Where to stay near Malé, Maldives Airport for one night

MaldivesAerialThe Maldives is the water villa capital of the world, and one of the planet's most desirable holiday destinations. But a Maldives vacation can be a bit confusing because of the long flights into the country and the fact that each visitor then has to take a sea-plane or speedboat to another island to reach their resort.

If you are reading this article you have probably just realized that you are going to have to spend a least one night near the Malé International Airport on your way in or on your way out, or perhaps both. The good news is that once you read the information below, you'll be able to confidently book a hotel near the Malé Airport, and know exactly how you'll get there and back.

For Malé Airport hotels, you have 3 main choices:

Hulhule Island Hotel

The Hulhule Island Hotel is the one and only hotel that is very close to the airport, and also the one and only place in or near the capital area that serves alcohol. Rooms here start around US$300 per night for two people, and there are many cheaper options nearby.

Take the ferry over to Malé Island

Your first instinct might be to book a hotel in the capital city of Malé, which is a 10-minute ferry ride from just across from Baggage Claim at the airport. As I'll explain below, this is actually not a good choice for most people, and the option below is far better.

Stay on Hulhumale Island, which is connected to the airport

THIS is where most people should look for a hotel. Hulhumale Island is new (on mostly reclaimed land) and it's connected to the airport island by a road that runs along the southern border of the airport itself. You can get there by taxi or public bus, but most of the better hotels will arrange for a driver to pick you up and drop you back off at the airport.

MaleIslandMapEdited

Why you probably shouldn't stay on Malé Island

MaleIslandSince you are traveling to the exotic island nation of the Maldives for the first time, why not spend part of a day or night in its capital city of Malé? Well, the answer to that is that it's much more of a hassle than staying on Hulhumale Island, and there is virtually nothing there to see.

As someone who has visited the capital city of almost every Asian country you can think of, I was shocked by how crowded and charmless Malé is. It's literally one of the most densely populated islands on earth, and a very ordinary fish market is probably its number one sight. Stranger still, there are almost no restaurants on the island that are suitable for the typical tourist.

FishMarketThe other reason not to stay on Malé is that you have to rely on the ferry to get there and back. While it does operate 24 hours a day and it's cheap, it doesn't go very often in the middle of the night when many people are coming or going. And once you get to the island itself, there are a few hotels within walking distance, but most of them will require a confusing taxi ride to reach. You'll have to do that same taxi ride on the way back, and all of that takes much longer than staying on Hulhumale island.

Why you SHOULD stay on Hulhumale island

HulhumaleBeachIf you book a hotel on Hulhumale Island, you will almost certainly have a driver from the hotel there waiting for you just outside of Baggage Claim. Your driver will take your bags and you'll be in the car only a few minutes later. It's about a 10-minute drive around the southern tip of the airport (through 2 security checkpoints), and you'll be at your hotel before you know it.

Even though the distance on a map is much farther than taking a ferry over to Malé Island, it takes MUCH less time to reach your hotel on Hulhumale Island. And you won't have to even deal with your own luggage once you pluck it off the baggage carousel, since the driver will assist you all the way to the hotel lobby.

Perhaps more importantly, when it's time to head back to the Malé Airport the next morning, whether you are flying out or heading to your resort, you can also get a ride from your hotel and you'll be exactly where you need to be only about 10 minutes after checking out of your room.

Hulhumale Island

Hulhumale Island is pleasant, uncrowded, and actually cheaper than Malé

HulhumaleDowntownAs of 2016, most of Hulhumale Island is still empty and yet to be developed. The area along the beach on the northern east coast is where you'll find many hotels and quite a few tourist-oriented restaurants within an easy walk of one another. If you have some time during daylight hours, you can actually spend it on the sandy beach in this area, which is many times larger than the artificial beach on the northern coast of Malé.

Basically, the Maldives goverment is very aware that Malé is crowded, expensive, and has no real worthwhile sights, so they commissioned Hulhumale Island to be built for hotels serving resort visitors coming into or out of the country.

A New Birdge

A new bridge from the airport to Malé Island opened in 2018, but you should still probably stay on Hulhumale Island

At the end of August 2018 the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge opened up, which is a China-funded project that now connects the southern part of Hulhule Island (the airport island) with the southern part of Malé Island. The bridge is certain to make some things easier for locals, but it really won't change anything for visitors. For one thing, the ferries between the airport and Malé Island already run 24/7 and are quite cheap. More importantly, the new bridge takes you into a part of the main island with very few hotels, so it will be a much longer drive to reach a hotel than to reach a hotel on Hulhumale Island itself.

