While the Maldives is teeming with over-the-top, five-star properties, lots of honeymooners prefer that throwback, retro vibe. We’re talking thatch-roof, nature-inspired, no-frills hideaways completely integrated within the environment. Plenty of amazing luxury resorts avoid the over-the-top amenities and decor and pay tribute to the beauty of these islands by keeping it real with exotic, indigenous flair. These are the six best rustic resorts that are drenched in romance, taking honeymoons to the next level.
Jumeirah VittaveliJumeirah Vittaveli Maldives, Maldives
Jumeirah Vittaveli is a twenty-minute speedboat ride away from the main island of Male, so the location is already unbeatable. When you arrive, you’re greeted by a parade of drummers, and the staff continues to be exceptional throughout. There are 89 villas on a very intimate island (if you stand in the middle, you can see both sides of the island). It’s very lush, and the beaches are outstanding, but above all, it’s full-on rustic (we love that they have bicycles to explore the island). There are beach villas (huge pools, outdoor bathrooms) and overwater villas, but the seven ocean suites are the creme de la creme. The bi-level suites float over the sea and you have to take a boat to reach them (it’s only a minute but even still… how exotic!). Rooms start at $1,000.
Baros was the third resort to open in the Maldives and like Jumeirah, it’s only 20 minutes away from the airport—so you don’t have to spend a fortune on all those seaplanes. Even though Baros has been open for decades, it’s aged well into its sophistication and elegance. The award-winning property has 75 secluded villas, either on the beach under coconut palms or built over the calm, crystal-clear waters (warning: because Baros is old school, not all rooms have their own pools like most Maldives properties, so definitely keep that in mind when booking). There’s a ton of things to do here but the best is the Piano Deck, literally a piano-shaped deck floating right on the water where you can indulge in a very private dinner. Rates from $960.
Huvafen FushiHuvafen Fushi Maldives, North Malé Atoll, Maldives
Want to really get away? Book at Huvafen Fushi. It was the first five-star resort to open in the Maldives, and it still has that magic touch for guests who don’t want to see another soul their entire stay. It’s why Naomi Campbell books here (mostly to avoid throwing her cell phone at people). The 44-room resort is streamlined and simple, but there are some amenities that will blow your mind, like the outdoor float station pool with all natural salts (reminiscent of the Dead sea and a huge way to detox), as well as a beach where stingrays swim up for daily feedings. We can’t forget the world’s first underwater spa (insert link to must do activities here), where the glass-walled, subterranean sanctuary has tons of coral and marine life on the other side of the glass. At night, this spa moonlights as an aquarium (with outdoor lights) where you can see all the night creatures in full glory, like monster-sized jackfish and moray eel. The villas are spot on, and we recommend the beach bungalow, the most popular option. Not only is it literally ten steps to the water, it has its own plunge pool and an outdoor bathroom that will blow your sandals off (insert best villas/suites story here). Rooms start at $1,090.
Outrigger KonottaOutrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, Maldives
Of the entire Outrigger chain, this is quite possibly the most luxurious hotel out of the bunch. It’s quite new (opened in December 2015) but feels so rooted in place you think it’s been here forever. It’s way off-the-grid. To get there from Male, you need to take a 55-minute flight to Kaadehdoo Airport, then a 30-minute speedboat. But it’s all worth it. The 53-room resort has the works (spa, great dining, endless watersports) but because it’s so far removed, the stargazing is NASA worthy (they also offer their own stargazing cruise on a dhoni). You can also take cooking classes and coconut palm fond-weaving class! All villas have private pools and glass-wall bathrooms. The best feature of all is that it doesn’t break the bank at $450 a night (breakfast included!).
Milaidhoo Island ResortMilaidhoo Island Maldives, Milaidhoo Island, Maldives
One of the newest properties to open in the Maldives (November 2016) Milaidhoo took the trademark rustic allure that makes most resorts sort feel the same (there’s only so much you can do to stand out with thatch roofs) and elevated the hell out of it. But what they didn’t do is compromise the advantage of their location inside a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which is something to brag about. All the villas have seamless outdoor/indoor design/integration, so they feel more outdoors than indoors (this is a good thing, people), opening up 180 degrees for honeymooners to effortlessly immerse in the natural beauty. While we’re at it, Milaidhoo was designed for honeymooners, so you’re in good hands. Trust us when we say you will never leave your villa. Rates start at $1,625.
COMO Cocoa IslandCOMO Cocoa Island, The Maldives, South Malé Atoll, Maldives
COMO Cocoa Island is a dream resort for honeymooners who want that rustic appeal with a huge dose of high-end organic decor. COMO is super upscale but minimally invasive with design, totally embracing the natural elements. This is not a surprise because COMO is a boutique chain known for its holistic sensibilities and eco-conscious flair. There are only 33 suites and villas here (inspired by the dhoni, so they have great, sleek curves like the boat for design), which make it feel very private with the small number of rooms. The true highlight is the Como Shambala spa, complete with a hydrotherapy pool, meditation/relaxation area, daily yoga and expert therapists that can build entire itineraries out of your stay. Rooms from $900.