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This Maldives Resort Is Family-Friendly (But Welcomes Honeymooners Too)

The Maldives needs no introduction; renowned for overwater villas that make honeymooners swoon and Tiffany-blue waters that glitter under the Indian Ocean sun.

But there’s more to this island nation than romantic escapes and Dhigali is a prime example of why the Maldives isn’t just for lovebirds.

Every bit a five-star getaway, Dhigali has an untamed beauty that lends itself to mystery and adventure. It’s for those wanting to feel cast away on a desert island, but with first-class amenities at their fingertips. Located on the remote Raa Atoll, a 45-minute seaplane whisks you away from the Maldivian capital, Malé, to a place where very little encroaches on the horizon – a local islet aside.

The Vibe

An Instagrammable “Dhigali” sign extends a warm welcome as you step off the plane, signalling it’s time to kick off your shoes – you won’t need them at this laid-back resort where making guests feel at home is priority. The hotel is a breath of fresh air compared to many cookie-cutter options in the Maldives: sleek white cubic villas rise from the shimmering lagoon (rather than thatched-roof bungalows) and local culture is woven throughout the property, through art, cuisine, the spa menu and daily activities. 

The dense, rugged jungle at the island’s heart thrums with wildlife while its perimeter offers plenty of secret spots to while time away with a good book – waves licking your toes. Ringed by a house reef, Dhigali is becoming known for its unparalleled diving and snorkelling, adding to its allure.

The Rooms

Our favourite suites offer direct beach access through French doors, with private sun loungers and panoramic ocean vistas. But if only an overwater villa will do, Dhigali doesn’t disappoint with rooms where shoals of fish flutter past your balcony and the occasional reef shark or ray makes a cameo.

Inside, bleached-white walls meet soft linen and teak furnishings in a soothing palette, while mammoth slate-grey bathrooms play host to egg-shaped bath tubs and outdoor showers.

The Food + Drink

Choose between eight restaurants and bars offering everything from fine-dining to international buffets, plus a café serving superb coffee and ice-cream, a poolside snack bar and a pizzeria.

Battuta, a torchlit restaurant hidden in the jungle, stands out, serving Asian-Middle Eastern fare spanning thalis, tagines and curries – don’t miss the chicken mussamma or kandu kukulhu, a traditional Maldivian-style tuna curry. Tuna is a staple here and fresh sashimi is available morning to night. The star of the show, however, is Haali, a thatched-roof bar, shaped like a fin. With rope swings, hammocks and Fat Boy bean bags, it’s an unbeatable spot for sunset cocktails as the sun melts into the horizon. 

The Spa

Tucked away in the vine-strung jungle, the on-site spa is a veritable sanctuary where the fresh, herbal scent of lemongrass clings to the air and robed guests drift about in a state of tranquillity. Choose from an array of therapeutic treatments including massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps – the massages here rank among the best we’ve experienced. Outside, the spa gardens and daybeds await, offering the perfect place to languish post-treatment. A reflexology rock garden invites the brave to walk barefoot over increasingly sharp stones – a unique touch.

Within 12 minimalist yet inviting treatment rooms, indigenous healing traditions meld seamlessly with modern wellness techniques. Prolong your visit in the steam room or softly-lit relaxation lounge before emerging anew. 

The Little Extras

Immaculate, linen-clad staff take care to get to know each and every guest. Having admired the impressive towel animal on the bed, the following day we returned to find three intricately formed creatures waiting for us, complete with floral decorations. Another nice touch in the room is the minibar which is stocked with full-sized – complimentary and replenished daily – bottles of wine. 

The resort goes the extra mile to create memorable experiences such as magical soirées on the beach, where the drinks flow, Maldivian snacks are passed around and guests gather among flares and bonfires to watch traditional entertainment featuring locals from the neighbouring islands singing and dancing under the stars. 

The pinnacle of five-star service here, however, is a private picnic on a sandbank in the middle of the ocean. Staff keep a close eye on the tides and set up a veritable feast on the sand when the timing is perfect. Hardly a little extra, this simple yet extraordinary experience is perfect for those looking to push the boat out. 

The To-Do List

Watersports reign supreme here, with a dedicated centre and PADI-certified dive school on site. We loved the ‘try dive’ option for first-timers – you’ll train in the shallows then ease out to the reef, which is far less daunting than tumbling in backwards from a boat. The wall reef stuns with technicolor fish by the thousands, impressing even the most experienced divers.

Usual suspects such as paddleboarding, kayaking, parasailing and jet skiing are all on offer too, and your stay includes a dolphin or sunset cruise (expect zesty fruit cocktails and local canapés in the latter), while fishing trips, sandbank picnics and island hopping can also be arranged.

The well-equipped fitness centre is complemented by sunrise yoga, water aerobics, Zumba and more while, for families, the kids’ club and expansive pool keep little ones entertained. Adult fun includes a weekly pool party with a floating bar – it’s a much chicer take on the pool party than often witnessed in Vegas or Ibiza. For those seeking to take a taste of the Maldives home, cooking classes are also on offer.

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