Consisting of 1,192 coral islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. The photos might look too good to be true, but as soon as you arrive, you’ll notice just how breathtaking the scenery is. The crystal clear water, colorful coral reefs, and breezy beaches make this a real dream destination. So rest assured that when choosing where to stay in the Maldives, you have some truly stunning options!

But the Maldives isn’t just known for its beauty – it’s also notoriously one of the most expensive countries on the planet. Long a magnet for the rich and famous looking for somewhere exclusive to spend their money, where some resorts can set you back years of savings.

The good news is that things are changing! The Maldive islands are opening up more and more to budget-friendly travel options (with affordable flights now departing from Sri Lanka). These days, there’s an option for every type of traveler. With this guide, I’ll the lowdown on the five best places to stay in Maldives, from hostels to luxury beach resorts.

So, let’s dive right in!

white-sand beaches maldives

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    Where to Stay in the Maldives

    From luxurious island villas and resorts with tennis courts to affordable backpacker-style hostels, these are my top picks for accommodation in the Maldives.

    Most Beautiful Place to Stay in the Maldives: Kandolhu Maldives

    Kandolhu Maldives

    If you’re planning a honeymoon in the Maldives, you might as well splash out! This five-star resort is a firm favorite with newlyweds thanks to the unbelievably good guest service and luxurious facilities.

    Each room comes with floor-to-ceiling windows so you can look out at the turquoise waters. Enjoy your infinity pool, spa treatments and white sandy beaches all in one place. Staying in the Maldives doesn’t get better than this!

    Budget-Friendly Accommodation in the Maldives: iHaven Thulusdhoo

    The Maldives isn’t just luxury hotels! While five star resorts and water villas are extremely common, budget accommodations like this affordable guesthouse do exist! iHaven gives guests comfy private rooms complete with an ensuite bathroom, a fridge, air conditioning and a microwave. The hostel is only a short walk from white sandy beaches. The hostel also has fast wifi and an outdoor garden area!

    Luxury Hotel in the Maldives: Niyama Private Islands

    Niyama Private Islands Maldives

    When you think of the Maldives, this is usually the first type of resort that comes to mind! Niyama Private Islands is a massive resort that will cater to your every whim with overwater villas and private pools that overlook the Indian Ocean. From an underground nightclub to a huge overwater spa, the resort is like a private island in its own right. They also have a seaplane dock, so you can get there from the airport in only 40 minutes.

    Maldives Neighborhood Guide

    FIRST TIME IN MALDIVES
    Male Maldives
    FIRST TIME IN MALDIVES

    Malé

    Malé is the capital city of the Maldives. It isn’t actually visited that frequently by tourists, except to catch a speedboat or seaplane to their resort. There are admittedly some good reasons for this. It’s one of the most densely populated places in the world, so it can get quite busy. Maldives hotels follow national rules here too, so no drinking.

    ON A BUDGET
    ON A BUDGET

    Thulusdhoo

    Thulusdhoo Island is the capital of the Kaafu Atoll and has some of the best surfing in the entire country. The cheapest way to reach the island is by local ferry from Male, which costs about $1 and takes 85 minutes.

    FOR FAMILIES
    Dhaalu Maldives 1
    FOR FAMILIES

    Dhaluu Atoll

    Dhaalu is in the southwest of the country and houses some of the more contemporary resorts. It has only really opened up to tourism within the past decade, so you’ll find many of the hotels here cater to a more modern clientele.

    FOR COUPLES
    Alifu Maldives
    FOR COUPLES

    North Ari Atoll

    Alifu is the second most popular destination with visitors. This is where you will find some of the most exclusive resorts in the entire country. Alifu Alifu, in particular, is super popular with couples. Think epic diving locations, romantic sunsets, and serene beaches.

    COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
    Addu Maldives
    COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

    Maafushi

    Addu is a real wild-card, but if you like to travel off the beaten path, we think you’ll love it. This is the Southernmost region in the Maldives, and it’s home to the second-highest population of all the atolls.

