Those who have been to the Maldives often say that although they have visited many other islands, the beauty of the Maldives cannot be replaced
Twenty-six groups of natural atolls and 1,192 coral islands are spread over 90,000 square kilometres of water. Seen from satellite imagery, they are like a string of pearls scattered across the Indian Ocean. The all-year-round clear and warm waters, the colorful coral gardens, as well as rich fish species, make the Maldives one of the best diving spots in the world.
Among the numerous islands, there are about 200 inhabited islands and over 150 luxury resort islands. On inhabited islands, you will get closer to the local culture, and are able to enjoy a wider range of and much cheaper day sea trips. And you will still have the chance to visit the resort islands and enjoy some of their facilities. The resort islands, extremely luxurious and romantic, are for those who are passionate about luxury hotels and want to spend a lot of time for relaxation, sun bathing, selfies or food.
International flights land at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (often referred to as Male International Airport). There are mainly three ways to get to the island you want to visit from the airport. Firstly, by seaplane, the most romantic way to overlook the Maldives. Most luxury resorts offer a seaplane pick-up service. Otherwise, you can also take a public seaplane which is cheaper. Kindly note that seaplane service is only available during the day before 16:30. The second option is by speedboat. In addition to the speedboat services offered by resorts, you can buy tickets directly at the airport terminal or at the Villigili Terminal port in Male. Speedboat trips are limited to the relatively nearer destinations of North Malé Atoll and South Malé Atoll. Also, there are domestic aircraft flights which can carry you to the farther islands.
Four Seasons Journey
The first hospitality brand that creates four unique experience in Maldives, including two resort islands, one absolutely private island exclusively for you, and the Maldives’ fastest and most luxurious dive liveaboard. This is Four Seasons Resorts Maldives.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
A 25-minute speedboat ride from Male Airport takes you to Kuda Huraa Island, a serene flowery island with a Maldivian village charm.
Ninety-six villas and suites are built around a tropical garden filled with fragrant flowers. Splendid interiors are full of local elements such as plaid boards, curved eaves, carvings, wood furniture and thatched roof. As the sunset dyes the sky, the Sunset Lounge and TurtleBeach lay out postcard-like scenery.
The Island Spa, as named, is a separated island for spa only accessible by dhoni (traditional Maldivian sailing boat) across the lagoon with just a minute’s sailing. The treatment menu, called Healing Waters, features marine therapy which helps guests restore the primal connection to the sea and reconnect with the essence of their true self. Sea ingredients, from sea salt to wild seagrass and nutrient-rich seaweed, are found in a range of massages, wraps, and bathing rituals. Children also have their own spa space, where they learn to blend essential oils, “start” volcanic rock shells, and receive all-natural pampering.
Famous for the smoothest and warmest waves in the world, Kuda Hura is a championship surf venue and a dreamy destination for surfing lovers. In addition, the hotel manages its own PADI five-star dive centre, which can take guests to 30 top dive zones nearby.
Four Seasons Explorer
Cruising between Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru, Four Seasons Explorer is the first drifting hotel for all seasons. This three-deck catamaran can carry up to 22 guests. Diving and snorkeling are no longer an add-on, but a daily practice so that you can swim with the marine life every day. From May to November every year, tides bring large amounts of plankton to the atolls nearby which attract countless pelagic fish – such as manta rays and whale sharks – to swim here.
The Explorer will also take you to uninhabited islands for water skiing, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing, or remote village islands where you can explore the unique culture and food. Of course, you can also just stay on board for a massage or listen to the explanations of marine biologists.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
Dwelling in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this Four Seasons Resort embraces Tiffany blues, jungle greens and dazzling whites. Walk off the beach and through a turquoise gate to come home where no sophisticated modern trace is found. Everything is so natural and simply elegant.
If you are fed up with modern Western food, then go to AL BARAKAT. Named for the North African scholar who made the Baa Atoll his home in the 12th century, this overwater restaurant offers stylish, indoor and outdoor-rooftop seating to sample the mysterious flavours of Lebanon, Morocco and Armenia. If you want something hearty for dinner after an adventure-packed day, savour the fresh catch of the day as well as a wide selection of organic meats, salads and Asian dishes with your toes in the sand at the beachfront Fuego Grill.
The Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat is one of the major reasons for guests to visit Landaa Giraavaru. Unlike ordinary spas, the Retreat aims to deliver true spiritual and mental healing. Spread from the island center to the lagoon, the 3-acre integrated wellness area centers around yoga and Ayurveda.
Complimentary Ayurvedic consultations are offered to all guests. On the menus of all restaurants, Ayurvedic food is especially labeled. And at the Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat, you can learn about the beneficial effects of Ayurveda in promoting nutrition absorption, health and mood.
A rich range of yoga programs is available. Enhance your self-esteem, flexibility and body alignment during one of the AntiGravity Yoga classes, and experience the unique sensation of flying. Enjoy the Yoga-Energy Trail to connect with your natural surroundings as you move through 15 sign-posted stations around some of the island’s most scenic vantage points, either on your own or with a guided group class. The many other daily yoga sessions include Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Aqua Yoga and more.
The signature Om Supti Night Spa Ritual might be a lifelong memory. Lay down on the private forest land with no one beside except the therapist. Feel your body and mind delicately lulled into a deep, meditative state during this night-time ritual that calms the nervous system, relaxes the spine and reduces stress levels, paving the way for restful sleep.
As the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, Baa Atoll is home to more than 30 beautiful unspoilt coral gardens. Just a short boat ride from Landaa Giraavaru takes you to hot spots of manta rays and whale sharks including Hanifaru Bay and Veyofushi Reef. Even if you don’t want to travel elsewhere, just dive with turtles, dolphins, and lemon sharks in a 2 km long lagoon of the resort.
