Most vacationers visit the Maldives for the beaches since the island chain consists of 1,192 coral islands. Most of these islands host a resort or hotel, which offers a spa, water sports, and other sun and sand activities.
In the Maldives, despite the plethora of coastline, few sand beaches naturally occur. Many islands include a constructed beach of imported sand.
The majority of the island nation’s residents practice the religion of Islam. Because of this, most public beaches don’t allow bikinis or Speedo-type swimsuits. Only the resorts, which only open their beaches to their guests, allow swimwear.
The public beaches also expect proper behavior, which means no frolicking with your significant other on the beach. You can’t do things like holding hands or kissing on public beaches.
When vacationers try to plan budget trips to this island nation, they may not know this. This causes a letdown for them when they arrive expecting beach rules like those in the US or Europe. In this article, we’ll include both public beaches and resorts.
1. Hulhumale Beach
Most visitors to the archipelago of Maldives visit Hulhumale Beach, one of the country’s artificial beaches. Located south of the North Male Atoll, the beach consists of 188 hectares and lies adjacent to the city. A causeway connects this beach to the airport, so many travelers at least see it from their car when traveling to and from the airport.
Although some resorts do maintain a presence on this island, the beach at Hulhumale remains public. That means you can’t wear a swimsuit while there. Its beachfront road offers lovely views and an ideal walk along the shore. Many cafes line this road, too, so you can purchase coffees or teas and enjoy them as you walk the beachfront. The island’s Fruit & Vegetable Market on this road also offers delicious treats.
Located in Maldives’ capital city, Hulhumale Beach banks onto Male’s Central Park and the neighborhood around it includes some mosques. You can enjoy their architecture from the outside, but you cannot enter most of the mosques. Perhaps the best-known of the mosques, Hulhumale Mosque, also known as Masjid al-Sheikh Qasim bin Al-Thani, sits near Central Park. Many admire the building’s golden dome and white facade but to enter its prayer areas, you need to be an Islamic male.
The beach itself consists of white sand surrounded by clear waters. The shallows around the beach allow the vacationer to see directly into the ocean.
In the island’s center, the Hulhumale Island Central Park offers a serene greenspace with a garden. Its benches and lawns offer an ideal place for a picnic.
Watersports prove popular on this island, where you can find four dive shops. Here you can rent diving gear to enjoy snorkeling or deep-sea diving off the coast of Male, launching from Hulhumale Beach.
Hulhumale offers one of the best destinations in the Maldives for watching the sunset. The harbor provides the best view, but you can find a good viewing spot almost anywhere on the western side of the island.
2. Veligandu Island Beach
Located on the North Ari Atoll, Veligandu Island Resort & Spa is the oldest resort in the Maldives. Yet, it has only existed for about 40 years. In the 1980s, this country allowed the first resort to build here, and it remains one of the top locations in the archipelago for vacations.
The long, skinny island measures 600 meters in length with a total landmass of 8.9 hectares and offers a popular honeymoon spot for newlyweds worldwide. Because of its intended vacationers, this resort doesn’t allow guests under the age of 18 years of age.
The resort underwent a renovation in 2014, including repairs to its water bungalows, which sustained damage from the climate of the island including storms. Viewing the island from the ocean at night offers a unique view of Veligandu which features colored underwater lighting on its reef. This makes the resort seem to shimmer in the evenings.
Most of the beach area of the island lies on its southern end, which features a large sandbank. The resort locates a panoramic outdoor swimming pool here with sunbeds and umbrellas. A Thundi beach bar offers food and drinks right on the beach.
Snorkeling from this location offers an idyllic view of the reef and its exotic inhabitants. You may spot manta rays and turtles traveling through a small opening in the reef to enter the lagoon. If a heron approaches you on the beach, don’t feed the birds but do enjoy the view.
The south side of the island hosts beach dance parties at night and these discos can go late. Other events at the resort include Maldivian traditional parties.
To find a quieter beach experience, try the island’s north beach. It still offers all of the amenities, and you can stay on this side of the island since it also features water bungalows.
This side of the island includes wooden pieces, which offer a comfortable way to observe the underwater goings on. The resort allows the guests to feed the fish from these pierces. Typically, the fish eat breadcrumbs.
On this beach, Athiri Bar offers an ocean view with food and drink. The bar features a terrace from which you can descend ladders directly into the ocean water. Since the northern end of the island faces the center of an atoll, it experiences no wind, plus calm seas. The northern side of the island features the resort’s Jacuzzi Beach Villa, each with its own beach.
Travel to this small island’s western side to start your scuba adventure. The western bay offers the island’s diving center and sports equipment rental. It provides the launch point for most scuba excursions.
