The Maldives has been queen of Asia’s luxury island getaways for decades, with miles of golden sands, azure waters, secret coves and sumptuous resorts to explore. Over recent years, a more family-focused vibe has found its Maldives niche, bringing this famous tropical island idyll to a wider family travel audience.
Soaking up the paradise ambiance is definitely the main temptation (and one to be indulged) but there’s also a wealth of engaging culture, rich history, cutting-edge sustainability and local life that can take your family holiday to the next level. Our destination specialists know how to make the most of a family holiday in the Maldives, and have a few top tips to share…
Naturally, one of the Maldives’ biggest draws for families is its marine life. Diving and snorkelling opportunities are everywhere, offering the chance to get out on the water and amongst the swathes of marine life that call the reefs and warm seas their home.
Diving-focused families can take the next steps on their diving journey, heading further offshore to find turtles, manta rays, sharks and other iconic species in the deeper blue, whilst novices and younger kids can stick to the shallows to snorkel amidst a myriad of rainbow-hued sea creatures. These kinds of encounters are always memorable, and the Maldives’ idyllic surroundings turn that magic up to 11.
Back on the surface, there’s plenty to keep active families busy. Kayak and paddleboard just offshore, explore inland jungles and mangroves, or even work up a sweat with a sustainability-focused beach clean!
A pressing topic for many young people - and older ones too - is how to live more sustainably, and it’s something the Maldives has been exploring for years, so it's a fantastic place to take their knowledge to the next level. As a majority sea-level country, the worst effects of climate change are very much front and centre of the Maldivian collective consciousness and, as a result, there are a host of dedicated conservation and sustainability projects to show your family with what’s being done to challenge environmental damage at the grass-roots (or seaweed-roots!) level.
Learn about front-line turtle conservation with the Olive Ridley Project, snorkelling amongst the reef and taking underwater photos to share with the Olive Ridley database, and discover how the Manta Trust monitors and protects manta rays. On the small island of Villimale, just a short distance from Male’s relative capital-city buzz, learn about preserving the Maldives’ marine ecosystems with the inspiring NGO, Save the Beach, or on Fulhadhoo, visit a coral nursery to learn about vital coral rehabilitation. The Maldives is a fantastic destination to discover tangible sustainability in action, and make a positive impact on young minds.
The Maldives is famed as an island escape destination, and many never venture beyond their resort island’s blissful shores, but the country’s vibrant local culture is perfect for giving your family holiday a deeper dimension. A visit to one of the archipelago’s locally lived-on islands, or the buzzing capital Male, offers a totally different perspective on the country, and enriches your experience.
Choose a location which combines that typical Maldives island idyll with a taste of real local life, such as the lesser-visited Hulhumale, just 10 minutes from Male airport, or the lush, mangrove-rich Goidhoo Island. Scope out the local cafes to try hedika: an afternoon tea tradition, served in many Maldivian cafes, where you can enjoy an array of bite-sized savoury and sweet treats.
Visiting a local market is always a sound bet if you’re keen to get your teeth into the rhythms of a place, and Maldives is no different; if you want to feel like a local, make a beeline for the busiest bazaar. Kids of all ages get a buzz from being in the hustle and bustle, surrounded by stalls piled high with fruits and foodstuffs that feel exotic and tempting all at once; a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells, immersing you in the Maldivian everyday rhythms.
The Maldives’ USP of having one resort per island means it’s easier to find an undiluted, family-focused atmosphere. All-inclusive options mean you’ve got everything on hand; there are always beautiful beaches on the doorstep; you can find swimming, snorkelling, diving and watersports at your fingertips; and the service makes you feel a million dollars.
While many Maldives resorts are ideal for families, there’s a big difference between being ‘accommodated’ and feeling truly welcome, and it’s definitely the latter you’re looking for. Ask our destination specialists about their favourite Maldives resorts that put families first and allow you to fully relax, confident that everything is taken care of.
Choosing between resorts that all look just as wonderfully lavish can feel a bit bamboozling - which should you go for? One with an awesome kids’ club, or one where the grown-ups can enjoy some proper pampering? You don’t always have to choose - in many Maldives resorts, you can have it all - but picking the right one for your family is key.
It doesn’t have to be at the mega-luxury end of the scale either (though don’t get us wrong, family holidays in the Maldives are never going to feel like ‘roughing it’!), with a range of resorts across the atolls offering everything from chic guesthouse downtime to sumptuous super-swish exclusivity. We love the ambiance of some of the (relatively!) minimalist resorts, like the Olive Goidhoo, which can offer a bit of chilled-out charm and balance.
Many resorts in the Maldives don’t do things by halves, and when they pin their colours to the family holiday flag they give it 150%. The Soneva Fushi, for example, is definitely up there with the top Maldives resorts for families, combining barefoot luxury with dedicated, family-focused facilities and service.
There’s a vast kids’ club area with two pools, a giant pirate ship, a LEGO area, music room and cinema. Families can go stargazing with the resident astronomer, and feast 24/7 on unlimited chocolates and ice cream - it could have sprung straight from a kid’s wildest imagination. Alongside all this, the resort offers plenty of the high-end luxury the Maldives is known for, including lavish spa treatments, spacious over-water villas, watersports and diving, and plenty of privacy - a whole lot of family holiday boxes ticked, for sure.