Most tourists visit the Maldives for beaches, as the island chain consists of 1,192 coral islands. Most of these islands are home to a resort or hotel, which offers spa, water sports and other sun and sand activities.
In the Maldives, despite the abundance of coastline, few sandy beaches occur naturally. Many islands include a beach built of imported sand.
Most residents of the island nation practice the religion of Islam. Because of this, most public beaches don’t allow bikinis or Speedo-type swimwear. Only resorts, which only open their beaches to their guests, allow bathing suits.
Public beaches also expect proper behavior, which means not playing with your partner on the beach. You can’t do things like hold hands or kiss on public beaches.
When tourists try to plan budget trips to this island nation, they may not know it. This causes disappointment for them when they arrive expecting beach rules like those in the US or Europe. In this article, we will include public beaches and resorts.
1. Hulhumale Beach
Most visitors to the Maldives archipelago visit Hulhumale Beach, one of the country’s man-made beaches. Located to the south of the North Male Atoll, the beach comprises 188 hectares and is adjacent to the city. A walkway 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 maintain a presence on this island, Hulhumale beach remains public. That means you can’t wear a bathing suit while you’re there. Its seaside road offers lovely views and an ideal walk along the coast. Many cafes also line this road, so you can buy coffees or teas and enjoy them while walking along the waterfront. The island’s Fruit and Vegetable Market on this road also offers delicious treats.
Located in the capital of the Maldives, Hulhumale Beach leans against Male’s Central Park and the surrounding neighborhood includes a few mosques. You can enjoy its architecture from the outside, but you cannot enter most mosques. Perhaps the best known of the mosques, the Hulhumale Mosque, also known as the Masjid al-Sheikh Qasim bin Al-Thani, is located 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 man.
The beach itself consists of white sand surrounded by clear water. The shallow waters around the beach allow the tourist to directly see the ocean.
In the center of the island, Hulhumale Island Central Park offers a serene green area with a garden. Its benches and lawns provide an ideal spot for a picnic.
Water sports are popular on this island, where you can find four dive shops. Here you can rent scuba gear for snorkeling or deep-sea diving off the coast of Male, departing from Hulhumale beach.
Hulhumale offers one of the best destinations in the Maldives to watch the sunset. The harbor offers the best view, but you can find a good vantage point almost anywhere on the west side of the island.
2. Veligandu Island Beach
Located in Ari Norte Atoll, Veligandu Island Resort & Spa it is the oldest resort in the Maldives. However, it has only been around for about 40 years. In the 1980s, this country allowed the construction of the first resort, and it remains one of the archipelago’s main vacation spots.
The long, narrow island measures 600 meters in length with a total area of 8.9 hectares and offers a popular honeymoon spot for honeymooners across the world. Because of its intended tourists, this resort does not allow guests under the age of 18.
The resort underwent a renovation in 2014, including repairs to its water bungalows, which suffered damage from the island’s weather, including storm surges. Seeing the island from the ocean at night offers a unique view of Veligandu, which features colorful underwater lighting on its reef. This makes the resort seem to glow at night.
Most of the island’s beach area is at the southern end, which features a large sandbar. The resort locates a panoramic outdoor pool here with sun loungers and umbrellas. A Thundi beach bar offers food and drinks on the beach.
Snorkeling from this location offers idyllic views of the reef and its exotic inhabitants. You can 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, it doesn’t feed the birds, but enjoys the view.
The south side of the island hosts beach dance parties at night and these clubs can go late. Other events at the resort include traditional Maldives parties.
For a more relaxed beach experience, try the island’s north beach. It still offers all the amenities and you can stay on this side of the island as it also has water bungalows.
This side of the island includes wooden pieces, which provide a comfortable way to observe underwater movements. The resort allows guests to feed fish from these holes. Usually, fish eat breadcrumbs.
On this beach, Athiri Bar offers an ocean view with food and drink. The bar has a terrace where you can descend stairs directly to the ocean water. As the north end of the island faces the center of an atoll, there is no wind, apart from calm seas. The north side of the island features the resort’s Jacuzzi Beach Villa, each with its own beach.
Travel to the west side of this tiny island to begin your scuba diving adventure. The western bay offers the island’s diving center and sports equipment rentals. It provides the starting point for most diving excursions.
To the east, the island opens its shores to the ocean. This location offers views of swimming dolphins and reef sharks. You can also see stingrays, turtles and moray eels. The mighty streams close to the reef make this a spot for experienced divers only.
