Where to Stay? How to Choose Your Perfect Maldives Island Escape

Maldives Atolls and Islands Guide

Book Your All Inclusive Vacation and save 25% in Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, Maldives
Book Your All Inclusive Vacation and save 25% in Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, Maldives

Updated June, 2024

On planning your Maldives vacation, your first critical challenge is choosing which island is the best to stay and what's experience is right for you. Making the wrong choice could ruin your holiday.

Planning the first trip to the Maldives can be not an easy task: 26 atolls and 1,192 islands sparkle with white beaches and turquoise waters. While some of them have only one property in their interior, among the newcomers of the Maldives the question often arises: "Where to stay in the Maldives?". It's worth going through some of the highs and lows of each of Maldives' most popular resorts before deciding which hotel to book. If you're planning your first visit to Maldives, or just curious about which resort, location and highlights is the best fit for you, here's a quick guide showing you the main and most noteworthy features that will help you when choosing the right island to stay in the Maldives.

North Malé Atoll

Pros: North Male also known as Northern Kaafu is the main atoll and the tourism birthplace in the Maldives. The southern corner of the North Male Atoll is home to the capital of Male and Velana (MLE) international airport. In these warm and clean waters, among white sands and emerald vegetation you will find a widest choice of accommodation options from budget guest houses to 5 *-star resorts suitable for families and couples alike. The resorts' proximity to the main international airport is a fast and cheap transfer by speedboats, without a seaplane flight, that is an ideal reason for a short stay in the Maldives. The ferry service is also widely used here, which is very convenient for budgetary experience. Known for the most healthy and colorful corals among all the atolls, the North Male Atoll is a world-class diving, and on the eastern side of the atoll you will also find a some surfing spots. READ MORE

Cons: The proximity of some hotels to Male airport or to the "trash" island breaks the image of a tropical paradise.

baros maldives

Key Features of the North Male Atoll Hotels:

You like North Male Atoll? Now pick the right hotel!

South Malé Atoll

Pros: The wide blue lagoon of South Male Atoll is home to about 30 islands. Separated from the capital of the Maldives and Male airport by Vaadhoo Kandu channel, South Male also known as South Kaafu is the second most popular atoll in the country, but it is usually less crowded than its older sister. Its unique location offers access to pristine beaches, excellent scuba diving opportunities and a relaxed environment with easy access to the capital city of Male. Bask in the golden sun and frolic on the soft sands as you experience friendly Maldivian hospitality and explore the rich tropical wonders of a vibrant island nation during your stay in South Male's hotels. Expect to find both from 5-star luxury resorts to budget guest houses on local islands where you can get authentic Maldivian, more local experience with lower prices. Maafushi is the best destination for a cheap vacation, and offers warm hospitality. You can reach most of the islands in whithin 45 minutes by speedboat from Male airport. Transfer by public ferry is also available. Beaches, as if torn from the pages of glossy guides, clean lagoons with turquoise water and one of the best diving in the Maldives is all about South Male Atoll. The days here revolve around sunbathing, relaxation, water sports and snorkeling - and nothing more. READ MORE

Cons: The proximity of some hotels to Male airport or to the "trash" island breaks the image of a tropical paradise.

OZEN Reserve Bolifushi maldives 2024

Key Features of the South Male Atoll Hotels:

You like South Malé Atoll? Now pick the right hotel!

Ari ( Alif ) Atoll

Why Stay Here : Ari Atoll, also known as Alif or Alif Atoll stretches along the western edge of the Maldives. Surrounded by fantastic coral reefs, these islands are an ideal sites for diving and snorkeling and all those who dream of seeing giant sea creatures, including manta rays and whale sharks, that Ari Atoll is especially famous for. With more than 20 luxury resorts on private islands and a wide selection of guest houses, Ari Atoll is accessible by seaplanes, domestic airlines, speedboats and public ferries from Male. The choice of accommodation is the largest in the Maldives, including budget options on populated islands. READ MORE

Cons:  expensive  seaplane transfer

ari atoll hotel best deals

Key Features of the Ari Atoll Hotels:

