Need a break? Take 5 to dream about these 10 incredibly beautiful island resorts. There’s nowhere else on earth quite like The Maldives, with its impossibly pure waters scattered with sandy slides of paradise. Whether you’re looking for rustic Robinson Crusoe style, or contemporary outposts from big-name brands – more and more resorts are opening each year, meaning there’s something to suit all tastes.
As soon as you hop off the seaplane and walk onto the jetty, you’re greeted with a sign that says ‘no shoes, no news beyond this point’ – and that sets the scene for the rest of your stay on this idyllic barefoot resort. Once your shoes have been confiscated and you’ve got a refreshing cocktail in hand, you’re led to your accommodation – either a wooden beach bungalow or over water villa depending on what you’ve chosen.
It’s an all-inclusive resort – but the food standard here is incredibly high. Pastries are baked fresh every day, and the variety of dishes on offer is astounding – especially when you consider the island’s remote location. Constance Moofushi is also known for its wine cellar, with 110+ choices included in the all-inclusive. This makes evenings both stress-free and sociable – with low-key entertainment in the form of DJs and dancing.
Daytimes are designed for relaxing – there’s a library, games room and plenty of marine life to spot in the shallows from the beach. This resort also has a fantastic house reef for snorkelling – one of the best in the Maldives. Nearby there are more great diving spots, including Shark Point – where schools of sharks gather above a steep drop-off point. Dive scooters are a fun way to see patches of reef that would otherwise be a challenge to reach.
Kuredu Island Resort
Kuredu Island Resort is one of the biggest islands in The Maldives. As such, it has a lot going on with more facilities than most of the other islands put together. This is the place to come if you’d like to experience the best of both worlds: a peaceful beachfront setting, with a packed activity programme. Aside from the expected to-do-list-topping activities – swimming with turtles, sunset dolphin boat cruises and scuba diving – you’ll also find a pitch and putt golf course, two spas, tennis courts, 14 restaurants and bars, free wi-fi and banana boat rides. Evening entertainment ranges from glow-in-dark golf to lively white-night parities. Vegans and vegetarians – don’t miss the Veg Beach Shack – a restaurant dedicated to dishing up tasty plant-based cuisine.
Oblu by Atmosphere at Helengeli
If you like snorkelling – Oblu by Atmosphere at Helengeli is one of the best places to stay. They have a fantastic house reef just metres from the shore, where you’ll see all manner of fish, turtles, sharks, eels, and stingrays close to the surface. The resort is 4* – meaning it’s a bit more affordable than some of the other options on this list – but we love the vibe. Rooms are bright and comfortable (with huge outdoor bathrooms so you can shower under the stars). Helen’s pool bar is open till late, on the sunset side of the island with live bands and DJs most nights. On the other side of the island, there’s also a peaceful adults-only pool and speciality barefoot restaurant on the beach.
Hurawalhi Island Resort
This is the place of honeymoon dreams! For starters, it’s strictly adults-only. It’s also home to an all-glass underwater restaurant (the world’s largest). Everything is beautifully designed and carefully considered – from the sandy-floored lobby to the breathtaking infinity pool. They even have a ‘dream island’ – a private desert island where you can spend a romantic afternoon marooned with a picnic (and a walkie-talkie to radio your Man Friday when you’d like to be picked up). The resort has its own marine biologist, who runs workshops and trips to share her knowledge and passion for the ocean and conservation. Other highlights include the spa, and the over-water trampolines that come with the villas – the perfect place to unwind with a glass of champagne.
Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi
This resort is different because it has its own underwater art gallery – the first for the Maldives. The installation is designed to provide a habitat for coral and marine life, as well as interest for snorkellers. The island quite far away from the main island of Male (1 hour on a seaplane, a highlight in itself giving you the chance to the see the gorgeous Maldivian hues from above) – and this gives it a feeling of peace and tranquillity that you won’t find in more populous parts of The Maldives. No nearby shipping lanes, no aeroplanes flying overhead – there’s not even a glimmer of light pollution come nightfall, so stargazing is incredible. Dive newly-discovered reefs, which are abundant in colourful fish, green turtles, rays and more. Enjoy another Maldives first and opt for a tented villa in the heart of the island’s jungly interior (beach villas and water villas are also on the cards). But the best bits about this piece of sandy paradise? The your-wish-is-our-command attitude of the staff – who go out of their way to please.