    The only way of getting around the Maldives is by speedboat or seaplane, so you’ll have to pick your base wisely. There are a couple of larger airports and ferries around, but it’s much easier to pick a place and stick to it.

    That being said, you’ll actually have more freedom staying in a resort. The Maldives is a Muslim country, so drinking and walking around in swimwear is banned in local areas. However, resorts are allowed to ignore these rules. They also have all the amenities you would want for a trip to the Maldives, including overwater villas that have direct access to the ocean and swimming pools for those who prefer less-salty waters.

    The city of Malé is an urban experience, but many there are many peaceful islands within the Male Atolls. The population of 200,000 all share this one small island, making it one of the most densely populated places in the world. It’s not where most tourists opt to stay, but budget travelers can find some fantastic deals on luxury hotels here.

    Thulusdhoo is a peaceful local island ideal for relaxing and taking in the stunning scenery and marine life. It’s also a great place for water activities like surfing and paddleboarding.

    The North Ari Atoll is another popular region of the country. It hosts some of the more exclusive resorts, making it an ideal destination for couples. If you’d rather mingle with locals, Alifu Dhaalu offers the same great scenery, as well as some towns to explore.

    Dhaalu is one of the up and coming regions to open up to tourism. The resorts here are catered more to luxury tourists, with plenty of space for families and groups. You’ll find some beautiful overwater villas here, but this region will definitely prove how expensive the Maldives is!

    The coolest place to stay in the Maldives has got to be Maafushi though,

    Still undecided? Keep reading for more information about each place, as well as my top accommodation picks for each!

    Top 5 Places to Stay in The Maldives

    Now you have been introduced to the best areas to stay in The Maldives, let’s look at each of the best Maldives islands in more detail, including accommodation options and the best things to do in each area.

    1. Malé – Where to Stay in the Maldives For First Timers

    Male Maldives

    Malé is the capital city of the Maldives. It isn’t actually visited that frequently by tourists, except to catch a speedboat or seaplane to their resort. There are admittedly some good reasons for this. It’s one of the most densely populated places in the world, so it can get quite busy. Maldives hotels follow national rules here too, so no drinking.

    That being said, Malé (and its surrounding islands) is a great place to start your Maldives adventure. There are some great hostels in Malé, and the hotels here offer some of the best rates in the country. You’ll also find a few great excursions departing from the harbor for a very reasonable fee.

    Best Airbnb in Malé: Villingili Sea View

    This incredible Male Airbnb gives you a stunning view of the sea, and is located just a short ferry ride away from the crowds of Male city. The beach is just a few steps away from ht property, and hosts provide snorkel gear for guests.

    You’ll find a minimal aesthetic with splashes of color, and a comfortable balcony to watch the sunset. There’s also a flat-screen TV in the living room, and a small kitchenette to meet most cooking needs!

    Affordable Hotel in Malé: Tourist Inn

    Maldives hotels can get expensive quick, but this might be the most affordable option in the capital city. Only 10 minutes from the beach, Tourist Inn has air conditioning, free wifi, and daily breakfast.

    Rooms are simple but clean, and the staff are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Plus, you’ll be right in the heart f the city near a number of local shops and eateries!

    Luxury Hotel in Malé: Samann Grand

    Samann Grand Maldives

    You’ll struggle to find a typical hotel experience anywhere else in the Maldives, but Malé has some super affordable options right in the heart of the city. This is one of the best-rated hotels in Malé thanks to the excellent guest service and fantastic location. Every room comes with its own private balcony where guests can admire ocean views.

