Luxurious bungalows, electric-blue seas, and blissed-out vibes: What’s not to love? “The Maldives have been at the top of our clients’ bucket lists for the past ten years,” says Judy Stein, president of the Stein Collective by Ovation Travel and a member of T+L’s Travel Advisory Board.

But what has always been a “maybe someday” kind of trip turned into a “why not now?” experience over the past year, when the Maldives became one of the first countries to reopen its borders during the pandemic. Americans have been free to visit the more than 150 private-island resorts in the archipelago since July. And while the price tag for these escapes hasn’t changed — most visitors should budget at least $800 a day just for the room — there’s an ever-growing range of options for those willing to make the long-haul trip. Get the most out of your stay with this advice.

Skip the flight and take a boat.
 
Travelers arrive at Velana International Airport near the capital, Malé, and many private-island resorts offer the choice of transferring by boat or seaplane. While the puddle-jumper flight sounds quick — and the views from the air are incredible — it’s actually the more time-consuming option, because seaplanes depart from a different airport. Instead, opt for the boat transfer. Getting to the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, for example, takes just 40 minutes aboard the property’s yacht. The speedboat ride to Gili Lankanfushi is like a dreamy Robinson Crusoe–style villas, takes 20 minutes. And the barefoot-luxury One&Only Reethi Rah is 45 minutes from the airport by sea.
 
Bring the family.
 
Many people think of the Maldives as being only for couples, but a number of resorts are geared to families with kids and teens. Soneva Fushi has the largest and arguably best kids’ club in the country, complete with a Lego room and countless things to do, including surfing lessons and stargazing at the hotel’s observatory. The kids’ club at Lux* South Ari Atoll Resorts & Villas has a pirate-themed pool exclusively for young ones, plus island-wide treasure hunts.

Consider spending points, not dollars.

If you’ve been stockpiling points during the past year, this might be a good time to cash in. Villas at the stylish new JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa start at 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night, depending on the season. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is also available for as little as 85,000 Bonvoy points a night, depending on when you go. And stays at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi can be had for 120,000 Hilton Honors points per night — with the fifth night free.

With some of the most over-the-top accommodations you’ll find anywhere in the world, the Maldives is an ideal place for a splurge. Soneva Jani is one of the nation’s most luxurious resorts, with massive new overwater villas complete with waterslides. Joali brings the wow factor with palatial villas featuring private pools. Cheval Blanc Randheli, a sister property to the LVMH resort in St. Bart’s, has 45 private villas — including a four-bedroom jaw-dropper on its own 2½-acre atoll. And the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is home to the crown jewel of the Maldives, the Muraka residence, with its incredible underwater bedroom, fitted with a see-through domed ceiling for watching marine life swim past.

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