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Sun Siyam Iru Veli in Maldives [In-Depth Resort Review]

Daniel Ross's image
Daniel Ross
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Daniel Ross

Senior Content Contributor

660 Published Articles 1 Edited Article

Countries Visited: 56U.S. States Visited: 17

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points...
Edited by: Michael Y. Park
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Michael Y. Park

Editor

19 Published Articles 183 Edited Articles

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Michael Y. Park is a journalist living in New York City. He’s traveled through Afghanistan disguised as a Hazara Shi’ite, slept with polar bears on the Canadian tundra, picnicked with the king and que...
& Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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The author stayed as an invited guest of Virgin Atlantic and Sun Siyam Iru Veli. All opinions are the author’s own, and neither the airline nor the hotel had input in any part of this review.

I’ll never forget waking up on Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner just before landing in Maldives for the first time.

The tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean is one of the most aspirational destinations on the planet. I was lucky enough to experience it after Virgin Atlantic invited me to celebrate the launch of the U.K. carrier’s service to Malé (MLE) from London Heathrow (LHR).

Virgin teamed up with the Maldivian-owned Sun Siyam Resorts to showcase the best in Maldivian hospitality and beauty during our stay.

During the main 5-day press trip in November and December 2023, we spent 1 night at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi and 2 nights at Siyam World before most of the group took their daytime Virgin flight back to London.

I was one of the lucky ones who got to extend their stay and experience a bonus Sun Siyam property. For me, that was Sun Siyam Iru Veli, and what a way it was to spend my last few days in paradise!

Booking Sun Siyam Iru Veli

Sun Siyam Resorts can be booked directly at sunsiyam.com, with an online travel agency like Booking.com, or as part of a package with holiday companies such as Virgin Atlantic Holidays.

Depending on budget or preference when it comes to the package type, at Sun Siyam Iru Veli, you can choose from bed and breakfast, half board, full board, or the premium all-inclusive package.

The resort has 8 different villas to choose from:

  • Beach Villa with Pool
  • Ocean Villa with Pool (overwater)
  • Dolphin Ocean Villa with Pool (overwater)
  • Grand Beach Villa with Pool
  • Beach Residence with Pool
  • Ocean Residence with Pool (overwater)
  • Two Bedroom Ocean Residence with Pool (overwater)
  • Two Bedroom Beach Residence with Pool

Iru Veli is a great option for families, as all room types can accommodate adults and 2 children. This means that, for a family of 4 in a Beach Villa with Pool and all meals included, the cost can work out to be less than $1,000 per night in the off-season.

Some packages include free seaplane transfers, such as when you stay more than 7 nights.

If you don’t get a free transfer, round-trip flights to the island are an additional $495 for adults and $297 for children.

Hot Tip:

When booking a stay at Sun Siyam Resorts, we’d recommend using a credit card that rewards you for spending on travel, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel.

Getting to Sun Siyam Iru Veli

On arrival at Malé (MLE) from an international flight, guests are greeted by a Sun Siyam team member who escorts them to the Trans Maldivian Airways check-in desk. The airline is the largest seaplane operator and flies passengers to over 80 resorts around Maldives.

Trans Maldivian Airways check in
The Trans Maldivian Airways check-in counter.

Even hand luggage is weighed here, as the seaplanes are so small and every extra pound makes a difference.

Next, we were taken by minibus to the dedicated seaplane terminal, which is a 10-minute ride from the international airport.

Many of the resorts have their own lounges for relaxing, refreshing, and refueling after what was probably a long journey. Sun Siyam Resorts has 2 lounges. Both were spacious, with lots of comfy seating and complimentary hot and cold snacks and drinks.

My favorite part was the sweeping terrace that boasted views over the seaplane terminal and Malé’s international runway.

Singapore Airlines landing at Male
Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 touching down at Malé.

Only a few resorts have seaplanes with unique liveries, and Sun Siyam is one of them. This made for a bright contrast to the red-and-white liveries that adorned the bulk of Trans Maldivian Airways’ aircraft.

Sun Siyam Resorts sea planes in the Maldives
Sun Siyam’s special livery seaplanes.

I could have spent my entire stay out on the terrace, but I was tempted inside by the 10-minute complimentary back and shoulder massage.

Iru Veli Male lounge massage
Massage o’clock.

When it was time to board, a member of the team came and found us and took us to our aircraft.

Trans Maldivian seaplane Maldives
I’ll never forget my first time in a seaplane!

