April 21, 2021

THE TOP 20+ MALDIVES RESORTS

Thanks for being here! I’m Sarah & I’m the Creative behind SALTY LUXE. I hope these words inspire you to live your best life & see the beauty in every day. And I hope you never stop searching for a life of infinite happiness. Stay Salty, Sarah xxx

Salty Luxe.

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The Maldives is one of those places that we just keep coming back to. We don’t miss a year without visiting our favourite place in the world. Over 1,000 tiny islands dotted with palms and fringing reefs in the clear warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Wherever you are in this chain of islands, you feel like you’re a world away from everything else.

 

On our latest travels we visited the Maldives for 3 months and visited 20+ resorts. Here are some of our favourite island stays!

 

 

Gili Lankanfushi 

Our forever favourite! Barefoot luxury at its best with the most beautiful island and lagoon.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The ultimate barefoot luxe vibes
  • Insane turquoise lagoon
  • Perfect palm beach
  • Villas with free standing bathtubs
  • Surfing, sunset sailing, overwater spa
  • Incredible healthy food, caters to all diets

$$$  ♻️

gili lankanfushi

 

Gili Lankanfushi is special. We’ve been to a lot of places in the Maldives and we will never stop coming back here. There is a soul on this island that can’t be described, only felt. And while the pictures of the resort are truly incredible, there’s so much more waiting here for you.

Your typical Gili guest is low key and easy-going, here for barefoot luxury and the natural elements. And this is the energy the island takes on. Bamboo bikes, powdery white sands and massive lagoon with 100 shades of intense blues. We encountered more marine life in this lagoon than anywhere else, straight from our villa, watching eagle rays and sharks pass beneath our feet.

This slice of paradise is only a short boat ride from Male airport so very easy to access. We had a pod of spinner dolphins playing with our boat on route to the resort and couldn’t believe this was just the transfer! Checking in to our water villa we loved the free standing bathtub overlooking the lagoon and in fact, there’s views of the azure water in every room. And as you would expect the food is phenomenal and there’s a very passionate vegan chef who loves the opportunity to prepare you mouth watering meals. 

By far though our favourite place is the islands ‘palm beach’. Absolute palm tree perfection on a small, empty strip of white sand. We spent so much time here from sunrise to sunset, swimming and shooting all day. It’s the postcard picture of a tropical paradise. 

Gili gets those special experiences right too. Some of favourites were:

  • The overwater Meera spa – we saw a turtle drifting by beneath us while on the massage bed
  • Sunset sailing on a traditional Maldivian boat
  • Surfing – we sat in clear water taking turns to catch perfect gentle waves against a backdrop of uninhabited palm laced islands
  • Floating pontoon sunset cocktails

Special mention also to the Private Reserve Villa. This is the epitome of seclusive Maldives luxury travel. Only accessed by boat (you get your own), with a full kitchen, 4 bedrooms, spa, gym, cinema, infinity pool and a waterslide (yep, you heard right) this is the largest villa in South Asia! 

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Vakkaru

Vakkaru you have my heart! This was one of our favourite stays. The staff and the service here was exceptional.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Overwater spa with luxury pools
  • Outdoor cinema and candlelit beach dinner 
  • JetSki to a secluded sand bar
  • Yoga under the stars
  • Private wine reserve

$$

vakkaru

Vakkaru’ (meaning coconut timber) is a fairly new property built on a former coconut plantation and the abundance of coco palms made this heavenly for me. This island is a pristine retreat destination. The villas and facilities are all so fresh and new, but there’s still a warm and relaxing vibe. For me, that vibe comes down to the people you’ll meet here. Smiling faces and nothing is too hard. These are the details that let you unwind and take in the rest of what the island has to offer.

If you are looking for relaxation, the spa area must be visited. We tried a couples massage as well as an Ayurvedic massage (with an expert consult beforehand). We also loved the complimentary spa space. The spa area is all overwater and you can relax in either the spa or pool after your massage – such an epic way to end your massage! You can also try Kundalini yoga under the stars. We had a private session and although we were a little out of our comfort zone at first, we felt so relaxed and healed after our session.

If romance is more your thing, try the private beach dinner – an intimate meal by torch lights watching the sunset colours light up the sky. Followed by this we moved to our own private cinema, with a screen set up on the beach, our movie of choice and lounge suite with popcorn! This was such a memorable highlight for us! We were also at Vakkaru for Valentines Day and they spoiled us with a floating champagne in our villa pool.

