Gay Maldives: travel guide with safety tips, gay friendly resorts and more

Stefan Arestis

The Maldives is a stunning country, which we've always dreamed of visiting. Oh those gorgeous idyllic tropical islands with their white sandy beaches… Few places on our planet rival the natural beauty of the Maldives.

We spent 2 weeks holidaying in the Maldives, which included plenty of beach fun, enjoying the beautiful crystal clear water, snorkelling and scuba diving. However before visiting, we were concerned about our safety, as this is a Muslim country with Sharia Law.

Although the situation for LGBTQ locals is not great, fortunately for gay tourists, the economy of the Maldives relies so heavily on tourism. As such pink dollars are very welcome, especially at the large privately resort islands.

Whilst many gay tourists argue that boycotting such countries is more ethical, we strongly believe that going over there and being a visible symbol of the LGBTQ community is going to have far more positive consequences than boycotting. This has been our stance throughout our travels in Asia, which done in a safe, respectful and careful manner can have many productive changes. We explore this in more detail in our article about what it's like for gay couples travelling in Asia and why we think this is very important.

In this article we explore whether it is safe for gay travellers to visit the Maldives and also set out our safety tips and best places to stay in this truly beautiful country.

Gay rights in the Maldives

On the face of it, homosexuality is illegal in the Maldives. The Penal Code works with the Islamic Sharia Law to punish any acts relating to homosexuality through prison sentences, fines, and even lashings.

In practice, homosexuality is very rarely prosecuted, but it goes without saying that this is not the sort of place you're going to come waving rainbow flags and express your love with your partner publicly.

Is Maldives safe for gay travellers?

Whilst very harsh anti-gay laws exist in the Maldives, gay travellers will largely be absolutely fine and have a fantastic beach holiday. From our perspective travelling in the Maldives as a gay couple, at no stage did we ever experience any problems. We do of course respect local customs and avoid public displays of affection, as we did travelling in Russia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

In practice we found the Maldives to be very safe as long as you're discreet and avoid public displays of affection. This is just a natural custom expected in local society – straight local couples aren't affectionate with one another in public either.

With regards to booking a double bed in a hotel, it is worth emailing or calling ahead in advance before booking to ensure they are ok to welcome gay travellers. Most are likely to reply quite promptly confirming they have no problem with this. For gay couples, the most negative attention you're likely to encounter is being confused for brothers…we got that a lot!

For gay travellers who prefer not to stay in a large resort, you can also stay at a guesthouse in the local islands, like Thoddoo. However, in doing so, you need to exercise caution about being overly gay in public and consider booking two single beds if you're a same sex couple.

Enjoying the local 'bikini' tourist beach
Do we really look like ‘brothers'??!!!!

Gay honeymoon in the Maldives?

Despite the harsh anti gay laws, the Maldives is a popular destination for gay honeymoons. Most of the tourism industry of the Maldives is dominated by large private resorts owned by international brands, who each have their own island. These are for the most part expensive, but as a result function as a mini private bubble with its own set of rules. For example, despite being a Muslim country, you can purchase alcohol in these resorts and women don't need to cover up at the beach. It is very unlikely you will encounter any type of homophobia if you spend your gay honeymoon in a private resort

The staff in these resorts will usually be from all over the world, open minded and will have undergone thorough training expected from large brands, which includes welcoming same sex couples. It is in these private resorts where gay travellers will feel most welcome in the Maldives. So much so that gay honeymoons in the Maldives are becoming increasingly popular.

Gay Resorts in The Maldives

Generally speaking, well known private resorts are welcoming towards all LGBTQ couples. In the Maldives, these resort will have their own private island, where they will allow alcohol to be purchased. They will also have plenty of “bikini” tourist beaches and overall be well catered towards the demands of the tourism industry. You can be sure gay travellers are welcome in these resort, though they're not cheap!

These are some of the most gay friendly resorts in the Maldives where you don't have to worry about sleeping in the same bed with your other half:

01

W Retreat and Spa Maldives

Gay Maldives - stay at the luxurious W Maldives Resort in an over-water villa.

Why we love it


  • Perfect for snorkelling
  • Romantic and gay friendly
  • Great restaurants
  • Luxurious spa

We love the W brand. It's well known for being very gay friendly. It's also super trendy with its own nightclub.

Lodgings are set in “house reefs” each with their own private plunge pool and sundeck. The villas offer direct access to either the reef, beach or ocean so you'll be in paradise no matter which one you stay in!

The restaurants on the island are really cool with the names FISH (seafood, of course), KITCHEN (international cuisine) and FIRE (barbecue) while the bar is called SIP. The AWAY spa has many relaxing treatments to enjoy and you can even take yoga or aquaerobics classes. There's also a library and games room, although you'll probably never want to leave your romantic villa…

02

Conrad Maldives

Gay travellers to the Maldives will love the romantic luxury at the Conrad resort.

