If you picture a postcard-perfect tropical vacation, odds are high that the scenery you’re envisioning is a snapshot of the Maldives. The nation consists of more than a thousand islands, and it’s famous for its turquoise waters and pristine beaches.
The Maldives is also a land of extremes. Most Maldivian resorts take up entire private islands, and up until recently, tourists were forbidden from visiting most residential islands in the nation. These days, you can take your pick between a luxe resort or a more traditional guesthouse on a residential island. No matter which option you choose, you’ll be in for a picturesque tropical adventure.
Maldivian cuisine is known for incorporating seafood, coconut, and tasty starches. If you spend time with locals, you’ll likely be dining on dishes that include skipjack tuna, curry, sweet potatoes, screwpine fruit, and breadfruit. For a delicious meal out, try one of our favorite eateries below.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
You’ve probably seen this one on Pinterest. Ithaa is part of the Conrad Hilton Rangali Island Resort in the South Ari Atoll, and it offers an underwater dining experience with scenery like no other. You’ll enjoy a six-course meal several feet below sea level in what feels like an aquarium. Don’t be surprised if you get to enjoy world-class views of coral gardens and sea life with your meal.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, this Hulhumale establishment offers authentic Maldivian dishes in the company of locals. Here, you’ll get to try some of the best curry and fresh juice you’ve ever tasted while getting a feel for the local pace of life.
The Maldives is famous for the above-water bungalows featured at many of its best-rated resorts, but you also have the option of staying in a guesthouse or Airbnb on a residential island. It all depends on your preference, but if you’re thinking of going the resort route, consider some of our favorite locations below.
When it comes to aesthetics, Amilla Fushi has it on lock. Its geometric, futuristic villa design has a style all its own. When you check into this breathtaking resort on Baa Atoll, you can stay in a luxury treehouse (yeah, that’s a thing). If you’d rather be along the water than high up in the trees, you can stay at one of Amilla Fushi’s Ocean Reef villas, which have their own infinity pools and easy access to top-notch snorkeling.
Four Seasons Maldives At Kuda Huraa
At the Four Seasons, you’ll bask in a top-of-the-line experience while getting to know the finer details of Maldivian life. In between relaxing in your villa, you can take surfing lessons, enjoy luxe treatments at the resort’s private island spa, explore nearby local islands, and get to know Kuda Huraa culture.
If you’re looking for an Insta-friendly vacation, Cocoon is where it’s at. Cocoon is on Lhaviyani Atoll, and its Italian-inspired design is totally transporting. In between snapping shots of the inviting waters and chic villa aesthetic, you can take a coconut-palm lesson, learn what life is like in a traditional Maldivian village, and dine with the general manager at the resort’s treasured community table.
This Turkish resort on the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll is so spacious that you’ll never run out of places to explore. At Ayada, you can stay in a private beach villa, enjoy the onsite Turkish bath, and bask in the beautiful decor.
If you’re itching to get outdoors, you can take long walks or bike rides on the property, or break for some diving and snorkeling. At Ayada, you can even surf—a major rarity in the Maldives!
Milaidhoo Island Maldives
This charming island in Baa Atoll does many things well, but it’s especially great at offering privacy. If you want to pretend you’re an heiress lounging on your own private island with not a soul in sight, this is the place to do it. At Milaidhoo, each bungalow has its own private infinity pool, and some even have their own outdoor showers.
When you’re ready to explore the rest of the resort, you can go dolphin spotting, kayaking, windsurfing, or snorkeling. Oh, and don’t forget the outdoor yoga space and beach bar.
The Maldives is home to some of the most scenic outdoor spaces in the world, so get ready to spend some time in the sun.
If you love diving and snorkeling, you’ve come to the right place. With majestic coral reefs, colorful tropical fish, turtles, and large marine life, you’ll be hard-pressed to run out of sights to see under the water.
Some of the most popular dive sites in the Maldives include Fotteyo Kandu, Kuda Rah Thila, and Kandooma Thila.
Adventurous spirits will get a kick out of hiking across the tropical terrain. You’ll find refreshing trails in areas like Male, Thinadhoo, and Felidhoo.
Don’t leave the Maldives without checking out the creations of local artisans and exploring the area’s best boutiques.
Male Local Market
This bazaar in the Maldives’ busy capital is an adventure for the senses. Grab some fresh coconut milk from a local vendor, then wander from stall to stall to take a look at local crafts, mementos, and tasty snacks.
This popular Male boutique offers home decor and lifestyle goodies inspired by daily life in the Maldives.