A popular honeymoon destination, the Maldives is famed for its high-end hotels with impeccable service and swanky facilities. North Ari Atoll is no exception, with 13 stunning, self-contained Maldives resort islands to choose from. Accessible by boats and seaplanes, these luxury hotels tend to offer Maldives All Inclusive perks and have a real away-from-it-all feel, each with its own stretch of pristine beach and spectacular sea views.
The Maldives’ trademark hotels – stilted, thatch-roofed villas positioned in spiralling rings across the lagoons – can be found on islands like Veligandu. These traditional yet sleek bungalows offer guests a first-class experience, with stand-out features such as outdoor bathrooms with rainfall showers, four-poster beds and private balconies with hot tubs. Fine-dining restaurants and tranquil spas are also mandatory, as well as recreational facilities such as tennis courts, fitness centres and watersports.
World-class diving sites
Out of all the atolls, North Ari Atoll is best known for its excellent diving. Most of the resorts have ‘house reef’ diving, which can be accessed from the shore, or if you fancy tackling the more challenging spots, you’ll have no problem finding boat trips to transport you further out to sea. Although diving is possible all year round, December to May is when the water is at its calmest and visibility at its best.
One of the most sought-after diving sites in the Maldives is Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo. Here, you can swim alongside reef fish, turtles and stingrays and there’s even a small shipwreck. Maaya is also popular with divers thanks to its mysterious underwater island and abundance of sea creatures, including barracuda, whitetip sharks and eels.
Day-trips and activities
With 50 deserted islands and 18 inhabited islands, there’s plenty of opportunity for daytime adventures and excursions in North Ari Atoll. The capital of the Maldives, Malé, can be reached by boat in under an hour. Unlike most of the islands, that are hotel-based resorts, Malé is a vibrant city filled with colourful buildings, markets and mosques.
Another popular day trip is the island of Rasdhoo, where you can easily spend a few hours browsing the souvenir shops filled with tropical paintings, clothes and ornaments carved from wood.
As well as boat excursions, there’s the chance to see the atoll’s sights from the air. Take your camera and hop on board a seaplane for a unique bird’s eye view of the sweeping white sands and mangrove-fringed islands. Looking down at the traditional villages and luxury resorts with their arcs of water villas make for a truly unforgettable experience.
Night times in the Maldives are usually a relaxed affair, where sunset strolls and candle-lit meals are how the majority of visitors choose to spend their evenings. Most of the resorts offer a variety of restaurants with outdoor terraces where you can enjoy dinner with a view. Seafood is the staple island dish, and a number of hotels offer night-time boat trips where you can cook and eat your own catch.
For after-dinner drinks, each of the islands has a selection of hotel bars and beach clubs where you can sip a refreshing cocktail while watching the sun set across the glittering ocean. Some of the larger resorts also host weekly entertainment such as live music and folklore shows in the evenings.