- Breezy seaside retreat
- Blissful Baa Atoll
- Lagoon luxe
- Azure waters of North Malé Atoll
- Faraway island fantasy
- The bluest lagoon
- Maxi-minimal dream come true
- Ocean colour scene
- Romantic beach retreat
- Reef-fringed Veligandu Huraa
- Barefoot bliss
- Deserted Dhaalu Atoll
Highlights the best the Maldives has to offer, from island-hopping and spa spoiling to underwater adventures; we've even found the most inspiring place to enjoy the views from.
Worth getting out of bed for...
- There aren't many countries where you're guaranteed a 360º view of the sea from almost anywhere you stand/sit/lie down. However, one of our favourite views is from Lonu Veyo – a tiny saltwater flotation pool isolated in the languid shallows off Huvafen Fushi island. It's saltier than the Dead Sea, so it's also fabulous for your skin (as well as making limbs improbably bouyant). Alternatively, hop aboard a sea plane from Cocoa Island for a heron's eye view of the islands.
- Arts and culture
- In the Maldivian capital, Malé, little evidence of the former kingdom's palatial or ancient Buddhist architecture exists. Day trips from resorts will generally give you a tour of the city, taking in some shopping in the lively Machangolhi quarter, the golden-domed Islamic Centre, the Presidential Palace, the fish market and the Grand Mosque. In the Alif Alif Atoll there are more Buddhist archaeological remains, particularly on Thoddoo, but most sites are in a poor state and not worth a trip.
- Something for nothing
- With so much underwater action to see off these islands, even a novice is guaranteed take to snorkelling like the proverbial duck to water here: both Cocoa Island and Huvafen Fushi provide masks, fins and snorkels to guests for free, and the ocean is literally alive with rainbow-coloured fish, soft corals and fascinating crustaceans. What are you waiting for?
- Try to buy some virgin coconut oil produced on the Maldives: healing, anti-bacterial and supposedly anti-ageing, it also smells delicious.
- Go island-hopping: charter a dhoni or speedboat for the day and find your own private corner of paradise for a barbecue lunch on the beach of an uninhabited island, or check out some of the small, typical Maldivian fishing villages such as Maafushi, near Cocoa Island.
- Best beach
- We don't think you need our help with this one – sally forth and find your own.
- With most resort islands measuring only a few hundred metres across, if you want to stretch your legs properly you're better off going for a swim.
- Scuba diving over bustling coral reefs; learning to sail a catamaran; star-gazing from candlelit sundecks; picnic excursions to nearby islands by speedboat or kayak; deep-sea fishing or dolphin-watching trips; water-skiing, windsurfing and all manner of water sports. From Cocoa Island, take a snorkelling trip out to Fushifathi Finolhu, or travel 40 metres under the sea in a submarine. Cocoa Island's dive centre is particularly good, and slap-bang next to Cocoa Thila, one of the Maldives' top 10 dive spots.
December Christmas and New Year is peak time on the Maldives, so book well in advance if you plan to visit over the holiday season. March Parades mark the Maldives National Day on Malé. July More parades and celebrating in the streets of Malé for Independence Day on the 26th. September/October Ramadan – the holy month of fasting – starts two weeks earlier every year, according to the lunar cycle.