GMT + 5 hours
Idyllic island resorts in the Indian Ocean
Evoking images of white sands, swaying palm trees and crystal blue waters, this is the quintessential picture-perfect holiday – with an added sprinkling of something special. Far-flung and exotic, it's the ultimate luxury beach escape. We’ve been offering holidays here for over 20 years, and there’s a reason that it’s our most popular destination.
Best time to visit
• Temperatures in the Maldives vary little throughout the year, averaging 25-30ºC.
• May to July and September to November have a higher rainfall with some cloud, but still see plenty of sunshine amidst short downpours.
• December to April is drier and hotter.
In essence, this is the place for relaxation. Expect to lose all sense of time, what day it is and what’s going on elsewhere. This is the home of ‘no news, no shoes’ after all.
Savour gourmet dining, spectacular diving and the most enchanting ocean sunsets. And if the stunning views aren’t enough, the activities and experiences on offer range from cultural homestays to desert island trips and a plethora of watersports.
The underwater world here has been the subject of countless documentaries – the highlight perhaps being the chance to drift alongside manta rays (best seen between June and October).
Many of the islands are surrounded by wonderful coral reefs, often with fantastic marine life just moments from the shore. So if an all day diving trip isn’t for you, look out for hotels which have a house reef accessible directly from the beach. And if it’s man-made and underwater, then chances are that it’s a ‘world first’: there’s an underwater spa, underwater music club and underwater restaurant, all found on different islands.
The choice of accommodation in the Maldives is impressively diverse – from tiny hideaways with just a handful of rooms to larger, all inclusive resorts with abundant facilities; authentic, rustic retreats to cool and contemporary hotels; and simple beachfront bungalows to the most exclusive overwater villas. Sand floor bars, overwater restaurants, open-air bathrooms and – at the luxury end of the scale – private Jacuzzis or plunge pools are archetypical of a Maldivian resort. Aside from on the capital, Malé, there are no high-rise buildings to blot the landscape here. And boarding a speedboat or seaplane to transfer to your hotel is far more exciting than the everyday taxi ride.
It's no surprise that the Maldives is a favourite with honeymooners - romantic candlelit dinners under starry skies, secluded hideaway accommodation and palm-fringed beaches come as standard. If that isn’t enough, exclusive upgrades, seaplane transfers, private lounges and bespoke experiences make for an extra special honeymoon.
And, although it might not be the obvious choice for families, the Maldives is a natural playground and a number of family-friendly resorts offer kids’ clubs, activities and family beach accommodation – some with double-storey villas or two adjoining bungalows.
Recommended Maldives Hotels
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Stepping off a speedboat onto a jetty floating above the Indian Ocean – ice-cold drink in hand, encircled by abundant marine life in crystal clear waters, the glorious soft sands of a private island awaiting you – has a serious ‘wow’ factor.
The Maldives just feels exclusive. Even the value resorts have an air of seclusion hard to find elsewhere in the world. Seven different islands later and I’d still return in a heartbeat.