A holiday in the Maldives is much more than chilling on an idyllic island. Here is our hand-picked list of 15 resorts in the island nation, perfect for adventure buffs, food enthusiasts, and conscious travellers.
For Adventure Enthusiasts
Experience the thrill of island life, indulge in water sports, and catch up with the world under water at these properties.
A perfect family getaway, JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa is the ideal multi-generational resort. Its location in the Shaviyani Atoll ensures that its surrounding waters are perfect for snorkelling, scuba diving, jet skiing, and sailing. But it’s the little ones who’re in for a real treat at this resort. The 13-metre-long pirate ship at Little Griffins Kids Club is sure to delight your tots. A large-sized children’s swimming pool and child- sized amenities create a mini fantasy world for the little adventurers. The kids club offers seven different themes per week like ‘Superheroes’, ‘Pirates’, and ‘Outer Space’, and more than 100 activities to keep them happily occupied. A popular favourite amongst families is an island- wide hunt solving clues along the way in search of a treasure.
Located on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll, One&Only Reethi Rah has it all—from picture- perfect lagoons to white sands and colourful coral reefs. The shallow reefs make this island resort ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. With six kilometres of calm coastline, this resort is a hub for water sports lovers. Canoeing, ocean kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, jet-skiing, riding a Seabob, parasailing and wakeboarding—you can explore the turquoise waters in a variety of thrilling ways. And when you want to rest your muscles, charter a private yacht and cruise alongside leaping dolphins or sign up for a day or two of big game fishing. Reeling in local tuna and sailfish and having them prepared and served to your liking make for a rather memorable experience.
Luxury at Niyama Private Islands comes in the form of twin islands—Play and Chill. While Play is more activity oriented with options to explore treetops or soak in the infinite waters surrounding the island, Chill is the more laidback island with Drift Spa and a range of culinary destinations. Over and above the indulgences of a typical Maldivian resort, Niyama is sheer heaven for surfers and offers direct surfing point access. It has uncrowded waves and its own wave breaking right onto the shore at Vodi Point. If you’re seeking greater thrills, take a speedboat just five minutes away to Kasabu, a rippable and hollow right-hander. Amongst other activities, mono skiing, paddle boarding, and night snorkelling are popular too.
Located in the Lhaviyani Atoll, Kuredu Island Resort & Spa has numerous dive sites with vibrant coral reefs; they offer opportunities for close encounters with sea turtles, reef sharks, and manta rays. Kuredu is ideal for both beginners and experienced divers— from taking your very first breath under water to a full range of PADI speciality courses, the PADI Discover Scuba Diving programme at Kuredu offers it all. Golfers would be happy to know that it is also amongst the very few resorts in the Maldives to have a golf course. Surrounded by natural forest, the six-hole Par 3 course offers great views of the ocean. While you can book lessons to learn the nuances of the sport or improve your technique, night golf is quite the highlight. You can follow up a round of golf with drinks at the plush Golf Bar.
Located on Malé Atoll, capital of the Maldives, Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa is a family-friendly resort offering a range of fun and thrilling activities, starting with the kids club that has a large outdoor area with a swimming pool, trampoline, playground and an array of interactive activities. For older children and adults, there are various snorkelling points and fun water sports like jet skiing, speedboat rides, paddleboarding, and flyboarding. Glass kayaks are as fun as they’re photogenic—a picture of a glass kayak in the turquoise waters looks like you’re suspended magically in the water. Night snorkelling is a highly recommended activity as it’ll leave you with the most amazing underwater visuals of marine life that glow in the dark.
With ingredient-first menus and unique dining experiences, restaurants in the island nation are experimenting with gastronomy like never before.
Utilising its fabulous location in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve—Baa Atoll, destination dining is epitomised at Four Seasons Maldives with the most spectacular settings. A speedboat takes you to a secluded sandbank at sunset, where you can indulge in a succulent barbecue dinner served on a sand-carved candlelit table. Or sail from Landaa’s Fuego shore out to a floating platform where a table for two is set up for a romantic dinner in the middle of a lagoon. For something more thrilling, book a table (for up to four people) at The Banyan ‘Tree House’. Serious gourmands will be happy to note that Michelin- distinguished Italian chef Gaetano Trovato visits twice a year to train the team to whip up Tuscan dishes at Blu Beach Club. The resort also offers plenty of choices for customised menus.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a culinary haven with 12 different dining destinations. The crown jewel is the award-winning Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, the world’s first undersea dining experience that is located five metres below the surface of the ocean. Panoramic coral garden views and exquisite fusion menus matched with the finest selection of wines make it one of the top culinary experiences in the world. Other decadent options include Koko Grill, which serves a seven- course Japanese meal under the stars; UFAA by celebrity chef Jereme Leung, which specialises in contemporary Chinese; and Sunset Grill, an al fresco restaurant set on stilts above a coral reef, which offers freshly grilled seafood and meats. Bars have been given equal importance—Wine Cellar situated two meters underground has 18,000 bottles of wine showcasing around 800 expertly preserved labels, The Quiet Zone is exclusively for those aged above 16, and at Rangali Bar you can kick back with tropical cocktails.
