Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives
The vibe is hip and contemporary at this tropical resort managed by the Park Hotel Group. A short hop from Malé’s international airport, it’ll suit the time-pressed traveller in search of gin-clear waters and a taste of the Maldivian good-life.
Set in a ring of coral islands just north of Malé, Kodhipparu is a mere 20 minutes by speedboat from Velana International Airport (return transfers are US$180/£138 per person). It’s conveniently placed if you don’t have time to reach the more remote atolls, or for a stop-off en route elsewhere. Kodhipparu brags a colourful reef for snorkelling and some great dive sites nearby, including wrecks. Just don’t expect desert-isle views: from the resort, you can see a handful of little islands, and the hazy outline of Malé’s tower-blocks etched on the distant horizon.
The vibe is sunny and contemporary: palm-thatched buildings with high ceilings and open-plan decks where you can eat, drink and be merry to the pulse of background music and lapping sea. Décor is luxury-Bohemian, with state-of-the-art fittings and technology. With 120 villas, the atmosphere is less intimate than some of the smaller Maldivian resorts, and the island’s vegetation still needs some time to mature following the 2017 opening.
Lankanfushi Island, North Male Atoll, Maldives
It’s hard to resist the charms of this award-winning Maldivian resort, with its rustic-chic style and eco-friendly ethos, its serene atmosphere and impeccable service. The island is lush with tropical vegetation, fringed with coral sands and lapped by a jade-blue lagoon: a lotus-eaters’ paradise.
The coral atolls of the Maldives are scattered like stepping stones across the Indian Ocean, just north of the equator. The private resort island of Lankanfushi basks in the North Malé Atoll, girdled by a shallow lagoon of sheer blue waters yet just a 20-minutes speedboat ride from Malé international airport (a return transfer is US$228/£175, including taxes).
If you’re looking for total sea-girt isolation, bear in mind that there are a couple of other islands visible on the distant horizon. Apart from that, Lankanfushi is pretty much your proverbial paradise isle.
Imagine rustic palm-thatched wooden villas floating against a backdrop of limpid sea, silky white-sand beaches and lush vegetation. A Robinson Crusoe theme runs through this desert-island resort: you’ll find copies of Defoe’s classic in your villa, and you’ll even have your very own Man (or Woman) Friday to cater to your whims.
Diamonds Thudufushi Beach & Water Villas
Maldivian water villas don’t get more elegant than this – chic and white above the cobalt blue sea. The Diamonds Thudufushi Beach – a 35-minute seaplane ride from Male – offers excellent restaurants and some of the best snorkeling in the archipelago. There’s also a large lagoon for watersports.
Thudufushi, like its neighbour Athuruga, has a coral reef close to shore which offers some of the best snorkeling in the country. There’s also a large lagoon – perfect for watersports. The island is 35 minutes from Malé by seaplane.
The resort has recently had a makeover but coral walls still feature throughout. The re-designed water villas have an airy and uplifting feel.
The European staff are a delight and all the guests are at ease. There’s a busy watersports centre, organised beach volleyball and a spa. Evening activities include film and quiz nights.
The revamped water villas are chic and elegant, with polished wood floors and all-white sofas. However, the beach villas are yet to be refurbished, feel small and lack privacy.
The food here is excellent. The resort is popular with Italians and pasta and pizza feature widely on the menus. There’s also lantern-lit dining on the beach.
Low season room rates from £8,632 for 14 nights’ all-inclusive, rising to £11,526 in high season. Prices, which exclude international flights, are based on two sharing. Free Wi-Fi. This is a generous all-inclusive: the use of the resort’s laundry is included in the price.
The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort
Baa Atoll, Maldives
The Westin dazzles with its luxe, marine-inspired design, culinary mastery and facilities that include an over-water spa, and a superb fitness centre that will even lend you training shoes and clothes. Its eco credentials also impress, with reverse-osmosis water filtration and solar power among the initiatives.
This large yet intimate-feeling island, located in the lovely quiet Lhaviyani Atoll, is a laid-back palm-painted idyll, with a fabulous range of facilities, tip-top dining and perfect beaches. It’s ideal for families, couples and solo travellers.
The whale-shaped island of Kanuhura lies in the Lhaviyani Atoll, a 30-minute seaplane flight from Malé International Airport. This particular atoll is known for its large species of marine life – four-metre wide manta rays, spinner dolphins, green turtles, yellow fin tuna, puffer fish the size of pillows and the occasional whale shark– and Kanuhura has 42 different dive sites to choose from within a one hour sail. There’s not quite as much snorkelling here but the broad, white, gently-sloping beaches are perfection.
Generously spaced across the island are 80 villas, 60 right on the beach and a further 20 stilted over the water. All are big and bright with a sunny Californian vibe – whitewashed woods, geometric prints, some with flashes of coral, others with splashes of turquoise and teal – as well as zen-cool outdoor bathrooms and wooden decks rolling straight onto the sand or into the sea. Other pleasing touches include free movies, eco-friendly pump-bottle toiletries and complimentary bicycles.
There are five restaurants and two bars to choose from. Spilling out onto the beach, Veli serves moreish Asian and Indian cuisine – beef rendang, spinach and spiced paneer, tandoori lobster – while poolside Bottega dishes up zingy Italian fare. A lavish breakfast is served at all-day buffet restaurant A Mano and includes everything from Maldivian curries to Chinese dim sum to sushi and sashimi, as well as fruit, yogurts, cheeses, eggs and free-flowing sparkling wine. Come sunset, slip inside one of the teepees at the Ibiza-esque Iru Beach Bar, lie back with an umbrella-topped drink and forget the outside world exists.