The Best Islands in the Maldives

Adventure is out there in the Maldives. Whether you’re sunning yourself on the sands or holding that snorkel high, there are thousands of sun-soaked islands for you to explore. Island hop through them all if you dare. But we don’t blame you if you want to cement yourself to your sunbed with a cocktail in your hand.

Not all atolls were made equally. So say farewell to everything you thought you knew about the Maldives and discover something new this year. This paradise of islands is more than just a holiday, it’s a state of mind.

Navigation
Best islands for sightseeing
Best islands for snorkelling and diving
Best islands for beaches
Best islands for spas
Most photogenic islands
Best islands for honeymooners
Best islands for partying
Where do the celebrities stay?

Best islands for sightseeing

If you’re itching to find some art and culture on your holidays, you probably won’t find it on one of the resort islands. So this is the perfect opportunity to embark on a speedboat or luxury catamaran journey and explore some of the best historical hotspots the Maldives has to offer.

Malé

Now boarding, the Maldives like you’ve never seen it before. Malé is so far from the secluded white sands and swaying palm trees you imagine, but it’s just as magical. Most resorts will organise day trips to Malé for sightseeing, walking tours, and snorkelling adventures.

There are plenty of things to see and do, from the oldest mosque in the country to the National Museum. If you need to cool down, slip on your snorkel and explore the Maldives Victory Wreck dive site. And when your rufiyaa is burning a hole in your pocket, wander through fish and produce markets for something fresh.

Utheemu Island

Boldly go where no tourist has gone before. Utheemu Island is often overlooked as it doesn’t have a harbour or jetty, but there are some real treasures here. This was the birthplace of the Maldives’ biggest hero, Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu, who was known for defeating Portuguese invaders in the 15th century. And his traditional wooden palace is still standing to this day as a museum.

Explore this ever-changing island to seize a glimpse of local life and island infrastructure. Roughly 1,000 Maldivians have planted their roots here, and you won’t find many hotels or accommodation options for tourists. This is strictly day-trip territory.

Best islands for snorkelling and diving

If you’re not spending your days snorkelling between siestas on the beach, are you even in the Maldives? The underwater world is just as beautiful as the views from your overwater villa. Swim through one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems with colourful corals teeming with fish, rays, turtles, and more.

Hanifaru Island

Hanifaru Island has so much going on along its shores. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a favourite with snorkellers because it draws in marine life aplenty for many different reasons. And to keep this site looking at its best, only five boats are allowed at a time, each with only 45 minutes to spend there.

Thanks to its unique structure, Hanifaru Bay is the biggest manta ray feeding spot in the Maldives, filling up with plankton and attracting hundreds of these gentle giants. It’s also a famous nursery for grey sharks and a mating ground for whale sharks. You’re almost guaranteed a spectacle whenever you visit.

Fulidhoo Island

Go forth and discover the largest unbroken barrier reef in the Maldives, Fotteyo Falhu. Deep channels bring in fast-flowing currents full of nutrients, which attracts a colourful range of marine life. Boldly dive through shark-infested waters. Grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, they’re all here.

But you’ll be treated to a diverse mix of marine life here. As well as the classic manta rays, you’re sure to spot stingrays and eagle rays. And keep your eyes peeled for barracuda, snapper, trevally, groupers, and more lurking in the corals and taking over the open ocean.

Best islands for beaches

No matter which Maldives island you choose, you’re almost guaranteed a beautiful stretch of white sand, lapped up by crystal-clear waters and backed by swaying palm trees. You can settle in at your resort’s beach, or embark on an adventure to find the one true beach. Once you find it, it’ll all have been worth it.

Hadahaa (Park Hyatt Maldives)

Discover perfection on the beaches of Hadahaa. Leave your footsteps trailing behind you as you along the soft sands, wondering how you can stay on this island forever. And when the night sky’s as clear and starry as this, living on the beach castaway style doesn’t sound so bad…

But the beaches at Hadahaa are protected by Park Hyatt’s sustainability commitment to keep the waters and beaches clean, the surrounding reef healthy, and to minimize their overall environmental impact. Plus, Green Globe and an on-site marine biologist track the progress of the reef and ensure the pristine sands stay as beautiful as ever.

