With just over 50 years of tourism under its belt, the Maldives haven’t been on the vacation radar—at least with US travelers—for that long, but the archipelago nation has made up for that in the last decade or so with a near-constant stream of eye-catching resort openings. To date, there are over 170 resorts in the destination, situated on sugary sand private islands, away from any other signs of civilization. With most of the major hospitality names represented, and nearly every resort offering things like overwater villas, secluded beaches, and water-based activities, it can be tough to narrow down which slice of paradise might be best for you. To help, we’ve highlighted 30 properties by the type of traveler they might best appeal to, from the family-focused to the foodie, the romantic to the budding marine biologist.
For the Romantic
True, pretty much anywhere you choose in the Maldives is going to be romantic, as the dreamy setting—plus things like private decks and plunge pools, secluded dining spots, and champagne-fueled cruises—have helped make this a top destination for honeymoons and proposals. But some hotels offer a little extra for their coupled-up guests.
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Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s hotel-within-a-hotel, the Muraka, is set a short speedboat ride away from the main resort, and features just one suite: a two-level residence with a living room, bedroom, and dining and entertainment spaces floating above the ocean, and a master bedroom, bathroom, and lounge area set 16-feet underwater, complete with glass walls so you can take in the vibrant marine life. This first-of-its-kind undersea suite comes with its own 24-hour butlers, who can arrange private seaplane transfers directly to the suite; a private chef, who will lead cooking classes or fishing trips; and access to exclusive activities like guided stargazing excursions and midnight snorkeling tours.
Six Senses Kanuhura
The latest addition to the Maldives’ growing array of offerings is the highly-anticipated new Six Senses Kanuhura. This sister property to the more kid-friendly Six Senses Laamu has plenty of secluded spots to sneak off too—including two private islands. Spend the day under the coconut trees of the nearby deserted island of Masleggihuraa and the evening on a private dhoni cruise on the lookout for dolphins. Couples can cuddle up on a cabana at The Point. This dining destination, perched on the edge of the breaking waves, is made for watching the sunset with Spanish tapas and Sangria in hand.
Naladhu Private Island Maldives
Small but stunning, this newly refurbed resort is perfect for honeymooning couples and guests who want a more intimate vacation. It has just 20 private villas, each with a pool, private beach cabana and discreet butler service. Naladhu Private Island specializes in curating exclusive experiences, whether that’s a private outdoor movie night on cozy couches in the secluded coconut grove or a beachside dinner under the stars. The resort has a no-menu concept and a fabulous team of chefs who will make all of your culinary dreams come true. It’s the perfect place to escape from the world with your beloved..
With no clocks and no schedules, this Baa atoll oasis is the perfect place for couples to reconnect. This elegant property has just 26 villas dotted around a small private island ideal for morning strolls and romantic sunsets spent sipping champagne by the nautilus-shaped pool. Its “anything you want, day or night” ethos opens your vacation up to magical experiences like private fireworks shows and private picnics on a castaway sandbank. The Nautilus’ overwater Solasta Spa also specializes in couples’ treatments, including a blissful three-hour Spa Journey.
A short speedboat ride from Malé makes Gili Lankanfushi one of the most easy-to-reach luxury resorts in the country. Its stellar locale after a long plane ride and second-to-none service has made it a go-to for honeymooners since it opened in 2012. While the resort has a Jungle Cinema and a fantastic overwater spa, a kids’ club is noticeably missing, making it ideal for couples looking for total R&R. After a day of snorkeling the house reef, rest your head in one of the fabulous overwater bungalows, or perhaps in the world’s largest overwater villa—a massive villa that sprawls over 18,000 square feet and has four bedrooms, a cinema, library, indoor gym, private spa, two-story waterslide and a 678-square-foot pool.
For the Gourmand
From Michelin-star chef experiences to fiery teppanyaki dinners to mile-long buffets, dining in the Maldives is nothing short of extraordinary. Most resorts offer multiple dining options serving a variety of cuisines to keep things fresh; some spots, though, take things to new culinary heights.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
When there are a whopping 11 delicious dining options on island, it’s hard not to stuff yourself silly. Home to the first floating Zuma in the world, Japanese is arguably the Waldorf Astoria Maldives’ most popular cuisine. But the Ledge, by Michelin-star chef Dave Pynt, is a close second with brontosaurus-sized pieces of meat and other grilled classics. Down the beach, at Yasmeen, Levante dishes served in an elaborately-designed Arabian village shine, while guests at Terra enjoy caviar amongst the treetops in hanging bamboo pods. And that’s not even half of the resort’s dining venues.