Of course there’s plenty of adventure on offer too. Our fav was the JetSki to a private sand bank. Just a guide, Chesh and I travelling out through clear turquoise water to reach our own tiny little sand island for a few hours. Such a vibe!

Other mentions:

  • Several food options – we chose the overwater Japanese restaurant 3 times (our fav)
  • Dining experiences – like an organic farm to table lunch in the garden, the candlelit beach restaurant, and the wine reserve for dinner and wine pairings 

vakkaru

 

Soneva Jani

Luxury playground for adults. Sustainability inspired and the most unique bucketlist stay in the Maldives!

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The ultimate bucketlist stay
  • The waterslides!
  • Unique winding boardwalk
  • Huge villas
  • Sustainable travel option

$$$$   ♻️

soneva jani

 

Soneva Jani is a dreamland! Last time I visited solo and so this time around I was bursting with joy flying in with Chesh. This is an absolute bucket list stay and there is so much wow factor. That crazy winding boardwalk, the incredible villas and the water slides are the iconic features that you see all over social media. And they are even better enjoyed in person! We spent the whole stay laughing. And we couldn’t put our camera down. It’s certainly a place to relax but for us, it was a luxury playground where we couldn’t sit still!

Arrival into the crazy clear lagoon and your eye is drawn to the main overwater pavilion with high ceilings and white washed timber. This is nothing like you’ll see in the Maldives. And this feeling continues to the villas. The turret style roof and waterslides flowing into perfect blue water are seriously magical. We had so much in-villa dining because we didn’t want to leave our massive villa. Your water villa is almost like a private resort with everything you need, from upstairs dining areas, outdoor couches, opening bedroom ceiling and everything else you need from your ‘barefoot butler’. If you can spend even a few nights here you’ll never forget it. We felt so spoilt and took so much gratitude for every single moment.

We stayed in ‘Chapter 1’, which is the original part of the island that’s been established for around four years. Soneva has also just opened ‘Chapter 2’, which boasts new and improved water villas. A buggy ride or boat shuttle connects you easily across the resort. One of our favourite dining options was the Crab Shack which serves up beautiful fresh breakfast and lunch on the beach.

As you would expect from the Soneva brand, this resort has sustainability at the core of everything. Even with all the crazy offerings here there’s a genuine focus on minimising their footprint. If you look or ask the right questions you will see how much goes on behind the scenes. From no plastic use to sustainable organic gardens, this is just part of life here. You can relax and enjoy this slice of paradise with complete confidence in the work your hosts are doing to keep this place beautiful.

Other mentions:

  • Overwater cinema – we watched a movie with headphones while eating dinner
  • The first overwater villa for disabled access – so inspiring!

 

 

Kandolhu

Tiny island with the best snorkelling, a Mexican bar and bathroom goals.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Very small island
  • Multiple dining options
  • House reef alive with marine life
  • Overwater villa bathrooms

$$

 

The smallest island we visited and we LOVED it! There’s only 30 villas and that means you have such an intimate experience. Kandolhu feels very remote here and everyone (guests and staff included) are extremely friendly in a community sense. It’s a very wholesome vibe, surrounded by other tiny uninhabited islands.

Despite being so small there’s still four restaurant options. Our favourite place to eat by far was the lunchtime Mexican bar. Wow! A tiny little shack on the jetty with 6 bar stools and the best tacos in the Maldives. After swimming in the heat we dripped off in the shade and tucked into a Mexican feast. This was an absolute highlight of our trip!

The other massive mention has to go to the snorkelling straight off the beach. Seriously the best snorkelling we had on our trip. There is such an abundance of marine life in the water bustling around you. We were literally trying to avoid turtles bumping into us. And there’s a corner of the reef full of anemones and clown fish. So many active schools of fish and baby reefs sharks in the shallows. With such glassy conditions and clear waters it was like having an aquarium at your doorstep. You don’t even need to go below the water surface to see everything.

Oh and did I mention the Mantas? 😝 The Manta excursion was so insane. We saw 3 massive Mantas on our private tour and not another boat in sight. Pulling up in the middle of nowhere and sliding into the water with these beautiful creatures was such an incredible experience. 

And finally I need to give special mention to the overwater villa bathrooms. The floor to ceiling glass bathroom with free standing bathtub was something that majorly caught my eye and was a massive drawcard for me. I don’t normally like to spend time sitting still when in the Maldives but this tub was the exception.