Dhigurah Island

Dhigurah Island has one of the longest beaches in the Maldives, and THE longest in South Ari Atoll. So it’s no surprise the island’s name translates to ‘Long Island’. This 4km stretch of powder-soft sand ends with a pristine sandbank dotted with picnic tables, separating this local island from LUX* South Ari Atoll.

Just off the shore, you’ll find some incredible snorkelling and diving spots, including Turtle Reef, Dhigurah Arches, and Dhigurah Thila. It’s part of the South Ari Marine Park, so you’ll have to join a snorkelling trip if you want to explore the manta station, a reliable site for spotting manta rays getting cleaned up by wrasse.

Best islands for spas

If there’s one thing the Maldives does perfectly, it’s relaxation. From secluded beaches to private dining experiences to overwater villas that step straight into the ocean. When you’re on a mission for rejuvenation, the Maldives is where you go. Making sure you treat yourself to a spa treatment or two for the ultimate forget-all-your-worries island escape.

Nakachchafushi Island (Huvafen Fushi)

Take relaxation to the next level. The first-of-its-kind spa at Huvafen Fushi offers underwater treatment rooms so you can relax with colourful marine life swimming around you. Panoramic reef views eight metres below the surface are sure to wow as you enjoy peaceful massages and beauty treatments.

If you don’t fancy being underwater, the overwater spa rooms have glass windows underneath the massage beds so you’re not missing out on the beauty of the reef. Feel completely calm as you look out over the horizon with massages, facial treatments and full-body therapies.

Kuda Huraa (Four Seasons Maldives)

Conquer the world one massage at a time. Treat yourself to a spa treatment under the stars at the Four Seasons’ Night Spa. Double massage tables, a crystal-singing bowl, a circular bath. The whole experience has been designed with relaxation in mind.

Or create your own spa journey. Spend your days rejuvenating your mind with yoga, water treatments, massages, facials, and more. Even the kids can get involved with their very own spa treatments. They’ll love the Wobble Wobble water mattress massage and sea nymph manicures and pedicures. And it’s the perfect bonding experience on your family holiday.

Most photogenic islands

Never be afraid to share your holiday photos. The Maldives is one of the most picture-perfect holidays there are, so you’re sure to snap your fair share of memories. And these islands are so photogenic that you won’t need to spend time picking out the perfect filter. They’re jaw-droppingly beautiful as they are.

Vaadhoo Island

Feast your eyes on Vaadhoo Island, home to the Sea of Stars. Over the summer nights, the sea lights up with a bright blue glow that almost mirrors the starry sky. This beautiful phenomenon is thanks to millions of bioluminescent phytoplankton washing up near the shore.

Strolling along the water’s edge has never been more magical. You’ll leave behind a trail of glistening blue footprints to match the LED-like waves lapping up the shore. Try your hand at skimming stones and watch the ripples light up in its wake. Or simply settle down in the sands and watch nature do its thing.

Dhiffushi Island

Embark here for a perfectly painted sky. Dhiffushi Island is the first island in the Maldives to see the sunset. And it doesn’t disappoint. Get yourself comfortable on one of the iconic beaches with the locals and prepare to be amazed. Or treat yourself to a sunset cruise and grab a bite to eat for an ultra-romantic dinner at a beachfront restaurant.

Raise a snorkel after you’ve watched the sunset because the lights come on and the stingrays, small sharks, and fish come out. If you’re staying in Dhiffushi, this is the time to grab your waterproof camera and explore beneath the waves.

Best islands for honeymooners

Welcome to the dreamiest honeymoon destination in the world. The Maldives has long been known as a romantic escape, and it’s easy to see why. Start your marriage right with secluded beaches, delicious food, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The honeymoon you’ve always dreamt of awaits…

Fushivelavaru Island (Velaa Private Island)

Discover pure romance at Velaa Private Island. A tropical paradise built for two. Take on brand new experiences like tandem jetovators and snorkelling through exotic dive sites or treat yourselves to couples massages at the spa and private picnics on secluded sands.

