Maldives sees sharp increment in UK entries in mid 2018

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Maldives sees sharp increment in UK entries in mid 2018

The Maldives has announced double-digit growth of 17.5 per cent in the number of UK travellers who visited in March 2018, when compared with the same month last year.

In total, 11,829 UK travellers visited the Maldives in March, compared with 10,063 in March 2017.

The destination has just been confirmed as the host of the World Spa Awards, with the event set to take place in October.

Overall, the Maldives welcomed a total of 32,633 UK tourists during the first quarter of 2018, representing a 12.2 per cent increase when compared with the same period of 2017, which saw 29,088 people from the UK arrive at the destination.

Globally, in March 2018 the Maldives recorded an 18.5 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of international visitor arrivals, welcoming a total of 133,466 arrivals.

This brings the total of global arrivals to 420,103 in the first three months of 2018, representing a positive growth of 17 per cent when compared with last year.

This year the Maldives will further confirm its status as one of the most attractive holiday destinations for UK tourists, with the opening of at least 23 new resorts and what is believed to be the world’s first undersea residence at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Commenting on the news, the Maldives minister of tourism, Moosa Zameer, said: “We are very pleased to see such a significant rise in both the number of UK and international tourists to the Maldives which is largely thanks to the work carried out by the Embassy of Maldives, MMPRC and the tourism industry stakeholders at large.

“The UK continues to establish itself as one of the most valuable inbound markets for tourism to the Maldives and with a number of exciting new tourism developments launching this year, we look forward to welcoming even more visitors during the remaining months of 2018.”

Zitek takes up sous culinary specialist part

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Zitek takes up sous culinary specialist part at St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort has announced Olda Zitek has been appointed as executive sous chef.

Zitek will join the private island resort in early May 2018 from Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square where he worked as executive sous chef from November 2016.

Prior to this, Zitek held the position of head chef at Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Hotel London, after roles in other five-star London hotels such as Claridge’s and The May Fair Hotel.

Zitek will support the executive chef at The St. Regis Maldives in supervising operations at the resort’s six distinct dining venues, which offer sophisticated cuisine from around the world.

He will oversee the entire culinary team, which delivers exceptional food and drink experiences to guests.

Commenting on the appointment, Alexander Blair, general manager, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have Olda join us at The St. Regis Maldives.

“We pride ourselves on delivering unrivalled experiences and exceptional service, so Olda’s background with some of London’s most luxury hotels means he is great fit for our team.

“We look forward to working with him and can’t wait to see to see his skillset being put to use for our guests.”

Zitek is originally from the Czech Republic and is fluent in Czech, English, and Slovak.

World Spa Awards

St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort will host the World Spa Awards later this year.

Taking place on October 26th, the event will welcome leaders from the global wellness industry to the Maldives.

Find out more on the official Website:-

Sun Aqua divulges Sun Aqua Iru Veli, Maldives

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ATM 2018: Sun Aqua divulges Sun Aqua Iru Veli, Maldives

Sun Aqua is launching the third property in their portfolio; Sun Aqua Iru Veli, an exclusive resort on the island of Aluvifushi, a private island for guests only in the heart of the South Nilandhe Atoll.                                                                     

The resort is scheduled to open in October 2018.

True to the Sun Aqua brand, the new resort is laid-back and stylish with a playful vibe.

Iru Veli is a five-star premium all-inclusive resort of 125 villas and suites, all with private pools. Across the lagoon and along the beach, a variety of over-water and beach front villas offers total seclusion in open spaces.

All villas, whether couples’ suites or extended family villas, feature vistas across the Indian Ocean in true Maldivian style.

Sun Aqua Iru Veli is a quick 40-minute seaplane ride from Malè and the international airport. Features include an infinity pool, a fully equipped recreation centre, a variety of activities and water sports such as jet ski, wind surfing, fun rides, catamaran sailing etc.

Sun Aqua Spa, with its six treatment pavilions and hydrotherapy area, is perched over the lagoon as an over-water spa offering a range of treatments combining western and eastern philosophies.

Dining options include an all-day dining restaurant with an international menu, a grill restaurant set on the beach with focus on fresh seafood and meat dishes, and an over-water restaurant with Italian specialities.

