The far-flung paradise of the Maldives has become a trending hotspot for 2021 travel. Every resort lies on its own secluded private island, where swaying palms fringe coral lagoons and pale blue waters lap sugar-white sands, so how do you choose between them? As the original Maldives experts, that’s where we come in. We’ve spent almost 50 years seeking out the finest places to stay in the Maldives, exploring its irresistible islands and resorts to make sure we only recommend the best. Take a look at some of our favourites in this top 10 guide.

All of our handpicked resorts have their own unique character and style, so it’s important to choose the right one for you. Whatever’s on your Maldives wish list – whether it’s an island with a stunning house reef for snorkelling or an all-inclusive resort with bespoke dining experiences, we can help you find it.

Best for Honeymooners - Kandolhu Maldives

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. The island has a lush green interior and marine-rich house reef where you can snorkel straight from the shore. And the villas are exquisite, with distinct designs that focus on local style and contemporary interiors. Overlooking the ocean 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 all inclusive for access to all five à la carte restaurants, a Champagne sunset cruise, private snorkelling tour and over 30 international wines in your very own wine chiller.

Candlelit dinner on the beach

Best for a great-value stay - Biyadhoo

In the South Malé Atoll, down-to-earth Biyadhoo is rustic and relaxed. It’s an idyllic spot if you’re after an affordable away-from-it-all-style holiday in a jaw-dropping setting. Biyadhoo is also one of our favourite underwater superstars, with its world-class PADI dive school and expert instructors. The island has a fantastic house reef with seven different access points and the chance to snorkel alongside reef sharks and turtles. We love Manta Point, where you can see manta rays being cleaned by colonies of cleaner fish, and Maaya Thila, well-known for its visits from white-tip sharks and the elusive guitar shark.

Biyadhoo Island

Best for choice - Kuramathi Maldives

If choice and variety are high on your wish list, Kuramathi Maldives has one of the best range of facilities in the Maldives. This island is perfect if you’re looking for a little adventure alongside relaxation. You can do as much or as little as you like. We love the oceanfront infinity pools and beautiful spa, with its couples’ treatment rooms and water pavilions. There’s also a children’s club, diving school, watersports and an eco centre offering guided snorkelling safaris. When it comes to the accommodation, there’s so much to choose from. Its 360 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, which have their own individual entrances and enough room to sleep six. And then there’s the food. With 12 different restaurants, à la carte cuisine and fine dining on the menu, we highly recommend upgrading to its amazing Select All Inclusive package.

Kuramathi

Best for desert island experiences - Maafushivaru Maldives

Reopening in July with a fresh new look is the tiny island of Maafushivaru Maldives – a firm Kuoni guest favourite. Impressing with its world-class service and romantic intimacy, it has a gorgeous house reef for snorkelling, a striking overwater restaurant and an infinity pool on the beachfront. But it’s Maafushivaru’s uninhabited sister island that gives the resort its extra-special touch. Lonubo is the ultimate desert island experience. You can head over for candlelit dinners and beach picnics, or spend the night. You’ll have the island all to yourself and a luxurious private beach villa with its own outdoor hot tub.

Maafushivaru sister-island, Lonubo

Best for beach club vibes - Finolhu

It’s the beaches that top most Indian Ocean wish lists, and ultra-cool Finolhu has the longest stretch of powder-white sand in the Maldives. This island, with its spectacular sandbank and quirky beach club style, is bursting with character. 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 Crab Shack right at the very tip of the bank.

Finolhu

Best for families - Niyama Private Islands

Family fun takes centre stage at Niyama Private Islands. Whatever age your little ones are, toddlers or teens, they’ll love it here. This innovative resort is divided into two zones: Chill and Play, so you can take it easy while they get stuck into activities such as dolphin-spotting and Master Chef cooking classes at one of the brilliant kids’ clubs. Every little detail is thought about here. The infinity pool has a dedicated children’s area, villas have family-sized plunge pools and the spa has treatments just for kids.

Family Pavilion Niyama

Best for activities - Reethi Faru

A Maldives holiday doesn’t have to be all about laid-back beach days and sipping cocktails in your private pool villa. There are lots of island adventures that can be found here, you just have to know where to look. And we’ve done that for you. You can set your own pace at the action-packed Reethi Faru. Spend your days on the water, flyboarding, kite surfing and catamaran sailing, or learn to dive for the chance to see reef sharks, rays and turtles. Back on dry land, there’s yoga, badminton, volleyball and tennis to keep you active. Then wander over to the Balinese-style spa when you’re ready to unwind.

Reethi Faru

Best for wellness - Kagi Maldives Spa Island

With this newcomer on the Maldives scene, the clue is in the name: it’s set to become the go-to island for balancing both body and mind. Kagi Maldives, which is due to open in September 2020, will be so much more than a resort with a spa: it’ll be the first wellness retreat in the country. Set out above those idyllic turquoise waters, the spherical Baani Spa is the focus of the resort; it’s here where you’ll get those muscle-melting massages and soothing facials. But that’s not all. There’s the unique yoga room where salutations are accompanied by sound therapy, and the Spa Corner where you can fuel your body with good-for-you dishes in peaceful surroundings.

Kagi Maldives

Best for low-key luxury - Milaidhoo Island Maldives

This small-but-perfectly-formed island is the far-flung retreat of your daydreams. Milaidhoo is set in the Baa Attoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve where the biodiversity of the underwater world is unlike anywhere else on Earth. Even on Milaidhoo’s house reef, which is easily accessible from the beach, you’re sure to see some pretty incredible marine life. We love the intimacy of the island. There are just 50 villas that each have an infinity-edged pool and a huge deck – it’s all about outdoor living here. Their thatched roofs give off that authentic Maldivian vibe, something that the island really embraces. Head to the one-of-a-kind overwater restaurant Ba’theli which has a traditional dhoni boat design for tastes inspired by the Maldives’ setting on the ancient Spice Route.

Milaidhoo

Best for style and romance - Velassaru Maldives

A youthfully chic atmosphere meets island glamour and romance at one of our favourite resorts: Velassaru Maldives. From the moment the speedboat makes its final approach to the jetty and you catch a glimpse of that jaw-dropping swathe of beach, you know you’re in for an incredible time together. It won’t be long before you’re kicking off your shoes and sinking your toes into talcum soft sand as you walk hand in hand. What really makes this island stand out are the hip hangout spaces like the minimalistic and mood-lit Fen Bar with its inviting bean bags and hammocks, and the overwater Chill Bar where you’ll have a front-row seat to those unforgettable Indian Ocean sunsets. And there’s nothing quite like a private dinner on the beach to set the romantic mood, so make sure you set aside a night for a candlelit dinner at the al fresco restaurant Sand.

Velassaru

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Indian Ocean & Arabia 2020/21