Why we love it


  • Luxurious and gay friendly
  • Stunning sunset spots
  • Home to underwater Ithaa Restaurant
  • Lagoon Spa Retreat and an Over-Water Spa

The Conrad is a gay friendly hotel located on Rangali Island. It's like being in an oasis paradise, with villas overlooking the reefs – you can literally just jump straight into the water from your private villa!

Set over two islands connected by a bridge the Conrad is ultra-luxurious; the villas stretch up to 500 metres into the Indian Ocean. It's also home to the amazing all-glass underwater Ithaa Restaurant and the Muraka villa with underwater bedroom.

For the ultimate in luxurious relaxation you can choose to have spa treatments in either the Lagoon Spa Retreat or the glass-floored Over-Water Spa. There's also yoga classes and infinity pools, including the adults-only Quiet Zone Pool which features an open-air bar. As well as the underwater restaurant, there are 11 others to choose from, including options for dining on lobster and champagne on the beach.

03

Shangri La Villingili Resort

Stay in a jungle villa at the gay friendly Maldives Shangri La Villingili Resort.

Why we love it


  • Gay friendly romantic haven
  • Delicious fresh seafood
  • Choice of ocean or pool/jungle villas
  • Lots of energetic activities for the daredevils!

The Shangri La's Villingili is a luxurious and romantic gay friendly resort in the Maldives located on Maradhoofeydhoo island.

The house reef is pristine with lots of turtles, tropical fish and even sharks to spot. You can choose from over-the-ocean villas or pool villas which are surrounded by leafy forest and feels like you're in a luxury tree-house!

If you're into golf, the Shangri La boasts the only 9-hole golf course in the Maldives, but there are also many other energetic activities to choose from like surfing, night fishing, wakeboarding, windsurfing or even SCUBA diving courses. When you're exhausted from all of that, you can enjoy a soothing treatment at Chi – The Spa and dine in one of the four delectable restaurants. There's also the option for dining in one of the resort's secret locations such as under torches in the jungle.

Gay friendly guesthouse

The Maldivian government recently allowed businesses to establish guesthouses on the local islands. We stayed at Serene Sky Guesthouse on Thoddoo island. This is a more affordable way to visit the Maldives, without having to spend thousands of dollars a night.

However, this is a more local experience, so alcohol is not available and public displays of affection should be avoided. In addition, as we were not sure about the locals' reaction to hosting a gay couple, we booked two twin beds (and just pushed them together) to avoid any problems.

Overall, we absolutely loved our experience on Thoddoo island. There was plenty of snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities in the reef surrounding the island. Our hotel staff were super friendly, offering snorkelling rentals and also took us out on various water sports for free as part of our hotel stay. This also included one fishing trip which led to a tasty BBQ tuna lunch. Thoddoo island also has a “bikini” beach just for tourists. 

Stefan showing off his tuna BBQ
After our fishing trip, we got to BBQ and eat our tuna

Travel video to the Maldives

Check out our Maldives travel video right here:

Pin this for later…

Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, an activity or your insurance, we’ll earn a small commission. There is never an extra cost to you for using these links and it helps us keep the site going.

Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

46 thoughts on “Gay Maldives: travel guide with safety tips, gay friendly resorts and more”

  1. We kind of hate that we’re always confused as brothers and envious that you are both so unique in your look. Embrace it and own Dimas! That’s my advice 🙂

  2. honestly this comment may be a bit out of place,

    but thank you for acknowledging what it means to queer maldivians to see lgbtq visibility in such an anti lgbtq community,
    there is a difference being made by queer travelers and people that are actively supporting tolerant businesses and attitudes
    and we seek a sort of empowerment through it ourselves 😀

  3. Planing my travel to Nepal lead me here 🙂
    As a Maldivian, I am pleased to see the way this article has been written. You have to really visit Maldives to understand that its not that scary to spend holiday here for people of LGBTQ comunity. especially in resorts, you will not face any problems or discrimination towards you for being gay. of cause, like every other country you visit you must respect their culture!

  4. My new favorite blog, by far. Thanks for sharing your stories, and of course, the pics, which are awesome 🙂 Taking some of your recommendations on Buenos Aires, as my husband and I head there later tonight!

  5. I am visiting Male in December with my significant other. Where do you recommend staying and what can we do as a couple there? I prefer gay friendly hotel and one that serves alcohol.

    • Hey Jess – tbc honest, Male is nothing special and we strongly recommend investing in a bit of time going to one of the nearby islands. Otherwise reach out to the team of Thodoo Island/Serena Guesthouse as they have a partner in Male where their guests stay in city – this company knew about us and were fine with us.

