The Maldives: A Great Destination for the Whole Family
The Maldives is an island country located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of India. It’s very unique in that it is made up of atolls, ring shaped series of islands created originally by underwater volcanic activity, and most resorts are isolated to an individual island. Basically this means you should do your homework and choose your resort wisely. Look for a property that checks off your your requirements for an amazing beach vacation. Whether you enjoy water sports, an indulgent spa experience, if you require childcare, or if you seek the ultimate in luxury accommodations, the Maldives has it all.
Why The Maldives?
Many people ask us why we chose to take our children half way around the world. Well, the Maldives is probably one of our top 3 favorite destinations in the world! That’s saying a lot since there are so many places we enjoy and so many more we have left to visit. However, it just is that happy place for us. We have been to the Maldives 4 times…I know it’s crazy, but we can’t help ourselves! We love water activities and beautiful fine-sand beaches, and the Maldives is the ultimate water paradise! Josh and I both surf (well, I’m very much a beginner, but I try!), so it is a great destination for us.
We normally book our Maldivian getaways through a surf-specific travel agency called Tropicsurf, which focuses on luxury surf destinations and caters to travelers that have groups of surfers and non-surfers. Their locations are good for all, their surf guides are first class, and they customize your package accordingly. For more information on Tropicsurf, Check out our review here.
Why We Chose Anantara?
The first time we visited the Maldives was on our honeymoon. We took a 7-day cruise on the Four Seasons Explorer, which was just incredible, and we stayed at the Four Seasons in Kuda Huraa, which was equally fabulous. However, the surfing in that area is a little too advanced for me, so we decided to try the Anantara resorts when we returned for our 2 year anniversary, and we went again 2 years after that. We enjoyed the fact that it is made up of a cluster of three resorts, Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli, and Naladhu, and you can take a boat from one to the other. You can visit the other islands for a larger variety of activities and restaurants, and when you return to your island, it doesn’t feel like a huge resort. The staff was very warm and friendly, and they go out of their way completely to make your stay special and unique. In fact, after our second time to Anantara resorts in the Maldives, we decided that everything about our vacation there was perfect, except for the fact that we couldn’t share it with our children. That’s when we decided to bring them with us for our next visit, and this decision changed our travel life as we knew it! The next time we visited Anantara Dhigu was August of 2017 with our children. It was our first international vacation as a family of five, and the inspiration for us to change our lives, to sell more of what we own and spend more time together exploring the world as a family.
The rooms are very nicely appointed, and the beds are ridiculously comfortable. You even have a choice of pillows for the ultimate bedding experience. The housekeeping staff, or “room boys,” do a great job of keeping things tidy and have a special attention to detail when servicing the rooms.
We have stayed in an over water suite, an over water pool suite, and we chose to stay in a sunset beach villa the last time around because of the children being so young. All the rooms are great, though, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. With the beach villa you have your own private outdoor lounging area and direct beach access, which is great when traveling with little ones. They provide a large terra cotta pot of fresh water with a ladle in both the front and back entrance to your room for cleaning sandy feet before entering your room. Needless to say, this simple pot of water provided hours of entertainment for our 10 month old son Tristan!
The resort provides high quality amenities for both adults and children, including bath products, dental care products, and a beach bag souvenir for the children.
The food at the Anantara is amazing, with quite a variety for a small island. Their is a breakfast buffet at both Veli and Dhigu with options galore. Their Thai restaurant Ban Huraa serves very authentic and delicious Thai food in the most amazing setting. It’s a stand-alone building at the end of a pier, so it makes for beautiful sunset views, where you can watch baby blacktip reef sharks feeding at dusk.
Another one of our favorites is Oragami, a Japanese restaurant that has the most amazing teppanyaki you will ever have! This was a hit with the kids! I think we ate there 3 out of our 9 nights at their request!
Children under 12 eat free everywhere except in-villa dining or take out, which is a great perk. Although it would be better if in-villa dining was included for those nights when you want to have a sitter to watch the children while you have a date night.
The hotel’s activity list leaves nothing to be desired, and with complimentary non-motorized water sports, you can definitely have a great time for not a lot of money! We’ve done paddleboarding, snorkeling, and kayaking in the lagoons surrounding the resort islands. In terms of paid activities, the choices are endless as well. You can charter a private yacht or a traditional Maldivian dhoni to island hop, visiting gorgeous uninhabited islands. You can even choose to take a day trip to swim with whale sharks or snorkel with mantas. There also planned activities you can join, such as a sunset dolphin cruise, where you can watch the acrobatic spinner dolphins perform.
We chose to do a private snorkeling excursion to a local reef, followed by deep-sea fishing on our way back to the resort. Josh and I also experienced the world-class diving in the area, where we saw several different species of sharks, including the elusive leopard shark.
The Kids’ Club
The kids’ club (what they call the Dhoni club) is also good fun for the children. They take children ages 3-12. They went there every day for a few hours while we surfed, and the hotel arranged for a babysitter to watch our 2-year old daughter, Abby, and our son Tristan at the kid’s club. It worked out perfectly. The ladies that ran the kids’ club and the babysitting were very nice. They were not as warm and motherly as the ones that watched our kiddos in Bali, where we visited prior to heading to the Maldives. Yet our kids asked to go to the Dhoni club every morning from the moment they woke up, so obviously they enjoyed it.
Oh, the spas!!! The spas are heavenly! Actually, there are two spas that service the three Anantara resorts, one in the heart of Veli island and an over-water spa on Dhigu. We’ve had treatments at both locations, and we very much prefer the over-water spa. It’s just so unique, with 6 over water treatment suites and 2 open-air salas over water for Thai massage. Ask to have your treatment at one of the open-air salas over the water at dusk or later (so that the sun has set and it’s cooler). With the ocean breeze, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, it’s other-worldly!
Overall, we had a great time visiting The Maldives as a family for the first time. We very easily found balance between adult time and family time due to the wonderfully organized Kid’s club and babysitting services. Our days were filled with as much or as little as we desired. Even our pickiest eaters ate well through our time there, thanks to the great variety of restaurants and food choices. And my husband and I were able to have a couple of date nights, including a divine Thai massage in one of the open-air over water salas that was comparable to Thai massages we have experienced in Thailand. What more can you ask for while at the beach with three kids under 5?!