There is also the option of making dinner a private affair with the resort’s destination dining.

As an added flavour, Middle Eastern guests will be happy to learn that the Sun Aqua Signature, the premium all-inclusive plan, includes one daily shisha per couple at the Shisha Lounge free of charge.

Sun Aqua brand is a visionary creation from Sun Siyam, one of the most forward-thinking and dynamic hospitality companies in the Maldives.

With Maldivian entrepreneur Ahmed Siyam Mohamed at the helm, Sun Siyam aims to create a collection of hotel and resort brands across the Indian Ocean and Asia infused with his uniquely passionate and colourful spirit.

The vibe is unpretentious and laid-back yet is punctuated by bursts of vivid colour and quirky touches.

Sun Siyam Resorts will be attending the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai until April 25th at stand AS2350.

The Maldives' new star Villa is submerged

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The Maldives' new star Villa is submerged

A sprawling villa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

On a recent trip to the Maldives, my itinerary was planned around a single hotel amenity: a bungalow with a two-story waterslide. In the luxury-friendly Maldives, more than anywhere else on Earth, it's extravagant design features rather than location or good restaurants that make a hotel.

Enter Conrad Maldives Rangali Island with the region's first underwater bungalow. When it opens late this year the Muraka ("coral" in Dhivehi, the local language) will have cost US$15 million ($20.4 million) to build, and the experience of sleeping 16.4 feet (5m) below sea level can be yours beginning at US$50,000 ($68,262) per night before taxes.

"The Muraka promises a unique experience that is not available anywhere else in the world," architect Ahmed Saleem explains. While it's true that there aren't many hotel beds suspended below sea level, encased in glassy tunnels and surrounded by tropical fish, Saleem was more concerned with creating a full experience than designing a single, iconic room.

The Muraka's bedroom, below the sea.

So guests to the Maldives - an archipelago in the Indian Sea, southwest of India - will be flown to a private seaplane jetty and picked up in a speedboat for their ensuing use.

The suite itself is set apart from the Conrad's beach villas and bungalows so its residents don't have to see other humans-or set foot on dry land-if they don't want to. The price includes four dedicated butlers in a nearby structure for round-the-clock service, a chef, a set of jet skis and an on-call fitness trainer. Guests are upgraded to Diamond Honors Hilton status and given a 90-minute spa treatment per day.

The sunset-facing deck of the Muraka.

The structure itself is made of steel, concrete and acrylic, with one level above the water and another below. It's more castle than hotel suite, with enough nooks and crannies to sleep nine guests plus a gym, butler's quarters and space for a private security detail.

But not all the action happens under water. The top floor has two bedrooms, a bathroom with an ocean-view tub, a sunset-facing deck and an infinity-edge pool. Guests can descend below sea level down a spiral staircase or elevator. There, nothing but a curved acrylic dome separates the king-sized bedroom and living area from the reef just beyond. The bathroom, with its see-through walls and ceiling, feels like a bona-fide fishbowl. But privacy isn't an issue, unless fish make you feel shy; the villa is far from the rest of the resort. The deep underwater darkness-or simply feeling lost at sea-might be more unsettling.

Conrad isn't the first to take on underwater residences. In Dubai, the developer Klenienst has been developing a community of partially submerged homes called the Floating Seahorse within the cluster of islands known as the Heart of Europe. The project was announced in 2015 with a projected completion in 2016; only three such homes have been completed to date. According to a local news source, one sank near the Burj Al Arab hotel, another "toppled into the sea while being transported onsite", and the third is a prototype that's being stabilised with sandbags.

An underwater bathroom at the Muraka.

That's all to say: Creating a self-contained island residence with undersea sleeping quarters is challenging, at best. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has experience in that architectural arena thanks to Ithaa ("mother-of-pearl"), its underwater restaurant where diners enjoy eight-course feasts below a see-through, acrylic canopy.
Still, Saleem says, "Designing an undersea structure such as Ithaa and designing a sleeping and living experience is vastly different." Among his main concerns was safety. The restaurant, he says, is in shallow waters and always fully staffed; evacuating from the Muraka in the event of an emergency may have to happen unattended. A sophisticated air-quality monitoring and alarm system will help; so will safety instruction briefings like the ones on airplanes.

