A Budget Traveller Visits a Luxury Resort in the Maldives

Maldives Olhuveli restaurant

My luxury travel experiences have been few and far between.

I say I’m a budget traveller through choice but I can’t really afford the alternative. I’m okay with it — I can’t deny that budget travel has suited me well over the last four years.

Sometimes, though, I find myself wondering what it would be like to throw my money at travel. To stay at five-star luxury resorts, be chauffeured from place to place, and eat meals at restaurants that have tablecloths.

Buying presents for a budget traveller, ie, my boyfriend, can be tricky. Like me, Dave carries everything he owns on his back, so if I buy him any kind of tangible present, he has to throw something out in order to make room for it. It’s why we usually opt to buy each other experiences instead.

This year, I wanted to do something special for his birthday. We were travelling around the Maldives on a budget, having a wonderful time, and avoiding the overwater bungalows so many associate with the country.

So I booked two nights in one.

I was concerned. Dave can be pretty scathing when it comes to luxury travel. I had this horrifying vision of him complaining about the wealthy, obnoxious tourists that surrounded him. About how the food was 10 times the price it had been on the local islands. About the lack of Maldivian culture. About how he was paying $10 for the same bottle of water he was paying $1 for a few days ago. Sorry, I know I’m wildly stereotyping here.

So, luxury travel. Does it suit me? Did Dave hate it? What’s the deal?

Overwater Bungalows for Dave's birthday
The view from the front door of our bungalow

Damn, the Resorts are Expensive

I allocated myself a budget of $200 a night for our stay.

Then I doubled it.

Then I tripled it.

If you want to stay specifically in an overwater bungalow, you’ll struggle to find anything for less than $400 a night, and don’t forget we visited during low season. In high season, prices double. Oh, and this isn’t the all-inclusive price, either. This is the no-inclusive price for nothing but accommodation.

The reviews aren’t that amazing either. At my new price point of around $500 a night, there were an awful lot of complaints on The TripAdvisor. Some of them were about strange, irrelevant things. Like:

We stayed here back in December 2012 over new year. 12 of us went and booked 3 water villas and 2 beach villas. The accommodation was very nice although I feel for the price could have been a little more modern. The food was nice although no pork. I used the gym a few times and played some tennis although not for long as it was to hot. We also flew with British Airways first class however the plane was old so was very disappointed with the dated 1st class cabin. Would of expected BA to put new planes on to this exclusive destination. Just a warning, our boat transfer from male to our island was terrible! It broke down and we had to sit and wait half an hour to be transferred onto another boat with all our cases. Coming back a storm hit and we though the little boat was going to sink. I’d recommend a sea plane. Again for what we paid we should have been transferred by sea plane anyway. The resort was a decent 4 star, if I go to the Maldives again I would try somewhere better. [all sic]

Why on earth is this person complaining about the flight on a hotel review? And, and, and… oh god, too much. This review is hilarious. It also made me nervous because this person sounds like the sort of person Dave would not enjoy spending his birthday with.

Some of the reviews, though, were about poor customer service, and about the resorts trying to squeeze every last penny out of you. My biggest fears, pretty much. I wondered if I should just up my budget to $2,000 a night — those places had incredible reviews.

I didn’t, obviously, because that’s an insane amount of money.

In the end, I decided to go with Olhuveli Island for several reasons. It was perfectly located between two of the islands I was visiting: Maafushi and Guraidhoo. The overwater bungalows looked gorgeous, and it had reasonable reviews when compared to resorts of a similar price.

Balcony steps at Olhuveli, Maldives
Steps from our balcony leading into the ocean

At the Resort, Things Are Unnecessarily Pricey

I expected this, of course, but it was still shocking.

Want to take a speedboat from Male Airport to Olhuveli? That’ll be $280 per person each way.

Want to take it from Guraidhoo, an island six kilometres away? That’ll be $200 per person each way. Dave and I could have spent $800 to travel 12 kilometres. Come on, guys. It felt like they were trying to rip me off before I even arrived.

My tip: Take the local ferry ($2 each) to a local island (we chose Guraidhoo) and arrange a transfer with someone there. We ended up arranging the transfer with our guesthouse owner on Guraidhoo for $20 per person each way.

It wasn’t just transportation, either. Want to get online? That’ll be $11 a day. Rent a snorkel and mask? $14 a day. A bottle of water? $6.

For comparison: on Maafushi, Fulidhoo, and Guraidhoo, Dave I paid $50-70 a night for our guesthouses. Wi-fi was free, snorkels were free, and a bottle of water was a dollar or two from a convenience store.

Working in the Maldives: surprisingly easy!
Office of the Day shot. Yes, it gave me motion sickness

I’ve Received Better Customer Service at $1 a night hostels in Laos

Now, this was disappointing. I don’t know, I mean I’m used to crappy customer service and it’s never really something I’ve ever complained about, but when I’m spending over $500 a night? I guess I just expected better.

Just Take My Money Already!

It was weird. A few minutes after booking the bungalow, I got an email from someone at Olhuveli asking for my card details because they couldn’t process mine. Fortunately, my dad’s a bank manager and I outsource all of my banking malarky to him. A quick phone call told me my bank had blocked my card for suspicious activity (haha). I got it unblocked and emailed them the details.

No reply.

I waited a week and followed up with them.

No reply. 

I waited another week and followed up.

