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The island archipelago of the Maldives is a dream destination for families, couples and groups of friends, thanks to its inviting turquoise waters, sugary beaches, and typical one resort, one island policy. But a trip to the Maldives can be pricey, and one of the biggest expenses on top of flights and hotels is the seaplane transfer required to reach many of the resorts from Velana International Airport on the island capital of Male.

But with these 10 resorts, you can cut the cost of the expensive seaplane, as they’re all reachable via a more affordable speedboat transfer.

Anantara Veli

Speedboat transfer time: 30 minutes

On a private island in the South Male Atoll sits Anantara Veli, reached via a 30 minute speedboat ride from Male. The resort is the adults-only alternative to its sister resort, Anantara Dhigu, which is connected via a bridge and presents a more family-friendly offering, although guests of Anantara Veli have access to the restaurants and leisure facilities at both properties. The resort reopened in December 2022 after a nine-month refurbishment, with contemporary new beach villas that scatter the sugary sand and come complete with private pools. The resort also added a new Villa Host service for all guests, refreshed the design of the six restaurants, and added a Moroccan hammam to the wellness offering. To get the best bang for your buck, opt for the All-Inclusive Indulgence package, which includes a daily buffet breakfast, three-course lunch and dinner plus all-inclusive beverages. There’s also discounts for stays above three nights, and complimentary transfers for those booking certain room categories.


Baros Maldives

Speedboat transfer time: 25 minutes

An icon of romantic resorts in the Maldives, Baros Maldives is one of the Maldives’ longest standing resorts, and its built a reputation as one of the best places to stay in the Maldives for couples. As such, experiences such as sunset dolphin spotting cruises, private dinners on the beach, sandbank picnics, and pampering couples spa treatments are all part of the offering. Villas unroll against the backdrop of sugary sands and tropical gardens if you book a beach villa, or come with views as far of the eye can see of turquoise waters if you choose one of their overwater villas. All come with freestanding bathtubs, an extensive pillow menu, and a private deck for soaking up the rays. Best of all, you’ll reach it from Male in under 30 minutes by speed boat. Book the ‘Blissful Baros’ package and you’ll get return transfers included in your rate, along with a daily buffet breakfast and dinner, 30 per cent off at select restaurants, and welcome bubbly on arrival.


Gili Lankanfushi

Speedboat transfer time: 25 minutes

A renowned Maldives resort, few stays pack a punch the way this Robinson Crusoe-inspired hideaway in the North Male Atoll does. Promising hyper-bespoke service and best-in-class island offerings, no two stays are designed the same at Gili Lankanfushi. All of the rustic-luxe villas ooze barefoot luxury bliss, come complete with their own private deck and swimming pool, and are neatly arranged around three piers or within the tropical jungle. For the ultimate off-grid experience with all the luxury touches, book one of the Crusoe residences overwater, which need to be reached via boat. This includes the show-stopping, multi-level private reserve, the world’s largest standalone overwater villa, complete with space to sleep 10, an infinity pool, spa pavilion, cinema, and even a water slide. Reach it via speedboat in just 25 minutes.


Hard Rock Hotel Maldives

Speedboat transfer time: 15 minutes

Within 15 minutes of boarding your boat from the capital of Male, your feet can touch the sugary sand at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives. One half of Crossroads Maldives, the Maldives’ only multi-island destination, it’s connected via a bridge to SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton. Both are family-friendly and offer an action-packed roster of activities, but for an island stay with a musical touch, Hard Rock is the hotel to book. Put your wallet away and opt for the all-inclusive, all-encompassing offering, which not only includes meals at the four restaurants and bars on the island, but also the beach club and culinary concepts at SAii Lagoon. The brand touches are everywhere – from the iconic Hard Rock Cafe and merch store, to the Rock Spa and Roxity Kids Club. You can even get a guitar delivered to your villa and play a tune or two as you relax on your deck.