Cheval Blanc Randheli rolls out the red carpet when it comes to pampering its guests with fine indulgences. The Wine Museum & Cigar Lounge is well stocked with rare and exceptional vintages from the old and new worlds. There is also a carefully curated cigar menu that is paired with a Cheval Blanc cigar ceremony. Take your pick from five contemporary restaurants—Deelani for Italian, The White for island-inspired dishes, Le 1947 for 12-course French fare, and Diptyque where twin open kitchens serve Japanese and East Asian fare in an al fresco tropical garden settings. From early mornings to late nights, a specially curated meal can be served as per your whim. Private dining experiences like picnics on a sandbank and beach dinners under the stars are also executed with finesse.
With three speciality restaurants on the property and a range of bespoke dining experiences, OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI is a delight for foodies. Indian cuisine is in high demand, not only from Indian guests but international ones too. Keeping this in mind, Tradition Saffron showcases heritage recipes from India in a three-course pre-plated dinner. If you like world cuisine with a hint of Spanish flair, check out Vistadel Mar for everything from fresh sushi and sashimi to noodle bowls and dim sums and even pizzas and pasta. Origine incorporates the freshest ingredients to serve a multisensory dining experience. Coffee lovers and cocktail drinkers are well taken care of at Reserve, with premium barista coffee, molecular mixology, and exotic blends and mixtures. This is also the venue for the afternoon high tea. Finally, Ozar is the best spot for sundowners, and as the evening progresses, the resident DJ belts out peppy numbers for guests to shake a leg.
JOALI Maldives has thoughtfully crafted its culinary offerings. Whether it is an immersive culinary journey or an authentic Japanese restaurant designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu, they have it all. Le Petit Chef combines 3D mapping technology to offer a theatrical dining experience. While Vandhoo serves an array of Southeast Asian, Chinese and Indian fare, the al fresco TUH’U serves Levant cuisine under lit-up palms.Fulfilling their commitment to sustainability and female empowerment, Her Kitchen incorporates local recipes and conducts classes guided by experienced chefs for guests. Living up to its name, Bellinis serves the perfect Bellinis and homemade limoncellos, paired with a very well- designed Mediterranean menu by Michelin star chef Theodor Falser. And to satiate sweet cravings, La Joie is an all-day dessert spot serving artisanal chocolate and ice creams.
For Conscious Tourists
These handpicked properties are putting their best foot forward to preserve Maldives’ fragile ecosystem.
Six Senses Laamu is all about sustainable luxury. Six Senses Laamu’s projects have led to more than 670 resident sea turtles and 138 resident manta rays being identified and protected by an expert marine team. The #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign resulted in more than 10 million square feet of seagrass meadows being protected. To facilitate education, they offer a Sustainability Tour where you can witness innovation and experimentation at Earth Lab, a model for self-sufficiency and zero waste. In addition to this, the Sea Hub for Environmental Learning in Laamu (SHELL) is a multi-use space, designed for education and immersive marine conservation experiences. It is also home to the resort’s Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) where a central exhibition space invites guests to explore the colourful and vibrant local marine life.
Shaviyani Atoll boasts one of the largest resorts lagoons in the Maldives- Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi. Despite having more than 120 villas on its premises, the resort has demonstrated exceptional sustainability practices that have earned it the coveted green Globe certificate. While the resort is dedicated to replenishing and conserving the reefs and limiting the effects of coral bleaching, all the plastic waste is recycled and transformed into bespoke souvenirs at the Sustainability Lab in the archipelago. Seasonal menus are introduced at all the restaurants to minimise the carbon footprint and Coralarium, the world’s first and only coral regeneration project in the form of an underwater art installation offers a sanctuary for ocean life to thrive.
Aesthetically designed and responsibly built, Soneva Jani is one of the world’s lowest- density resorts—it features only 51 overwater and seven island residences—set in the paradisiacal setting. Soneva levies a two per cent environmental charge on all bookings, which goes towards Soneva Foundation; it is then invested in a variety of projects to offset direct and indirect carbon emissions. Soneva Foundation works relentlessly towards creating a positive impact in the environment as well as society within the Maldives and beyond. While the Marine Conservation programme works towards protecting the biodiversity and habitats around the resorts, initiatives like Myanmar Stoves Campaign ensure that fuel-efficient cooking stoves are distributed to thousands of families in Myanmar in lieu of cutting wood to combat the issue of deforestation.
A 15-minute speedboat ride from Malé takes you to the picturesque Kaafu Atoll and Emboodhoo Lagoon, home to CROSSROADS Maldives. With a choice of two resorts—SAii Lagoon Maldives and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives—this is a worthy destination especially if you’re looking for sustainable luxury. An epitome of conscious tourism, CROSSROADS Maldives incorporates sustainability as much as possible, right from environmental conservation and resort operations to recreational activities and amenities for guests. The various efforts towards this effect include energy conservation, green energy utilisation, reduction of energy and water expenditure, partnering with local organisations for coral reef restoration, responsible waste management, reduction of non-recyclable waste, and increase in the amount of waste recycled.
Want to indulge in Maldivian luxury whilst offsetting your carbon footprint? Kudadoo Maldives Private Island comes highly recommended! This eco-resort is entirely solar- powered, built with sustainable building material, and offers environmentally conscious activities, amenities, and food to the guests. The only island in the Maldives to be fully solar powered, Kudadoo has had enough solar panels to power the whole resort since December 2018. Eco-conscious services include bamboo straws with your drinks, a lavish menu featuring locally caught fish and seafood, and locally desalinated water in glass bottles. Even the bathroom amenities are eco-friendly and sourced responsibly from Healing Earth.