Finally I got a response, telling me that my card details hadn’t worked again. I gave my dad a call and he said there was no sign anyone had attempted to take the money from my account.

I replied to ask what was going on, and suggested they tried my card again, and there was no reply.

I followed up after four days and there was still no response.

I followed up every day for the next week and was ignored over and over and over.

By this point, it was a couple of weeks before Dave’s birthday and I was starting to panic.

So I emailed customer service to complain. This kicked the guy’s ass into gear and he finally got replied, telling me my card didn’t work again.

I called my dad and he told me that someone had tried to put the transaction through but had entered the wrong expiry date. Are you kidding me?

I followed up and was ignored again.

Dave’s birthday present was looking like it was going to be a fish curry.

With a final push, I emailed every email address I could find for the hotel, and finally, finally someone figured out how to put my card details through.


It didn’t make the best first impression. Everyone seemed so weirdly incompetent.

Where Have You Gone?

We got to Olhuveli early, and were met at the jetty by a woman who checked us in, told us our room wouldn’t be ready for another hour, and to meet her back there at 12 o’clock. No worries, we went for a swim in the infinity pool.

She stood us up. We waited for her for over an hour and she never showed.

My Name is What?

We arrived at our room and spent a few delirious minutes flailing in excitement. I then spotted a welcome letter on the bed, opening with, “Dear Mr and Mrs Chen Yai Yu”.

It’s hard to get your guests’ names right, right?

I Just Want to Get Online!

Our stay included free Wi-Fi, but the network was secured. I called reception to ask for the password, they put me on hold for ten minutes, and then hung up.

I called back again, someone else answered, they put me on hold, and hung up.

I had to call five times before someone could give me the password. It took over half an hour.

But Nobody Told Us About the Free Drinks?

It was our final night, and Dave and I made our way to a cocktail bar to watch the sunset. We ordered our drinks and the waiter stared at us in confusion. He said, “But you can get free drinks every night at the other bar. Why don’t you go there?”

Dave and I had been paying for our drinks throughout our stay because nobody had told us we were entitled to free cocktails. How many other things did we miss out on?

All in all, I expected better. Much better. As I said in the title of this section, I’ve received better service from $1 a night dorms in Laos.

Olhuveli Resort, Maldives
Overwater bungalows: even more spectacular when seen in person!

The Resorts Operate on Resort Time

“Welcome to resort time!” beamed the woman who met us from our boat and would later stand us up.

The Maldives is officially five hours ahead of GMT, but resorts have adopted their own time, and it’s not consistent. Olhuveli is one hour ahead of Male, some resorts are half an hour ahead, and some are 90 minutes ahead. Why? The Maldives doesn’t observe daylight saving time, so the resorts create their own to give you more hours of daylight while you’re there.

Olhuveli bungalow bathroom
The view from our bathroom

Our Bungalow was Incredible

I started off this post on a negative, but aside from our customer service woes, the rest of our trip was the best. This has to be the most extravagant, beautiful place I’ve ever stayed at. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to top it. I loved the ridiculous shower head that felt like it was bigger than some of the bathrooms at hostels I’ve stayed in, the jacuzzi on our balcony, and the view from the bath. Yeah, I thought about bathing five times a day there.

My favourite part was waking up in the morning, padding onto the balcony and jumping straight in the sea.

Jacuzzi in the Maldives
The jacuzzi of my dreams

I Need This Jacuzzi In My Life

Dave and I would spend our mornings splashing in one of the resort’s swimming pools, and our afternoons squished up together in this jacuzzi. Oh my god. This jacuzzi! Favourite part: peering over the edge and seeing enormous fish, baby sharks, sting rays, and sea snakes(!!) hanging out below us.

Balcony at Olhuveli Island, Maldives

Baby Sharks!

Hundreds of them, swimming all around the resort, some of them only half a metre from the beach.

Sharks in the Maldives
Watching a shark chase down the fish

The Food Was Surprisingly Good

I expected the food to be terrible. I figured it’d be designed for bland Western palates (side note: WHO HAVE I BECOME?), there’d be no Asian food on offer, and it would be around $50 a meal. I was only partly correct.

The food was on par for Australian prices — typically around $20-30 for dinner, although Dave and I were totally going for the cheapest options. The food was delicious, though, so I didn’t begrudge spending the money.

There wasn’t really much in the way of Maldivian food. I fell in love with Maldivian breakfasts on the local islands, for example, but at Olhuveli, there was, of course, only a buffet breakfast (one of the best I’d had, though!). For dinner, there were a couple of curry options that could have been local dishes, and there was also a pizza place, some Thai and Indian food options, buffet dinners…

Olhuveli Resort restaurant
The restaurant where Dave and I ate our breakfasts and dinners

You Don’t Learn Anything About the Local Culture and Life

On the local islands, Dave and I found it easy to learn more about the Maldivian way of life. About how tourism is growing at an insane rate, how our entrepreneurial guesthouse owners were planning to take advantage of this, how everyone knows everyone’s business because the islands are small so it’s hard to keep secrets, how trash on the islands is an enormous problem, and stories of the 2004 tsunami.

On the resort, I don’t think I had more than a one minute conversation with any of the staff.

Olhuveli bungalow view
Overwater bungalow panorama

It Means More When You Pay For it Yourself

Up until around a couple of years ago, I dabbled with sponsored travel on Never Ending Footsteps with mixed results. It was a wonderful feeling to get things for free in exchange for a review and I thought I was living the ultimate dream. In the end, though, I decided it wasn’t for me.

