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Discover the best beaches in the Maldives

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Aside from the gin-clear waters, white sands and palm-fringed beaches, the beauty of the Maldives is that every destination is different. Out a chain of 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks clustered together, only 200 are inhabited, but each one delivers life-affirming experiences, from swimming with whale sharks, to sinking into the unrivalled vibe of relaxed island life, to witnessing the bioluminescent blue glow-in-the-night beaches on Vaadhoo.

Cocoa Island

Bigeye trevally surge into a bait ball, one of the countless amazing sights below the waters
Bigeye trevally surge into a bait ball, one of the countless amazing sights below the waters

The Cocoa Island Maldives encounter offers access to some of the world's best diving and snorkelling off the Kandooma Channel. Located in the South Malé Atoll, the surrounding waters are teaming with vibrant marine life, from green turtles and reef sharks to bigeye trevally.

The crew can set up an intimate dinner on a speck of sand surrounded by the sea
The crew can set up an intimate dinner on a speck of sand surrounded by the sea

But the wonders continue back on dry land with the island’s distinctive 1km sand spit at low tide. The tiny 350m island boats the highest ratio of sand spit to island throughout the Maldives, making it an unrivalled location to enjoy a Champagne and lobster picnic in style.

Reethi Beach

It's a great place to spot endangered Hawksbill turtles
It's a great place to spot endangered Hawksbill turtles

Reethi Beach is the archetypal Maldivian paradise, known as ‘Beautiful’ by the locals. Set on the petite island of Fonimagoodhoo in the UNESCO-protected Baa Atoll, it’s a quick 30-minute seaplane flight from Malé Airport. The lush living reef that surrounds the island is visible from the air and densely populated with exotic marine life, from stingrays and manta rays to octopi and even rare Hawksbill turtles.

After a visit to Fonimagoodhoo's verdant interior, relax and take in the view
After a visit to Fonimagoodhoo's verdant interior, relax and take in the view

The mangrove-lined white-sandy beach is the jewel of the island with soft-pillowed hammocks dotted along the shoreline. A quick explore to the heart of Fonimagoodhoo will reward with a small botanical garden favoured for its diversity of tropical plants.

Fulhadoo Beach

Colourful fish abound almost anywhere you can snorkel in the Maldives
Colourful fish abound almost anywhere you can snorkel in the Maldives

All beaches should deliver what Fulhadoo Beach delivers – a protected, sandy cay sheltered from tourists and the elements. Its location further away from the other inhabited islands on the Baa Atoll makes the serene and quiet island the ideal Maldivian destination to drop anchor off, particularly as the inner lagoon has a depth of more than 35m and a coral-free sandy bottom.

The breeze is generally light but when it does blow, it's kitesurfing heaven
The breeze is generally light but when it does blow, it's kitesurfing heaven

At just 270m wide, the island experiences strong sea breezes, meaning Fulhadoo Beach is a kite surfing haven, while freedivers and snorkellers will value the sandbanks produced by the nearby collection of uninhabited islets. For younger family members, an even smaller lagoon forms a tiny natural pool with shallow water, well suited for those taking their first splash.

Baros Beach

A yacht on the move is a magnet for dolphins
A yacht on the move is a magnet for dolphins

Baros is an unmatched launchpad for spending the day aboard a traditional handcrafted Maldivian sailing dhoni for a more rustic boating excursion. The area is alive with pods of dolphin and leaping sailfish, thanks to the work in green initiatives undertaken by the island over the past 40 years, with an entire team in charge of maintaining the natural eco-system.

Does it get more romantic than this?
Does it get more romantic than this?

The one continuous beach loops around a large turquoise coral-filled lagoon, making it one of the most photographed areas throughout the Maldives. Nestle down amid the swaying palms to capture your own generous helping of romance.

Omadhoo Island Beach

Maldivians have been skilled at fishing for generations
Maldivians have been skilled at fishing for generations

The teardrop-shaped island of Omadhoo shirks the polished offering of a resort, instead gifting visitors a real Maldivian fishing village life experience. The small, populated island has a port, making it easy to reach by tender.

