BEST FOR: FAMILY FUN
ANANTARA DHIGU Lots of resorts in the Maldives have kids’ clubs, but it’s the little touches at Dhigu that make a difference. From dusk til dawn, your sandy, sticky-handed brood will be smiling. At breakfast, you can send them off to bark orders at the guy in the pancake and waffle shack, and at dinner, you can sit back and sip Sancerre, while waiters do matchstick tricks or weave origami birds from banana leaves.
Babysitting can be arranged on request, and there’s a wonderful kids’ club with wooden houses and a playground, where the nippers can make masks, go on nature walks, get henna tattoos or just mess about with other kids under the shade of a coconut tree. But the best thing about Dhigu is that it’s not designed as a kid-friendly resort, these are just bonus features.
For grown-ups, there are contemporary Thai-inspired villas and a choice of five fantastic restaurants to choose from (some of which are on its sister island Veli, a five-minute pontoon ride away), so you never tire of a menu. Its Thai restaurant, Baan Huaraa, is particularly good (make sure you book ahead) and if the kids are old enough to appreciate, and respect, the power of chillies, there are red-hot cookery lessons to be had.
The watersports at Dhigu are excellent too. Take out clear-bottom kayaks or catamarans, go windsurfing, water-skiing, wakeboarding or surfing… you
Must do: Sea bobbing – part James Bond, part dolphin, these hand-held motorised rockets will have you all in hysterics.
Destinology is offering seven nights for £1,759 in a deluxe sunrise beachfront villa, including breakfast, BA flights from Gatwick and transfers, during September.
BEST FOR: DIVING
ALILA VILLAS HADAHAA If you’re interested in diving, but have never had the time to learn, the Maldives is a great place to get your first certificate. Plenty of Indian Ocean resorts have full service PADI dive centres but at Alila Villas, you’re guaranteed brand new equipment, top class instructors and best of all, thanks to its location in the remote North Huvadhoo atoll, dives sites all to yourselves. Expect close encounters with nurse sharks, whale sharks, chevron barracudas, eagle rays, stingrays, hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks as well as manta rays with wingspans of more than five metres. Exploring the seabed in this largely undiscovered region, 400km from Malé, you’ll never turn up at a dive site to find boatloads of other coral-bogglers there. It’s just you, the fish and warm shards of sunshine beaming down from the surface.
Blue Journeys offers a full programme of dive courses, from Discover Scuba Diving day courses and Open Water courses, through to more advanced and technical qualifications.
The resort itself is delightful, just 53 villas with a strong eco element.
Must do: Organise a private instructor and private boat for the day and visit some sites that are yet to be put on the map. www.alilahotels.com. Ampersand Travel (020 7289 6100; www.ampersandtravel.com has seven nights at Alila Villas Hadadaa from £2,995 per person including international flights with Sri Lankan Airlines, seaplane transfers and B&B accommodation.
BEST FOR: THE WALLET
VILU REEF BEACH AND SPA RESORT This small, unpretentious resort has stood the test of time thanks to shell-loads of charm.
Ideal for couples that enjoy peace and quiet and the simple things in life, you won’t find iPod docks or WiFi here. Old-school menus feature desserts such as “dried raisin bread and butter pudding” and cocktails come in coconuts with imaginative straw arrangements, but you can’t go wrong with straightforward barbequed lobster on the beach with a bottle of Chablis.
Well-run yet laid back, friendliness is Vilu Reef’s strong suit. Everyone from the managers to the gardeners have a spring in their step and for this reason, among many, the resort is popular with Brits – one couple has been returning for 11 years.
Choose from kite boarding, diving, tennis, volleyball, dolphin cruises, line fishing and trips to a traditional island called Bandidhoo, where little has changed in 300 years, or just enjoy the same style of island living you’d get at any of the other resorts, but at a fraction of the price. In the evenings, there’s crab-racing, live music and karaoke, if you’re game.
Must do: Leave your mark by planting a palm tree.
Destinology is offering seven nights from £1,189 per person for July departures, £1,239 for August departures and £1,099 for September and October departures including flights, accommodation in a beach villa on a full-board basis, seaplane transfers, taxes and surcharges.
BEST OF THE REST | MALDIVES
Six Senses Latitude Laamu (opening at the end of August) has over-water villas with slides from the bedrooms into the lagoon, plus an ice cream parlour serving 50 different flavours. www.sixsenses.com
Banyan Tree Madivaru has six freestanding tented pool villas, the first of their kind in the Maldives. Each one comprises three individual tents surrounding a large pool, one for living, one for sleeping and one for bathing. www.banyantree.com
Beach House Maldives, recently acquired by Waldorf Astoria, has undergone a revamp including a snazzy multimillion-dollar interactive art gallery with Maldivian artists in residence. www.beachhousemaldives.com
One&Only Reethi Rah is on one of the Maldives’ largest islands and has long been rated one of the best resorts in the Maldives. Pack your chicest kafkan; you never know who you might bump into. www.oneandonlyresorts.com
Four Seasons Resort at Kuda Huraa is a veritable surfer’s paradise. Its surf school is run by Australian pros Tropicsurf. Guaranteed warm swells. www.fourseasons.com
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is home to Ithaa, the world’s first all-glass under-sea restaurant (set five metres below) and has a wine list of more than 1,450 labels. Great for foodies. www.conradmaldives.com