The Maldives islands are a dreamy spot for a tropical vacation. So what are the best islands in the Maldives and which one is just right for your trip?
It’s easy to make the distinction when you’re looking at a list of the top-rated islands in the Maldives and what each one is known for.
Check out a list of the best Maldives islands and see what each one has to offer below!
Why You Should Visit the Maldives
The Maldives are a chain of more than 1,000 islands in the Indian Ocean, famous for their white sand beaches and clear, blue water with thriving coral reefs just off the coasts.
Visiting the Maldives is a dream for travelers who love tropical destinations. It’s warm year-round, filled with absolutely stunning scenery, and bursting with colorful wildlife and marine life.
But why should you visit Maldives instead of another island nation, like Seychelles?
When you visit the Maldives, you’ll be able to enjoy world-class snorkeling and diving off the shores on coral reefs that attract marine life large and small.
Schools of colorful fish, stingrays and manta rays, sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and more will delight you underwater when you don your gear and dive in.
The Maldives offer a range of experiences for different types of travelers, too. If you want a secluded, remote stay where it feels like you’re on a private island, you can find that here.
If you want a traditional tourist-style vacation with tons of hotel and resort options, lots of restaurants, and various shops to visit, the larger and more developed islands are perfect for you.
The Maldivian culture is fascinating and steeped in history. Watch traditional Maldivian dances like the Bodu Beru during evening performances and see mosques that highlight the country’s devout Islamic roots.
Getting to the Maldives can be a little more challenging than visiting a domestic beach, but the rewards are worth it and it’s a trip you’ll never forget.
The 12 Best Islands in the Maldives
When it comes to visiting the Maldives, there are so many islands to choose from that it’s hard to settle on the right destination.
Take a look at our list of the best islands in the Maldives to make your choice easier and get to know some of the most amazing islands here!
1. Rasdhoo, Maldives
Rasdhoo is a beautiful island in the Maldives that’s popular with tourists for its offshore coral reef and snorkeling, but on the smaller side (about 1600 x 2000 feet).
The beach is less than 350 feet in length and can get packed in the peak months from January to April. Come during the low season or shoulder season from May-August for a less crowded experience.
Known for black and white tip reef sharks, sea turtles, and eagle rays, snorkeling and diving here is excellent around the local coral reef.
A series of uninhabited islands and sandbars are located just off the coast of Rasdhoo and are favorite spots to spend a few hours exploring, diving, and snorkeling while you’re here.
2. Ukulhas, Maldives
Ukulhas is an excellent island to visit in the Maldives if you want a little seclusion with the amenities of attractions and local shops.
This island is on the larger side and home to a hospital, school, 4-5 shops, and 8 restaurants. It’s a great spot for a relaxing getaway that doesn’t feel too remote.
Fishing, diving the coral reef just off the coast, and snorkeling are great activities on the island. You’ll be able to spot sea turtles, 6-foot manta rays, schools of fish, and even sharks.
There are a few hotels and resorts on the island, with none being more than about 320 feet from the pristine beach on the western side. That makes it a great island for families to visit!
3. Dhigurah, Maldives
As one of the largest islands in the Maldives, Dhigurah is home to a popular private resort – Siyam World Maldives.
It’s great luxury choice when you’ve got some extra room in your budget and want a stunning, 5-star trip. There are 10 restaurants and 7 bars onsite ranging from Japanese and Indian food to buffets.
With 18 categories of accommodations, there are options from 89 square feet all the way up to sprawling 3,000 square foot beach houses available on the island.
The Indian Ocean’s largest floating water park, Siyam Water World, is a favorite amenity for families and 2.5 miles of white sand beaches make it truly amazing to visit.
4. Fonimagoodhoo, Maldives
Fonimagoodhoo Island is one of the Maldives’ best islands for diving and snorkeling. It’s small and feels remote, but it’s only 35 minutes from Male, Maldive’s capital.
Reethi Beach Resort is on the island and makes your nature-focused stay memorable and comfortable. Choose from water villas situated directly over coral reefs or bungalows on land with incredible views.
There are 5 restaurants, 5 bars, a spa and wellness center, mini golf course, volleyball court, and gorgeously lush gardens on the island to enjoy during your stay.
Fonimagoodhoo Island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and that’s a testament to just how prolific the diving and snorkeling opportunities are here – it’s a must-see atoll in the Maldives!