Our stay at Olhuveli showed me that it’s so much more meaningful when you pay for something out of  your own pocket. Knowing that I’d been working my ass off and bashing out 9,000 words over six days for a freelance client so I could afford to splash out on this? It meant more. When you’re blowing two months worth of travel expenses on two nights, it makes you pretty determined to have the time of your life.

Heron by swimming pool at Olhuveli, Maldives
Heron hanging out at the swimming pool.

Dave Loved It!

Nothing could fill my heart with more joy than having Dave turn to me and announce he’d had the best birthday of his life. He confessed he’d had many of the fears I mentioned at the start of this post but most had been unfounded and the rest he could ignore because Olhuveli was so goddamn beautiful.

Yeah, it was overpriced and yeah, the customer service sucked, but it was still one of our ultimate travel experiences. Olhuveli Island was stunning — easily one of the best places I’ve stayed, despite the atrocious welcome. Also, the jacuzzi.

I can’t afford to be a luxury traveller, but I’m starting to think that maybe a few times a year I should throw my money at travel and see what happens.

Related Articles on the Maldives

💰 Travel the Maldives on a Budget? It’s Totally Possible!
🏖 Falling in Love With Maafushi
🏝 Fulidhoo: The Only Tourists on the Island
🙅🏼‍♀️ Scammed in Guraidhoo: The Shady Guesthouse Owner

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A review of Olhuveli Luxury Resort in the Maldives, including details on how you can avoid paying for the expensive ferry transfer from Male.
A review of Olhuveli Luxury Resort in the Maldives, including details on how you can avoid paying for the expensive ferry transfer from Male.


  1. March 13, 2015

    I would be livid if they didn’t tell me about the free cocktails!
    Your photos are amazing though and get me super excited for our trip. When did you go?
    We’re going in low season and are kinda worried about bad weather – looks like you guys lucked out though!

    • March 14, 2015

      We went in early September, and I spent the entire time panicking about the weather! It’s super hard to get an accurate weather forecast, because if it’s raining on one island, it probably won’t be raining on the ones surrounding it, and the islands are so small that most of them don’t have their own forecast that I could find.

      Funnily enough, we were in the Maldives for around two weeks, and only had one day of rain. On Dave’s birthday. :-)

      • Jess
        February 23, 2022

        Hi Lauren,

        Your review made me chuckle!
        Me and my fiancé are supposed to be going this year for our honeymoon, but I’m wondering about the price to get from the airport to Olhuveli.
        Is speed boat the only way? It’s so expensive !

  2. March 13, 2015

    Apart from the appalling customer service, this resort sounds incredible! I’m not one for expensive hotels, but this type of resort actually seems worthy of a splurge. Beautiful photos!

    • March 13, 2015

      I think it’s especially worth the splurge if it’s something like an overwater bungalow. I’m starting to think that a few days of luxury every six months would be a refreshing change from the cheap guesthouses and Airbnb apartments :-)

  3. March 13, 2015

    That stinks about the bad customer service, but the place looks amazing! Love your pictures.

    • March 13, 2015

      Thanks, Michelle! Yeah, it wasn’t the greatest first impression but once we put it to one side, we had an amazing time :-)

  4. March 13, 2015

    Bummer about the poor customer service. BUT, your photos do indeed look gorgeous, and I’m happy to hear the birthday trip was a success! The color of that water is insane…

    • March 13, 2015

      Isn’t it? The colour of the ocean in the Maldives is ridiculously beautiful.

  5. Sky
    March 13, 2015

    Those photos are gorgeous! But $500 a night…that’s so crazy, especially when you have crappy customer service. I guess that’s luxury travel, though and a birthday is as good of a reason as any to splurge :)

    • March 14, 2015

      It is, isn’t it? Although, when I first started researching prices, everywhere I found was quoting $2000-5000 a night! Ah, well, it was worth it for a fun celebration :-)

  6. I could relate to a lot of this post following my visit there! We didn’t stay in an over water bungalow though if I return again, I definitely want to but you’re right, the prices seem totally ludicrously expensive!! That TA review made me laugh – each to one’s own but I just can’t relate to people who write reviews like that. I’m glad that you enjoyed the villa even if not the service – I also felt that even compared to other beachy honeymoon type islands such as Mauritius, the service for me, though not bad, didn’t really compare. But despite all that, I absolutely loved my stay – that sand and sea just took my breath away! Stunning photos!

    • March 16, 2015

      Hi Shikha! Interesting that you also found the service to be lacking, and I’d love to try a similar trip to Mauritius (some budget, some luxury). I looked through the brochure in our room and found that in high season the price almost triples! Insane money.

  7. March 14, 2015

    Crazy that the customer service was so bad when you are paying that much (and such a shame) but it sounds like an incredible experience anyway. I usually travel budget too but when we splurge on a nice hotel we have fully appreciated it, I don’t think we would so much if we only did luxury travel

    • March 14, 2015

      I guess in comparison to most of their guests, who are staying two or three weeks and paying for all-inclusive, we weren’t particularly important to them :-). I agree that it would stop feeling so special if you were all luxury all the time.

  8. March 14, 2015

    Poor customer service sucks when you are paying so much for the accommodation but at least the room made up for it. Your photos are amazing! I think luxury is one of those things that only feels like a luxury when you don’t have it very often.

