Sandbank dining against a rose-pink sunset, gazing up at thousands of stars in an inky black sky, catching your breath as a manta ray silently glides past in the big blue – the Maldives is a place of magical travel moments. It’s also a place where you’ll find some of the world’s most talked-about hotels, each a coral-ringed private island with its own unique appeal. So how do you know which to choose to make the most of your time in paradise? To help narrow down your search, we’ve picked out three of our island newcomers – see which has the right vibe for you.
“I want to go luxe”
The sleek retreat that is Emerald Faarufushi Resort & Spa is the Emerald Collection’s second foray into the watery world of the Maldives, having already made waves with their debut resort, Emerald Maldives. However, Emerald Faarufushi is far from second best, having both a chic line-up of upscale villas, restaurants and a treetop spa and a prestigious title as a Leading Hotel of the World. Expect ultimate indulgence with so much included in your Deluxe All Inclusive package.
You can dine around in the five restaurants – from live Teppanyaki cooking shows to a Brazilian steakhouse. Plus, there are two bars where you’ll find an extensive menu of creative cocktails; the Eclipse Bar, perched on the jetty, is the perfect place for sundowners. Non-motorised water sports like Hobie-cat sailing and kayaking are also on the house, as well as guided snorkelling trips and an excursion. After a day in the sun, saunter back to your modern villa – either perched on the sand or over the water – to freshen up in the ‘under the stars’ shower or pick a room with a private pool for a late-night dip.
“I want a lively atmosphere”
Despite the name of this resort, The Standard, Huruvalhi Island is anything but. This Miami-meets-Maldives showstopper breaks the mould from the traditional castaway experience with something of a livelier take on paradise. It's a plush, playful hotel and has bags of personality; think glitterballs in each villa bathroom, an overwater glass-floored dance club and legendary pool parties. Although this all may sound like a dream for young-at-heart grown-ups, kids will have a blast too, with an inflatable water park and the Lil' Sharks kids club at the centre of the fun.
But it's not all about the jazzy stuff; beneath the glitz and glamour, there's no doubt you're in the Maldives. Yes, this island is far from the desert island stereotype, but you can still enjoy all the customary island activities that no Maldives holiday would be complete without; good-time food with your toes buried in the sand, water sports, snorkelling expeditions and sublime spa treatments. But Standard? Not a chance.
“I want authentic Maldives”
Each year, new hotels pop up all over the Maldives, each one raising the bar on luxury levels. So, it’s refreshing to find an island that retains its authentic charm and sticks firmly to its Robinson Crusoe roots. Makunudu Island is more about what’s not there than what is. You won’t find any flashy cocktail bars, butlers or space-age architecture. Instead, you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time to what the Maldives used to be, with mother nature being the star attraction. This tiny gem has just 36 delightfully rustic villas scattered along the beach, one restaurant, a bar, and a small spa.
There’s no pool, but that will be forgiven once you explore the excellent house reef on your doorstep, teeming with aquatic life such as reef sharks, stingrays and turtles. Make the most of the free snorkelling equipment and while away the time exploring the reef or head out to explore the nearby dive sites. After dark, continue your underwater adventures with night fishing on a wooden dhoni accompanied by local fishermen, or tuck into a tasty buffet dinner – we love the weekly Maldivian night, complete with a sizzling barbecue and fresh fish. The best way to end the evening? Sit back with a few cocktails and enjoy the dark skies – with no light pollution here, you might even spot the silvered spirals of the Milky Way.
Whether you want to experience paradise preserved or live island life like a celebrity, we’ve handpicked a broad range of resorts that match our high standards. Take a look at our Maldives Indian Ocean brochure for more inspiration and come and talk to the Maldives experts; we’re here to find your perfect island match.
This feature was updated on 20th June 2022. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print. Feature by Heather Flanagan