 

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Prestige Maldives luxury with a beautiful lagoon. Amazing food and villas.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The clear blue lagoon and long sand bank
  • Amazing dining options 
  • The private island ‘Voavah’
  • Long infinity pools in the water villas
  • Flower bath at the Spa

$$$

four seasons maldives

 

We were return guests to Four Seasons Landaa and I can happily say that we will be back again! Landaa has one of the most naturally beautiful lagoons in the Maldives. Insane colours and water clarity that allows you to see down to the coral and fish beneath as you cruise into the arrival jetty. The sand spit near the restaurant and bar ‘Blu’ was hands down our fav spot in the lagoon. Always a calm area to swim no matter the wind direction and the most amazing photo spot thanks to the vivid blue hues and white powdery sands. 

Our arrival to Landaa was a treat as well, feeling very spoilt on the Four Seasons private sea plane. Much more room and comfy chairs compared to the usual carriers, this was the way to arrive in style. On our last visit to Landaa we stayed in beach villas (which were amazing) but this time we had the newly renovated water villas and loved it even more. We made use of the long pool and even swam to breakfast on our first morning – vibe!

Of course the island is totally beautiful, as you would expect from the Four Seasons brand. Perfectly maintained palm tree pathways, white sands, stunning restaurants and yummy menus. But there’s also so much to do! We had such a fun time. We had a treetop dinner one night, tried E-foiling, and visited the Four Seasons Private Island. The private island at Voavah is just 10 minutes away, with a beach house and seperate villas, three pools, gym and a spa – this is the dream stay! Imagine a deserted Maldives island but with all the Four Seasons luxury. Perfect for big groups, special occasions or weddings!

Other mentions:

  • Al Barakat restaurant – authentic Moroccan/Lebanese/Armenian food, decor & music took us back to our travels.
  • Blu cafe/restaurant – we chose to have every breakfast and lunch here
  • The spa was beautiful and followed by a flower bath! I mean..!
  • ‘Yoga therapy’ – using yoga to treat issues from stress to immunity to diabetes! So interesting to practice yoga in this way.

 

Raffles Maldives Meradhoo

A stunning small island with the incredible service you would expect from Raffles. Intimate, relaxed and beautiful. 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Tiny island 
  • Excellent service
  • The best spa we visited 
  • JetSki to sand bank and snorkelling
  • Private sunken table beach dinner
  • Tasty food options (vegan too)

$$$

raffles maldives

 

Located in one of the more remote Southern atolls, Raffles is the ultimate luxury escape. Far from other resorts, this tiny island has every detail perfected to give that retreat feel. There’s only 38 villas here, with 16 of the villas located on the ‘overwater island’ – a short 1-2 minute boat road from the island. This means that you have so much space to enjoy this little slice of paradise for yourself. And we instantly felt at ease and relaxed from the moment we arrived.

We stayed on the island in a deluxe beach villa and it was huge and totally private. And because of the island’s size, it’s only a casual stroll to reach everything. A few steps and you are in the water, swimming on the house reef and diving down the reefs drop-off. Or head along the jungle path to reach dining areas, like the main restaurant with a band playing and fairy lights strung between the palms. And speaking of beach dinners, I’d highly recommend the sunken table dinner. The team spent hours setting up our own private setting near the water. Candles everywhere and a blazing sunset – so romantic! 

One of our highlights here – and a trip highlight – was jumping on JetSkis with the marine biologist and heading out exploring. We were laughing and playing music until we reached a remote sand bank with no land in sight. From here we chased each other to a section of reef, put on our snorkel gear and slipped off the ski to explore underwater caverns and amazing reef features. Such a feeling of freedom. This was SO fun and one of my best travel days!

Special mention has to go to the spa – the best we visited during our trip to the Maldives! Beautifully furnished inside and out, the overwater spa puts you literally on the edge of the reef and in absolute bliss!

 

Samura Guest House

A local island stay. The same beautiful waters and tropo vibes at a fraction of the price!

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Seeing the real Maldives
  • Sand bank experiences
  • Surfing
  • Affordable and close to Male

$

This was our only local island stay of our trip and we chose to visit the island of Thulusdhoo. Only around 35 mins speedboat from Male, this is a great option that doesn’t require extra flights to reach. We really wanted to visit a local island because we felt as though we hadn’t properly experienced this beautiful country by only bouncing between resort islands. And we were SO happy that we did! We had such an amazing time and would love to come back again.

