Left to the mercy of the soft and lapping Indian Ocean, the islands of the Maldives have been sculpted and formed into unquestionably one of the most quintessentially beautiful tropical places on the globe.
Ranging from the powdered beaches of the northern atolls to the earthy sea shacks and fishing hamlets of the southern isles, the whole nation can be found strewn across the turquoise waters some way from the Indian subcontinent.
Male International Airport is serviced by international flights from Europe, Middle East, Singapore, Sri Lanka and other regions. You will need to take a sea plane or a speed boat to reach your resort from Male Airport. The trip can range from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the location of your resort.
Prior to the trips, one must also pre-book any restaurants or spa experiences to ensure one ends up with the preferred choice and time. Each island has one resort and there are no other nearby options, when fully booked.
The Maldives offer a near endless list of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. You’ll also find some of the most luxurious hotels in the world here, all of them on their own little coral isle in keeping with the country’s one-island, one-resort policy. There’s a dazzling number to choose from, from back-to-nature hideaways with thatched villas and sand-between-your-toes restaurants, to hipster haunts with beach clubs and holistic spas. Here are our top 7 choices:
- Gili Lankanfushi
Live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies at this vision of a resort, a 35-minute speedboat ride from the international airport. While it’s not as far-flung as some might fancy, it is set in one of the most sublime lagoons in the Indian Ocean and embodies the barefoot luxury ethos like no other. Sustainability is built into the rustic-chic villas (made from old telegraph poles and palm fronds, but with all the mod cons), much of the food comes from organic gardens and local fishermen, and there are baby corals being grown on underwater hammocks to help repopulate the reef.
2. Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
There’s a classy, grown-up feel to Patina’s version of tropical island luxury in the North Malé Atoll. It was designed by the Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan, who has combined low-slung modernist buildings with lashings of wood, curtains of bamboo, mid-century-style furniture and eye-catching art (most spectacular is James Turrell’s Skyspace gallery). Earthy-hued villas have private pools and vitamins on the pillows at turndown. The signature restaurant is plant-based. In keeping with the spirit of the place, there’s an extensive spa for looking and feeling your best.
- Raffles Maldives Meradhoo
Raffles Meradhoo is so remote the seaplanes can’t reach it. Instead, guests have to take a one-hour domestic flight to southern Gaafu Alifu Atoll followed by a ten-minute speedboat ride to the resort. It’s a little bit more inconvenient, but the payoff is a wondrous sense of isolation (not always a given in the busier atolls). And then there’s the hotel: modelled on its sibling in Singapore, it’s decked out in navy, cream and duck-egg blue with breezy verandas, checkerboard tiling and swirling fans. The villas are huge and the bar serves a spicy Maldivian version of Raffles’ famous sling cocktail.
- One&Only Reeti Rah
In the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, Reethi Rah means ‘beautiful island’, and so, it’s no surprise that one of the most beautiful resorts in the Maldives bears this name. Spread across the largest island in the North Malé Atoll, One&Only Reethi Rah is the personification of beautiful island life. Its grounds are lapped by the turquoise Indian Ocean and 12 beaches and protected by lofty tropical vegetation. Since its conception in 2005, One&Only Reethi Rah has held its place as an exceptional Maldivian resort and haven for jet-set glamour. Each of its 122 villas are luxury tropical sanctuaries. The stylish aesthetic is the work of Belgian architect Jean-Michel Gathy and a blissful marriage of European elegance and traditional Maldivian touches, envisage thatched roofs, coconut shells and seagrass blending with silk and mahogany.
- Como Maalifushi
If you’ve dreamt of swimming with whale sharks, Como Maalifushi is for you. Staff hand over a pager and bleep you the minute these gentle giants appear in the vicinity — even at night. While on standby, swan around your spacious, white and bleached wood villa (Demi Moore prefers the overwater pool variety); go deep — spiritually — at the spa or mingle at the sociable bar and restaurant (stick to the green juices, rather than booze, if you’re waiting for the call to flipper-up).
- Soneva Jani
Soneva Jani is nestled within the tranquil waters of the Noonu Atoll, where sun-drenched blue skies and azure seas stretch out in every direction. One of the world’s lowest density resorts, there are just 51 over-water and three island residences, the largest and most luxurious villas in the Maldives, each designed for the ultimate privacy, space and breathtaking ocean views. Relax in an iconic Water Retreat, or choose a Chapter Two Reserve for the ultimate all-inclusive indulgence with Soneva Unlimited.
- Hurawalhi Island Resort
Hurawalhi Island Resort is ecologically innovative, a new 5*-star adults-only resort, the world's largest underwater restaurant, tropical champagne pavilion, stylish villas and with no other resorts in the neighborhood as far as the eye can see. The five-star resort is accessible by a 40-minute scenic seaplane flight from Male, and offers 90 villas, including 60 Ocean Villas and 30 Beach Villas, for grown-ups who are seeking luxury and innovation. As for romantic moments there is an ocean of delights to take in at Hurawalhi: dining at 5.8 Undersea Restaurant, snuggling up with your darling under a blanket or sparkling stars on the iconic Dream Island sandbank, falling in love with the plethora of marine life on the island’s doorstep – in fact, one visit to the resort is hardly enough to experience it all.
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