For ultimate privacy, go all out and book a romantic pool residence, which is only accessible by boat, suspended above the lagoon, and comes with its own personal gym and spa treatment room. And while it’s got a fully equipped kitchen, you can treat yourself to the life of luxury with a private chef and personal butler.

Uthurumaafaru Island (You & Me Maldives)

Embark on a journey of love at You & Me Maldives. This five-star, adults-only resort oozes luxury and romance for an unforgettable honeymoon. Spend your days at the spa, sipping cocktails on private sandbanks, and swimming with sharks, rays, and more. And keep your precious moments alive with a professional photo session.

Boldly go where only the best honeymooners have been before. Discover an underwater world while you eat at the Maldives’ first underwater restaurant managed by a Michelin-starred chef. H2O By Berton gives diners a 360° view of the marine life in an intimate setting.

Best islands for partygoers

The Maldives isn’t all soft sands and tranquil spas. While nightclubs are hard to come by, if your idea of relaxing is slipping on your best dress and dancing the night away, you’ve got plenty of options. From live music to underwater bars, the Maldives parties all night long.

Akasdhoo (Hard Rock Hotel)

Spread the word: Hard Rock Hotel brings the party. Every night. Discover live music from regular bands every night, including DEVIATE, who circle through all the Hard Rock Cafes in Asia. Or watch the sun go down in style with live music and complimentary drinks and snacks.

But the weekly entertainment goes all out. Seize the sounds with regular karaoke nights, pool parties, and live DJs lighting up the night. So pack your dancing shoes, embrace your wild side, and boldly grab the mic. It’s your time to shine. And dancers of all ages can get stuck in.

Olhuveli (Niyama Private Island)

Say farewell to the underwater restaurants you know and love, and hello to Subsix. Hidden away under the surface at Niyama Private Island, this underwater bar hosts weekly glow parties that light up the night as nocturnal marine life comes out to play.

Or if you prefer your drinks on land, head to Fahrenheit. Raise a glass to gorgeous ocean views from this rooftop bar. Whether you sink into a sofa with a cocktail or dance to the live music as the sun sets, the night’s yours at Fahrenheit.

Where do celebrities go in the Maldives?

Boldly go where the A-listers spend their days. The Maldives is a paradise for celebrities thanks to its complete privacy and seclusion. Plus its natural beauty, relaxing atmosphere, and luxurious resorts. Most resorts have hosted their fair share of celebrities, but these are some of our favourites.

One&Only Reethi Rah

One&Only Reethi Rah draws celebrities galore. This luxurious resort has everything you need for your journey of relaxation. From world-class dining to rejuvenating spa treatments to exhilarating watersports, take the plunge into paradise. Fully experience the Maldives in all its glory in the Grand Sunset Residence, fully kitted out with staff, swimming pools, and an outdoor cinema.

Who stays here?
⚽ David Beckham
🎬 Tom Cruise
🎬 Milla Jovovich
🎬 Idris Elba
🎤 Shakira
⚽ Cristiano Ronaldo

Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

Go forth and surround yourself with a turquoise lagoon, stretching out into the sapphire waters of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Discover your own barefoot paradise at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, built around the natural world. Watch the stars from the Maldives’ only overwater observatory and dine with the marine life from the underwater restaurant.

Who stays here?
🎬 Leonardo DiCaprio
⚽ Cristiano Ronaldo
🎾 Roger Federer
🎤 John Legend and Chrissy Teigen even got engaged here

Soneva Jani

Discover a new era of luxury at Soneva Jani. One of the most secluded island resorts with just 51 overwater villas. All with their own slides. Watch classic films on the sands at Cinema Paradiso, enjoy your favourite foods on a deserted island offshore, and relax at the original overwater spa.

Who stays here?
🎬 Gwyneth Paltrow came here on her honeymoon
🎤 Justin Bieber
🎤 Taylor Swift
🎤 John Legend and Chrissy Teigen
🎬 Joe Alwyn