With so many alluring destinations right on our doorsteps, choosing where to go on holiday with the family is no easy task!
The Maldives are very popular amongst British Mums; simply because of the close proximity to the UAE and the pure allure that the Maldives offers, in many cases at a reasonable cost.
But where do you start with planning your trip and which resorts come highly recommended for couples? Which resorts have kids clubs facilities and are more focused for a family-friendly holiday? Here we reveal everything you need to know to plan your trip of a lifetime.
The Maldives is where sparkling waters, turquoise lagoons and white sandy beaches all merge to create a tropical paradise that’s too tempting to resist. This group of Islands seem infinite and the picture perfect scenery when you land gives you the sense that not much really happens on these serene Islands, except for the seamless efforts of the resort staff who are all so eager to make your stay memorable and literally apt for royalty.
As soon as you step aboard your sea plane or speed boat en route to your private island resort, the pampering all begins. Sit back, enjoy the ride, and start winding down to what will be days of lazing around the beach, endless activities and without a doubt copious amounts of eating – if you do it the right way!
About the Maldives islands
The Republic of the Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean-Arabian Sea area. 1,192 coral islands form a chain of 26 Atolls of which create the picturesque Archipelago. Some medieval travellers such as Ibn Battuta called the Mahal Dibiyat (محل دبيأت) from the Arabic word Mahal (Palace). This is the name that is inscribed on the scroll in the Maldive state emblem.
Male, the capital, is on the main Island. The majority of the luxury resorts are, however, located on their own island.
Currency: Maldivian Rufiyaa
Official Language: Maldivian/ Dhivehi but everyone speaks good English at the resorts.
Dominant Religion: Islam
Time Zone: GMT +5 (1 hour ahead from the UAE)
The Maldives Weather
The Maldives has a topical monsoon type climate and being in the tropical zone and within the Arabian Sea, has a warm-to-hot and humid climate for most of the year. The hottest month in the Maldives is May, with an average high temperature of 31°C and the coolest is December-January at 30°C so it’s consistently great holiday temperatures!
Most of the annual rainfall is seen during May through to August, however, November and December typically also experiences high rainfall but rain is generally short lived and soon blows over! We recommend you take some mosquito repellent with you on your trip but these factors shouldn’t put you off going at any particular time of year.
Reaching The Maldives
Emirates, Fly Dubai, Etihad, Qatar and Sri Lankan airways all fly from Dubai to Male airport. (Qatar is via Doha but the direct flights take around 4 hours). June is a slightly lower season so can be possibly cheaper so make sure you shop around.
The main International airport is 15 minutes from Male. It’s small but equipped with a small range of souvenir, duty-free shops and eateries – let’s just say it’s nothing like the airports here. Its quiet and surrounded by the sea, which makes it a great little spot to have a coffee and watch the world go by.
Brits, like many other nationalities, are issued a 30-day visa on arrival. Don’t try to take any sort of alcoholic drink in your suitcase with you as it will be taken off you.
Choosing a suitable Resort
Selecting where you stay will depend upon what sort of trip you’re after; a tranquil, romantic anniversary trip is going to pose very different options to taking toddlers along, for example. There’s a staggering number of fantastic resorts to choose from in the Maldives so choosing the right one can be quite difficult.
The larger name-brand resorts undoubtedly live up to their supreme standards, and you can be guaranteed that your stay will be almost unrivalled. However, don’t be concerned that a boutique resort can’t offer you sublime standards or facilities, because many can!
If you have a family with little people, choose your resort carefully based on the activities available for your children. Many of the Maldives resorts have Kids Clubs and suitable activities for all ages of children, and some catering for teenagers, however, some resorts take pride in caring for very small children and offering baby sitting services too.
Most importantly, before you have your heart set on a particular resort, ensure that children are actually welcome as there are many resorts that don’t allow children at all. Similarly, some resorts also have restrictions on allowing children in the over-water bungalows so before you confirm your booking, consider what type of accommodation you wish to stay in, as most have a choice of bungalows, garden and sea-view rooms and check which can accommodate extra beds if you need them.
Arriving at your Island
Many resorts offer a 20+ minute boat ride to the island across the ocean, but if its further afield, you may need to pre-book a seaplane. With the timetable of times, you may find yourself waiting at the airport for hours before your flight so check carefully.
What’s to do in Male?
You can take a day trip to Male by catching the ferry across. It doesn’t take more than half an hour and once there, you can walk around the fruit and fish markets and the old town where there are lots of lovely, old buildings. You can also watch what’s going on at the harbour where all the fishing vessels are and residents there are friendly and it can feel safe. It has a totally different feel to the resort islands and if you’re looking to see a glimpse of the local culture, a brief visit is recommended.
Activities on your Island
Most Maldivian resorts will have an abundant supply of equipment that will allow you to enjoy hours of water-based fun. You can choose to snorkel, scuba dive, jet ski, kneeboard and some resorts can have you sailing your own small boat or kayaking over the ocean. Some resorts even offer venturesome sports such as parasailing and yachting. Whatever you choose to do, you can guarantee that it will be lovely as the waters are generally calm. Many resorts have their own house reef and one of the most unique things you can do in the Maldives is snorkel and scuba dive in the stunningly clear waters and swim amongst the local marine life. It’s also not out of the question to swim with turtles, sharks, dolphins and large fish, and of course with the most vibrant of tropical fish.
In most Maldivian Resorts, you need not limit the activities to the water or beach. Some resorts offer planned activities that include things that you should try – such as cooking classes where you can learn a new set of skills, like how to marinate a reef fish, grind and mix spices, or learn how to prepare specialty dishes.
Mum and Dad date night time
Most of the resorts will offer romantic dining packages. Held on the beach, this may cost you as much as 2,000 AED (this varies between resorts) however, it is an experience that you will simply never forget. We recommend booking the night early on in your stay (just in case the weather conditions change), and give the resort plenty of notice to call in a babysitter.
Whether you spend most of your time dining in the room, or in the onsite restaurants, there will be many food options for children. Even though the local cuisine is really delectable (and possibly spicy), it’s also typical that there are many options for children that are not so exotic.
British Mums recommends all inclusive as a cost-effective option to the majority of resort stays. Although generally of high standard, the food quality can vary between resorts and if you have the option to upgrade your dining from a standard all inclusive package to an a la carte all inclusive option, (if your budget allows), we strongly recommend this as there can be significant differences between wine and drinks offerings, buffet and ordering a la carte.
Family friendly, good value resorts recommended by British mums members:
Here are the most recommended resorts that British mums members have stayed at and from the mouths of British mums themselves, why they recommend them:
One of the oldest resorts built in the 70’s, it’s a very popular one amongst British mums, offering half board as well as an all inclusive option. It has 8 restaurants, a kids club with its own play area and in-house baby sitters. They have garden pool villas and offer a kids menu with the resort being a short boat trip (20 minutes) from Male. You can hear planes and you don’t get the desert island feel as there are concrete breakers all around the island, but price wise, it’s really good. The base category rooms aren’t great, so choose something different. The outdoor showers are lovely and the pool villas have 2 single couch beds that are separated by glass sliding doors to the bedroom. The main bedroom leads to the bathroom and outdoor pool area meaning you can sit outside while little ones sleep. Sadly the restaurants only open at 7pm but choose all inclusive as it offers good value – and book the Tepenyaki restaurant over the water, well ahead as it will get busy!
Sheraton Full Moon and Resort
This is a family resort just a short 20 minute boat ride away from Male. It’s both a couples and family resort, with a kids club that’s small but attentive. They have an excellent Thai restaurant and the food quality across all restaurants is high. The pool can get a bit crowded, but the diving facilities are very good. The resort restaurants can be expensive so all inclusive is a good option. It has a good selection of accommodation including water front bungalows and beach villas but note that whilst the ocean pool villas have their own private plunge pools, the sea is rough against the rocks meaning it’s not possible to swim directly outside your villa.
This lively resort has a safe house reef that wraps around the whole island. They’ve got a resident doctor on site which is handy and they have some larger semi detached beach villas that sleep 2 adults and 2 children that have interconnecting doors. They have a lovely kids club and it’s only a 20 min speed boat ride whilst still being far enough away to not look onto Male or be right on top of the flight path. Its got a good dive centre, is a big resort (and can feel more of a 4 star) but has good food, good snorkelling and amenities. It’s great for families as it’s not full of honeymooners.
JA Resorts Manafuru
This resort has a babysitting service, and the kids club is amazing – they really keep the children busy, and they always make new friends. The beach villas are perfect as you come out of your garden straight onto the beach. The bedroom is separate from the lounge so extra beds can be put in there. They have 6 options for dining, including room service and the some of the restaurants are open all day, with a great kids menu too!
For families, this resort has two bedroom beach front villas that are great. The restaurants don’t open until 7pm but the kids club can also take the children to dinner at the main restaurant for you, taking them back to kids club while you and your husband can have a meal in peace at any of the other restaurants. You need to pay for an extra baby sitter for children under 3 years old in the kids club, and keep in mind when pricing up your options that this is an all inclusive priced resort so you know what the full cost will be upfront. Food, drink and a half hour treatment for each person at the spa twice a week is included, although this can also be traded for a scuba dive. The price also includes a whale shark trip and an evening fishing trip so it can be pretty good value when adding it all up.
Holiday Inn Kandooma
This resort is a 45 minute speedboat transfer from the airport. It’s a nice resort that has quite corally beaches at the waters edge, lovely staff with a kids club and a small water park for little ones. If you are a keen diver, this might not be the right choice for you as it doesn’t have its own reef like other resorts but nevertheless, it does offer good value for money.