The project's scope presented logistical concerns. Saleem had to devise a lighting and design scheme that wouldn't reflect off the acrylic walls. "We couldn't use bright colours or variations of white, as that would reflect too much and impede the undersea experience," he says. He had to work with marine biologists to ensure the villa wouldn't affect the surrounding corals. Then the 600-ton structure had to be built on land in Singapore, hoisted onto a crane, and transported in a specialised ship that could moor near the reef and submerge the suite.

Ithaa, the underwater restaurant at the Conrad.

Even in the Maldives, whose resorts are known to command some of the highest prices globally, this type of building isn't sustainable as anything more than a one-off. "There are no immediate plans to create additional undersea residences at this point," Saleem says.

To Martin Rinck, who oversees Hilton's global luxury and lifestyle brands including Conrad, the debut of the underwater villa is a way to stay ahead of the industry. It's "a perfect example of the out-of-the-box thinking that meets guests demands before they even have them," Rinck says.

Nowhere is it more important to drive these types of trends than in the Maldives, where about a dozen ultra-luxe hotels will open this year. "The Maldives is indeed a competitive destination, but also a destination where guests expect the best," Rinck says. It's also a destination for which travellers are willing to shell out for the best. The starting price of US$50,000 may sound like a lot to pay per night, but the region claims a handful of private island villas at comparable prices that are popular, too.

One of the above-sea-level bedrooms at the Conrad's underwater villa.

"After 20 years in the Maldives, it's important that Hilton keeps pace with its newer, shinier competitors," Rinck says: "We need to continue meeting the expectations of travellers looking for that 'go big or go home' experience."

Private Islands to welcome first private planes

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Niyama Private Islands to welcome first private planes

Niyama Private Island

Niyama Private Islands have become accessible via private jet for the first time.

The news follows the opening of Dhaalu Airport in November, which is a mere ten minutes by speedboat from the hotel.

Niyama is the only resort in the Dhaalu atoll region to offer this luxury service, which is set to further cement the resort’s reputation as one of the leading luxury hotels in the world.

Combining unrivalled privacy with exceptional hospitality, Niyama Private Islands is the luxury Maldivian choice for discerning travellers.

Guests are now able to soar over sparkling atolls in the comfort of their own private jet, breeze through the VIP lounge at Dhaalu Airport before speeding across the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean to a jetty reserved exclusively for traveler arriving via jet.

For those wanting to continue their quest for complete solitude, Niyama offers a quintet of overwater pool villas - known as The Crescent – which fan out over the ocean in stunning isolation.

The epitome of luxury and considered one of the most exclusive villas in the Maldives, The Crescent accommodates 22 people and comes complete with private infinity pools, indoor and outdoor bathrooms, direct access to the crystalline waters of the Indian Ocean as well as private chefs and butlers guaranteed to provide heartfelt personalised service.

There are five two-bedroom over-water Studios which enjoy their own private stretch of beach away from the main resort.

The Studios are available for hire individually, or for large families and groups, they can be hired collectively.

Set across two spacious private islands, appropriately named Play and Chill, connected only by a single wooden bridge across the Indian Ocean, Niyama Private Islands is a truly special Maldivian resort in the south-western atoll of Dhaalu.

The twin islands take barefoot luxury to an exotic new level with their distinctive edgy feel and extraordinary range of activities which allow the stylish, aspirational traveler to expand on the traditional Maldivian itinerary.

Tibaldi to lead One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives

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Tibaldi to lead One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives

One&Only has announced the appointment of established industry leader Jan Tibaldi as general manager of One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives.

In his new role, Tibaldi will be responsible for the overall operation and strategic development of the award-winning all-villa resort, as well as leading the One&Only Reethi Rah team to continue to create unrivalled guest experiences.

He brings almost 30 years of international experience in the luxury hospitality industry to One&Only Reethi Rah, having previously held senior positions at some of the most prestigious luxury hotels in the world, including prior roles with One&Only.

