Staying in an overwater bungalow: Sheraton Maldives review
Even though our trip to the Maldives was decided on the spur of the moment, the resort was not. I carefully went through all the hotel offers the travel agency had – it was a rare occasion when we opted for a vacation package instead of me planning it from scratch and I tried to find the best option that would fit our criteria and also be a good value for money.
In the end, we settled for Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa, where we booked an overwater bungalow with a private pool (check out my Maldives vacation cost blog post, if you want to know the full budget for the trip).
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How did we decide to visit the Maldives?
As I already said, our trip to the Maldives wasn’t really planned. Sure, I had the destination on my travel list (who doesn’t want to visit it?!) however, there was no time frame set for it.
But then I saw a post on Facebook about a direct charter from my country to the islands and it got me interested. Not only it was faster, but avoiding a layover during a pandemic was important for me.
So we carefully weighed the pros and cons and decided to go (you may also want to check out my post on things you should know before going to the Maldives).
Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa review
Since it was our first trip to the Maldives we wanted the overwater bungalow experience, and bonus points if it had a private pool. And even though going through a travel agency meant we were limited to their hotel offers, we did end up finding what we wanted at Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa, which offered good value for money in my opinion.
The five-star resort is located on the private island of Furanafushi, in the North Male Atoll, very close to the city capital of the Maldives.
Sheraton can be reached by a short boat ride (about 15-20 minutes) from Male international airport, which was included in the trip package for us.
As per the hotel: “Shared and scheduled speedboat transfers are offered to all individual guest bookings. Not applicable to certain special rates including associate “Explore” bookings which attract a transfer fee of $85 per person per way”.
Arriving at the resort
Our charter arrived pretty early in the morning (6 AM), but thankfully the boat shuttle service is available 24/7 upon reservation (a perk of being in close proximity of Male). So in less than 30 minutes after landing we were already speeding towards the resort.
As soon as we arrived at the welcome pavilion, we were seated and given a welcome drink while the staff took care of our bookings. Because we arrived that early and our room was not ready yet, we were offered another overwater bungalow that was already free.
However, we chose to stick with our booked one as it was more central, while the alternative was 2nd to last and pretty close to the spa island and I was afraid the view would suffer a bit. Looking back though I kinda regret not accepting, because I checked the view from that spot during our stay and it was pretty good too.
Since we arrived through a travel agency our room was already paid for, so we only had to give a credit card for the deposit (800 USD) and we were given a buggy ride to the Relax room where we could wait until our bungalow was ready.
The relax room had sofas and individual beds where one could even take a nap, as well as two bathrooms. Feeling pretty tired, we soon went to buy a coffee from Anchorage Bar, but only Feast restaurant was opened so early as it was serving breakfast. However, the staff was super nice and brought us orange juice, coffee, and some pastries from Feast. My sleepy self was very grateful!
Afterward, my boyfriend returned to the Relax room to take a nap, while I explored a bit the surroundings. Since I spent the entire flight with an FFP3 mask my nose was still pretty stuffed and the AC inside was too much for me, so I preferred to stay outside.
The resort is spread on the entire Furanafushi island with the majority of the food and drink options concentrated near the main lobby, where the reception is. Between Feast restaurant and Anchorage Bar there is a pool, but it doesn’t have any ocean views. We didn’t use it.
On the southern side, there is a long strip of sand acting as the main beach, near which you can find the cottages and the majority of the deluxe rooms. You can find different swings on the beach, as well as over-water hammocks and a beach bar.
The ocean villas are located on the eastern tip of the island, while the overwater bungalows occupy the northern side. The spa center has its own little island and can be accessed by a wooden bridge.
The southern side of the island (where the main beach is) has a downside though: its views are toward Male. The resort took that into consideration and built a few artificial islands covered with vegetation, designed to mask the city. But of course, you can still spot some skyscrapers above the palms.
Also, I feel like this side of the resort was a bit more lively, so if you are after tranquility and privacy, I’d recommend the ocean villas or the overwater bungalows.
The island is very lush and looks like a well-maintained botanical garden. Tip: Make sure to look up to spot the fruit bats hanging from the tree branches.
You can walk from west to east in about 30 minutes, so it is big enough to not feel crowded, but small enough to not depend on buggies. In fact, we often had the impression that we are a few people there, only to be surprised at breakfast by how full it actually was.
Accommodation options at Sheraton Maldives
Sheraton Full Moon Resort offers a variety of accommodation types from actual rooms to the iconic overwater bungalows. Click here for a virtual tour of both the grounds and the rooms.
Deluxe guest rooms
These are individual rooms in one-story villas, with either a garden or ocean view. Each villa has 4 rooms: two on the ground floor and two on the upper floor.
In front of rooms 301-316, there is a small beach, which I believe was mostly used by the guests from these rooms since on this side of the island the only other accommodations were overwater bungalows.
What I liked most about the Deluxe rooms was the fact that each of them had a little patio with a hanging sofa.
Maximum Occupancy: 3
These can either have a garden front or a beachfront and are located in semicircles on the south side of the island, where there’s the long sandy beach.
My favorite part about them was the semi-opened bathroom, with an open-air shower.
The family-friendly 70mp cottages can accommodate a maximum of 3 adults and 1 child.
Cottages with plunge pool
They look the same as the previous ones, just that they have a small private plunge pool.
The Ocean Pool Villas is a new addition from when the resort was renovated in 2019. They are located at the east point of the island offering the best privacy among all the accommodation types.
Each villa has an ocean view with a decent-sized plunge pool and a small garden with a hammock.
These rooms were my 2nd favorite after the overwater bungalows and honestly, I was pretty tempted to book one. I really liked the huge bathtub, surrounded by glass, and the swimming pool facing the ocean.
