Maldives Beyond the Resorts

  • 3 weeks

This grand tour of Maldives is for the independent traveller wanting to see beyond the infinity pool and the resort buffet.

Start your journey by spending a couple of nights in Male, the mercantile capital where over a third of the Maldivian population lives. While many visitors transit through the city, few bother to spend any time here. It's a curious place with a good museum, some fascinating markets and a few ancient mosques.

From Male take a flight south to the island of Gan in Addu Atoll. Spend a couple of nights on the island of Hithadhoo and visit its nature reserve and dive sites before taking a boat to Fuvahmulah, a lone island in the middle of the Equatorial Channel. Here, you can visit a traditionally isolated place, enjoy its gorgeous beach and dive with tiger sharks at Tiger Zoo.

After a couple of nights here, fly back to Male, and take a connecting flight to Maamigili and an onward speedboat transfer to the beautiful island of Dhigurah in South Ari Atoll. Here you can enjoy the magnificent beaches and famous sandbank, and take an excursion to see whale sharks cruising the Dhidhdhoo Beyru. After three nights on this magical island, take a ferry to Mahibadhoo, the atoll capital, for a night and then transfer by speedboat back to Male.

Spend a couple of nights on the island of Hulhumale, the overspill island for Male and a taste of the future for Maldives. While it's hardly a beauty, it's fascinating to see how central planning has created a new island.

From here, fly north to Hanimaadhoo, in Haa Dhaalu Atoll. Spend several days up here at the Barefoot Eco Hotel enjoying the beaches and the friendly town nearby. Take a day trip to the historically important island of Utheemu, where you'll find the famous palace of Maldivian national hero Mohammed Thakurufaanu.

From here, fly down to Dharavandhoo in Baa Atoll, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve famous for its incredible diving and superb resorts. Treat yourself to a few days in one of the atoll's amazing resorts if you can; if not, take a guesthouse on Dharavandhoo. Either way, be sure to go snorkelling with the manta rays at Hanifaru Bay to wrap up your trip.