    • March 16, 2015

      Absolutely! If I jumped from luxury resort to luxury resort, I think I’d stop appreciating it so much :-)

  9. March 14, 2015

    Despite the terrible customer service, this place sounds amazing! It would be so cool to wake up to a view like that and have your own private jacuzzi to enjoy it from. I’ll bet it was difficult readjusting to the cheap hotels and guest houses after experiencing luxury like this!

    • March 14, 2015

      I didn’t find it too hard to adjust, but I think if I’d stayed at Olhuveli for a week or two, it would have been tough. The jacuzzi was totally the best :-)

  10. Rohith
    March 15, 2015

    Hi Lauren,

    I recently started reading your blogs and I loved them. I was also planning my honeymoon and initially booked a luxury resort (Meeru Island Resort) for 4 nights, unaware of the local island options.

    Even I found everything ridiculously overpriced at these resorts and I found out about maafushi and booked a hotel over there, as I thought its the same beautiful beach and same blue ocean and we wanted to do lots of snorkelling and scubadiving. From your blog on Maafushi, I was further relieved and excited to go there.

    But, after I read this blog, I am again a bit confused. If I should splurge at a luxury resort to get experience of a life time or go to maafushi and have a great time. I hope my fiancee would love Maafushi too :)

    • March 15, 2015

      Hi Rohith,

      I think either option is a good idea, and Dave and I loved both Maafushi and Olhuveli for different reasons. Could you do both? I doubt that she’ll hate Maafushi, though :-)

      • Rohith
        March 17, 2015

        Hi Lauren,

        Yes :) . I was also thinking may be we can do some island hopping to nearby resort islands to enjoy the picturesque views that it has to offer while still staying at Maafushi.


        • March 17, 2015

          That sounds perfect! And a much cheaper way of doing things :-)

  11. Hanh
    March 16, 2015

    Hi Lauren,

    Thank you for sharing all the detailed information and experience. My friends and I planned to go to Maldives by the end of April. I’m so glad to have found your blog.

    After reading your post, we also wanted to splurge on this luxury resort. Can I ask how you came back to Male from Olhuveli Island?

    Thank you.


    • March 16, 2015

      Hi Hanh,

      Yep, when I arranged the transfer with the guesthouse owner in Guraidhoo, I arranged for a return ticket. We told him to meet us at Olhuveli at midday on the day we were leaving, and took his phone number just in case. From Guraidhoo, we took the local ferry back to Male :-)

      • Hanh
        March 16, 2015

        Thank you so much for your quick reply. It helps us a lot. :)

  12. So so so so INTERESTING to read! From top to bottom I was captivated. Thank you thank you for this unbiased review! We are not really super budget travelers, but we definitely don’t stay at such resorts at that with said price tag! I mean, of course we’d LIKE to lol Maybe one day or as a splurge gift like you did. But at the same time, it would be SUPER disappointing to find the customer service so lacking when you’re spending SO MUCH money. Speaking of which, where IS that $1 per night place with great customer service you spoke of? Now that I’d like to experience too! :D

    • March 21, 2015

      No problem, Dana! The place was in Pakse, Laos. It didn’t have amazing customer service but it was far better than this :-). They got my name right for starters!

  13. March 18, 2015

    I so want that jacuzzi! Amazing views. As a budget traveler myself, I agree that it’s important to spoil yourself every now and then, and a birthday treat for a special person is a perfect excuse to go all out. I’m so glad to hear he loved it, despite the (shockingly) terrible customer service. What’s not to love about bathing above baby sharks? So cool.

  14. David Smith
    March 19, 2015

    Thanks a lot to sharing this information.I have a plan to go Maldives.Can you say what is proper time to go Maldives?I really keen about this matter.

    • March 19, 2015

      I went in late August/early September and managed to get low season prices without it being rainy.

  15. Atanas
    March 22, 2015

    Hey, Lauren.

    I`m trying to convince my fiance to go to Maldives on a honeymoon, but she refuses, saying it will be too expensive and we`ll do basically nothing – just laying on the beach. Well, THAT`S WHY I want to go there. And can you imagine – I`m trying to convince her to go to Maldives, while 99 per cent of the female population will say Yes at once on that proposition.

    • March 22, 2015

      Well, I don’t know if you saw my post about how to travel to the Maldives on a budget, but you can easily travel there for $50-70 a day if you go to the local islands. There are also lots of things to do: snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, island hopping, fishing, windsurfing…

  16. Atanas
    March 22, 2015

    Sure. I read it, Lauren. Previously, I`ve never known there was an option to sleep on an inhabited island, staying in the local people guesthouses. And that there`s an option to use the local public transport to get to your island (instead of these speedboat rides, costing 250 USD per person). I actually found a good-looking three-star guesthouse on Maafushi in Booking, but still the issue with the expensive airfare to get to Maldives stays.
    Maybe, we`ll go to Southern Italy, visiting Amalfi Coast, Naples, Capri island, Matera, Sorrento, etc.
    And Maldives will stay, I don`t know, maybe for our first year anniversary.
    Your posts about Maldives were really useful. Many thanks for writing them.

    • March 23, 2015

      Ah, that’s a shame! Glad to hear my posts were helpful, though, and hope you make it to the Maldives one day :-)

  17. Anna
    April 20, 2015

    Firstly, thanks for sharing all this in depth information with us. Sounds and looks truly amazing.