If you are really curious about Malé and want to visit the island it's better to take the cheap and frequent ferries that leave from right in front of the airport. The ferry terminal on Malé Island is more or less the center of everything, so it's where you'll want to start a visit as well. Also, there are quite a few hotels within a fairly short walk of the ferry terminal on Malé Island, so if you want to stay there you are best off in one of those.

The best of the affordable hotels on Hulhumale Island

Maakanaa Lodge

MaakanaaAs of 2016, the Maakanaa Lodge is the #1 rated B&B or Inn on Hulhumale Island. I was lucky enough to book there myself earlier this year and I was able to see what the fuss was about. The room rate is reasonable at around US$100 per night for 2 people, but it comes with airport transportation in both directions and a fantastic breakfast.

They only have 5 rooms so the place is booked up most of the time. If you make your inquiry early enough you should be able to get a room though, since almost all guests stay exactly one night at a time. The rooms are fairly small, but very comfortable and they have good wi-fi and satellite TV channels.

Most guests arrive late at night and leave early the following morning, and they are set up well for that with their own driver. If you need any meals other than breakfast, there are a few good and reasonably priced restaurants within a few short blocks.

If the Maakanaa Lodge is full, book a hotel nearby

HulhumaleSandWith only 5 rooms, the Makaanaa Lodge gets booked early on most days. If they are full you can still find a good hotel nearby. Most nearby hotels are set up in a similar fashion in that they offer complimentary airport transportation in both directions, and most of their guests are only there for 8 to 12 total hours. Read the reviews and make sure that transportation is at least available or hopefully included.

Some other good options on Hulhumale Island

Planktons Beach Hotel – This 3-star hotel is also fairly new and gets great reviews. They charge extra for airport transfer.

h78 at Hulhumale Maldives – Just across the road from the beach, this one has slightly cheaper rooms with no view as well as sea view rooms. If you are only spending overnight hours at the hotel, a view might be pointless. Breakfast and airport transfers are included in the rate.

Hotel Ocean Grand at Hulhumale – This 4-star hotel is near the others and often offers great discounts. Airport transfers are included in the rate, and the reviews here are fantastic.


  • chitoo says:

    hi thanks for information. i thought this is the best solution than stay to male. it’s more closer and cheaper

    but how i can go from hulhumale to maafushi?

    • Roger Wade says:

      Chitoo,

      The ferry to Maafushi leaves from Male, so if you are staying overnight before or after going to Maafushi it would probably be better to stay in Male. The ferry dock at the airport has ferries leaving every 15 minutes or so for Male though, so it’s simple enough and Hulhumale is much more pleasant and actually cheaper for what you get. -Roger

  • monty says:

    any night life there?

    • Roger Wade says:

      Monty,

      As mentioned near the top of this article, the only place in the Maldives (aside from the private-island resorts) that serves alcohol is that one hotel by the airport – Hulhule Island Hotel. But it’s pretty expensive.

      As for Hulhumale Beach, there are a bunch of restaurants and maybe a coffee shop or two, but no nightlife to speak of. Most people seem to arrive late and leave early the next morning. If you stay on Male close to the ferry terminal there are some places where there will be people at night, but again, no alcohol at all. -Roger

  • MohanP says:

    Roger, I happened to find your site. You have a wealth of info on the Maldives so I was wondering… would I be happy at the Shangri-La resort in an over water villa (flying in directly from CMB to GAN and then a speedboat) for about $800 all inclusive with alcohol (for 2) the end of September for 5 days, or should I look elsewhere for a better deal/quintesstial Maldivian experience. We are a middle aged couple who like the finer things in life but we are value buyers… not doing what the Jones’ do… Any comments would be appreciated.

    • Roger Wade says:

      MohanP,

      I’ve been studying the Maldives resort scene for 8 years now and I’ve visited a few places, but unfortunately it’s not an easy place to gain complete knowledge of because each resort is private and it costs quite a bit to get between them, as you know. That said, Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa has always impressed me and it’s received very good reviews through the years. That room rate of US$800 for all inclusive looks quite good for a place like that. The last time we checked rates there it was starting around US$1,000 per couple for a water villa.