    • Because the money we spend doesn’t go to the government making those laws, but to the local businesses who are trying to support LGBT!! Surely that’s a far more productive way of thinking than boycotting those LGBT communities altogether?!

      • Certainly a portion of the total money you spend in the country is going to the economy/ government. I personally would rather give 100pct of my gay dollars directly to a non profit supporting LGBT rights in Maldives. To each their own though. Looks like a beautiful place.

    • Sadly we struggled to meet any on Thoddoo Island but there were quite a few in Male. We’d recommend using Grindr or Hornet to connect up with locals when you’re there. Enjoy 🙂

      • what risks, if any, do people run into using Gridnr or other apps in a place like this? In other countries, including Russia, gay travelers run the risk of a potential hook-up turning into a violent encounter with people who are using the apps to find and harm gays. Any advice on this in Maldives?

        • Hi Dimas – we never had such an experience using Hornet or Grindr in Russia or in the Maldives. However, we strongly advise using a good VPN so you can browse anonymously. In terms of meeting guys, common sense: go with your gut reaction, always in a public place first.

  6. my boyfriend and i are planning to go to maldives this september. he’s muslim and he’s not even scared for us to visit iran, where i believe socially open gays are hanged in public. i am scared! i can’t hide my gayness. :/ how discreet do we have to be in maldives though? i remember the last time we went to malaysia, another predominantly islamic country, we were given two solo beds on our first night. i don’t want that to happen again.

    • Yeah it’s a tough one. They are more relaxed then Malaysia, but you still have to be cautious. We had a double bed fine in our guesthouse on Thoddoo island – I guess for those that work in tourism they get more accustomed to gayness over the years?

  7. Great to know guys, usually best to be careful but Maldives is such a touristy place that locals must be useful to seeing it all and I am sure you were friendly as usual. That being said, I also spent a night on my way to the resort once and remember seeing no women in the street and being in a truly Muslim place with the men staring at me and such when we went out to find some food. It was a very different side of the country to the one you see on the resorts when, admittedly, you could be anywhere

  8. The pic with this caption “Our reaction to the very backward Muslim Sharia Law rules in place in the Maldives” looks so adorable . .ahahhaha 🙂

  9. My partner and I have visited the Maldives twice (once in 2010 and then again in 2011 because we loved it so much the first time) and we never experienced any issues for being gay. Of course we were fairly discrete (no PDA, etc.) and some locals may have assumed that we were just “friends” or related – although I’m pretty sure that most of the other guests at the resort figured that we were a couple. We absolutely loved it there and we can’t wait to go back again! We’d highly recommend it to anyone. Here is a short video montage from our first visit in December 2010: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhDI6tx_TOg

    • Hi guys,

      Do you reckon it is still safe to go to the Maldives for a gay couple? I can see that the comments on this post go back to 2015 so I presume that is when you guys went? I’m just wondering if situations have escalated since or if it is still the same.
      I’m in the middle of deciding if I want to change location because I have already booked the Maldives but the travel agency said I can change in the next few days.
      @Matt have you guys returned recently? Would love to know anyone’s thoughts who have been to the Maldives this year (2017).

      • Gay travellers we know who’ve been recently raved about it and loved it. Obviously if you’re in an international resort, there’s no issue. If on a local island, then just be tactful and respectful to local traditions (ie don’t go waving rainbow flags in their faces, which I’m sure you wouldn’t do anyway). Totally safe in my opinion 🙂

  10. I am from the maldives, local girls walk around with shorts and tops, they don’t have to cover up it’s not a regulation, no one has been sentenced to death due to gayness, tourist can be gay as much as they want in the resorts.

    • Hi John, thanks for your comment. I guess when you travel to a country where the law says you are illegal and can be sentenced to death for being who you are (whether it is actually enforced or not) gives a VERY bad impression!!

  11. thank you for this! (spotted it over at Towleroad)

    my partner and I have always wanted to go to the Maldives and this “review” will prove helpful, I’m sure, if we ever take the plunge, cash in some bonds and make the trek (we’re from Canada).

    Looking forward to exploring more of your site!

    • Hi Kevin and thanks for your message. You should definitely go, maybe as a side trip from India or Sri Lanka if you’re there to make it cheaper (and that way inclined of course). Glad you like the blog 🙂

  12. What a bummer, I’ve always wanted to visit the Maldives but it makes sense for a tourist driven economy to be open about different travelers to have some personal freedoms when they explore a country. Discretion is definitely key.

  13. That is a shocking story about Ismail – I’m pleased he survived and continues to blog elsewhere. Your blog is such a great resource for other gay travellers, I love reading your insights.

  14. Really interesting post. We knew the Maldives was Muslim, but because of the major tourist industry, we assumed it wasn’t an issue. As visitors to the U.A.E. keep finding out, you can never assume.

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