12 Beautiful Beaches in the Maldives You Have to See to Believe
Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.
A chain of 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is one of the most serene, romantic, and wildly scenic destinations in the world. The islands are clustered into atolls, based on their proximity to various coral reefs, and are surrounded by calm, azure-colored lagoons. These still waters lend themselves to those dreamy overwater bungalows that have become synonymous with the archipelago, while the coral reefs make it a sought-after snorkeling destination. The final piece of this idyllic vacation spot is, of course, the Maldives beaches, many of which are pristine, white-sand stretches that travelers spend long days luxuriating on. With that in mind, these are the 12 best beaches in the Maldives.
Cocoa Island, a luxurious hideaway in the South Malé Atoll, is home to the stunning COMO Cocoa Island resort. The island, also called Makunufushi, is known for its sugar-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. The live coral reefs — best experienced on a scuba diving trip orchestrated by the COMO Cocoa Island team — are one of the island’s best features. The privacy the beaches of Cocoa Island offer to COMO guests doesn't hurt either.
Home to a Four Seasons resort, the idyllic shores of Landaa Giraavaru — one of the most coveted private islands in the Maldives — are as luxurious as it gets. Visitors here will find a long sandbank extending into the azure water that feels otherworldly. The beaches that make up this paradisiacal island are, as the Four Seasons puts it, “a natural UNESCO Biosphere Reserve wilderness where iridescent blues, jungle greens, and dazzling whites meet innovation, conservation, and wellness with equal, vibrant intensity.” To top it off, the water shelters manta rays, sea turtles, and a live reef begging to be explored.
The beaches of Baros island are pristine, encircled by clear waters and a coral reef, which add a fantastical dimension to the unparalleled views. To experience the serene Baros beaches, stay at the only resort on this private island: Baros Maldives. The property makes things extra memorable by facilitating romantic candlelit dinners on the soft sand.
Some of the most secluded beaches in the Maldives can be found on Reethi Rah — and only guests of One&Only Reethi Rah have access. Reethi Rah, set on three and a half miles of breathtaking coast, offers 12 private and overwhelmingly beautiful stretches of sand. It also has its own time zone — an hour ahead of Malé — and as a result, boasts some of the most beautiful sunsets in the Maldives. One&Only will set up loungers on the beach for families wanting to spend the day in the sun, plus it offers villas with direct beach access.
Soft sand, overwater villas, and a sandbar stretching as far as the eye can see — that’s what awaits on Veligandu Island. The beach here is open only to guests of the Veligandu Island Resort & Spa, an adults-only property in the North Ari Atoll. Plus, it’s spacious enough that every hotel guest will feel as though they’re on a private stretch of sand. The beaches are also lined with luxe thatched-roof pavilions and loungers, and the reef around the island gives the water innumerable shades of green and blue.
Capital of the Kaafu Atoll, Thulusdhoo is a Maldivian surfing haven. While many islands in the Maldives are inhabited by stunning luxury hotels, there are a few local hot spots, like Thulusdhoo, where visitors can appreciate the true culture of this dreamy archipelago. To reach Thulusdhoo, take an inexpensive, hour-and-a-half ferry ride from Malé. There are a variety of hotels to satisfy all budgets on the island. Travelers looking to sunbathe should check out Tourist Beach, while experienced surfers chasing the best swells can head to Cokes Beach.
Located in the North Malé Atoll, Hulhumale is actually a man-made Maldives island. It offers a very different feel from many other islands in the archipelago — a more commercial and Westernized atmosphere with buzzing hotels, shops, and restaurants. A vibe well worth experiencing for a weekend, Hulhumale’s beaches are a delight, lined with seaside shops, restaurants, and water sport companies. Spend your days snorkeling, paddleboarding, or sipping a cocktail with your toes in the sand.
Much longer than it is wide, Fulhadhoo Island in the Baa Atoll is home to only 250 people, calm, azure lagoons, and small natural pools forming along the beach. A beautiful spot to snorkel and dive, Fulhadhoo shelters a myriad of fish species, dolphins, and turtles. Two hours from Malé by speedboat, it’s also one of the quietest and most beautiful islands tourists can visit, with beaches that are largely uninhabited and an exceptional opportunity for wildlife sightings.
Part of the atoll Alif Alif Atoll, Ukulhas is an under-the-radar island boasting pristine beaches that are frequently cleaned to encourage tourism and combat pollution. The island offers resorts in every price range, most just a short walk from the beach, though none with direct access to the sand. Nonetheless, the beach is exactly why tourists come to the island; it’s an uninterrupted one-kilometer stretch of white sand, lined with beach loungers and umbrellas. The beach is also quiet and spacious enough that you’ll never be without a lounge chair. Ukulhas is accessible for a wide range of travel budgets and promises that idyllic Maldivian beach experience.
Set within the South Ari Atoll, Omandhoo is a quiet island that has recently started developing their tourism offerings. The village, which makes up about 60 percent of the island, is home to 800 residents. The island feels authentically Maldivian — Western customs are much less prevalent here — and visitors interested in respectfully learning more about local culture will appreciate the atmosphere. As for the beaches on Omadhoo, they are clean and quiet, and visitors will love the long sandbank extending through the crystal-clear water. The reef surrounding the beaches is home to schools of fish (like barracuda and snapper), turtles, and even whale sharks.
In the South Ari Atoll, about 60 miles from the main island of Malé, lies Dhigurah Island. The island is known for whale shark sightings, world-class diving, and beaches you’ll never want to leave. Like Thulusdhoo, Dhigurah is home to several hotels and hot spots for travelers and locals alike. The picturesque sandbar on Dhigurah features picnic tables, the island has its own dive center, and the water surrounding the intimate sugar-sand beach is a gathering spot for sea turtles and several species of colorful fish.
Set in the North Huvadhoo Atoll, this island is home to the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa and is surrounded by a 360-degree house reef. The screensaver-worthy beaches, with natural white sand and alluring turquoise waters, are protected by Park Hyatt’s sustainability commitment to keep the reef healthy, the waters and beaches clean, and to minimize their overall environmental impact. In order to ensure that these beaches remain some of the most glorious in the Maldives, their progress is monitored by Green Globe and a resident marine biologist.