best maldives island baros

Which is the best Maldives island for you?

28 Feb 2024 | |By Maisie Bovingdon

Because that dream holiday doesn’t have to be saved just for your honeymoon

The Maldives is the ultimate bucket list destination, typically frequented by couples looking for a romantic getaway to propose, tie the knot, or bask in honeymoon bliss. Lesser known, however, are the Maldives islands that make this South Asian hotspot ideal for families, solo jet setters, eco-conscious travellers, adrenalin junkies, and wellness wanderers alike.

Boasting unique geography, the archipelagic state is comprised of almost 1,200 coral islands, which are grouped into 27 atolls scattered across a swathe of the Indian Ocean south west of Sri Lanka. It also happens to boast over 1,000 luxury resorts, with almost all of them promising exclusive occupancy of one or more islands.

Which begs the question: how do you pick the best Maldives island for you? Whether you’re looking for ultimate R&R, unique foodie experiences or an unforgettable family holiday, we’ve curated the best islands in the Maldives to suit every type of traveller.

Best for the eco-conscious: Laamu Atoll

six senses laamu maldives

Where to stay: Six Senses Laamu

Set among a tropical forest, and surrounded by barrier reefs, Laamu is ideal for eco-conscious globetrotters keen to explore by land and sea. When Six Senses Laamu opened in 2011, sustainability was the sole focus; from the villas constructed with sustainably-sourced materials to the vast conservation programmes.

six senses laamu cinema

Six Senses’ marine team educates families about the coral reef ecosystem, while youngsters can join the Maldives Underwater Initiative, or sign up for the upcoming Sea Hub for Environmental Learning, so it’s the prime destination for those passionate about preserving the ecosystem.

From £1,066 per night.

Best for marine lovers: Milaidhoo, Baa Atoll

milaidhoo island maldives

Where to stay: Milaidhoo Maldives

Milaidhoo is a popular hotspot for nature lovers. Situated in the South Ari Atoll, it is surrounded by smaller islands, including the UNESCO biosphere reserve at Hanifaru Bay, which is a feeding ground for manta rays during the lunar tide.

Milaidhoo Maldives offers dolphin cruises, fishing and diving excursions allowing guests to explore shipwrecks or swim with whale sharks. The Astro Retreat, which includes astronomical spa treatments, astrophotography workshops, sailing by stars, and stargazing sessions, will send your vacation out of this world.

From £1,877 per night.

Best for diving: Baros

baros maldives

Where to stay: Baros Maldives

Opened in 1973, Baros was one of the first Maldivian islands to become a popular holiday destination and has maintained a five-star status since then. Situated north east of Malé and a 25-minute speedboat from the capital (and, thus, the main international airport), in 1979, Baros opened the Maldives’ first PADI five-star Gold Palm Dive and Marine Centre.

With a myriad of diving locations, expert-led training sessions, as well as numerous subaquatic experiences, including underwater photoshoots and Fluo night dives, guests can get up close and personal with the famed underwater ecosystem of the Maldives. Baros also runs a coral conservation and transplantation initiative for guests to give back.

From £786 per night.

Best for spa and wellness: Kagi, North Malé Atoll

kagi maldives

Where to stay: Kagi Maldives Spa Island

Kagi is known as the ‘Spa Island’ (a tough moniker to win in a country where lavish spas come as standard) thanks to the enormous Baani Spa at the luxurious Kagi Maldives Spa Island hotel. The epic open-roof 1,500m2 spa, which occupies a dramatic circular space built over the ocean, offers an array of relaxing treatments to enjoy overlooking the lagoon, including pedicures, facials, detox wraps, and sports massages.

kagi maldives spa

Kagi Maldives offers spa bundles and wellness packages, which include a unique underwater meditation practice for an unforgettably zen experience, as well as an array of culinary, watersports and diving programmes for a well-rounded taste of the best the Maldives has to offer.

From £1,254 per night.

Best for families: Fari Islands, North Malé Atoll

patina maldives villa

Where to stay: Patina Maldives

The Fari islands are a quad of manmade islands situated in the North Malé Atoll. They’re perfect for island hopping so ideal if you’ve got active children likely to get bored staying in one place for too long.

That said, book into Patina Maldives and that might not be a problem. The hotel promises an eclectic mix of activities to keep the entire family occupied 24/7, including a kids' club, huge array of water sports, free diving lessons, 3D modelling, an F1 in Schools STEM programme, and children’s cooking classes. Book family movie nights or picnics on the beach for quality time together, while children are also eligible for free meals and the hotel regularly offers epochal offers and packages geared towards families.

From £3,473 per night.

Best for group trips: Kunfunadhoo Island, Baa Atoll

soneva fushi maldives

Where to stay: Soneva Fushi

A classic postcard picture of the Maldives, Baa Atoll’s white sand beaches are lined with palm trees, while the glittering turquoise lagoon is surrounded by smaller islands offering gorgeous villas geared towards groups. Among the best is Soneva Fushi, which boasts an impressive range of activities, restaurants and wellness events that will cater to every traveller in your party.

