6 Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling: Ratings + Videos

by | Last updated Apr 11, 2024 | Best Snorkeling Maldives, Hotel Reviews Asia, Maldives

After snorkeling all over the world from Bonaire to Bora Bora, I can confidently say the Maldives has some of the best snorkeling I have ever seen. Expect to see numerous tropical fish, eagle rays, turtles, reef sharks, stingrays, octopuses, eels, and even whale sharks and manta rays. But not every resort has great snorkeling. The secret is knowing which ones have a good house reef. We have been to the Maldives several times scoping out which resorts offer the best underwater adventure. Here are our top 6 picks for the best Maldives resorts for snorkeling.

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Best Maldives Snorkeling Resorts

If you don’t feel like reading through this detailed review, here’s the TL;DR version of my top 6 picks with their snorkeling report card. I assign a personal rating to all of my snorkeling destinations. Please see my snorkel rating key for interpretation.

OUTRIGGER

SNORKEL RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

FISH SOUP: 🐠 🐠

BIG MARINE LIFE: 🐢 🐢🐢

WHERE’S WALDO: 🐙 🐙

UNIQUE: WHALE SHARKS, MANTA RAYS

Le Meridien

SNORKEL RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

FISH SOUP: 🐠 🐠 🐠

BIG MARINE LIFE: 🐢 🐢🐢

WHERE’S WALDO: 🐙 🐙 🐙

UNIQUE: MANTA RAYS

Kandolhu

SNORKEL RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

FISH SOUP: 🐠 🐠

BIG MARINE LIFE: 🐢 🐢🐢

WHERE’S WALDO: 🐙 🐙

UNIQUE: WHALE SHARKS, MANTA RAYS

Mirihi

SNORKEL RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

FISH SOUP: 🐠 🐠

BIG MARINE LIFE: 🐢 🐢🐢

WHERE’S WALDO: 🐙 🐙

UNIQUE: WHALE SHARKS, MANTA RAYS

Reethi Faru

SNORKEL RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

FISH SOUP: 🐠 🐠 🐠

BIG MARINE LIFE: 🐢

WHERE’S WALDO: 🐙

UNIQUE: MANTA RAYS

Baros

SNORKEL RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

FISH SOUP: 🐠 🐠 

BIG MARINE LIFE: 🐢 🐢 🐢

WHERE’S WALDO: 🐙

UNIQUE: MANTA RAYS

Overview of Maldives Snorkeling Resorts

Of course, people will vary in their opinion on the “best” snorkeling experience because the definitions vary. Some consider seeing fish soup and healthy coral as an amazing experience while others may define it as seeing the big marine life like turtles, sharks, and rays.

Also, the time of the year, the weather, and the currents are going to influence your underwater adventure.

There are over 160 resorts in the Maldives! Clearly, not all can be covered, and this is not meant to be a comprehensive list.

My husband and I have personally been to Outrigger Maafushivaru, Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa, and Reethi Faru Resort. I have included three other resorts in this list after hundreds of hours of research trying to find the best snorkeling resorts in the Maldives.

I’m not joking either when I say “hundreds.” I’m embarrassed to say how much time I put into travel planning to make sure we have the best experience possible.

I hope this article gives you a starting point for helping to select the best Maldives resorts for snorkeling!

01- Outrigger Maldives Maafushivaru

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SNORKELING EXPERIENCE

YouTube Video of Snorkeling at the House Reef at the Outrigger Maafushivaru Resort. Note: the whale shark seen at the end was on an excursion from the resort.

If you stay at the Outrigger Maafushivaru Resort, you will see sharks, sharks, and more sharks. Mostly baby and juvenile blacktip reef sharks. Don’t worry, no momma sharks (at least that we saw).

The baby sharks liked to hang out near the shoreline where the wooden walkway leads to the overwater villa with pools. You are almost guaranteed to see them around sunset.

The juvenile sharks are often seen cruising near the pier by the dive shop and along the drop-off at the house reef.

We also saw sting rays, eels, a nurse shark, lobsters, and a great variety of tropical fish.

PRO TIP: Always ask the local dive shop where the best snorkel spots are located. I cannot tell you how many times I see people jump in the water without any direction and then say the snorkeling wasn’t great.

The highlight of our snorkeling was seeing a whale shark! You have to swim quickly to keep up with these majestic creatures.

There are several destinations around the world where you can have this unique experience. We’ve been fortunate to swim with whale sharks twice now. The other encounter was in Mexico.

Make sure to book the Whale Shark Excursion with Outrigger’s dive shop. You might even see a pod of dolphins on your way back as we did.

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REASONS TO LOVE

Outrigger Maldives Maafushivaru Overwater Villa with Pool
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Boutique, Intimate Feel

It is not a huge sprawling resort. We loved the intimate, boutique feel with very personalized service. The staff went out of their way to make you feel welcome but not in a forced way. Everyone seemed genuinely happy.

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Gorgeous Modern Rooms

The overwater villa rooms are stunning with herringbone floors, white marble bathrooms, and large floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the ocean. More details can be found in my detailed resort review.

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Delicious Dining Options

There were plenty of dining options. We particularly enjoyed the Japanese restaurant Koto and the grilled meats at Moodhu Grill. Ask for an outdoor table at Moodhu Grill (as long as it’s not too windy) because you can see the fish below you!

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Do not miss the Navasana Spa! One unique feature of the spa is an infinity pool that hangs over the edge leading you into the crashing ocean below.

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Great Cocktails

This is the first Maldives resort we have been to that actually makes a great cocktail. Maybe we just had bad luck in the past, but usually the ones we order are watered down or are way off.

The Outrigger is the rare exception. Do not miss their happy hour and their Atacama Sour.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Outrigger Maafushivaru Resort is located on a smaller island, which may start to feel a little closed-in if you are doing an extended stay.

There are no kids’ activities, which is something to consider for a family vacation with young ones.

02-Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa

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SNORKELING EXPERIENCE

YouTube Video of Snorkeling at the House Reef at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa 

In full disclosure, the main reason we booked Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa was that we got a deal of a lifetime booking an overwater villa using Marriott points over Christmas. With that being said, I would happily pay for this resort after experiencing the top-notch snorkeling.

I was not expecting much from the snorkeling at Le Meridien. None of the articles I read prior to our trip listed Le Meridien as having a top house reef. However, my husband and I were BLOWN away by the underwater life.

Again, this is another situation where you have to know WHERE to snorkel to see all these amazing sea creatures. The local dive shop will direct you.

I had never seen an octopus prior to this trip, and at Le Meridien I saw too many to count and in shallow water! It was incredible. I wanted to make friends with all of them just like the filmmaker on My Octopus Teacher on Netflix.

In addition to octopuses, we saw many stingrays, porcupine rays (no, their tails did not get chopped off as I thought originally, lol), blacktip reef sharks, turtles, lobster, many larger schools of fish, and probably some of the best coral I’ve seen in a while.

Don’t miss my Le Meridien house reef review for all the juicy details and photos!

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REASONS TO LOVE

Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa Overwater Villa

Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling: Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa Overwater Villa

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Tabemasu Restaurant

Tabemasu is the Japanese restaurant at Le Méridien. We ate here most nights. I love all things Japanese. The sushi was great.

Plus, it was located right by our overwater villa, so we could roll right into bed after our amazing meal.

I have a firsthand honest account of our resort experience including write-ups on all of the restaurants if you want to know more!

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Spa Experience

I love massages. I think healthcare providers should start prescribing them because they are incredibly therapeutic. I have had very unique massages around the world including a wonderful 60-minute $5 Thai massage in Chiang Mai, Thailand and an in-water massage at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

The spa at Le Méridien was another incredibly unique experience. Usually, your face is smashed into the headrest and your view is the floor below.

Not at Le Méridien.

While your muscles are getting worked after all that snorkeling, your lovely view is a glass floor revealing all the beautiful tropical fish below.

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Adults-Only Pool

It took us 36+ hours to get to our little private oasis in the Maldives. We wanted some romance and appreciated that Le Meridien had adults-only areas like the Riveria Pool. 

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THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa is a large sprawling resort, where most guests get around by golf cart. It is very family-friendly with plenty of kid activities, which is something to consider if you are planning a romantic getaway.

The staff is very professional but not as personal as some of the smaller islands. The cocktail program needs some work.

03- Kandolhu Maldives 

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SNORKELING EXPERIENCE

YouTube video of Snorkeling at the House Reef at Kandolhu courtesy of Snorkelling in the Maldives

The house reef at Kandolhu Maldives is consistently rated as one of the best in all of Maldives. Expect to see a huge variety of fish, many sea turtles, nurse sharks, eagle rays, blacktip reef sharks, and beautiful coral regrowth.

If you love snorkeling, I strongly suggest following Snorkelling in the Maldives on YouTube. Their footage is incredible (as seen in their video above).

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REASONS TO LOVE

The Kandolhu Maldives Ocean Villa

Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling: Kandolhu Maldives Ocean Villa

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Very Personalized, Genuine Service

With only 30 villas, this small boutique resort offers very attentive service, often remembering your name and your culinary preferences.

$

Quiet Adult Atmosphere

Although this resort is not labeled as adults-only, it tends to attract couples instead of big families due to its small size. 

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À La Carte Dining

The resort offers excellent  à la carte dining options ranging from Mediterranean to Japanese cuisine. 

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Low-key Luxury

The feel is best described as luxury without pretension. Friendly and relaxed.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Kandolhu Maldives really tries to maintain an intimate atmosphere, so they do not accommodate any children under age 6.

