Navigating the Maldives with Black Tomato

We’ve been there, we’ve done it, and now we’re sharing our insider secrets.

Strung like a necklace across the Indian Ocean, the islands, atolls and archipelagos of the Maldives remain one of our favourite beach destinations in the world. Volcanic, biodiverse, and dramatically ethereal. But there’s also much more to it than meets the eye.

And as one of the world’s most exclusive and talked-about island retreats, we wanted to give to low-down on what you can experience when you go there on a luxury, tailor-made trip with us – cutting through the noise and crafting you a journey you can look truly forward to. 

So, if you’re into diving, indulgence, fresh food, coral reefs, extinct volcanoes, water-sports and romantic moonlight strolls, then look no further.

What kind of travellers come to the Maldives?

All kinds. It has major kudos among couples and honeymooners (it’s romantic, intimate, and relaxing). But it’s also great for families who want to balance rest with activities and adrenaline. Surfing, diving, snorkelling, and sailing will keep younger and more active travellers happy for days on end. It’s also great as a final, indulgent pitstop after a more exhaustive journey or experience, such as this itinerary around Thailand and Cambodia. After visiting the busier and more active sites of Angkor Wat and Siem Reap, you’ll spend a couple — or more — days recalibrating on the Maldives’ sands.

Of course, it’s definitely worthy as a destination in its own right. It all comes down to who you are – and what you like.

Why we love it

The Maldives is home to over 1,000 islands clustered into 26 dense and diverse atolls – fractured remnants of ancient volcanoes whose intense fertility has given rise to astounding biomes and staggering ecosystems. And it is here that your Black Tomato adventure will be set: an atoll-hopping expedition customized to satisfy your Maldives bucket list – regardless of whether you stay within the balmy confines of the North Malé atoll or jump on a seaplane (highly recommended) and travel to its more remote and outer fringes. 

You might also consider pairing your Maldives escape with another destination entirely. We recommend ending a trip to India (like this) or Sri Lanka (like this) with a bout of R’n’R on these incomparable islands.

But for us, the appeal of the Maldives comes down to four key ingredients. Service. Food. Beaches. And experiences. 

Service

In the Maldives, service is taken seriously – though with a gentle touch. After all, this is a country that prides itself on its hospitality and warmth. Many villas and hotels will assign personal butlers and assistants for the duration of your stay. Hotel staff are also incredibly informed and informative about where you can go to best experience what the Maldives has to offer – whether that’s a coral diving expedition or a finding an authentic local eatery. Wherever you go, you’ll be warmly welcomed.

Food

The Maldives are a chain of islands and atolls, meaning that the emphasis is on fresh, local and exotic ingredients, bringing together influences from India, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. Where some hotels have their own private dinner service, there are also plenty of local and independent restaurants for you to try during your stay – serving the likes of fragrant Garudhiya and spicy Fihunu mas. And because of their remoteness, you’ll encounter very little in the way of imported produce.

Beaches

During your research about the Maldives, you’re going to encounter a lot of articles that claim to know the “ten best beaches in the Maldives.” And these beaches might indeed be very lovely. But when we plan your own trip, we’re not going to take such a reductive and one-size-fits-all approach. After all, it depends entirely what you’re searching for. On GL, the beaches are wide and gently sloping – crazed with the bent heads of palm trees. This is somewhere private to be served dinner, as the sun sinks into the sea. Or perhaps you want to explore the tumbling, secluded lagoon of Huvafen Fushi – a place perfect for snorkeling and diving. When you enquire, we’ll pair you with the beaches that best suit what you want. It’s really that simple.

And experiences

You could spend your entire vacation doing nothing – and doing it well. Nobody would judge you. But if you want to set out and explore, there’s much that you can do – from snorkelling and coral diving to watersports and island hikes. You might want to search for manta rays on Cocoa Island, a thrilling seaplane ride across Soneva Fushi, or surfing on the waves of the Baa atoll. It can be as active or as indulgent as you like.

When to visit

It won’t surprise you that the Maldives is a year-round destination. It gets warm, and it stays warm.

However, there are what we would consider ‘better’ times to visit – depending on what you want to see and do. The period between October and April is the best time to go, as you’ll experience minimal rainfall and lower humidity. The waters will also be clearer, making it the optimal time to swim, snorkel and dive.

