Your Complete Travel Guide to the Maldives

When to go 

The Maldives (and the surrounding Indian Ocean) are warm all year round, so instead of four different seasons there’s just the dry season from November-April and the wet season from May-October. As you can imagine, the dry season (when there’s very little rain or cloud coverage) is the peak season. That means optimal weather, but it also means resorts are more crowded. I visited during August at the tail end of the wet season and it was perfect. Since there is the risk of heavy rain during this time, the resorts are much quieter and rates are much lower. We only had one rainy day (and spent it getting a massage) during our six days in the Maldives and it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves.

If you want the good weather guarantee, you should definitely book during the dry season. But if you’re willing to live on the edge for a good deal, aim for the beginning or end of wet season⁠—just avoid September as its known for bringing the most monsoons. 

Surviving the long-haul flight 

Don’t overestimate your patience, getting to the Maldives from the U.S. can take upwards of 20 hours (depending on the airline and which coast you’re coming from). You’ll need a comfy travel pillow, plenty of podcasts saved up, a pouch full of flight-friendly skincare (I like the Jet Lag Mask from Summer Fridays), and a sleep aid if that’s your jam⁠—Dream Water is my favorite for knocking myself out within 30 minutes. That, and asking my boyfriend how his day was at his finance job. 

The plane will serve you plenty of hot meals and snacks, but if you’re vegetarian (or a picky eater), definitely bring snacks on snacks.

Once your plane actually lands, the journey still isn’t over. You’ll land in the Maldives capital airport in Malé, then you’ll board either a speedboat or seaplane to get to your resort. If you’re worried about the length of the trip, I don’t blame you (20+ hours is a lot), but staying at a resort closer to the Male Airport can save you anywhere from 3-4 hours in travel time. I stayed at Coco Bodu Hithi, which is in the closest group of islands to the airport. When we landed, a super friendly rep from the resort met us at our gate (with water bottles and snacks!!!) and escorted us to our speedboat transfer. The boat ride was only 45 minutes and super scenic. Highly recommend over boarding another plane when you’ve already traveled all the way to Malé. 

Where to stay 

If you’re going all the way to the Maldives, you can’t not stay in an over-the-water bungalow. I stayed at Coco Bodu Hithi and I literally have not shut up about this place since; it’s so perfect. Their water villas are the best IMHO—you’ll have direct ocean access, your own private infinity pool, and endless photo opportunities with the Indian Ocean (which looks more like a pool than an ocean, btw), pink skies, and sparkling horizon as your backdrop. I’d stroll the wooden boardwalk suspended over the water and at least once a day I’d see schools of fish, stingrays, and even sharks swimming below. And that was just on my walk to breakfast (pretty different from my typical NYC bodega commute).

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

New York is cancelled, you heard it here first

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Pro tip: If you can’t swing the water villa for every night of your stay, just book it for half the nights (or even 1!) and stay in a land villa for the other days. You’ll still have amazing ocean views, your own pool, and private beach access. 

The attention to detail at this resort is out of this world. I’d leave my villa for the day with the vanity covered in setting powder, open lipsticks, bobby pins everywhere, etc. and I’d come back from the pool to find the housekeeper had lined everything up in a beautiful row. She even stacked my cotton pads and put them next to my makeup remover. She put my Tiffany hoops in their little teal sachet. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I might be in love with this woman. 

It rained heavily one of the days we were there, and my boyfriend astutely pointed out (as he always does) how the staff were literally pouring fresh sand over the island walkways to absorb the water (so guests wouldn’t get their feet wet). Every single staff member seemed genuinely thrilled to be helping you with whatever you needed—whether it was an off-menu breakfast item or helping you book an excursion. I even needed to borrow a laptop for an hour to get some work done and the front desk attendant literally handed his over to me. You must stay here!

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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What to do 

Snorkeling & scuba diving 

Most (if not all) of the resorts in the Maldives offer in-house snorkeling and scuba diving. I did both, and scuba diving was 1000% cooler. If you’re not certified, you can go on a “Discovery” dive, which includes about an hour of instruction and training in shallow water before going on an actual dive. The Discovery session will set you back around $300, but it is legit life-changing. We saw sea turtles, black tip reef sharks, a massive (and thriving) coral reef, schools of clownfish, anemones, and so much more. Breathing underwater makes you feel like you’re on an entire different planet and, as a bonus, it’s absolutely effing silent down there.

Pro tip: Choose a resort with an in-house reef. It makes it easier to get to (you won’t have to charter a boat) and your instructor will know all of the secret nooks and crannies with amazing things to see. I felt so safe knowing my instructor basically lived on the reef where we were diving. 

Hang poolside, beachside, or literally wherever 

The layout of most resorts is super open, so there’s literally no bad spot to hang. There's no spot without a view. But where I stayed, the beach connecting to the land villas and the “community” infinity pool were my favorites. The villas all have their own private infinity pools, but the larger pool shared by everyone at the resort is HUGE and people will come around and bring you fresh towels and cocktails, so that was obvi a vibe I was into. 

If you’re more of a beach bum, there’s plenty of spots for you, too. Since each resort in the Maldives is on its own island, there’s always a beach and it’s always private. Most are lined with plushy daybeds and very few people, so bring a book and plenty of SPF. 

Beach BBQ 

If you stay at Coco Bodu Hithi, one of your dining options will be an absolutely amazing barbecue on the beach. They’ll set your table up right where the waves are rolling in—it’s just you, the beach, and a massive platter of grilled shrimp, lobster, steak, chicken, and vegetables. AKA a dream date.

How to self-care

Self-care is the main (if not the only) reason why I travel, and the Maldives are full of opportunities for professing your self-love and spending literally every second doing things that make you feel good. 

Leave your phone in your room 

First of all, keep your head out of your phone and look up to take in the beauty around you. Bring a digital camera so you can leave your phone in your villa and not be distracted by Instagram or email notifications (but still take amazing pics to post later). Just looking at the ocean, listening to the waves, breathing in the salty air, and being blissfully unaware of any DM’s is so good for your mind. Mojitos every hour on the hour aren’t a bad idea, either.

Book a massage or facial 

You came all this way, so you might as well treat yo’self. The Maldives are full of award-winning spas, and you won’t regret a full-body massage or hibiscus facial. 

Pro tip: Book a massage for a few hours before you leave for your flight. It’s the best way to end the trip and it’ll help you sleep on your return flight. 

Ask for a room with a bath 

Most of the villas at Coco Bodu Hithi have amazing bathtubs that face the ocean. Make sure the room your booking has one so you can squeeze in some V important me time. Pack a bath bomb and a sheet mask to top it off. P.S., there’s room for two.

That’s it! Thank you for indulging me. DM me on Instagram at @hollyrhue if you have any questions, and in the meantime I highly recommend following @visitmaldives and @coco_resorts (where I stayed!) for constant travel inspo.