    A quick question regarding the transfers: did you specify the time you wanted to leave Guraidhoo and be picked up from the resort destination? Or was it set depending on the day excursion timing for that particular guesthouse. I ask because I’m time restricted and want to spend at least one day at a resort hotel but I’m not sure if I’ll simply be wasting my time moving from hotel to hotel to hotel. (Found a good rate which would be cheaper than staying at maafushi plus booking a day tour to the resort in question.

    Thanks in advance

    • November 26, 2015

      We had a local SIM card, so we just called the guesthouse owner when we were ready to leave. You’ll have the boat to yourself so will be able to leave and return whenever you want.

      • Manuel
        January 7, 2019

        Hi Lauren, Thank you for all the things that you wrote. It’s very useful. Could you share the price and company for the SIM card? Can I get also reliable date?

  18. Sachini
    April 22, 2015

    Hi Lauren,

    Its really great Resort and also nice pictures you share with us thanks for sharing this

  19. May 4, 2015

    A superb article – love the honesty, this is what people really need to read. I have never been but it is on my list. I will think much more carefully about it now though. Thank you :)

  20. May 8, 2015

    Wow, it looks just gorgeous. I think it comes close to my idea of paradise :D I’m really happy that you shared this experience so that we poor travelers can at least admire your photos :)

  21. May 10, 2015

    Your post excited me and demoralized me at the same time. LOL. I took a year off from work and hoped to hit the Maldives at some point. I knew it would be expensive, but with $500 a night for a water bunglow with mixed reviews sounds crazy. I’ve been travelling on a budget and having to always watch my Rupees and Bahts isn’t always the best feeling. But the Maldives simply looks stunning and I hope to splurge on it some point hopefully this year. Thanks for the post and happy travels!

    • June 30, 2015

      You need to visit it on a budget then! You can get by on $70 a day and the beaches are wonderful!

  22. May 12, 2015

    I’ve been reading all your blogs as we plan for a trip to the Maldives. Thank you for your insight and suggestions. They are really helpful :)

    One question, did you end up paying the transfer fee to Olhuveli Island. I wasn’t entirely clear from the post, and from the website, they make it seem almost mandatory that we would have to pay for the plane transfer through them…

    Thanks so much!

    • May 13, 2015

      Nope, I paid $20 each way for a boat from Guraidhoo, which I arranged with my guesthouse owner there. You don’t need to pay their overpriced transfer!

  23. cristina
    July 19, 2015

    your posts about Maldives are all very insightful and interesting. I am travelling there for 6 days on July 20 and reading your posts really helped me a lot in my planning. thank you!
    Btw, i still can’t believe they didnt tell you about the free drinks!

    • July 22, 2015

      Thanks, Cristina! I know — I think because we weren’t officially checked in by anyone, we weren’t told about all of the options. Such a shame!

  24. Huyen
    August 30, 2015

    Hello.. Could u please tell me, how can u book the luxury resort? I thought when we book the resort we have to book transfer too! How can u book it saparate ???? Thanks

    • August 31, 2015

      Hi Huyen! You can avoid paying the expensive transfer cost from the resort quite easily. Just go to a nearby local island and arrange with a local to take you there. I saved so much money by doing this! When you’re booking the resort, make sure to choose the option that doesn’t include the transfers.

  25. Srid
    September 21, 2015


    It was quite insightful to read through your blog and coincidentally I booked at Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort without knowing that the transfer fee cost of $280 per person. It was only until later I realized that I will need to pay an additional $560 to travel a few kilometers for two people.

    You had a tip on saving a lot of money by taking the local ferry and by arranging a transfer with someone there. Can you please explain a bit more on how exactly to go about this? This would surely save me and possibly a lot more people quite a bit of money.

    I didn’t got for an all inclusive package. How’s food etc. priced over there?

    Thanks a lot for all the info! Maybe I should have studied a bit before booking the flight and the rooms which are non refundable :(

    • November 13, 2015

      Yep, I visited Guraidhoo (a nearby local island a few kilometres away) and arranged a transfer with the guesthouse owner in advance. It was that simple! I’d recommend just emailing a random guesthouse in advance and explaining your situation to see if they can do the transfer for you. It cost me $20 each way from Guraidhoo.

      The food was good and not too expensive! Around $20 a meal, so Western prices, but it didn’t feel like you were being ripped off.

  26. Venus
    October 27, 2015

    Hi Lauren! I stumbled upon your blog and I am really impressed with how you got your transportation arrangements done – and I could really use some advice if possible! I am traveling with my husband and parents (4 of us) from Maafushi island to Olhuveli Beach And Spa Resort, and I can’t find any website which I can book such a transfer. You mentioned that we could arrange for a local to take us there, but how easy would that be? I am just worried as I am bringing my folks and I would hate to have them stranded on an island with me!

    • October 27, 2015

      Hi Venus! I’d recommend emailing your guesthouse in Maafushi and asking how much they’d charge for the transfer. I arranged mine through my guesthouse on Guraidhoo.

      • Venus
        October 27, 2015

        Thank you so much for your quick response Lauren!:)

  27. Paola Lapid
    December 29, 2015

    Hi Lauren,

    Came across your blog and found it helpful. I booked my husband and I for our honeymoon on March at Olhuveli. The speedboat is 277$/person. I think its ridiculously priced. Is there any way I can work around a cheaper transfer from the airport hotels?