We stayed at Sumara, which is located on the best part of the island. Surrounded by palm trees and facing the famous surf break ‘Cokes’. This little strip of sandy beach has a few boutique hotels and a bikini beach for tourists to laze on beach chairs and take in the Maldivian sun. There is a Bali / Tulum vibe thanks to the low hanging palms, wooden cafes and day beds. And at the heart of this vibe is Samura Guest House.

Surfing is the currency here and that’s because you can paddle off the island to ‘Cokes’ or catch a boat from the bikini beach to ‘Chickens’ – both amazing surfing spots. We shared the lineup with a smattering of parrot fish, locals and travellers, surfing for hours before heading back in for amazing poke bowls and smoothies. You can walk off the beach strip and explore the local island too, like the sunset point and the surf shops, or grab a boat and explore other surf breaks or remote sand bars – all the same excursions you’d expect from the resort islands. This was one of our highlights actually, taking a boat out to a sand bank. Although it’s a public place we didn’t see anyone else and chilled in the shallows, laughed and swam for hours!

Special mention to Indulge Cafe which is literally next door to Samura and serves up the meanest sandwiches, bliss balls and smoothies. I was desperate for some good vegan food and this Bali style cafe was a life saver!

We had an amazing stay at Sumura on this local island. It’s the perfect stay to add to your Maldives trip to round out the proper experience of this country. Or it’s a perfect option for those travelling with a lower budget. Either way there’s more ‘travel’ experiences, vibes and adventure to be had here, with still just enough luxe and beautiful nature to satisfy all tropical lovers. Of course there’s no alcohol and so obvious respect is needed to the local culture – more reason to come and have those classic travel moments.

If you’re keen to visit local islands, our best advice is to contact Kristie at Indulge Maldives. Kristie has lived in the Maldives for years & is a wealth of knowledge, not to mention an amazing human. She made this stay unforgettable for us.

 

Joali

A bucket list stay for luxury Maldives travel. Some of the best food, clearest water and most stunning villas in all of our Maldives travels.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Overwater (and beach) villas with high ceilings & chic styling
  • Crystal clear waters
  • Sand bank stretching from the island 
  • Amazing food for every meal

$$$$

joali maldives

 

Joali is simply beautiful! Thanks to it’s position, the lagoon has some of the clearest water in the Maldives. The long sand bank stretching between the island and the water villas creates every shade of blue you could possibly dream of. We spent so much time in this lagoon swimming, laying in the shallows and then watching sunsets with a cocktail.

The villas boast high ceilings, stunning decor and styling, a bar area, pool, indoor and outdoor shower, and comfortable cabana. We are usually always outdoors in the sun and ocean, but Joali was one exception where we loved being in the villa just as much as exploring outside. Our ocean villa was the perfect spot to watch the sun set, laying in the overwater hammock with champagne and taking dips late into the evening. One of our travel highlights for sure!

A definite mention needs to go to the dining experiences. Joali is centred around health and wellbeing, and the food options are aligned with this concept. There are five restaurants to choose from and all have a la carte menus, keeping the food fresh. As a vegan who eats quite healthy I loved the food options! Such good variety for the breakfast and the overwater Japanese restaurant was extremely fresh and tasty.

Other mentions:

  • Beach villas – we spent one night in a beach villa and loved it just as much as the overwater villas. We enjoyed the same luxe interior, swapping the ocean underneath for a large, private garden and direct beach access.
  • Marine life – eagle rays passing us at dinner in the Japanese restaurant and even a lone dolphin passing by our water villa!
  • The spa – so many styles of massage available and a beautiful complimentary spa space to be enjoyed by everyone.

 

Soneva Fushi

Trailblazers of sustainable & barefoot luxury in the Maldives. Incredible food and amazing people!

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Vibrant & happy people
  • Sustainability at its core
  • Healthy food
  • Lush jungle surrounded by perfect water
  • Overwater restaurant with waterslide

$$$   ♻️

soneva fushi

 

We love Soneva. They are the OGs of sustainability here in the Maldives and have absolutely nailed the barefoot luxury vibe. Lose the shoes and expect only sand and wood on your soles during your stay. So much of the island is untouched and you’ll see lizards darting across the jungle paths and hear bird calls as you are exploring on your bike. It’s not uncommon to be completely surrounded in jungle without any signs of mankind. And this is all part of the way things are done here.