5. Maafushi, Maldives
Maafushi is a very popular Maldives island that attracts a lot of tourists each year due to its white sand beaches, coral reefs, and established infrastructure with lots of hotels and resorts.
With so many options for accommodations here, it can be very affordable to visit, though there are pricey luxury resorts here, too.
Taking excursions to nearby uninhabited islands, coral reefs, and sandbars is relatively cheap. You’ll be able to pay to visit nearby resorts and take advantage of their amenities if you choose cheaper accommodations.
Be aware that there are lots of tourists on Maafushi, so the beaches can get crowded during the peak season from January to April. Come outside of the high season for the best experience!
6. Thoddoo, Maldives
Thoddoo is one of the larger Maldives islands and offers 2 excellent beaches for travelers to enjoy on opposite sides of the island with ample opportunities for snorkeling and diving.
While it’s bigger than some of the islands in the Maldives, it’s still quite small and won’t feel as crowded as more popular locations.
There are a few hotels and resorts here to choose from, unlike some of the smaller islands. This is an island for taking it slow and easy and couples really love it.
Most hotels and resorts offer free bikes to get around the island, and cycling is a popular activity here. Snorkel or dive off the coast to see giant manta rays and schools of colorful fish.
Part of the island is farmland, so taking a farm tour is a fun way to spend a day of your trip. You may be able to pick your own papaya, coconuts, bananas, or watermelon here!
7. Kihaadhuffaru, Maldives
Coconut-shaped Kihaadhuffaru Island is a dreamy tropical paradise complete with thatch-roof bungalows, water villas, and offshore islands to visit.
Just a 20-minute plane ride from Male, this island is home to a private white sand beach complete with a pier to fish or launch your snorkeling adventure from.
The resort on the island, Kihaa Maldives, is very nice and features 100 rooms, a swimming pool, restaurants, 2 bars, spa and wellness center, and volleyball courts.
Diving and snorkeling around the coral reef is a favorite activity for guests who want to get in touch with nature here. They offer private, romantic dinners on the beach that are great for couples!
8. Omadhoo, Maldives
Omadhoo is one of the more underrated islands in the Maldives, making it a great secluded location to visit if you want to avoid the big crowds.
The seclusion doesn’t mean you’ll have to deal with unmaintained beaches or expensive transfers – this island has a pristine white sand beach and relatively cheap accommodations and transfers.
There’s a long coral reef just off the coast that’s home to amazing marine life like sea turtles, colorful fish, stingrays and manta rays, and sharks.
There’s a nearby uninhabited island that you can arrange to camp on, complete with a private dinner on a boat! Since it’s less developed, you won’t find a lot of restaurants or shops here – not necessarily a disadvantage.
9. Dhangethi, Maldives
Dhangethi is a water sport haven in the Maldives with lots of popular diving spots just off its shores. It’s well-developed and popular with tourists.
This means you’ll find a range of great local restaurants and shops on the island if you want to spend time away from the beach or out of the water.
The beach on Dhangethi is small, but equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas to make your beach days as comfortable and pleasant as possible.
Whale sharks are often spotted off the coast here and are fun to watch for. If you want a taste of a tropical paradise with some amenities of a more developed location, Dhangethi is perfect.
10. Feridhoo, Maldives
Feridhoo is a remote island in the Maldives that appeals primarily to those seeking a calm, peaceful getaway or a secluded destination for a honeymoon.
Travelers will appreciate the thriving coral reef off the coast of Feridhoo, which is bursting with life and color and absolutely prime for snorkeling and diving around.
The white sand beach here is another advantage to visiting Feridhoo, since it’s large and spans much of the island. There are plenty of hotels and resorts on the island with affordable rates.
It’s also the birthplace of the Bodu Beru cultural dance, which you can see performed in the evenings by locals. You can get a taste of the “real” Maldives when you visit Feridhoo!
11. Mathiveri, Maldives
Mathiveri is tiny, but home to 3 nice beaches that are lined with lush tropical greenery that creates a stunning backdrop against the blue Indian Ocean.
One of the 3 beaches is dedicated to tourists and is maintained nicely. Stingray Beach is another option, but it’s earned its name and is better for watching sunsets than swimming.
There’s another local beach, but since the Maldives is an Islamic country, women can’t wear typical swimsuits on it. The tourist beach doesn’t have these rules.
