The Instagram Guide to the Maldives

Welcome to paradise.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives
(Image credit: Waldorf Astoria Maldives)

The Maldives is known for its warm turquoise water swimming with schools of bright fish and its luxury resorts dotted in that ocean. While the islands have a reputation for attracting honeymooners, families, friends, and even solo travelers are flocking to Ithaafushi, three small islands in the South Malé Atoll a 30-40 minute boat ride from Malé airport. These islands are home to the Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi, a resort offering everything you dream about within the Maldives—stunning villas with private infinity pools, perfect beaches with palapas shading lounge chairs, delicious dining, and a spa that cures jet lag (yes, really!).

Stay in an Iconic Overwater Bungalow

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Although the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi only opened in 2019, it is already one of the most sought-after resorts in the Maldives. Villas capture the beauty of the islands with options like glass-bottom overwater villas, private infinity pools, large patios outfitted with swinging daybeds and hammocks that stretch out over the ocean, and gorgeous views from every vantage point. 

Dig In at Nava Beach Club

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Typically at beach club restaurants, the toes-in-the-sand dining relies on the view and the vibe instead of the food. At Nava Beach Club, though, the food outshines even the mesmerizing turquoise water lapping onto the white sand. For a lighter lunch, try the watermelon and feta salad with mint and candied pistachio. Or take advantage of their wood-fired pizza oven and sample the quattro formaggi pie.

Immerse Yourself in the Indian Ocean

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With water so warm and clear, you’ll find any excuse to spend your days in the ocean. Luckily, you won’t need to try too hard to discover ways to splash around. The snorkeling is fantastic – even right next to the villas – and the water is so calm you can effortlessly cruise on a standup paddleboard. If you want to rev things up, a jet ski from the water sports center is a great way to get a little further offshore, exploring nearby sandbars and reefs. 

Take In the Sunset at Amber

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Since watching the orange sun sink down into the ocean is practically a requirement while on vacation, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi created a purpose-built sunset spot – Amber. As the sky begins to change color over the Indian ocean, sip on Champagne from an extensive wine list to begin your evening along with oysters freshly shucked from the sea.

Shed Jet Lag at the Aqua Wellness Center

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While the resort has several pools, one of them is built for wellness, helping to reduce jet lag. The Aqua Wellness Center pool has a circuit of water jets in varying intensities and temperatures that massage different areas of your body, easing tension and increasing circulation. Head to the 7735 square foot center on your first day in the Maldives to help naturally skip jet lag and refresh from your flight. 

Nosh on Sushi at Zuma Maldives

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The newest addition to the Waldorf Astoria Maldives eleven restaurant concepts is Zuma, one of twenty global locations of the contemporary Japanese concept, known for its Izakaya style dining and upbeat atmosphere. The Maldives location is an overwater restaurant with panoramic views, a robata Japanese charcoal grill, and an open sushi bar. 

Luxuriate at the Spa

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At the Waldorf Astoria spa, your experience starts with a consultation with their wellness concierge to tailor your treatment. As the largest spa in the Maldives, there are lots of options tucked into the winding gardens, but you can’t go wrong with a massage in an overwater bungalow with a view of the ocean floor when you’re lying face down on the massage table. 

Eat a Floating Breakfast in Your Private Pool

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One of the highlights of the dining on Ithaafushi isn’t a restaurant at all: Get a floating breakfast set up in your villa’s private infinity pool. Floating in the warm water looking out over the ocean you can ponder—is it really a continental breakfast if you’re on an island in the Maldives?

Fly Home in a Private Plane Suite

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The flight to and from the Maldives and the United States is very, very long. To not just survive the lengthy flight but also enjoy it, upgrade to lie-flat seats with added privacy. Qatar Airways has a Qsuite (opens in new tab) option in their Business Class that includes an enclosed space, turn down service with pillows, a quilted mattress, and a duvet along with pajamas and slippers to help you sleep on your way home from your trip.

Michelle Stansbury is a San Diego-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, cannabis, and relationships. Misuse of the word "literally" drives her figuratively insane.