A family holiday in the Maldives: It might be the smallest country in Asia and the lowest country in the world, but the Maldives certainly makes up for this with its white sandy beaches, warm waters and even warmer smiles from the locals.
It’s a remote country, so the Maldivian people understand that you’ve travelled far to visit their beautiful islands. This is immediately apparent upon arrival as fresh coconut drinks are offered, shoes removed and news of the busy life you’ve left behind is soon forgotten.
A family holiday in the Maldives: Soneva Fushi
Our first island experience was Soneva Fushi located in the Baa Atoll. We arrived at a tiny floating jetty (Soneva’s airport!) by the professionally run Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane which we’d transferred onto at Malé (where the main international airport is located on its own island called Hulhule’).
The seaplane was a thrilling adventure for the whole family! A highlight of our family holiday in the Maldives.
Soneva Fushi is on a relatively big island and has access to a sandbank not far from it for remote picnics and sundowner evenings. The food on this island is phenomenal! I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find better cuisine in the Maldives. From an ‘Asian Street Market’ vibe to a ‘Fresh from the Garden’ dining experience, it’s all mouth-wateringly delicious and memorable. There’s a strong Indian and Sri Lankan influence in the food with plenty to choose from at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with an all-day chocolate lovers’ walk-in fridge on offer too).
For our family, the food was the highlight of this island experience.
We also loved snorkelling and SUP’ng in and on very clear Indian Ocean water with a magnificent array of colourful fish swimming around us. Our girls overcame their fear of Blacktip Reef Sharks and after three days of acclimatising, they were swimming with them.
The Den (Kid’s Club) also kept the girls busy on one of the days with ‘kids spa treatments’ including hair braids, henna tattoos and nail painting. Another highlight for the whole family was gazing at the stars in the Observatory with the resident astronomer. There’s something for everyone on this island!
We also loved getting around by bicycle. We explored winding paths covered in jungle-like vegetation with friendly bunnies and curious lizards around every corner! By the end of each day, our bicycles seemed to take us on auto-pilot to our favourite sunset spot, Out of the Blue – another fabulous restaurant option and the perfect place to watch the sunset on another gorgeous day.
A family holiday in the Maldives: Gili Lankanfushi
Our second and final island experience in the Maldives was Gili Lankanfushi which we arrived at by boat after connecting through Malé again. This small island is in the North Malé Atoll.
Our Ms Friday’s name was Shazu and she was amazing, seeing to our every need from start to finish. The staff at this property absolutely made our stay! They interact with guests in a meaningful and memorable way. The connections we made with everyone from the entertaining Head Indian Chef to the magical Spa Therapist will never be forgotten.
Unlike Soneva Fushi where the villas are on land in a jungle environment, Gili Lankanfushi offers only ‘over the sea’ villas and our spacious villa had a glass section in the floor which allowed for us to view fascinating fish swimming under our ‘home away from home’! We seemed to have a rather large, resident Needle Fish which kept a beady eye on us (or rather us on him!).
Every little detail of our family holiday in the Maldives was catered for at this magnificent property from fresh fruit in the room to little hand towels attached to the handlebars of our bamboo made bicycle! We simply loved this experience.
We kayaked and snorkelled from One Palm Island – a stone’s throw away from the main island and once again saw captivating sea life. We thoroughly enjoyed our massages booked in the Meera Spa as well as the short and sweet complimentary shoulder massages offered around the breakfast area every morning.
Another highlight for our family was the sushi-making course with the Head Japanese Chef in By the Sea, their fine dining Japanese restaurant. The girls loved this and were very proud of their culinary creations which incorporated local, delicious reef fish. Even though there is no kids club on this island, we treasured how the attentive staff understood our family and tailor-made activities to educate and entertain our girls.
Having Gili Lankanfushi as our final stop meant an easy transfer back to Malé.
The logistics of travelling around a multiple island country can be interesting, so finishing off with a property near to Malé is less stressful.
Gili Lankanfushi allowed us to stay on the island with all its amenities until 9pm before our quick 15-minute boat transfer to the airport, just in time for our late midnight flight home. Small conveniences such as this make all the difference when travelling long haul.
With its 1190 coral islands stretching over 800km from North to South, the Maldives is such a unique country and one we will never forget. The warm weather, aqua blue water and happy nature of the Maldivian people will last a lifetime…
By Bridget Gardiner, travelling with husband Murray Gardiner and two girls, Caitlin (12 years) and Jessica (8 years)