  • Amaya Resorts & Spa Kuda Rah: 5-star Best Experience: couples, water villas, diving, all inclusive, value
  • Angaga Island Resort and Spa: 4-star Best Experience: house reef snorkelling, diving, beach
  • Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa : 5-star Best Experience: All Inclusive, Family
  • Conrad Maldives Rangali Island: 5-star Best Experience: Multi-island destination, dining, for family, for couples, water villas, underwater hotel
  • Constance Halaveli: 5-star Best Experience: water villas, for family, diving, all inclusive
  • Constance Moofushi Maldives: 5-star Best Experience: all inclusive, house reef snorkelling, couples, spa
  • Diamonds Athuruga - All Inclusive: 5-star Best Experience: water villas, beach, all inclusive, house reef snorkelling
  • Diamonds Thudufushi - All Inclusive: 5-star Best Experience: water villas, all inclusive, for family
  • Drift Thelu Veliga Retreat: 4-star Best Experience: for couples, value, diving
  • Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon: 4-star Best Experience: house reef snorkelling, diving, value
  • Gangehi Island Resort: 4-star Best Experience: house reef snorkelling, diving, honeymoon, value
  • Kandolhu Maldives: 5-star Best Experience: house reef snorkelling, honeymoon, beach
  • Kuramathi Maldives: 4-star Best Experience: for couples, all inclusive, value, for families, house reef snorkelling
  • Lily Beach Resort and Spa: 5-star Best Experience: all inclusive, value, family, house reef snorkelling
  • LUX* South Ari Atoll: 5-star Best Experience: water villas, beach, dining, diving, value
  • Outrigger Maafushivaru Maldives: 5-star Best Experience: for couples, diving, all inclusive
  • Mirihi Island Resort: 5-star Best Experience: adults only, house reef snorkelling, value, honeymoon
  • Nika Island Resort & Spa: 5-star Best Experience: for couples, value, house reef snorkelling
  • Nova Maldives: 5-star Best Experience: house reef snorkelling, beach
  • Radisson Blue Resort Maldives: 5-star Best Experience: for couples, families, spa, activities, snorkelling with whale shark
  • Sandies Bathala: 4-star Best Experience: house reef snorkelling, diving
  • Safari Island: 4-star Best Experience: couples, house reef snorkelling, diving, activities
  • Sun Island Resort and Spa: 4-star Best Experience: beach, activities, value
  • Veligandu Island Resort & Spa: 5-star Best Experience: for couples, beach
  • Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa: 5-star Best Experience: house reef snorkelling, value, all inclusive
  • Voi Maayafushi Resort: 4-star Best Experience: house reef snorkelling, diving
  • W Maldives: 5-star Best Experience: water sports, house reef snorkelling, couples
  • ZAZZ Island Maldives: 4-star Best Experience:  (set to open 2020) couples, house reef snorkelling, divind
  • Ukulhas: a well-developed populated island, offers an incredible natural landscape and is indeed one of the best beaches in the Maldives. Paradise for diving and snorkeling, you can have the opportunity to swim with huge sea turtles without breaking the budget.
  • Rasdhoo - A tiny local island and the capital of Rasdu Atoll, still well-equipped and organized. This is a real treasure for divers and snorkelers who want to see giant sea creatures (such as hammerhead shark, manta rays, dolphins and turtles) and enjoy a vibrant marine life of coral reefs.
  • Thoddoo - The inhabited island in the Northern Ari atoll. Its natural landscape and a long white sandy beach make Thoddoo one of the best budget destination in the Maldives.
  • Bodufolhudhoo: A great option for a cheap Maldivian experience. The beautiful island is well known for its spectacular marine life with an untouched house reef that ideal for snorkeling and is surrounded with many famous luxury resorts.
  • Feridhoo : With a handful of guest houses, Feridhoo island offers a relaxed budget holiday for avid divers, snorkeling fans and beach lovers.
  • Omadhoo: Great place for an authentic beach experience, Omadhoo is an inhabited island in the Maldives. An ideal site for swimming and house reef snorkelling, Omadhoo is perfect for the budget traveler who wants
  • Maamigili: Maamigili, also known as 'Whale Shark Island' is an inhabited island and the only airport in South Ari (Alif Dhaal) Atoll. There are a few guesthouses, and it's a popular budget base for divers, who especially love
  • Hangnaameedhoo: Swimming in crystal clear waters, house reef snorkeling and diving, and relaxing on the private beach is the stuff that Hangnaameedhoo is made on

You like Ari Atoll? Now pick the right hotel!

Lhaviyani Atoll

Pros: Lhaviyani Atoll has one of the best beaches in the Maldives, as well as innovative hotels and hypnotic dive world-class sites. The 58 islands of the Lhaviani Atoll are located in 40 minutes by seaplane to the north from Male airport, and although a pristine sands and resorts here are just as idyllic as in the south of the country, most travelers spend their time under water. Accommodation options in Lhaviyani Atoll are basically an ultra luxury resorts offering the modern side of life on pristine private islands. Expect luxury facilities and services, including fine dining in underwater restaurants, luxurious spas, a variety of an exciting water sports, and excellent house reef snorkeling. READ MORE

Cons: Getting by air only with expensive seaplane/domestic flight transfer

5.8 undersea restaurant interior

Key Features of the Lhaviyani Atoll Hotels:

You like Lhaviyani Atoll? Now pick the right hotel!

