This year marks half a century since mass tourism began in the Maldives — which regularly tops polls of ‘dream destinations’, especially with honeymooners and those celebrating anniversaries.
In 1972, the Indian Ocean nation’s first hotel opened on the island of Kurumba. Now there are almost 200 resorts on the archipelago’s 1,192 islands, with a further dozen opening this year. This remote country in the Indian Ocean may sound like a pricey place to go, especially with the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, Tom Cruise, supermodel Milla Jovovich and Roman Abramovich making a beeline there of late. Yet there are plenty of good deals around, if you know where to look. Here we pick some of the best.
IT’S A KNOCKOUT
Embudu Village resort is set on a little island, pictured above, that is a 20-minute ride from the airport
Stay for a week full-board at Embudu Village resort and the price is just under £1,000 pp
Embudu Village is a low-key resort featuring ‘simple but comfortable rooms’. Pictured is a ‘Superior Bungalow’ at the resort
Stay for a week full-board at Embudu Village resort, on a little island that is a 20-minute ride from the airport, and the price is just under £1,000 pp.
This low-key resort has simple but comfortable rooms, watersports (including diving and paddleboarding), a spa and guided excursions to Male, the bustling capital of the Maldives.
How to do it: Seven nights from £989 pp full board with Heathrow flights (travelrepublic.co.uk).
BIG ISLAND, BIG VALUE
Kuredu Resort is located on Lhaviyani Atoll, one of the Maldives’ largest resort islands
Kuredu Resort is home to ten bars, so you can sample a different one each night. Pictured is the resort’s Sangu Bar
The interior of the Garden Bungalow at Kuredu Resort. Tui is offering seven nights full board at the resort from £1,462 pp
Go snorkelling or diving in the morning, then enjoy a round on the first golf course in the Maldives (with six holes) at Kuredu Resort on Lhaviyani Atoll. This is one of the Maldives’ largest resort islands, taking about an hour to stroll around.
There are ten bars, plus tennis courts, padel courts, watersports and a spa.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,462 pp full board with Gatwick flights and transfers (tui.co.uk).
LAGOON FOR LESS
Enormous whale sharks, manta rays and turtles are common around the waters off Kihaa island (pictured)
Kihaa is a tiny oval island north of the capital, Male, on Baa Atoll. Expect a gorgeous lagoon that’s perfect for gentle snorkelling, with a chance to spot manta rays and turtles. Enormous whale sharks are also common in the nearby waters (don’t worry, they are harmless to humans, only eating small prawns, fish and plankton). You stay in a chic little villa.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,499 pp all-inclusive with flights from London or Manchester (holidaypirates.com).
Meeru Island Resort is the only resort on the island of Meerufenfushi, about a 55-minute speedboat transfer from the international airport.
It’s 1,200 metres long and 350 metres wide and filled with coconut palms (although space has been cleared for a nine-hole golf course). Choose between a ‘beach villa’ or a ‘water villa’ on stilts above the ocean — some have hot tubs.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,399 pp full board with Gatwick flights (trailfinders.com).
At Adaaran Select Meedhupparu (pictured), about 80 miles north of the capital, dives cost less the more you book
Rooms at Adaaran Select Meedhupparu are elegantly decorated with wooden fittings. Pictured is a ‘Water Villa’ at the resort
Seven nights at Adaaran Select Meedhupparu costs from £1,499 pp all-inclusive with Travelbag
Learn to dive with lessons from the watersports centre or, if you are already qualified, join the dive boat each day to explore nearby reefs on guided trips at Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, about 80 miles north of the capital.
Dives cost less the more you book. Spot manta rays and barracuda, then enjoy the Balinese-style spa. Rooms are elegantly decorated with wooden fittings.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,499 pp all-inclusive with Heathrow flights (travelbag.co.uk).
CHEAP IN LAAMU
You can visit a number of local islands from Rahaa Resort on Laamu Atoll, pictured above
Dine on grilled fish on ‘barbecue on the beach’ nights at Rahaa Resort, pictured above. Blue Bay Travel is offering a seven-night stay from £1,378 pp
You must present a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of your outbound flight and fill in a Traveller Health Declaration Form within 48 hours of going.
See ‘entry requirements’ for the Maldives at gov.co.uk.
Tuck into grilled fish on ‘barbecue on the beach’ nights at Rahaa Resort on Laamu Atoll.
The resort comes with a sandbar-protected saltwater lagoon that’s like a giant natural swimming pool. There’s an excellent spa and deep sea fishing trips, as well as visits to local islands — including a cycling excursion on the nearby island of Gan.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,378 pp all-inclusive with Gatwick or Manchester flights (bluebaytravel.co.uk).
Tennis courts, pools, a well-equipped gym and watersports centre make Reethi Beach Resort perfect for an active getaway. But come sundown there are three tucked-away beach bars on the edge of the jungle-filled interior.
‘Reethi’ means ‘beautiful’ in Dhivehi and the setting lives up to that. Villas are comfortable, with little wooden decks facing the sea.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,299 pp half board with return flights from London or Manchester (trailfinders.com).
Eriyadu Island Resort on the North Male Atoll, pictured, has a ‘relaxed’ atmosphere with ‘simple-but-smart’ rooms
Enjoy a complimentary half-hour massage when you book into Eriyadu Island Resort on the North Male Atoll — plus 25 per cent off all spa treatments. This relaxed island has simple-but-smart rooms with balconies, a PADI-registered diving centre, gym, two bars (including the waterside Turtle Beach Bar) and a spa with treatments in a pavilion with massage tables on the beach.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,099 pp all-inclusive with Manchester flights (bluebaytravel.co.uk).
Join one of the many excursions offered at Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon in Alifu Atoll. Pictured are the resort’s overwater villas
Above is a water bungalow at Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon. During their stay, guests can join fishing trips at sunrise, sunset and at night, to catch barracuda and swordfish to be cooked later at the restaurant
Seven nights at Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon is priced from £1,379 pp all-inclusive with Tropical Sky
Join one of the many excursions offered at Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon in Alifu Atoll. These include visits to deserted islands as well as those occupied by locals on a traditional dhoni boat, or join fishing trips at sunrise, sunset and at night, to catch barracuda and swordfish to be cooked later at the restaurant.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,379 pp all-inclusive with Heathrow flights (tropicalsky.co.uk).
Reethi Faru Resort on Raa Atoll, pictured, comes with tennis courts, badminton, a spa, yoga classes and watersports galore
Enjoy grilled seafood by the beach next to a fire pit, order lobster salads and steaks in the main restaurant or book a table at the island’s vegetarian/vegan restaurant on Reethi Faru Resort on Raa Atoll. This good value resort comes with tennis courts, badminton, a spa, yoga classes and watersports galore. Rooms are colourfully decorated and have deck-style balconies or terraces.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,279 pp half-board with Heathrow flights (travelbag.co.uk).
At Sun Siyam Olhuveli resort (pictured above), discounts of 20 per cent are available on watersports
Sun Siyam Olhuveli resort boasts water villas – one of which is pictured above – and two spas
A bathroom at one of Sun Siyam Olhuveli resort’s water villas. Away Holidays is offering seven nights at the resort from £1,039 pp
Rates have been cut at Sun Siyam Olhuveli resort, a 45-minute speedboat ride from the airport, with four pools and nine restaurants. Discounts of 20 per cent are available on watersports such as diving and jet-skiing if you book ahead. This resort has water villas with plunge pools and two spas.
How to do it: Seven nights from £1,309 pp full board with Heathrow flights (awayholidays.co.uk).
FLATTEST COUNTRY ON THE PLANET
- It is the world’s flattest country with 80 per cent lower than one metre high.
- In 2009, the world’s first underwater cabinet was held by the Maldives to highlight the country’s perliously low-lying situation, which could be affected by climate change.
- Alcohol is only allowed on official ‘tourist islands’, of which there are just under 200 (out of 1,192 islands) because the country is a Muslim state.
- Until 2009 it was illegal for outsiders to visit non ‘tourist islands’.
- The population is around 540,000, of whom 252,000 live on Male, the capital — making it one of the world’s most densely populated cities.
- Its beaches are made from crushed pieces of bleached coral, giving them a distinctive bright, white glare.
- There are more than 2,000 species of fish, including whale sharks, which can grow to 12 metres long.
- The RAF had a base on Gan in Addu Atoll from 1957 to 1976. The officers’ mess is now the Equator Village hotel.