Both resorts at Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru have carried out a number of environmental and educational projects, such as the establishment of two Marine Discovery Centres which enrich the guest experience through education, research and conservation of the marine environment. It is the base for pioneering research on manta rays, coral reefscaping, clownfish breeding and turtle rehabilitation.
Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, Baa Atoll
It’s a tropical haven off-limits to everyone else but you, where no one is watching and anything is possible.
The seven-bedroom private island is the world’s first exclusive-use UNESCO hideaway in Baa Atoll. Enjoy a lazy time in a hammock, dive in the pure water, get healed at The Ocean of Consciousness Spa, or enjoy a moonlight party and pool party. You can also board the Voavah Summer yacht and explore the nearby waters. To the north of the island is the Baathala Reserve, the southern part is the best viewing spot for manta rays, to the east is the secluded sandy beach, and to the west is the place to enjoy the intoxicating sunset.
Cheval Blanc Randheli
Known as the most expensive hotel in Maldives, Cheval Blanc Randheli is run by global luxury giant LVMH, located on Noonu Atoll in the northwest of the Maldives. The luxurious facilities and meticulous services take the experience to a new level.
Before arriving, the hotel would email guests, inquiring of their preference to the color of the bedding, pillow type, bathrobe size, food and so on. After landing, you can take a rest in an exclusive lounge where meals are prepared and shower facilities are available. Then take a private seaplane to officially start the luxurious journey. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the resort island.
The resort is composed of six islands. Three of them are for guest’s villas, and the other three are each for The Owner’s Villa, a professional tennis court, and SPA.
Inside the villas, several 7-meter-high rotating oak panels cleverly separate the spacious interior space. Floor-to-ceiling windows invite the outside beauty in. Early in the morning, you may see the dolphins happily jumping outside the window. The in-room iPad can control all appliances and reserve meals, spa treatments and water activities. If you’re interested in exploring the island, just ride on the bike placed outside your villa door. In addition, a dedicated majordomo (butler) looks after you and plans your day, from unpacking your suitcase, ironing clothes to booking restaurants or fine-tuning a bath filled with frangipani flowers.
Le 1947, the finest wine at the Chateau Cheval Blanc, is also the name of the signature restaurant at Cheval Blanc Randheli. It is the only Michelin Three Star French restaurant in the Maldives, blending French cooking with local elements. Reservations and formal wear are strictly required.
Take a dhoni boat across a small area of water to the spa island. The whole island is created for healing, decorated by swaying palms and cool sea breeze. The only Guerlain Spa in the Maldives will surely give you a holistic body and mind healing. In addition to a rich variety of treatments, you can also experience Hammam, steaming and hair styling. After the treatment, relax at the spa bar while enjoying the gorgeous sunset with a fine healthy meal. For more wellness trials, follow the yoga or meditation practices on the white beach, in the garden or the overwater pavilions. The resort’s yogi Puneet will tailor sessions for you for stress release and pain management. The Dive Centre has daily trips for snorkeling and dolphin search. Small guests are welcomed at Cheval Blanc Randheli and there are many kid facilities and services.
Inhabited Island – Maafushi
If you want to take a different approach to explore the Maldives and experience more of the local life, then choose an inhabited island.
Maafushi is a well-known Maldivian inhabited island and has many advantages in terms of development level, day trips’ price, safety, and entertainment options. Located on the South Ari Atoll, the island can be reached in about 40 minutes by speedboat from the airport. The island is full of life with complete infrastructure like schools, banks, supermarkets, Eastern and Western restaurants and more. You may travel around the whole island by foot in just half an hour. Locals live a quite slow-paced life. You will see them chatting on the streets and little children running after one other cheerfully. Like other inhabited islands, the houses here are colorful.
There are many hotels in Maafushi. Though not so amazing as luxury resorts, they have decent facilities. Some are even equipped with a spa. Most hotels offer pick-up services. Recommended hotels include The Triton Hotel. You will soon become good friends with the cordial staff there. The dishes served at the hotel restaurant are authentic and clean. There is also a spa where professional Thai therapists will help you recover from sore muscles caused by frequent day trips. In addition, The Arena Beach Hotel is widely awarded as the best hotel on the island, with the bikini beach at the door. It is called so because bikinis are only allowed on this beach. Arena Lodge Sky at Maafushi is a quiet private homestay just 2-3 minutes from sea port.
You can see posts at almost every hotel’s reception, offering a variety of daily sea trip packages which generally include snorkeling, dolphin seeking, sea fishing, sunset cruise, resort island tour, etc. as well as a free lunch. It is worth mentioning that the price here is usually less than a half of the sea trips offered by resort islands.
Maldives is home to a wide variety of marine life. Early in the morning, guests from all over the world gather in the hotel lobby with their diving equipment. Then the boat will take you to the middle of the sea where coral reefs abide. One by one, guests jump into the water according to the instructions of the diving instructor and begin to swim with tropical fish in the coral clusters. Depending on the water area, and your luck that day, you may encounter different creatures — manta rays, giant sharks, whales, or turtles. For experienced divers, it will undoubtedly be a life-long memory. Novices don’t need to worry either because a professional diving instructor will always by your side. After the diving, guests are usually taken to an uninhabited island, sunbathing on a beach without artificial traces, and enjoying the real Maldivian moment. Many guests would also choose to visit the resort islands, dining at the luxury resort’s restaurant, swimming in the pool, and taking pictures.
Other inhabited island choices include the Rasdhoo in North Ari Atoll which possesses amazing beaches and many diving spots, and the Gulhi in South Male Atoll which is a traditional fishing village island with beautiful scenery.