The period between May and September becomes a little more tropical, with more rainfall and greater humidity. Of course, the value that we can get for you for hotels during this period is better. It’s really up to you.

Our favourite islands

Stepping onto the soft sands of the Maldives is like stepping into another world. But each island has its own feeling, atmosphere and identity. On Lankanfushi – only a speedboat ride away from the country’s main airport, Malé – you’ll find peaceful waters and dream-like villas. On Huvafen Fushi – still within the North Malé atoll – you’ll find a balmy and serene lagoon, perfect for swimming and indulgence. The overwater bungalows of this resort are truly sensational. Cocoa Island, which remains one of our favourites, excels at the chic and luxurious, with Dhoni boat-style villas straddling the warm and lapping waters below. Meanwhile, the islands of the Baa atoll are home to a cluster of impeccable and intimate hotels and villas.

As ever, share your preferences with us and we’ll do the work of finding a small handful of perfectly suited islands from the 1,000 at your fingertips.

 

 

Overwater villa or beach hotel?

This is an important question. Head to our Maldives hotel page to see exactly why. The typical image of the Maldives is, after all, one of an overwater villa. These are very much a bucket-list experience, and perfect for a romantic getaway, anniversary or honeymoon. They offer direct access to the lagoon and are perfect for swimmers and snorkelers. At the same time, they’re often smaller than beach villas, and their orientation will often mean making the choice between sunrise and sunset (hard, we know). They’re also less well suited for families with smaller children. Some properties will even have age limits for their overwater villas.

In contrast, beach villas tend to offer more privacy – seeing as they’re surrounded by dense, lush foliage and shady palms. It’ll feel like your own patch of beach. They’re more spacious, safer for families, more private, and tend to be closer to the main hub of the island (so, breakfast and dinner). Of course, they have less of that “wow” factor, and the snorkelling may not be as good.

Whatever your preference, we’ll only suggest properties that match exactly what you want to do and how you want to feel when you get there.

And our favourite hotels

With nothing but the sun, sea and sand, the Maldives epitomises natural beauty at its best. Escapism is the ‘it’ word here and as you revel in the shoeless sophistication adopted by many a hotel and met by a warm Maldivian welcome and impeccable service that will mean you could want for nothing more.

But so far as our favourite hotels go, we’d always settle for these:

Six Senses Laamu

Floating magically in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a luxury holiday hotspot – and our top pick for this island getaway? The sun-blushed Six Senses Laamu on the island of Olhuveli. Here, 97 weathered beachfront and water villas scatter the island, so you can hole up over the idyllic lagoon or nestled into the sands and peek through the foliage at those tempting waters. With its world-famous luxury spa and personal butler service that makes fine dining a real breeze, we can’t get enough of Six Senses Laamu; it’s simply paradise.

COMO Maalifushi

If you crave total relaxation look no further than COMO Maalifushi. Designed by Japanese architect Koichiro Ikebuchi this gorgeous resort certainly lives up to the COMO mantra of wellness. With 33 minimalist residences on water and 32 on land, this is the perfect holiday spot for couples and families who want to switch off and chill out. Parents can unwind on the beach whilst children are kept busy at the outstanding Kids Club, and we love the outdoor cinema where families can reconvene under the stars in the evenings.

Gili Lankanfushi

At this glittering retreat in the Maldives, jetties thread across the water to exclusive overwater luxury villas and reach the world-class Meera Spa; complete with glass floor panels beneath each massage table for guests to appreciate the unreal marine life. There is also a brilliant beachside restaurant with underground wine cellar, overwater bar, a sunset pool, organic garden and jungle cinema for guests to enjoy. One thing’s for sure, you will never be bored at Gili Lankanfushi.

Joali

Joali: the true essence of island bliss. Take a deep breath and unwind by the silky white sands and emerald waters of Muravandhoo island in the Maldives. Step out of the 73 luxury beachfront and overwater villas and discover a laidback attitude complemented by experiential dining and hair-tingling watersports. The perfect stay and the perfect day begins bright and early here with a private sailboat cruise to a sunrise breakfast picnic and ends with soothing live music at sunset whilst snuggled within a cosy beachfront cabana. It’s the days like these that’ll have you never wanting to leave.

 

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

To find out more about how we ‘do’ these islands, and the variety of itineraries, hotels and experiences available, then head to our dedicated page on all things Maldives.

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