Prior to joining One&Only Reethi Rah, Tibaldi held the role of general manager at The PuLi Hotel and Spa, a five-star resort in Shanghai, China.

He has held notable senior leadership positions at global luxury hotel brands including Oberoi, Viceroy and Four Seasons.

Tibaldi holds a degree in Hospitality Management from Cornell University in the USA.

“I am thrilled to welcome Jan Tibaldi back to One&Only. One&Only Reethi Rah is an extraordinary resort that sets the standard for ultra-luxury in the Indian Ocean, offering unrivalled style, unparalleled privacy and truly unique experiences for guests to discover,” said Philippe Zuber, president, One&Only Resorts.

“His global expertise and extensive background in the luxury hotel sector is a fantastic asset for One&Only.

“Led by Jan, the passionate team at One&Only Reethi Rah will go on to achieve even greater success.”

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French visitor numbers to the Maldives record positive growth

The French outbound travel market to the Maldives is seeing signs of growth. The Ministry of Tourism has revealed a 4.6 percent increase in French visitor arrivals by the end of 2017. In total, 42,365 French tourists travelled to the Maldives, up from 40,487 a year earlier.

France, the seventh largest source market for visitors to the Maldives, also recorded a growth of 1.7 percent in tourist arrivals during January to July 2017 compared to the same period of 2016, according to data by the Ministry of Tourism.

Overall the Maldives welcomed 657,540 visitors from January till July 2017, leading to a growth of 6.1 percent compared to the same period of 2016, according to the tourism ministry.

However, the number of French tourists to the Maldives dropped considerably through 2012 to 2016, losing its market share and posting negative growth. Regaining and reviving the market share can be attributed to the Maldives taking part at the International French Travel Market (IFTM) Top Resa held in Paris in September 2017. The annual IFTM began 38 years ago and is visited by the most prominent tour operators and travel agents of France.

In 2013, the French market for tourist arrivals in the Maldives was 54,328 with a negative growth of 4.3 percent. Tourist arrivals for 2014 further declined with 50,656 visitors. The French market further declined in 2015, with 42,024 arrivals, which amounts to a sharp decrease of 17 percent. Also, French visitor arrivals to the Maldives for 2016 went down by 3.7 percent, equalling 40,487 visitors.

France also ranks ahead of countries such as Japan, USA and Switzerland. The average stay for French tourists is between 4 to 7 days. Despite the significant decline in the French market, the seasonal pattern of the French market has been very stable over the years. The peak period for this market is recorded to be from December to April with a sharp increase in February. June is recorded as the weakest month for the French market.

French travelers visit the Maldives for a number of reasons; among these include rest, relaxation, honeymoon, diving and snorkelling. The warm and sunny weather prevalent in the Maldives is one factor that motivates the French visitors.

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Maldives registers conspicuous increment in visitor entries

Maldives tourism attained 10 percent as five year annual average growth rate from 2012 to 2016, according to data by the Ministry of Tourism. The sector accounts to about 23 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Maldives tourism also saw the arrival of 1.3 million tourists by end 2017, which is an 8 percent increase in arrivals compared to 2016. These numbers are in line with the government’s projections that the country will post a year over year increase of seven percent in visitor numbers in 2017.

The country has also seen steady growth in arrivals during the last fifteen years. The number of arrivals has almost tripled over the period from 2000 to 2017. These numbers reflect steady growth in tourism which last saw a negative growth rate of 4 percent in 2009, during the global recession which was exacerbated by the H1N1 epidemic.

Maldives has since seen several international hotel brands announce their entry into the country. Work is currently underway on a number of hotels expected to open through 2018 and early 2019. The destination’s portfolio has been expanding since 2013 with the addition of over 20 new resorts currently operating. In early 2019, Hilton Hotel & Resorts is scheduled to open its first Waldorf Astoria property in the Maldives. Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa, operating under a brand from global hospitality consortium Leading Hotels of the World is also set to open late 2018.

During the first half of 2017, four new resorts came into operation; Kudafushi Resort & Spa and Dhigali Maldives, both in Raa Atoll, Kandima Maldives in Dhaalu Atoll, and Grand Park Kodhipparu in Male’ Atoll with a combined bed capacity of 1,078.