      It’s one of the larger islands and that can give you more privacy because the couples tend to spread out more on larger islands. As for the quintessential Maldives experience, I think you can get it at any of the nicer resorts, and it’s not really just one thing. Many of the resorts there are Asian chains that have a theme of their home country (Thailand etc), but all of them feel very international and like paradise. There are a few resorts that struggle with poor reviews, but most of them get glowing reviews because they offer such a great product. I’d say you might also want to look at Veligandu Island, which might even be cheaper for all inclusive and is an excellent resort. It can be difficult to give advice for Maldives resorts because most of them are as amazing as they look in photos, so people tend to be very happy with the one they’ve chosen. I wish I could help more. -Roger

  • Maia says:

    Hi Monty. I will be in Bangalore for work at the end of Nov and really want to take advantage of being so far from home (US) to go to the Maldives for a long weekend for pure relaxation and ocean peace. Can you recommend a place that is not completely breaking the bank, while still having a spa/luxurious feel and is safe for one person?

    • Roger Wade says:

      Maia,

      The good news is that virtually every overwater resort in the Maldives has a spa and a luxurious feel. The tricky part is getting an affordable deal for one person. A few years ago I saw that Ganghi Island had a rate of US$160 per night for an overwater bungalow for one guest, but that was the only time I’ve seen a rate like that for a solo visitor. For the most part the water villas are priced for two guests whether you are 1 or 2 people, so you’ll be paying US$400 and up even as a single.

      My advice is to check Ganghi Island and if they no longer offer single rates you can check for your dates on Agoda.com. Change it to one guest and see what comes up. I’m sure the majority of them will start at US$400 per night and be the same as two guests, but you might get lucky and find a resort that is offering deals for solo guests. Best of luck and I hope this works out for you. -Roger

  • Jessica says:

    Hi Monty,
    Thank you for publishing your wealth of knowledge. Your website is very informative and I am glad I have come across it. My partner and I are spending 3 nights in the Maldives- the first night at the lodge listed above and 2 nights at the adaaran prestige voodoo. Any reviews regarding this accommodation? any suggestions on companies or transport to use to get from the lodge to adaaran? costs?
    Thank you kindly!

    • Roger Wade says:

      Jessica,

      I haven’t stayed at any of the Adaaran resorts, but I’ve talked to some representatives from the company and I was really impressed. They seem to have a very good reputation and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.

      In my experience, the resort insists that you book the airport transfers through them. Fortunately that resort is fairly close to the airport so the speedboat transfer only costs US$130 per person, return. Believe it or not, most resorts cost between US$200 and US$600 to reach from the airport, and most are only accessible by sea plane. Have a great trip. -Roger

  • Sin Slasher says:

    My plane is arriving at night at 2050. Where will you recommend to stay for the night. I will be taking the seaplane to Conrad the next morning. Do you know how early I can get on the seaplane?

    • Roger Wade says:

      Sin,

      I definitely recommend booking a place on Hulhumale Island, and specifically the Maakanaa Lodge if it’s available. At the bottom of the article I list a few other really good hotels in that same area that all specialize in exactly what you are doing. Hundreds of people each day arrive at the Male Airport in the evening and then have early morning transportation to a resort. Those hotels I list all have their own cars and will be there to pick you up and also drop you off at the sea plane port in the morning, usually included in the price. The alternative is to stay on Male Island, but that requires taking the ferry (which does run all night, in fairness) back and forth and then getting a taxi to your hotel if it’s not one of the hotels right on the dock. As I mention in the article, Male isn’t very interesting, so Hulhumale Island is the best and simplest choice.

      The sea planes start going shortly after sunrise, but your resort will give you a specific departure time when you check in at the airport. I have a video explaining all of it on this page about landing at Male Airport and getting to your resort. After you get your luggage you’ll be in a big room with a desk or office for each resort. Check in with them and they will give you the time of your plane the following morning and tell you where to go to check in. Your plane may stop at one or two other resorts on the way, and the sea plane ride itself will be one of the highlights of your trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  • Jehanzaib says:

    Dear Mr. Roger Wade
    Good day!

    I want to choose between Male and Hulhumale for my last day and night stay in Maldives. I wanted to stay in Hulhumale but want to wonder some places in Male city. I heard recently they have opened a road bridge connecting Male Airport and Male city. And it has a pedestrian and cyclist lane. If it is possible, I can visit Male on cycle and return back to Hulhumale, or if there is any car/bus service, how much it will cost?

    What you recommend where to stay based on my Male wandering ambitions.

    Thanks and Peace Dear
    Jehanzaib

    • Roger Wade says:

      Jehanzaib,

      I hadn’t heard that the bridge was open yet but you are right. I’m sure there is bus service as well as taxi service between the islands now, but that doesn’t change the fact that Male Island is still incredibly crowded and has almost nothing worthwhile to see. I’d still stay on Hulhumale Island if you are going to or from a resort. Sorry I can’t answer the rest of your questions. -Roger

  • Luisa says:

    Hi Roger,

    Thanks for all your info. Really valuable.

