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Framed by palm trees and with a sparkling turquoise sea, nowhere is beachside happiness like the Maldives. And with a slew of new openings, this Indian Ocean hotel scene has never looked better.
Wooden jetty to a tropical island, Maldives.
Photograph by AWL Images
Posted October 29, 2021, 3:00 PM BST, Update November 1, 2021, 10:28 GMT
The Maldives is Mother Nature in overdrive: technicolor coral, beaches so white they will make you squint and water so blue that it looks like saturation has been set to maximum. This archipelago of 1,190 islands has become a poster boy for paradise islands, but there is more variety than you might think. Some atolls are better for manta rays; some attract whale sharks; and others are great for surfing, deep sea fishing or have beaches that stretch for miles. Tragically, several coral reefs were severely damaged during a global bleaching event in 2016, so those wishing to explore below the surface will need to plan carefully before visiting this ever-changing seascape. But just like its marine life, accommodation in the Maldives is just as vibrant, and you’ll find everything from love nests and party rugs to shipwreck villas and overwater bungalows, which means there is just as much. action to be done on land than in this dazzling blue water.
1. Finolhu seaside
Ideal for beach lovers
Named after the island’s half-mile-long pristine sandbar, Seaside Finolhu is perfect for hand-in-hand walks. It’s recently refreshed all of its villas in sherbet tones of yellow, pink, blue, and green, and the rest of the resort is just as playful; take a walk around the island and you might find an inflatable water park by the sea or fire dancers on the beach. There’s also plenty more to do here, including tennis and yoga, and a plethora of places to eat and drink, from the beachside buffet to the tiki-bed crab shack. Even with all of this, rest assured that the island is also large enough that you always find a place to hide and relax.
Rooms: Villas from £ 598 all inclusive.
Seaside Finolhu has recently refreshed all of its villas in sherbet tones of yellow, pink, blue and green.
Photograph by Reiner Baumann
2. Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
Ideal for design junkies
This stylish new resort exudes freshness from every corner. The first of three luxury destinations on the Fari Islands (a new mini-archipelago of man-made islands a 45-minute speedboat transfer from Male), it features sleek tropical modernist design – all low-slung wooden lounge chairs, a four-poster beach beds and villas with plunge pools facing the ocean. Start your day with a yoga session, followed perhaps by a stand-up paddleboarding session in the lagoon, before dining at Brasa Restaurant, one of 12 places to eat and drink on the island.
Rooms: Villas from £ 1,585, B&B.
3. Amilla Maldives Hotel
For pure relaxation
This idyllic paradise is ideal for solo travelers, honeymooners and families. The spacious villas – some on stilts and others on the beach – are decked out in Tropezian-style whites and blues, with large living rooms, even larger wooden decks, and private plunge pools. The food is excellent and sustainably sourced and there are a plethora of free daily activities including kombucha-making lessons, chess lessons, and diving near the Hanifaru cleaning station, as shown in the picture. BBC documentary series Blue Planet II.
Rooms: Villas from £ 653, B&B.
Amilla Maldives Resort villas are spacious – some on stilts and some on the beach.
Photograph by Amilla Maldives Resort & Residences
Best for indulgence
‘Anything. Whenever. All over.’ is Kudadoo’s mantra and this ultra-exclusive all-inclusive resort keeps its promise. Everything is truly included here, from mini-bars filled with Patrón tequila and Old Tom gin to 24-hour gourmet meals in restaurants or in your room and unlimited treatments at the temple-like spa. All water sports and excursions are also included. The resort has just 15 overwater pool villas, giving it a members-only feel, and the house reef is teeming with corals and colorful fish.
Rooms: Villas from £ 2,540 all inclusive.
One of Kudadoo’s beautifully furnished rooms, with a large terrace and wonderful sea views.
Photograph by Private Island of Kudadoo Maldives
5. Soneva Fushi
Ideal for VIPs
It’s the Beckhams’ Christmas getaway and where Buzz Aldrin comes to gaze at the stars – Soneva Fushi is the center of stardom. You would never know, with everyone in their hidden beach villas or their fantastic overwater villas. The starfish-strewn beach is admittedly hard to leave, but activities include snorkeling trips to look for manta rays, eagle rays, stingrays, hawksbill turtles and bottlenose dolphins, sessions sunrise yoga and jungle meditation or spy on the stars through a telescope.