Tourism revenue rose by 2 percent from MVR 6.4 billion (USD 414 million) in 2015 to MVR 6.6 billion (USD 428 million) in 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism. In 2016, tourism contributed 36.4% to the government revenue.

Domestic airports are also being developed in several islands in the Maldives in a bid to expand the tourism industry. Maldives, the most dispersed country on the planet with 1,192 islands, already has 12 airports, including three international airports.

Cadau delegated head gourmet specialist at Gili Lankanfushi

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Cadau delegated head gourmet specialist at Gili Lankanfushi 

Gili Lankanfushi has appointed Aldo Cadau as the island’s new executive chef.

Cadau joins the Gili Lankanfushi team in an exciting phase of the island’s gastronomic journey, as he spearheads developments in the resort’s restaurants, news of which will be announced in spring 2018. 

He will oversee operations of the main restaurant and Gili Lankanfushi’s other dining destinations.

These include By the Sea, a Japanese fine-dining restaurant specialising in exquisite sushi, Fini Foni, a poolside ice cream parlour, and the Overwater Bar, in addition to destination dining experiences and in-room villa dining.

Hailing from Sardinia, Cadau’s culinary passion started in his mother’s kitchen, helping her make fresh pasta, pastries and bread.

His father reared pigs and sheep and taught him how to make prosciutto sausages and cheese, instilling the importance of food’s provenance from a very early age.

Inspired by his upbringing, Cadau continued his culinary journey and trained at the Hotel Institute in Arzachena, Italy.

Bringing a wealth of international influences and impeccable standards of service to Gili Lankanfushi, Cadau looks forward to introducing sand oven cooking techniques to the island, the first of its kind in the Maldives, inspired by the subterranean cooking techniques he learnt in the Middle East.

David Stepetic, general manager of Gili Lankanfushi, said: “Having worked with Aldo previously, I am very excited for him to bring his wonderful culinary – talent and culture to the island.

“He has an intrinsic respect for food and ingredients while being a natural creative, always delivering memorable dining experiences for his guests. 

“We look forward to working with him to grow Gili Lankanfushi’s reputation as one of the Maldives finest gourmet destinations.”
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Gili Lankanfushi uncovers 2018 well-being program      

Chloe Brotheridge will be among the world leading wellness experts visiting Gili Lankanfushi in 2018

Luxury Maldivian Eco-resort, Gili Lankanfushi, is debuting a revolutionary new wellness programme for 2018.

Four world-leading international wellness practitioners, working in areas as diverse as transformational breath-work, sound therapy, and hypnotherapy, will be leading island residencies throughout the year.

The will offer treatments and workshops for guests, and passing on their skills to the team at the island’s Meera Spa.

The international wellness residency programme will kick off in March with bestselling author, Ayurveda enthusiast, cook, and well-being entrepreneur Jasmine Hemsley visiting Gili Lankanfushi from March 12th-19th.

Hemsley will be leading immersive and soothing sound bath sessions, helping guests to switch off their minds, open their hearts and nurture their spirits with waves of therapeutic crystal tones to balance the chakras. 

April 10th-18th will see the arrival of international author, breath coach and founder of Breathing Tree, Rebecca Dennis.

Dennis trained in the cutting edge breath technique transformational breath, used to harness the power of conscious breathing to unblock emotions and release tension, and specialises in treating issues such as stress, anxiety, addiction and sleep problems. 

Meditation guide, inspirational speaker, writer and intuitive mentor Jody Shield will be taking over the island from August 22nd-29th.

Shield is fast becoming a household name amongst London’s high-fliers as the go-to healer to solve all manner of modern woes, supporting people to process the past, be present and build a life they love.

The final international wellness residency of the year will be hypnotherapist, anxiety expert and bestselling author Chloe Brotheridge.

She will be leading hypnotherapy workshops on the island for guests from November 10th-17th, to help with issues including anxiety, confidence and sleep problems.


