all due respect to offline travel agents and the hard work and expertise they can provide, those traveling to the Maldives for a private-island holiday don't really need them, and will almost certainly save money without one. If you've only ever booked luxury holidays with your friendly neighborhood travel agent, then you might as well carry on doing that. But if you don't have a travel agent and unsure of the value they bring, read this article and you'll discover that you are probably better off without them.

The main reason for this is that the Maldives is an incredibly well organized travel destination, and after your first visit you'll discover that everything is taken care of for you whether you got a discount price online or paid a higher price to your hometown travel agent.

>Book the best Maldives deals online

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Travel agents are great at transfers and details, but in the Maldives it's all automatic

If you are booking a Phuket holiday or a trip to Boracay Island, for example, you will justifiably wonder how convenient the resort location is, and how you’ll get from the airport to the resort, and several other logistical puzzles. It’s true that getting to your resort in places like that can be complicated, but in the Maldives those questions are already answered upon booking.

In the Maldives:

  1. Each resort is on its own private island, so the “neighborhood” is irrelevant.
  2. Each resort has its own transportation, which is a speedboat, sea-plane, or both, and you’ll automatically have that booked when you book your villa.
  3. Whether you book with a travel agent or save money booking online, the transfer process is exactly the same.


The procedure for getting from the Male International Airport to your resort can sound a bit mysterious and complicated before you do it the first time, but it’s actually quick and straightforward.


Please watch this short video that shows exactly how it works:

Video of Male Airport landing and speedboat or sea-plane transfers

How Maldives resort-booking works in an automatic way

Step 1: Check flights to the Maldives and decide upon travel dates


Step 2: Find the best resort at the best rate for your dates


Step 3: Book your flight and then your resort online

From here on out, it's exactly the same booking online or with an agent

Step 4: You will pay for your airport transfers to the resort at the same time you book your resort, at a fixed price that is the same for everyone


Step 5: Give your resort the details of your incoming and outgoing Maldives flights, and they will arrange your specific transfer times


Step 6: You’ll receive clear and specific instructions for where to go once you get off your flight to the Maldives


Step 7: Fly to the Maldives and go to the counter or office that your resort instructs you to


Step 8: A resort representitive will greet you and escort you to your speedboat or to the sea-plane check-in counter, and you’ll soon be at your resort


Step 9: You’ll be greeted at your resort since they know exactly when you’ll arrive, and they will check you in and take you and your bags to your villa


Step 10: When your island stay is over, the resort will put you on a speedboat or sea-plane to get you back to the airport shortly before your flight home


It’s that easy. Each of these steps is simple and after the first 3, it works exactly the same whether you book with a travel agent or book an online deal yourself.


And of course, by doing Steps 1, 2, and 3 yourself, you can often save a small fortune and/or get an upgraded water villa compared to what your travel agent will present to you.

Travel agents work with a small number of resorts, while online deals are available at almost all of them

Nearly all hard-working local travel agents have relationships with a small fraction of the 90 or so private-island Maldives water villa resorts. These relationships usually do mean that you can get a pretty decent deal at one of the resorts they work with, but it also means that your agent will never tell you about resorts they don’t work with who might be offering better water villas for 20% less than the ones they suggest.


One wonderful thing about these Maldives water villa resorts is that nearly all of them are extremely nice and professionally run. Unlike almost anywhere else, these private-island resorts can’t be built or run cheaply at all, so virtually all of them earn consistently good reviews from guests. As a result, your travel agent will suggest a resort that they work with, and it will be a wonderful place that you’ll be very happy with.


However, with around 90 private-island resorts in the Maldives with water villas, this means that there are 70 or 80 wonderful resorts, and at any given time the best deals could be at almost any of them. You’ll see when you scan the online listings for your ideal travel dates, that many of them are offering 50% or more off their normal rates, including some of the best resorts in the Maldives.


Even if you already work with a travel agent, you should compare their quote with not just the online price for that resort, but with the best deals at similar resorts. Chances are very high that an even higher rated resort is offering lower prices for your dates if you look closely.

You might be able to afford a Jacuzzi or private-pool water villa with online promotions

While there are close to 90 Maldives resorts with water villas, only about a third of those offer private Jacuzzis or plunge pools as an option. At most resorts these features are available at an upgrade rate from the standard water villas, but with frequent online promotions, sometimes they are virtually the same price as the standard water villas.


Some Maldives resorts have only a small number of standard water villas, and far more Jacuzzi or pool units. If you scan ALL of the listings for your travel dates, you’ve got a good chance of finding a resort where most of their standard villas are almost booked, and they are offering discounts on the deluxe villas.


Again, if your travel agent only works with 8 or 10 resorts, the chances of stumbling into such a deal are limited. But if you are considering ALL of the 80+ resorts, your chances of finding an amazing promotional deal are far greater.

