The remoteness of the Maldives makes it a prime destination for a socially remote vacation. The country’s 1,192 islands stretch for over 540 miles, and the many private island hotels are so spacious you won’t have to worry about someone stepping on you at the beach.
While you may have to maneuver multiple flights to reach the turquoise waters of this scenic paradise, entry requirements aren’t prohibitive. You won’t need to provide a negative coronavirus test and there is no mandatory quarantine. But if you have been in contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, or have had a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath in the past 14 days, it is not recommended that you travel to the country. (As travel restrictions may change, check with local governments before booking.)
The use of masks, social distancing and hand sanitizer is encouraged at the airport and in transit. On the plane, you will fill out a health declaration card. Then, upon arrival, you will be provided with a free 30-day tourist visa and a thermal screening will be performed.
But the minute you sink your toes into the perfectly soft sand and see those memorable sights, the long journey will be forgotten. Start planning your next trip to one of these Forbes Travel Guide-approved havens.
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
Status: reopening on October 1
There’s plenty of room to spread out in this 22-acre oasis of villas in the southern Dhaalu Atoll. The whale shark-shaped Whale Bar stands out with its unique architecture and open-air setting on stilts. The Maldives Hotel will add creative options for socially distant dining with its new floating rituals. Take a dip in your villa’s private plunge pool and the staff will serve you a floating breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea tray. The St. Regis says meals will take you on a gastronomic journey around the world.
The hotel will also increase its tailor-made private catering offerings with more experiences on Vommuli Island. You can enjoy a sumptuous star-studded dinner along the shore or an elevated dinner and a movie amid your own beach backdrop.
For even more privacy, choose St. Regis’ first private island hotel all to yourself. Earlier this year, the property launched a buyout that can accommodate up to 154 guests for a personalized experience and access to the resort’s restaurants and bars, water sports center, fitness center and personalized yacht.
Velaa private island
Velaa attracts adventure seekers with adrenaline-pumping activities like kite surfing, flyboarding, and jetovator (it’s like a flying water bike but without the pedaling). You can also celebrate special occasions at the boutique hotel. Take the plunge with one of the wedding or vow renewal packages (by law, non-residents cannot get married in the Maldives). All include a wedding planner, photoshoot, private beach barbecue after the wedding, and more, but the Umurah package includes a sunset cruise on a yacht. Velaa can tailor the festivities, even if it’s just a group of two.
For those who are not interested in a wedding, come for Halloween. In time for the holidays, Velaa will unveil an escape room, where you’ll have to solve puzzles in a series of spooky rooms to free yourself. And British soul singer Beverley Knight will perform on October 28.
Or plan your own vacation and enjoy the spa’s new five, seven and 10 day wellness experiences, which include fitness (with HIIT workout, stand-up paddleboarding and more), nutrition (a personalized meal plan ), the mind (yoga and meditation) and spa (massages, high intensity focused ultrasound or HIFU body massage).
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
If you want to go beyond typical water sports, go to the Four Seasons. Its Baa Atoll is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, which means it is a place to experience nature in a sustainable way.
In particular, you can learn more about manta rays – the Maldives has the world’s largest recorded population of reef manta rays (nearly 5,000). “We are delighted that sightings were so abundant in 2019, and with calmer waters in 2020 we are hoping for record sightings this season,” said Dr Guy Stevens, Founder / CEO of Manta Trust, the main manta. stingray conservation organization (which has a residence at the hotel).
Manta ray season runs until November, and the hotel offers several ways to view the giant creatures. Sign up for the Manta-on-Call service and you will receive a “manta phone” that rings whenever there are sightings nearby. Then, a speedboat will take you there for a snorkel.
You can also become a manta ray scientist for a day. You will work with the Manta Trust to take passport photos, record data, snorkel to see animals, and possibly help name a new manta.
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas
Status: reopens October 1
Big changes are underway at Anantara. The five Beach Pool Residences completed a $ 2.5 million renovation in April. Each has a Kajan thatched roof, Balau hardwood deck, and recently expanded swimming pools lined with Sukabumi stone. A tropical vibe permeates the interiors with rattan details, straw rugs, teak furniture, and a water wall in the bathroom. Each residence has its own spa room and gym.
The recently renovated two-bedroom waterfront residences will be unveiled in October. Similar to Beach Pool Residences, these accommodations have their own spa and gym room and sport the same aesthetic.
Inside the spa, take advantage of the new wet and dry facilities, including infrared saunas and plunge pools. The Cocoon Medical Spa will extend its immune stimulation treatments, such as vitamin IV infusions. Anantara also plans to hire a nutritionist to help her revamp her restaurant and bar menus.
Speaking of which, Mediterranean Restaurant Mazaru will have new poolside cabanas and a gin bar. And the Asian restaurant Spice replaced Salt by adopting a more neutral wood palette and a revisited menu.
Status: reopens October 1
This five-star bohemian enclave knows how to make everyday outdoor events so fun, you won’t want to go back inside.
Start your day with orange juice and breakfast on the shore as the waves caress your feet. At night, attend a private dinner, where staff dig chairs and a table in the sand, then carefully outfit them with blankets and cushions so you can comfortably eat lobster by lantern and candle light (the meal is followed by an outdoor film screening).
If you fancy more active activities, try night diving. Open only to experienced and certified divers, the session includes a 25-minute boat trip to a night dive site and 45 minutes to explore underwater. You will have special lamps that attract nocturnal marine life, including spider decorator crabs, turtles, shrimp, moray eels, sharks and more.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Status: reopens September 28
While the hotel resides on two islands connected by a 3,200-foot bridge, the Muraka is like an island in itself, remote from the rest of the Conrad. The hotel’s most opulent accommodation, the three-bedroom Muraka is the world’s first underwater residence. The main room is the master suite, which sits 16 feet below sea level and has glass ceilings and walls for an unprecedented look at marine life.
For an extravagant villa option, the hotel has launched a new VIP Muraka experience package that includes a butler, chef, wave boat, breakfast, bar with unlimited drinks, experience bundle Specials (an example: you will take a cruise with the executive chef, receive aromatherapy treatments and become a marine biologist for the day) and private seaplane transfers.
Even if you don’t go for the same accommodations Paul McCartney stayed in, the hotel’s overwater villas and newly renovated luxury beach villas (the underrated spaces have gardens, balconies, etc. a plunge pool, an outdoor deckchair and access to the beach) will always put you in the lap of luxury.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
This five-star hideaway underwent numerous upgrades just before the coronavirus became a global pandemic. It launched new luxury beach pavilions with swimming pools in December. Nestled in its own garden, each pavilion has a fountain that flows into a large plunge pool. Interiors are modern with crisp white, pearl gray, and touches of bougainvillea pink.
The hotel also unveiled a new Reef Club in October. Visit the open-air restaurant to savor Italian dishes like fritto misto and rigatoni di mare under the trees in a seaside garden, under the stars on the bridge or under arches amid mosaic murals.
The Island Spa has been given a facelift with an enlarged arrival from the jetty on the piece of land, redesigned relaxation areas with a pond and a brand new yoga pavilion. But you’ll want to come for the new roof terrace. There, you will be among the treetops and the stars for the Night Spa ritual, which only takes place once a day (individually or as a couple). The 150-minute service helps you find inner calm with a gigartina seaweed bath, a flower essence body wrap and a lava shell massage.