For most people, this is a once in a lifetime destination visited on special occasions. Featuring crystal clear waters, endless horizons, beautiful sea-life, and luxurious accommodations. What more could you want from a beach holiday?

Those who love the ocean and watersports will have the time of their lives in the Maldives. Its calm and waveless waters are ideal for canoeing, stand-up-paddleboarding, and sailing. While surfing can be found in certain resorts such as Six Senses and Soneva Fushi, avid surfers may want to choose a destination like Jimbaran, Seminyak, or the Gili Islands in Indonesia for choppier waters.

Since the Maldives is so widespread, and mainly feature hotels on private islands, we thought we’d write this article a little differently by giving our readers more hotel choices and highlighting the accessible activities and dining options at each property.


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Luxury Maldives

For Luxury Choose:

Velaa Private Island, Maldives

Resort and Accommodations: 

Activities Available on Property:

Dining on Property:

Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa or Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Activity:

Video Embed

Dining

Select local dishes if featured at your hotel: example 1, 2, 3. Choices will be limited based on which hotel you book, so make sure to choose wisely!

 


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Lifestyle Maldives

For Lifestyle Choose:

Soneva Fushi, Kunfunadhoo Island, UNESCO Baa Atoll Reserve

Resort and Accommodations:

Soneva Fushi was established in 1995 by pioneers Sonu Shivdasani and his wife, Eva, who created the first barefoot luxury resort in the Maldives. A couple who have always been concerned with the environment, they created the resort with a mission to make a difference where possible. This started with constructing the resort by moving already existing structures to their island and slightly deviating the architecture to blend in with the surroundings, instead of depleting more trees.

However, since then the property has only increased in size as well as creativity in solving different issues to make the resort as eco-friendly as possible. With the Soneva Changemaker team’s waste-to-wealth mentality, they view all trash as treasure. By creating different machinery to help recycle, they have transformed simple things such as old tin cans into lampshades, dead branches into sculptures, waste glass into tables, and, the most impressive, polystyrene boxes (received in food and beverage deliveries) into cement blocks that are made out of 80% recycled materials by turning the polystyrene into powder then adding crushed glass and cement. People may even argue that these cement blocks more superior to those found in the mass market since they are lightweight, insulating, and responds well to pressure. 

Although most furniture and fixtures amongst the resort grounds are made in-house by materials found on the island, certain items are out of their control. In such cases, the resort tries its best to continue minimizing their carbon footprint and maximizing their social responsibility by purchasing items from rural communities. This includes fabrics featured amongst the villas and restaurants, which are all hand-woven by Barefoot in Sri Lanka who mostly consist of female workers who have the ability to earn fair wages without having to leave their families. 

Currently standing as a 57-villa resort across 24 different room types, the accommodations are split into two sections: sunset side best for snorkellers, and sunrise side for privacy.  All villas feature open-air designs to reduce the need for air conditioning and are equipped with canopy beds, bathtubs, separate outdoor showers, daybeds, and plenty of complimentary drinking water produced and bottled in glass in the resort’s in-house desalination plant. With luxury in mind, each villa receives Mr. or Ms. Friday (butler) service to help with any needs during your holiday. 

As a barefoot luxury resort, Soneva Fushi goes by the saying “no shoes, no news”. While they take the quote quite literally, where guests do not wear shoes while enjoying their holiday, this also means that the use of technology is not encouraged (though not prohibited). Consequently, each room is still equipped with a television, but it is well hidden so that guests do not have the instinct to turn it on upon entering the room. WiFi is also available, but only in the villas and in the bar if asked nicely. 

Villa sizes range from one bedroom to a whopping private nine bedroom reserve. Each villa type is designed differently, but those staying in larger villas receive more, ranging from private gyms featuring Technogym cardio equipment, spa suites, libraries, children play areas, kitchens, and waterslides from within the villa to the pools. 

Activities Available on Property:

Soneva Fushi is blessed to be located on Kunfunadhoo Island, which is the largest within the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (designated in 2011), that contains the largest group of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. Consequently, this resort is absolutely amazing for snorkeling, freediving,  SEABOB-ing, and scuba diving. To learn more about the reefs and various species of marine life found in the Maldives, take a guided snorkeling tour with the resort’s in-house marine biologist. 

The property also offers a wide range of complimentary non-motorized water sports, which includes kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, windsurfing, and catamarans. Private classes for these water sports are also offered on an hourly basis. While not complimentary, Soneva Fushi is the first resort in the world to offer truly sustainable surfing, which consists of environmentally friendly boards, leashes, fins, rash guards, sunscreen, and board wax. While waves are uncommon in the Maldives, it only takes a 5 to 35-minute speed boat ride to arrive at a destination where the surf breaks.