In fairness, online bookers need to pay attention

While a savvy online shopper will usually end up with a better deal than someone who just asks for a quote from a travel agent, the online shopper has to be careful.

Resort prices are quoted per night, but often omit fees until the payment screen

Sadly, every major online hotel-booking site is at least partly guilty of showing pre-tax rates until you are about to type your credit card in. If you look closely you’ll see that the room quote might exclude up to 17% in taxes and fees. As long as you are aware of this and comparing the final price to the full travel-agent quote, you’ll still usually come out ahead online.

Airport to island transfers are expensive, so factor that in as well

The cheapest speedboat transfer from the Maldives Airport to a nearby island is about US$100 per person round-trip. The most expensive sea-plane flight is over US$600 per person round-trip, and there are no other ways of getting there. When you book online you have to include the transfer price into your final total in order to get the true final price to compare with your travel agent.

Travel agents are better able to handle the disabled or other special situations

Booking online yourself is generally cheaper because you basically do it yourself with no assistance available unless you call or email the resort directly. For the vast majority of us, the savings are worth it because it’s all so straightforward as described above.


However, if you need wheelchair assistance or have some unusual dietary requirement that makes even large buffets challenging, then a travel agent is probably worth the extra money. An agent in your area can contact resorts and get specific answers for unusual situations, and make sure you end up at a resort that will work for you.

In conclusion, booking online is usually cheaper, but travel agents are useful

Again, this article isn’t meant to try to trick people into abandoning their favorite local travel agent. If you have someone you like and trust, you are probably best off continuing to use them even for a straightforward Maldives holiday.


On the other hand, if you assume that you NEED to work with a travel agent to sort out the details and/or get the best deal, you should probably think about booking yourself online. Once you choose the resort you like most and that has the best deal on what you want, it’s all very simple and automatic. You’ll get a great deal that you chose yourself, and it will still be stress-free when you get there and until you are home again.

32 thoughts on "Maldives Water-Villa Resorts Near Malé Airport"

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  1. Hi Roger
    I am visiting Male on a cruise ship and would like to get a day ticket to a nearby island. Could you recommend one or two with good snorkling and give any advice on the best way to book.


  2. I have booked Paradise island resort for 3 night stay in December but I want to visit underwater restaurant like Ithaa or 5.8 but unable to get information how can I go there ? Please help me the cheapest way of travel from my resort to the underwater restaurants

    1. Amit,

      Generally speaking, there isn’t much transportation between resorts. It’s mostly between the airport and the resorts. It would be best to check the website of the resort with the underwater restaurant and see what their policy is. Best of luck. -Roger

  3. Hi Roger,

    if i take a ferry first to the city. Will it be possible to book a watervilla from there via some travel agent or some rep ?

    1. Game,

      I would assume that it would be possible, but I’m not sure. Because of the fact that airport transfers are built into the reservations could make it awkward to book once in Male. Also, I doubt you’d get a better deal there because the best deals tend to through and if someone has an office they would find it hard to compete. I know there are a couple of online travel agencies based in Male, but I don’t know if they have walk-in offices. Best of luck with this. -Roger

  4. Hi Roger, great list. Do you know if any of these resorts are particularly baby friendly — offer cribs and childcare, etc?


  5. Hello Roger,
    Thanks a lot for all the information! We just booked a 4 days stay in Meeru Island, and I wanted to check with you if the speedboats can only be booked via the hotel for a fixed price, or are there different websites/companies with different rates?
    Many thanks,

    1. Talina,

      I’m only aware of booking speedboats through the resorts. Meeru owns quite a few different boats and they send the appropriate size to the airport to pick up the people who have just landed, usually within an hour or so. I’ve heard of private speedboat companies, but I don’t think these private-island resorts allow transfers through them. You are going to love Meeru Island. -Roger

  6. Am planning my honeymoon on 21/12/2018 till 28/12/2018 I know it’s the high season but I want to ask what it the best water villa with pool in good resort around $800 – $1000/ night all inclusive ? And if u can also tell me what transfer is best to that resort and how much it will cost /person ? Thanks a lot

    1. Mika,

      I’m not sure how many all-inclusive Maldives resorts have private pools, although quite a few of them have private Jacuzzis. Check our list of the best Maldives resorts with pool water villas. I think the all-inclusive resorts with private Jacuzzis such as Meeru Island and Veligandu Island are going for around US$700 to US$900 per night for that week, and those are usually the cheapest, so I’m not sure if you’ll find a pool villa in that price range. As you know, that is literally the busiest and most expensive week in the Maldives and everywhere else in the Tropics.