    • December 29, 2015

      You’ll be able to arrange a transfer from a guesthouse owner on a local island. Email someone on Maafushi or Guraidhoo and ask if you can arrange a transfer through them — it should be pretty easy to do.

  28. Dyena
    June 15, 2016

    Hi Lauren,

    Your blog is very helpful for our upcoming trip.

    I would just like to ask if you know if other luxury resort would accept us if we do not make reservation to them for transfer?

    As I can read in your blog, olhuveli is fine to accept guest transferred by local boat. Do we need to ask them in advance if that would be ok?

    Thanks and Regards,

    • June 15, 2016

      I’d imagine they all would, as the transfers aren’t compulsory — just don’t add one to your booking. You’d just have to make sure there was a local island within a few kilometres of the resort, though.

  29. fira luthfiya
    July 31, 2016

    hi lauren, your review is really incridible!!
    and i plan to go olhuveli resort like you did, but after stay 2 night my holiday is over and i must back to maldives airport, if i use speedboat resort it must be crazy pricey, can you give me an advise please???

    • July 31, 2016

      Thanks so much! I didn’t add the speedboat transfer to my booking and instead arranged a transfer with a guesthouse owner on a local island. You could take a ferry to Maafushi (which is closest to Male and still close to Olhuvali) and email a guesthouse owner in advance to see if they’ll take you to Olhuveli and back on their boat. It was $20 each way per person when we did that from Guraidhoo.

  30. Ryan
    August 5, 2016

    hi lauren,

    its a really nice and inspiring review from your vacation.
    I already booked olhuveli resort, but there is still many doubt in my mind, there are some regulation in other resort about transfer boat, other resort can’t allowed the guest use other transportation then the resort provide, is it same in olhuveli?
    Do you still keep the email/contact the local guesthouse? im stayed at maafushi btw, how can I go to guraidhoo from maafushi?

    I almost give up with this transportation things, really need your help, or my honeymoon will stuck in some kind of hotel in maafushi or male :(

    Thank you before

    • August 5, 2016

      Well, I took a small boat to Olhuveli from Guraidhoo and didn’t use or pay for their resort transportation, so… there was no regulation about not using transfer boats!

      I got to Guraidhoo from Maafushi by local ferry. I’m not in touch with the guesthouse owner, because he scammed me. Just arrange the transfer through your guesthouse in Maafushi. They’ll most likely run day trips to Olhuveli anyway, so they’ll be used to making the trip.

  31. Ryan
    August 6, 2016

    Thank you for so much information that you write in this blog.

    I have already contact with the local guesthouse from your advice, they give me USD 100 for 1 way transfer for 1 private boat, is it average price for transfer price maafushi – olhuveli? or should I check other guesthouse option?

    btw, I have a same problem with the credit card, how finally you pay the hotel with? there is some missing story that you tell above about the payment.

    • August 6, 2016

      There isn’t a missing story! I kept emailing them to ask them to retry my card and they eventually re-tried the numbers and it worked.

      Not sure about the average price of a ferry from Maafushi as I haven’t taken that journey myself. It is further away than Guraidhoo, so you’d expect it to be a little more expensive.

  32. Jason Czubachowski
    August 17, 2016

    How often do ferrys run from Male to Guraidhoo? Where can you buy a local SIM card?

    • August 17, 2016

      A quick google should tell you the answer to both questions — that’s all I’d do to answer them ;-)

  33. Justamesseduptraveler
    August 27, 2016

    I am seriously Confused i want to stay in an over watervilla… but the transfer charges just kill all of it and most of the hotels book with transfer charges inclusive. Ive found a $762 a night over water at fihalholi but then the only thing is i want some way of planning a drop to someother island after i am done a night in the over water villa or maybe i can opt for another stay at folhudhoo then ask them for a transfer when m done from there.. by the way any ideas about folhudhoo ?? Please help me out i need to book tickets

  34. September 17, 2016

    Hi Lauren thank you for the amazing blog you shared with us who have the same passion on travel and budget woes as well. I actually based on this most of the details of my itinerary to our incoming vacation with my husband as we also do not want to spend the most of our hard-earned money into this one vacation but at least splurge even a one day luxurious experience. I already booked with Olhuveli Resort just a couple of days ago but when I received the booking confirmation through email, to my surprise it was stated that a compulsory boat transfer will be charged to us per person and be collected upon our arrival. I am a bit worried about this as it cost as much as our booked accommodation on a water bungalow but will be doubled as there are two of us who will travel there. It will totally cost us triple! I am curious if you do received before the same booking confirmation and if it did state the same about the compulsory transfer charge for a speedboat and if they actually bill it to you upon checkout? I am looking forward to your kind response. Thank you!

    • September 19, 2016

      Hi Ishi,

      No, it wasn’t compulsory when I visited. They emailed to arrange a transfer with me and I told them I was arranging my own from Guraidhoo, and that was all fine with them. I wasn’t charged for a transfer.

  35. Lizzie
    November 4, 2016

    Bookmarked!!! Excellent blog!! What lux resort did you guys go to? And is there a day pass?

    • November 4, 2016

      It’s called Olhuveli — I mention its name many times in the article :-) Yeah, you can get a day pass.

