Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire. Over the past weeks, I published top 10 lists (as well as resort reviews) related to the most beautiful destination on earth, the Maldives:
- Top 10: best resorts in the Maldives that can be reached without a seaplane.
- Top 10: most fabulous overwater villas in the Maldives.
- Top 10: best resorts in the Maldives for snorkeling (today).
Today (May 9, 2017): Top 10 best resort house reefs in the Maldives.
The Maldives stand head and shoulders above any other destination on earth when it comes to snorkeling. Most resorts feature a so-called ‘house reef’ close to their shores, where the shallow lagoon precipitously drops off into the deeper ocean waters. The house reef is that area close to the vertical drop off where the coral begins to aggregate in a kind of coral garden teeming with marine life and colorful fish. The shallow water enclosed by the house reef also serves as a large natural swimming pool and protects swimmers from the ocean waves and strong tidal currents outside the reef. Snorkeling in the waters off the Maldivian islands can bring you face to face with everything from surgeon fish, tuna, and parrot fish, to eagle rays, turtles and even hammerhead sharks. However, the quality of the house reef differs from resort to resort, and to help you, I have compiled a list of the best house reefs in the Maldives.
There is more information (with reviews and Youtube clips) below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite house reef in the Maldives in the comments section, or take my poll below.
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10. CONSTANCE MOOFUSHI, SOUTH ARI ATOLL
From ecological thatch roofing to crystal clear water, Constance Moofushi is a unique resort with a soul set right at the heart of South Ari Atoll. Surrounded by a stunning house reef, the resort is a perfect combination of luxury and simplicity where everything is taken care of with an all-inclusive package – from premium drinks, exquisite cuisine to luxurious accommodation. All villas are decorated with wondrous tones of nature with a hint of Constance chic, and either built on the dazzling white sands or on stilts that float above the turquoise waters. Constance Moofushi Maldives lies on the migration route of various kinds of marine life like whale sharks, dolphins, mantas, and sea eagles.
- Hotel website: Constance Moofushi
9. BANYAN TREE VABBINFARU, NORTH MALE ATOLL
At Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, guests can cocoon themselves in a web of shimmering turquoise waters, swaying coconut trees, indigenous blooms and pure white sand. Each of the resort’s 48 all-pool villas is shaped like a seashell and topped with a conical thatched roof to conjure the sensation of living within traditional Maldivian serenity. Quirky motifs inspired from ocean life including starfish and manta rays are found across the villa interiors to infuse the surroundings with an electric aura of shimmering seafaring nature. The private island resort is surrounded by an amazing house reef that is inhabited by green turtles as well as colorful reef fishes.
- Hotel website: Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
- Other accolades: Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru also features in my top 10 list of the best luxury resorts in the Maldives that can be reached without a seaplane.
8. ANGSANA IGHURU, NORTH MALE ATOLL
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru’s sister resort, Angsana Ighuru, is surrounded by one of the best-preserved coral reefs in Maldives. The house reef forms a near-perfect circle around the island, making it ideal for snorkeling and shore dives. The island resort features 45 plush rooms, each with direct access to a slice of beach. With its relatively low prices, it’s also one of the much more affordable way to enjoy the Maldives without compromising too much on luxury. A benefit of staying here is the boat that goes to next door sister property Banyan Tree every two hours, meaning that Angsana guests can enjoy the facilities and house reef there as well (and vice versa).
- Hotel website: Angsana Ighuru
7. ANANTARA KIHAVAH VILLAS, BAA ATOLL
Set on Kihavah Huravalhi, one of the most pristine Maldivian islands, the resort is a 30-minute seaplane flight from Male International Airport, an unforgettable experience in itself as the plane flies over a string of glowing coral islands amidst turquoise waters. The 79 spacious ultra-luxurious villas are either poised over the water with sweeping ocean views or nestled along a pristine stretch of private beach. At Anantara Kihavah Villas guests are treated to a host of dining options, including an incredible underwater dining experience. The near circular island is completely surrounded by stunning coral reefs that are teeming with colourful sea creatures, offering a surreal underwater world for you to explore.
- Hotel website: Anantara Kihavah Villas
- Other accolades: Anantara Kihavah Villas also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s best underwater hotels and the most fabulous overwater villas in the Maldives.