Rooms: Villas from £ 1375, B&B.
6. Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi
Ideal for art lovers
This private island resort boasts one of the most beautiful residential reefs in the Maldives: it’s a whopping six miles long and abundant with bright, healthy corals and kaleidoscopic reef fish. It is also home to the country’s only Coralarium, a semi-submerged tidal gallery with a collection of eco-friendly concrete sculptures that double as an artificial reef, encouraging corals, fish and shellfish in the area. There’s plenty to admire above the surface too, including spacious villas with private plunge pools, open-air restaurants serving Japanese tapas and grilled Maldivian tuna, and a serene spa.
Rooms: Villas from £ 871, B&B.
There’s a lot to admire at the Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi, including its open-air restaurants serving Japanese tapas and grilled Maldivian tuna.
Photograph by Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi
7. Gili Lankanfushi
Ideal for barefoot luxury
Fresh from a pre-pandemic spruce top, perennial favorite Gili Lankanfushi is more dazzling than ever. One of the oldest and most eco-friendly resorts in the Maldives, it’s easy to see why guests keep coming back year after year: the lagoon setting, world-class cuisine, exceptional spa and villas Chic castaways are truly first class. But it’s the service that stands out the most: Many of the staff have been at the resort for decades and won’t blink even on the most wacky request – they’ve already been transported in a grand piano at the hotel. asks a virtuoso visitor. But, in truth, the days are spent lounging in beautiful surroundings, with your feet in the sand, floating in the sea or sitting on the balcony watching the stingrays in the water.
Rooms: Villas from £ 980, B&B.
The beautiful exterior of the master suite bathroom at Gili Lankanfushi.
Photograph by Sakis Papadopoulos
8. Como Maalifushi
Ideal for divers
You’ll find this island getaway in barely inhabited Thaa Atoll surrounded by no less than 25 exceptional dive sites, including one of the country’s most trusted whale shark viewing spots. Guests who register to see the huge fish are alerted when the animals have been sighted and invited to head for the boat. In the meantime, you can lounge in your villa: all in light wood, four-poster beds and puffy white curtains. Alternatively, sip pina coladas by the pool and visit the thatched-roof spa, one of the best in the Maldives.
Rooms: Villas from £ 612, B&B.
9. Meradhoo raffles
Ideal for idyllic isolation
An hour’s domestic flight south of the capital Malé, Raffles Meradhoo has some serious half-world vibes. Half of the complex is located on floury sand, the other half is located on a wooden deck on stilts in the open sea, a few minutes from the jetty by speedboat. In between is a house reef teeming with biodiversity. The comfortable rooms, in cream and duck egg blue, are some of the most romantic in the Maldives, ranging from beach villas with large tropical gardens that open onto the beach to overwater villas with wooden staircases plunging into the sea. Indian Ocean, all with private pools.
Rooms: Villas from £ 1,345, B&B.
An hour’s domestic flight south of the capital Malé, Raffles Meradhoo has some serious half-world vibes.
Photograph by Raffles Maldives Meradhoo
10. Residence in Dhigurah
Great for animal lovers
Set on a long, jungly island surrounded by miles of white beach and lush coral reefs, Dhigurah’s pristine location beats many of its dearest rivals. The style is simple and the service is informal, but all villas are extremely spacious and have huge private pools. The beach villas are particularly peaceful and relaxing. Elsewhere, there’s an Olympic-size infinity pool, six bars and restaurants, a spa, and a gym. Get on your bike and cycle over a wooden walkway to Dhigurah’s sister hotel, Falhumaafushi, and you can also use their facilities. The area is also a magnet for the green sea, olive ridley turtles, and hawksbill turtles, while whale sharks are also known to make occasional appearances.
Rooms: Villas from £ 415, B&B.
Beautifully decorated Long Island Bar in Dhigurah.
Photograph by Photo courtesy of The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah