Yes! The Maldives are a brilliant destination for a family holiday, with kids of almost any age. My only slight hesitation would be when it comes to toddlers. And it totally depends on the toddler.
Are the Maldives good for a family holiday?
The Maldives are renowned for being the ultimate honeymoon destination, but how family-friendly are the Maldives? I’m here to answer all your questions about planning a family holiday in the Maldives. From what the journey is like to what there is to do with kids in the Maldives, I hope you’ll know exactly whether or not you want to visit the Maldives with kids by the time you’ve reached the end of this. If you’re still unsure, ask me your questions in the comments at the end and I’ll do my best to help you off the fence one way or the other about booking a Maldives family holiday.
Flying to the Maldives with kids
There’s no getting around it, the journey to reach the Maldives is a pretty epic adventure from the UK. It’s a 10 hour flight, followed by an onward transfer of some kind to reach your island. My kids luckily travel well on a plane. They enjoy the excitement and manage to sleep a bit, even in economy seats. As we were travelling with a baby we could book the bulkhead on the plane, which allowed us to have a bassinet for him to sleep in. My giant, chubby 4 month old (70 cm tall) didn’t really fit but it was useful to have somewhere he could lie flat on his back and kick his legs around. On our return journey we used the more upright seat on the bulkhead which suited my bigger baby much better, he slept well in it and the 5 point harness meant he was secure.
I’ve found a night flight works for any age child. Babies get their own space in the bassinet, giving parents a bit of hands free time. Toddlers will sleep, eventually, and you won’t have hours and hours of time to fill (which in my experience with toddlers is usually spent walking up and down the aisle) and older kids enjoy a bit of time using the inflight entertainment. My two discovered Angry Birds which kept them amused for hours. Once everyone has eaten dinner and watched a movie, it’s time for a little sleep. Remember you can pre-book kids meals, these are usually served before everyone else and are more kid-friendly flavours.
The Maldives is 5 hours ahead of GMT so you’ll be woken up by the daylight streaming through the windows after a few hours of sleep. This helps to get everyone on the local time zone but it does mean you’ll all be tired. I’ve found that my kids are ok on very little sleep IF they have the excitement of holiday to keep them going. Having said that it’s worth remembering that everyone will have a shorter fuse than usual. To read all my tips for handling jet lag click here.
Once you have arrived at Male you need to transfer to your resort. This is where it gets more challenging travelling to the Maldives with children in tow. After a night flight and most likely, not much sleep, you’re bombarded with the heat and humidity and you must continue your journey.
Male airport is probably not what you’re used to when it comes to international airports. It’s more like some of the very small domestic airports we’ve been to in India. There is no air conditioning at all. The immigration queues were long (and hot due to no air con!). We queued for almost an hour before someone spotted we had a baby with us and waved us through to skip the last of the queue. There are ladies toilets with baby-changing facilities in this area of the airport. I don’t think the mens had baby-change facilities. There are a small number of seats in the room. I sat with the baby while Rich queued for the most part. We didn’t get our buggy when leaving the plane so it would have been better for us to have the sling in our hand luggage.
Once you’re through customs you’re bombarded with the organised chaos of all the resorts greeting their guests. We walked through Arrivals desperately looking for someone with our name or resort name. Mild panic set in as I couldn’t see anyone! Someone asked us where we were staying and much to my relief they said “ah yes, Centara Grand is kiosk 12, over there”. Thank goodness! It felt good to be greeted by our resort to help with the transfer.
Airport Arrivals area also had a Mother’s Room. A dedicated place for mums to sit and feed baby, change baby and go to the loo herself. It’s hot, stuffy, not at all luxurious but in a Muslim country where you travellers might not want to breastfeed in public it’s a helpful facility. I’m happy to breastfeed anywhere but having a comfortable seat away from the busy-ness of the arrivals terminal was actually quite nice.
Departures is a little different to Arrivals. But no less chaotic. Thankfully there was a hotel rep on hand at every point. From meeting us at the sea plane jetty and helping us onto the correct bus to the airport terminal, to making sure our luggage caught us up and accompanying us to the check in desks to helping us carry bags as far as security. When you have your hands full with bags and a baby it is really useful to have someone to help. With the hotel reps bringing all our checked in luggage and even helping carry the hand luggage, check in was an absolute breeze.
