The Maldives: The stunning tropical paradise archipelago that offers trip of a lifetime

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Idyllic white sand and crystal blue lagoon water sparkling in the sunshine, against the backdrop of unobscured, unfiltered clear skies.

The Maldives is more than just a winter sun destination.

This tropical paradise archipelago, southwest of Sri Lanka and India, is made up of more than two dozen islands in the Indian Ocean.

And while its beauty may be well-documented, seeing and experiencing it for yourself is something quite different and it’s so easy to understand why it is so popular with celebrities, travel bloggers, Instagram stars and influencers. A somewhat tricky location to reach from the UK, usually requiring at least one connection or around 10 hours direct, you immediately feel like you’re unearthing a gem before your eyes as the plane circles above the Maldivian capital of Malé.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
A panoramic view showing the Outrigger Maafushivaru island, in the Maldives.A panoramic view showing the Outrigger Maafushivaru island, in the Maldives.
A panoramic view showing the Outrigger Maafushivaru island, in the Maldives.

You’re greeted with the customary blast of tropical warm air on your face when those cabin doors finally open. After arriving at Malé, it’s either a speedboat trip or a flight via ‘seaplane’ to your chosen resort’s island. Aside from those inhabited by locals, large swathes of this stunning archipelago are entirely run by resorts, for tourists.

We caught the seaplane to our resort, Outrigger Maafushivaru, one such private island in the South Ari Atoll region. The planes are small and loud, so young children are often advised to wear headphones. We took Ear Defenders for our eight-month-old and they just about did the trick. The journey takes around 25 minutes to this particular resort.

No-one said getting to paradise would be easy. But oh my, was it worth it. As soon as we step foot on the island’s picturesque jetty, guided by attentive, welcoming staff at Outrigger, we’re blown away by its beauty. It is a secluded island paradise in every sense. And somehow, despite obvious resort development, the island feels natural and untouched. The aesthetics and features added complement perfectly.

The resort is divided into three villa sections, each connected to bars and restaurants by gorgeous sandy paths and intricate wooden walkways.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
The central bar and pool area, and the beach, at the Outrigger Maafushivaru resort in the Maldives.The central bar and pool area, and the beach, at the Outrigger Maafushivaru resort in the Maldives.
The central bar and pool area, and the beach, at the Outrigger Maafushivaru resort in the Maldives.

Over-water villas on wooden stilts are one of the Maldives’ main draws and Outrigger is no different. They offer privacy in a detached villa with all the amenities you want, dipped in luxury. There’s marble-style tiles in the bathroom, parquet flooring in the bedroom and of course, a spacious decked outdoor area.

The decked area overlooks the sea, with steps leading down where you’ll see all manner of sea life. Black-finned baby sharks patrol this reef (harmless to humans) and they are a sight to behold. With complimentary snorkels and fins, you can see vibrant coral and colourful fish that make this archipelago truly special, up close. For a more immersive experience, the resort has its own diving centre with whale shark, manta ray and dolphin trips and sunset cruises. The lagoon sea water was the warmest we’d ever dipped our toes into. As we were travelling with a baby, we had a water thermometer and were astonished to read 32C on its gauge in the sea on the island’s beach - the same temperature recorded out of the water.

While 32C may not seem that hot, when coupled with humidity surpassing 75 per cent, the mid-afternoon sun can be blazing.

Caveat: remember - this is the Maldives. The archipelago is arguably the most beautiful place in the world. Almost every resort island offers crystal water, Instagram dream locations and access to rare sea life.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What sets Outrigger apart is the staff. They are simply exceptional. We have not had a better experience or been made to feel so special anywhere else in the world. The staff here would not be out of place in the globe’s finest hotel or restaurants. Everyone here, starting with the tireless gardeners sweeping the footprints off the sand to keep it pristine and combing the sea for debris to keep even the cleanest of Instagram shots looking crystal. The service staff are constantly checking in on your every whim, remembering your name, favourite drink, high chairs and plastic cutlery for little ones.

They are the sparkling jewels in this resort's crown. Each one is a gem who goes out of their way to make you feel special, relaxed and taken care of.

The resort offers all-inclusive and half board packages. It has a series of restaurants, each different in its own way and specially-themed.

Outrigger’s brochure bills the food offering here as “a gastronomic journey around the world” and it is not wrong. Everything we tasted here was outstanding. There's a grill restaurant inspired by South Asian culture, built over the water overlooking waves, a Mediterranean-style eatery offering upmarket twists on traditional favourites and an intimate, Japanese fusion restaurant. There’s also a main buffet restaurant offering breakfast and dinner and a poolside bar for lunch, drinks and food throughout the day.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s amazing the attention to detail in these restaurants and the food on offer, you feel as though you could be in a metropolitan city centre, not a private island only accessible by speedboat or seaplane.

They’re all underpinned by executive Yorkshire-born chef Chris Long, the mastermind behind dishes, menus and layouts. There’s also a lovely spa on the island, featuring an infinity pool, saunas, steam room and an impressive treatment package. While it is undoubtedly a resort for honeymooners, they were excellent with us and our baby. There was even a nappy bin for our little one in the room. Each member of staff interacted with her and showed us real kindness.

We’d been to tropical resorts before but something just felt very different about the Maldives and Outrigger. It still feels untouched and almost sacred. If you have the chance, do it.

*Packages at Outrigger Maldives can be booked exclusively via Kuoni at 01306 230 467. Visit for more details.