Even at the swishest of beach resorts, it’s not often you have the run of your own tropical island – but at Milaidhoo Island, it’s as if it’s all yours from shore to shore. Set in the Unesco-protected, reef-fringed Baa Atoll, this cleverly designed hotel will make you feel like you really are miles from anywhere (including other guests). Each private villa – either by the beach or perched on stilts above the water – comes with its own infinity pool and sun-dappled terrace; some are so secluded they even have an outdoor shower. If you can bear to drag yourself away (we know, it’s difficult) the rest of Milaidhoo’s considerable offering is on your doorstep: three restaurants, a glittering main pool, a sandy-floored bar and dolphin-spotting tours await.
Get this when you book through us:
A 90-minute Maldivian cooking class for two at the Shoreline Grill, followed by lunch
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £1478.50 ($1,933), including tax at 23.2 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of $6.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast (a buffet of home-made bread and pastries, fruit salad, yoghurt and porridge) at Ocean.
The hotel has a coral ‘adoption’ programme (part of its conservation scheme), where guests can choose a reef, plant it, and then watch it grow over the years. Aim even higher (literally) with the Milaidhoo’s honeymoon package, which includes a real star named after the newlyweds.
At the hotel
Dive centre; yoga pavilion; watersports (kayaking, windsurfing, catamarans, paddle boards, snorkelling); free WiFi; laundry service. In rooms: flatscreen TV; DVD player; iPod dock; air-conditioning; private pool; minibar (with a free bottle of champagne on arrival); tea- and Nespresso coffee-making facilities; Acqua di Parma bath products; Jacuzzi (in Beach Residences only).
Our favourite rooms
Milaidhoo's rooms are classically decorated with every conceivable luxury, including a private infinity pool. If we had to choose, the Beach Residence just clinches it: set right on the powder-soft sand, these huge, thatched-roof villas open up all along one side, so you can make the most of the sunshine. After dark, slip into the Jacuzzi for late-night soaking with a cocktail in hand.
The unheated infinity pool has sunloungers on one side and panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. There’s the Compass Pool Bar too, which serves fresh juices and cocktails throughout the day. If you get peckish, there’s also a menu of wood-fired pizzas, bento boxes, sandwiches and salads.
Choose from an extensive menu of treatments in the traditional, thatched-roof spa, with its open-air yoga pavilion and four overwater treatment rooms. Treatments use TheraNaka products enriched with African plants and minerals, said to have natural healing properties. Try the couples’ spa retreat, which combines a creamy coconut scrub with a bubble bath, hour-long massage and 30-minute facial.
Milaidhoo’s so romantic, you may never leave your room – pack some sexy silk pyjamas for suite-lounging. Boys, bring your best swimming trunks: the competition round the pool is fierce for the brightest, boldest prints and patterns.
Children under nine aren’t allowed at Milaidhoo. While you can bring tweens and teens, this is more suited to Smiths on a romantic getaway.
The hotel has plenty of eco-friendly measures in place, including a water plant and a coral-regeneration programme. The team also works with local charities such as MantaMatcher and the Manta Trust, who protect the native manta rays.
Go for the table at the prow in Ba'theli; at the Captain’s Table at the Shoreline Grill; on the sun-soaked deck at Ocean.
Floaty kaftans, silky dresses and minimal jewellery will work well at the low-key restaurants (remember to leave out the heels, as it’s a barefoot resort). Mr Smith will look the part in a pastel linen shirt – preferably with a golden tan…
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options at Milaidhoo, which has three restaurants: Ba'theli by the Reef, the Shoreline Grill and Ocean. The real scene-stealer is Ba'theli – set on three interlinked traditional fishing boats in the sparkling lagoon, where chef Ahmed Siwath serves up modern Maldivian fare, from smoked tuna with crispy banana blossom to coconut sambal. At the Shoreline Grill, situated on the sand beneath the shade of thatched pavilions, the chefs (led by the superb Suresh Kumara) will simply ask what meat or seafood you like, before whipping up a simple-yet-perfect dish. Ocean has seating both inside and on the sea-facing deck, which has an enormous banyan tree growing in its centre. The à la carte menu – created by chef Jayadi – is a mixture of local and international dishes.
Ba'theli Lounge is open every evening, and is the ideal spot for sunset views and wickedly good champagne cocktails – try the one muddled with lychee and mango. The sandy Compass Pool Bar is open all day, but it really comes into its own after dark: kick back in one of the hanging egg-chairs with a cocktail (the bartenders – all of whom have extensive mixology training – make a mean Negroni) and challenge your other half to traditional wooden board games. As you’d expect, there are wonderful vistas of the candlelit pool, but it’s the views for miles across the Indian Ocean that take centre stage.
Ba'theli by the Reef and the Shoreline Grill are open from 7pm–10.30pm. Ocean is open from 7am–10.30pm (breakfast is served until 10.30am). Compass Pool Bar serves drinks from 9am–11pm and food from noon–6pm. Ba'theli Lounge is open from 5pm–10.30pm.
A full menu of sushi, salads, burgers, sandwiches and local seafood is available round the clock. Well, you never know when you may fancy home-made ice-cream at 4am…
You need a transfer to reach this hotel. For approximate costs, see location information
Located in the Unesco-protected Baa Atoll, Milaidhoo is a tiny private island (it measures just 180 metres by 300 metres) close to Hanifaru Bay, 126 kilometres north-west of Malé.
Most international carriers fly to Malé International (Sri Lankan Airlines operates regular, direct flights from the UK). From here, you’ll need to get a seaplane to the island – the flight takes 35 minutes and is organised by the hotel; just let them know your arrival time two days before departure. Return flights cost $700 for adults, $500 for children aged 9–11, including taxes. Private seaplanes can also be arranged on request; just call our Smith24 team and they'll happily arrange flights and transfers.
The resort is completely car- and bike-free, so you’ll need to pad about barefoot to get to the restaurants, pool and bar.
If you’re arriving at Malé International after 3.30pm, you’ll need to get a 15-minute domestic flight to Dharavandhoo Airport followed by a 15-minute speedboat ride to Milaidhoo. Again, the hotel will organise everything for you, so let them know when your flight arrives. Return flights plus speedboat transfers cost $700 (adults), $500 (children aged 9–11), including taxes.
Worth getting out of bed for
Visit the hotel’s five-star PADI dive centre, where dips will introduce you to the coral reef that fringes the island, its resident manta rays and countless shoals of tropical fish. If there just aren’t enough hours in the day for all your underwater exploits, fluoro night dives can be arranged for the adventurous. The really curious can take part in the ‘be a marine biologist’ programme, where you can shadow the local biologists and the work they do to maintain the reef and wildlife. For those who’d rather keep their heads above water, there are windsurfing boards, catamarans, paddle boards and kayaks with which to explore the deep blue briny. There’s plenty to occupy you on Milaidhoo, but if the urge to discover new lands overtakes you, the hotel can organise excursions: head to nearby islands to visit traditional Maldivian villages; sail to a deserted sandbank for a romantic picnic à deux; or try one of the dolphin-spotting, champagne- and caviar-fuelled sunset cruises.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this private-island resort and unpacked their snorkelling gear and coral reef ‘adoption certificate’, a full account of their Indian Ocean break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Milaidhoo Island in the Maldives…
On this tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, you might find yourself coming over a bit Robinson Crusoe: exploring the tropical flora and fauna (barefoot, thanks to the no-shoes policy); diving deep to discover the coral reef; and paddling through the lagoon to reach the relics of tied-up dhoni fishing boats. However, while the famous castaway encountered many a sticky situation on his deserted island, you’ll be hard pushed to find anything but smooth sailing on the shores of Milaidhoo. Nothing is too much for the attentive and friendly staff: they can fix up a sunset cruise with the resident dolphin pod; a marine biologist-led diving tour; or just a chef-made supper in your villa. Fancy having a star named after you, or adopting your own piece of coral, that will then grow on the reef for years to come? You guessed it – it can all be done. You may be on a remote island with infinite possibilities, but at least one thing’s for certain: there’ll be no cries of ‘SOS’…
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