UK guests drive tourism development in the Maldives

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The Maldives has announced an 18.7 per cent increase in UK visitor arrivals during November 2017, when compared with the same month in 2016.
In total, 9,579 UK visitors travelled to the Maldives during November 2017, compared with 8,073 in November 2016.
Furthermore, UK visitors represented 7.9 per cent of all visitors to the Maldives in November 2017, with a total of 94,258 UK visitors travelling to the Maldives in the first 11 months of 2017, a 1.1 per cent year-on-year increase.
With regards to worldwide arrivals to the Maldives, the island nation witnessed a year-on-year growth of 15.2 per cent in November 2017, with 120,506 international tourists visiting the Maldives during November 2017.
The total number of arrivals to the Maldives in 2017 stood at 1,246,502 by the end of November and when compared with the same period in 2016, total tourist arrivals have increased by 6.8 per cent.
To support the increasing demand for tourism in the Maldives, the country will welcome several new tourism developments during 2018, including expansion plans at the recently rebranded Velana International Airport and the opening of the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge in July.
Speaking at a recent press conference, Mohamed Anil, attorney general, Maldives, said: “This is a very exciting time for the Maldives with a number of key infrastructure developments taking place during 2018 and beyond, which will benefit both tourists and the local community.
“Our tourism industry is continuing to expand and with ten new hotel resorts opening during the next few years, we look forward to being able to accommodate even more visitors from overseas.”

Surfing Chronicles: Cokes in Maldives beach

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Surfing Chronicles: Cokes in Maldives Beach

Surfing in the beach of Maldives 

‘Cokes’ is one of the best surfing camps in North Malé Atoll. This world-renowned surfing spot in the Maldives is named after a Coca-Cola factory on the nearby island of Thulusdhoo.

By speedboat, Thulusdhoo is less than an hour and a half away from the main airport island, Velaanaa International Airport. The island is inhabited, with a population slightly over 800.

Guesthouse businesses boomed on the island thanks to the endless flow of surfers drawn to it by the allure of the Cokes surfing spot. In addition to Cokes, many other surfing breaks are accessible via Thulusdhoo. Two of these popular spots are Chickens and Jailbreaks.

Cokes is a surfing favourite because the reef there is really shallow. This causes some pretty impressive swells.

Surfers should be wary of the reef, especially during low tide.

Injuries inflicted by the sharp corals there will not end up well, so the more experienced you are, the better.

In fact, Cokes is recommended for advanced surfers.

Cokes is best experienced during a straight south swell with northwest winds, especially on mid to high tide. It’s easiest to avoid the strong current in the channel during high tide. The same rings true for Chickens.

The prime period of travel to Thulusdhoo and Cokes is March until October. The swells are at their peak in July and August.

Being a surfing hotspot, you’ll easily find several fellow surfers congregating there. They stay on Thulusdhoo, and head out to a tiny island that shares the lagoon to catch the waves; the island is accessible over a makeshift plank-bridge over shallow aquamarine water.

Thanks to the location of Cokes, the swells are consistent. It’s a highly recommended addition to the bucket-list of any surfing enthusiast.

Throw in the prospect of affordable guesthouses on Thulusdhoo, with its laidback rural life, and you can live a backpackers dream!

Best places to Visit in Maldives

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Top 15 Best Places to visit in Maldives 

Left to the mercy of the soft and lapping Indian Ocean, the islands of the Maldives have been sculpted and formed into unquestionably one of the most quintessentially beautiful tropical places on the globe.

Ranging from the powdered beaches of the northern atolls to the earthy sea shacks and fishing hamlets of the southern isles, the whole nation can be found strewn across the turquoise waters some way from the Indian subcontinent.

Most visitors will land in the throbbing, pulsing city of Male, packed onto its own pinprick of an isle and boasting spice-scented markets and great mosques.

Most also don’t linger long before they hit the seaplanes or boats and make for the shimmering private bays of their chosen resort, where infinity pools and over-water cabanas are the norm.

More recently, new local guesthouses and the discovery of rolling waves have begun transforming the Maldives from honeymoon hot-spot to surfing, adventure and backpacking destination – paradise is now open to all, it seems.