After a quick safety briefing, we were handed bottles of water and earplugs. The noise of the propellers was deafening!

Maldives seaplane ear plugs
If you’re sensitive to loud noise, I’d recommend packing earplugs in your carry-on in case there aren’t any on board.

Relaxed and ready to go, we departed in a northerly direction before a sharp almost 180-degree turn that gave a cracking view of Malé’s new airport terminal.

Iru Veli Male Airport
Malé airport from above.

After a smooth flight with spectacular views of the Maldivian atolls, we touched down at Iru Velu “international airport” around 50 minutes later.

Iru Veli seaplane
Arrival at Iru Veli “international.”

Deplaning on a floating wooden dock in the middle of the sea was a memorable first for me.

Iru Veli seaplane
Touchdown at Iru Veli.

Check-In

A small boat took us the short distance to the welcome jetty, where we received a quintessentially warm Maldivian welcome from members of the Iru Veli team.

Iru Veli welcome jetty
The welcome jetty.

Rather than complete check-in at reception, I was invited to refresh with a welcome drink (nonalcoholic) and a cold towel while filling out the necessary forms at Chemistry Bar.

Iru Veli pool and seating
The view from Chemistry Bar while checking in.

The small, open-air reception area was open 24/7 and was where we would head to complete checkout on our departure day.

Iru Veli reception
Reception.

Amenities

Being on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean might not seem like the ideal vacation for people who need to keep busy.

However, there is so much to do on Iru Veli to keep you entertained.

Here are some of the activities and experiences I enjoyed the most.

Beaches

Let’s start things off by taking you on a tour of the island.

On my last afternoon, I went for a leisurely stroll to capture some final images.

A left turn out of my villa and a few dozen steps led to this wooden jetty that headed over to the staff island (the tree-covered area straight ahead), the dive center just off to the right, and sunrise overwater villas to the left.

Iru Veli island
The southernmost tip of the island.

No matter where I roamed, it was rare to come across more than a handful of other guests.

Iru Veli overwater villas
I miss the hammock life.

This meant that hammocks and quiet spots to relax were abundant around the island, even at high occupancy levels.

Iru Veli island
Not another person to be seen.

For real desert island feels, I headed to the opposite end of the island, facing northeast.

Iru Veli island
A true desert island paradise.

Facing west to maximize on sunsets was the island’s widest stretch of beach, where I found most of the restaurants and the welcome jetty.

Iru Veli island beach
A dreamy afternoon stroll.

I highly recommend taking a stroll down this beach just before sunset as the light of golden hour works its magic.

Iru Veli island
Golden hour setting upon the sunset side of Iru Veli.

The island is very small, so getting around was easy. For shelter from the sun, there was a sand-covered track with overhanging trees running through the middle of the island.

Iru Veli island
A snapshot of Iru Veli staffers hard at work.

Alternatively, the island’s perimeter is 100% beach-lined, meaning I could’ve lapped the whole island with my toes dipping in the Indian Ocean.

Pool at Chemistry Bar

Chemistry Bar is where the large main pool and a smaller one for kids are.

Iru Veli pool and bar
The pool at Chemistry Bar.

It’s also beachfront, so I could flip-flop between the pool and the sea as I wished.

Iru Veli beach bed
Are you team beach or team pool?

Besides the comfy padded sun loungers, the daybeds were the perfect place to cozy down with a book and your plus-one by your side. Ah, one day ….

Pool at Fresh Water Bar

The infinity pool at Fresh Water Bar, reserved strictly for adults, was also right on the beach. Never mind the sun loungers and daybeds, the hammock wins every time for me.

Iru Veli beach hammock
The infinity pool at Fresh Water Bar.

I was told Fresh Water Bar is the best place on the island to watch the sunset. So, naturally, I grabbed an Aperol spritz and watched the spectacle unfold.

Iru Veli island pool sunset
A sundowner in paradise.

The spectrum of burnt yellow and orange was off the charts.

Iru Veli island pool sunset
This photo doesn’t do it justice.

OK, last one.

Iru Veli island pool sunset
What a show!

Gym

The gym, while on the small side, had everything I needed for a decent workout.

Equipment included a weights bench, dumbbells, medicine balls, a rope pulley machine, and cardio machines.

Iru Veli Go Fit gym
The gym.

Whale Shark Excursion

If you’re up for an adventure, then I’d definitely recommend the full-day whale shark excursion.

