The Maldives – Which Island is Best?
Paradisiacal and dazzling are just two words from a perpetual list of glorious adjectives to describe the Maldives. Well over 1,100 coral islands are nestled within 26 natural atolls of the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. Although each can boast of vibrancy, character and activity, the islands are unique in their individual offers and excellence.
Spread across an area of around 35,000 square miles of Indian Ocean, the Maldives is one of the most geographically dispersed sovereign states in the world. It is the smallest Asian country by both population and land area. Its capital and most populous city, Malé (traditionally called the “King’s Island”), has around just 130,000 inhabitants.
Despite its small size, it has a world-famous reputation as a stunning holiday destination. The Maldives are known for blue oceans, white beaches and refreshingly clean air. Watersports are hugely popular due to the ideal climate in the region with many visitors partaking in swimming, scuba diving, fishing, snorkelling, water-skiing and windsurfing.
Regarded as one of the best recreational diving destinations in the world due to clear waters and exceptional underwater scenery, the Maldives attracts tourists from all across the globe each year and relies on tourism as a revenue generator. Over sixty diving sites are recorded across the islands, and the region is thought to be one of the most desired destinations for newly married couples heading off on honeymoon.
It is thought that the Maldives’ rich and intriguing history dates back as far as the 5th Century BC when the first inhabitants settled on the island. Significant periods under Buddhist and Islamic rule have followed and Islam remains the official religion of the nation. In November 1968, the Maldives was officially declared a Republic, ending an 853-year-old monarchy.
All of the islands in the Maldives are low-lying, with none rising higher than six-feet above sea level. Destructive monsoons are tempered by the protection offered from barrier reefs where many fish abound as well as in the lagoons and surrounding oceans. The fishing industry accounts for a large percentage of workers on the islands, and sea turtles too are caught for food and their medicinal purposes.
Maldivians originate from a vast range of other nations as people, particularly traders, have settled over time. It is believed that the first settlers were from southern India and Sri Lanka, the Tamil and Sinhalese people. Dhivehi, or Maldivian, is the official language, while Hindi, Arabic and English are also spoken.
More than half the population is considered rural, and only around twenty islands have more than 1,000 inhabitants. Islands in the south are more densely populated than their northern counterparts.
With so much choice and possibility, people considering a trip to the islands could be forgiven for feeling confused or overwhelmed in the decision that they are making. Fortunately, we have put together all the information you will need to make that decision the best choice for you.
When to Go
The attraction of the Maldives is fairly simple. They are a slice of paradise far detached from the bustling life many of us have become accustomed to. White-sand and blue waters replace high-rises and offices, seclusion and privacy replace crowds and clutter. The sheer abundance of islands offers sheltered lagoons and ocean views with guaranteed rest and relaxation for those seeking it. Carefully designed hotels and resorts make the most of the very best that the island offers and an understanding of what travellers to the island seek enables them to master this. Because of its main attraction, the time you travel is going to be important.
The best time to travel to the Maldives is between November and April. Maximum temperatures will hover around the 30-31°C mark, rains are less frequent during these months and the wind tends to drop. During the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months, the humidity will rise in the region making it far less comfortable, particularly for those not used to the conditions. September and October are, traditionally, the wettest months of the year.
However, there are some important points to note. With a difference of over 500 miles between the most northerly island and the most southerly, and 80 miles from east to west, different weather systems can be affecting different islands at any one time. Rains can occur at any time of year, but far from detracting from your visit, an embracing attitude can see these times add immense value to your visit.
Sometimes, it just comes down to luck. That works both ways; for every visitor who feels hard done by the weather, there will be a number of travellers who have experienced better weather than they could have hope for! Locals tend to consider the weather and seasons to be decreasing in predictability, meaning some of the best value for money is existing in the shoulder seasons. Those brave enough to take the gamble may be very richly rewarded.
As with travelling anywhere, there is an element of weighing up your personal options and what works best for you. A positive attitude will make a trip to the Maldives phenomenal at any time. If you are looking to increase your chances of sensational weather, consider between January and mid-April as the ideal time for your visit, while if money is more of a consideration, the shoulder of the main season between November and April is the place to look for good value.
Which Island is Best?
Such variety always comes with positives and negatives. On the plus side, you have the opportunity to choose the perfect destination for you. On the downside, it’s so hard to choose! Who you are travelling with, preference of activity and cost are always going to be key factors in deciding which island is the best for you.
Quite uniquely, many hotels and resorts in the Maldives occupy their own islands having bought leases that can last decades from the government. On the whole, the further from the capital you go, the more expensive things will be. You also need to consider the effect and cost of reaching your final island destination, usually involving a transfer by seaplane or speedboat.
Once you have thought about the nitty-gritty parts, indulge in the luxurious and scintillating offers of the Maldives as you try to find the perfect match for you. Here are the best islands for you to consider.
Offering irresistible views of the Indian Ocean and easy access out into the waters, Rangali is an island brimming with lush greenery. Its fame is gained from its abundant flora and fauna and world-class dining opportunities. Technically, Rangali is two islands which are connected by a footbridge. It is home to an all-glass underwater restaurant, the first in the world, where you can tuck into six delicious courses of contemporary European dishes accompanied by reef sharks and manta rays only feet away. A variety of restaurants are also available above sea level, offering a difference in view and taste and the island is also well-known for having over 30,000 different wines on offer.
