Maldives might be the closest thing to paradise on earth for those looking for a sunshine holiday. As the water villa and overwater bungalow capital of the planet, the Maldives has over 80 private-island resorts with overwater.

But how do you get to these private islands in the Maldives? To be honest, it's a bit confusing and mysterious until you've done it once yourself, so I've put together this easy to read guide to show you exactly how it all works. Whether you are taking a speedboat or sea-plane to your resort, I'll show you how to do both, and you can see most of it in the video I made below.

Contents [Show]

Malé International Airport arrival information

Most people call it Male International Airport (including some booking websites), but it is officially called, Velana International Airport, previously known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. It’s located on Hulhulé Island, which is just a 10-minute ferry ride from the tiny Maldivian capital city of Malé. There are no jetways or anything like that, so your airplane will pull up and park in front of one of the 3 gates, and you’ll disembark down a flight of stairs and then proceed into the terminal.


Once you’re inside, it’s a relatively short walk to the Immigration desk, and you’ll usually be processed pretty quickly because tourism is the primary business here and they have enough staff to process a plane full of people in 15 minutes or so. This is relatively unheard of anywhere else, and is considered a big plus for visitors who hate waiting at airports in long lines.


After Immigration you’ll of course make the short walk to baggage claim. Again, they usually process only one plane at a time at this airport, and it’s pretty small, so you should have your bags not long after you’ve gone through Immigration.

Customs and alcohol

After you get your bag you’ll walk through the Customs line where you are asked to declare any commercial goods or prohibited items. Alcohol is strictly forbidden in the airport and if they find alcohol in your bags they will take it away from you. I’ve heard that they will give it back to you when you leave, but I’m not sure how that works, or if it really happens.


They do NOT x-ray or hand-search each suitcase or piece of hand luggage, so a person could potentially get away with bringing in alcohol. Also, I believe even if they find it, there is no fine so it’s just that they take it away from you. Still, the Maldives is a fairly strict Muslim country, and it would be very disrespectful to begin your holiday by smuggling illegal alcohol in.


There is no duty-free alcohol at the airport, and in fact the only alcohol available in the area is at the Hulhule Island Hotel (close to the airport). The good news for drinkers is that almost every private-island resort is awash in alcohol, though at a higher price than you may be used to, and about 20 Maldives resorts offer all-inclusive plans.


You are also prohibited from bringing in any pork products, just in case you were thinking about bringing a slab of bacon or some sausages.

Video showing arrival, resort check-in, speedboat, and sea plane details

Exiting Customs and checking in at your resort

This is shown clearly in the video I made and posted above. Once you exit the Customs area into the open part of the airport, you’ll find your resort’s representative in one of three ways.


  1. Someone will be holding a sign with your name on it, or…
  2. You will locate the check-in counter for your resort by number, or…
  3. You will find the air-conditioned check-in and waiting area for certain resorts

Your resort will provide you with important details before you arrive

During the process of booking your resort holiday, your chosen resort will contact you to get your arrival and departure information. Also, you’ll want to note that you can’t just fly into the Maldives and then choose a resort because all of the transportation is pre-booked and private. So before you even get on your flight to the Maldives, you will already know exactly where to go, and the resort will know the flight you are on and be expecting you. This helps to take away a lot of potential travel stress and is a great way to start your holiday.


There are about 40 international flights into the Maldives each day, and most of the resorts might have 10 to 20 incoming guests that day. As a result, they will have a representative at the airport waiting for you when you arrive, but only when they have guests arriving.

Find the numbered counter for your resort

As mentioned above, some resorts have a rep waiting for you with your name printed out on a piece of paper that they hold out in front of themselves, and a few of the most expensive resorts have private check-in lounges where you’ll be told to go. These are both very easy to find and aren’t confusing at all. But most guests will be told to look for a specific counter, where a resort representative will be waiting for them behind a small desk.


After you walk out of Customs, you’ll walk about 10 steps and you’ll clearly see one group of counters on your right and another on your left. Each has a clearly marked number, so it should take not more than 1 or 2 minutes before you are standing in the exact right place. Again, this is a relatively simple and easy process.