The water here is shallow for a good distance, making it perfect for families with young children. Restaurants are limited, but you’ll benefit with fewer tourists on the island and a more private feel.
12. Thinadhoo, Maldives
Thinadhoo is a family-friendly island and is also popular for honeymoons. Travelers flock to Thinadhoo for the world-class diving, snorkeling, and deep sea fishing.
There are healthy coral reefs off the coast that reward divers and snorkelers with amazing opportunities to spot colorful marine life in their natural habitat.
The long, white sand beach is great for lounging in the sun when you’re ready to head out of the water for a bit. Catch tasty fish and seafood and cook it yourself for a wild-caught dinner!
Dining and shopping options are mostly limited to the hotels and resorts on the island. Still, for a secluded location with amazing water sports options, Thinadhoo is incredible.
Things to Consider
What else should you keep in mind to make the most of your visit to one of the best islands in the Maldives? Here are a few pointers to help you on your way.
- Pay attention to local customs and rules. As an Islamic country, the Maldives abide by customs and rules that follow Islamic tenants. For example, women can’t wear regular swimsuits on beaches unless they’re labeled a tourist or bikini beach. Always look for signage dictating local rules to avoid issues.
- The more remote, the more the cost. In general, the more remote Maldives islands that are home to luxury resorts are going to be much more expensive – not just to stay, but also for transfers, meals, and excursions. Look for the more popular islands to find more budget-friendly options.
- Always island hop. With more than 1,000 small islands making up the Maldives as a whole, you’ll always find yourself near other islands – inhabited or not! Ferries and boat rides can take you to nearby islands, while seaplane and domestic plane transfers can bring you to islands further out. It’s a great way to expand your Maldives experience.
- Go snorkeling or diving. One of the main reasons people love visiting the Maldives is the excellent snorkeling and diving off the islands’ coasts. You’ll find coral reefs (some are healthier than others, so do your research before you visit) and giant schools of fish, sharks, dolphins, turtles, and rays around most Maldivian islands.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about visiting the best islands in the Maldives by taking a look at the most frequently asked questions on the topic below!
Which is the best island to stay in Maldives?
While there are tons of beautiful islands in the Maldives, Rasdhoo is one of the best.
With great diving and snorkeling right off its coast and lots of sandbars and uninhabited islands nearby to explore, there's much to do in Rasdhoo.
It's very popular for tourists, so coming during the wet season from May to October can make it less crowded and a little cheaper.
Which island has the best beach in Maldives?
The tourist beach, or bikini beach, on Maafushi Island in the Maldives is one of the best beaches in the entire island chain.
The beach is long with soft, white sand, limited sharp dead coral, and plenty of sun loungers with umbrellas for lazy beach days.
Since the Maldives is an Islamic country, tourist "bikini beaches" like the one on Maafushi are the only areas where women can wear typical swimwear without covering up.
Which side is best to stay in Maldives?
The Baa Atoll on the western side of the Maldives is one of the best areas to stay in the Maldives islands.
This atoll is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and offers incredible snorkeling and diving opportunities with pristine, white sand beaches to enjoy.
Which island has clearest water in Maldives?
All the islands in the Maldives boast beautifully clear, blue water thanks to the arrangement of the islands and coral reefs around them.
The reefs form a buffer that calms waves as they reach the shore, reducing the amount of sediment stirred up and preventing algae blooms from reducing water clarity.
How many days in the Maldives is enough?
You'll want to plan to stay in the Maldives for at least 5 days if you plan to island hop or do a lot of exploring on land or in the water.
For relaxed beach trips where you'll spend your time by the pool or on the shore, you may be able to enjoy a 3-4 day trip just as much.
So, What Are the Best Islands in the Maldives?
From bustling tourist favorites to secluded, remote islands that lend a romantic and serene feel, the best islands in the Maldives are as diverse and varied as they are beautiful.
From Rasdhoo to Thinadhoo, we’ve highlighted the 12 best islands in the Maldives for all types of travelers and trips.
Before you start planning your trip, think about the activities you plan to do, how developed you want the island to be, and how much you’re willing to spend to narrow your options down.
The beautiful thing about visiting the Maldives is that it can be as affordable or luxe as you want, with options to laze on the beach or take advantage of every adventure possible!