A three-island itinerary around the Maldives

Every desert island cliché you've ever heard applies to the Maldives – and rightly so. Turquoise lagoons, footprint-free porcelain sand and over-water villas with uninterrupted views all the way to the horizon. But with such beauty to be found across these widespread atolls, it can be difficult to settle on a single luxury hotel in the Maldives. With this island-hopping itinerary however, you don't have to.

AT A GLANCE

  • 14-day independent itinerary based on arriving and departing from London airports, and flying into and out of Male
  • Stay in a trio of SLH boutique hotels dotted around different Maldivian atolls
  • Highlights include scuba diving amongst pristine coral by day and night, snorkelling with rays and sailing trips in traditional dhoni

START IN STYLE: FAARUFUSHI

Faarufushi

When it comes to the Maldives, all roads – or flight routes – lead to Male, one of the world's smallest national capitals. Fly in from London and freshen up in the dedicated departure lounge before boarding your hotel seaplane. There's nothing quite like soaring over the archipelago, looking down at the tiny islands strung out like pearls in the ocean.

A pleasant 50-minute flight brings you to the Raa Atoll, a quiet and beautifully untouched set of isles that's got 'barefoot luxury' written all over it. And it's here that you'll find Faarufushi.

Whether you've booked a beside-the-beach bungalow or ocean suite with your very own pool, these contemporary retreats are carefully positioned around the tiny isle to make each wonderfully private. No one would blame you for wanting to sit on your deck for a whole week just gazing at the sea. But if you want to have some stories to tell, start your first Maldives chapter by diving straight into the house reef. Take off into the Indian Ocean on a dolphin cruise. Or simply take it all in from the glistening white sandy beaches.

With plenty to explore above and below the water around Faarufushi, talk to our travel advisors about pre-booking excursions. Or wait until you arrive and ask the concierge to tailor-make an experience to suit your mood. Suggested stay: 4 nights.

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES: MILAIDHOO ISLAND

Whether you choose to travel to Milaidhoo Island by seaplane or speedboat, you'll have another amazing introduction to the Maldivian seas. But this is an internationally renowned UNESCO biosphere reserve and manta ray haven, so under the turquoise water is the place to discover what makes Milaidhoo so special. The five-star PADI dive centre offers experiences including fluorescent night dives where everything you see is transformed into an out-of-this-world array of glowing colours.

Above the reef, you could drift across the mirror-smooth surface on a stand-up paddle board. Or spend a few hours learning to fish by hand with the local fisherman on a traditional Maldivian dhoni. If you're here from June to November, head for Hanifaru Bay. As you snorkel amongst the majestic schools of manta rays gliding by, you might be lucky and spot some whale sharks. Suggested stay: 4 nights.

 Milaidhoo Island

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: BAROS

Expect to be swept off feet the moment you step onto the soft talcum powder sand. Small, private and serenely peaceful, you can walk around the whole of tiny Baros in a little over ten minutes. As you stroll, the loudest sound might be the resident turtles crossing the beach to reach the piercingly blue lagoon. All this makes it easy to understand why Baros has earned a reputation for being one of the most intimate and romantic atolls. And, as one of the original Maldivian island retreats, it's a real take-your-breath-away finale to your getaway.

Start your day with a blissful yoga session – stretching your way back to inner zen on an over-water pavilion or sandbank in the Indian Ocean. Villas here even come with their own yoga mats. You could also indulge with a relaxing massage or luxurious treatment among the lush gardens of the spa. Just don't miss the incredible infinity pool – created so it appears to hover over the water, it blends beautifully with the seascape.

Feeling like you need to balance all that peace and tranquillity with something more adventurous? Put on some scuba or snorkelling gear and dive into the nearby waters teeming with protected coral and jewel-like fish. Then as evening draws near, take your pick from nearby restaurants and dine al fresco under a white-sail canopy. Here is where mellow conviviality, Maldivian specialitites and the culinary flair of the chefs really shines.

When it's time to leave, it's a wrench. But being just a swift 25-minute speedboat ride back to Male (day and night) makes Baros the ideal final stop on an unforgettable island-hopping adventure. Suggested stay 4 nights.

Baros Maldives

Travel tips

Direct flights to Male International Airport leave from Heathrow London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Manchester and Newcastle. Internal flights on domestic Maldivian airlines or the hotels’ private seaplanes then connect to the nearby islands of Faarufushi Maldives, Milaidhoo Island and Baros Maldives. Just remember that the luggage weight limit on the small seaplanes is often less than international flights, so pack thoughtfully. With the Maldives writing the rulebook for the ‘no news, no shoes’ experience, you’ll just need some designer swimwear and shades anyway.

Book your boutique hotels

To book the hotels on this independent itinerary, get in touch with our Voice Reservation Team on 0800 0482 314 (UK) & 1-877-234-7033 (US). You can find a full list of our dedicated toll-free numbers here. We're ready and waiting to plan luxury adventures 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So whenever inspiration strikes, just get in touch.