Is the Maldives a family destination?

Famed for its crystalline waters and soft sandy shores, the Maldives is widely regarded as one of the top romantic destinations in the world. However, in recent years, this tropical nation has reinvented itself as quite the family destination. Offering sociable activities, all-inclusive packages and an abundance of sea life in a pristine and safe location, this once-in-a-lifetime island environment offers a space for children to be free and immerse themselves in the inspiring programmes and outdoor activities available.

For a stunning location and an unforgettable family travel experience, we’ve reviewed some fantastic family resorts and hotels in the Maldives.


Robinson Club Noonu, Noonu Atoll

Robinson Club Noonu, Noonu Atoll

Offering an all-inclusive package with three restaurants and two bars, Robinson Club Noonu boasts a free kids club and playground, as well as availability for supervised childcare at the Roby Club. For slightly older children, there are plenty of excursions to keep them occupied; try snorkelling, lagoon kayaking, dolphin hunting or boat tours, or how about a plethora of social games at the bar to wind down in the evenings.

  • Family room: a sea view villa with plunge pool, two terraces, 24-hour room service, air-conditioning and WiFi
  • Underwater experiences
  • Free pack for infants and all-day childcare for 3-12 year olds
  • 20 minutes from Malé Airport

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Emboodhu Finolhu

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Emboodhu Finolhu

With 64 beautiful ocean-view villas and suites to choose from, this luxury resort is certainly lavish, located in one of the largest coral-rich lagoons in the Maldives. The service here is impeccable, with child-friendly staff catering to every unique need and desire for you and your children during your stay. If you want some time for your own adventures, child-minding services are readily available. Offering a kids club and various water sports, Taj Exotica is probably one of the most convenient resorts to access, with transfer available from

Malé Airport via private ferry, but it certainly comes with a hefty price tag.

  • Offers ‘Taj Kids’, a fun learning program based on adventure and discovery
  • Close to public beach
  • On-site activities include windsurfing, canoeing and volleyball
  • Cribs and babysitting available
  • 40 minutes from Malé Airport

Cocoon Maldives, Ookolhufinolhu, Lhaviyani Atoll

Cocoon Maldives, Ookolhufinolhu, Lhaviyani Atoll

Often recalled as one of the best family resorts and the first design hotel in the Maldives, Cocoon Maldives offers child-friendly accommodation without compromising on the luxury factor. Allow your children to spend their days building sandcastles and enjoying the beauty of the beach with direct access from the 100-square-metre Family Beach Villa. Staff are attentive to your needs with a 24/7 service ensuring a memorable trip for the whole family. The resort’s Cultural Club makes it easy for both you and your children to make the most out of the wide array of activities available; from dolphin cruises and island tours to daily entertainment in the form of a live band, disco and Maldivian cultural show. This is affordable luxury at its best in the Maldives.

  • Dedicated kids club
  • Safe location with no other resorts nearby
  • Children’s pool
  • 30 minute seaplane ride from Malé Airport

Sun Island Resort & Spa, South Ari Atoll

Sun Island Resort & Spa, South Ari Atoll

Formed of 462 stylishly furnished rooms, the Sun Island Resort & Spa is the largest resort in the Maldives. Extremely good value, there are an assortment of facilities to meet every possible desire and nine dining options to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. Enjoy daily excursions, from whale-shark watching to diving trips to following the mesmerising dolphins on their travels.

Accomodation-wise, the Sun Villas are perfect for small families, with 28-square-metres of space, with a large garden area and sun beds. Hidden in the dense foliage of the resort, it’s great for those seeking privacy and a relaxed atmosphere.

  • Children’s playground
  • Babysitting/child services
  • Nature-friendly initiatives for the whole family get involved in
  • 17 minute seaplane ride from Malé Airport

Reethi Faru Resort, Filaidhoo Raa Atoll

Reethi Faru Resort, Filaidhoo Raa Atoll

Offering a more secluded option in the Maldives, but still exceedingly spacious, Reethi Faru Resort is both a romantic spot and a family friendly stay. Whilst younger children are wholly welcome, children over twelve-years-old will surely create unforgettable memories and have the trip of a lifetime here, owing to the variety of designated kids activities; paddle-boarding, sunset dolphin trips, private snorkelling trips and a whole host of other excursions to direct their energy towards. With two family-oriented villas on offer, ranging from 126 to 147-square-metres, each is meticulously designed to cater for the needs of both adults and children.

