The Maldives. Just the name is enough to conjure up visions of the kind of tropical beauty that stops visitors in their tracks. Made up of 20-odd coral atolls strewn across the Indian Ocean, the Maldives has become synonymous with luxury resorts in desert island-daydream settings. With dozens of islands to choose from (mostly one resort per island) it’s a tough job picking just one. But they do all have their subtle differences – some are perfect for family getaways, while others are spot on for diving enthusiasts. Read on for our island recommendations…
When it comes to travelling with tots, the island for you is Halaveli. The Constance Halaveli resort caters for kids better than just about anywhere in the Maldives, with five-star facilities that really focus on families.
First up, there are the villas. Spacious, contemporary and totally beautiful, the family beach villas are our pick for your brood. Stocked with handy essentials, you’ve got baby necessities like cots, pushchairs, baby monitors and bottle sterilisers, plus fun stuff like toys and floats for the pool.
Spread over 350 square metres, the villas have a master bedroom and second bedroom with bunk beds next door. Outside, you’ve got a private plunge pool, garden and terrace – and naturally, sea views come as standard. Beyond your villa, the two pools and private beach are good for splashing, paddling and snorkelling, while the kids’ club keeps 4 to 11-year-olds busy with all-day creative play.
The only resort in the Laamu Atoll, the Six Senses Laamu resort is a paradise island made for special occasions. The villas are nothing short of mesmerising, with spacious sun decks and Instagram-ready sea views. We love the lagoon water villas; set along jetties and secluded by wooden enclosures, they give the most privacy and come with a lovely private dining deck.
Save an evening to experience Zen, an authentic Japanese restaurant that invites only 12 guests at a time for a truly intimate atmosphere. Special dining experiences are the Six Senses’ forte. Try the candlelit barbeque on a sandbank – it doesn’t get more Maldivian than that.
The huge freeform pool is fringed with loungers, a bar and a deck for spending sunny days, or you can get out and about on a diving trip or romantic sunset cruise. Don’t leave without visiting the spa, either, with its free yoga classes and menu of award-winning signature treatments.
Keen divers can do no better than Constance Moofushi. The South Ari Atoll is one of the best places in the world for diving, with 32 dive sites within 30 minutes of the resort. A house reef is minutes from the private beach, and the area is on the migration route of mantas, whale sharks and dolphins.
The reef is the perfect starter dive for beginners, while the island’s PADI dive centre handles excursions for experienced divers going further afield. Snorkelling equipment is free, so you can go lionfish-spotting anytime. When you come up for air, spend an evening above the water on a romantic sunset cruise or dolphin-spotting trip, or go all out with a sail in a private catamaran.
Even when you’re out of the water, you’re never far from it. In classic Maldivian style, the exquisite villas are either right on the beach or out over the water, with tropical outdoor showers and roomy terraces – the ones on the water villas have steps right down to the ocean.
At Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa, the Ultra All Inclusive experience starts the moment you arrive. You’ll be met at the airport and taken to your transfer, with a refreshing glass of bubbly waiting for you at check-in.
The day starts in style. Champagne buffet breakfasts at the main restaurant, Reef, are served throughout the morning (so you get a lie-in). As well as Reef’s buffet, you can choose from the resort’s Italian and Thai restaurants for lunch and dinner, enjoy afternoon tea and stop off at the ice-cream station throughout the day for a cool-down cone.
For drinks, the three bars open their doors between 10am and midnight for cocktails, as well as soft drinks, house spirits, wine, beer and mineral water. The all inclusive experience doesn’t stop with the food – your activities are covered, too. Watersports like windsurfing lessons, snorkelling and diving are included, plus one excursion – we love the guided snorkelling tours and whale shark-spotting trip.
Which of the Maldives islands take your fancy?