In addition to this, excursions are also available to go dolphin watching, visiting Edyhafushi Island (the capital of Baa Atoll) to learn about Maldivian culture, visiting a neighboring traditional fishing island, or just go island hopping to see the various islands that the Baa Atoll consists of.

There are also tons of activities to explore on the island itself. Since Kunfunadhoo is 1.4 miles in length, guests can grab their in-villa bikes and explore some of the islands untouched, villa-less beaches.

The resort offers a spa by Six Senses for guests to relax in therapeutic treatments. The spa team also offers complimentary group yoga and meditation at Turtle Beach Champa, with private sessions for different types of practices available, including pregnancy yoga, detox yoga, Soham breath awareness, amongst others. For those looking for a harder workout can also go to the resort’s fully equipped gym or their tennis courts. 

Head over to the resort’s glass studio and learn how the resort upcycles the glass waste and turns them into remarkable items through various techniques including blowing, casting, and slumping through Soneva’s complimentary demonstrations. The studio also offers glass blowing courses to guests so they can take their own creation home with them. All of the unique creations by the in-house team are also available for purchase and can be seen on their eGifting site. 

Enjoy a nightly classic film screening at their outdoor cinema while eating complimentary popcorn and any of their 60 flavors of homemade ice cream under the stars. 

Go stargazing in the resort’s observatory that houses a state-of-the-art telescope that shows 3D astronomy. Introductory levels of astronomy education are offered by their resident astrologist on a complimentary basis, with private sessions available at a fee. 

In 2019, Soneva properties will be hosting its Festival of Colours, featuring limited time guest star appearances by some of the leading practitioners in their field. This includes learning more about astronomy by award-winning Lars Lindberg Christensen, discovering fitness secrets by Rockstar Fit App Natalie Dau, and learning natural navigation using nature by author Tristan Gooley. 

The resort is also incredibly family friendly and offers complimentary crèche services at The Den for children aged four and higher, with a separate lounge area for teenagers. This is an ultimate children’s retreat featuring a cinema, library, music room, learning area, and two pools with a waterslide. At The Den, young guests will learn, play, and create while being encouraged to think about environmental issues at large. Set activities vary and are listed in advance. An example of a week’s Den Programme can be found here.  

Dining on Property:

Soneva Fushi offers food out of seven different kitchens so guests staying here are spoilt for choice! Out of the Blue is the hotel’s all-day dining establishment newly opened in 2018 serving buffet-style breakfast and lunches that feature both local and western dishes, including locally caught fish at the grill and freshly baked wood-fired pizzas. At Out of the Blue, guests can also find the property’s all you can sample Soneva made chocolate and ice cream rooms, as well as the hotel’s carefully selected cheese and cured meats room.  

Out of the Blue also shares its seating area with the hotel’s Modern Japanese Kitchen and Chinese Kitchen which are open for lunch and dinner every day with the exception of dinners on Tuesdays and Saturdays which are designated buffet nights. At the Japanese Kitchen, guests can devour sushi and sashimi with a modern twist. Their menu consists of torched wagyu, black cod, and sashimi made with a contemporary twist. At the Chinese Kitchen, patrons will receive delicious wok fried and open grill made dishes. Both of these kitchens offer 250 varieties of magnum wines, as well as a large selection of sakes. 

Fresh in the Garden is a dinner only establishment where discerning patrons have the ability to enjoy a fine dining meal under the stars and amongst the treetops whilst being surrounded by the aromas of Soneva’s vegetable and herb gardens which are used in as many of the resort’s various restaurants as possible.

Sobah’s Restaurant is a dining establishment on its own uninhabited island just a 15-minute speedboat ride away from Soneva. Sobah himself is an award-winning chef whose restaurant is only open two nights per week. At this outlet, guests get to taste Maldivian cuisine cooked using traditional methods and ingredients that the chef forages and catches on the island. 

In addition to these restaurants, Soneva also has three intimate seated restaurants as well. The first is So Hand’s On which is a restaurant with only five seats that is partnered with three-star Michelin awarded Chef Kenji Gyoten, who is the youngest chef in Japan who has attained this accolade. While the restaurant is usually operated by apprentice Chef Akira Koba year round, Chef Gyoten makes his occasional appearance at So Hand’s On as part of Soneva’s Festival of Colour. 

