Discover the best Maldives islands
The Maldives is as exotic as a tropical melody. Few places so precisely meet the definition of paradise as this serene archipelago in the Indian Ocean, some 450km south of India and Sri Lanka. No fewer than 1,190 tiny islands are spread across 26 atolls – perfect coral rings where coconut trees sway to the rhythm of the breezes, and where a kaleidoscope of marine life can be glimpsed in their waters.
From the most deserted to the most developed, from the cosiest to the most romantic, all the resort islands instil joy in visitors. And while abandoning oneself to mere enjoyment is the main activity, each one has its own unique charms.
There’s charming Dhiffushi, ideal for swimming off its beaches, and Guraidhoo, the best for scuba diving. But there is also remote Kaashidhoo, where you can connect with authentic local customs; busy Huraa, with things happening day and night; and laidback Maafushi, perfect for backpackers. Each island in the Maldives offers a different adventure, and you can fly there from 42,500 Avios. Here are some of our favourites.
Shaped like a baguette, the biggest attraction of this quiet, peaceful island located in North Male Atoll is its tranquillity. People go here for nothing more (and nothing less) than to languorously toast themselves in the sun on one of the three picture-postcard beaches. That’s if – like a good Robinson Crusoe – they’re not looking for any other rhythm than the one coming from their gently swinging hammock accompanied by, if possible, a piña colada. For anyone seeking activities, Dhiffushi offers fabulous trips for snorkelling among turtles above the reefs and sunset cruises from which to watch dolphins dancing in the water.
Fans of the underwater world should note down this name, since it’s one of the best islands in South Male Atoll for scuba diving. The reason is that plankton gather in certain places during the rainy season, and colourful fish congregate there to enjoy a feast. Several divers’ schools offer trips to parts of the sea bed rarely visited by tourists, from which to spot, among the reefs, some of the 2,000 species of marine wildlife living in the Maldives.
The concept of a ‘deserted island’ makes a lot of sense in this territory, which is not part of any other atoll, but rather has its very own. This isolation favours the authenticity of just over 1,000 inhabitants, who preserve their local culture without interference from tourism. Kaashidhoo, which has streets of sand, cement houses painted in bright colours and mosques in the shade of the palms, is the island to visit to soak up Maldivian customs. You can also enjoy archaeological wonders and local cuisine in a couple of small restaurants that serve traditional dishes.
Although this island, located some 20km from Male, is less well known, its growing infrastructure has led to it opening up to visitors. Consequently, in Huraa, you can enjoy a charming mixture of simple accommodation with larger surrounding resorts, and local cafés with restaurants featuring international cuisine. This keeps it lively all day long, although the main activity takes place after dark: night snorkelling with underwater torches. Visitors can swim with sea creatures that can only be seen in complete darkness.
Backpackers and travellers doing their own thing will love this island in South Male Atoll, where they can find all that they need, even on a tight budget. It’s close to the international airport, you can reach it by public ferry, and there are numerous options for affordable hotels and restaurants. It also has a large number of small shops and supermarkets that always feature local products. This all creates an enjoyable and laidback vibe that’s in harmony with the locals’ relaxed pace of life.