  36. Sharron
    November 20, 2016

    Hi Lauren,
    My bf and I will be going to Maldives the first week in January. Since this vacation is off the beaten path, there’s not much info. We’d like to split our stay between Olhuveli resort and a nearby guesthouse, but can’t seem to be able to tell which might be relatively close to the resort. Please help!

    Thanks so much,

    • November 24, 2016

      Hmmm, just look at a map. Maafushi island is close, and so is Fulidhoo, and Guraidhoo, and several other islands in those atolls.

  37. Glenn
    November 25, 2016

    Hi, could you tell us which bar at the resort is the one with the free drinks please? Thank you!

    • February 19, 2017

      Ah, you can just ask when you get there. I did this trip three or four years ago so can’t remember the name of the bar.

  38. LY
    December 30, 2016

    Hi Lauren, can you derive more on this?
    “My tip: Take the local ferry ($2 each) to a local island and arrange a transfer with someone there. We ended up arranging the transfer with our guesthouse owner for $20 per person each way.”

    • December 31, 2016

      Sure! We spent a few nights in Guraidhoo beforehand and arranged a transfer with our guesthouse owner. Most guesthouses have their own boats or know someone with one, so they can take you over there and back without you needing the expensive resort transfer.

  39. Maria
    February 16, 2017

    Hi, Lauren!

    We are considering going to this resort for day-use / day tour. Would you know how much is the speed boat transfer to the island?

    How much did you spend for the transfer going to Olhuveli?


    • February 19, 2017

      I spent $40 for a return transfer from Guraidhoo.

  40. Christine
    May 21, 2017

    HI Lauren, I’ve found your blogs really refreshing as I am heading to the Maldives with my family in September. Thanks for you honest accounts! Any tips on surfing and travelling with kids (ages 13/15).

    • May 22, 2017

      Ah, I’m not really the best person to be asking as I don’t surf.

  41. Heather
    May 30, 2017

    Hi Lauren, currently at the resort. Did you experience the monsoon? I’m in a Water Villa and the weather is crazy stormy throughout the night! Reckon they are safe enough or should I move to a beach villa?

    • June 3, 2017

      Hi Heather! They’re totally safe — think about it, they have storms like that lasting for months every single year and it’s not like they have to rebuild the bungalows every single time.

  42. Shubham
    August 7, 2017

    Hi Lauren,
    First of all thanks a ton for such a helpful review.You mentioned that you arranged a boat from Guraidhoo to reach the boat at 20$.I want to ask how did you managed for the return trip? Speedboat??

    • August 7, 2017

      i just called the owner of the guesthouse and asked him to pick me up and drop me back at Guraidhoo when we were ready to leave. It was $20 each way. And then we made our way back to Male by local ferry.

      From what I’ve heard, Olhuveli has made their speedboat compulsory, so you might struggle to do the same these days.

  43. asleih
    August 22, 2017

    Hello Lauren,

    Thanks for your interesting blog about Maldives. We are planning to go there by November this year with our friends and 10 year old son. Since it is our first time, am a bit apprehensive . If we are just going to stay in maafushi, can we still experience the white sand beach and amazing color of the sea. What can we do in Maafushi as bonding with the family. How many minutes is the ferry ride from Male to Maafushi? Thanks for your reply.

    • August 23, 2017

      If you look up the current ferry schedule timetable, it’ll tell you how long the ferry is. I wrote about Maafushi, and when I visited there was a white sand beach and a beautiful-coloured ocean. Check some other travel blogs of people who have been there more recently, as I’ve heard the beach has been dug up and the entire island is swarming with Chinese tourists these days.

  44. Ravi
    September 21, 2017

    Hello Lauren,
    Very beautiful and interesting post. I’m going to Olhuveli resort and will stay in Deluxe water Villa for 6 nights. I’m worry about two things.
    1. In the pics I see there are lot of sea grass near the water villas. Does that bother in swimming?
    2. Also, from pics I see the water lever just down the water villa is really very low. Is it enough to swim directly from water villa?

    • October 21, 2017

      They were actually rocks, not sea gross! It’s pretty shallow water, though, so hard to swim in it anyway. I guess that answers your second question, too!

  45. Joey
    October 5, 2017

    Hi Lauren,

    This article is very helpful. I am planning to go to Maldives sometime in November this year.

    Any chance you can share the contacts of your host / transfer provider in Guraidhoo? Was there no issue with the luxury hotel if you avail of independent transfer other than their transfer from the airport?

    Hope to hear from you.

    Thanks a lot!

    • October 5, 2017

      My transport provider scammed me, so I wouldn’t recommend them. Just email a guesthouse owner on the island to ask for their rates. I’d also double-check with Olhuveli that you can arrange your own transport, as I’ve heard from quite a few readers that they have now made the price of the ferry compulsory for guests.

  46. Seep Kanal
    November 13, 2017

    Hi Lauren,

    My husband and I are headed to the Olhuveli at the end of January and were wondering about the ferry transfers instead of taking the speedboat. Could you please help me with information on any contacts you may have with whom we could arrange transfers through from Guraidhoo/ or a nearby island?

    • December 3, 2017

      The person we used on Guraidhoo scammed us, so I wouldn’t recommend going with him. You can just contact a random guesthouse on a nearby island and ask if they can arrange the transfers for you in advance. The only problem is many of my readers have since told me that Olhuveli has made the ferry transfer compulsory, so you may want to go through the booking process with them first to see if you can get away with arranging your own transport.

