Island Hopping in the Maldivesby Sarah Royall of Salty Luxe
As full-time travellers, my partner Chesh and I are always searching for new experiences and epic destinations to discover, still, the Maldives is a place we keep coming back to. The natural beauty, tropical weather and abundance of islands makes it one of our top places in the world to escape to from our Byron Bay home base. Being so dispersed and isolated is what makes the Maldives the perfect spot for peace of mind. Here’s a recap of our favorite Kiwi Collection stays from a recent visit.
A Sustainable Start at Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu has the perfect formula of healthy food and environmentally friendly luxury. The buildings are all constructed of natural timbers. All the touches are earthy and organic, with everything done so beautifully, from the outdoor showers to the overwater restaurants. Set amongst the trees, Leaf overlooks the garden where all the fresh produce is grown. The a la carte breakfast menu has the best fresh juices, smoothies and coffee options.
The island is in the southern Laamu Atoll, far from other resorts and so very pristine and untouched by tourism. This means there’s an abundance of amazing marine life. We got to snorkel the house reef and swim with turtles before heading out to the tall cylindrical pinnacle reefs just off the island. We also squeezed in a house dive. Eagle rays, lion fish and a Moray eel were just a few of the encounters we had just off the shore.
With all this untouched magic, Six Senses has made a massive effort to look after it all. Sustainability is a part of everything that happens here and I was so happy to learn more. Working with local communities, the team helps improve plastic consumption, protect significant parts of the atoll, contribute to jobs and school education, carry out important marine research and sea grass protection for turtles, and incentivizes sustainable fishing. So inspiring!
One of our favorite memories from our stay was being dropped at a sandbar just in sight of the island. We were left here, just us two, an umbrella and a water cooler, for two hours to enjoy the perfect white sand and surrounding crystal clear water. Then, coming home to catch the sun set over the palms of a neighboring island. What a way to spend a day.
Surfing is one of Six Senses’ main attractions and one of many reasons we visited. The island is so well set up for it thanks to TropicSurf, who can take you for beginner lessons straight off the beach or out to more advanced reef breaks like the right hander Yin-Yang. Another trip highlight was surfing a reef just off the island together. With a backdrop of the water villas and palms on the shore, Chesh and I both caught fun waves while turtles swam underneath us.
Mini but Mighty Mirihi Island Resort
I’ve had my eye on this gem for years now, so I was thrilled to finally visit. On an island only 50 meters wide and 350 meters long, making it one of the smallest in the Maldives, Mirihi Island Resort has an intimate feel. The atmosphere is very authentic, with natural elements—perfect palms, lapping waves, quiet beaches—doing all the talking. The concept here isn’t to dazzle with gimmicks, rather to simply put everything into the things that matter. The serenity and raw elements are the heroes.
We loved the food—they had the best buffet we enjoyed on our trip. Every day included amazing salads, fresh seafood and plenty of Maldivian dishes. Come sunset time, our fave place to hang was this perfect little hammock spot among the beach palms.
There is also plenty to do here. Mirihi is well known for its diving—around 50 percent of the guests were divers when we visited. We opted to head out on a whale shark excursion and at Mirihi it’s done in style via a big, beautiful sailboat. Even though we didn’t luck out on a shark spotting, we had the best day cruising around the islands and swimming with a pod of dolphins.
Meeting Mantas at Constance Halaveli
The clear highlight at Constance Halaveli was swimming with manta rays—it’s one of the most deeply memorable experiences of our time in the Maldives. Floating away from our group, we had two massive mantas doing laps around us. It was so surreal to see these majestic creatures unaffected by our presence. But what really stood out was how the Constance team cared so much for the well-being of these animals and provided a very conscious and unobtrusive interaction—it made the whole experience extra special.
Our favorite part of the island was the beach near the Jahaz Bar. With the bright blue lagoon waters, curved white sand beach, perfect palm trees and hanging chair, it’s such a beautiful part of the island to enjoy. Our overwater villa had views of this beach too, and watching the sun rise over it from our deck was unbelievable.
The memorable moments continued with our sunset dhoni cruise followed by dinner at the Asian-inspired overwater restaurant. We watched sharks and fish swimming beneath us in the night lights as we ate. We also won’t forget the floating breakfast we feasted on in our private villa pool at sunrise.
All Wishes Granted at Vakkaru
Meaning “coconut timber,” Vakkaru Maldives is a newer property built on a former coconut plantation, and its abundance of coco palms made it heavenly for me. At this pristine retreat, the villas and facilities are all so fresh, but there’s still a warm, relaxing vibe. For me, that vibe comes down to the people here. No request is too difficult to satisfy. These details allow you completely unwind and take in everything the island has to offer.
For relaxation, the spa is a must. We tried a couples’ massage as well as an Ayurvedic massage—complete with an expert consult beforehand—but we also loved the complimentary space. We chose to relax in the pool post-treatment. There’s also Kundalini yoga under the stars. We had a private session and, although a little out of our comfort zone at first, we felt so relaxed and healed afterwards.
Next, we indulged in the romance of a private beach dinner—an intimate meal illuminated by torchlights enjoyed while watching the bold, changing colors of the sky. Then we moved to our own private cinema with a screen set up on the beach, including the movie of our choice and popcorn—this was such a highlight for us. Our visit also lined up with Valentine’s Day and we were treated to floating champagne in our villa pool.
Of course, there’s plenty of adventure on offer too. Our fave was the Jet Ski to a private sandbank. Just a guide, Chesh and I travelling out through clear turquoise water to reach our own tiny little island for a few glorious hours.
Capping Off with Clear Water at JOALI
A true bucket-list stay, Joali Maldives is simply beautiful. Thanks to the water movement around the island, the lagoon has some of the clearest water we’ve seen. The long sandbank stretching between the island and the water villas creates every shade of blue you could possibly imagine. We spent so much time in this lagoon, swimming, laying in the shallows and, later, watching sunsets with cocktails. It’s the first part of the resort you see upon arrival and it only gets better from here.
Soaring ceilings, stunning decor, a bar area, pool, indoor and outdoor shower, and cozy cabana are all trademark features of Joali villas. We are usually always outdoors in the sun and ocean, but at Joali we made an exception. We loved being in our ocean villa just as much as exploring beyond. It was the perfect spot for watching the sunset, laying in the overwater hammock with champagne and taking dips late into the evening.
The dining experiences demand a mention. Joali is centered around health and wellness, and the dining options are aligned with it. There are five restaurants to choose from, all a la carte. As a vegan who eats quite healthy, I loved the food choices. The overwater Japanese restaurant is so fresh and tasty, and while we were there eagle rays swam by.