There are also some minuses about these villas as well though: they’re the farthest from the restaurants (about 20 minutes on foot) and there’s no beach nearby. It can also be pretty windy in that part of the island.
Maximum Occupancy: 2
They are located in the northern part of the island. Each bungalow has its own deck with direct access to the water and a bathtub with ocean views.
Maximum Occupancy: 2
Overwater bungalows with plunge pool (our room choice)
They are the same as the overwater bungalow, with the addition of a small private pool facing the ocean.
We decided to book an overwater bungalow with a pool for our trip and it was a very good choice. I really loved being able to descend directly into the ocean from our deck and the bathroom had the best views. The pool was also very appreciated, more so by my boyfriend since I preferred stalking the fish in the ocean.
Before our trip, I read a review that said the overwater bungalows are pretty close to each other, so they might be noisy. It was actually not the case at all: maybe we were lucky, but we often forgot the adjacent bungalows had guests too. We also had the ocean for ourselves most of the time.
Water villas resemble the overwater bungalows with pools in many aspects, just that they seem to be a tad bigger, especially on the deck side. There are only 4 water villas available for booking.
They can accommodate 2 adults and 1 child below 12 years, based on the existing configuration.
The suite has two bedrooms on either side and a spacious open-plan living and dining area that connects them. It features an over-water net, a big bathroom with ocean views, and a kitchenette. It can accommodate up to 4 adults.
Food and drinks options
Sheraton luxury resort offers 7 dining options:
- Baan Thai: has (unsurprisingly) Thai food
- Feast: serves international dishes, buffet style
- Anchorage Bar: has sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and salads
- ChopstiX: Chinese restaurant; However, it was closed when we visited (probably because of the pandemic)
- Sea Salt: seafood restaurant; it looked closed as well during our visit
- Kakuni Hut: Caribbean-inspired food
- Masala Hut: served Indian food
We opted for a half board option (meaning breakfast and dinner included) within our travel package and it was the best choice for us since around noon we were spending our time swimming or snorkeling. The meals were served at Feast restaurant.
Since food and drinks are pretty expensive in the Maldives, I’d recommend pre-booking with a meal option. For example, a dinner at Feast restaurant was 90 USD, if I remember correctly, while the cheapest pizza at Anchorage bar was 29 USD.
It is important to note however that the rooms at Sheraton come with free water bottles, that get replenished each day.
Activities at Sheraton Full Moon Resort and Spa
There are plenty of things to do at the resort, from snorkeling and scuba to water sports and romantic dinners.
The first thing you need to know is that Sheraton doesn’t have a house reef. That means that you need to do a snorkeling trip to discover the underwater world that the Maldives is famous for. Sure, you can see fish near the hotel as well (especially around the water bungalows), but not nearly as many.
There are two scheduled snorkeling trips (minimum 6 persons; prices are from 2021), that they offer:
- Reef snorkeling (45 min) – 60 USD
- Snorkeling safari – 80 USD
As with other shared excursions, you’d sign up for the activity you want to do and if the minimum number of people is reached then the excursion takes place. There are also private tours available, but they are far more expensive.
We did both the snorkeling trip and the safari and we loved every second of it: they are basically the same thing, the difference being that the safari has an additional stop on a local island nearby where huge stingrays can be spotted. Snorkeling takes place at the Banana Reef.
We also went on a sunset dolphin cruise and my boyfriend did a beginner sailing lesson on a catamaran.
Other activities you can do are:
- scuba (there’s a dive center on the island)
- watersports like parasailing, jet-skiing, fun tube, banana boat, fly board, sea bob, boat ride, or windsurfing
- sandbank and snorkeling trip
- trip to local islands (were canceled at the time due to the pandemic)
You can opt for several dining experiences and packages. You can check them out here.
We decided to celebrate my birthday by getting a ‘Bubble under the stars’ package (580 USD) that included a romantic dinner on the beach (5-course menu and a bottle of premium champagne), an in-villa breakfast (also with champagne) for the next morning, bed decorations, fruits and Baileys.
Our host also wrote Happy Bday on our table and put Romanian songs during the dinner, which was such a nice touch that made the experience even better. And when we returned, in addition to the bed decoration that wrote “Happy Birthday!”, we also found a complimentary bottle of prosecco and cake.
Other dining experiences include:
- Cooking class: learn about Maldivian, Thai, or Indian cuisine
- Dinner on a sandbank
- Lagoon lunch: have lunch barefoot in the turquoise lagoon waters
- Champagne breakfast
- Hamacland Breakfast/Lunch/Sunset Cruise
- Picnic on Furanafushi Island
- Cocktail masterclass
- Oriental night on the beach
- Degustation dinner at Sea Salt
- Romantic dinner with musician and photographer
Photoshoot on the island
There’s also a photographer on the grounds and you can book a free photoshoot session with him. At the end of it, you’ll be able to choose one free printed photo.
Since we also got engaged on my birthday we opted to buy a photo book. We paid 400 USD for the photobook and all the photos in digital form. We also got the free printed photo.
- There used to be a shark feeding session near Anchorage Bar every day, but they don’t do that anymore (and I think it’s a very good thing).
- We saw no mosquitoes during our stay there (8 days).
- All prices are without taxes, so expect to pay a bit more at checkout.
- You don’t need to exchange money, nor have cash on you: you can pay in USD, by credit card. However, it’s recommended to have some cash for tips.
- The best time to visit the Maldives is between December and April; we went in March and it only rained once during the day for a few minutes. It did rain every night though.
- You can only find alcohol in resorts and at floating bars.
All in all our stay in the Maldives was wonderful and my only complaint was that we had to leave.
Hope you enjoyed my Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa review. And if you want to find out how to save some bucks during your vacation, read my tips on how to visit the islands on a budget.