The St. Regis Vommuli Resort
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort earned its foodie cred soon after opening in 2016. In addition to menus that run the gamut from Italian and Japanese to Indian, Korean, Pakistani, and Cantonese, the resort has hosted Michelin-starred chefs for a series of notable tasting dinners and intimate cooking classes, which we hope will come back post-Covid. It also has an award-winning wine cellar, Decanter, with difficult-to-find vintages, including a port dating back to 1795. But, it’s not all fancy fare. Head to Crust & Craft to design your own pizzas or eat fresh fish tacos. Don’t forget to have the resort’s signature Bloody Mary at the Whale Bar, the resort’s whale shark-shaped overwater lounge.
If wine’s your thing, check in to Vakkaru Maldives, set just a 30-minute seaplane ride from the main island of Malé in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The resort’s wine cellar, Vakkaru Reserve, is stocked with over 4,000 bottles from around the world, spanning both the Old and New Worlds. Among its most impressive are a 2008 Petrus for $12,000 and a 1974 Château Cheval Blanc, valued at $500,000. The resort’s sommelier is also experimenting with aging wine in the Indian Ocean. Plucked from the depths, try one of these coveted bottles in the wine cellar, a well-equipped space to enjoy a wine tasting with cheese and charcuterie or a paired tasting menu dinner. Both will be led by the resident sommelier.
One&Only Reethi Rah
With eight dining spaces, One&Only Reethi Rah is a gourmand’s dream. Many resorts in the Maldives have just one or two restaurants, so the diverse cuisine is especially notable. One night, you might indulge in sashimi and nigiri at its Japanese restaurant Hoshi. Next book a plant-based meal at Botanica featuring vegetables from the island’s garden — so delicious that you won’t miss the meat. Your most memorable meal might take place out in the island’s lush landscape; the resort specializes in private dinners with bespoke menus and attentive service.
Kudadoo Maldives brings the all-inclusive concept to new heights with its motto: Anything, Anywhere, Anytime. A butler will attend to your every need and plan fabulous activities, including decadent dining. They can set up private dinners or beach picnics anywhere on the island, perhaps under the stars or tucked away in a lush corner. Well worth the additional charge is the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant. The all-glass restaurant has curved walls and ceilings, so you can marvel at the sea life from all angles. Even the wine program is impressive, and a refreshing change from the sometimes lackluster options at all-inclusive resorts. Here, the all-inclusive wine cellar has 80 labels, all with ratings over 88 points from Wine Spectator and a sommelier to help you choose. If you’re looking for something unique, bottles from the Owner’s Wine Cellar are available at an additional cost. Another experience well worth the additional charge is the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant at neighboring resort Hurawalhi Maldives. The all-glass restaurant has curved walls and ceilings, so you can marvel at the sea life from all angles.
For the Family
Despite the dreamy romance of the destination, the Maldives offers plenty of spots that cater to multi-generational groups, and that offer fun for all ages of travelers.
Renowned for its kids’ club, Soneva Fushi has always been a family favorite. The Den is the largest play area in the Maldives, spanning the size of six tennis courts. It’s the stuff of childhood dreams. Kids here can zoom down a waterslide, climb a pirate ship or spend hours in the dedicated Lego room. On top of that, it has its own cinema, dress-up room, cooking classes and much, much more. Parents find it so hard to pull their kid’s away that they have to bribe them with a trip to Soneva Fushi’s island-made ice cream and chocolate rooms—all included.
It’s hard not to embrace your big kid on this lush tropical playground. Book a stay in one of Amilla’s Treetop Villas, and hover above the canopy in this super-luxe version of a treehouse. Another unique offering is the resort’s Glamping bubble, where older kids can spend the night in an air-conditioned bubble on a secluded slice of beach. Little ones can spend time in Sultan’s Village, the island’s kids’ club, where activities like pirate treasure hunts, coconut painting and disco nights keep them busy. At Javvu Spa, kids can indulge in treatments tailored to them, including a mini coconut scrub, a mini mani-pedi and mini meditation sessions.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
Children are not just accommodated; they are welcomed and celebrated at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. The resort goes above and beyond to ensure that families traveling with children of all ages have a fun and seamless vacation. Its experts have thought of everything, including items to childproof your room to strollers, organic bath amenities, bottle warmers, and pop-up tents to shield little ones from the strong sunshine. It also offers children under six free meals and has personalized birthday amenities for kids under 12. Book one of the Family Villas, which have sofa beds, cribs, or roll-aways, so you don’t need to book a multi-bedroom suite to accommodate your family. Traveling with multiple families? Book one of the three-bedroom suites. Their days will be packed at the Kuda Velaa Club with programming for children and young adults or at the Marine Discovery Centre. They can learn to snorkel, discover wildlife, and help marine biologists transplant coral frames
Niyama Private Islands Resort Maldives
Over at Niyama Private Islands Maldives Resort, you’ll find the hotel separated into two islands: the more adult-friendly “Chill”, and the family-focused “Play,” home to multi-bedroom villas, the treehouse Nest restaurant, great surfing spots, and a lively kids club. On “Play,” the younger guests are catered to with a wide array of activities, from baby yoga to pizza-making classes and snorkeling “safaris.” Parents can join their spawn on the adventures, or enlist the services of a trained nanny or babysitter for when they need some quiet time.
For the Wellness Seeker
From traditional therapies that draw from the Maldives’ cultural heritage to the latest high-tech beauty treatments, you’ll find it all in the islands. With many guests checking in for at least a week, targeted wellness programs are also big here, with multi-day programs designed to tackle things like detox, stress relief, and fitness.
Six Senses Laamu
At Six Senses Laamu, the signature Six Senses personalized wellness assessment uses both diagnostic technology (including biomarker analysis and movement efficiency tests) and one-on-one consultations to create the perfect mix of treatments, workouts, meal plans, and expert sessions to fit your needs; a dedicated program for sleep health—which tracks and analyzes your REM patterns—is also available. (The barefoot-chic resort also has an all-day ice cream parlor dolling out complimentary scoops, if you want to balance the wellness with some indulgence.)
Holistic wellness is also at the core of COMO Maalifushi, the first resort in the pristine Thaa Atoll. In keeping with the COMO brand’s wellness philosophy, the resort helps you decompress and recharge via Asian-influenced treatments in the overwater spa rooms, yoga and meditation in the open-air pavilion, easy access to activities like surfing and diving, and dedicated COMO Shambhala Retreat healthy menus in the restaurants.
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas
At Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, check in to the Deluxe Spa Pool Villa to enjoy both holistic services—including two Ayurvedic programs featuring a mix of treatments, fitness, and healthy eating to target either Longevity or Detoxifying—as well as high-tech treatments like “Vampire” facials, IV therapies, and VelaShape fat-blasting in the Cocoon Medical Spa, the first full medi-spa in the region. The resort also has visiting wellness experts who offer intensive programs, complete with a health evaluation and wellness plan you can continue to use long after your stay. We recommend booking your trip around her residency.
Just from the name, you can tell that well-being is the primary focus of any trip to Joali Being. But, this isn’t an ascetic boot camp — it’s the first dedicated wellness retreat in the Maldives, so don’t expect a typical resort vacation. Each of the 68 opulent beach and water villas has a private pool and personal butler to attend to all of your needs. A stay here is tailored to each guest, courtesy of in-depth consultations, a bespoke wellness program, daily spa treatments and delicious yet healthy cuisine.
For over 25 years, Soneva’s luxury resorts in the Maldives have set the standard for sustainable luxury, but it isn’t content to rest on its laurels. Last year, the brand’s second property, Soneva Jani, unveiled a new chapter with the addition of 27 overwater villas, each ideally situated to ensure a sense of total privacy and stunning ocean views. The best part: many of the new Water Reserves have slides straight into the azure lagoon that children and adults will adore. Soneva also introduced a new unlimited offering, including all food, beverage, experiences, butler service, laundry and, perhaps most impressive, unlimited spa treatments at the nearly 19,000-square-foot Soneva Soul wellness center. Here, you can indulge in Ayurvedic and cutting-edge therapies, do yoga in an outdoor pavilion (including aerial yoga) and meet with specialists who can help you achieve your wellness goals.
For the Underwater Adventurer
Whether you’re an amateur marine biologist or just like swimming with the fishes, these resorts will help connect you to the wild underwater world.
Surrounded by a natural reef, Baros Maldives is home to the first EcoDive center in the area to be certified by International Reef Check, which monitors, maintains and restores coral reefs around the world. Thanks to this on-site resource, guests can take a coral gardening workshop with the resident marine biologist, in which they’ll learn how to collect and re-attach broken coral fragments to help encourage regeneration. You can also join the biologist on a private snorkeling trip to other reefs in the area, do a guided night dive using specially filtered lights, or just paddle around with sea turtles, reef sharks and more a few feet from the Baros beach.
InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau
In the remote Raa Atoll, InterContinental’s marine biologists work closely with Manta Trust. This non-profit leads the world in manta ray research to better understand these beautiful marine creatures. At the resort, guests can visit the nearby juvenile feeding ground, snorkel with these gentle giants in a responsible way and even adopt one. The resort’s “Name-and-Adopt-a-Manta” program supports the non-profit’s work. While manta rays are a big draw, the island’s house reef is nothing to scoff at. If you’re adventurous, ask your butler to sign you up for a night snorkeling session when the underwater world truly comes alive.
Raffles Maldives Meradhoo
Over at the 38-villa Raffles Maldives Meradhoo, the legendary Raffles butler service is taken to new levels (or depths) with dedicated Marine Butlers. Available to all guests, the aquatic experts are available to lead curated snorkeling tours of the resort’s two house reefs, which are home to tropical fish, baby sharks and sea turtles—the latter of which have been meticulously cataloged by the biologists. The resort is located in the remote Gaafu Alifu atoll, renowned for its rich variety of marine life.
Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island
This former LUX North Male resort kept its signature style during the rebrand. A bit of Mykonos mixed with Miami Beach, its all-white exteriors nearly match the color of the island’s sand. Its 67 overwater and beach villas have private pools, sexy curved walls and one seriously unique design feature—rooftops. Perfect for private barbecues, movie screenings and stargazing, each villa has a sprawling upstairs space. And downstairs, things are just as generous with a massive indoor and outdoor bathroom area full of island character.
Park Hyatt Maldives
Beloved for its barefoot luxury approach, this resort in the Huvadhoo Atoll is also known for its incredible house reef. Grab your gear and float over a mile around the uninterrupted corals for a glimpse of parrotfish and eagle rays. Or book any number of unique experiences with Park Hyatt’s marine biologist. From scuba diving at more than 40 dive sites to night snorkeling to a guided snorkel session along the equator, the marine team here is next level.
For the Design Aficionado
It’s not all thatched roofs and tropical flair here—the Maldives has attracted some of the world’s top architects and designers, many of who have brought a contemporary take to island living.
Alila Kothaifaru Maldives
The Maldives’ newest resorts have design on the brain, and no one has done it better than Alila Kothaifaru. Opening its sleek timber doors in 2022, its design is a stylish mix of tropical brutalism meets Scandinavian chic interiors curated by Singapore-based Studiogoto. The resort’s 80 beach and overwater villa interiors vary from a cascading green wall gracing the outdoor bathrooms to calming timber tones and moody stone flooring invoking a Japanese aesthetic. This carries over into the resort’s Japanese restaurant, Umami and Yakitori Bar. Situated in the blinding white sand, the concrete exteriors mixed with timber are both striking and calming, a balance Alila Kothaifaru has managed to perfect.
Cheval Blanc Randheli
This elegant resort from LVMH perfectly blends French savoir-faire and design with its tranquil Maldivian surroundings. Cheval Blanc Randheli was designed by celebrated architect Jean-Michel Gathy, who used traditional materials like rattan, mother-of-pearl and bamboo throughout the property. Instead of the typical blues and greens that echo the greenery and ocean, Gathy used white, taupe, and a signature hue, “pop yellow,” which makes a statement in the lush tropical environment. There’s also some unmissable art, including Vincent Beaurin’s copper Arch in the lagoon. The villas and restaurants all have a sleek contemporary look, and even the newly refurbished Kids Club, Le Carrousel, has a beautiful design; some walls are painted with imaginary fish, and the building seamlessly blends with the landscape.
Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
You wouldn’t expect to find a world-class art destination in the middle of the Indian Ocean, but Patina Maldives, Fari Islands aims to change that through an ambitious residency program, art installations throughout the property and, the star of the show, a James Turrell-designed Skyspace pavilion, Amarta. Patina Maldives partnered with the Artling, a Singapore-based contemporary art consultancy, to commission bespoke art that guests interact with during their stay. Of course, the resort itself approaches architecture as art with design from Marcio Kogan’s firm Studiomk27. The villas were sustainably crafted from natural materials and have a serene environment, encouraging relaxation and connection with nature.
For the Fitness Warrior
Because not everyone is content to shuttle between the beach and pool for two weeks, these resorts offer activities that will help get the circulation flowing.
The sister property to Joali Being—and the first resort in the new Joali brand—Joali Maldives in 2019 debuted the RAW Fitness program, which has combined wellness with philanthropy by creating an outdoor “green gym” made up of things like handcrafted wooden structures, coconut hand weights and natural fiber ropes, and made entirely by students from a vocational school. The property also has a partnership with LUX Tennis, a Spanish tennis concierge service, with a resident tennis coach who can teach you how to hit that perfect serve or improve your backhand.
If you’d rather be in the water, Angsana Velavaru offers two beginner PADI diving certification courses at its 5-Star Gold Dive Center, each including confined and open water lessons and all necessary equipment. Once certified, explore some of the 30 diving spots around the South Nilandhe Atoll. For those that might prefer to stay closer to the surface, fishing trips and snorkeling with whale sharks can also be arranged.
Velaa Private Island
Velaa Private Island has a huge variety of activities, including some unique to the Maldives. It has one of the only covered tennis courts in the archipelago, a soccer field, a squash court, a climbing wall and a Technogym fitness center. But perhaps most impressively, it has a golf “short-game academy” on the island from José María Olazábal, which offers swing analysis, a golf simulator and coaching with PGA professionals. Its brand-new Wellbeing Village focuses on holistic wellness, including a yoga and pilates pavilion and an Ayurveda wellness center. On the water, you can embark on diving, snorkeling and fishing trips, or explore the island by jet ski, e-foil surfboard or even a hoverboard.
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