Maldives
National Geographic Traveller (UK)|November 2021
Framed by palms and with sparkling turquoise sea, nowhere does beachside bliss like the Maldives. And with a string of new openings, this Indian Ocean the islands’ hotel scene has never looked better.
Lee Cobaj

The Maldives is Mother Nature in overdrive: technicolour coral, beaches so white they’ll make your eyes squint and water so blue it looks like the saturation has been set to max. This archipelago of 1,190 islands has become a poster child for island paradise, but there’s more variety than you might think. Some atolls are better for manta rays; some attract whale sharks; and others are great for surfing, deep-sea fishing or have beaches running for miles. Tragically, several coral reefs were badly damaged during a worldwide bleaching event in 2016, so those keen to explore beneath the surface will need to plan carefully before visiting this everchanging seascape. But much like its marine life, the Maldives’ accommodation is similarly vibrant, and you’ll find everything from love nests and party pads to castaway villas and overwater bungalows, meaning there’s just as much action to be had on land as there is in that dazzlingly blue water.

Best for beach bums

SEASIDE FINOLHU

Named after the island’s immaculate, half mile-long sandbank, Seaside Finolhu is perfect for hand-in-hand strolls. It recently refreshed all of its villas in sherbet shades of yellow, pink, blue and green, and the rest of the resort is similarly playful; take a stroll around the island and you might find an inflatable water park on the seashore or fire dancers on the beach. There’s plenty more to do here, too, including tennis and yoga, and a raftof places to eat and drink, from the beachside buffet to the tiki-lit crab shack. Even with all this, rest assured that the island is also large enough that you’ll always find somewhere to hide away and relax.

ROOMS: Villas from £598, all-inclusive. finolhu.com

For pure relaxation

AMILLA MALDIVES RESORT

This paradise idyll is well-suited for solo travellers, honeymooners and families alike. The spacious villas — some overwater and some on the beach — are decked out in Saint-Tropez-style whites and blues, with large living rooms, even larger wooden decks and private pools. The food is excellent and sustainably sourced and there’s a bonanza of free daily activities, including kombuchamaking classes, chess lessons and diving near the Hanifaru cleaning station, as seen on the BBC’s documentary series Blue Planet II.

ROOMS: Villas from £653, B&B. amilla.com

Best for indulgence

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