A tropical paradise with white-sand beaches, palm trees and bountiful marine life, Veligandu is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. A relaxed vibe, dining under the stars and trips out to picnic on other nearby islands make this a beautiful place to spend time with those dearest to you. The island’s set-up is all about making the most of coral reefs, lagoons and, of course, the picturesque beaches. For those looking to combine all-in luxury with watersports, Veligandu offers the best of both worlds, with five-star adult-only resorts and watersport centres offering a vast range of activities.
When looking for a family holiday, the Maldives probably isn’t a location jumping out at many people. However, the Halaveli island goes against the grain and offers the most perfect and idyllic whole family escape. A one-hotel island actually represents a safe and simple destination for families and Halaveli, a short 25-minute seaplane journey from the capital Malé, is leading the way in that respect. Plentiful activities exist to keep the children busy when you aren’t exploring the island together, including watersport lessons and tennis, while there are spas open to adults to extend the welcome to visitors of all ages.
Offering a great variety of activities and facilities, Kuramathi is the best option for the more restless traveller who wants to combine plenty of activities, dining experiences and adventure with some time relaxing and recuperating. Infinity pools and spas, diving schools and a choice of watersports alongside twelve different dining options keep people of all tastes occupied and fulfilled. A range of accommodation keeps the options flowing, meaning the island can appeal to couples, families or groups of friends, too. If Kuramathi is your smart choice, be sure to check out the eco-centre with its sperm whale skeleton.
With tourism, sadly, comes concerns for the environment. The island of Dhuni Kolhu, however, is making strides to try and improve how eco-friendly it is and preserve the eco-system around it. The island provides a nesting place for the endangered indigenous green turtles, while marine conservation projects run from the island. A focus is placed on growing fresh produce on the island itself rather than importing, and plastic bags and bottles are banned on the island. For travellers, there are many sensational beaches, peaceful spas and beautiful overwater Maldives villas, a common sight often associated with the Maldives in general.
One of the main attractions of the Maldives are the beautiful, clear surrounding waters, so being the island that offers the best diving opportunities is quite an achievement. Helengeli is often regarded as that place, with a spectacular variety in its marine life. A five-star diving centre is well placed, as is the island itself in a channel between a deep lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Over twenty diving sites are found on the island and it has been widely considered one of the best diving spots in the world.
A tiny, intimate island hideaway, Maafushivaru is known for its world-class service, gorgeous reefs for snorkelling and soft, luxurious sands. Offering overwater restaurants, infinity pools and even an uninhabited sister island available for a night’s getaway, Maafushivaru offers all and more for couples looking for an island escape in the Maldives. Brimming with ocean activity, there are opportunities to be active during the day, getting out and exploring, or simply bathing in the sun and feeling the stresses of the world melt away.
With a stunning turquoise lagoon and soft white sands, Kurumba is designed around the needs of a family and all that you can think of is covered. The activities for children are plentiful, the beaches ideal for family fun and its even possible to take a dolphin cruise! Located just a short ten-minute speedboat ride from the airport, the island is one of the easier islands to reach after a long flight. It is famed for its fantastic hospitality and luxury at great value for money. Activities available on the island include snorkelling, waterskiing and guided diving lessons.
Synonymous with the Maldives are sensational beaches and they are absolutely everywhere. Among the very best you will find are on the island of Finolhu, where white sands fade into beautiful blue lagoons. Finolhu is home to the longest stretch of white sand you’ll find on any island. The island is known to be quirky and retro with a unique vibe. A variety of hotels, including some top-of-the-range luxurious options, interesting eateries and a beach cinema are but a few of the attractions that draw visitors to the island as well as its main attraction.
The Maldives are, without a doubt among the most beautiful islands in the world. A plethora of choices and options mean that there will, without fail, be something to suit any potential visitor looking for that dream holiday. Your choice will be hard for all the right reasons.
If you are travelling with a partner looking for a romantic paradisiacal adventure, Veligandu and Maafushivaru are among the most desirable locations not only in the Maldives but across the world. For those travelling with family, Halaveli and Kurumba are perfect options, while those looking for an island with an emphasis on and superb record of eco-friendly tourism should look no further than Dhuni Kolhu. Rangali is the option for wannabe food critics and dining experience enthusiasts and the waters of Helengeli are unrivalled in the region. Kurumakhi guarantees an exceptional and varied experience, while Finolhu summarises what the Maldives are all about with unparalleled beauty exuding from its beaches.
The Maldives are an epic destination. Don’t miss out, skip to the head of the queue and plan your visit now!
Can I visit more than one island?
Yes, you can. Indeed, if you’d like, you can stay on more than one island during your trip. Be aware, however, that this may cost more money.
Are the Maldives safe?
Crime levels in the Maldives are low, although petty crime like pickpocketing can take place. You should maintain a similar awareness to what you would if you were at home. While there, you should stay up to date with local news to stay on top of any natural events that may be occurring.
Do I need a Visa?
The Maldives has a relatively lenient Visa policy and offers a 30-day visa to visitors on arrival at the airport. You may need to provide evidence that you have accommodation arranged, and or that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay.