Take a look at the best kid-friendly hotels in North Male Atoll.
Gili Lankanfushi is widely considered to be the top resort in the Maldives, and for good reason. This stunning, 46-villa, eco-friendly resort just 20 minutes from the airport succeeds in delivering truly unpretentious, relaxed luxury. Bare feet are encouraged (shoes are removed as soon as guests get on the boat from the airport), and each guest is taken care of by a personal butler with the title Mr. Friday. The spacious, charmingly simple overwater bungalows are made of several types of wood, and have outdoor (and rooftop!) decks with views that might induce tears of joy. On land, the beautiful island with 683 palm trees offers a range of activities and dining options. This special gem in the Maldives has more authenticity than other brand-name resorts of the same price point — just ask tennis pro Novak Djokovic, practically a regular here.
Peace and quiet is the name of the game at this 45-villa resort from Singapore-based Banyan Tree, one of the world's most luxurious hotel brands. It's run by a thoughtful staff sporting colorful uniforms, as well as an omnipresent General Manager. Guests have access to one of the best house reefs in the Maldives' — literally just a few feet of shore — for snorkeling (free!), as well as scuba diving (there's a PADI center on-site). Two categories of stylish, modern thatched-roof villas include one with jetted tubs in huge open-air bathrooms, and one without; all villas have bathrobes, sandals, and thoroughly stocked minibars. Quality food and drink are served at the restaurant, and guests should expect light pressure to book appointments at the excellent Thai-themed spa. To mix it up, a free ferry runs to the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru next door for use of the restaurant, bar, and spa there, as well.
This upscale, 180-room resort is the oldest in the Maldives; it opened circa 1972 on a former coconut plantation surrounded by white-sand beaches. An easy jaunt from the airport -- just 10 minutes by boat -- Kurumba is not the most peaceful locale, nor does it have the most attractive views due to a protective man-made barrier. Despite these two shortfalls, the resort has a lot to offer, including eight restaurants, three bars, two swimming pools, and a modern spa. It appeals to families, thanks to the kids' club with babysitting services, and to couples, thanks to offerings such as wine tastings and sunset jazz. Nine renovated room types have basic contemporary decor, outdoor patios, and spacious open-air bathrooms with separate bathtubs and showers. The team works hard to keep things fresh -- case in point, the sleek Thila restaurant, which opened in 2014, ranks among the Maldives' best. Several meal packages are on offer to keep dining costs in check.
The upscale Meeru is not only the third oldest resort in the Maldives, it is also the third largest, with 286 rooms and a loyal following of repeat guests (many Germans). It's attractive for all ages: Families have their own area of the island, and couples have theirs, hence two separate pools, two buffet restaurants, and two spas. Most guests are on an all-inclusive packages, so bars are lively -- especially the 24-hour one. During the day, there are plenty of activities on hand, including a diving center with courses in French, German or English, a number of water sports, excursions, a driving range, and even a golf course. Snorkeling in the house reef requires a boat ride, though many are happy to stay put on the pretty beaches. Rustic-luxe rooms have vaulted wood roofs, wood paneling, and king-size beds (many are romantic four-posters with mosquito netting); some are overwater, some on the beach, and some offer jetted tubs in open-air bathrooms.
This luxury boutique resort from Thailand's Banyan Tree is slightly bigger and more expensive than sister property Angsana next door. Each of the 48 spa-like villas offers direct water access from the front (beach privacy varies), and in the rear, the pièce de résistance: a walled-in plunge pool and jetted tub area. Large bathrooms that have indoor and outdoor showers, which helps compensate for the slightly cramped bedrooms dressed in neutral decor. The walkable island has plenty of white sand and free non-motorized water sports; scuba divers have access to a shipwreck nearby. Spa lovers will adore the large Thai treatment rooms and professional staff, all of whom are trained heavily at Banyan Tree Spa Academy. In the evenings, couples -- and yes, a few families -- stroll down the long jetty to spot reef sharks after dining on contemporary cuisine. The resort provides 24-hour boat transfers from the airport, a 25-minute speedboat ride away, as well as free Wi-Fi.
This small, upscale resort with lower prices (and less luxury) than sister property Exotica draws couples of many nationalities. The naturally heart-shaped island has narrow but pretty beaches as well as free snorkel access to a shipwreck and 1,000-year-old coral. The 62 thatched-roof rooms (which include Beach Villas, Water Villas, and two-bedroom suites with private pools) have understated, contemporary decor and private outdoor space; there may be minor maintenance issues (usually fixed promptly by an efficient and friendly staff). For the small size, there is a great food and beverage program (a Taj trademark) with four distinct dining options and a modern bar, open until midnight. Though grounds are not the prettiest in the Maldives, the vibe turns romantic at night, especially with candlelit tables along the beach, where a chef prepares fresh seafood on an open grill. Everyone has access to the main infinity pool, dive center, and spa.
This 215-room, mid-range resort provides all the essentials for a Maldives vacation: white-sand beaches, a turquoise lagoon, swimming pool, all-inclusive buffet, water sports, and decent rooms next to the beach. There are far more luxurious (and expensive) resorts around, but relatively easy access to the airport and a great surf break make Adaaran Select Huhuranfushi a solid value for the area.
Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives is an upscale, 148-room property that's an easy 30-minute speedboat ride from Male. Rooms are spacious and mostly contemporary, but are dim, showing wear, and often littered with dead ants. Interconnecting rooms, a kids' club, and kiddy pool area make the resort suited for families, while a world-famous surf spot makes it an enticing challenge for surfers. Wear and tear aside, the resort's value is in the wide array of activities and features on offer, from a spa and pool, to bars, entertainment, and water sports. The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is more luxurious and also close to the airport, and often not much pricier, so it's worth comparing rates.
This upper-middle-range, 282-room resort is one of the largest in the Maldives. Inconsistent service, aging rooms, and extra fees for snorkel gear and Wi-Fi may leave some with a sour taste in their mouths. Under the umbrella of Villa Hotels, the property opened in 1994 and is located in North Male Atoll, about a 30-minute boat ride from the airport (transportation is paid upon arrival). The incredible white-sand beaches surrounding the island are the main draw, and the there are also expansive grounds (expect to walk), excursions, a dive center, and a la carte restaurants, though most will be eating at the buffet with assigned tables and bland food. If the budget allows, couples should consider upgrading to the overwater units for contemporary decor and a slight spike in service. For the price, it's also worth considering Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu.
This small rustic resort attracts mostly European couples who take up residence — sometimes for three weeks at a time — in the 36 bungalows spread out over six acres of sand. Locals opened the property in 1982, and it is one of the oldest resorts in the Maldives; many guests have been coming for years (40 percent are repeat visitors). Other special distinctions: There is no Wi-Fi anywhere (!) and there are no TVs -- both intentional choices to keep guests relaxed and unplugged. Most will spend their days exploring the turquoise sea (scuba and snorkel are big here!). Half-board and full-board packages are available -- just make sure to fill up on lunch, since dinner isn’t served until 8 p.m.
The upper-middle-range Bandos Island was the second resort in the Maldives, and opened in 1972. Its 215 rustic-chic rooms were last renovated in 2005 and have patios with garden or beach views; some higher-tier options have living rooms and outdoor hot tubs. Guests opt for dining packages that include average buffet food, or pay extra for three a la carte restaurants (one that is open 24 hours). The highlights here are the impressive PADI Dive Centre with trips to over 40 dive sites, and the kids’ club. The hotel also has an outdoor pool with swim-up bar, live entertainment at Sand Bar, and massage treatments at the pretty spa. The service and grounds are unmemorable, however, the beaches are crowded in spots, and the tennis courts have seen better days.
Just a 20-minute boat ride from the airport, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is a five-pearl luxury property with a village-like vibe. The small island is home to 176 rooms, an oceanside spa, contemporary fitness center with tennis court, dive center, free non-motorized water sports, a kids' club and pool, lagoon-style pool, and several bars and restaurants. With its close proximity to Male, this is an ideal upscale resort (with all-inclusive options) for anyone who wants to mix in a visit or two to the capital city or just stretch the hours of their vacation as far as possible.
Located near several popular dive sites in the North Male Atoll, Eriyadu Island Resort was one of the Maldives' first tourist resorts. With more than 30 years under its belt, this 76-room, upper-middle-range resort is slowly updating its style and moving toward four-pearl status. Pluses include an excellent, easily accessibly house reef; on-site activities; and direct beach access off all rooms. However, the lack of free water or Wi-Fi, average buffet quality and selection, and slow renovation process (there's a huge disparity in room quality) still leave much to be desired. Prices are fair for what you get, though; competitors such as Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, which also has an on-site reef and simple rooms, typically cost more.
This mid-range, 55-room resort is a quick boat ride from the airport. On one side of the island is a huge beach, though to get there, guests (mostly younger couples) might have to walk through unflattering pathways. Despite areas of shabbiness, this resort offers competitive prices (much of the time), consistent buffet food, a spa, fitness center, water sports, and an impressive dive center that's great for newbies. Beach Bungalows are rustic but cheaper; some are closer to the beach than others. Meanwhile, more expensive Water Bungalows on the jetty have canopy beds and direct access to the lagoon. No one will find free drinking water in rooms -- practically a standard everywhere else -- and it will cost a pretty penny to purchase. Grounds include a small swimming pool, though it is rarely used, and the bar, open until midnight, will hardly see a crowd. Service is inconsistent overall, though it can get better by showing appreciation (tipping helps).
This simple guesthouse 10 minutes from Malé's airport started with just six rooms in 2011 and has since expanded to a second building across the street. Expect construction sights and sounds all around the 'hood -- this newer manmade island is a hub of activity in the midst of a major growth spurt. What the two-pearl property does offer is affordable and clean accommodations for budget travelers (especially backpackers) -- a rare find in the Maldives -- with surprisingly modern rooms outfitted with mini-fridges; some have kitchenettes. There's a pretty beach nearby for swimming but no pool on-site. The 24-hour cafe serves guests and locals (no alcohol), and barbecues can be arranged on the rooftop deck. Free Wi-Fi is unreliable.