Check-in process

Again, each rep knows who is on which incoming flight, and when each flight has landed, so someone will be standing there waiting for you and perhaps a few other passengers that happen to be on the same flight. They will find your name on their check-in list, and let you know how long you will wait for your speedboat or sea-plane transfer, and where you can wait.


Depending on the specifics, you might be the only group from your flight or around that time of day going to your resort, and you’ll be led directly out front to board your speedboat. Or, if other incoming guests are coming on a flight landing shortly, you might be asked to wait in a lounge area for up to an hour or so.

Speed boat departures

If your resort is close enough to the airport to be served by speedboats, the rep will lead you and your group out to the front of the airport, where the speedboat docks are literally right there. You can see in the video posted above, that it’s a walk of maybe 100 meters or so from the check-in counters to where you’ll step onto the speedboat. It may sound a bit confusing, but it could not be easier, or quicker.


>Maldives water villa resorts close to the airport

Sea-plane departures

If your resort is too far to be served by speedboats you will be taking a sea-plane there, which you’ve already booked through the resort at the time you made your reservation on-line. There are no ferries or other alternatives, so your only choice is to book the sea-plane through your resort when you book.


After you find your resort rep and check in with them, they will lead you to the check-in queue of one of the two sea-plane companies ( Trans Maldivian Airways or Maldivian Air Taxi) operating out of the airport. One is much older and larger than the other, and each has contracts with specific resorts so you’ll go with the one that your resort works with.


Once you’ve checked in for your sea-plane flight, and again, they’ll know you are coming and be waiting for you, you’ll be guided to an air-conditioned shuttle bus right behind their check-in counters. Once everyone for your flight is on board the shuttle bus, it will take the 10-minute drive through several security check-points around the southern tip of the airport and then to the appropriate sea-plane terminal on the east side of the airport.

Sea-plane departures

n about 10 minutes you’ll pull into the secured area for sea plane departures, and a representative there will guide you to your sea plane. Once everyone is on board, the plane will taxi into the lagoon and then take off. It’s worth noting that your luggage may not be on the same sea plane as you, but it will get there soon and it should make it all the way to your room without you touching it, which makes travel a bit easier. You can take hand-luggage on the sea planes, but not large bags.

The sea-planes usually make a few stops, so you might be the first to be dropped off, or you might have stopped at another resort or two before you reach yours. The sea planes rides are quite expensive at around US$300 to US$600 per person, including return, but they are also one of the major highlights of almost any trip. The Maldivian islands are gorgeous, and there is no better way to see many of them from the window of a sea-plane. Because of this, many guests will have their phones or cameras out and ready for a few pictures taken through the windows.

Arrival at your resort

Whether you’ve arrived on a speedboat or a sea plane, the resort will know exactly when you’ll arrive, and they will have someone there waiting for you at the dock. Unless you are arriving in part of a large group or chartered trip, you will probably receive personal attention and be welcomed by your name immediately.


Again, you can take small hand luggage with you on your person, but your main luggage will all be handled by staff members. At almost all private-island resorts, your luggage will be brought directly to your room without you having to lift a finger. Then all you’ll have to do is put your items wherever you choose within your rooms.

101 thoughts on "Editor’s Choice – 6 Best Honeymoon Water Villa Resorts in The Maldives"

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  1. Hi Roger,

    Can you please give some insights about Medhufushi Island. I am planning honeymoon trip in jan and considering 3 nights Beach villa and 1 night water villa. Is there any better option to consider?