This is a lively, reasonably priced resort that offers good value for its water and beach villas and is suitable for couples and families. It has quite basic accommodation but a nice pool area and a fabulous long walk out onto the reef. It has a good variety of restaurants and facilities, including snorkelling and boat trips and although there’s a good variety of food and drink, you are recommended to upgrade from the basic offering that includes the buffet to a la carte. There’s plenty to do including trips to see turtles and dolphins and much more.
This resort has an amazing house reef, and is a quiet resort around 30 minutes speedboat ride away from Male. Although it’s quite basically furnished, it’s renowned for its excellent diving and is considered good value for money.
Lux South Ari
This resort is around 25 minutes away by seaplane, but the views over the Atoll are so worth it! It’s a really family friendly resort with lots of hidden extras (for children and adults) and great eateries to choose from on the island. It’s one of the bigger islands with a 4 km long beach ans there’s a lot for children to do there too!
Here you can stay all inclusive and it’s reasonably priced. There’s lots to do there and is a good choice for family stays that are not too expensive.
A great family resort with lots to do for teenagers as well as younger children. British mums members recommend taking an all inclusive package, as a la carte options can work out very expensive.
With it’s location right on the edge of the Atoll, the house reef is amazing. Their staff are very attentive; having favourite tables waiting with favourite drinks. The kids club is equally good taking children on little expeditions like swimming with whale sharks and even though it’s supposed to be only for children age 4 and over, where possible, they’re very accommodating. They’re also good with special dietary requirements which is handy to know and their spa treatments come highly recommended.
This is an extremely child friendly resort for little ones . It’s on the higher end cost-wise and is a sea plane ride away. They have a separate kids club – two storey and wooden built – with a pool, water slide and various play rooms including Lego and a music area. There are lots of planned activities for children to do throughout the day with plenty of staff on hand. There’s also the option for a private babysitting service during the day for children under 3 years. The Club provides tricycles as well so it’s easy to put your little one in the back to get around island! Also, the resort can provide a sand-friendly pram! They have a baby purée menu and are able to deliver at a convenient time for you to your villa or restaurant. Soneva Fushi villas are big -with most having their own pools and private beach area. The villa includes a kitchen area with microwave, kettle and sterilizer if you request these.
The St Regis Vommuli Resort
Launched in November 2016 it’s a very new hotel who have gone beyond the “normal” cabanas you would expect on a Maldivian setting. Everything is very modern bringing much comfort to guests.
The hotel is 45min by seaplane from Malé. The seaplanes do not have air-conditioning but just a few simple fans so British mums travelling with babies should take this into consideration, as it can be a bit sticky and humid. The resort offers babysitting services which your butler will immediately arrange for you and the over water bungalows are a no-no for the little ones that are already crawling around as the water surrounding the villas is about 3 meters deep.
There is a play area in the hotel for the little ones (with an outside jungle gym with slides) and there’s also a library where you can grab a book. Older children can enjoy the snorkelling just outside the main pool area on the beach as they have a bay where the water goes up to the knee level whereas the main pool is around 1,25cm deep.
Restaurants, cocktails and surprise canapes are of a high standard, as is the service level of the resort being impeccable. Before you arrive you will have the chance via email to explain any food limitations, allergies etc. Rooms are equipped with a large fridge for storing food which can be handy for any children’s requirements. Be sure to look into the SPG rewards program and if you have any points, its worth looking into whether you can convert any to cover additional charges such as breakfast.
Other family resorts
Other family resorts recommended by fellow British mums include Anatara Veli, Filytheyo, Coco Palm Dhoni, Lilly Beach, Sheraton Faranfushi and Constance Moofooshi who, we are reliably informed, will refill snacks and drinks in your room daily!
Exclusive resorts and adults only resorts
On the top end of the scale that are some couples only and exclusive resorts in the Maldives that are perfect for that special anniversary trip or special occasion. These include the following resorts that British mums members recommend:
Six Senses Resort
This top end resort was a 40 minute plane ride away with stunning views. It’s a beautiful resort with high attention to detail as you would expect from Six Senses.
This is exclusive resort that offers excellent choices for accommodation, food and activities. Expect the VIP treatment here as they are used to guests such as the Beckhams and The Ramsays.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Although this is an adult only resort, it also has a family island and has an underwater restaurant that’s very impressive!
This resort is also for adults only and with hot tubs overlooking the sea, it makes a great romantic choice!
British mums members have also recommended the following exclusive resorts for a special couples holiday:
Four Seasons Kura Hudaa, The Oberoi, The One and Only Reethi Rah, Shangri La Vilingili, Banyan Tree Resort, Anatara Kihava, Soneva Fushi and The W Resort.
Booking your resort
There’s an abundance of choice for your holiday to the Maldives, so all that’s left now is to search your dates and see what resorts are available. There are often great deals to be had on Booking.com (especially either booking way in advance or with late availability) Click here for the latest deals and look forward to your trip of a lifetime!
Written in conjunction with Annemeike Woodbridge of Travelling The World With Kids