      As for airport transfers, each resort books you on their own speedboats or through a charter sea-plane company and they add it to the room price when you book. The speedboats for the closer places start around US$100 per person, return, and the sea-planes can be as much as US$700 per person, return. We list the transfer options just below the normal room rates on our page about each of the resort, along with the price for each option. I hope this helps and best of luck with this. -Roger

  7. Hi Roger, Thanks for this. What are your thoughts on the Club Med resorts in comparison to those you have listed here? are the on the same / better / worse level? Thanks very much

    1. Alex,

      I’ve never stayed at a Club Med, but generally I hear very good things about them and their customers seem to be loyal. As far as I can tell, Club Med offers a premium product at a premium price. I think you can get something similar for less money elsewhere, and nearly all of the Maldives all-inclusives are very high quality. My guess is that people are willing to pay more for Club Med because they trust that it will be great, and to book at a small chain or an independent resort means taking a little chance. I can tell you that Meeru Island and Veligandu Island, which are both run by the same local company, are excellent. I hope this helps. -Roger

  8. Hi Roger,

    Do you know what the weather is like in the Maldive in May? I am struggling to get a common answer off travel agents?
    Also do you know if it is possible to get a speed boat transfer from the airport to the Shangri la Villingili?

    1. LCJones,

      From Late May through early July it can be rainy for most of a day or two at a time in the Maldives, but during the rest of the year the rain tends to last only 20 or 30 minutes at a time and is often overnight. Also, the Maldives covers a huge area and resorts south of the equator can have different weather patterns from the ones closer to Sri Lanka, so you have to drill down. The general weather forecasts including my advice is for the area fairly close to the capital and airport. -Roger

  9. Hello there Roger! This is a very helpful article. I would like to ask if the room fits 2 people and it says 560usd per night does that means 560×2 per night? We are planning to go by next yr and we are group of 7.


    1. Cindy,

      If you are referring to the information on this website, yes, every water villa fits two people (and most of them actually fit 3 because they have a pull-out sofa), and the prices we quote are for the whole room with two guests and that includes the taxes. We update the rates at least once a year, and if you are looking at high season you might see higher rates. But generally speaking you can use the prices on this site as what you’ll pay for two guests per night in a water villa. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  10. Roger,

    Please I would like to know which Resorts/hotels in Maldives offer the symbolic weeding? Also, which are the cheapest? Thank you in advance!!!

  11. Hi Roger, me and my husband are planning a 10 night vacation to the Maldives and would appreciate first hand advice from you pls…….we are looking for as close as possible to the main airport, butler service, all inclusive if poss and over the water accom with splash pool on deck and exceptionally clean is a must! Many thanks, cheers

    1. Sue,

      Unfortunately, I haven’t visited nearly enough of these resorts to be able to recommend one with butler service near the airport. The list in the article should be helpful because we list all of the resorts from closest to the airport and going out from there, and all of them have speedboat transfers. I’m not sure any of the places that have butler service also do all inclusive.

      You might look into Gili Lankanfushi (formerly Six Senses)

      They don’t have all inclusive but they are fairly close to the airport and they have amazing service and great suites. Sorry I can’t be of more help on this. -Roger

  12. Hi Roger,

    Me and my wife will be in Maldives in August 2018.
    i was looking for a resort witch can be access via speedboat and seaplane, i was thinking if we can arrived at the resort via seaplane and back to male via speedboat.

    thanks a lot.

    1. Richard,

      Quite a few Maldives resorts offer both speedboats and sea-planes so you should be able to do what you are hoping. I don’t have a list of the resorts that do offer both, but on this website we have prices for each option on each of our resort pages and we have both prices for the resorts that offer both. In other words, if you look around this site a bit you should be able to find some resorts that look good to you and offer both modes of transport. -Roger

  13. Hi ,

    Me , my wife and my 1 year kid is planning to visit maldives on june 2nd week.

    To avoid a long drive , we would like to take a good private resort near the airport also which includes full meals.

    Could you suggest a good place for us. privacy and safety are our main concenrns

    1. Arun,

      The article above shows all of the resorts that are close to the airport, and most of those are within 45 minutes by speedboat. I wrote it to specifically answer questions like this. -Roger

  14. My husband and I are looking for a pool water villa/ pool beach villa accessible by speedboat from Male airport, for our 15th anniversary. We would prefer something that is all inclusive (includes alcohol), and has a luxury feel to it, but is not exhorbitantly priced.It will be a romantic getaway for 2. We stayed in Taj Exotica for our 10th and loved it – want to explore another property this time. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you.

  15. Hey Roger.
    Looking to holiday in the Maldives in November.
    We are a family of 4 (2 kids, 5 and 13).
    Could you suggest a good water villa resort not too far from the airport.
    One thats all inclusive and decently priced.
    Thanks and Regards ?

  16. do you know if you can get to any of these via public ferry? would love to avoid that expensive speed boat!

    1. Danny G,

      The public ferries only go to populated islands and by law all of the Maldives resorts like these have to be on a private island. So unfortunately there are no public ferries to private islands, at least not that I’m aware of. -Roger