It’s almost impossible not to talk about the Maldives in clichés: crisp, ultra-soft white sand and crystal-clear waters in a thousand shades of blue. Everything is true, as is the fact that the Maldives is home to a disproportionate number of the best beaches in the world.

At its highest point, this archipelagic South Asian nation reaches 7.9 feet (2.4 m). Indeed, it is not a destination for hiking or scenic views. Instead, the Maldives are made for basking under palm trees to admire the Indian Ocean, watching this lonely sandbar appear and disappear under the tide.

It’s worth remembering how small the islands of the Maldives are: only 200 of its roughly 1,200 islands are inhabited, so you won’t have a problem finding one without a footprint. Others whom we also love for their amenities and activities. These are seven of the best beaches to visit in the Maldives.

Mudhdhoo Beach

Great for viewing bioluminescent plankton

The beach on the tiny island of Mudhdhoo may only be small, but it certainly deserves its Unesco protection status, as part of the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve. From its snow-capped shores, you can see the island’s reef halo which is home to clownfish, stingrays, and majestic reef sharks.

But the real reason it’s on our list is because of the way it lights up on a night. Millions of tiny organisms live in the shallows, each giving off a bioluminescent blue glow that creates the illusion of a starry sky when they wash up on the sand. Night walks on the beach don’t get much more romantic.

This bioluminescent blue glow creates the illusion of a starry sky over the beach © watcherFF / Getty Images

Cocoa island

Ideal for luxury stays

Best for This incredibly pretty island – also known as Makunufushi – is a speedboat ride from where your plane lands in the capital city of Male. Just over 100 steps wide, no wider than a football field, it is home to the very luxurious Como Cocoa, one of the Maldives’ premier luxury resorts.

Its wraparound beach looks exactly like the photos, but what really catches the eye is the quicksand of its 2,625-foot (800m) sandbank. Not a bad place to spread a blanket and enjoy a papaya platter. Do you feel active? It is a 10 minute walk from one side of the island to the other. Or, if you enjoy snorkelling, the island’s two reefs are home to eagle rays, black tip sharks, and squid.

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Ideal for accessible snorkeling

Twenty-five minutes by speedboat from Velana International Airport and you’re there. Almost a perfect circle, the silky sand of Vabbinfaru frames the entire coastline, with the best of the beach on the west side, which blends into most of the island’s large lagoon.

Start your day with yoga on the beach, then make the most of the marine life of Vabbinfaru: a fabulous coral reef that offers some of the best snorkeling at a striking distance from the Maldivian capital. Pufferfish, turtles and small sharks galore.

Beautiful paradisiacal white sand beach
You’ll find plenty of postcard-perfect beaches in the Maldives © Grafner / Getty Images

Dhigurah Island

Ideal for spotting sea turtles

As popular with locals as it is with nature-loving tourists, Long Beach on the javelin-shaped island of Dhigurah in South Ari Atoll transforms into a snake-shaped sandbar. Take a seat on one of its picnic tables and settle in for a day of doing nothing or take a ride to see whale sharks – this is the best place in the Maldives for them.

Something closer? Grab your snorkeling gear and paddle around the surrounding lagoon – it’s a hotspot for sea turtles. The island also has its own dive center if you want to see them up close, while the cafes and shops nearby make the place feel like a bustling Thai island.

Bikini Beach, Maafushi Island

Ideal for price-conscious travelers

Hanging out on one of the public beaches in the Maldives can be tricky – it’s a land of devotees and conservative clothing is often required. This is not the case at Bikini Beach on Maafushi Island. What you gain in freedom, you give up in isolation. However, for those who like a bit of atmosphere on a price-conscious vacation, this strip of talc-white sand is perfect.

Take the perfect Insta shot on one of its palm tree swings or inquire about the Coral Garden tour, which includes a full day of snorkeling, drinks, and return transfer. (Maafushi translates to “Big Island” – appropriate given that Maafushi has the longest coastline in all of the Maldives.)

Woman walking on the beach in Maldives, Maafushi Island
Another great place to comb your hair on the beach: Maafushi Island © Tibor Bognar / Getty Images

Finolhu seaside

Located in the Unesco Biosphere of Baa Atoll, the Finolhu Resort spans four islets, with 2 km of pristine beach and an impressive 1.8 km sandbank, the longest of any island resort in the Maldives. .

While the resort can comfortably be categorized as “ultra-luxury,” it’s also bizarre: there are VW motorhomes parked on the beach and vintage phones for ordering champagne. As for water, the local osmosis plant turns the sea into drinking water, so you won’t find a plastic bottle in sight.

Fulhadhoo Island

The best to get away from the world

It’s hard to pick a favorite beach in the Maldives, but if we had to, it might be the aptly named White Sandy Beach on Fulhadhoo Island. Asleep, wild and miles away from the crowds, the attributes of this northern atoll’s end of the world will charm those seeking seclusion on a desert island.

Beachfront facilities are few, except for a handful of loungers under bamboo canopies. From there, you can greet the local fisherman – who lives in a small village to the east – as he brings back the night’s catch.