We hadn’t been to Soneva Fushi for around four years and we couldn’t believe how many people remembered us and welcomed us so warmly. We had so many moments of smiles and laughter with the staff. There is a very strong family vibe here and everyone is just so happy – it makes you smile! The other thing we hadn’t forgotten was the fresh and nourishing food – yum! They cater for all diets with exceptional options. Amazing elixirs, fresh organic greens from the cold room, pressed juices, delicious vegan and gluten free options – you can feel properly catered for and eat the very best food every meal.

One of my favourite experiences was their ‘Green in the Garden’ dinner. This is a vegan dining experience where you walk around the grounds with the chef, tasting fresh produce, sipping wine and snacking on pumpkin roasted over coals, followed by a 4 course meal under banana palms! Gosh take me back to that! 

Soneva Fushi has always been a jungle stay, however they have just opened 8 new overwater bungalows. These villas have taken on the Soneva Jani concept with added improvements – that’s right, they have waterslides too. The other new feature on the island is the overwater restaurant and chill area, ‘Out of the Blue’. Equipped with a waterslide, day beds & overwater hammocks to be enjoyed by all guests.

 

For those that value sustainability like me, Soneva has been genuinely caring for its island and surrounds for 20 years. Well before it was ‘cool’ or a marketing tool. It’s just in everything they do here, from their building materials, waste treatment and recycling, water usage and plastic reduction.

Other mentions:

  • Turtle snorkel – we saw 10 in one swim!
  • Sandbar experience just off the island
  • Guests are a community of like-minded, healthy, eco wanderers 

 

Mirihi Island Resort

Back to nature. The ultimate place to unwind in tropical paradise.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Small and intimate feel
  • Quiet & calming with nature as the focus 
  • Diving and whale shark excursions

$

 

 

I have had my eye on this little gem for many years now, so I was so happy to finally be able to visit. Mirihi has an intimate feel, the tiny island only 50m wide and 350m long. It’s one of the smallest islands in the Maldives and this was a massive drawcard for me. They also have a very authentic feel letting the natural elements (perfect palms, lapping waves, quiet beaches) do all the talking. The concept here isn’t to dazzle with gimmicks, they just put everything into the things that matter. The food, the serenity and raw elements are the heroes here.

We loved the food. Every day amazing salads, fresh seafood and plenty of Maldivian dishes. Even though we were here creating content every day, this stay was so quiet and calming that we felt like we were on holiday too. The sunsets are incredible and our fav place to hang was a perfect little hammock spot among the palms on the beach.

There is also plenty to do here. We didn’t have the time, but Mirihi is well known for its diving (around 50% of the guests were divers when we visited). Being located in the Baa Atoll, you can head out on Whale Shark excursions like we did, and you do it in style at Mirihi on a beautiful wooden sail boat. Even though we didn’t see any whale sharks (such is nature) we had the best day cruising around the islands and swam with a pod of dolphins too!

Other mentions:

  • Access to the water – being so small, you can easily walk anywhere on the island in only a few minutes and so you can find the calmest spot to swim and laze, no matter the wind direction.
  • Outdoor cinema – we had our own private screening, taking our dessert and popcorn and watching a movie under the stars.

 

 

Six Senses Laamu

Sustainability minded barefoot luxury. An incredibly fun resort with so much to do, and a friendly atmosphere with like-minded people.  

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Private sand bank
  • Surfing 
  • Sustainability minded
  • Barefoot luxury
  • Untouched reefs in a remote setting

$$$   ♻️

 

Six Senses has the perfect formula of healthy food, environmentally friendly luxury and organic experiences. The restaurants and villas are all constructed of natural timbers and all the touches are very earthy and raw. And everything is done so beautifully, from the outdoor showers to the overwater cafe & restaurants. There’s a treehouse restaurant too (Leaf) set amount the trees overlooking the garden where all the fresh produce is sourced. And the a la carte breakfast menu has the best fresh juices, smoothies and coffee options.

The island is in the Southern atoll of Laamu, far from other resorts and so is very pristine and largely untouched by tourism. This means that there is an abundance of amazing marine life. We got to check out the house reef with a snorkel, swimming with turtles, before heading out to the tall cylindrical pinnacle reefs just off the island. We were also lucky enough to squeeze in a house dive. Eagle rays, lion fish and a Moray eel were just a few of the encounters we had just off the shore!

And so with all this untouched magic, Six Senses has made a massive effort to look after what it’s got. Sustainability is a part of everything that happens here and I was so happy to learn more. The team works with local communities for improved plastic consumption within the atoll, they protect significant parts of the region, help with local jobs and school education, carry out important marine research and sea grass protection for turtles, and incentivise sustainable fishing from locals. So inspiring!