6. BAROS, NORTH MALE ATOLL
On a small private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean sits Baros Maldives, a heavenly Eden overlooking a glistening blue lagoon that will exceed your highest fantasy-island expectations. Elegant and secluded villas – 75 in total – with palm thatched roofs are either over water or facing the beach while a PADI diving centre, a spa with a tranquil water garden, several restaurants overlooking the sea and gentle sea breezes all ensure an unforgettable holiday. This romantic, luxury Maldives resort is especially renowned for its spectacular house reef so close to the shore that it can be explored by beginners as well as experts.
- Hotel website: Baros
- Other accolades: Baros also features in my top 10 list of the best luxury resorts in the Maldives close to the airport.
5. W MALDIVES, NORTH ARI ATOLL
W Maldives is a luxury private island resort in a wonderland of white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons and breathtaking house coral reefs. The 5-star resort provides a new cutting edge and contemporary lifestyle experience above and below the ocean. It features 77 luxurious private escapes – each with its own plunge pool and sundeck. Six gourmet eateries and lounge bars aesthetically located across the island inviting you in for the ultimate indulgence, including 15BELOW, the Maldives only underground nightclub literally located fifteen steps below the island surface. The resort also harbors one of the best house reef of the Maldives, where you can swim with reef sharks and turtles just outside your retreat.
- Hotel website: W Maldives
4. DHEVANAFUSHI MALDIVES LUXURY RESORT, GAAFU ALIFU ATOLL
Nestled at the south end of the Maldives in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Dhevanafushi stretches across two islands with lush foliage, crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches creating a paradise sanctuary. The resort has 21 island villas, each with its own private beach and pool. Over the water, you’ll find another 16 ocean villas with steps directly down to the deep and outdoor marble baths looking out the horizon. The two enchanting hideaways of Jumeirah Dhevanafushi are separated by 800 m (0,5 mi) of crystal blue ocean and surrounded by 4 km (2,5 mi) of house reef, providing a mesmerizing underwater experience with vibrant coral gardens famed for their abundance of fish and turtles.
- Hotel website: Dhevanafushi Maldives Luxury Resort
- Other accolades: Dhevanafushi Maldives Luxury Resort also features in my top 10 list of the most fabulous overwater villas in the Maldives.
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, $100 USD resort credit, sunset champagne cruise, early check-in, late check-out, and one complimentary yoga, Pilates or personal trainer session).
- Review: read here my review of Dhevanafushi Maldives Luxury Resort.
3. SIX SENSES LAAMU, LAAMU ATOLL
Six Senses Laamu is the only resort in the Laamu Atoll, deep in the Indian Ocean. Just an inter-island plane trip from Malé International Airport and a short boat ride brings you to a place where dolphins swim. Yin Yang, the Maldives’ most famous surfing wave breaks just offshore. The luxury Maldives resort is a combination of fabulous on-land and over-water villas constructed of sustainable materials and set around the palm-fringed paradise. The house reef that encircles Six Senses Laamu is simply spectacular, with a stunning coral garden where it is very common to see Oriental Sweetlips, parrotfish and even green turtles as you make you way along it.
- Hotel website: Six Senses Laamu
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, $100 USD food & beverage credit, $100 USD spa credit, and daily buffet breakfast).
2. PARK HYATT MALDIVES HADAHAA, NORTH HUVADHOO
Situated on a private island 55 km (35 mi) north of the Equator in one of the world’s deepest atolls, Park Hyatt is a strikingly modern design resort. Featuring only 50 villas, the minimalist style interiors of the accommodation are designed with the utmost comfort and luxury in mind, whether nestled within the island’s tropical foliage, only steps from the ocean, or elevated above the water. All villas feature floor-to-ceiling windows, and every comfort you would expect, with some villas having the added luxury of a plunge pool. The resort is framed by one of the archipelago’s most unspoilt house reefs, providing easy access for exploration of the underwater marvels of the Indian Ocean.
- Hotel website: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
- Other accolades: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa also features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels for amazing award redemptions, the best luxury hotels in the Maldives, and the world’s most remote luxury hotels.
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
- Review: read here my review of Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa.
1. SONEVA FUSHI, BAA ATOLL
Soneva Fushi Resort, the Maldives’ original and most beautiful desert island hideaway, is located in the stunning Baa Atoll island archipelago, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Massive, multi-bedroom, fairytale-like luxury villas and private residences are hidden among dense tropical foliage. In keeping with the castaway theme, many are built to resemble tree houses. All open to their own private stretch of sugar white sands, and most boast their own private seawater swimming pools. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday butlers who know what you want before you want it. Soneva Fushi has the longest and most superb house reef in the Maldives.
Contact me to receive a complimentary room upgrade at Soneva Sushi at the time of booking.
- Hotel website: Soneva Fushi
- Other accolades: Soneva Fushi also features in my top 10 lists of the best family hotels in the world, the most astonishing beach retreats in Asia, the most fabulous hotels in the Maldives, and the world’s most insanely beautiful hotel beaches.
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. villa upgrade, breakfast, early check-in , late check-out, welcome Champagne with Maldivian tapas on arrival, one lunch for two, original handcrafted arrival and departure mementos, shoreline beach dinner, private sunset sailing by Dhoni at Baa Atoll, and a cooking class for two).
- Review: read here my review of Soneva Fushi.
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Well we have to believe we will get there one day Xxx
Sent from my iPhone
Hello, I have been extensively throughout the Maldives for many years , with the park Hyatt being the last trip in October 2015, where I was astounded by the house reefs vitality and diversity .. very sadly I have just learned that due to El Niño in 2016, this reef is 95% bleached . My question is to you why is this information not widely available on hotel websites and also here on your recommendations? Most people do book their maldives holidays with the marine life and reef systems being of top importance and I feel that as devastating as it is, people must be correctly informed of damaged and dying reefs…
All reefs in the Maldives were badly damaged after the tsunami in 2004. El Nino caused some damage as well. However, I visited the Park Hyatt Hadahaa two months ago, and I can reassure you that the reef was vibrant, alive, and breathtakingly beautiful!
Thank you for the reply to my comment .. I am conflicted as I received an email directly from the dive centre who said the reef was 95% bleached and that the marine life is slowly returning yet the corals are very damaged .. unfortunately there was also a comment from someone on trip advisor who said the entire reef was ruined .. how can in be such different ends of the spectrum? I am deeply saddened as this was one of the most vibrant reefs in the Maldives as of 2 years ago ..
Your not wrong Annie the house reefs (Resorts) in the Maldives are all but distroyed
I’ve dived and snorkelled most of the above in the last 12 months and the extent of the EL NIno 2016 has devasted a lot of the worlds coral including the Maldives, even the Maldivian government has set up a task force regarding the bleaching, most house reefs are in a terrible state if you take the time to look into this issue there is lots of Data, footage, reports form divers, live aboard, scientists, unhappy tourists, I share your sadness about the state of the reefs I’ve visited over 20 resorts over the last 10 years in the Maldives, dived 100s of reefs, visited most Atolls, I was even thinking of returning this year, been talking to various tour operators and not one has mentioned to me the above issue (quotes of and around £16000 mind you)
at these prices I would expect to be informed of any issues, the coral was only just beginning to recover after 2004, even though resorts like PHH, Baros, Angsana Mirhri were largely untouched by 2004 EL Nino a lot of other resorts were not.
so to conclude if you can recommend to me a resort with a pristine reef ( Not Bathela) I will book this week
Ps, this is not a Troll, I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong, Carnot see how I can be, as I’ve been to the Maldives in the last six months and seen with my own eyes and it’s all very sad.
Pays your money takes your Chance.
Bummer. This sounded like the trip or our life but I guess we will have to find another place to go snorkeling. any suggestions?
Thanks Annie for pointing out this to the rest of us. I was booking this hotel with the reefs specifically in mind.
Very useful. We want to go for years. I heard that W is great but vabbonfaru too . Which one do you advise, why ? And w is good everywhere ?
Hi Georgia, I visited Baros on december 2017 and can assure you that the reef was astonishing!!! I went one day to Soneva Gili (!!) and the reef was terrible…..
I have been going to the Maldives every year for the last 10 year. Before the 2016 El Niño I saw some colour coming back to the reef at Bandos (I have also visited Baros since 2016), however I have to agree the reef has again been battered and colour disappeared again. The fish however are still abundant and we still see reef sharks, rays and turtles on every visit. The Maldives is definitely still worth a visit (by people who understand how to treat a reef)
What has happened to the reefs of the Maldives is nothing short of devastation. I visited this year, it has forever been a dream of mine to step off the beach and into some of the most diverse and colourful coral reefs in the world. What i actually stepped into was the most concrete undeniable evidence of rapid climate change that the tourism industry is trying to cover up. Entire ecosystems dead, only the algae covered skeletons remaining.
It was a depressing paradise as most fish species and densities remain but this will not last if you take away their food and shelter. It’s a ticking time bomb.
The waters are warm, the beaches are beautiful, the waters are crystal clear, the scenery is stunning and the fish are overly abundant. If you can ignore the loss of the most diverse ecosystem on the planet, it is paradise!