  • Family-friendly accommodation
  • Babysitting and equipment available
  • Children’s menus in restaurants
  • 45 minute seaplane or 20 minute domestic flight

Niyama Private Islands Maldives, Dhaalu Atoll

Niyama Private Islands Maldives, Dhaalu Atoll

Grow accustomed to the daily flow of dolphins swimming by and gloriously vibrant sunsets here at Niyama. The island offers the kind of calm and wellbeing you should feel when spending time with your family, so guests can enjoy relaxation and a wide selection of activities. Split into two adjoining islands; Chill Island and Play Island, the first focuses more on solitude and the second on a wonderful dedication to the enjoyment of spending time together. The Family Beach Pool Villa provides an oasis that leads onto a charming soft-sand beach where your children can while the day away rollicking in the sun, as well as enjoy a private family-sized plunge pool.

  • Unique kids club timetable for each age group
  • Surf lessons for children 8+
  • The ability to switch between Chill and Play islands
  • 45 minutes by seaplane from Malé Airport

Hideway Beach Resort & SPA, Dhonakulhi, Haa Alifu Atoll

Hideway Beach Resort & SPA, Dhonakulhi, Haa Alifu Atoll

A playground for children and adults alike, Hideaway offers the best of both worlds with a wide range of excursions and activities available. True to its name, this is about as remote as the Maldives resorts get. At this resort you’ll be able to open your child’s eyes to the wonders of the Maldives; go dolphin spotting, snorkelling with turtles or take a trip in the penguin semi-submarine. With a watersports centre and a kids club, Hideaway seems to be one of the best resorts in the Maldives, ensuring your children are having the holiday of a lifetime. The two-bedroom family villa with pool offers an abundance of space and privacy – 575-square-metres to be exact, with an infinity pool and amazingly close proximity to the white sandy beach.

  • Children’s splash pool
  • Water sports centre and park
  • Spacious villas
  • 50 minutes by seaplane from Malé Airport

For 7 nights for a family of 4: £2355

Bandos Maldives, Banos Island

Bandos Maldives, Banos Island

Earning a reputation as the island of hospitality, you’ll certainly feel wholly catered for at Bandos. Every experience and excursion that is put together for guests all seek to allow you to live the Maldivian lifestyle to the fullest and discover the true magic of the Maldives. From island hopping, sunset dolphin cruises and water sports for parents to a kids club that offers arts and crafts, cooking lessons and treasure hunting for the children, Bandos makes your holiday as carefree and memorable as possible.

  • Free stay for 2 kids
  • Kids club
  • Dive centre
  • Babysitting services
  • 20 minute speed boat transfer from Malé Airport

Who knew the Maldives were so family-friendly? Gone are the days when the atolls were regarded solely as a couples destination; we’ve found that the Maldives is a place that offers endless opportunities for exploring, learning and having fun, all in a safe and mesmerisingly beautiful location. Whilst some are more affordable than others, all of them allow you to experience the surreal nature of the Maldives, and create memories you’ll look back on for years to come.

maldives shangri-la's villingili resort and spa

Introduction to Maldives

Australian tourists require a valid passport for the duration of stay in Maldives. You can get a tourist visa on arrival for a period of 30 days at no cost. Tourist visas can be extended by up to 90 days by applying to the immigration department.

Given an average temperature of 30 degree Celsius and the likelihood that you’ll be spending a good part of your day outside, it is best to carry sunblock, aftersun lotions and hats. A first-aid box with plasters will come in handy for small cuts from walking on dead corals. Light cotton clothes, swimwear (with cover ups) and casual clothing will keep your bags light so you can pack in the important stuff like your snorkelling equipment (it is more expensive to buy or rent them at your resort), underwater camera and other photo equipment.