    Just wondering if you could give some advice as we are struggling to pick a resort to stay at for our honeymoon. We are tossing up between Meeru Resort, Paradise Island Resort and Vilamendhoo. They are all around the same price for all inclusive as well as transport to the island. Do you have a preference or any insight on these?

    Thanks very much
    Luisa

    • Roger Wade says:

      Luisa,

      The only one of the three I’ve stayed at is Meeru Island and it’s amazing, but I’ve heard very good things about the others. All three are among the largest private-island resorts in the Maldives, which is the reason they are so competitive in price for what they offer. I’m sure you’d be thrilled at any of those resorts. There were quite a few honeymoon couples staying at Meeru when I was there, but to be honest I didn’t get the sense that the island specialized in that. The island is so large that it’s very easy to get privacy even when it’s fully booked, but still I think if it were me I’d look for a smaller island with fewer guests.

      Did you look at Veligandu Island? It’s a sister resort of Meeru Island and a few others and they only have 64 water villas (most with a private Jacuzzi) and 12 island rooms, so it’s much smaller and more intimate than those you mentioned. It’s usually a little more expensive than Meeru Island, but people say it has a more romantic feel.

      Honestly, the Maldives is made for lovers and you will be blown away by any of these resorts we are discussing. The reviews are all so positive that it’s hard to imagine they are legit, but when you get there you’ll be ready to write your own glowing review. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  • Eris says:

    Hi Roger! I’m planning a solo travel in the Maldives to do an 8D/7N liveaboard at the end of March. I would like to experience staying on an overwater bungalow and hence, plan to stay for one night on my last day. (1) Would that be enough? I would like to stay for at least two nights but the resort I’m considering costs around $1k a night for an all inclusive. I saw some resorts that are cheaper for about $400. (2) Are the resorts at this price good enough? Any input would be great! Thanks!

    • Roger Wade says:

      Eris,

      That is a tricky situation because almost all of these Maldives water villa resorts price their water villas for two people, even if you want to go alone. The only resort I know of that I’ve seen with great rates for water villas for solo travelers is Angaga Island. They start under US$400 per night and it’s a really nice place.

      As for how long to stay I think you’d enjoy two nights much more than one night, but personally I’d never pay near US$1,000 per night as a solo guest. One thing about these resorts is that the tides go up and down and you usually only get really nice swimming conditions under your water villa for about 4 to 6 hours every 12 hours. So if you stay one night and check in at 3pm and check out at 10am the next morning, you might not have many great chances to enjoy it. But if you add 24 more hours to that you definitely will.

      The most affordable all-inclusive resort is Meeru Island and you can get an amazing Jacuzzi water villa for around US$600 during most of the year. If you can afford two nights there you’d love it and it’s quite easy to meet people there because it’s a fairly large island with lots going on all the time.

      Another thing to consider is the transfer charges from the airport to the resort and back. They will be the same (and it’s not cheap) whether you stay one night or two weeks, so at least if you stay two nights it stings a bit less. Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  • Jaya says:

    Hi, I’m planning to stay in Triton Maafushi for 3 nights – do you recommend staying there or can you recommend a place similar to Maakanaa as that is already booked during the dates I plan to travel during the first week of July?

  • RIJO JOHN says:

    Hi brother..your website is really useful.I am having three and a half days at maldives including three nights.I am a solo traveller and its a budget trip for me.so i wish to stay in guest houses.i am plannimg to go only to hulhumale and mafushi.so which is the better plan.shall i go to male through ferry from airport and then to mafushi.and in return to hulhumale?

    • Roger Wade says:

      Rijo John,

      I’m glad you enjoy the website. Interestingly, I’ve spent literally years traveling around Asia (and Europe) as a solo traveler and this overwater resorts thing is something I do a bit on the side, so I’m normally in your travel mode.

      That said, I find the Maldives to be a bit underwhelming for backpacker types like us. There is no alcohol except at the private-island resorts, and so most of the “nightlife” are tea shops and that sort of thing. There are nice beaches along northern Hulhumale Island, but most people are only staying there for 8 hours or so before or after a flight. I haven’t been to Maafushi, though I have heard that is the better island for independent travelers, and you obviously can reach it on an affordable ferry.

      As mentioned in the article above, Male itself is also kind of a dud. Hearing that it was among the most densely populated cities on earth and with its remote location I expected it to be fascinating in some ways, but there honestly isn’t much to see. I was shocked. So considering how hard the Maldives is to reach, I’m not sure it’s worth it for a backpacker when you could instead go to Thailand or Cambodia or the Philippines and have much more to see and do there. I’m not sure how helpful this is. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

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