    Things to See and Do in Malé:

    Male Maldives 2
    • Visit the Islamic Centre – the largest mosque in the city. It’s one of the only ones that non-Muslims can enter (outside of prayer hours).
    • Check out Sultan Park and National Museum. It’s a bit of an odd attraction – it seems like more of a shrine to the nation’s sultanate past.
    • Take a submarine tour of the underwater landscapes of the Indian Ocean.
    • The Local Market is a great spot to grab some souvenirs. You’ll find all of the atolls in the country represented here.
    • Go on a sandbank snorkeling tour
    • Backpacker Maldives offers budget-friendly cruises of neighboring atolls and coral reefs – perfect for seeing the country without breaking the bank.
    • Get to know the streets of Male

    2. Thulusdhoo – Best Area in the Maldives for Budget Travelers

    There are plenty of water sports on Thulusdhoo!

    Thulusdhoo Island is the capital of the Kaafu Atoll and has some of the best surfing in the entire country. The cheapest way to reach the island is by local ferry from Male, which costs about $1 and takes 85 minutes.

    Thulusdhoo as a whole has some of the best budget accommodations in the Maldives, making it an ideal choice for backpackers or budget travelers. Aside from epic surf spots, the island also has a number of calm beaches perfect for relaxing or paddling.

    Best Airbnb in Thulusdhoo: Batuta Surf View Guest House

    This iconic Maldives Airbnb is one of the most affordable in the country… in large part because it’s located on its own private beach! This place is perfect for surfers or other water sport enthusiasts, and the social vibe resembles a hostel.

    The price is certainly not bad either considering you get your own private room with a view in a proper Maldives beach house! The guest house is also known for serving up delicious food, turquoise waters, and easy access to the most exquisite coral reefs!

    Affordable Guesthouse in Thulusdhoo: iHaven Thulusdhoo

    The Maldives isn’t just luxury hotels! While five star resorts and water villas are extremely common, budget accommodations like this affordable guesthouse do exist! iHaven gives guests comfy private rooms complete with an ensuite bathroom, a fridge, air conditioning and a microwave. The hostel is only a short walk from the beach and also has fast wifi and an outdoor garden area!

    Best Hotel in Thulusdhoo: Villa Kudì Maldives Guest House

    This exceptional Thulusdhoo guesthouse is one second away from the island’s famous white sandy beaches! It also has clean, spacious rooms, and a lush green courtyard to relax in.

    The staff is rated as incredibly friendly, and they’ll be able to help you plan your trip on the island. This guesthouse also provides free, daily breakfast to guests which is a major budget hack when traveling in the Maldives!

    Things to See And Do in Thulusdhoo

    • Go surfing
    • Join a dolphin spotting excursion
    • Lounge on the beach
    • Explore the island
    • Take a tour of the Coca Cola Company
    • Rock your bikini at Bikini Beach
    • Get your dive on
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    3. Dhaluu Atoll – Best Area in the Maldives for Families

    Dhaalu Where to Stay Maldives 1
    Too good to be true

    Dhaalu is in the southwest of the country and houses some of the more contemporary resorts. It’s only really opened up to tourism within the past decade, so you’ll find many of the hotels here cater to a more modern clientele. Lots of hotels now offer kids’ clubs, but make sure to double-check this before you book!

    Even if you don’t opt to stay in a resort, the inhabited islands in Dhaalu have a friendly and laid-back atmosphere. This makes them a great place for a chilled-out family vacation. Each island comes with its own restaurants and boutiques, so you’ll have plenty to explore.

    Elegant Island Resorts in Dhaalu: Niyama Private Islands

    Niyama Private Islands Maldives 2

    This is my top pick for families heading to the Maldives. Underwater nightclub aside, this hotel on its own private island is packed with family-friendly features. It has the largest kids’ club in the country which accepts all children from 12 months to 12 years old – perfect for giving the adults some peace and quiet. They have more restaurants than you’ll have time to visit, representing cuisines from all over the world.

    Things to See and Do in Dhaalu:

    Dhaalu Maldives 2
    • Check with your hotel! Snorkeling is also pretty popular here, and you’ll also find many of them offer ferries to the locally inhabited islands where you can enjoy shopping.
    • Explore the local boutiques and restaurants.
    • Pack your beach bag and enjoy a day on the sand.
    • Go dolphin and whale watching with ScubaCaribe.
    • Enjoy a relaxing massage at Lime Spa.
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    4. North Ari Atoll – Romantic Getaway in the Maldives for Couples

    Alifu Maldives
    A romantic getaway you’ll never forget

    North Ari Atoll is another popular Maldives destination and is the spot where you’ll find some of the most exclusive resorts in the country. North Ari Atoll, is super popular with couples in particular. Think epic diving locations, romantic sunsets, and serene beaches.

