Paradise Found: Which are the best islands to visit in the Maldives?
Ask the Expert
Published 25/05/2016 | 06:44
It's still a top choice for most honeymooners, but which Maldives resorts are the ones to really fall in love with?
As I sink back into a turquoise beanbag almost the same colour as the glistening Indian Ocean ahead of me, I relish the silence and seclusion of my secret island escape.
Only days earlier, we'd arrived at Velassaru, an elegant boutique resort that can easily be reached in 25 minutes by speedboat from Maldivian capital Male.
But as it turns out, my husband has even greater treats in store.
Armed with snorkelling equipment, bean bags, a glamorous muslin tent and luxury hamper, we head to a private island for a romantic adventure.
While we swim in the water, our talented crew create a cabana with bamboo poles to shade us from the midday sun, and prepare a picnic of champagne, sushi and sashimi.
Looking out across crystal clear waters, we sip bubbly and get to grips with our chopsticks, as small sand crabs gatecrash our private party.
It's just one of many romantic moments during our stay at Velassaru.
The resort itself has a laid-back vibe and sleek, modern furnishings with a palette of white and turquoise. There's a beautiful infinity pool framed by hammocks strung between coconut trees, but we prefer the privacy of our luxury beach villa with uninterrupted views of the lagoon.
The beach is only metres away, and every day we snorkel along a house reef teeming with tropical fish.
Come nightfall, the 21-acre coral island gears up for intimate dining experiences that make you want to fall in love all over again.
Out of a choice of five restaurants, our favourite is Sand, where we dine under a private beach pavilion lit by torches and candlelight. While burying our toes in the sand, we enjoy culinary delights such as king prawns and fillet steak from the stone grill, finishing off with an exquisite chocolate dessert.
One night, our seats and table have even been sculpted in the sand, with seawater used as glue to seal our sunken thrones.
With a menu of Australian beef, local reef fish and Maldivian tuna, along with a good bottle of red from Velassaru's library of fine wines, we're almost tempted to start building castles in the sand, in the hope we might stay forever.
Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk) offers seven nights (B&B) with flights from London Heathrow and group transfers in resort from £1,427/€1,823pp (two sharing). To book quote: IO0001.
Tropical Sky (tropicalsky.ie) does packages featuring Velassaru from Ireland.
Read more: 10 steps to the perfect honeymoon
Best for intimacy: Kandolhu
Pretty and petite with a chic tropical island atmosphere, Kandolhu is a luxurious paradise hideaway that's 25 minutes by seaplane from Male.
Thirty villas make up the resort, dotted around the lush vegetation or overlooking the ocean - all offering an intimate island experience without sacrificing the dining options or activity choices you would expect in some of the larger, flashier resorts.
It takes about 10 minutes to stroll around the island, walking barefoot along sandy paths shaded by coconut trees as butterflies flit past, so there's no chance of losing your way.
Kandolhu's 90sqm water villas are a Maldivian dream and feature a king-size bed, a day bed, private sun deck, plunge pool and free-standing bathtub. Step straight down into the balmy sea to snorkel among schools of tropical fish.
Although the resort is small, there's still a choice of four restaurants serving a la carte international food, Italian dishes, freshly caught seafood and teppanyaki.
There's also an option to book a canape sunset dolphin cruise on the resort's sailing yacht.
Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk) offers seven nights (B&B) with flights from London Heathrow and group transfers in resort from £2,514/€3,212pp (two sharing). To book quote: MV070.
Topflight (topflight.ie) does packages featuring Kandolhu from Ireland.
Read more: Maldives magic
Best for all-inclusive: Kuramathi
Kuramathi, one of the first resorts to open in the Maldives in 1975, has had a revamp and now offers five villa types in addition to its great value all-inclusive packages.
A 20-minute seaplane journey from Male, this large-scale resort has seven bars, three buffet restaurants and nine a la carte restaurants, with options such as a Romance or Lobster Dinner served in a private corner of the beach.
Along with a wide choice of beach houses and water villas, its new sunset villas are set on the secluded tip of the island, near the long stretch of its famous 1km sandbank. The most romantic is the sunset water villa with an 18sqm pool and steps down to turquoise waters.
New restaurants on site include Kobe, where diners can eat teppanyaki cuisine while suspended above the water, Inguru, serving Asian fusion, and the Champagne Loft, which has glorious views of the Indian Ocean.
Beyond the wining and dining, if you head to the spa for a treatment in one of the over-water pavilions, your ritual will be serenaded by the sound of the sea. A highlight is the hydropool suspended over the blue lagoon.
Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk) offers seven nights (full board) with flights from London Gatwick and transfers in resort from £2,356/€3,010pp (two sharing).
Sunway (sunway.ie) offers packages featuring Kuramathi from Ireland.