    1. Andrew,

      Unfortunately I’ve yet to make it to Medhufushi Island. It’s got a good reputation and I see that the recent reviews are very strong, so I think it could be a good choice as long as you are getting a good rate. In my experience, the reviews on and TripAdvisor tend to be very reliable for Maldives resorts. It can be hard to believe because almost all resorts get glowing reviews from almost all guests, but in my experience these Maldives resorts almost all live up to the hype. It seems that competing on quality and reputation is the business strategy that works best there. A few resorts get average and lower reviews very often, and I don’t even include those resorts on this website. Sorry I couldn’t help more but I imagine you’d be quite happy there. -Roger

  2. Hi Roger! We are planning for honeymoon 7 nights in August 2019!
    What is the best website to book and when is the best time to have a reasonable price for a water Villa? What are the average cost per night per person?
    What does it mean all inclusive booking?
    Please suggest some resorts for budget 300 Euro per night
    thanks in advance

  3. Hi, really useful website but so many options. I am looking for 7nights honeymoon in Maldives at the end of Feb 2020 in a water bungalow over the sea. Ideally with a small jacuzzi or private pool, at least 3 good restaurants, a few activities, all inclusive food and drink – for approx USD800 per night. Thanks

    1. Jay,

      The challenge is that nearly all of the all-inclusive resorts have a buffet restaurant and usually one other. Meeru Island has quite a few restaurants and Jacuzzi Water Villas that are in your price range.

      Their sister resort, Veligandu Island, is smaller and probably better for honeymoons. They’ve also got Jacuzzi water villas in your price range, but only two restaurants plus dining on the beach. I’d look at Veligandu if they have something in your range. -Roger

    1. Kevin,

      I’m aware of several Maldives resorts that offer water villas with a totally private Jacuzzi for that price, but I don’t know of any that have private pools for under about US$1,000 per night. If a Jacuzzi is enough (they are the kind where two people sit next to each other in opposite directions), then try Meeru Island, where you get full board and probably all-inclusive for that price.

      If you really prefer a pool you have some choices for under your price in Malaysia. Check this list of water villa resorts in Asia and look for the ones in Port Dickson in Malaysia. The Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson Resort has a plunge pool on the front deck of each of its 522 water villas. And the Grand Lexis Port Dickson has a small swimming pool in the middle of most of its water villas where it’s 100% private. -Roger

  4. Looking for a honeymoon resort with the following:

    1) secluded bungalow
    2) butler if possible
    3) food and beverage package or all inclusive
    4) 7 nights
    5) private slide would be nice

    1. Randy,

      The only Maldives resort I know that has all of that is the Gili Lankanfushi, and unfortunately they just had a fire that burned several of their water villas and they are currently closed until further notice. I suspect they’ll be open again in a few months, but they haven’t put out a date yet. The water villa that has a slide into the water there also goes for about US$15,000 per night.

      If you want the best all-inclusive water villa resort in the Maldives I’d look at the Lily Beach Resort. They have 4 Sunset Water Suites that include butler service and are each 1,959 square feet. The service at that place is excellent based on its reputation and most people agree that it’s the finest of the all-inclusives.

      Quite a few other Maldives resorts have butler service, but the other super-luxury places tend to only come with breakfast and then everything else is a la carte. You’ll find many of those on our list of super luxury Maldives water villa resorts. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  5. Hi,

    I am planning to visit Maldives in the first week of February. I would like to know the best places to visit in Maldives and things to do in Maldives for 3 days. We will be staying in Hulhulmale Island.

    1. Rahul,

      The Maldives is a very unusual destination in that nearly all visitors fly in and then head to one of the private-island resorts where they have beaches and water sports and such. If you are on Hulhumale Island it’s pretty quiet there, aside from a few nice stretches of beaches. You can obviously take a ferry or taxi (now that the new bridge is open) over to Male, although it’s a very crowded city with very few notable sights. The Maldives is mostly about relaxing in the sun, and you can do that on Hulhumale Island. You can also take the public ferries from the terminal on the west side of the island to several other islands that are populated. One thing you won’t find is alcohol, unless you are staying on one of the private islands. I’m not sure if this helps. -Roger

  6. Hello,

    I am planning to visit maldives in January. I would like to know the best place to visit maldives for honeymoon. Please suggest the best resort & place where we can enjoy water sports.

    1. Aparna,

      Most of these Maldives resorts are popular with honeymooners and January is a great month for weather. Nearly all resorts also offer similar water sports options, with the non-motorized ones usually included in the room rate. The list above are the ones we think are best suited to honeymooners for the reasons we have included. Sorry I can’t be of more help. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  7. Hey Roger,

    Firstly, thanks for the great guidance you are giving here! I am planning my honeymoon for 4N5D to Maldives & I have booked the Adaaran Prestige Sunset Ocean Villa all-inclusive. Please advise if it is a wise choice?? How would you rate the snorkeling experience near the Ocean Villas??
    Kindly also advise any other details you have for the Resort.
    Thanks in advance.


