If your idea of perfect family holidays is crystal-clear waters and fishing boats bringing in your lunch while your children play on pristine white sands, splash in shallow lagoons or make friends at one of the growing number of kids' clubs, these islands south-west of India are for you. Throw in a handful of the world’s best dive sites and most luxurious resorts, and the 1,190 islands stretching out into the Indian Ocean offer the perfect combination of sun, sand and sea.
Though they are not the place for budget holidays, the Maldives are becoming more popular as a family-holiday destination, with a string of child-friendly resorts helping dispel their reputation as a place for honeymooners. With some hotels exceeding five stars, just expect your wallet to take a pounding, especially if your kids develop a taste for spa treatments such as the Super Sundae Supremo body scrub offered by the Conrad Rangali or for the mock champagne served up at the Constance Halaveli…
Things to do with kids in the Maldives
Dive in. If your kids have ever shown any interest in diving or snorkelling, this is the place to do it – the shallow lagoons make it very safe. The atoll formations that make the Maldives so spectacularly beautiful also make them a wonderful destination for scuba divers, attracted by the tropical fish that gather around the coral. The Indian Ocean surrounding the Maldives offers spectacular visibility for divers, sometimes exceeding 50m. All island-resorts have professional dive schools, and some even boast their own house reefs just a short swim from the beach.
For those not quite ready to take the plunge, glass-bottomed boats offer the perfect way for families with smaller children to get up-close and personal with spectacular marine life. For something a little more Jules Verne, Whale Submarine, the world’s largest passenger submarine, dives to an impressive 36m below the surface. Trips depart from Malé and can be booked at your resort.
Fishing and whale-watching trips are also easily organised from resorts, with the Maldives one of the top five places in the world to see dolphins and whales, including blue, sperm and pilot whales.
Take to the waves – the Maldives are also fast-becoming an established surfing destination. The Eastern Reef of North Malé Atoll is a good beginners' spot, while the Maldives Tourist Board (visitmaldives.com) lists sites for more experienced surfers.
Experience life outside the resorts during family holidays here, with a shopping trip to the capital Malé or a visit to the town of Seenu on Addu Atoll, from where you can visit traditional Maldivian island communities.
Most resorts boast top international chefs who cook up wonderful global fare, with Western, Indian and South-east Asian dishes topping the bill, many based on the fabulous fresh local seafood. The growing number of family-friendly resorts usually have dedicated kids' menus, making family holidays a breeze where eating is concerned.
When to go to the Maldives
The Maldives’ tropical climate means warm temperatures year-round, with an annual daily average of 30°C and an average water temperature of a delicious 28-30°C.
The peak season is Dec-Apr, making the islands the perfect spot for Christmas family holidays. The south-west monsoon from May to September brings the wet season, with May and October recording the highest monthly rainfall. Rough seas and strong winds are common during this period.
In the Maldives, the only limitation on luxury is the size of your wallet – packages start at £1200pp for 7 nights but can exceed £6,000 at the most exclusive resorts. If you're watching your budget, go in March or April, towards the end of the busiest season. All-inclusive options are another useful if restrictive way to cut the cost on family holidays.
The Maldivian currency is the rufiyaa and laaree, with US dollars the most commonly used foreign currency. Tipping is not expected, but tipping once a week is acceptable for hotel staff.
Flying time12hrs All flight times are based on flights from UK London airports, to the capital or nearest destination airport.
Carbon footprint9.75 CO2 Estimated tonnes of CO2 produced for return flights for a family of four.
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