Unrivalled luxury, stunning white-sand beaches and an amazing underwater world make the Maldives an obvious choice for a true holiday of a lifetime.
Resorts for Everyone
Every resort in the Maldives is its own private island, and with over 100 to choose from the only problem is selecting where to stay. At the top end, the world’s most exclusive hotel brands compete with each other to attain ever-greater heights of luxury, from personal butlers and private lap pools to in-room massages and pillow menus. It’s not surprising that honeymooners and those seeking a glamorous tropical getaway have long had the country at the top of their wish lists. But there’s choice beyond the five- and six-star resorts. Other islands cater for families, for divers, for those on a (relative) budget, and anyone wanting a tranquil back-to-nature experience.
With some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world, the clear waters of the Maldives are a magnet for anyone with an interest in marine life. The richness and variety is astonishing – baby sharks can be spotted in any lagoon in the country, while dazzling spectacles such as huge coral walls, magnificent caves and schools of brightly coloured tropical fish await you when you get down to the reef. Manta rays, turtles, friendly sharks and even the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, can be seen all over the country and – amazingly – none of the life on the reef is dangerous. The best bit? The water is so warm many people don’t even wear a wetsuit.
What’s more, these incredible islands are finally open to independent travellers, meaning you no longer have to stay in resorts and be kept separate from the local population, something that kept backpackers away for decades. Intrepid individuals can now choose their own itineraries and travel from island to island, living among the devout but extremely friendly local population. With a national ferry network now in place and a growing number of privately run guesthouses on inhabited islands, the Maldives and its people are now more accessible than ever.
The Maldives is home to perhaps the best beaches in the world; they’re on almost every one of the country’s nearly 1200 islands and are so consistently perfect that it’s hard not to become blasé about them. While some beaches may boast softer granules than others, the basic fact remains: you’ll find this whiter-than-white powder sand and luminous cyan-blue water almost nowhere else on earth. This fact alone is enough to bring nearly a million people a year to this tiny and otherwise little-known Indian Ocean paradise.
10 of the world's best learn-to-dive destinations
Dreaming of getting your dive ticket? With a combination of idyllic conditions and reputable dive outfits, we’ve narrowed down the top spots to get certified – from the Caribbean to the Maldives, and everywhere in bet...
Need to know
The best places to swim with whale sharks
Swimming alongside the largest fish in the sea is one of the ultimate bucket-list experiences...
Maldives - a vacation within a vacation
More jealousy-inducing tales from Brian Spencer, who won the trip of his dreams in our 'Subscribe and win!' newsletter competition. This week - the breezy, beautiful Maldives...
North & South Malé Atolls
These atolls boast remote-feeling desert-island paradises and many of the country’s most famous island resorts, despite also being home to the Maldives’ main international airport. Excellent dive sites pepper both sides of Vaadhoo Kandu, the channel that runs between North and South Male Atolls.