Yes, the Maldives is the first port of call for newly married couples, but it is not just about romance. Becky Lucas picks her way through the 26 atolls to help select the best destination for you
You’d be hard pressed to think of a place on earth more beautiful than the Maldives. The 1,192 islands are almost so scenic, the sea so light blue, the vegetation so lush, that it’s difficult to write about them without constantly stumbling over clichés. So here I shall not leer at them as one beautific mass of idyllic paradise. Instead, I’ll consider them as individuals, with their own strengths and quirks, to find out which island is best for which type of holidaymaker, using the winners of the recent inaugural Indian Ocean World Travel Awards as my guide.
Best for…. beaches
If all you want to do during your well-earnt time off is flop on the sand, consider Lux Maldives. With 4km of beaches, it’s set on the island of Dhidhoofinolhu in the South Ari Atoll, and offers all sorts of sand-based activities, from cinema screenings to pop-up live music.
From approx. Dhs5,689 per night*. www.luxresorts.com (no number).
Best for… boutique chic
With a name like ‘Island Hideaway’, this crescent-shaped atoll on Dhonakulhi in North Maldives is equivalent to the size of 28 football pitches, allowing you plenty of scope to squirrel away from reality– amid modish furnishings. Five ‘Hideaway Palaces’ come encircled by private infinity pools, with circular beds and Maldivian swing (Undholi) pavilions, among numerous stylish touches.
From approx. Villa prices on request. www.island-hideaway.com (+960 650 1515).
Best for… families
Apart from sharing a child’s name currently de rigueur, Lily Beach Maldives is all about the family-friendly facilities, from free babysitting services and kids’ club to evening variety shows, personalised watersports activities, a house reef coral garden and a vast DVD library.
From approx Dhs3,368 per night*. www.lilybeachmaldives.com (+960 6680 013).
Best for… a hotel stay
Hulhule Island Hotel is five minutes from Malé airport, which means you can swiftly ditch your suitcase in one of its 136 sea-facing rooms before cracking straight on with its assorted activities, ranging from golf putting to photo flights.
From approx Dhs1,252 per night*. www.hih.com.mv (+960 333 0888).
Best for… luxury
Gili Lankanfushi has 45 overwater villas, including one that can only be reached by boat. Each villa is surreally paradisical, with private water gardens, sun decks and a shower by the water’s edge, linked to the bathroom by an open-air walkway.
From approx. Dhs2,629 per night*. www.gili-lankanfushi.com (+960 664 0304).
Best for… water villas
Staying in a water villa is like flying first class; after you’ve done it once your standards shift eternally upwards. And the water villas at The Haven on Paradise Island (it may have tempted fate with that name – but seems to have won) are top of the stilts in the Maldives, especially the Ocean Suites, which boast 386m of oceanfront space.
From approx. Dhs2,567 for water villa. www.villahotels.com (+960 331 6161).
Best for… spa treatments
It’s back to Gili Lankanfushi and its Meera Spa for a hit of holistic bliss. Glass floor panels allow you to gaze at sealife mid-massage, or you can zone out in front of panoramic sea views in the relaxation room. The Masters in Residence programme showcases various visiting holistic practitioners and healers.
See details above.
Best for…. romance
Like choosing the best bit of the arctic for its snow, there are innumerable options when it comes to picking an island in the Maldives for its ability to inspire amour. But Baros Maldives tops the list, confirmed by its five international ‘romance’ awards, the fact its tropical setting seems ‘designed for couples in love’, and its bespoke honeymooner options, which include private candlelit meals, signature couples’ massages and a ‘honeymoon photo in frame’ (even if that’s his idea of hell).
All rates from June 26-July 6 for two people. For more information on the World Travel Awards see worldtravelawards.com.
Need to know
Sir Lankan Airlines flies to Malé from Dhs2,215 return.
Fly Dubai flies to Malé from Dhs1,735 return.
Dubai to the Maldives
Flight time: five hours
Time difference: One hour ahead of Dubai
Dhs1 = 4.19 Maldivian Rufiyaa.