If you have to take medication on a regular basis, carry along certified copies of your prescription just to be on the safe side. You cannot carry alcohol or cigarettes into the country. To save money on buying mineral water, juices and sodas – which are quite pricey in the Maldives – you can carry them along.

The Maldivian currency is the rufiya, further divided into 100 larees. Coins are in denominations of 1 and 2 rufiya, and 10, 25 and 50 larees; notes are in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 rufiya. The rufiya is pegged to the U.S dollar, and you’ll be billed in dollars at most hotels and resorts. While there is a preference for U.S dollars, you can make cash, travellers cheque or credit card payments in all major currencies. If you plan to use an ATM, keep in the mind that only Malé has a handful of them, with only some allowing international fund withdrawal

maldives shangri-la's villingili resort and spa sunset cruise

Transportation in Maldives

There are no direct flights from Australia to Malé. Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates have flights to Malé from their respective base/local hubs. Dubai is 14 hours from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, while Singapore and Kuala Lumpur cut the time down to seven hours.

International flights to the island arrive at Malé’s Hulhule Airport. From here, you have the following choices to get to your resort island: (a) seaplanes, which are fast and offer you stunning views of uninhabited islands but cost you a bit and operate only during the day (b) supply boats, which are slow but inexpensive (c) speedboats that offer a good balance between speed and price and (d) domestic flights operated by the island’s two large domestic airlines, Maldivian and Flyme .

If you want to explore the islands, you have four options. One is by boat or dhoni as the locals call it. You can charter a dhoni at your resort or take your pick from the many at the harbour. Speedboats can also get you around, with the smaller runabouts costing you less than the huge multi-deck ones. Dhonis are quieter than speedboats, come equipped with a sun roof, and serve as good diving boats.

As Malé is the only island where you’ll need to travel by road, you’ll find cars, taxis and motorcycles here. You can also cover the island on foot; walking from one end to another doesn’t take up a lot of time. It’s really easy to find restaurants, shops and other commercial establishments in Malé. If you don’t feel up to it, you can take a cab but you will only be driven to your destination and there will be no stopping in between. Bicycles are also another cost-effective option, with some island resorts renting them out for as low as $3 per day.

Activities in Maldives

Malé is the hub of shopping in Maldives. You can buy pretty much everything from fresh produce and electronics items to clothes, books, medicines and jewellery here. It is also home to many souvenir shops that sell local handicrafts and artwork, which range from playing cards and seashell necklaces to wood-carved miniature dhonis, oil paintings, hand-painted t-shirts and elegant local mats known as ‘thudu kuna’ woven with natural fibres.

The buzz of shopping activities is centred around the local market on the northern waterfront that sells agricultural produce and a fish market located just two blocks away from the local market. You can buy various local vegetables, bananas, breadfruit chips and home made pickles and sweets from the several stalls that make up the local market. Tourist footfall in the fish market gets heavier in the afternoons as local fishermen bring in fresh catch and sellers cut the fish up masterfully. The bevy of shops on Majeedhee Magu located on the island’s main road stay open till 11 in the night. For imported Singapore-made products and souvenir shops, head to the Chaandanee Magu commercial centre.

While tourists come to Maldives for its tranquil air, those seeking night-time entertainment have a good choice of resort nightclubs with world-class DJs and vintage vodka collections, among other luxurious offerings. An open-air cinema with 60 different ice-cream and popcorn flavours, high-end dining and lively bars are also some star attractions at Maldives’ resorts. As Islam prohibits gambling, there is little by way of betting activities on the island.

Every resort in Maldives Resorts has a spa, with many offering couples’ spa therapies and customized day and night spa packages.

Maldives’ Cuisine

Maldivians’ traditional cuisine is a blend of Indian, Sri Lankan, Arabic and Thai tastes. Asian influences can be seen in the curries and incorporation of coconut in dishes. Not surprisingly, fish is part of the staple diet, with steamed, fried or curried fish meals whipped up at the island’s restaurants and resort kitchens. From tuna, red snapper and swordfish to rock lobsters and groupers, the seafood spread is delectable. Maldivians add curry leaves and chilli to literally all their dishes. Their fiery pork, fish and lamb dishes are robust, delicious and full of spices (you can also request for milder flavours).

