If you’ve ever had a destination on your bucket list, I’d bet it’s the Maldives. It’s one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been to and I’ve had the privilege to go twice. Having just gotten back from a week long stay with Coco Collection hotels, I’m already thinking about how I can make another trip happen! Spoiler alert: it’s absolutely worth it.
Having shared our recent trip with Zapwater on Instagram, I wanted to answer the most common questions that I received from you! The Maldives are definitely one of those Pinterest-worthy locations that you save and think about. BUT don’t stop there! Make it happen! It is absolutely possible to do this as long as you plan ahead and save. This trip will be one of your most memorable so bring your favorite people (new husband, girlfriends, family), and enjoy the best experience of your life.
What is the best airline to get to the Maldives?
When booking a flight to the Maldives, Male should be your destination of choice. That is the capital of the Maldives. Most resorts are a boat ride or seaplane away from Male. You can work with your hotel to book the boat or the seaplane. The resort will coordinate for you! I’ve flown with both Swiss airlines and Emirates to the Maldives and would recommend them both. If you are loyal to one airline or alliance, check the options they have available first!
Where should I stay?
Of the 4 resorts I’ve stayed at, I have not had a bad experience. Coco Bodu Hithi is my favorite though. Aside from the 5 star service, dining options, and stunning facilities, it’s a 30 minute boat ride from the airport which makes it the most convenient too. The services exceeded my expectations on every level. From the spa options, to the extracurricular activities (they will make pretty much anything you want happen), to the staff – it was truly a 5 star experience. If a 6 star rating scale was a thing, I’d give it 6 stars. The staff anticipated every move or need without being overbearing – it’s honestly an art.
Generally, when you’re looking for resorts, I’d recommend finding a resort like Coco Bodu Hithi which is a boat ride away OR a resort in the atolls that are close to the Male airport so that you only have to take a short seaplane ride (which is a fun experience in itself!). For example, Baa Atoll is a quick ride away from Male and still completely doable. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is in Baa Atoll!
How long does it take to get there?
The travel time varies depending on your destination and the layovers you select. Generally, you should allow for ~24 hours of travel from the US. One of my favorite tricks I learned on this trip is that if you have a long layover in Dubai (most of the flights to Male go through Dubai), to stay at the Dubai Airport Hotel. It’s reasonably priced (~$150-$200) and you can pay by the hour. Even if you’re just getting a few hours of sleep, it makes a huge difference and breaks up your travel time.
How long should I stay?
I’d recommend staying for at least 5 nights. 4 nights per resort is the minimum I’d recommend to make sure you have time to experience everything and also rest. Many of the resorts dedicate one night to Maldivian culture so I’d recommend staying for that as well. Your resort will be able to tell you which day of the week that falls on so try to stay during that time. For Coco Bodu Hithi, it is Fridays!
If you’re the type of person who gets a little antsy after a few nights, I highly recommend doing something like we did which is switch resorts mid trip. This gives you the opportunity to experience two different islands and changes up the scenery. I loved how Coco Bodu Hithi felt more ocean focused but Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu felt like more of a jungle. We got to experience more of a turtle reserve, edible spa treatments, and a local island where we saw a glimpse of the culture. They were completely different but owned by the same family and I appreciated this SO much. I personally love getting a sense of the local culture and have found that with some luxury resorts you lose sense of this. Not the case with Coco Collection. Both resorts were authentically Maldivian in architecture and ambiance while offering the highest standards of service.
What is the best time of year to visit the Maldives?
November to April is peak season with the best weather. That being said, we went in September which is technically monsoon season and it didn’t rain all week except for our last night! As with any island locale, short storms may happen but generally come and go quickly.
Do they have all inclusive options in the Maldives?
Yes. You can opt into all inclusive packages or opt out for most resorts! The Maldives is all about making anything you want happen.
What activities are there?
Aside from enjoying the sun and relaxing, there is a LOT you can do in the Maldives. Much of this is dependent on what your resort offers so research their website in advance. Here is a quick list of what we did at the Coco Collection resorts in just 5 days.
At Coco Bodu Hithi (we stayed here for 3 nights):
- Snorkeling day trip to a local sand bank
- Floating breakfast
- Sunset cruise in a Maldivian boat
- Cocktail party
- Cooking Class
- BBQ on the beach
At Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu (we stayed here for 2 nights):
- Tour of local island (Thulhadhoo)
- Dolphin cruise in a Maldivian boat
- Turtle Sanctuary
- Edible spa treatments
- Dinner on the beach
In addition to the above, Coco Collection also offers various experience packages to experience the Maldives to the fullest. These include water skiing, surfing, parasailing, big game fishing, wake and knee boarding, kayaking, paddle boarding, diving, exploring the coral nurseries, marine biologist tours, movie night, and sandbank escapes. That’s not even all of what they offer!
What do you eat?
Each resort has multiple eating options for you. Some have more, some have less. Do your research ahead of time and look into the options and sample menus. I’d also recommend asking if the main restaurant has themed nights where they feature a cuisine from a different country. This means that even though you’re dining at the same restaurant, the menu changes, providing you more variety.
What I really enjoyed about the Coco Collection resorts was the variety of food options especially at Coco Bodu Hithi – we didn’t eat at the same restaurant or have the same meal any of the 3 days we were there. The food was great quality and the staff catered to any and all dietary restrictions. You name it, if they have it they will make it – even if it’s off menu. As you might guess, the seafood was incredibly fresh but they had all meat options available as well as vegetarian and vegan options!
If you love the comfort food of “home” – think burgers and fries – the Maldives has that too. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu had some of the best french fries I’d had in awhile. We ordered them for 3 separate meals! Even at the buffet when there wasn’t necessarily an a la carte option. When I say the staff at Coco Collection was accommodating, I mean it!
Is it a good honeymoon spot?
1000%. It would also be a great girls trip, anniversary destination, or just a ‘treat yourself’ vacation.
Are there a lot of bugs?
Not really. I didn’t see a wide variety of bugs at all given each resort is on a remote island. I only encountered mosquitoes when we stayed in the jungle (literally) and had maybe 3 bites. Usually I’m the first to get bit. Generally, beaches have fewer mosquitoes while jungles have more mosquitoes. Just bring bug spray and you’ll be fine. The resorts usually have bug spray for you!
How much does it cost?
Prices for both flights and resorts vary SO much – to the point where it is impossible to quote an accurate price. The algorithm for flights depends on the time of year – it can range from $1000 to $2000+ flying economy. If you plan ahead you can definitely get flights closer to $1000. I just did a Kayak search for the end of November and found good flights (no crazy layover times) for $1200. I’ve seen flights to Europe or Asia for just as much, if not more, and that’s only looking ahead a month.
For hotels, it depends on the time of year, occupancy, room type (there are many tiers), and the resort. I did a quick Hotels.com search and found hotels for $200 a night to $2000+ a night. If you want some tips on how to pick a good hotel, read this post.
Is it worth it?
Absolutely. Without a doubt. The juice is worth the squeeze (and then some). The experience is unlike any other and unique to this spot in the world.
Tell me more about the water bungalows.
Each island in the Maldives is it’s own resort and most have water bungalows! The islands vary in size but are generally walkable so the water bungalows are “close” to everything on the resort. Some resorts also have golf carts to transport you if you don’t want to walk. Since I was handicapped, Coco Bodu Hithi used a combination of wheelchair and golf cart to get me around the island. They were SO accommodating. It was humbling and impressive at the same time. This just goes to show that if you have a handicap, not to let that get in the way of your dreams if travel is on the list!
If you love getting in the water, are traveling for a special occasion, or have the budget, the water bungalows are absolutely worth it!