    Here you’ll find everything from beach villas with spa treatments and infinity pools to guesthouses that cater to more budget-conscious travelers.

    Affordable Guest House in Thoddoo: Blue Water Thoddoo Inn

    This cute Maldives accommodation is perfect for couples–it’s clean and comfortable, and right near the beach! They also offer scuba diving and snorkeling excursions where you’ll get to get up close and personal with all kinds of marine life.

    The inn is also known for its delicious food at their on site restaurant, and helpful staff that can arrange island transfers and activities for you. Located on the serene island of Thoddoo, the value for your money here is fantastic!

    Honeymooners Paradise in Alifu: Kandolhu Maldives

    Kandolhu Maldives

    If you’re planning a honeymoon in the Maldives, you might as well splash out! This five-star resort is a firm favorite with newlyweds thanks to the unbelievably good guest service and luxurious facilities.

    Each room comes with floor-to-ceiling windows so you can look out at the turquoise waters. There’s also a private beach area where you can soak up the rays. Take a dip in your own private pool or dive straight into the ocean.

    Things to See and Do in North Ari Atoll:

    Alifu Maldives 2
    • Check with your resort! Many of the hotels in this area cater to couples, offering spa and luxury dining services.
    • Diving is particularly popular here, especially on a Liveaboard.
    • Relax on the white-sand beaches.
    • Enjoy a unique experience and dine at the Ithaa Underwater Restaurant.
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    5. Maafushi – Coolest Place to Stay in the Maldives

    where to stay in the maldives
    Maafushi is the perfect place to swim, eat and relax!

    Maafushi is one of the second most visited islands in the country and also one of the best. Despite this, it’s relatively untouched by the luxury tourism industry and gives a more authentic insight into local life. You’ll find plenty of budget-friendly options here!

    Maafushi can be reached via a quick 1.5 hour ferry, and another nice aspect of the island is that cars aren’t allowed! There are plenty of delicious restaurants for all budgets and preferences, and a floating off shore bar where (expensive) alcohol is served. There are also plenty of snorkeling and diving options to choose from!

    Budget Friendly Airbnb in Maafushi: Maafushi Affordable Rooms

    This budget-friendly Maafushi Airbnb is the best option on the island! The room aesthetics are welcoming, the wifi strong, and the location unbeatable. You’ll be just a short walk away from the beach!

    You’ll also get to enjoy a delicious breakfast each morning and the staff regularly provides epic excursions!

    Things to See and Do in Maafushi:

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    Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in the Maldives

    The Maldives is without a doubt one of the best tropical destinations in the world. The bright ocean colors, dazzling sunlight, and calm atmosphere makes this the perfect spot to escape from the daily grind and unwind for a while. And the best part is – that it’s becoming more affordable for budget backpackers.

    I have two overall favorites here – Malé and the Thalusdhoo! Malé is the perfect gateway to the Maldives for those on a budget, and you can still enjoy the breathtaking scenery. It will also give you a look into real life in the Maldives. Thulusdhoo is a peaceful local island with stay options that fit a wide range of budgets. It’s also excellent for surfing and other water activities.

    However, Maafushi is well worth a visit if you have the budget. These are the best-connected atolls in the country and offer the typical attractions you would expect of the Maldives.

    That being said, the best place to stay really depends on what you want to get out of your trip! Dhaalu and the North Ari Atoll are really popular for their exclusive resorts and laid-back retreats. I hope this guide has helped you narrow down your options.

    Renting a car in Maldives
    What a luxury stay in the Maldives looks like 😉

    Updated November 2022 by Samantha Shea

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