Lets explore the best places to visit in the Maldives:

1. Male 

Islamic Center 

Thrumming with scooters and cars and Indian bazaars stacked with coconuts and spice, the city of Male – the capital of the Maldives atolls – has the frenetic feel of a place crammed into a slot that’s too small for it.

And that’s because it is.

Although rarely visited (most travelers bypass the city on seaplanes heading straight for their resort), the town is crammed onto a pint-sized islet in the North Male Atoll.

It manages to fit some fascinating sights between its streets though, like the 17th-century Friday Mosque and the gold-tipped Islamic Centre.
Male Market is another must – just be sure get your haggling skills up to scratch.

2. Hulhumale Island

hulhumale Island 

Sat just across the sparkling waters from the capital of Male, the island of Hulhumale is forever growing and growing as more and more land is reclaimed to house the sprawling urban tendrils of the city.

It’s also the home of the Velana International Airport, which is the main gateway to these paradisiacal islands for most.

However, don’t be put off by how all that sounds – Hulhumale is actually a charming place.

It’s got a gorgeous – if artificial – beach on its eastern haunch, a clutch of leafy neighborhoods, a glass-topped mosque, and planned promenade walkways above the Indian Ocean.

3. Maafushi


Maafushi might not have the sprawling luxury resorts and opulent 5-star hotels that many of its nearby brothers do, but it’s got plenty of charm.

Sadly ravaged in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the place has been busy rebuilding its salt-washed fishing jetties and industrious sailor huts in the last decade.

Something that’s helped is the opening up of rights to local guesthouses, which is transforming Maafushi into one of the top off-beat island getaways for budget travelers.

Of course, you can expect gorgeous beaches backed with palms, lapping waves, and a clutch of homey little coffee shops on the shore.

4. Utheemu


Sat on the far northern reaches of the Haa Alif Atoll, itself the northernmost of all the Maldivian island chains, the beautiful site of Utheemu holds a special place in the history of this archipelago nation.

That’s because it was once the home of the revered Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu – the leader who’s credited with driving out Portuguese invaders from the isles in the late 16th century.

Of course, there are the usual sparkling white sands and lapping Indian Ocean waves, but these are punctuated by heritage sites like the Utheemu Ganduvaru, which is the gorgeous timber-built palace where the respected leader grew up.

5. Feydhoo


Feydhoo’s story is a curious one.

In the 19th century, the people now living between the leafy streets and tight-knit housing blocks here were the inhabitants of nearby Gan island (more on that one later). When the British came in the run up to WWII, Gan was transformed into an airbase, and the locals were shipped out to live on the next island along in the Seenu Atoll.

That was Feydhoo, which is today a pretty picture of lived-in Maldivian life.

Come and stroll the winding walkways and sample seafood curries with the locals – the welcome is always warm.

6. Maradhoo


Joined at the hip to aforementioned Feydhoo by a seaside causeway that runs just above the coral-fringed shores of the Seenu Atoll, Maradhoo is a major link in the island chain that starts with Gan to the east.

Long and thin, it juts out into the Indian Ocean like a finger fringed with narrow beachfronts and swaying groves of coconut palms.

As in Feydhoo, the locals are laid-back and lovely, and the cuisine is spicy and rich in seafood.

Be sure to take a walk down Link Road and flit between the coffee shops and sandwich vendors that meet between the palm trees there.

7. Veligandu Island

Veligandu island 

Romantic sunsets glow red and yellow over the lapping waters of the Indian Ocean; cocktails clink in the resort’s luxurious bar; sea kayaks bob on the turquoise shoreline, and crystal-clear waves roll in softly from the inland lagoon.

Welcome to uber-beautiful Veligandu Island, which has long been championed as one of the top destinations in the Maldives for couples.

Honeymooners and newly-weds are a common site on this long, thin finger of land on the western edge of the North Ari Atoll, and there are plenty of opulent seaside villas and suites to match.

8. Banana Reef 

banana Reef

Many travelers heading to the islands of the Maldives will be coming for one thing and one thing only: diving.

And there’s hardly a single better place to don the SCUBA gear and wetsuits in the country than at the Banana Reef.

