The Maldives’ 26 ring shaped islands are actually made up of around 1,200 coral atolls so whatever you are after, be it the picture perfect romantic setting, water sports or fine dining, the Maldives has you covered! If you are travelling between islands your hotel will usually be able to arrange transfers, or you can contact Maldivian Air taxi directly (www.maldivianairtaxi.com; 00 960 331 5201).
With further ado, here is our roundup of the best islands to visit in the Maldives.
Best for dining: Rangali
Technically two islands linked by a 500m footbridge which play host to the magnificent Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort. Here you can find arguably the finest restaurant in the Maldives, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, which is also the world’s first all-glass underwater eatery. Observe reef sharks and manta rays glide past as you feast on a 6 course meal of stunning, contemporary European dishes. For the more budget conscious, you can also limit yourself to an impressive cocktail menu or a four-course lunch. If you ever get tired of the view, head above sea level to a tempting selection of 6 other restaurants at the resort, including the impressive Ufaa offering chinese cuisine from celebrity chef Jereme Leung. For those who like a tipple or two, (start to!) work your way through the 30,000 different wines on offer in the Island’s famous Wine Cellar or the 80 different types of Martini Cocktail on offer in Vilu Bar.
Best for diving: Helengeli
Home to the all inclusive OBLU by Atmosphere resort, Helengeli also plays host to its own reef, a spectacular array of marine life and a 5* diving centre. Its location in the channel between a deep lagoon and the Indian Ocean makes it an ideal diving hotspot with at least 20 impressive dive sites on the doorstep. No wonder it is rated one of Dive Magazine’s top 10 diving resorts in the Maldives coming first of all resorts in the Maldives in their 2017 DIVE Travel Awards and second overall in the world. Divers enjoy the more relaxed vibe of the island and excellent value of the all-inclusive options on offer. And when dry land beckons, check out the Elena Spa, Beachfront restaurant or poolside Helen’s Bar.
Best for families: Halaveli
Despite appealing to the romantic getaway market, the Maldives has now also branched out into family friendly holidays, seemingly realising that those romantic couples will be having children somewhere along the way! Despite a fairly lengthy flight from the UK, the predominance of ‘one hotel per island’ resorts brings freedom for little adventurers and peace of mind for parents. A convenient 25 minutes by seaplane from Malé is the family friendly Constance Halaveli Resort. With a fantastic, complimentary kids club running from 9am – 9pm, resident doctor and tennis and watersports lessons on tap there is plenty to keep little people happy… and a rejuvenating spa and premium all inclusive package bound to bring a smile to older faces too!
Best for a romantic getaway: Veligandu
Home to the five star adults only Anantara Veli Resort and Spa, it doesn’t get more Maldives then this tropical paradise island which seems to have been created with honeymooners in mind. ‘Dine by Design’ under the stars, beneath a traditional faree tent or picnicking on a deserted island and soak up the relaxed vibe from the infinity pool, wine room or onboard a luxury yacht. For those in search of a more active holiday, the Aquafanatics Watersports Centre (as the name suggests) provides a range of activities to keep even the most adventurous entertained.
Best for the eco-friendly: Dhuni Kolhu
Tourism in the Maldives can definitely a double-edged sword when it comes to the environment. Preserving the fragile ecosystem of the surrounding coral reefs and the traditional Maldivian culture has become the focus of many resorts in the Maldives archipelago, none more so than the impressive Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. Alongside the breathtaking beaches, sumptuous spa and stunning overwater villas which are a common sight in the Maldives, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu also offers the eco-friendly traveller a clear conscience as it provides a nesting place for the endangered indigenous green turtle and various marine conservation projects plus a focus on growing fresh produce on the island rather than being imported. Sexy it may not be, but the island also houses an on-site water production, glass bottling plant and waste management centre for recycling aluminium, glass and styrofoam and those big no-nos plastic bags and bottles are banned.