The boat picked us up bright and early, and I was excited for my first time open-water snorkeling.

Iru Veli boat
Ready for my snorkeling debut.

The crew offered coffee and breakfast snacks such as pastries and fruit as we made our way about an hour out to the snorkeling spot.

Iru Veli snorkeling snacks
The pains au chocolat were surprisingly good.

Our guide explained where we were headed and what critters of the deep we could expect to see.

We headed north to where there had been reported sightings of whale sharks. Unfortunately, our luck was out. Instead, we got up close and personal with a squadron of manta rays.

Iru Veli snorkeling map
In search of whale sharks!

We ate healthy boxed lunches in the early afternoon to keep our energy levels up.

Iru Veli snorkeling lunch
We certainly didn’t go hungry.

Our final stop was this deserted island, which was surrounded by shallow warm water and an abundance of corals.

Iru Veli snorkeling deserted island
A desert island all to ourselves.

There were so many fish!

Snorkling in the Maldives
On the hunt for Nemo.

After battling with a low-key fear of the water and struggling to get to grips with the snorkeling apparatus back with the mantas, I felt much more comfortable snorkeling in shallower waters.

Iru Veli snorkeling
A great day was had by all.

Sun Spa

No trip to Maldives would be complete without a spa treatment.

An added perk of booking a Premium All-Inclusive Signature package is that you get a $100 spa credit per adult.

Iru Veli Spa entrance
Welcome to the Sun Spa at Sun Siyam Iru Veli.

Some 60-minute massages including Balinese, Thai, Hawaiian, classic, and more, cost $188.

Iru Veli Spa
Nothing says relaxation like an overwater spa.

When using the spa credit, that comes to just $88 for a 60-minute spa treatment in paradise.

I had the dreamiest 45-minute foot reflexology (also $188).

Iru Veli spa room
Inside a treatment room at Sun Spa.

Water Sports

Nonmotorized water sports such as paddle boarding and snorkeling are free for all guests.

For a fee, you can opt for more thrilling experiences — waterskiing being one of them.

Fellow press trip friend Deb was clearly no stranger to high-octane action on the high seas.

Iru Veli jetskiing
Deborah absolutely smashed it.

Whereas I struggled to stand up for long enough to get a decent photo.

Iru Veli jetskiing
No luck for this beginner.

Grand Beach Villa With Pool

After trying out overwater suites at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi and Siyam World, I was excited to learn my final stay would be in a Grand Beach Villa with my own private pool.

There are only 5 of this room category on the sunrise side of the southernmost tip of the island. Thanks to a leafy walkway, the main entrance to the villa was super private.

Iru Veli bedroom privacy
The walkway to the villa.

Bedroom and Living Space

The centerpiece of the room was this huge king bed.

Iru Veli bedroom bed
“Welcome home.”

And it was perfectly positioned for views out over the beach toward the sea.

Iru Veli bedroom view
A bed with a view.

The double-height ceiling made the room feel extra spacious. It would be great for families.

Iru Veli bedroom space
My Grand Beach Villa felt light, bright, and airy.

As lovely as the room was, I didn’t spend much time in it.

When I wasn’t out and about exploring the island, I gave it a good inspection and can confirm it had everything you could ask for.

The large wardrobe housed plenty of hangers, robes, and an iron and ironing board. Life jackets were also available.

Iru Veli bedroom storage
Inside the wardrobe.

As I was on an all-inclusive package, minibar items in the room were complimentary and replenished once daily.

In the hot drinks corner was a kettle with a selection of teas and an espresso machine with unbranded coffee pods, sugar, sweeteners, and creamers.

Iru Veli bedroom hot drinks
Hot drinks.

On the same countertop, which could also be used as a desk, were 2 bottles of water, a half bottle of red wine, a small savory snack pack, a bottle opener, a QR code for in-room dining, and a price list for minibar items.

I could drink unlimited still water refills in environmentally friendly glass bottles.

Iru Veli bedroom minibar
Glass bottles are always a huge win over plastic.

Underneath was the fridge, which was stocked with soft drinks, Lion Lager, iced tea, vanilla iced coffee, white wine, sparkling wine, and 2 Mars Bars.

Iru Veli bedroom minibar
Inside the minibar.

If your rate didn’t include the minibar, you had to pay for a selection of items: $8 for beer, $6 for Coke, $7 for a Mars Bar, and $26 for a demi (375 milliliters) of red wine.

