An independent island country in the north-central Indian Ocean, the Maldives comprises 1,200 small coral islets sprawling with greenery, marine life, and culture. With crystal clear waters and pristine beaches, the 200 inhabited islands make a blissful vacation spot for any traveler. But how long do you need in the country to get a real taste of Maldivian culture?
Aside from the fascinating landmarks and underwater scenery, the Maldives are a hotspot for water sports and adventure. Still, the islands are well-suited for a short stay and with a Maldives five-day itinerary you can get an exciting snippet of what the country has to offer.
Our guide looks at all the must-see sights in the Maldives, from the underwater fauna to the aquatic hotels, complete with the best places to eat and stay. These spots deserve a place on your holiday bucket list, and we’re going to show you how to squeeze it all into five days. Let’s get started.
Day 1: Male City Sights and Baros Island
Male or Malé is the island capital of the Maldives, which lies on the Male Atoll 400 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Start your Maldives five-day itinerary by heading straight to Male. This shouldn’t be too hard as most international flights enter the country through Velana International Airport in North Male.
A short ferry ride from Velana will drop you off right in the vibrant center of the small city island. Stop off at the Royal Garden Café, adjacent to the Male Presidential Jetty, for a black ice tea and reset in the cool, air-conditioned interior. If you have luggage, they’ll even store it for you here in their secure locker room while you explore the city.
The dense city is easy to get around on foot, and the smells and sights will ignite all your senses. Male will give you a taste of the Muslim culture in the Maldives that can get easily silenced by the first-world luxuries on the quieter islands. Check out the Hukuru Miskiiy and the Tomb of Abu-Al-Barakaath to learn about the importance of Islam to Male. Just remember to wear modest clothing when visiting any of Male’s religious monuments as a sign of respect.
Finish in the early afternoon at the local food market that adjoins the November 3rd Memorial monument and enjoy a street food snack of Bis Keemiya, the Maldivian samosas, or Huni Roshi, the local chapati from any of the stalls. Then, make your way back to the central jetty and jump on a local speedboat to Baros Island. You can buy the ticket at the port, and they depart multiple times a day depending on demand. The journey is 25-minutes and will give you your first taste of the Maldives from the sea. Enjoy the wind in your hair and the sea spray on your face as your dart through the emerald waters to the private boutique island resort.
Baros Island Resort is a great place to stay, but you can spend the evening leisurely and catch a late speedboat out if your accommodation is elsewhere. If you are staying at the exclusive resort, now is the perfect time to check-in, freshen up and head out just in time for sunset.
Check out the Lighthouse Lounge Bar for champagne, jazz, and views of the sun disappearing behind the ocean. Then head to Piano for a unique dining experience in the middle of a lagoon. After chowing down on a superb local fusion dish like reef fish cutlets or fragrant fish curry, retire to a daybed to stargaze with your loved one and mark the end of your first day in the Maldives.
Day 2: Mirihi Island Snorkeling and Sunset Cruise
Mirihi Island is another picturesque private island resort that is easy to fall in love with. World-class luxury, pristine white sands, and many dining options are set on the edge of lush palm forest. Mirihi is about an hour by speed boat from Male and Baros but can be reached by seaplane if you’re coming from the airport. The Mirihi Island Resort provides several island hopping and evening entertainment packages, but you don’t have to be a guest to soak up all this hotel has to offer.
Whether you are waking up on Mirihi or arriving from elsewhere, start the day with a mid-morning boat trip around the coral atolls for a chance to snorkel with whale sharks and manta rays. The crew knows the best spots to find these gentle ocean giants, and you’ll work up an appetite visiting the various reef swimming spots. Enjoy a locally caught seafood meal aboard your vessel, or head back to Mirihi for lunch.
The Dhonveli Restaurant in the resort serves a buffet lunch and dinner, and you can dip in and out of the ocean after eating, soaking up the sun, and enjoying an afternoon on the beach loungers fueled by fresh coconuts or craft cocktails from the restaurant bar. Finish the afternoon by setting sail on the Mirihi Sunset Cruise, where you’ll glide across the Indian Ocean on a luxury catamaran and, if you’re lucky, accompanied by a pod of dolphins. Listen to the sounds of live onboard music and take in panoramic views of the pink and golden sky.
Conclude the evening with dinner at the Muraka Restaurant on Mirihi, elevated on decking over the ocean, where you can enjoy a contemporary menu of wagyu beef and Maldivian lobster, complemented by imported wines.
Day 3: Huvanhendhoo Island Diving and Lily Beach Spa
Like Mirihi, Huvanhendoo Island is situated on the South Ari Atoll and is renowned for its marine life. Huvanhendho occupies 600 by 100 meters of sandbanks and is surrounded by transparent lagoon waters set on powdery white sands. The island is even better known for the award-winning Lily Beach Resort, with a leading spa and established reputation for diving getaways and luxury honeymoons.
Huvanhedhoo is strategically located with its house reef just ten meters offshore. You won’t need a boat trip to explore the exceptional marine flora and fauna here. Still, Huvanhedhoo is the perfect location for your bucket list scuba dive. Whether you’re an avid diver or a first-timer, don your fins and grab an instructor for the best underwater vistas of the island and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
After exploring Huvanhedhoo’s marine life, it’s time to relax and visit the world-renowned Tamara Spa at Lily Beach. Enjoy some you time in the sanctuary’s open rooms, welcoming the ocean breeze and reveling in the sights of Huvanhendhoo’s underwater world through the glass floors. Indulge in the local practices with a full-body Ayurvedic Shirodhara Oil soak or enjoy a couples’ hot stone massage before taking in the ocean views from a petal-filled tub after your treatment.
