A holiday in the Maldives is the ultimate way to indulge, relax and unwind, be it for a special occasion, a honeymoon or simply a much-needed break.
The Maldives is one of the few places in the world where you will be bowled over by the beauty of the place before you’ve even landed – flying over 1,192 coral islands dotted throughout a brilliantly turquoise sea is a sight people never forget. During a luxury holiday to the Maldives you can indulge in luxurious accommodation, idyllic islands with
white powder beaches and azure blue lagoons, world-class spas, and some of the Indian Ocean’s finest diving and watersports. Despite their similarity when it comes to the ‘paradise island’ effect, each island and resort in the Maldives has a very unique character, allowing us to find one that suits your needs perfectly.
THE S&A TO DO LIST
- The best time to surf is from May to October (Six Senses Laamu, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa) and at this time the rates are sometimes down to half the price of the high season
- The Baa Atoll and South Ari Atoll are particularly good spots to spot whale sharks and manta rays
- Visit during July and August to witness turtles hatching – Six Senses Laamu has several females that return each year to lay their eggs, which then hatch at night
For a picture-perfect island experience, with the kind of villas that will make you well up with tears of joy on arrival, we suggest you head to Gili Lankanfushi. Arriving to this resort is part of the fun – simply step off the flight in Male, walk straight out of the airport and be immediately whisked off by speedboat with a cold towel and fresh coconut juice in hand (it all feels very Bond-esque). Gili Lankanfushi has 45 sprawling Robinson Crusoe style 'treehouses' on stilts spread across three different jetties including the Crusoe Residences which are completely detached from both the jetties and main island and are accessible only by boat (each villa is allocated its own rowing boat!). Once the sister-property to Gili Lankanfushi, Soneva Fushi shares the “no news, no shoes” ethos, but where the focus at Gili is on the water villas, the 65 villas here at this island resort are all sandwiched between jungle and beach and vary in size from one bedroom to nine bedrooms. Fun extras include an open-air cinema on the beach, treetop yoga, a gelateria serving 60 flavours of icecream, a Mr or Mrs Friday (aka personal butler) assigned to each villa, impressive vegetable and herb gardens and an incredible working observatory with a state-of-the-art telescope to observe the stars and rings of Saturn. Finally, for true escapism, outstanding natural beauty and laid-back island living our top pick is Six Senses Laamu, the only resort on the virtually uncharted Laamu Atoll, where driftwood, thatch and verdant jungle create a rustic-chic barefoot luxury. Six Senses Laamu is also one of the best places in the Maldives for surfing, which is complimentary unless guests require a lesson.
With over 6km of coastline and 12 beaches, celeb hang-out One & Only Reethi Rah is one of the largest islands in the Maldives, best explored on bicycles or the chauffeured golf-buggies which are allocated to each of their lavish villas. With a staff-guest ratio of 3:1, this is undoubtedly the place to be pampered. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort brings the iconic St Regis brand and its hallmark impeccable service to a private atoll spanning more than 20 acres, surrounded by unspoiled beaches and a secluded lagoon with sparkling turquoise waters. The resort is particularly known for its striking contemporary design scheme - from the powerful curves of the Whale Bar to the twisting conch-shell-shaped boutique to the family villas which line the beachfront like a fleet of wooden dhoni boats but perhaps most exciting in our view is the watersports centre, whose marine biologists are currently cataloguing the biodiversity of this barely explored area. Recent unexpected encounters include meetings with mantas, hammerhead sharks and a pod of orcas – a rare sighting in the Indian Ocean. The scale of the 24 over-water villas at Soneva Jani is extraordinary, each one bigger than some hotels (the largest can fit a family of 10). Built using wood from sustainable plantations and crafted in great sweeping curves, they all have portholes in the floors to reveal the marine life below as well as retractable ceilings above beds unveil a starry night sky. There's a bar and wine-tasting space, spa, gym, yoga studio and a phenomenal kids' club, which takes an inclusive approach, helping families holiday together. You'll also find an observatory with a telescope and an open-air, floating cinema (where guests wear Bluetooth headphones to avoid disturbing the turtles).
A 40-minute speedboat into South Malé Atoll has you arriving to the tiny COMO Cocoa Island with its chic loft-style Dhoni Suites all perched over the turquoise lagoon and stunning drop-off house reef, perfect for beginners and seasoned snorkelers/divers alike. Ever present on our list of favourite resorts, Cocoa Island is a smaller more intimate proposition than its competitors, known for wonderful peace and quiet thanks to its size and ban on non-motorised water sports. Honeymooners will love all the complimentary inclusions, from sunset cruises to yoga for two and - in certain room types - those all-important Como Shambala massages. For total privacy book a One Bedroom Villa located on their own jetty with no-one overlooking or too close. Another favourite for couples looking to relax is Baros where there is a ‘no kids under 8 years’ rule, and plenty of facilities and watersports – including its own PADI centre with onsite marine biologist – on offer. Relative newcomer Milaidhoo Island has barefoot informality at the very heart of it’s ethos - selfie-sticks and drones are not encouraged. Created specifically with couples in mind, it further differentiates itself from the herd with its ‘Milaidhoo Moments’; a collection of exclusive activities including access to Hanifaru Bay, a marine protected area, which attracts the largest seasonal groupings of manta rays in the world. The tiny 300m by 180m island has just 50 villas set over water and in the jungle and a lovely spa where couples can also enjoy daily complimentary yoga and meditation classes on the custom-built pavilion
At Constance Halaveli quality family time comes in the form of searching for hermit crabs, spotting dolphins and watching spectacular sunsets. Constance Halaveli’s villas are mostly overwater, but for families we recommend their double-storey beach villas which come complete with private gardens, huge outdoor bathrooms and plunge pools. If you can drag yourselves away from the beach: go diving – this is one of the best atolls for it. With 100 contemporary-chic villas, each with a butler who will organise anything from a highchair to a desert-island excursion, Kanuhura is set in an otherwise little-visited area of the archipelago with one of the best beaches in the Maldives. Children get special treatment here, and can be whisked off to the Kids' Club complete with junior-size windsurfers, or the cool Club One for teens. COMO Maalifushi ticks all the boxes; exquisite design, exceptional cuisine, award-winning Shambhala Spa, world-renowned surf spots and outstanding kids club – a nature lover’s paradise with its thick jungle and proper castaway island feel.
Looking to extend your trip?
Why not combine time in the Maldives with some time exploring the many layers of Sri Lanka – just one hour’s direct flight from Male...