Four ways to experience the best of the Maldives

Synonymous with a truly luxurious escape and ideal for any number of aquatic adventures, the Maldives is an archipelago that should top your travel wishlist for 2021 — and a stay at Lily Hotels' all-inclusive resort makes for an ideal base.

By Lily Hotels
Published 28 Jan 2021, 12:00 GMT
In the Maldives, spa rooms spill into tropical surroundings, hot tubs face crystalline lagoon waters, and massage ...

In the Maldives, spa rooms spill into tropical surroundings, hot tubs face crystalline lagoon waters, and massage tables look down to curious sea life.

Photograph by LILY BEACH RESORT & SPA

For travellers, the Maldives has long been associated with luxurious beach breaks. And while relaxing on the sand can be a big draw, the archipelago’s unique makeup makes it a great place for water-based adventures too. The sea life here is vibrant and abundant, with the surrounding coral reefs forming natural pools that are ideal for snorkelling, swimming and kayaking, among other watersports. Back on land, there’s fresh seafood, coconut and spices for the palette, spas to unwind in, swimming pools to splash about in, and many a glorious sunset to catch from a wide selection of beach bars. 

With more than 1,000 islands and around 30 coral atolls making up the archipelagic island nation, its white sands and sheltered lagoons have become the setting for many a private island resort. One such is Lily Beach Resort & Spa, nestled on the private island Huvahendhoo in the South Ari Atoll, where all-inclusive luxury can be experienced against the backdrop of the Maldives' classic aesthetic.

1. Discover thrilling underwater experiences

Snorkelling and diving are among the most popular activities in the Maldives, for good reason — the island chain supports an extensive network of coral reefs. The underwater vertical drop-offs across the archipelago form coral gardens that are a playground for colourful fish and sea turtles, while the shallow waters surrounding the reefs create natural swimming pools — and nurseries for marine life — protected from ocean waves.

One of the best ways to experience diving and snorkelling in the Maldives is by doing it through a private island resort that has its own tours and experiences. Lily Beach Resort & Spa is an ideal base from which to get started with an ocean adventure, with multiple snorkel and dive spots just a stone's throw from the resort. This prime diving spot in the Ari Atoll is well known for its thriving marine life, including dolphins, reef sharks and turtles.

2. Indulge in its spa offerings

With an abundance of private island resorts matching spas with their idyllic environs, spa experiences in the Maldives are more of a journey to pure indulgence, with wellness and wellbeing at the heart. Spa rooms spill into tropical surroundings; hot tubs face the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon; and massage tables look down on the vibrant sea life through glass floors.

The crashing waves that surround spas in the Maldives add a naturally meditative aspect — nowhere more so than at Tamara Spa at Lily Beach, the curiously designed spa on stilts. Holistic therapies here take inspiration from practices, techniques and philosophies from around the world, which are incorporated into treatments – while the healing properties of moringa, a plant often called the ‘miracle tree’, are offered in a mix of highly nutritious products.

3. Take part in sports and activities

An excursion to the capital, Malé, can include visits to the cultural hotspot of the National Art Gallery and the bustling Malé Fish Market, while trips to other islands can offer a dose of relaxing solitude. Beach sports in the Maldives are prevalent on most islands, with volleyball, bashi (a traditional sport played by women), football and badminton being available in most places.

Along with a multitude of activities, Lily Beach also offers tennis lessons on a floodlit court. There’s also a gym, watersports centre, table tennis and darts, plus yoga and aquatics exercise classes in the two swimming pools — one adults only, the other reserved for families and children. Various watersports are available for the active traveller too, such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding or simply cruising around the island on a catamaran.

4. Explore culinary excellence

Given the vast swathe of sea that surrounds every island in the Maldives, it’s no surprise that some of the traditional dishes in the archipelagic island country are centred around fish and seafood. Also known as Dhivehi cuisine, traditional Maldivian food encompasses a range of flavours, with inspiration taken from neighbouring countries including India and Sri Lanka. Coconuts — which grow on every island — have also become a vital part of the culture and cuisine; they’re a staple in Maldivian curries and cocktails.

Most resorts in the Maldives will serve a mix of fresh, local dishes, as well as a selection of world cuisine. Lily Beach has a choice of eight bars and restaurants, some located on the beach, with fresh seafood and themed cuisine evenings available. From Tamarind, an a la carte restaurant that celebrates Asian flavours, to Les Turquoise D'Aqua, the resort's oceanside full-service French restaurant, there's an option to suit any occasion and any palate, with countless dishes from east to west on offer.

Lily Hotels is a local owner operator of resorts in the Maldives, currently operating two resorts: Lily Beach Resort & Spa and Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa.

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