  47. Sherri
    January 2, 2018

    Hi Lauren,
    I booked Olhuveli through my own local travel agent for my husband’s birthday, and we loved almost everything about this island and the resort. The only thing we did not like was the “tour guide” that was assigned to us and approx. 8 other people while we were there, as she was pushing the excursions that turned out to be too touristy and not at all relaxed like we had expected. Other than that, everything was absolutely perfect. We got to know the waiter at the infinity pool bar who treated us like royalty, we learned about his family, his religion, his past experiences with other resorts, about the locals. We totally fell in love with our bungalow boy who cleaned our room twice every single day and who waited on us hand and foot, even bringing me gifts, either shells he found on the beach or chocolate…..he was precious. The customer service at the reception was personal, yet not invasive. And the food………amazing. Lots of choices, Asian, BBQ, fresh vegetables, fruits cut right in front of you by the chef into beautiful sculptures just for us. We opted for the all-inclusive version, so all dinners, lunches and cocktails were included, so we drank all day, every day. Good wine was not included, and the house wine that was included was terrible, so we stuck to beer or ordered the good wine. One dinner that we did pay extra for was a special all-you-can-eat lobster dinner served on the beach at sunset. What an amazing luxurious treat that left us with a breathtaking view, 6-star service by the waitstaff, and more lobster than I had ever eaten in my entire life. Spectacular. If we ever go back to the Maldives, my husband has already said he wants to go there, nowhere else.

    • January 8, 2018

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Sherri! I didn’t have a tour guide at all, but I guess maybe they didn’t put all that much effort into us and our stay, given that we were skipping on the transfers and only staying for a couple of days.

  48. rajarathnam
    March 13, 2018

    fantastic information.

  49. Sumon
    January 21, 2019

    Helllo Lauren,
    It was a pleasure to read ur travel articles. It was like as if I were there. I started reading ur blog recently, and surely will contunue as it gives me immense pleasure.

    I am from Bangladesh, and inviting U and Dave to visit here at a convenient recent time. Bangladesh, where traveling is very cheap,has many things to offer. I hope u guys will like it.

    Thank u.

  50. Jeffrey
    May 24, 2019

    Lauren, Thank you for sharing all the detailed information and experience. We are planning to go to the Maldives for our honeymoon. Can you suggest me what is the proper time to go to the Maldives?

  51. Phyu
    August 24, 2019

    Hi Lauren,
    I just made a mistake by booking Olhuveli. I thought I saw it as free cancellation before ××× but it is just one last day of our trip. Thank God! But still I was planning Male’ >> Fulidhoo >> Fihalhohi. Then I saw Olhuveli pop up when I browsed through again and booked Olhuveli wrongly (yes, I do a lot of free cancellation bookings and make sure to cancel them before the date). Anyways, I don’t think I would want to go back from Fulidhoo to Male’ just to catch the boat transfer to Olhuveli (kind of stupid). I have no idea how I should arrange my own transfers if they insist on taking their transfer from airport :(

    Any suggestion? Even if I am able to arrange my own transfer in, I am not if I will be charge the full Usd 229 for transfer. That will be so sick. I just sent inquiry through ago if I can arrange my own transfer.

    Fingers crossed

    Thank you.

    • August 25, 2019

      Olhuveli gave me a quote from Guraidhoo to them, so I’m sure they’ll be able to pick you up in Fulidhoo instead.

      I’d recommend not just booking a load of accommodation online just to change your mind and cancel at the last minute — it prevents other people from staying there and also loses the accommodation owners’ money.

  52. Nipunika
    September 24, 2019

    Loved every bit of your review ❤️ By the way, can you please tell how you managed to get to the island in a private transport mode ? And did the same carrier come to pick you up at your departure? Some websites clearly mention that Olhuveli does not entertain outside speedboats on their property.

    Thank you,

    • October 21, 2019

      I don’t think Olhuveli allows guests to arrange their own transport anymore. I went in 2014 and I think they changed that rule after I found an alternative.

  53. Jai Goel
    November 13, 2019

    Hi I am traveling in December to Maldives with my wife and my son who is 2 years of age.

    I have reserved ohluveli resort for the accommodation, I am a bit concerned on the travel from male to this resort and other places. In addition would like to know any other precautions and suggestions from your side for the visit.

    • November 13, 2019

      What are you concerned about? No need to take any precautions!

  54. Dayna
    February 2, 2020

    That does look like an experience of a lifetime, Mrs Chen. Fish curry sounds good! Glad you both loved it after all. I came to your site looking up Liectenstien. One never knows where life will take you. ;) Happy travels.

  55. Vilie
    February 20, 2020

    Hi, we are going there this year.
    We have done with the hotel bookings and we arrange our own transportation, thus we got information from Olhuveli Resort that they do not allow own transfers. This is a shock news! Because we are budget travellers, so we would like to ask if you had met the same issue.

    • February 20, 2020

      Nope! But I’ve heard that they have since made the transfer mandatory, so you might be stuck paying for them.

  56. Samridhi Chopra
    January 21, 2022

    We visited last year and I’d say things haven’t changed much since your review. So glad you wrote an honest review here. From mix-ups at dinner reservations, to no buggy rides in sight for several minutes (making many people late to their appointments), to hanging up the phone without resolution, and even no follow up to our queries, we faced it all. The food surely was the saviour, and so were the exquisite views (which would have been the case anywhere else as well, I suppose). :)

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