Among the popular local delicacies are kulhi boakibaa, a spicy tuna fish cake eaten as a snack; deep-fried fish balls known as gulha; bajiya, a twist on the world-famous ‘samosa’, complete with a dried fish or chicken filling; and bambukeylu hiti made from breadfruit and served as a standalone snack or curry. Resorts serve a range of international cuisine, so you can stick to Continental or experience Oriental or Middle Eastern flavours on your holiday. Coffee shops on liveaboard vessels and resorts meet your snack and light food needs.

While you may not find alcoholic beverages on inhabited islands, you can get your fill at well-stocked resort bars. The choice in red and white wines – usually sourced from New Zealand, South African and Australian estates and presented at resort buffets – is excellent. When you’re at the bar, don’t miss out on interesting cocktails prepared by the island’s creative bartenders. Fancy a quiet nightcap? The mini bars in your room are topped up everyday.

Explore Maldives

Maldives is best explored at leisure. Here’s where people come to escape from the noise and concrete monstrosities to smell the fresh sea breeze, dive into unspoilt ocean waters and experience the unique local culture.

Maldives and boat cruises are inseparable. Sitting aboard a quiet dhoni with sea all around you and waiting to get to yet another uninhabited island where you’ll savour local delicacies and wait for the dolphins to appear as the locals play the traditional Bodu Beru drums, is one of the most satisfying experiences. Island-hopping is a popular tourist past-time, complete with fishing trips and beach barbecues. Hulhumalé, a man-made island on land reclaimed from the sea, is a popular stop-over. For shopping and a taste of the local culture, the capital city Malé with its 17th century mosques, buzzing fish market and National Museum, is perfect for a day trip.

The island is home to some of the world’s best diving sites, in particular Addu Atoll, its southern-most atoll famous for its rich dolphin and whale fauna and the only area in the Maldives to escape coral bleaching. If you prefer to keep your head under water for a couple of hours, snorkelling and diving give you an opportunity to get up and close with the diverse marine life – including the deadly stingray. Swim with the reef sharks, bat fish and schooling fish at Mushimasmingili Thila, a popular marine protected dive site in North Ari Atoll. Water skiing, para sailing, windsurfing and banana boat rides are other popular island activities. You cannot come to Maldives and not enjoy the scenic vistas surrounding you from high up in the sky! Aerial sightseeing is a great way to experience the island’s abundant natural beauty (get your cameras ready!).

maldives shangri-la's villingili resort and spa the village

Maldives’ Culture

Maldivian culture is a rich potpourri of influences from the earliest settlers, many among whom were seafaring traders sailing through the Indian Ocean from Arab, South East Asian and African countries. Maldivians are of Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Arabic descent. There is some archaeological evidence suggesting that Buddhism and Hinduism were the dominant religions prior to the emergence of Islam, which became the official state religion in 1997. Traces of Sanskrit, Sinhalese (spoken in Sri Lanka), Arabic and English can be found in Dhivehi, the native language of Maldivians.

The locals are friendly and hospitable. There is a sense of community feel with generations of families living under one roof and supporting one another. Islam is central to their way of living, with religious education being imparted at school and at home.

Unless you’re staying at an island Maldives Resorts, avoid wearing scanty clothes or beachwear as it is bound to offend the locals. The government enforces strict dress codes and as such it is best to stay on the right side of the law by dressing modestly. If you plan to visit one or more of the island’s mosques, keep your legs and body (except your neck and face) covered.

If you’re calling on someone, take off your shoes before entering their home. Shaking hands is a traditional and customary form of greeting. Steer clear of making insensitive remarks about religion or culture when conversing with locals.

 Smoking is a common habit among locals and all resort hotels maintain bars. Keep in mind that the government has a history of imposing night-time and party curfews, which both locals and tourists are expected to abide by.

While tipping is not compulsory in Maldives given a 10% service tax on everything, tourists don’t shy away from giving away cash tips to hospitality staff. You can tip on a daily or weekly basis, or leave it till the end of your holiday.