What do you think of when you think of the Maldives? Beautiful islands surrounded with powder white side, gentle waves lapping at the shore, and most likely those gorgeous villas over the water. There are many people who have an internal battle with themselves when planning a trip to the Maldives… beach villa vs water villa, which is better?!
I used to work for a luxury tour operator that specialised in holidays to the Indian Ocean, I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting the Maldives 3 times. I have stayed in both a beach villa and a water villa so I feel pretty clued up on why you might be finding it so difficult to choose your accommodation type.
Despite overwater villas being synonymous with the Maldives, they were first constructed on the island of Moorea in the South Pacific in the 1960s. The idea started to spread across the world and arrived in the Maldives in the 1980s, making them much more accessible to people in Europe and Asia.
Water villas are the epitome of romance and privacy, making them a popular choice for for honeymoons and couple getaways. Water villas remain rare, and that’s because they can only be built in areas that aren’t at risk of a hurricane. But this also means people want them even more!
What about beach villas?
The beach villa is seen as a little more humble, I guess this is because you can find them in most beach destinations. But does that make them any less special than a water villa? Not in my opinion!
Beach villa pros
Most people come to to Maldives for the beach, and that is the exact experience a beach villa will give you. Wake up and step straight onto the sand, there are no fights for sun beds here, beach villas come with their own.
Talking of their location on the beach, they are also often closer to amenities and facilities on the island, room service is also much quicker!
The snorkelling tends to be better from the main beach, the sea is much more calm and swimming conditions safer. This makes the more family friendly than water villas, in fact, many resorts don’t allow young children in over water accommodation for safety reasons.
Beach villa cons
Beach villas are a little less private as they step straight out onto where other guests are relaxing or walking. Many come with small gardens or offer foliage for privacy so I have never found this to be a real issue.
Water villa pros
One of the biggest pros of water villas is how unique and special they are. It is a true vacation from real life and especially perfect for a romantic getaway.
Due to their location over the water and facing out to see, the water villas are extremely private, it is rare to even see a snorkeller going past most of the time. Overwater accommodation tends to come with a private terrace area for sunbathing, often a private pool, and steps down into the water.
They are incredibly romantic. Guests can watch the sunset from their private terrace or take an early morning dip in the water, or simply just lay and listen to the gentle sound of the ocean below them.
Water villa cons
Did you know water villas move? Sometimes during stormy weather there is a lot of creaking and the sound of water lapping against the stilts can be noisy. This can lull some people to sleep but can keep someone else awake all night.
Water villas are spread out from jetties, usually at one far end of an island. Whilst many resorts provide bicycles for getting around, it can get a little tiring getting too and from the facilities. Room service can often be at an extra charge and if you want a quick drink by your private pool, it will take much longer than if you were staying on the actual island itself.
The cost is also often a barrier to people wanting to stay over the water. The construction costs, servicing and maintenance is much higher with this type of accommodation to that extra cost is given back to the guest.
If you are travelling with young children, most resorts recommend staying on the beach rather than on the water. This is due to health and safety issues with access into the water from the water villas.
Top water villa picks in the Maldives
Wow factor: Gili Lankanfushi
No news, no shoes. Gili Lankanfushi aims to relax you as much as possible. The island offers only overwater villas, there is no option for a beach villa, and boy will they wow you.
The entry level villa suites are perfect for couples. Spread across two floors, the villa suites boast a private rooftop terrace that is very rare to find in the Maldives.
If you’re travelling as a family, there are plenty of options. The family pool villas offer beautiful sunrise views, a master suite, a second ensuite guest room, family room, large pool and a rooftop terrace with dining facilities.
Admire the sunset from your own private water villa with floor to ceiling windows looking out to sea. The accommodation at Patina may be minimalist but it has been designed to offer the ultimate relaxing break away.
Architects have successfully connected the outdoors with the in, the goal was to blend in with nature and create an island that feels untouched.
For kids: Soneva Jani
A haven for kids and adults young at heart, Soneva Jani offers two and three bedroom family water villas with slides straight into the sea. Catamaran nets fringe the freshwater pool, offering a comfy place to rest after frolicking in the crystal clear Indian Ocean below you.
The master suite has its own retractable roof whilst the second bedroom comes with an attached roof terrace. teens can hang out in the sunken living area whilst adults enjoy the goodies in the minibar!
Modern: Ritz Carlton
Enjoy miles of uninterrupted ocean views straight from the Ocean Water Villa at the Ritz Carlton. A curved infinity pool leads straight from the sundeck with an overwater hammock for sunbathing.
A king bed overlooks the ocean from floor to ceiling windows whilst the marble bathroom has a beautiful rainfall shower and freestanding bath tub.
Top beach villa picks in the Maldives
Isolation: Raffles Meradhoo
So far into the Indian Ocean that not even a seaplane can reach it, Raffles Meradhoo really is an escape from life. The pool beach villas on the island offer a soothing marine colour palette, just steps from the pure white sand that encompasses the island.
Indoor and outdoor daybeds mean you can relax whatever the weather, the pool is the cherry on top of the cake. The villas come with their own butlers meaning you have someone on hand whenever you need them, they even provide a packing service!
Chic: Conrad Rangali
Effortlessly chic and lux, the beach villas at the Conrad Rangali are the lead in room type. Nestled between palm trees and leading out onto the beach the spacious villas boast floor to ceiling high windows so you can admire a beach view from wherever you relax.
The open-air bathroom is its own haven, with its rainfall shower and gentle sound of the sea just outside.
Modern: Amilla Maldives Resort
With the option of one bedroom or two bedroom beach pool villas, Amilla Maldives Resort offers accommodations for all types of travellers.
A huge bathroom is attached to a sleek, spacious bedroom, surrounded by its own terrace and just seconds from the sea. The garden hammock offers a great place for an afternoon nap, and when you’ve woken up you can explore the island with your own personalised bicycle.