Not just a picture-perfect paradise, the Maldives should be on the bucket list of every love-struck couple, luxury seeker, foodie or marine explorer.

“The Maldives is a perfect year-round destination as the islands enjoy sunshine all year. The driest months are May to October and the warmest time is January to March”

JOANNE LOWERY, PRODUCT MANAGER, INDIAN OCEAN, GOLD MEDAL

Perfect 10

  1. Sea views: It’s not every night you dine 5.8 metres under the sea, but at Harawalh’s new underwater restaurant, that is exactly what you’ll be able to do

  2. Truly fresh food: At Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, you can learn to fish with a hand line the Maldivian way and feast on the catch afterwards

  3. Barefoot dining: Enjoy the sand between your toes indoors and out at the new Baglioni Resort Maldives. Some of restaurants have sand floors - which means you will never have to leave the beach

  4. Room with a view: Five new Wellness Treehouses at Amilla Fushi come with infinity an pool looking over the tree canopy, outdoor showers and luxury spa treatment

  5. Michelin masterchef: Spice up your cooking with a culinary masterclass from Germany’s youngest Michelin-star chef Philipp Stein at Coco Bodu Hithi (August 5-22)

  6. Turtle love: Nurse injured sea turtles at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu’s new Olive Ridley Project Turtle Rescue Centre

  7. Two for one: Include a stopover in Dubai with Emirates, Abu Dhabi with Etihad or Sri Lanka with Sri Lankan Airlines

  8. Floatation therapy: Watch the fish swim beneath you at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi’s over-water Talise Spa

  9. Yellow submarine: You won’t be able to stop yourself singing this Beatles song when you visit the Madivaru reef in the Kuramathi Island Resort’s new submarine - though it’s red

  10. Hold your breath: Abandon the heavy tanks, learn how to dive like the locals at the Maldives’ first PADI-certified free diving school at Anantara’s Dhigu Maldives Resort, Veli Maldives Resort and Naladhu Maldives

Sought-after experiences

Snorkelling and diving are two of the Maldives’ main attractions but over-water villas and spas, underwater restaurants and submarines mean that visitors can get up close to the stunning corals and fish without even having to get their feet wet.

Resort house reefs are often just a step away from your bedroom, plus there are guided snorkelling, diving and submarine trips on offer throughout the islands. The world’s largest underwater restaurant is the proud boast of Harawalhi, the Maldives’ first adult-only hotel, which should open in November. It will offer guided diving and snorkelling trips and a PADI five-star training centre.

The Indian Ocean’s turquoise waters are not its only attraction. Butler-service hotels, luxurious romantic hideaways, fine-dining restaurants and wellness tree houses and spas continue to attract the jet-set, honeymooners, special occasion visitors and the well-heeled.

Families are well catered for too. Deborah Wadhams, Senior Product Manager Indian Ocean at Travel 2, recommends the five-star Centara Grand Island Maldives for its children’s pool, kids clubs and E-Zone for teenagers.The new two-bedroom beach houses at the four-star Kuramathi Island Resort are ideal for families and groups travelling together.

What the experts say

“The Maldives continues to grow for Gold Medal. We have seen some significant increases for a number of years. There is a wide variety of hotels in the Maldives, everything ranging from three-star to luxurious five-star-deluxe. ”

“More and more new hotels are beginning to pop up, which is why the Maldives continues to see an increase of visitors year on year. This is one of the reasons why hoteliers are having to look at ways of differentiating themselves from each other because if you haven’t been to Maldives before, you would understandably think that all of the islands are the same.

“Spa is also a huge focus for the Maldives - and it would be very difficult to find an island without a spa.

“Emirates, BA and Sri Lankan Airlines fly to the Maldives; I would recommend stopping off for a couple of nights in Dubai on the way out”
JOANNE LOWERY, PRODUCT MANAGER – INDIAN OCEAN, GOLD MEDAL

What’s new

Accommodation: The Baglioni Hotel Maldives opens in 2017 on the private island of Maagu. It will offer 99 villas, four family beach villas, three restaurants a dive centre and kids club.

Amari’s first Maldives property, Amari Havodda Maldives, opened in January on Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll with 120 overwater and beach villas and one of the islands’ largest infinity pools.

The boutique Milaidhoo Island Maldives (amari.com)– a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World – is set in Baa Atoll’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with 50 butler-service villas, each with freshwater pools, and two restaurants.

Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa has launched day and night excursions to its reef on The Penguin submarine.

Gili Lankanfushi has teamed up with Tropicsurf to offer surfing lessons for all ages and levels. Lessons start at $125 an hour.

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi has launched a five-year anniversary offer which includes a complimentary upgrade to half-board on five-night stays in a Beach Revive Villa. The package costs $5,555 and is valid to September 30.

Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas has added three-bedroom beach pool residences which can accommodate up to six adults and two children with prices from £8,530 a night.

Tour Operator: Travel 2 has introduced the new OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo, which opened on July 15 with 90 villas and a dine-around programme. The resort, which is 35 minutes by speedboat from Male, offers a diving school, snorkelling, windsurfing and a kids club.

Where to book it

A seven-night all-inclusive stay at the five-star Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa starts from £1,749pp with Travel 2 and includes international and domestic flights and speedboat transfers. The price is based on two adults and two children sharing.