Bathroom and Private Pool

Of the little time I did spend in the room, 99% of it was spent in this palatial outdoor bathroom with a private pool and sunbathing area.

Iru Veli bedroom bathroom
I loved this bathroom so much.

This gorgeously designed space completed the 1,450-square-foot (135-square-meter) villa.

Iru Veli bedroom bathroom by night
The villa’s private pool by night.

If I’d been staying with young kids, the enclosed space meant I wouldn’t have had to worry about them running off anywhere.

Iru Veli bedroom pool close up
A private oasis.

Personally, I preferred having the pool within the walls of the villa. It felt exclusive and luxurious and offered 100% privacy compared to a pool out front on the beach.

This room would have been perfect for a romantic getaway, as you’d never have to leave the room or see another human besides your partner … except when receiving your pool breakfast and in-room dining, of course.

Iru Veli bedroom bathroom and pool
You’d never have to leave your room.

The tub in the center of the bathroom slotted perfectly into the sleek, simple, and modern design of the bathroom.

Iru Veli bedroom bathroom by night
The bathroom at night.

I’m happy to report that Sun Siyam used refillable bottles for the in-shower amenities. The shower gel and combination shampoo and conditioner smelled great and were of high quality.

Iru Veli bedroom bathroom amenities
Refillable shower amenities: We love to see them!

The bathroom was also home to the usual beauty amenities suspects, like a dental kit, shaving kit, shower cap, vanity kit, sewing kit, comb, and feminine products.

Iru Veli bedroom bathroom amenities
Beauty and hygiene amenities.

And there you have it: Grand Beach Villa 504 was a lovely home for 3 nights. I would have loved to have had more time on the island so I could have made more use of the private pool!

This is the second entrance to the villa, with direct access to the beach.

Iru Veli room 504
Villa 504 from the beach.

Food and Beverages

The island had 6 bars and restaurants offering a variety of cuisines from around the world:

  • Aqua Orange, a buffet restaurant
  • Chemistry, the main bar
  • Fresh Water, an adults-only pool bar
  • Grouper Grill, an outdoor seafood restaurant
  • Roma, the Mediterranean restaurant
  • Wine Cellar, an overwater wine bar

The only location I didn’t try out my whistle-stop whirlwind itinerary was Wine Cellar.

In-suite dining was available 24/7, and guests could request service anywhere around the island (a bit like the breakfast on the beach) from 7 p.m.

Aqua Orange

Hours
Breakfast: 7 to 10:30 a.m
Lunch: 12:30 to 3 p.m.
Dinner: 7 to 10 p.m.

The main restaurant was Aqua Orange, a buffet style restaurant serving a variety of dishes to suit every palate. I particularly enjoyed the wide selection of breakfast foods each morning.

Iru Veli F n B buffet
The main buffet area at Aqua Orange.

As well as the usual Western dishes, there were plenty of Maldivian and South Asian dishes to try, like this Maldivian reef fish curry.

Iru Veli F and B reef fish curry
Maldivian reef fish curry.

I’ll be honest, fish curry didn’t appeal to me first thing in the morning, but I’m sure it was delicious.

I’m aware that it’s hypocritical of me to say right after that comment, but the great thing about a buffet like this is that you can try dishes you’d never heard of before, such as this kulhi mas, a spicy tuna dish that Maldivians like to eat for any meal of the day.

Iru Veli F and B kulhimas
Kulhi mas.

Seating was in 3 main sections, with an adults-only area farthest away from the main buffet.

Iru Veli F n B main restaurant
The adults-only section.

The backdrop of the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean made mealtimes at Aqua Orange that much more enjoyable.

Iru Veli F n B restaurant
A restaurant with a view.

In the evening, it wasn’t just any ordinary buffet. Chefs were on hand to make specialty local and international dishes.

The night I ate at Aqua Orange, I tried freshly made riha folhi, a Maldivian crepe filled with spicy tuna. You might have guessed it already, but tuna is a staple in the Maldivian culinary scene.

Iru Veli F and B chef
I’ll have 2, please.

The dessert section also provided a great sample of sweet treats that I’d never heard of before.

Iru Veli F and B ramba pirini
Ramba pirini is a semolina dish with cream, sugar, condensed milk, and cinnamon-cardamom powder.

My favorite was this pumpkin pudding!

Iru Veli F and B barabo pudding
Pumpkin pudding, also known as barabo pudding.

