In the far-flung paradise of the Maldives where every private island dazzles with sugar-white sands and swaying palms fringe colour-popping coral lagoons, how do you choose where to stay?

You might be looking for an all-inclusive island retreat, have a specific activity in mind, want an island with a stunning house reef or be celebrating a special occasion – whatever your wish list, we’ve been creating incredible Maldives holidays for over 30 years and know how important it is to find the right island. Whether you want to learn to dive, indulge in a bespoke dining experience or simply lie on a beach that rivals the most beautiful in the world, we’ve highlighted the Maldives’ most luxurious hotels and romantic island retreats, found the most exciting culinary adventures and chosen the best island escapes for couples and families. We’re the original Maldives experts, so talk to us about your dream island escape.

Best island for luxury - Baros Maldives

Water Pool Villa at Baros

Where understated elegance meets timeless simplicity, there’s a reason Baros Maldives is a Small Luxury Hotel of the World. Beyond the frosted white sands and vibrant blue hues of the lagoon, this luxurious island is where dedicated villa hosts wait on you day and night, and bespoke guest experiences elevate your holiday to world-class. Diving is by design and spa experiences are tailored to you. Then there’s the option of indulging in a private dining location of your choice. While away an evening with a romantic sunset dinner on a secluded sandbank, or opt for complete privacy on the Piano Deck that sits secluded in the middle of the lagoon.

Best island for Honeymoners - Kandolhu Maldives

Candlelit dinner on the beach

Tiny, tranquil and romantic; Kandolhu Maldives is pure honeymoon territory. This is where crystal-clear coral reefs and velvety white sands come as standard, and its intimate size with just 30 villas gives you maximum privacy. You’ll find this an indulgent island of perfection, with its lush green interior and marine-rich house reef where you can snorkel straight from the shore. The exquisite villas are heaven, with distinct designs that focus on local style combined with contemporary interiors. Overlooking unspoilt ocean views or with direct access to the beach, they indulge all the senses and include special extras like the in-room iPads and GoPro Hero5 camera. Upgrade to the superb all-inclusive package for access to all five of the restaurants, a Champagne sunset cruise and over 30 international wines in your very own wine chiller.

Best island for diving and snorkelling - Biyadhoo

Biyadhoo Island

In the South Malé Atoll, rustic Biyadhoo is one of our favourite underwater superstars in the Maldives. With its world-class PADI dive school and expert instructors, the island also has a fantastic house reef with seven different access points and the chance to snorkel alongside reef sharks and turtles. Some of the best dive sites are nearby, and you can choose which ones best suit your own ability. We love Manta Point, where you can see manta rays being cleaned by colonies of cleaner fish, and Maaya Thila, an incredible diving spot that’s well-known for its visits from white-tip sharks and the elusive guitar shark. There are top diving sites scattered all around the Maldives, and OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli is another island with some underwater gems. There are more than 20 fantastic dive sites in easy reach to the island, and a fantastic coral reef lies just metres from the sand.

Best island for foodies - Maldives Conrad Rangali Island

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

If you’re looking for the extraordinary, Ithaa at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is the world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant. One of the most iconic dining experiences, Ithaa sits 16 feet below the ocean and overlooks mesmerising 180° views of the Maldives’ exotic marine life. Beneath the arched glass roof, celebrate with Champagne cocktails as you tuck into a gourmet feast of Maldivian and western-fusion cuisine. Back on land, Conrad Maldives continues to surpass culinary expectations with its seven other restaurants. With almost every type of cuisine taken care of, explore the eight show kitchens at the sand-floored Atoll Market and enjoy a candlelit beach dinner at the live Japanese kitchen of the Koko Grill.

Best island for choice - Kuramathi Maldives

Kuramathi

If choice and variety are high on your wish list, Kuramathi Maldives has one of the best range of facilities in the Maldives. Home to 360 villas and 12 different dining options, this island is perfect if you’re looking for a little adventure alongside relaxation. Do as much or as little as you want; we love the oceanfront infinity pools and the gorgeous spa that offers couples’ treatment rooms and water pavilions. Then there’s the superb children’s club, the two diving schools, the choice of watersports, and even the eco centre complete with its own sperm whale skeleton. You can’t fault the variety when it comes to choosing accommodation too. Villas range from garden and beach-facing to the iconic overwater villas perched above the lagoon. If you’re travelling as a group, we love the Two Bedroom Beach Houses, complete with their own individual entrances and enough room to sleep six.

Best for couples - Maafushivaru Maldives

Maafushivaru sister-island, Lonubo

Indulge in barefoot luxury at Maafushivaru Maldives, a tiny island hideaway in the South Ari Atoll. Impressing with its world-class service and romantic intimacy, there’s a gorgeous house reef for snorkelling and the velvety white sands are pure sunbathing territory. Couples will adore the contemporary indulgences, like the intimate overwater restaurant and the private infinity pool that’s placed perfectly on the beachfront. But it’s Lonubo that provides the ‘something special’ here. Maafushivaru’s uninhabited sister island, this is the ultimate Robinson Crusoe desert-island experience. Inject some adventure into your holiday and be cast away on tiny Lonubo for the night, indulging in simple luxury with an exceptionally private candlelit beach dinner and a stay in the Lonubo Jacuzzi Beach Villa.

Best island for families - Kurumba Maldives

Kurumba Island

Kurumba is the original Maldives island and one of our favourites for families. Just a ten-minute speedboat from the airport, it’s the perfect distance for younger ones who’ll need to reach their destination quickly after a long flight. With its glittering turquoise lagoon and powder-soft white sands, it’s all about the fantastic hospitality and great-value luxury here. Kurumba has an impressive variety of facilities, and children will love the seemingly endless activities that include painting classes, snorkelling adventures, water skiing and even a guided diving lesson. Together, more family fun can be enjoyed on a dolphin discovery cruise or even a picnic on a gorgeous white sandbank.

Best island for beaches - Finolhu

Finolhu

Where untouched white sands simply melt into hypnotic blue lagoons, it’s the beaches that top most Maldives’ wish lists. When you arrive at the quirky island of Finolhu, it’s not just the cool and retro vibe that you’ll love; just wait until you see the serious ‘wow’ factor of a sandbank. The longest stretch of white sand that you’ll find in the Maldives, this really is an island that’s all about its beach. Instagrammers will love the quirky special touches; walk in one direction and you’ll find VW campers parked up on the beach, and in another a secluded ‘beach bubble’ tent where you can glamp in style on the sandbank. Then there’s the funky beach cinema, the villas that open out onto their own little stretches of sand, and the picture-perfect Fish & Crab Shack right at the very tip of the bank. Velassaru Maldives is another gorgeous island, a Small Luxury Hotel of the World that’s home to one of the most dazzling beaches in the Maldives. And then there’s the wide white sand beach at Constance Halaveli, a five-star stretch of sand which embraces the whole of the island and gently slopes into the island’s coral-rich lagoon.

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Indian Ocean & Arabia 2019