The Maldives is a real-life desert-island fantasy and it’s our top pick for a honeymoon. Crystal clear lagoons and frosted white-sand beaches come as standard, while bespoke experiences-for-two like candlelit dinners and private sandbank picnics make it easy to ramp up the romance.
Kandolhu Maldives is one of our most romantic resorts. This tiny picture-perfect speck in the ocean has five intimate à la carte restaurants, elegant Maldivian-style villas (many with a private pool) and a tranquil vibe. It’s also been voted the fifth most romantic hotel in the world at the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2021.
At Hurawalhi, guests must be over the age of 15 and there are villas specifically designed for romance: Romantic Ocean Villas have an outdoor bath tub and a catamaran net where you can cosy up together above the lagoon. Plus, dreamy bucket-list experiences don’t come much bigger than dining at Hurawalhi’s remarkable all-glass underwater restaurant.
One of the special things about the Maldives is that most resorts are surrounded by a house reef, so you can snorkel straight from the beach alongside rainbow-coloured fish, reef sharks and turtles. Diving is a big deal here, too. There’s great visibility and at the best dive sites you can spot astonishing creatures like manta rays and whale sharks.
Vilamendhoo is consistently voted one of the top resorts for snorkelling and diving. The colourful house reef here is fantastic and you’ll be well placed to explore more than 50 local dive sites. The island also works with the Manta Trust, so you can get involved with research initiatives about these gentle giants.
A stay at Biyadhoo is all about diving. It’s the main reason guests come here: to live and breathe diving at an easy-going no-frills resort and to soak up the knowledge of the island’s expert dive instructors. Biyadhoo is in the South Malé Atoll, close to Maaya Thila: a world-class dive site that’s known for white-tip sharks, zebra morays and the rare guitar shark.
Over in the coral-rich Meemu Atoll, Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa has a well-established dive centre and great snorkelling just steps from the beach. The island’s name means ‘reef above water’ and rays and dolphins can be spotted darting through the ocean.
As a collection of single-resort islands, the Maldives is a destination where it makes sense to opt for the complete package. We have lots of recommendations for a Maldives all-inclusive holiday, but a couple of resorts offer particularly outstanding value for what’s included.
The all-inclusive package at beautiful Lily Beach Resort & Spa is one of the most generous you’ll find in the Maldives. Choose from premium drinks including over 80 wines and selected Champagnes, and enjoy drinks in your villa, too, as the minibar is refilled daily. On top of that, you’ll get to head out and explore for free thanks to three included excursions and non-motorised watersports.
A stay at cool and contemporary Emerald Maldives includes its Deluxe All Inclusive package. You can eat at a choice of restaurants – we’re big fans of lazy lunches at toes-in-the-sand Beach Club Grill and the South American dishes cooked over hot coals at Amazònico – and your minibar comes fully stocked. You’ll also get added extras like guided snorkelling trips and excursions.
We’ve visited more than 60 islands in the Maldives and have found the resorts that are perfect for family holidays. Think action-packed children’s clubs, shallow lagoon waters and plenty of fun activities for all the family (or just for the kids if you’d prefer to sneak off to the spa).
We think Kuramathi Maldives is so special that we’ve made it exclusive – this means we’re the only tour operator in the UK to offer the island to UK travellers. Kuramathi is one of the larger islands, so there’s more space for kids to run free. There are also more facilities – like a kids’ club with a great splash pool and a shallow lagoon – and 14 restaurants mean even fussy little eaters will find something they’ll tuck into. The best family rooms are the Two Bedroom Beach Houses, which sleep six and are set right on the beach.
Family-friendly Dhigali Maldives offers lots of activities out on the water, with swimming in the calm lagoon, glass-bottom boat trips and dolphin cruises. The kids’ club has a splash park and organises fun events like treasure hunts, while at Jade restaurant, kids can make their own pizzas. The resort has golf buggies to make it easier for tired little legs and there are plenty of rooms ideal for families – if your children are over 12 then you could stay in a Lagoon Villa with Pool for the iconic villa-on-stilts experience.
Escapism is effortless in the Maldives, thanks to the nature of its peaceful private islands and front-row ocean views. If you can’t chill out here, you’ll struggle to do it anywhere – but a couple of resorts go above and beyond to help.
Self-care is the order of the day at boutique Kagi Maldives Spa Island. This new island is all about wellbeing; expect restorative yoga sessions, nourishing meals and soothing spa therapies. The highlight is the overwater Baani wellness retreat, which has ocean-view treatment rooms and the Spa Corner restaurant where mouth-watering dishes have been created to help recharge your body and mind.
Komandoo Island Resort & Spa has all the key ingredients for pure undisturbed escapism: it’s intimate, peaceful and for adults only. Lots of guests return to this stunning natural island year after year, which creates a quiet yet friendly atmosphere. Keep things calm with gentle canoeing trips, slow-paced snorkelling, toes-in-the-sand dining and low-key cocktails.
Service and standards are famously high in the Maldives and there’s nowhere better to go all-out on holiday. Now imagine the best of the best, with ground-breaking facilities and A-list experiences.
At the top end of the scale, LUX North Malé Atoll is making waves with its ultra-modern Maldives-meets-Miami design. The concept here revolves around where James Bond would choose for his holidays and everything about the resort oozes luxury. 007-inspired features include a private dining room housed in a secret aquarium chamber and white wow-factor villas with huge roof terraces.
Intimate Milaidhoo Island Maldives defines understated luxury. It’s seriously swish but sensitively designed, to respect its privileged setting in the Maldives’ only UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The island has a spectacular overwater restaurant – inspired by traditional dhonis – and some of the most beautiful pool villas we’ve ever seen. For the ultimate in luxury, bag yourself one of the residences, where you’ll have your very own butler, private chef and outdoor cinema.
Over at Gili Lankanfushi, the Crusoe Residences set the bar in rustic-luxe water villas. These huge super-secluded sanctuaries have a hammock for snoozing above the lagoon and – for the ultimate castaway experience – can only be reached by boat.