To the east, the island opens its shores to the ocean. This location offers views of dolphins swimming and reef sharks. You can also view stingrays, tortoises, and moray eels. The powerful streams near the reef make this a spot only for experienced scuba divers.
This side of the island offers both luxury villas and more reasonably priced bungalows about 100 meters from the shore. These nestle in the mangrove and palm tree groves.
Travel from Male Airport to there takes fifteen minutes by hydroplane.
3. Bikini Beach, Rasdhoo
In the Maldives, the public beach rules remain so strict that when a public beach allows bathing suits, it earns the nickname of a bikini beach. The beach on Rasdhoo actually carries the name Bikini Beach though. This can seem confusing when you visit the archipelago.
Bikini Beach does allow bathing suits and modest public displays of affection, such as walking hand-in-hand on the beach. Because of its public nature, it doesn’t belong to any resort and those who partake of its beauty typically stay at one of two nearby hotels – the Rasreef Maldives or Rasdhoo Island Inn.
Described as “breathtakingly beautiful” this beach near the airport, offers the largest beach in the Maldives with gorgeous coral reefs. The beach banks onto streets full of cafes, shops, and guesthouses.
The views at nearby Gunbaru Beach offer reasons to visit it but wear clothes that cover your swimsuits because it doesn’t allow such attire. Lemon Drop, a café near the beach, offers tasty and reasonably priced food that the locals swear by.
The shallow waters offer wading, swimming, snorkeling, and easy views of the coral reefs. To reach this beach, you’ll need to take a speedboat ferry from the airport. The trip takes about an hour.
4. Artificial Beach
It may sound silly to make a beach in an archipelago, but the Maldives did it. Talk about truth in advertising, the locals named their artificial beach, Artificial Beach.
Located on Male, this crescent-shaped beach offers swimming and spectacular views of the China Maldives Friendship Bridge.
Artificial Beach offers recreation as its key point, including a futsal turf pitch and volleyball court. Lounging areas and picnic areas also abound on this beach.
The capital city of Male holds many carnivals, parades, and live music events at this beach. Considered a foodie haven, many cafes line the street running along the coast, offering a diverse selection of cuisines, including local barbeque. Shopping in this area also proves popular and many local shops abound in the retail area of the neighborhood near the beach.
The country salvaged the area on its eastern shore of Male Island. The sea continually eroded the shoreline on the eastern seafront, but reclamation efforts created a manmade beach from sand and rock reclaimed from the sea.
5. Rasfannu Beach
Check out Rafannu Beach for water sports. The local government dedicated it as a “water sports zone” so this beach at the western end of Male City offers a coastal area where you’ll experience no conflicts between individuals for beach use. Everyone who visits Rasfannu does so for the same reason.
The Male City city council established the area to encourage sports in its city and installed anchoring buoys to demarcate it as a safe zone. This makes it an open water swimming zone.
The city’s wards once held competitions pitting teams against one another and the city council plans to bring that back, so vacationers to the islands could see local sporting events at this beach. The most recent of these events the city held in 2021 was the Bar 2000 Faramantha Challenge 2021. This “aquatic multi-sport challenge” featured competitions in surfer, open-water swimming, and bodybuilding.
6. Thoondu Beach
The only beach break in Maldives, Thoondu Beach, located on the north end of the island moves from the east to the west depending on the season. During the movement of sand, a natural swimming pool sometimes forms, separating the ocean waves from the main shore. The sandy depression fills with seawater, forming a natural shallow pool called a Bissaaveli.
The tidal pull on Thoondu Beach offers what locals call the “washing machine effect,” a feeling that those who frequent South Carolina barrier islands such as Edisto will find familiar. Standing in the water on the shore as the wave hits, you feel as if the ocean floor moves beneath you although you’re left standing in the same spot once the wave recedes.
Those wanting to learn to surf can find an ideal beach for starting out on Thoondu. It offers surf points with ideal waves for beginners. The best months for these waves, June and August, offer southwest monsoon weather, which creates the perfect surf. These waves also provide the perfect skimboarding setting.
Always wear flip-flops or water shoes on this beach which features pebbles instead of shells. These shiny, smooth pebbles only abound on this beach, Fuvahmulah Thoondu.
Why visit the Maldives?
This archipelago offers numerous exclusive resorts designed for romantic vacations, such as honeymoons. Many of the resorts limit clientele to those 18 years old and older, so vacationers consist of singles and couples only. Adults get to vacation without children.
This island nation offers some of the nicest weather imaginable. The best time to visit the Maldives is from November to April when the islands experience a dry spell, which allows the sea to become transparent. During these months, the islands experience 12 hours of sunlight daily.
If marine life interests you, October and November offer an undersea show of plankton that glow in the sea. Locals collect the plankton during these two months. Stingrays also visit the island’s waters during this time, frolicking among the dolphins.