So Bespoke is a restaurant that, like So Hand’s On, is open during lunch and dinner on a weekly schedule. This dining establishment is located within Out of the Blue and offers eight patrons per sitting a dinner theater experience at the restaurant’s sole teppanyaki table. 

Once Upon a Table is another dinner theater experience that seats only eight patrons as well. While this dining establishment is mainly used for special dining events, it is also used when guest celebrity chefs (other than Chef Gyoten) come to Soneva during the Festival of Colour. Some notable chefs visiting Soneva Fushi in 2019 are 3-star Michelin chef Esben Holmboe Bang from Denmark, 3-star chef Maxime Meilleur from France, and  2-star chef Tim Raue from Germany. 

Since Soneva Fushi is located on its own private island, guests who have any special dietary requirements should let the resort know in advance so they can do their best to accommodate any needs. 

Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Resort and Accommodations:

As Hyatt’s leading luxury hotel brand, Park Hyatt does not normally come to mind when thinking of an eco-friendly hotel; however, this resort is one of the most sustainable resort on all of the Maldives’s 1,200 islands.

Having originally opened its doors in 2009 as an Alila hotel, the resort was the first in the Maldives to be certified for having both an eco-friendly design and construction process. During this time, developers implemented a desalination plant to create clean drinking waters, as well as a regularly tested wastewater system that treats both black and grey water for reuse amongst the resort grounds.

In keeping with the original hotel’s environmentally friendly ways, the Park Hyatt has also started its own initiatives to contribute towards a healthier world. Throughout the resort’s 50 villas, guests will find four glass bottles of complimentary drinking water per day, Fair Trade coffee capsules that are 100% biodegradable, and an in-villa iPad that offers interactive resort information to reduce on paper consumption.

The villa designs are in tune with Park Hyatt’s high standards and offer all guests with wooden fixtures using Malaysian certified sustainable woods, luxurious bathrooms with tubs and double vanities, and private deck space featuring daybeds. For some added luxury, book a Park Water Villa or Park Sunset Ocean Pool Villa to receive accommodation right on top of the gorgeous glimmering waters of the Maldives.

Activities Available on Property:

Guests staying at the Park Hyatt are blessed with one of the healthiest reefs on the archipelago that are consistently being monitored by the resort’s team of in-house marine biologists. The team hosts “Go Deeper” talks twice a week to educate guests about different topics revolving marine environment and the Maldivian culture. As a social responsibility outreach, such discussions are also provided to local school students to help preserve the reefs.

The property has also partnered with Blue Journeys, a PADI Green StarTM dive center that was awarded its green status for their outstanding sustainability efforts by using energy friendly transportation and their use of eco-friendly materials during excursions to help protect and care for the environment. With Blue Journeys, guests have the opportunity to go traditional Maldivian fishing, take a 35 mile trip to the equator, watch dolphins, seek out sea turtles on a snorkel excursion, or even go on a fluorescent night dive (or snorkel for those who don’t want to go too deep under). Guests who want to go on their own unguided excursions can also rent snorkeling and kayak equipment for free.

For our active lifestylers who want to do more than just water sports, the Park Hyatt offers a 24-hour fitness center equipped with TechnoGym cardio machines. In addition to this, their fitness center also features a yoga studio that hosts group yoga classes, as well as private sessions that can be enjoyed either at the studio, in the privacy of your room, or out on a jetty.

Enjoy a spa day at Vidhun spa to further relax into your holiday. From individual treatments to different spa packages (that can last up to 4 hours) guests can truly feel pampered here. The hotel even offers an online spa booking system for advanced reservations so guests don’t have to worry about a thing during their vacation.

Dining on Property:

In addition to the standard food and beverage outlets such as 24-hour room service, bar, and lounge, the Park Hyatt Hadahaa has three other dining establishments. The first is The Dining Room, the main dining hall which serves a semi-buffet with two à la carte options as their full breakfast option, as well as à la carte lunches and dinners.

The Island Grill is the hotel’s fine-dining establishment specializing in grilled meats and seafood over a wood-fired oven. While there are many prime cuts of meats on the menu, we recommend ordering the restaurant’s yellow-fin tuna and jobfish, which are caught by local fishermen through traditional pole and line methods, to try some of the freshest Maldivian cuisine.

Like The Island Grill, The Drift is another establishment that is open only during dinner hours. Offering varied cuisines, patrons can enjoy homemade pasta or meats in Italy, curries in Thailand, or hotpot in China.

If you’re celebrating a special event or just want to enjoy a romantic evening, private dining options are available varying from three to five courses. Guests can choose to dine in privacy on the beach, jetty, or rooftop terrace, but if you’re really looking for a surprise choose the blind dining option where you’ll eat some of your favorite ingredients blindfolded to heighten your senses.