Most of Departures is air conditioned as well, so you won’t find it all so hot and humid.
Male airport is an island very close to Male. The entire island is taken up with the airport and there’s a giant bridge over to Male. The only way to reach your resort in the Maldives is via sea plane, domestic flight or boat. Transfers must be pre-booked and are usually booked at the same time as booking your resorts.
In our sleep deprived state with three children and luggage it felt slightly overwhelming figuring out how to get our transfer. We were grateful to be guided over to the Sea Plane check in desk by Centara staff – where we proceeded to wait for over an hour due to an error in the system making everything slow down. Once checked in, our baggage was taken from us and we were guided to a bus which took us to the sea plane terminal. The sea terminal is actually quite nice. There are tables and chairs, somewhere to get refreshments (the fresh coconut was welcome treat) and even a little gift shop. Our flight was called to the gate, where we waited for a little while longer in a very hot and humid room before being called to board.
Maldives Sea Planes with kids
You need to know what to expect with a sea plane in the Maldives. They are a very exciting way to travel. But they’re not necessarily the most comfortable. Each plane carries 15 passengers so while Instagram photos might make it look like your favourite influencer had their own private plane, they probably had to squeeze in with other exhausted, sweaty tourists. The planes are small, hot and very noisy. Very noisy. A child that is sensitive to loud noises might be more comfortable with noise cancelling headphones or ear defenders. Take off and landing are bumpy, and the noise might make it feel a bit scary for some kids. It could also feel claustrophobic for some people, especially when having to wear a face mask as well (thankfully the kids were not expected to wear masks).
It’s also worth knowing that there’s a chance one of your cases won’t come on the same plane as you. This is down to the weight limits of the flights. They will tell you when you reach the terminal if this affects you and which bag or case will be following later. You will have the chance to get some things from that case if you ask. We grabbed the girls swimwear and some nappies so we had everything we needed when we arrived at our resort.
If you have a big budget for your Maldives family holiday you’ll likely have quite a different experience. The Four Seasons for example has a it’s own air conditioned gate at the sea plane terminal and has it’s own beautifully painted sea plane. The sea plane will still be noisy though!
Some resorts have jetties where the sea planes land that are joined to the island. At the Centara we landed at a jetty out at sea then hopped on a boat for a short 3 minute journey to our island. Getting on and off sea planes is precarious. The staff are great at helping you on and off but when holding a baby you need to be steady on your feet. It’s probably not a major issue for most people but worth knowing what to expect.
Sea planes only operate in daylight hours so if you need a transfer at night you will need to get a boat or domestic flight coupled with a boat. Boats can take anything from 10 minutes to 3 hours.
Maldives Family Resorts
Like anywhere, there are resorts that better cater to families than others in the Maldives. We stayed at the Centara Grand which has an excellent kids club for kids age 4-9. There is always something interesting happening and they put on extra activities on the odd rainy day too. This is really handy if you’re travelling in the wet season. You can read my full review of the Centara Grand Island here.
Having said that, even the most child-friendly resort in the Maldives will have it’s hazards for toddlers. The jetties and walkways over the sea rarely have fences. The risk of a wayward toddler toppling over the edge is high. My middle child was a runner and I would have needed to be on high alert almost all the time had we brought her here when she was 2 years old.
You most likely won’t be allowed to book an overwater villa if you have children under the age of 12. At the Centara Grand this wasn’t a problem for us. We loved our beach villa with it’s own pool and views of the stunning water’s edge. Our villa was also our favourite place to hang out during the day so it wasn’t a problem if Max decided he wanted to nap in bed rather than in the buggy. We didn’t have to take turns at being shut up in a hotel room when really we wanted to be outside.
The staff are so welcoming of kids and babies. Everyone stopped to talk to our baby!
Best family resorts in Maldives
Here are some of the best family hotels in Maldives, I’ve chosen them based on facilities for kids and accommodation. Having the right space for everyone to sleep makes the world of difference to a family holiday!