Hurawalhi Island Resort

Hurawalhi Island Resort

Hurawalhi Island is a circle of pristine beaches fringed by turquoise waters – distinguishes itself from other Maldivian resorts Read More

Cocoon Maldives

Cocoon Maldives

Cocoon Maldives is perfectly сombining luxury, style and hospitality on an unspoilt island in the Lhaviyani Atoll. The 5-star Read More

All Hotel Deals in South Male Atoll

All Hotel Deals in Lhaviyani Atoll

Lhaviyani Atoll is known for some of the best beaches in the Maldives and world-class dive sites. Located 80 miles north of the capital Male and  Read More

Baa Atoll

Pros: Baa Atoll is one of 26 natural atolls in the Indian Ocean and a UNESCO world biosphere reserve. Home to some of the teeming waters in the Maldives, it provides a peaceful, unspoilt retreat for protected
marine life. The jewel in the biological crown of Baa Atoll is a tiny bay called Hanifaru Bay, which attracts large numbers of manta rays and whale sharks seasonally. Best time for Manta Rays is from May to November

The Baa's private islands are home to luxury 5-star resorts, including the most fabulos: Anantara Kihavah, Dusit Thani, Milaidhoo Island, Soneva Fushi and others. Whether you like to kick back, relax & take in the magnifcent, stunning beauty of the islands and surrounding reefs or if you are looking for a more action pack, exotic adventure, Baa Atoll ofer the perfect balance of both.

The newly completed Baa Atoll airport (Dharavandhoo) is just a 15-minute flight from Malé, then a 10-minute speedboat ride to get your hotel, allowing you to arrive any time – day or night. Or a 30-minute direct flight by seaplane during daylight hours. READ MORE

Cons: Getting by air only with expensive seaplane/domestic flight transfer

hanifaru's bay mantas

Key Features of Baa Atoll Hotels:

You like Baa Atoll? Now pick the right hotel!

top10 baa atoll accommodation

10 Best Baa Atoll Hotels

Baa atoll hotels are unique retreats where you can relax and unwind during your adventures in this famous UNESCO-protected, biosphere  Read More

Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

Discover Anantara Kihavah, a boutique hotel with all the advantages of a paradise island of dreams  Read More

The Nautilus Maldives

The Nautilus Maldives

New bohemian luxury, The Nautilus Maldives is a highly exclusive, fully private resort of 26 beach and ocean houses. Read More

Dusit Thani Maldives

Dusit Thani Maldives

If the idea to stay in the Maldives in a Thai-style hotel raises your eyebrows, think about what it gives you. The warm hospitality Read More

Finolhu Baa Atoll Maldives

Finolhu Baa Atoll Maldives

Located in the UNESCO world biosphere of Baa Atoll, Finolhu came about as a reaction to the more familiar Maldives island Read More

All Hotel Deals in Baa Atoll

All Hotel Deals in Baa Atoll

The prestigious place in UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Baa atoll is a haven for your Maldives holiday among its many reefs. The main attraction Read More

Raa Atoll

Pros: Raa atoll or North Maalhosmadulu is one of the northern, most visited atolls in the Maldives, separated from Baa atoll by Hani Kandu is a canal 5 km wide. Raa atoll is home to a dozen luxury hotels include: Emerald, The Standart, Kudafushi and an ultra luxurious Joali Maldives and up-coming InterContinental Maldives. Raa Atoll’s unique topographical and geographical features make it rich and diverse in marine life. The most visitors note that the fish populations are thriving in the atoll and observed that the house reefs of the islands themselves, especially Furaveri’s, are some of the finest, most accessible dive sites in the area. READ MORE

Cons: Getting by air only with expensive seaplane/domestic flight transfer

the standart resort maldives

Key Features of Baa Atoll Hotels:

You like Raa Atoll? Now pick the right hotel!

Best hotels to stayin Raa Atoll 2020

10 Best Raa Atoll Resorts

The 10 Best Hotels in Raa atoll are the ones which make the most of this fantastic, relatively unknown location in Maldives. A very special place Read More

Joali, Maldives

Joali, Maldives

A new landmark for glamor and sophistication in the Maldives, JOALI is an ultra luxury resort that will open in September on  Read More

All Hotel Deals in Raa Atoll

All Hotel Deals in Raa Atoll

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