Each of our handpicked resorts sits on its own white-sand island, so you’re guaranteed the things most of us crave from our next holiday: privacy, peace and postcard-perfect surroundings. Imagine a total change of scenery, far away from the everyday, where you’ll feel cocooned in a private island retreat and ready to embrace the famous Maldivian motto: ‘no news, no shoes’.
Snorkelling and/or diving is a must in this part of the world. As well as year-round clear warm waters, excellent visibility and otherworldly creatures like hammerheads, manta rays and whale sharks, there’s also a level of ease that you won’t find elsewhere. A house reef surrounds most islands, so you can dip under the waves to snorkel with sea turtles and bright tropical fish right from the beach. At Sandies Bathala, you can even go diving straight from the shore.
The Maldives is a dreamy couple’s escape and it’s our top pick for a beach honeymoon. Here, you can ramp up the romance with candlelit dinners under starry skies, movie nights on the beach, champagne picnics on tiny sandbar swirls and boat trips to spot dolphins at sunset. Choose a smaller island such as heart-shaped Kandolhu Maldives for an intimate vibe and plenty of time-for-two in your plush pool villa.
The islands have long offered delicious boat-fresh seafood and sizzling steaks served in pinch-yourself locations. In the past few years, resorts have taken things up another notch; dining experiences now include tasty meat-free dishes at Reethi Faru’s Veggie ‘n’ Vegan Restaurant and flavours connected to the nation’s roots at Ba’theli on Milaidhoo Maldives. Plus, with settings over – and under – water, you’ll be talking about your meals long after your holiday. Hurawalhi Island Resort and Conrad Maldives Rangali Island are home to surreal glass restaurants located below the ocean’s surface, where you can watch sharks glide by as you eat. For the most variety, we recommend the Select All Inclusive package at Kuramathi Maldives – you’ll get to dine at a whopping nine à la carte restaurants, including the Island Barbecue on the beach, which serves up flambéed feasts alongside greens grown in the island’s hydroponic garden.
Taking time out is easier when you’re in paradise. Me-time in the Maldives can be sunrise yoga sessions on a floating deck, soothing spa treatments tailored to you, or simply settling down on a sunbed to finally finish that book. For all-out battery recharging, head to Kagi Maldives Spa Island, a chic wellness retreat focusing on mindfulness and self-care. It’s home to the floating 1500-square-metre Baani Spa, where guests can enjoy everything from sound healing to clean eating, tai chi and underwater meditation.
A Maldives holiday doesn’t have to be lazy days by the pool. Alongside the first-class snorkelling and diving (you can even dive at night for a thrilling new view of the underwater world), you can windsurf, parasail and try out the latest high-tech watersports, like X-Jetblades that propel you out of the ocean. For more mindful moments, slow the pace with SUP boarding or kayaking around the lagoon. On some of the larger islands, there are tennis courts and football pitches for memorable matches – resort staff love a good game of football with guests.
These islands are natural adventure playgrounds, with shallow lagoon waters and swathes of soft sand that will keep kids happy for hours. Family-focused resorts also have age-based kids’ and teens’ clubs, kids’ menus and dedicated family villas, leaving you relaxed to make memories together on family treasure hunts and dolphin-spotting cruises. Bag a roomy Two Bedroom Beach House at Kuramathi Maldives or a Double Storey Beach Villa at Constance Halaveli and there will be space for all the family – perfect for a long-awaited multi-generational getaway.
Splash out on a water villa on stilts and you’ll have front-row views of the sparkling Indian Ocean; you’ll even be able to hop straight down from your private deck into the crystal-clear waters. Diamonds Athuruga’s sleek white villas wouldn’t look out of place in a White Company brochure, while water villas at super-swish Milaidhoo Maldives come with a curved infinity pool and over-pool day beds. If your Maldives holiday is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, we recommend splitting your stay between a beach villa and a water villa for the full experience.
There’s no filter needed for the Maldives – it’s even more remarkable in real life. If you choose a seaplane transfer from the airport, you’ll be able to take in the knockout views as you fly over the atolls, and the moment you step off the jetty onto dazzling soft sands will take your breath away. Biyadhoo is a no-frills resort that leaves the wonderful natural environment to do the talking – you’ll find a great beach, house reef and lots of top dive sites nearby, so it’s no wonder that it draws divers from far and wide. Or, to hop from one glorious resort to another via uninhabited islands and middle-of-the ocean sandbanks, with added spa treatments and diving excursions included, take a look at innovative The Floating Resort by Scubaspa.
Superb service and unforgettable experiences come as standard at all our handpicked islands. Then there are the resorts that set the bar in world-class luxury, where private butlers will run you flower-filled baths, chefs will set up the most exclusive private dinners and sunset cruises take place aboard ultra-luxe private yachts. Gili Lankanfushi, once voted ‘best hotel in the world’ at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, offers the ultimate in privacy: its wow-factor standalone Crusoe Residences – complete with hammocks for naps above the lagoon – can only be reached by boat.