04- Mirihi Island Resort 

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SNORKELING EXPERIENCE

YouTube Video of Snorkeling at the House Reef at Mirihi courtesy of Mirihi Island Resort

Frequent visitors to the house reef at Mirihi Island Resort include blacktip reef sharks, turtles, eels, sting rays, and numerous tropical fish.

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REASONS TO LOVE

Overwater Villa at Mirihi Island Resort in the Maldives

Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling: Mirihi Island Resort

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Shoes Optional

Well, I mean you could wear shoes, but the whole point of this resort is no shoes are required. Just enjoy your feet in the sand.

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Secluded and Off-The-Grid

For those looking to get away from it all, this is your place. No TV. No pool. Just you, a gorgeous beach, and the beautiful turquoise ocean teeming with life.

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Famous Chef Felix

High-quality food from a talented culinary team. 

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Simple Decor and Traditional Island Feel

Very quiet and intimate. No loud music, just great authentic Maldivian hospitality.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Mirihi Island Resort is one of the smallest islands in the Maldives with no TV or pool, which is something to consider if you need nightlife and entertainment. 

05- Reethi Faru Resort 

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SNORKELING EXPERIENCE

YouTube Video of Snorkeling at the House Reef at Reethi Faru Resort

The house reef at Reethi Faru Resort had a few blacktip reef sharks and turtles, but we did not see nearly as many as we did in the South Ari Atoll.

We did see a huge variety of fish as mentioned in my snorkeling report including oriental sweetlip (my favorite fish, which is like a cross between a leopard and a zebra), blue stripe snapper, white spotted pufferfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, triggerfish, Moorish idol, parrotfish, batfish, scorpionfish, unicorn fish, goatfish, and clownfish. Great variety.

If you need help figuring out what you just saw, Fishes of the Maldives is a great resource.

Unfortunately, we missed the Hanifaru Bay Experience because we came during the wrong season. If you happen to be at Reethi Faru in June-November,  do not miss this excursion.

You may have the opportunity to see big groups of manta rays cyclone feeding and sometimes even a whale shark. This is an incredibly unique snorkeling excursion, and I’m kicking myself that I missed it by a month.  This gives me another reason to come back.

If you have witnessed this feeding, please let me know! I would love to hear about this experience.

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REASONS TO LOVE

Overwater bungalow deck at Reethi Faru in the Maldives

Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling: Overwater bungalow deck at Reethi Faru Resort

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Great Outdoor Shower

Alright, I know this may sound like a weird reason to love this resort, but I have a thing for outdoor showers. There’s something about washing your hair and looking up at the night sky. We stayed in one of their water villas, which had a fantastic outdoor shower.

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Great Value for the Money

This resort is stylish, clean, and fresh with chic decor, a size that is “just right,” and offers great value for the price paid.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER

The staff is courteous and kind but not as attentive as some of the other islands we have been to. The meals are good but not exceptional. The cocktails need some work. I found the trick is to ask for an extra shot on the side. For example, order the Pina Colada and float an extra shot of rum on top. 🙂

Again, Reethi Faru Resort offers great value for the money and the opportunity to be close to Hanifaru Bay. Here’s our full review.

06- Baros Maldives Resort 

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SNORKELING EXPERIENCE

YouTube Video of Snorkeling at the House Reef at Baros Maldives Resort courtesy of Snorkelling in the Maldives

The house reef at Baros Maldives is considered more “sharky” compared to the other resort reefs. But the sharks are blacktip reef sharks, which are relatively harmless and usually speed away when they see you. Most visitors also report seeing octopuses, turtles, and a variety of tropical fish.

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REASONS TO LOVE

Water Villa at Baros Maldives Resort

Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling: Water Villa at Baros Maldives Resort

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Cocktails at the Lighthouse Lounge

Listen to live music with a cocktail in hand witnessing some of the most epic sunsets. Yes, please!

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Incredible Staff

The attentive, friendly staff goes out of their way to make your trip a memorable one. It’s clear that the resort is run by a top-notch management team, which is evident by the  3,600+ excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.

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Variety of High-Quality Dining Options

There are three restaurant options with good variety, delicious food, and top-notch service. 

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Romantic, Adult Atmosphere

The resort attracts mostly couples since it only welcomes children 8+ years and older.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER

Baros Maldives is located near the airport.  The only transportation option is by speedboat. No epic seaplane ride, but that also means you are in paradise in 25 minutes starting your vacation right away with a drink in hand. Part of the island has a view of Male but that doesn’t seem to detract from the ambiance for most.

Final Thoughts

We love snorkeling, and the Maldives offers some of the best the world has to offer. Remember, this is not a comprehensive list, but I hope this blog post helps you narrow down some great choices. Happy planning!

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