    1. NM,

      I haven’t been to that resort, but I’ve been hearing good things about it for years. Adaaran has a very good reputation and I think the positive reviews are probably correct in general. I’ve also seen that they are offering pretty good rates at that resort so I think it could be a great choice for you. Sorry I can’t help more. -Roger

  8. Hi Roger,
    firstly,I appreciate your gesture. I think this website is very helpful to those who have never been to the island before. I will be honeymooner going to visit island in first week of November for 4-5 days.I understand that full board/all-inclusive will be the the best bet for money.I am looking for a more private and quieter experience as both me and my fiancee loves calmness. Can you suggest a good Resort with Jacuzzi/in house pool. Considering the premium charge, I think all hotels should be top notch in service and food quality?Also we intend to split our stay as 2 days on beach villa and 2 days on water villas.Please suggest what best options we have and what is the best time to book to avail the early bird discounts.Lastly, I am curious about the fact that most properties with less on land stays give free updates to water villas??:P whats the luck that we could get that;p.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Rishh,

      One thing you are definitely right about is that pretty much every Maldives water villa resort provides an excellent product and wonderful service. In a normal resort city there are great hotels and run-down hotels nearby, but I think because building and getting to these resorts is so expensive that it’s impossible to make money running one of these hotels if it gets mostly bad reviews. Since every resort is on its own private island and you have to arrange for transportation (speedboat or sea-plane) in advance, almost no one comes to the Maldives without a reservation, so bad places just don’t get booked.

      Among the all-inclusive resorts the ones I recommend for best value are Meeru Island and its sister resort Veligandu Island. Meeru Island is one of the largest islands, but it’s so spread out that it feels very calm and uncrowded even when it’s totally full. Veligandu is smaller and maybe a better choice for honeymooners, but usually a bit more expensive. Both of those resorts keep their room rates fairly low so they are usually filled with repeat guests all year round. Many other resorts charge much more for something similar, and then they start offering promotional discounts if they have too many vacancies about two or three months out.

      Have a look at those two resorts and check their rates. And then compare those to rates at other similar places. You might just find a promotional rate at a place that has many open rooms so you get an even better deal. Those two resorts offer very good value all year round though, so if they have availability they would be a good choice.

      I think the idea of booking two days in an island villa and two days in a water villa is a good move. I’ve seen many reviews where people who did that were upgraded to a water villa for extra days or their whole stay, but I think it’s mostly luck. Meeru Island, for example, has a large number of island villas compared to other places, but still I think they would upgrade people who are already booked in a water villa later in their stay before they would upgrade guests who never planned on staying in one. So I think your chances are decent, but it’s mostly luck. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  9. We are planning 4 nights in Maldives in October and would like to experience both the tree house villas and water villas. What are your recommendations. Thanks

  10. Hiya , looking for best deal for over the water bungalows. Unsure which island is best, for a couple end July to end August no date decided. For 7 days ideally all inclusive. Thanks

  11. Hi,

    My husband and I are planning our anniversary trip to the Maldives. We are planning on staying 5 nights. What do you suggest for activities? Also, are there shops and any local goods the Maldives are known for?

    1. Michelle,

      All of the nicer resorts in the Maldives are on their own private islands, by law. So the only shopping you get will be the gift shops at the resorts. You can also book an "island hopping" boat trip that takes you to a few other nearby islands, and in those places you’ll encounter some little souvenir shops. I wouldn’t recommend shopping in Male because it’s not really very touristy so it is mostly just local goods for daily life.

      As for activities, each resort has a long list of things and most of them are included in the room price. Snorkeling is popular and most resorts have a free boat trip once or twice a day to a nearby reef. Larger resorts have more choices, and most people just go to the Maldives to relax on a beach or in their water villa. -Roger