One of favourite memories from our stay was being dropped at a sand bar just in sight of the island. We were left, just the two of us, with nothing but an umbrella and a water cooler for 2 hours on perfect white sand and crystal clear water. Then we headed home and watched the most brilliant sunset over palm trees on a neighbouring island. What a way to spend a day in the sun.

Surfing is one of the main attractions for Six Senses and one of many reasons we visited. The island is so well set up for surfing thanks to TropicSurf, who can take you for beginner lessons straight off the beach or out to more advanced reef breaks like the well-known right hander, Yin-Yang. We had another trip highlight here, surfing a reef just off the island together, Chesh and I both getting fun waves, with turtles in the water and a backdrop of the water villas and palms on the shore.

 

 

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

Traditional experience on a perfect natural island. One of the only turtle rehabiliation centres in the Maldives!

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Private island experience 
  • Authentic accommodation and feel
  • Calm & clear lagoon
  • Very affordable
  • Turtle rehab centre 

$$

Coco Palm Dhuni was always going to be naturally beautiful. Just check out a few photos and you can see what I mean. The idyllic palms, large white sand beach and insane clear lagoon. We had such crazy good weather with no wind. Perfect sunrises over the palms and sunsets over the ocean.

But what we really took away from our stay here was how amazing it was to experience a more authentic Maldives stay. The food is kept simple and the villas use natural timbers and traditional thatched roofs. You feel closer to nature and the more simple way of enjoying the magical surrounds. Like being dropped at a private sand bar for sunset with a plate of food and a bottle of wine. Or like our favourite experience – the private island.

This was one of our top moments from this trip. Coco Palm has a private island and it is absolute goals. Dense palm jungle right to the water with nothing on it except a tiny hut and an open fire grill. That’s it! We were taken here and left to swim and explore the beach & jungle fringes. Then we showered and changed in the hut ready for sunset. Just two staff from the resort are here to set up the dinner table on the soft sand near lapping waves. And then we sat and enjoyed the setting sun while our own chef cooked dinner, with only a few lanterns, the distant islands and the blazing stars lighting the night sky. Then in pitch black light the boat comes to take you back home. We even saw bioluminescence in the water on the way home! Incredible! You can also come here for the morning, afternoon, or overnight stays!

 

One of the main reasons we wanted to come here was to visit the turtle rehabilitation centre. Well done to Coco Palm, catering for the Oliver Ridley project who take in injured turtles from all around the Maldives. The amazing team cares for them, educates guests and then releases them back into the wild for another chance at life.

 

Pullman Maldives Maamutaa

A large island with so much to do. Inspired by fitness and healthy living!

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Healthy food options
  • Activities and fitness fun
  • Sand bar that you can reach without a boat
  • So much room to spread out on the island 

$$

We loved the food here! There are buffet options if you wish, but the a al carte dining options were amazing. Our favs were the Phat Chameleon vegetarian restaurant in the garden, the nutritious breakfast at Sol Rising and the best Mediterranean food at Souk Oven. I’m drooling thinking about this!

While there’s a lot here at Pullman for people wanting to run, swim, work out or play, we chose to explore the natural elements for our exercise. And the sand bank was the standout for us. You can get here by stand up paddle boards, kayaks, or wading out on the low tide. This tiny sand bank is just off the end of the island and we had it to ourselves. We swam, shot photos and then had to hustle back with our gear above our heads as the tide came back in! Oh, and because the island is so big you’ll be riding your bikes everywhere which is such a vibe for your tropical island stay.

Our favourite part of the island though was the beach in front of the main pool. Absolute goals. There’s plenty of places to chill out, have an iced coffee or cocktail and enjoy the white sandy beaches and clear blue lagoon waters.

 

Fairmont Maldives – Sirru Fen Fushi

Remote island stay with all the luxe you could need. 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Quiet, remote vibes
  • Overwater Japanese restaurant at sunset
  • Longest infinity pool in the Maldives
  • Market restaurant vegan food options 

$$

The Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort is located in the North, away from the busier atolls, and you really feel that sense of remoteness a little more here. Always a good vibe, but never too loud or busy on any part of the island. Even in the massive lagoon on the sunset side of the island we easily found the perfect place to relax, swim and lay. A floating pontoon, swings in the shallows, beach chairs, or cabanas are just a few places to choose from. And of course, the iconic pool which is one of the longest infinity pools in the Maldives.