This side of the island offers more reasonably priced luxury villas and bungalows about 100 meters from the coast. These nest in mangroves and palm trees.
Traveling there from Male airport takes fifteen minutes by seaplane.
3. Bikini Beach, Rasdhoo
In the Maldives, public beach rules remain so strict that when a public beach allows bathing suits, it earns the nickname bikini beach. The beach at Rasdhoo actually bears the name Bikini Beach. This can seem confusing when you visit the archipelago.
Bikini Beach allows for bathing suits and modest public displays of affection, such as walking hand in hand on the beach. Because of its public nature, it does not belong to any resort and those who share its beauty typically stay at one of two nearby hotels – the Rasreef Maldives or the Rasdhoo Island Inn.
Described as “breathtakingly beautiful” this beach near the airport, offers the longest beach in the Maldives with beautiful coral reefs. The shores of the beach in streets full of cafes, shops and inns.
The views of Gunbaru Beach provide reason to visit, but wear clothing that covers your swimwear as it doesn’t allow for this type of attire. Lemon Drop, a cafe near the beach, offers tasty, reasonably priced food that locals swear by.
Shallow waters offer wading, swimming, snorkeling and easy views of coral reefs. To get to this beach you will need to take a speedboat ferry from the airport. The journey takes about an hour.
4. Artificial Beach
It might seem silly to make a beach on an archipelago, but the Maldives did it. Speaking of truth in the advertising, locals called their artificial beach the Artificial Beach.
Located in Male, this crescent-shaped beach offers swimming and spectacular views of the China Maldives Friendship Bridge.
The Artificial Beach offers recreation as a key point, including a futsal field and volleyball court. Rest areas and picnic areas also abound on this beach.
The capital of Male hosts many carnivals, parades and live music events on this beach. Considered a foodie paradise, many cafes line the street along the coast, offering a diverse selection of cuisines, including local barbecue. Shopping in this area is also popular and many local shops abound in the neighborhood shopping area near the beach.
The country has regained the area on its east coast of Male Island. The sea has continually eroded the shoreline on the east shore, but recovery efforts have created an artificial beach of sand and rock reclaimed from the sea.
5. Rasfannu Beach
Check out Rafannu Beach for water sports. The local government has dedicated it as a “water sports zone”, so this beach on the west end of Male city offers a coastal area where you won’t experience conflicts between individuals over the use of the beach. Everyone who visits Rasfannu does so for the same reason.
Malé City Council established the area to encourage sport in their city and installed mooring buoys to mark it as a safe zone. This makes it an open water swimming zone.
City districts have already held team competitions and the city council plans to bring this back so that tourists on the islands can see local sporting events on this beach. The most recent of these events that the city held in 2021 was the Bar 2000 Faramantha Challenge 2021. This “multi-sport aquatic challenge” featured surfer competitions, open water swimming and weight training.
6. Thoondu Beach
The only beach in the Maldives, Thoondu Beach, located at the north end of the island, moves from east to west depending on the season. During the movement of the sand, a natural pool is sometimes formed, separating the sea waves from the main shore. The sandy depression fills with sea water, forming a shallow natural pool called the Bissaaveli.
The tidal force at Thoondu Beach offers what locals call a “washing machine effect,” a feeling that those who frequent South Carolina’s barrier islands like Edisto will find familiar. Standing in the water on the beach as the wave crashes, you feel as if the ocean floor moves beneath you, even though you stand still in the same spot as the wave recedes.
Anyone who wants to learn to surf can find an ideal beach to start in Thoondu. It offers surf spots with ideal waves for beginners. The best months for these waves, June and August, offer southwestern monsoon weather, which creates the perfect surf. These waves also provide the perfect backdrop for skimboarding.
Always wear flip flops or water shoes on this beach which features pebbles instead of shells. Those 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 their clientele to 18+, so tourists only consist of singles and couples. Adults go on vacation without children.
This island nation offers some of the best climates imaginable. The best time to visit the Maldives is from November to April, when the islands experience a period of drought, which allows the sea to become transparent. During these months, the islands receive 12 hours of sunlight daily.
If marine life interests you, October and November offer an undersea show of plankton glowing in the sea. Residents collect plankton during these two months. Stingrays also visit the island’s waters during this period, playing among the dolphins.