These atoll islands serve up dream scenes every day
These atoll islands serve up dream scenes every day

Here, the pace of life is slow, but the heart beats fast, thanks to a yawning sand spit that emerges at low tide from the island's western tip presenting the perfect sunset opportunity. Even at high tide, the sandy bed is only submerged by half a metre, meaning visitors can walk out into the sea for an ethereal experience.

Mirihi Island Beach

Rainbow-coloured fish, like these surgeonfish, delight every time
Rainbow-coloured fish, like these surgeonfish, delight every time

Just 350m in length and 50m wide, Mirihi is a pristine tiny gem and of the best islands to visit in the Maldives. Ringed by six kilometres of spectacular coral reef, it is home to a large collection of rainbow-hued fish that dart in and out of the Mirihi shipwreck, making it a real treat for snorkelers looking to sample a wreck dive.

A single huge oceanic manta ray is a majestic sight. A squadron of them is magical
A single huge oceanic manta ray is a majestic sight. A squadron of them is magical

Mirihi Beach is also a short trip by yacht or tender to the South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area, where whale sharks and manta rays frequent the channel and can be spotted year round.

Mudhdhoo Island Beach

It may be a simple organism's biochemical reaction to disturbance but it's almost spiritual to witness firsthand
It may be a simple organism's biochemical reaction to disturbance but it's almost spiritual to witness firsthand

Mudhdhoo Island, also known as Vaadhoo Island, which sits in the Raa Atoll, has earned a reputation for its otherworldly beauty. Known across the Maldives as the Sea of Stars phenomenon, the natural bioluminescent organisms that gather on the shoreline illuminate the waves at night creating a magical glowing carpet.

The day's farewell performance is often very special
The day's farewell performance is often very special

An hour before sunset, take a tender ashore to enjoy an al fresco dinner on Mudhdhoo Island Beach. Once the sun sinks behind the horizon, sit back and enjoy one of the best live performances that Mother Nature puts on.

Kandolhu Island Beach

Everyone loves exploring caves, to do that underwater just adds to the adventure
Everyone loves exploring caves, to do that underwater just adds to the adventure

Even in the Maldives, the blissful beauty of Kandolhu Island Beach is unsurpassed. Located 70 kilometres southwest of Malé in the North Ari Atoll, the circular sandy beach is lapped by emerald-green waters that are home to one of the liveliest coral reefs in the country, as well as some of the best diving around.

Wrecks are always atmospheric, great fun to penetrate and it's amazing to see how nature colonises a new habitat
Wrecks are always atmospheric, great fun to penetrate and it's amazing to see how nature colonises a new habitat

Also known as the Blue Caves, Maalhos Thila is a shallow pinnacle dive prized for its kaleidoscopic colours, while the Fesdu Wreck, once a 30m coastal fishing trawler, now forms a 30m-deep artificial reef awash with marine creatures. The island’s lush green interior is also home to a choice selection of resort restaurants too.

Bandos Beach

With a yacht set up for diving, all you need is a local guide and you can reach the really special dive sites beyond the reach of liveaboard dive boats
With a yacht set up for diving, all you need is a local guide and you can reach the really special dive sites beyond the reach of liveaboard dive boats

Step foot on Bandos Beach and let life’s stresses fall away. The private island may be one of the largest, but its beaches match its size with serenity and splendour. Housing one of the longest established dive centres in the Maldives, visitors are privy to a range of PADI certification courses and access to over 40 dive sites.

What better way to sign off your Maldives yacht experience than dining on the beach watching the sun set spectacularly behind you yacht
What better way to sign off your Maldives yacht experience than dining on the beach watching the sun set spectacularly behind you yacht

Spend the day at sea diving from the yacht’s aft deck before coming ashore to enjoy a starlit evening dinner with velvet white sands underfoot.

Lily Beach

Bikes are a great way to explore ashore in the Maldives
Bikes are a great way to explore ashore in the Maldives

Cycle along the jetty or swim alongside whale sharks, at Lily Beach on Huvahendhoo Island, escapism beckons. Considered one of the largest fish in the sea, whale sharks are often spotted in the South Ari Atoll, making Lily Beach and its surrounding waters prime destinations for wildlife enthusiasts.

The graceful giants glide along with deceptive ease as we paddle furiously just to keep up
The graceful giants glide along with deceptive ease as we paddle furiously just to keep up

Sightings are virtually guaranteed year-round, though peak time is from August to November.

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