We were so impressed with the Raha market restaurant. After arriving to the island we headed straight there for lunch and were blown away by the food options, especially for me as a vegan. This restaurant is buffet and has such a chill atmosphere and beach hut styling. We just sat in the shade with sand between our toes and pinched ourselves at the sight of that neon blue lagoon water!

And the other highlight was Kata, the overwater Japanese restaurant. Usually we’ve found in the Maldives that these venues come alive after dark, but we were encouraged to enjoy this restaurant for sunset and it was well worth it. Open air, intimate and vibey atmosphere, we were perfectly left to the elements with great food and wine.

Other mentions:

  • Overwater villa stunning decor (macramé and boho/art deco styling) 
  • Floating breakfast (we had ours in the main pool!)

 

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

The perfect blend of relaxation, luxury, adventure & conservation. And all served up on a picturesque tropical island. 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Stunning lagoon with the most perfect beach to relax
  • Adventure experiences (like surfing) at your fingertips
  • Amazing marine life straight off the island
  • Conservation works in reef restoration and turtle rehabilitation
  • Private spa island

$$$

 

Kuda Huraa has amazing snorkelling and there’s so much marine life straight off the beach. On the sunrise side of the island, we swam with rays, sharks, and turtles. There’s also an abundance of vibrant coral here, especially thanks to the resort team who have built up the reef so much with their coral frame restoration work! We were lucky to work with the Reefscapers team and plant our own coral frame within the coral garden. We took broken pieces of coral and fixed them to a frame that will allow the corals to flourish once again!

One of our favourite experiences after seeing turtles in the wild was to visit the marine discovery centre. Here the team rehabilitates injured sea turtles. We were able to join in when a 25yo female turtle named Louise was taken for a ‘rehab swim’ in the lagoon! So inspiring.

Another highlight here was the floating breakfast in our villas private pool. We also loved the Spa, which can only be reached by a short trip in a tiny traditional boat. The spa itself is so beautiful and opening your eyes to blue water and lapping waves is heaven on earth.

The other experience that Kuda Huraa is known for is surfing, due to its close proximity to great waves and its team of surf guides from Tropic Surf. Only a few minutes aboard a beautiful Maldivian wooden boat, we arrived to clear & empty waves. Chesh and I both had so much fun and no matter your level or board choice, it’s the best way to spend a day in the tropics and earn your cocktails when you arrive back to the island.

 

 

Constance Halaveli

A great all-round mix of island vibes, overwater luxe, activities and great food options.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Swim with Mantas
  • Perfect palm laced beach and hanging chair
  • Sunset dhoni cruise

$$

 

Our highlight at Constance Halaveli was easily swimming with Manta Rays – this is one of our most memorable experiences of our time in the Maldives. Chesh and I were just floating by ourselves away from our group when two massive Mantas started doing laps around us. It was so surreal to see these majestic rays totally unaffected by our presence. But what stood out was how the Constance team cared so much for the well-being of these beautiful animals and provided a very conscious and unobtrusive interaction in the ocean. This made the whole experience so special!

Our favourite part of the island was the beach near the Jahaz Bar. With the neon blue lagoon waters, the curved white sand beach, perfect palm trees and a hanging chair, it’s such a beautiful part of the island to enjoy. Our overwater villa had views of this beach too and watching the sun rise over this slice of paradise from our deck was unbelievable.

Another memorable experience would be the sunset Dhoni cruise followed by dinner at the Asian overwater restaurant. We watched sharks and fish swimming beneath us in the night lights as we ate. We also LOVED the sunrise with a floating breakfast in our pool, watching the sunlight break through a cluster of palm trees over our favourite beach. 

Other mentions

  • Glass bottom canoe
  • House reef was massive vertical drop-off for snorkelling

 

 

Lti Maafushivaru 

Newly renovated resort. We spent so much time in the ocean here!

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Whale shark excursion
  • Teppanyaki
  • Beautiful gardens 
  • Newly renovated but with a great vibe

$$$

The first thing we noticed is how beautiful the grounds are here. It’s a newly renovated resort with a great vibe & lush, colourful gardens. We also loved the bar area which was a perfect spot for sundowners. Soft lighting, views of palms and the lagoon, with Negroni cocktails in hand – such a highlight!

Easily our fav memory from Lti Maafishivaru was the whale shark excursion. We went with the island marine biologist and learn so much about the marine life in this atoll as well as all the conservation projects the team is working on. This made the whole experience out on the water so much more special for us. Although we didn’t spot any whale sharks (such is nature!), we found an amazing spot to snorkel and free dive with an insane amount of vibrant fish and along the way we swam with turtles & saw dolphins too.