Set sail on Soneva’s luxury yacht, embark on a sunset dolphin cruise, brave the water on a guided snorkelling trip with the resident marine biologist, get creative with the Maldives’ first glass-blowing class, zip wire through the tropics, or unwind with an al fresco movie night at Cinema Paradiso. See, we told you there was something for everyone.

Travelling with foodies? Soneva’s medley of culinary offerings ranges from dining cruises, private picnics, in-villa catering and moonlit dinners, to a bespoke Japanese dining experience for up to 10 guests. Every night begins and ends at The Bar and Cellar – which boasts a 200-strong wine list.

From £1,752 per night.

Best for honeymoons: Lobigili, Malé Atoll

oblu select lobigili maldives

Where to stay: Oblu Select Lobigili

The Maldives is a minimum 12-hour flight from London so, understandably, you might want to keep transfer times down once you arrive. And, while we would never recommend staying on the famously overcrowded and unlovely Malé island itself, Lobigili is a few minutes away via boat but worlds away in vibe.

oblu select lobigili only blu restaurant

Translating as ‘love island’ in the native language of Dhivehi, Oblu Select Lobigili is an adult-only resort, making it the ideal fit for couples booking a romantic break or lavish honeymoon. It also promises a classic Maldivian experience, including white powder beaches, traditional overwater villas and Only Blu, one of the largest underwater restaurants in the Maldives.

From £855 per night.

Best for destination weddings: Hurawalhi, Lhaviyani Atoll

hurawalhi maldives

Where to stay: Hurawalhi Island Resort

The popular Lhaviyani Atoll is comprised of 54 islands, although only four are inhabited, including the gorgeous Hurawalhi – a dream destination for couples looking to get engaged, wed, or honeymoon in style. The adult-only hotspot boasts the world’s largest underwater restaurant, 5.8 Undersea, which doubles up as a wedding venue.

There’s also an on-site photographer to capture your big day, while other options for tying the knot include the hotel’s private yacht, champagne pavilion and a breathtakingly remote sandbank known as Dream Island. And as for entertaining yourself post-wedding? When you’re not diving the reefs, basking in the sunshine by your private pool, or dining at the variety of restaurants, check into the Sulha Spa for a couples treatment.

From £1,588 per night.

Best for foodies: Manafaru, Haa Alifu Atoll

ja manafaru maldives

Where to stay: JA Manafaru

The Haa Alifu Atoll is one of the most northern Maldives island chains and is a great option for twinning with neighbouring Sri Lanka. The atoll houses just two resorts, the most luxurious of which JA Manafaru – a paradise for food lovers looking to get a taste of authentic South Asian cuisine.

ja manafaru maldives spa

With seven dining options on the resort, offering Maldivian, Asian, Italian and other international cuisines, as well as the Maldives’ first subterranean wine cave, this is the place for guests who like to be wined and dined. Build up an appetite with a guided snorkelling safari, enjoy Ayurvedic therapies in the wellness centre, or relax in your sunset villa which comes complete with a private infinity pool.

From £734 per night.

Best for culture: Madivaru, Lhaviyani Atoll

vary bu atmosphere maldives

Where to stay: Varu by Atmosphere

Madivaru is located north west of Malé, and neighbours a number of popular islands, including Reethi Rah, Makunudu and Summer Island, so you’ll find yourself well-served in terms of both transfer options and day trips.

varu by atmosphere maldives

The island’s only hotel, Varu by Atmosphere, is a brilliant destination for those seeking not only luxury and serenity but also the opportunity to experience Maldivian culture. The resort prides itself on continuing local traditions across its architecture, service, and eateries, including the award-winning Kaage restaurant. From the beach villas made from natural materials and private barbecues on Kanifushi island, to local healing practices at the Ele|Na spa, Varu promises refinement and elegance while also taking guests outside of the five-star bubble.

From £805 per night.

Best for off-grid luxury: Kudadoo, Lhaviyani Atoll

kudadoo maldives

Where to stay: Kudadoo Maldives Private Island

Kudadoo, a tiny island on the northern tip of the Lhaviyani Atoll, offers a secluded setting, exclusivity, and ultimate luxury for privacy seekers. The Kudadoo Maldives Private Island resort offers just 15 over-water villas, all of which have a private butler, and an ‘Anything, Anytime, Anywhere’ approach – and, trust us, they mean it.

Guests will not want for anything, and can truly switch off from the stresses of home thanks to Kudadoo’s private dining options, luxury yacht, extensive wine cellar, unlimited excursions and water sports activities. The Retreat, a stunning over-water structure that forms the heart of the hotel and has been cleverly designed to harness enough solar power to run the entire island, is also home to chic bars, restaurants, boutique shopping and an extensive health and wellness centre.

From £4,392 per night.

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