After a few hours of pure relaxation, it’s time to shake off that lethargy and hit the nearby beach bars and trial some of the Maldives’ elusive nightlife. Check out Bikini Beach or Maafushivaru Island beach, both minutes from Lily Beach Resort by boat, to dance the night away under the stars.
Day 4: Rangali Island, Underwater Restaurant and Outdoor Cinema
Twice voted the Best Hotel in the World, the 151 room Conrad Maldives on Rangali Island is definitely worth visiting. There are endless water and land adventures to be had on Rangali Island and the Conrad makes excellent use of the island’s unique landscape.
Located in the Alifu Dhaalu Atoll, Rangali is only 10-minutes by speed boat from Lily Beach Resort and about an hour from Male. The island’s lush tropical sandbanks extend with branches of luxury water bungalows, but the Conrad’s underwater suites and Ithaa Restaurant are the resort’s highlights.
Start your adventure to Rangali with a sunrise deep sea fishing trip or glass-bottom boat tour. Continue your day on the ocean with a private jetski rental or offshore snorkeling. The marine life is colorful and diverse in Rangali’s pristine waters. Yet, for unmatched underwater vistas, treat yourself to lunch at Ithaa, the first and only 5-star undersea restaurant.
Set within a glass tunnel five meters below the ocean’s surface, enjoy panoramic coral garden views and an exquisite fusion menu. You’ll be more likely to grab a reservation if you avoid peak evening hours, while daylight provides the best underwater visibility. Finish your day cooling off by the infinity pool and catch a flick in the open-air cinema, the Picture of Conrad, to the backdrop of the Maldivian sunset and a sky full of stars. For a real end-of-trip treat, book a night in one of the Conrad’s floating bungalows for a fraction of the price of the underwater suites and enjoy all these amenities free of charge.
Day 5: Veligandu Island Shopping
After four days of remote island luxury, it’s time to draw your Maldivian adventure to a close. But not before another taste of bustling island life and picking up some souvenirs on Veligandu Island.
Veligandu is only a slight detour west on your way back up to Male and an hour by speedboat from Rangali Island. Veligandu is a posh island escape with luxury resorts and beach activities, but it is also home to several small shopping centers and market areas. Find bright shell jewelry, ocean-pearl accessories, and local trinkets to commemorate your trip.
The elusive Veligandu Island Resort at the northern end of the lagoon atoll has an especially lavish Gift Shop & Tailor’s Atelier. Browse high-end designer clothing, get a tailor-made Maldivian garment or treat yourself to some handmade nick-nacks. Stop for lunch at the resort’s four-star seafront Madivaru Restaurant, and bury your feet into the Maldivian sand for the last time from a beachside table.
For your last adventure, take to your skies as you journey back to Male on a 20-minute seaplane ride. Male is easily reachable by public ferry, but a seaplane voyage is a must-do for your Maldivian itinerary. Revel in the stunning birds-eye views of Veligandu’s tropical swaying palms and clear shallow waters, and enjoy the overhead vistas of the northwest Male atolls before you come into land.
Depending on your flight schedule, you can spend the final hours or last evening of your trip checking out some of Male’s other attractions. Drop by The Fish Market and the National Museum of the Maldives, or explore the vibrant café scene and any of the religious sites you might have missed on your first visit. Then, it’s time to head to Velana International airport where you’ll likely depart, marking the end of your Maldives five-day itinerary.
Which month is best to visit the Maldives?
Book your trip to the Maldives between November and April for the best weather. This is the high season where the days will be predominantly sunny with averages highs of 86 degrees Fahrenheit and plenty of blue skies. The monsoon season falls between May and October and peaks in June. Still, the weather varies by region, with the highest rainfall in the northern atolls from May to November but from November to March in the south. For seasonal discounts and fewer crowds, visit in the low season and stick to the southern atolls.
How expensive is a trip to the Maldives?
The Maldives is an exclusive luxury getaway, and even shoestring travelers should budget at least $50 per day to spend in the Maldives, not inclusive of accommodation. Hotels offer great package deals with island-hopping excursions and Male transfers included. Still, you will struggle to find a double occupancy room for less than $200 a night, and five-star resorts can charge more than $1,000 nightly.
What is there to do in the Maldives with the family?
There are tons of family-friendly resorts in the Maldives with quadruple-occupancy rooms, private water playgrounds, kids clubs, and creative activities. Children can join in on snorkeling excursions or be entertained by hotel staff with handicraft classes, water sports lessons, and evening performances. Most resorts will also have lots of facilities for the whole family to enjoy together, like outdoor cinemas, beach bonfires, and aquatic shows.
Can you drink alcohol?
Although the Maldives is a predominantly Islamic country, you can buy and drink alcohol legally if you’re over the age of 18, and not a practicing Muslim. Alcohol is effectively banned from the local population and you can’t consume it in public places. Still, the resorts cater to a western demographic and nearly all are licensed to serve liquor but with a steep importation markup.