LUX* South Ari Atoll
LUX* is a hotel brand known for its sense of fun and spontaneity, and its outpost in the Maldives is no exception. A few times a week, the staff hide a ‘message in a bottle’ – likely to contain a voucher for free drinks, a spa treatment – or if you’re really lucky, a romantic sunset dinner on the beach. Before you leave, write a wish and hang it on the wish tree – every year one is plucked from the branches and the lucky wish-maker wins another holiday at a LUX* Resort. Other features include an open-air cinema on the beach, which shows movies from every genre under the stars (literally). All the things you’d expect are excellent, the rooms, food and service – and everything’s done with a smile by the cheery staff. It’s one of the highest-rated resorts in the Maldives on TripAdvisor – and it’s easy to see why!
One&Only Reethi Rah
This is the crème-de-la-crème of desert island living; flawless is the word that best describes this piece of paradise. There are twelve beaches to discover, eight dining venues, the Maldives first ever sun spa and the country’s only climbing wall. It’s home to the Maldives first National Geographic PADI Dive Centre, and you’ll also find a FIFA-Approved football pitch (a clue to the profession of many of the island’s regular visitors), with matches organised daily.
Even if you choose to stay in the cheapest room category – a Beach villa – the accommodation is off the charts. Not only are the beach villas a whopping 135 sq m in size, they all lead out on to your own pristine patch of sand.
You’ll find pools for everyone here; the large infinity pool reaches out into the lagoon – then there’s a shady family-friendly pool – and next to the Kids Club there’s a fully supervised tot-sized pool with shallow paddling areas, a slide and perfectly proportioned miniature sun loungers. At the spa that’s a vitality pool and a salter Watsu pool.
The restaurants here are another noteworthy feature. Highlights include the Chef’s Garden – known for its fresh and healthy platters with a focus on local produce, as well as the Aladdin’s Cave style Fanditha which serves up the flavours of the Middle East in an atmospheric setting.
OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo
This island is known for its generous all-inclusive package – which includes a fine-dining meal at the resort’s underwater restaurant, as well as champagne breakfasts. What’s more, for each week of your stay, you’re given the choice of either four complimentary spa treatments or four scuba dives to enjoy. It really is a cut above the rest – almost everything is included – even a choice of 80+ wines, premium spirits and everything in your minibar (topped up twice daily for good measure), and the staff are unbelievably accommodating.
Many of the resorts in The Maldives are all-inclusive – and this is one of the best value on offer. Let’s face it, you can’t really go out to dinner once you’ve been marooned on your chosen island, and food and drink can be really expensive (everything, besides coconuts, has to be imported) – so all-inclusive Maldives holidays often make the most financial sense.
It’ll be hard to holiday anywhere else once you’ve stayed here. All the rooms come with whopping L-shaped private pools (it’s possible to swim from the bathroom to your sun terrace on the other side of your villa), open-air rain showers and even adjustable mood lighting.
It’s a good choice for families – with one of the country’s largest kids clubs and Ice Ice Maybe – the Maldives’ first ice rink (made of non-melting synthetic ice). The highest room categories also feature a long wavy slide from the top floor into the sea… what fun!
Nearby, you’ve got one of the healthiest reefs in the South Male Atoll within easy reach, as well as five shipwrecks.
The emphasis here is on pampering – you’ll be treated like royalty from the moment you arrive. The high staff to visitor ratio means that your every whim is satisfied.
Soneva Fushi, apart from being one of the most idyllic places on the planet, is a hotel that lives and breathes its environmental policy. Everything here is SLOW: Sustainable, Local, Organic and Wellness-focused.
They turn seawater into drinking water. They produce energy and from solar panels. They even collect all the plastic that washes up on their pristine beach and recycle it into blocks for construction. Used glass bottles are chipped and used in cement. There’s a custom-built centre for waste management and recycling, and an ocean conservation programme. There are four good snorkelling spots, as well as a PADI dive centre. All the rooms are steps from the blindingly-white beach – there are no water villas (an intentional choice to protect the fragile coral reef).
The eco-chic villas, superb Six Sense Spa and ask-for-anything service all add up to leave a lasting impression. For the sweet-toothed, another highlight is the chocolate room – full of imaginative creations by the on-island chocolatier.