Adaaran Select Meedhupparu – Family Beach Villa (with inter-connecting rooms)
154 km from Malé International Airport (MLE) Accessible via seaplane or domestic flight + speedboat. This all inclusive resort is located in the Rama Atoll, has 8 restaurants and bars, a spa, kids club and plenty of water sports and excursions.
Adaaran Select Hudhuran Fushi – Family Beach Villa – 2 bedrooms
19 km from Malé International Airport (MLE) Accessible via speedboat. Another all inclusive resort much closer to the airport this time. This resort is well known for it’s waves which make sit an ideal resort for surfers! The resort also has a kids pool and kids club.
Centara Grand Island – Luxury Beach Front Pool Villa with 2 bedrooms (this is where we stayed – read the full review here) OR Family Deluxe Water Villa with separate partitioned kid’s bedroom area or Duplex Beach Villa.
Accessed by a 25 minute sea plane journey. This 112 room resort has a range of board options. I highly recommend the Grand All Inclusive. The resort offers a kids club, spa and plenty of water sports. There are also some great shipwrecks nearby for PADI divers.
Vilamendhoo Island Resort – adjoining villas available
Located in the South Ari Atoll not far from the Centara Grand Resort this Isla Resort is also accessible by a 25 minute sea plane journey. This resort has a lovely outdoor play area for kids and a games room for older kids. There are great snorkelling and diving options here too.
Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa – Family Beach Villa with 2 bedrooms
This resort has an epic 1500 sqm kids club with giant outdoor playarea, indoor and outdoor activities, a kid’s restaurant and pool. Serving children from 3- 12 years old this resort offers the ultimate Maldives family package. You can relax in the spa knowing your little ones are well entertained. You’ll have to travel further to get there though. It’s a 40 minutes sea plane journey from Male airport or a 30 minute domestic flight to Ifuru domestic airport followed by a 30 minute speedboat ride.
Covid entry requirements for visiting the Maldives with kids
Please check current requirements as these are subject to last minute changes
At the time of writing this everyone over the age of 1 must have a negative PCR to enter the country. This is another thing that could put me off coming with a toddler. My bigger kids are fine with taking tests but I can’t imagine having to test a 2 year old is fun!
Everyone including babies must have a locator form filled in which will include a photo of the person.
Non-vaccinated children (up to 18) can enter with their fully vaccinated parents.
Things to do with kids in the Maldives
A beach holiday is fun for every age right? The sand is glorious to play in you’re of playing age, spectacular for sunbathing on if you’re after a tan and glorious to look at if breathtaking scenery is your thing.
You also have some of the best snorkelling and diving right at your feet. My 7 and 9 year olds love exploring the sea with a snorkel and so do the grown ups. There are excursions to see whale sharks and manta rays for those who are bolder and confident in the water.
The resorts have kids clubs, pedalos with slides and semi submarines with glass bottoms to see the wonders of the Indian Ocean. There is windsurfing and wake boarding and sunset fishing trips.
We had 7 days on our small resort island and the kids said it wasn’t long enough.
Take your kids to the Maldives
I defy any child or teen to say there is nothing to do here. Babies are coo’d over and accommodated so well in the villas. I reckon you’ll have a fabulous holiday in the Maldives with kids.
But toddlers… hmmm… it depends on the toddler. The Maldives with a toddler could be quite hard work.
I can see water safety being a big issue for little ones that like to do a runner.
The flight might be a challenge (although we’ve done long haul many a time with toddlers) and the sea plane could be overwhelming for a tired little one.
A pre-schooler wouldn’t have been able to access the kids club in our resort but this will vary from island to island. Be sure to check before you book.
The house reefs mean the sea is shallow and calm and the sand is perfect for making sand castles. In many ways the Maldives are wonderful for toddlers, but there are other places where you can get great sand and calm sea without the epic journey and the risk of them climbing out of their high chair and jumping into the Indian Ocean. I would say Mauritius could be a good alternative, you’ll get a similar vibe to the Maldives but slightly safer style of resort and a simpler transfer to your hotel. Read about our Mauritius holiday with young kids here.