We only had two days here and definitely need more time, so would love to come back!

Other mentions:

  • Teppanyaki restaurant – a fun way to enjoy dinner
  • Paddle board around the island in only 30 minutes

 

 

Movenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives

Classic Maldives stay with perfect clear water and overwater villas.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Crystal clear waters
  • Japanese restaurant
  • Spacious rooms

$$

Movenpick has some of the clearest blue waters we encountered during this trip. We loved watching it’s colours change throughout the day from bight neon, to milky hues and then red-tinted with the blazing sunset. And even better to enjoy for a refreshing dip after soaking in the hot sun!

We tried out both the beach villa and the overwater villa and both were superb. Very spacious and a lot of room to relax, our fav moment was sitting on our deck and watching the sun set over the island silhouetted by palm trees. Our other favourite experience was the overwater restaurant that served fresh seafood and tasty Japanese.

We only had one full day so it was a very quick visit, so we’d love to come back again and stay for a longer time!

 

Mercure

Affordable overwater villas and all the resort essentials.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Private beach dinner
  • Turtle snorkelling
  • Outdoor spa

$

 

Located down in the Southern atolls, we reached the Mercure via domestic flight to Kooddoo Island. The resort shares the same island as the airport so there’s no need for a speedboat pickup and you are in your villa in no time. We loved the overwater villas and at an affordable price you can stay over the lagoon with steps down to the water. You can organise a floating breakfast to your private pool like we did too!

Our highlight was definitely the private beach dinner, set up next to palm trees in a little gazebo with lanterns scattered around us. This was so special for us. Sand beneath and the waves lapping at the water’s edge!

Other mentions:

  • Snorkel with turtles
  • All inclusive buffet but a few places to escape for more intimate a la carte dining
  • Outdoor spa

 

SAii Lagoon

Brand new resort, close to Male with plenty of options to eat and play.

$

We only spent one night here but we made the most of our stay! We chose SAii Lagoon because it was close to Male international airport and in 15 minutes we were able to get to the beautiful resort after our late arrival on a long haul flight. The speedboat transfer was perfect and the service was excellent for this.

The resort only opened in 2020 and everything is stunning. There’s heaps of facilities to enjoy and this is part of a new concept where you are part of a shared resort with 3 mini islands – SAii, Hard Rock and a restaurant/shopping precinct. We explored the grounds and loved the different options and places to take a dip. We also loved the water villas. With a unique style and vibrant yellows they stand out in your memory and are such a good option for this price point.

We’ll be back next year to try this resort out a little more 😊

 

Hakuraa Huraa 

Newly renovated resort with a private adults only island.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Amazing staff
  • Private island for adults only
  • Beach villas only steps from the water

$

This resort has recently undergone huge renovations and they have just relaunched. One of the upgrades is the Platinum Island – an adults retreat that is just across from the main island and hosts it’s own restaurant and bar, exclusive for the guests here. It’s such a cool concept and the beach villas are literally 20m from the waters edge. This was the major draw card for me to visit Hakuraa Huraa. That sort of beach access is insane. 

One of the best parts of our stay was the amazing staff. They helped out making vegan food options for me every time and went to every trouble to make our stay enjoyable. I couldn’t talk more highly of the genuine care we had during the whole stay!

Our highlight was the JetSki to a snorkel spot very close to the island. We had perfect calm conditions and swam and free dived with our guide, witnessing coral gardens with anemone and a few turtles too.

This place has all the elements of a beautiful resort stay. Unfortunately we had a bad spell of weather (such is nature!) but would have loved to have done the other offerings that the resort has – private beach dinner, floating breakfast and diving at the year-round manta spot. We saw videos of this cleaning station and it looks so good – next time!

 

Ellaidhoo

Affordable overwater villas and an amazing sand bank experience.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sand bank excursion
  • An affordable stay in the North Ari Atoll

$

 

Ellaidhoo is definitely a budget option for those wanting to experience the beautiful surrounding Maldivian elements. Diving is one of the main attractions here, although we couldn’t squeeze it in because we only had one full day. But we did get to head out to their sand bank and it was the best thing we did by far! Taking a traditional Dhoni we were dropped by ourselves with crazy clear water, an umbrella and refreshments for a few hours. We didn’t stop taking photos the whole time!

The resort is very simple and the buffet options are basic but the water villas have been newly renovated and were comfy and clean. 

 

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