Kurumba Maldives

Speedboat transfer time: 10 minutes

One of the closest resorts in the Maldives to the airport, you can reach Kurumba – the very first Maldives resort – in just 10 minutes. More wallet friendly than some of its newer, more luxurious counterparts, the rustic charm is all part of the appeal, and where the guest rooms, bungalows and beach villas (there are no overwater retreats here) may lack some of the wow-factor of some of the Maldives’ newer resorts, the roster of island activities and local excursions ensure a memorable trip. Book in snorkelling, diving or watersports to enjoy the magical underwater world below, or spot dolphins on a sunset cruise. Then retreat back to the island, where sundowners are best enjoyed at Kandu, a breezy deck that gazes out over the water.


OBLU SELECT at Sangeli

Speedboat transfer time: 50 minutes

The Oblu brand is a popular choice for those looking for all-inclusive hotels in the Maldives, with the Serenity Plan – their version of ultra-all-inclusive rolled out across their Maldivian portfolio. With OBLU SELECT at Sangeli, a tropical island in the North Male Atoll, not only is dining and entertainment taken care of in your rate, but you also won’t have to fork out for a seaplane – the resort is reachable by a 50 minute speedboat, which is included in the rate when you book direct (minimum four nights). A collection of 137 villas are split between six categories of overwater and beach retreats, some with pools and some without. All guests benefit from the Serenity Plan, which goes far beyond the traditional all-inclusive offering to include an a la carte dinner, unlimited drinks at 5 restaurants and bars, complimentary selected activities, a spa treatment, and a daily replenishment of the mini bar.


OZEN Life Maadhoo

Speedboat transfer time: 45 minutes

The more luxurious sister to family-friendly Oblu is Atmosphere, and its top-tier resorts in the Maldives fall under the OZEN brand. OZEN Life Maadhoo has long been popular with UAE travellers, thanks to its family-friendly appeal, extensive offering for all-inclusive drinks, dining, and activities, and its proximity to the airport. Reachable via around-the-clock speedboat transfers, you can be on the beach with a cocktail in hand just 45 minutes after departing Male. On the island, there’s just 95 villas split between the beachfront and overwater jetty, so it’s got a boutique feeling, and all come with their own private pool and the modern comforts you’d expect from a five-star stay. The brand’s Indulgence Plan is what has guests returning time and again, with almost everything included, such as some 80 wines and a collection of Champagne, a la carte dining, activities, spa treatments, and complimentary transfers.

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa

Speedboat transfer time: 15 minutes

One of the original Marriott resorts in the Maldives is set just 15 minutes via seaplane from the airport, making it convenient for those that don’t want long transfer times once they land in the island archipelago. Encased in a shimmering blue lagoon, the island’s collection of 176 abodes range from the more affordable guest rooms that open up either to lush gardens or the golden beach, to cottages on the beachfront and overwater villas for the more traditional bucket list Maldives stay. All-day dining can be enjoyed at Feast, but there’s also a la carte dining to enjoy at Baan Thai and a seafront Italian restaurant called Sea Salt. More simplistic than some of its newer counterparts, you’ll still find all the quintessential Maldives experiences on the activity roster, like dolphin cruises, sandbank picnics, and snorkelling.


Varu by Atmosphere

Speedboat transfer time: 40 minutes

Another member of the Atmosphere resorts family is Varu, found 40 minutes from the capital of Male. Here, the natural beauty of the island archipelago is the true star of the show, although the premium all-inclusive Varu plan is another alluring part of checking-in here. Your complimentary speedboat transfers start things off in style, then you’re welcomed to the island with rhythmic Boduberu drumming and a complimentary glass of bubbly. Once you’re all checked-in to one of the breezy beach or water villas, an extensive dining array, unlimited premium drinks, and unrestricted access to water sports invites you to enjoy a stay as lazy or action-packed as you like.


Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi

Speedboat transfer time: 45 minutes

A true sanctuary for the senses, Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi is one of the best resorts in the Maldives for all-out luxury. You’ll reach it on a scenic 45-minute sail from Velana International Airport, touching down at a resort that oozes tropical indulgence. Across the sprawling island haven, there’s just 119 beautifully designed beach, reef, and overwater villas that come complete with a private pool. For foodies, a collection of almost a dozen restaurants await, including the globally renowned Zuma and Terra, home to beautiful bamboo dining pods set amongst tropical gardens. When you’re not eating your way around the 11 restaurants, pampering awaits at their pioneering wellness centre, as does a collection of activities like parasailing, jet skiing, and sunset dolphin cruises.