If you like the sound of everything mentioned so far, choose Hadahaa’s culinary indulgence, offering guests five different unique dining experiences across 24 hours, starting with cocktails and canapés by the beach whilst watching the sunset, enjoying a blind dinner, then waking up to a champagne breakfast in your villa, enjoying a healthy gourmet lunch, and ending it all with afternoon tea at The Drift.

As the Park Hyatt is located on a private island, we recommend guests staying here to add a meal plan to their stay in order to save on overall costs, which can be booked in advance through email. Starting from the Half board plan, guests can enjoy daily breakfast and a 3-course dinner at The Dining Room, excluding Chef Specials. Dinners at The Island Grill will be partially supplemented.

Full board plans include daily breakfast, 2-course lunch, and a 3-course dinner at The Dining Room, excluding Chef Specials (which are 50% off). Dinners at The Island Grill will also be partially supplemented on this plan.

In our opinion, the All-Inclusive Plan is the best deal, offering all you can drink premium spirits and liqueurs, beers, and house wines in restaurants and bars, daily breakfast, 2-course à la carte lunch, 3-course à la carte dinner, excluding chef specials but at a 50% discount. Dinners at The Island Grill are included in the rate, as well as complimentary inclusions for themed night dinners, and a complimentary private beach dinner to be enjoyed on the night of your choice.

The Park Hyatt also offers group and private cooking classes for guests who want to take the hotel’s Maldivian, Italian, or pizza recipes home.

Six Senses Laamu

Resort and Accommodations: 

The Six Senses Maldives resort is located on a private island within the Laamu Atoll just 5° away from the equator. As an eco-friendly hotel brand, Six Senses Laamu stands by its mission to provide sustainable holidays to its discerning guests. 

The resort’s 97 villas are all designed with passive cooling elements and overhanging roofs to create shade over windows, which reduces overall air conditioning consumption levels. Every villa’s bathrooms also feature a semi-outdoor layout which provides the area with natural ventilation. Guests looking for extra-added luxury should book any of their water villas to receive overwater hammocks and bathtubs providing breathtaking views of the Maldivian sunset. 

Since the Six Senses Laamu is so secluded, it has implemented many efforts in striving to become an independently sustainable hotel to reduce carbon emissions from long-distance transport. Consequently, the resort has its own “Earth Lab” that experiments and innovates creations out of recyclable materials to ultimately become a zero-waste resort. So far, the Earth Lab has transformed crushed glass into cement products, food waste into compost, organic waste from landscaping (leaves and branches) into mulch, old towels into flower pots, and used wax into new candles. 

The resort has also eliminated the use of all single-use plastics, which includes drinking straws, waste bin liners, and water bottles. Due to this, Six Senses Laamu also provides each guest with linen laundry bags their own reusable beach bag to use on the property.

In addition to this, the resort has implemented its own desalination plant to provide water to all villas and restaurants. Guests will never be short on water since it treats the seawater using reverse osmosis to pressurize the water, filters it to remove salt and particles, remineralizes the water, filters it again using ultraviolet methods, and finally bottling it in their reusable glass bottles.

The resort also features its own water treatment plant for greywater usage. To ensure that the greywaters are 100% organic and won’t hurt the environment, Six Senses Laamu also uses biodegradable laundry detergents and cleaning supplies to ensure that this water can be widely used amongst the island. 

At the moment, Six Senses Laamu is working on creating a renewable energy source, but the property is currently focusing on energy conservation until this becomes available. All energy on the island is currently supplied using diesel generators with a waste heat recovery process that captures the heat produced whilst the generators are running. This is used to preheat hot water for the whole island up to 122° Fahrenheit. Guests who are interested in the resort’s green initiatives can sign up to join a free of charge back-of-house tour to see it all in action.

Activities Available on Property:

Guests staying at Six Senses Laamu are blessed to be staying amongst one of the healthiest reefs featuring tons of seagrass, which are consistently monitored by the resort’s resident marine biologists. Just 2.4 acres of seagrass can generate 26,000 gallons of oxygen per day and helps support 80,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates. The resort is fortunate enough to have its own house reef that spans over 12 acres worth of seagrass, which has become a daily migration point for dolphins and home to tens of thousands of fish, different types of rays, 107 green turtles, and 93 endangered hawksbill turtles recorded to date. Guests lucky enough to visit during the months between May and September may even have the opportunity to sign up for a night excursion to witness wild sea turtles hatching from their eggs.

