Pad barefoot along dazzling beaches under leaning palms. Enjoy water so clear that boats look as though they are levitating, and sand so white and fine that it pours through your hands like milk. Every island is wreathed with reefs; every day is close to perfect – and all you’ll need to remember is where you last left your shoes. Welcome to the Maldives.
Despite their timeless beauty, the Maldives have only really been a holiday destination for the last 40 years. But 40 years is plenty of time for some of the world’s best resorts to perfect the art of relaxation. Private villas are the norm here, whether stylish beachside houses or stilted huts. And forget house whites or house rules: most islands have a ‘house reef’ – their nearest coral habitat. But there’s more: submarine tours, underwater nightclubs and even ‘Instagram butlers’ have become features in Maldives luxury resorts in recent years.
The Maldives might have started out as a honeymooner destination, but it’s no longer just for two; those original honeymooners kept coming back, with their families in tow. The Maldives now has plenty of family-friendly places to stay, plus great kids’ clubs.
Though there’s loads to do in the Maldives, it is true that there is no place on earth better suited to doing nothing. This is not a sightseeing destination – unless spotting a hammerhead or a whale shark in their natural habitat. Instead, you can savour the silence of the reef, the hushed wind combing through the coconut palms and nature’s natural rhythms on your solitary island paradise. Your spa appointment could be the only deadline you meet all week. Or, you can pick a bigger resort full of activities to dive, swim and embark on adventurous excursions. You can even play nine holes of golf. Book flights to the Maldives and get ready to laze or play – it’s up to you.
Our Maldives hotels have been selected to offer you the very best island retreat to match your budget and taste. Enjoy a stay on one of the jewels of the Indian Ocean, where you’ll discover sheer luxury.
Book a stay at the sensational LUX* South Ari Atoll. This award-winning hotel is ideal for families, offering a selection of restaurants and club activities for kids and teens. Play beach volleyball in paradise, then head to the spa. Children will love the shallow lagoon, which is perfect for snorkelling. Enjoy the elegant natural design of the All Inclusive Constance Moofushi Resort. Lounge on white sands, dine on the shore and watch the sun go down at Totem beach bar. Stay at Sun Aqua Vilu Reef. This All Inclusive resort is surprisingly good value, though you can still enjoy plenty of luxury touches.
With such an exquisite setting, it’s hard to fault our carefully selected three-star Maldives hotels for either value for money or quality. For cheap Maldives holidays we’ve sourced the hotels where your money goes furthest, whether that’s with a great All Inclusive deal or a short, good-value transfer. Stay at Reethi Beach Resort for great sports and diving, and a laid-back atmosphere.
Want a resort that will pamper you, but can’t stretch to a five star? Our four-star Maldives hotels boast private islands, spacious, empty beaches and fantastic dining offerings. If you’re considering Maldives All Inclusive holidays, you’ll find some of the nicest moderate resorts in our selection. Stay at Kuredu for heaps of activities, and your own private island bungalow.
You’ll be amazed how luxurious a thatched beach bungalow can be. Our five-star hotels are all contenders for the best resort in the Maldives and authorities in island chic. Enjoy massive villas with their own infinity pools, direct sea access and private dining. Choose big resorts with magnificent activities or a tiny boutique island so peaceful that it feels like it’s been built just for you. Stay at the Four Seasons Resort at Kuda Huraa and explore its Island Spa – set out to sea on its own desert island, it's the ultimate escape.
Our carefully-selected All Inclusive resorts take the worry out of your holiday, so you can get down to the business of relaxing. With cocktails, water sports and food all included, you don't have to face a big bill at the end of your stay. The Maldives are a great destination to enjoy All Inclusive, and competition is fierce amongst the best hotels – so take your pick.
Whatever your price range, create your perfect trip to the Maldives using our budget planner and find the best combination of accommodation, activities and dining to suit you.
From cheap hotels and moderately priced resorts to – at the other end of the scale – luxury island retreats, we’ve got the holiday to suit you. Whilst the Maldives aren't traditionally on the budget traveller’s map, there are ways to save money on your adventure. But if you're looking to create the trip of a lifetime, look no further than the islands’ five-star resorts. Get inspired before you go.
You’ll find that even the better value Maldives resorts adhere to very high standards. Bandos Island Resort and Spa is a family-friendly resort that provides one of the best value stays in the Maldives. Seek late-night entertainment at the resort's lively Sand Bar, or a restorative massage at the Orchid Spa. Bandos Island is good for diving and other activities, too, so your whole clan will be kept entertained for days.
