“In terms of service, there’s a huge difference between the inhabited islands and the resort islands. The service on resort islands is much, much better, so if that’s something you need, I’d 100% recommend only visiting a resort island. If you feel that way inclined, you can eat and drink all day long, practically without limit.
Another difference is that this being a Muslim country, alcohol is not available on any of the inhabited islands (though on Maafushi they’ve come up with an ingenious solution: a yacht is anchored just offshore from the harbor, and it operates as a bar, though the prices are as high as at the resorts). As for dining, you can eat well on the inhabited islands too, though of course the quality and range of options are higher on the resort islands. The main thing is that if the quality and range of food and drink don’t make or break a holiday for you, then you can have as much fun on an inhabited island as at a resort.” (2016)
“It is not necessary to be in the water in order to have fun since the environment – the improbably blue sea, dazzling white sand, and lush, dense vegetation – already ‘makes’ your day. With regard to the snow-white sand, incidentally, one theory maintains that it is so white because of the "feces" of parrotfish. These fish migrate in shoals to consume coral and produce 300 grams of sand-like feces per head per day.
The obligatory evening activity is watching the sunset. One summer, in Zadar, Dalmatia, I was told that the sunset there was officially the most beautiful in the world. Well, I have bad news for the people of Zadar – the sunset in the Maldives is definitely prettier 😊.” (2019)
Who is it recommended for?
“Holidaying in the Maldives is a particularly expensive pastime. There is nothing to force the hotels there to flood the market with discounts since demand is greater than supply. You’ll have to dig deep in your pockets to gift yourself such a premium experience. It’s for those who have been to a tropical country or two, and now really want to see the kind of beach and sea they have idealized in their imagination. For those who envision a romantic, idyllic setting, a lazy vacation in which a loving couple can enjoy private togetherness. It’s no coincidence that the majority of holidaymakers on this small island chain are engaged couples, honeymooners, eternal romantics, or simply the happily married. The Maldives are for people who want to get off the hamster wheel and travel to a point far off in the seemingly boundless ocean yet incompletely civilized comfort, safety, and with lots of pampering.
Who is it not recommended for?
Above all, the Maldives probably isn’t for you if you’re the sort of traveler who needs an itinerary packed with excursions and cultural discoveries. It is true that luxury hotels on the small islands offer plenty of activities to entertain guests, with many waters- and land-based sports outings and sea excursions, but all the same, a holiday in the Maldives is ultimately about the location. Since an island typically consists of a single hotel, there are not many activities on offer not organized by the hotel.
You’ll see families with children in the Maldives, but we suspect that a holiday of this sort could be boring for teenagers. It’s different with small children since they can spend a whole day having fun on the sandy beaches and in the shallow seas.
There are not many large groups of friends, since a holiday in the Maldives tends to have a more intimate, ‘coupley’ atmosphere. It is not by any means a shopping or partying destination. Typically, after dinner, everyone goes back to their own bungalow. Many hotels don’t even have TVs in the room, meaning people prefer to read in the evenings, or sit out on the porch and enjoy one another’s company. It is a fact that the more hyperactive type of person starts to get a little bored after 4-5 days. Then, after coming home, they start to wish they’d enjoyed that boredom just a little more…
What’s it really like?
The price range leads you to expect luxury, and that’s exactly what you’ll get, especially if you choose a particularly good five-star hotel. The success of your Maldives vacation depends largely on picking the right hotel. The sea around the Maldives is a shade of blue which is simply indescribable, and photographs simply don’t capture it. A seaplane trip over the atolls made up of coral reefs is sure to be one of the most beautiful sights you ever see as a traveler. The seawater surrounding the islands is transparent, clear, warm, and spectacularly beautiful. The sand at the beach is dazzlingly white, and the lush vegetation which fringes the beaches is also stunning. The islands also have a truly relaxed atmosphere, and it’s great to be able to go everywhere barefoot, savoring the absence of cars, noisy motorbikes, and crowds. At most, you might encounter a little bustle and bustle at restaurant breakfasts and dinners.
The Islands closest to the capital and the airport don’t really have the same Maldivian paradise feeling as those farther away!
Most holidaymakers in the Maldives accept that all locally paid food, drink, and services are going to be expensive. With the exception of nets and coconuts, everything has to be brought to each small island by boat, and that does increase costs. If you constantly purse your lips over the cost of things, you could end up ruining your vacation. Public safety is completely and universally excellent. The locals on the islands are all hotel staff. There are no dangerous animals or venomous snakes – the worst you’ll encounter are some harmless beetles and mosquitos. It is a fantastic advantage that here there is none of the sorts of holidaymakers who disturb the tranquility of those who want to relax.
The clientele is mostly cultured and grown-up. Of course, there are also drinkers here, but it is not typical. There are no young people partying, and the majority everywhere are in the upper-middle class, between the ages of 30 and 60. There are many French, Italians, Germans, and Northern Europeans, as well as Japanese and Korean honeymooners. Cleanliness and hygiene are perfectly fine. Expensive hotels cannot afford complaints about upset stomachs.
Islands are typically barely 150-500 meters long and 100-150 meters wide. The bigger ones can be walked around in an hour, the smaller ones in 15-25 minutes on foot. One-kilometer-long islands are already considered large.
Compared to Mauritius, Seychelles, and French Polynesia, the landscape is quite monotonous – there are no rivers or mountains. All excursions and walks are limited to the hotel island, and though you can visit other local islands, you don't see anything different there either. The highest point in the Maldives is 2.4 meters above sea level. The experience isn’t as exciting as a holiday in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Cuba. However, people who have traveled to many places say that only perhaps French Polynesia and a few Caribbean, Malay and Thai islands can rival the Maldives in terms of the beauties of the marine experience there. In any case, a holiday in the Maldives is so unique that it can’t really be compared to anything else.”