This fruit-shaped dash of multi-colored corals and seaweed-clad sandbanks lies underwater between the isles of the North Male Atoll.

It’s served by countless outfitters, who lead excursions to uncover the striped snappers and bulbous sponges, the reef sharks and the barracudas that all coalesce here.

9. Thulusdhoo Island

thulusdhoo Island 

It’s the spirit of the salt-washed Caribbean that seems to drive Thulusdhoo Island.

Largely undiscovered, this speck in the Male Atolls is ringed by wide spaces of sand from which bulbous coconut trunks sprout by the hundred.

The beaches are – naturally – great, and the locals love to draw in their fading fishing boats to flint up a good sizzling seafood barbeque now and then.

That all fits perfectly with the other pastime of travelers on Thulusdhoo: surfing.

Look for the fun left-hand rollers that turn into barrels off of Villingilimathi Huraa close by.

10. Fuvahmulah


Fuvahmulah promises something a little different to the rest of the Maldivian atolls.

For starters, this speck on the map of the Indian Ocean doesn’t really have any near neighbors, and it occupies an atoll all of its own.

It’s also peppered with the occasional inland lake, which is a rare sight to see in this flat-lying country.

Meanwhile the sandbanks that ring popular Banging Beach make for some crashing rollers and refreshing salt-spray (a break from the usual relaxing lapping lagoons), and the proximity to the Earth’s equator means steamy weather throughout the year.

11. Alimatha island 

Perched on the eastern edge of the Maldives, in the famous Felidhe Atoll, Alimatha is a great tourist island that offers luxury cabanas, untouched stretches of pristine sandy beach, and – most importantly – some of the most celebrated SCUBA diving spots around.

The resort that covers the island can often be seen packed with eager divers, who all come to seek out the pretty coral groves and sea walls that surround the shores.

These are packed with jackfish, morays and eels, and are known for their high visibility and popular night diving packages.

12. Hithadhoo


Large (at least for a Maldivian island) and highly-populated (again, at least for a Maldivian island), this sub-section of Addu City in the old Seenu Atoll can be reached on the same causeways that connect Gan to Maradhoo.

On its southern edge, the place is given away to mangroves and marshes and shrub land, while the north side of the island is packed with cafes and bakeries and the occasional set of looming minarets that rise from the local mosques.

More than anything, Hithadhoo oozes a charming lived-in vibe; one that’s difficult to discover elsewhere in the resort-heavy country. 

13. Kuredu 


Kuredu is the self-proclaimed jewel of the Lhaviyani Atoll, which makes its home in the central-north reaches of the Maldivian archipelago.

A boomerang-shaped isle, it’s entirely covered by a single resort, which offers rustic bamboo shacks and rows of those ubiquitous over-water bungalows with verandahs above the waves.

The whole place is completely surrounded by its own private fringing of powdery sand, and is considered one of the most advanced SCUBA and snorkeling destinations in the country – strong currents and high waves often make it difficult to see the manta rays and tropical schools.

Unusually, Kuredu also plays host to a full 9-hole golf course.

14. Gan 


Gan is primarily known for its airport, which is the second-largest airport in the entire Maldives and a famous former airbase for the British Royal Air Force during WWII. Today, the island has shed its old military importance in favor of tourism, and it’s slowly rising to become one of the most popular spots in the Addu Atoll.

It’s not just the accessibility (thanks to the airport) that draws the crowds either, because Gan has earthy little fishing restaurants and small stretches of shimmering sand that are usually totally empty of visitors. Nice.

15. Kunfunadhoo Island 

Kunfunadhoo Island 

If you’re after the fabled luxury and romance of the Maldives, then it’s likely that the opulent resort on Kunfunadhoo Island won’t disappoint – it’s continually hailed as the most indulgent place to stay in the country.
Visitors enter through a thatched timber great hall that hides between groves of coconut palms.
From there, it’s onto the cocktail decks that soar on stilts above the jungle, or out to the beaches where candles flicker in the sultry sea breeze.
Add in a couple of infinity pools, swim-up bars, and the chance to dine on a private little sandbank with only the Indian Ocean waves as a backing track, and it’s easy to see why this one’s so popular!