During your stay at Bandos Island, keep costs down by booking in for buffets at the Gallery Restaurant or choosing the All Inclusive option. The Maldives’ nearest neighbour is the Indian subcontinent, so get your belly ready for delicious Indian curries. Don’t forget to leave some room for the fine selection of desserts that the restaurant offers for afters.
Look out for turtles! Set on the North Malé Atoll, Bandos Island’s house reef is very close to the beach, so even tentative snorkelers can go and explore. Confident divers will also be in their element: Bandos also has one of the most well-established dive centres in the Maldives. Maldivian marine life is particularly special; three quarters of the world’s reef-fish species can be found living on its coral. Dive in.
The Maldives is a great destination for going All Inclusive. Sun Aqua Vilu Reef’s full-board plan means you don’t have to worry about extra costs; instead you can sit back and enjoy the view from your private beach villa or the hammock at your overwater house. Sun Aqua Vilu Reef is set on the Dhaalu Atoll – just a 35-minute seaplane ride from Malé.
You might not expect to find an air-conditioned wine bar on the beach, and yet you really can enjoy wine tasting next to the sand at Sun Aqua Vilu Reef. Sit in their quiet, glass-fronted wine cellar and enjoy accompanying charcuterie.
Take a sunset dolphin excursion. You might spot massive pods of playful dolphins in the wild. Watch them playing in the bow wave of your boat – and keep your camera poised. If you don’t get Flipper in the frame, at least you’ll get a lovely sunset view.
The massive, five-star Lux* South Ari Atoll has miles of beaches lining the crystal-clear water and a spacious, airy and modern design. Choose from a beach villa, where you can lounge on the shore, or an overwater villa, with direct access to the water for your morning dip.
As one of the largest island resorts, Lux* South Ari Atoll has a great choice of places to eat. Swap traditional curry for teppanyaki at Unami, the authentic Japanese restaurant. Sit and watch as things heat up at the cooking station, or try the freshly-prepared sushi.
Lux* South Ari Atoll is set in prime whale shark territory. Climb aboard a traditional wooden boat, accompanied by a marine biologist, and seek out the world’s largest fish. These gentle giants can grow up up to 12 metres long, each one has a unique pattern of spots upon its skin. If they’re feeling shy and you don’t spot them in the Indian Ocean, you’ll get your money back.
Most resorts have a choice between villas on the island and accommodation out to sea. For a first-time guest, it can be hard to know which to choose.
The so-called ‘overwater’ properties are linked to the mainland by jetty and stand above the water on stilts. Sometimes they have glass-bottomed rooms, so you can literally sleep with the fishes. With their direct sea access, they are perfect for keen swimmers– especially if they’re located near the house reef. Maldives water villas might not be suitable to children under the age of eight. Check with your resort.
Island accommodation usually has the advantage of being nearest the resort facilities – the pools and the restaurants. Some island accommodation sits right on the beach, meaning you’ll have your own private strip of sand to call your own, perhaps with hammocks, perhaps even with a sand-floor living room. Beach villas like this can be perfect for families – you don’t want anyone taking an unexpected swim, after all.
An impossible question. There are over 100 resort islands to choose from for your holiday. These formerly uninhabited islands are now the site of some of the grandest resorts in the world.
Strictly speaking, the best Maldives island to visit depends on what you want to do. Some islands are particularly famous for their marine life. Divers should head to the Ari Atoll and stay at LUX* Ari Atoll.
Large islands can have more activities on offer. Take Kuredu Island Resort which was one of the first to get a golf course – albeit just six holes. It also hosts a wealth of activities.
In contrast, small islands can feel more exclusive. Thanks to private villas scattered across the grounds (and waters), you might find yourself asking ‘where is everyone?’. With less than 40 villas available on some of the smallest resorts, you might feel as though you’re commanding your own private island. Try Milhaidhoo Island, a bijou property with a minuscule island domain.
When budgeting, don’t forget to add up extra costs. Reaching the far island of Villingili involves an expensive 70-minute seaplane transfer across the equator to Shangri La Resort (though it’s worth it when you see the beautiful villas from above). Islands nearer Malé have less expensive speedboat transfers, which will save you a great deal of money over the seaplane. Cruise to the four-star All Inclusive Olhuveli, near the capital island on the South Malé Atoll.
Top five things to do in the Maldives
Whilst it's blissfully easy to sink into indolence in the Maldives, your resort will offer plenty of excursions and activities, too. Make sure you tick some of these experiences off your bucket list.