rate. And you’ll need to factor this into your decision of where to stay in the Maldives! Some cost $1000 per person, some $500, etc. There are three ways to get to the many luxury resorts in the Maldives, by sea-plane, by domestic plane, or by boat. Traveling by seaplane is an incredible experience, but it’s hot, and takes time out of your day (they don’t often run on a strict schedule!). Boating to your resort is amazing, because you can get there faster, and it doesn’t add a whole other leg to your already long travel day getting to the Maldives! And taking a domestic flight is the only option at a resort like Six Senses, which is far away from Male so doesn’t offer a seaplane. If you have enough people, you can also look into chartering your own seaplane by emailing [email protected].

Stay a night near the airport in Male to maximize your time at your resort

I’m all about getting the absolute best experience while finding ways to save money where I can while I travel luxuriously. One easy way to do that in a destination like the Maldives, is to spend the first night at a less expensive hotel before moving to your luxury hotel in the Maldives. Most flights to the Maldives get in in the afternoon or evening, which means, if you’re staying in a resort that has a sea plane to get there, you often can’t even get there until the next day. Or, if you’re boating to your resort, it still might make sense to stay the night in Male to save money so that you’re able to maximize each night you have at the resort. Late arrivals and early departures are perfect for one night in Male stays. We have stayed at this hotel in Male, and it’s perfect for an overnight!

Plan your arrival and departure flight times smartly!

I like to plan my arrivals and departure to maximize time at the resort – ie get there as soon as humanly possible, and leave as late as humanly possible (late check out, please!). Even if I can’t get in my room right away, I’ll pack a swimsuit in my carry on and start enjoying the property as soon as I can.

While one flight might look attractively $200 less expensive, what if it ends up costing you a whole extra $1500 a night for your hotel room? I’d recommend planning your arrival and departure times to maximize the time at your resort, and your wallet. Similarly, going out, don’t book yourself a 10am flight out if you’re planning on staying at a resort where you’d have to leave by 6AM, miss breakfast, etc!

If you’re planning on snorkeling/diving, make sure to pick a resort with a great house reef

An easy google search of reviews for the hotel you’re looking at will tell you whether the resort you’re looking into has a good house reef. Many resorts have gorgeous overwater bungalows but the snorkeling is nonexistent, so, if that’s something that matters to you, you’ll definitely want to choose a resort with a good house reef. One of my favorite house reefs is at Six Senses Laamu, where you’ll see lots of fish and turtles right outside of your bungalow! 

Don’t try to island hop too much!

There are hundreds of beautiful private islands in the Maldives, but trying to do too many can rack up your bill big time. (see above regarding transfer costs!) While I totally understand wanting to explore a couple different spots (you ARE going all the way over there, anyway!), it’s best to hone in on one or two resorts versus try to do too many. Plus, part of the Maldives’ appeal is truly relaxing, and making the island your home away from home, which you don’t fully get to that ultimate level of relaxation if you don’t have enough time on the island. My absolute minimum for a first timer to the Maldives is 4 nights. 


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Know yourself

Know yourself and what you like! If you don’t like feeling a little claustrophobic on a small island, or need more activity, then you should definitely choose to stay at one of the bigger islands, with tons of activities to choose from, where you’ll never get bored, versus a smaller island. On the flip side, if you love a private-island feeling of you having the whole island to yourself, look for one of the smaller resorts. I have a guide of where to stay in the Maldives here.

Bring snacks, sunscreen, and other necessities

It’s no surprise that the Maldives is an expensive destination. And once you’re at the resort, everything is expensive, mainly because it’s very hard for these resorts to import things! So everything is pricey – from food and drinks to necessities like sunscreen (a bottle of sunscreen was $80 USD at a resort we stayed at last trip to the Maldives). So definitely pack what you can! To save money in the Maldives, you’ll also want to have some of your favorite snacks on hand so that you’re not racking up a huge bill every time you get hungry. I like to do the half-board option at resorts (which includes breakfast and dinner) and skip lunch, but that means I need a little snacks throughout the day to keep me full until dinner! I like packing these almond butter packets, or something like granola bars. It’s worth noting that you cannot pack your own alcohol to the Maldives – it’s illegal here and will get taken out of your suitcase (but don’t worry, they have alcohol available at the resorts!)

Don’t pack too many shoes!!

The Maldives is all about barefoot luxury, and you won’t find yourself needing shoes at most of the resorts! Read up on your specific resort ahead of time, but most of the Maldives resorts are completely barefoot, which is part of the off-the-map, Robinson Crusoe charm of the Maldives. 

To help prepare for your travel to the Maldives, read these other posts:

The Ultimate Maldives Travel Guide

the best Dubai and Maldives itinerary

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Christina is a leading luxury lifestyle and travel blogger with over 2 million readers. Follow her on instagram @jetsetchristina.