Chemistry Bar

Hours: 8 a.m. to midnight

Guests who had the all-inclusive package get to enjoy the bar’s afternoon snacks from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. every day. Savory snacks during my visit included miniature Thai fish cakes; polenta squares with roasted pepper, onion, and feta; open chicken sandwiches, and a veggie sandwich.

Iru Veli buffet
Savory snacks.

There were, of course, sweet treats, too.

The mini doughnuts and chocolate cupcakes were winners with me.

Iru Veli F n B buffet dessert
Sweet snacks.

Grouper Grill

Hours
Lunch: 12:30 to 3 p.m.
Dinner: 7 to 10 p.m.

If you like a romantic dinner setting, then look no further than Grouper Grill. With my feet in the sand, I listened to the waves gently lapping at the beach while tucking into some of the nicest fish and seafood I’d ever eaten.

Iru Veli F n B beach dining
Grouper Grill’s beach setting.

I enjoyed the freshly cooked chicken and fish straight off the grill on beach barbecue night.

Iru Veli F n B beach dining chef
Thank you, chef Rabbi.

Roma

Hours: 7 to 10 p.m.

My third and final evening meal was at Roma, the only overwater restaurant at the resort.

Iru Veli F n B restaurant
Walking down the jetty heading to Roma (on the left).

I had a table overlooking the water, which was illuminated so you could watch the marine life swim by.

Iru Veli restaurant romantic dinner for 1
The last supper.

I enjoyed a heavenly pasta meal with my new press trip pal friend Deb. Sometimes a simple bowl of pasta just hits the spot.

Pasta at Roma Iru Veli Maldives
Pasta for 2.

Breakfasts for the ‘Gram

Have you even been to paradise if you haven’t had a floating breakfast?

Pool breakfasts can be arranged at all villas with a pool for $82. I tried it in my villa.

Iru Veli F n B floating breakfast
In my influencer era.

If a floating breakfast isn’t your thing, then I recommend this cute breakfast setup on the beach, which I also tried. Make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat, as it is so hot even early in the morning.

Iru Veli F n B Lagoon Breakfast
A perfect setting for a romantic breakfast for 2.

There was so much food (more than enough for 2), and it was all so good considering it had been made in the restaurant and brought to the beach.

Iru Veli F n B Lagoon Breakfast
Fruit, eggs, crèpes, pastries, and pancakes.

The experience will set you back $112 for 2 in addition to any food and beverage package you might have.

Iru Veli F n B Lagoon Breakfast
Not a bad spot for a morning espresso.

After trying both breakfast scenarios, I have to say I much preferred it on the beach.

Service

I was lucky enough to meet members of Sun Siyam staff from several resorts, from waitstaff right up to management.

As I was on a press trip, I got to spend a lot of time with certain members of staff much more so than you would when visiting a Sun Siyam resort as a regular guest.

That said, the work ethic and fun-loving nature of the Sun Siyam staff was a pleasure to experience myself and witness with other hotel guests.

Iru Veli goodbye
It’s never easy saying goodbye.

I’d like to give a special shoutout to Naufal. He was my ambassador throughout my stay and did everything in his power to make sure I had the most memorable time. Thank you!

Iru Veli Naufal
Hopefully see you again sometime, Naufal.

Final Thoughts

The last few days of my first-ever trip to Maldives, spent at Sun Siyam Iru Veli, will sit firmly in my core memories forever.

I’m not usually a fan of all-inclusive resorts, but Iru Veli showed me a completely different side — a side I cannot wait to experience again.

I loved the variety, and most importantly, the quality of the food. It far exceeded that of most all-inclusive hotels I’ve stayed at before.

I didn’t once feel like I was stuck in a resort, as there was always something to do. Even though the island was fairly small, it never seemed overcrowded — even at mealtimes.

Finally, Sun Siyam Iru Veli is the definition of affordable luxury, making a visit to the Maldives attainable for the most modest budgets.

Iru Veli sunset
The hammock life chose me.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many Sun Siyam Resorts are there in the Maldives?

There are 5 Sun Siyam Resorts in Maldives.

Which island is Sun Siyam Iru Veli on?

Sun Siyam Iru Veli is on an island in the Dhaalu Atoll.

How do you get to Sun Siyam Iru Veli?

Seaplanes are the only way to get to Sun Siyam Iru Veli.

How far is Sun Siyam Iru Veli from Malé?

The journey from Malé takes around 45 to 50 minutes by seaplane.

Daniel Ross's image

About Daniel Ross

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points Guy, and more.

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