The resort’s marine biologists are part of what makes Six Senses so special since they inspire guests and local communities by promoting education and awareness about the marine environment. Guests can join them on a guided snorkel around the house reef offered daily, or join the team on one of the three designated afternoons per week when they go on a two-hour boat excursion to two different reefs within the atoll. Evening presentations are offered five nights per week when they talk about marine life, including topics about turtles, sharks, rays, dolphins, fish families, coral reefs, and more. The marine biologists also go on a weekly reef clean up excursion, where guests are invited to join them to clean the ocean and remove as much trash as possible from the reefs around the island. 

Six Senses Laamu also has its own dive center, named Deep Blue Divers, which is a PADI Green Star certified and “100% AWARE” dive center that uses certified environmentally friendly fins, sustainable cleaning products, and doesn’t use anchors. Deep Blue Divers offers a wide range of PADI courses and excursions to earn towards certifications such as Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, and Dive Master certifications. Discover Scuba Diving courses are also offered to children the age of 10 and up. In addition to this, the dive center offers its guests the opportunity to go island hopping, watch the dolphins migrate during sunset, go fishing, and try wakeboarding or water skiing. 

One of the biggest perks of staying at Six Senses Laamu is the number of complimentary activities the resort offers. Deep Blue Divers itself offers free of charge windsurfing, canoeing, catamaran, stand up paddle boarding, and snorkeling equipment to those who do not require introductory lessons. Guests looking to stay active on land can use their personal bikes to explore the island (with tricycles and training wheels available for children) or use the resort’s sports pitch that is perfect for playing soccer, badminton, or volleyball. On rainy days, guests can use the hotel’s chess or checkerboards, play Jenga, play ping pong, and borrow a DVD or book.

Head over to the Six Senses spa to use their fully equipped fitness center or join a group yoga and meditation class to stretch, increase stability, and relax. Sign up for the resort’s various complimentary group massage workshops to learn the art of Thai stretching, healing hands, and foot massage. Those who are looking to enjoy private yoga, personal training, and spa treatments can look at their full selection here

Young guests staying here can visit The Den, a children’s club where they can enjoy playing in the playground, play board games, watch movies, go on a treasure hunt, bake cupcakes and pizzas, and get creative with some arts and crafts. In the evening, guests can also enjoy a family friendly activity watching a film in the resort’s outdoor cinema under the stars.

Dining on Property:

All restaurants at Six Senses take pride in offering healthy, natural and organic meals to its guests that are gluten, sugar, and soy free when possible. In order to achieve this, the resort has implemented its own flock of 24 chickens producing organic free-range eggs, an organic vegetable and herbs garden, a mushroom hut, and small beds of plants featuring 24 different types of chilies from around the world. 

In addition to Six Senses’s over water bar, the property features five other food and beverage outlets. Guests get to start and end their days at the two-story restaurant, Longitude, where they can enjoy a bountiful buffet while having the opportunity to watch dolphins jump across the ocean. At night, à la carte menus offering an array of international dishes to its patrons.

Sip Sip is the resort’s poolside restaurant and bar open during the day. The establishment offers guests healthy salads, sandwiches, grilled meats, pizzas, and a couple international dishes including a lobster Pad Thai, primavera pasta, and Maldivian chicken curry. 

Guests looking for a fine-dining meal can find this at Six Senses’s signature restaurant, Leaf.  The restaurant is open during lunch and dinner hours and offers three-course set menus for guests to choose from. 

An alternative option is to dine at the resort’s Japanese restaurant, Zen, to enjoy a live kitchen station environment that serves a large selection of sashimi, tempura, and hot noodle dishes.

Guests with a sweet tooth will absolutely love staying here since the resort offers a complimentary all-you-can-eat ice cream and sorbet station open throughout the day until approximately 10:00 pm. The ice cream parlor offers over 42 different flavors that guests can work their way throughout the duration of their stay.

Since this is a private island property, we recommend our readers to book a meal plan. In addition to bed and breakfast rates, Six Senses also offers half board, full board, and all-inclusive rates that can be used at all of the restaurants on the resort. 

Boutique Maldives

For Boutique Choose:

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

Resort and Accommodations: 

Activities Available on Property:

Dining on Property:

Soneva Fushi, Eydhafushi, Maldives

Paradise Island Resort & Spa or Velassaru Maldives

Activity:

Video Embed

Dining

Select local dishes if featured at your hotel: example 1, 2, 3. Choices will be limited based on which hotel you book, so make sure to choose wisely!

 


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