Taking it easy: finding affordable family-friendly resorts in the Maldives

Last updated 4th July 2024

Can the Maldives be affordable? Sarah Siese discovers two of the country’s best all-inclusive resorts for families, where it’s not all about tranquillity and honeymooners



An affordable Maldives holiday means finding the right island

At last count, the Maldives had 1,900 islands, some 200 inhabited by locals and about 170 holiday islands strung across the Indian Ocean. It’s an approximate figure because new resorts pop up constantly. We’re all agreed they look like a honeymooner’s paradise, but just how suitable is such a tranquil clime for your brood?

Truthfully, most islands are best left to couples and if children aren’t solicited then the rule is, don’t go.

That said, some islands are perfect for families and the phrase ‘happy as a sand-boy’ could not be more fitting for children in the Maldives; in essence a giant sandpit surrounded by a warm aquarium full of cartoon coloured fish with names like humbug damselfish and oriental sweetlips. Perhaps the biggest concern then is cost, as it’s a destination that comes with a hefty price tag and good value holidays in the Maldives are rare.

Enter two family-friendly resorts: OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI and her smaller and wilder sister, OZEN LIFE MADHOO, whose all-inclusive packages are a complete game changer.



Which OZEN Maldives resort is right for your family?

The pool and beach bars at OZEN LIFE MAADHOO make it popular among families with older teens who particularly love the Joie de Vivre pool bar and pizzeria, which is surrounded by relaxing loungers, cabanas and hammocks.

However, the larger of the two islands, OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI – located in the South Malé Atoll just 25 minutes from the airport quayside via luxury catamaran –  is probably best for younger children. Here, the 90 overwater and beachfront villas are among the largest in the Maldives, and the luxury all-inclusive plan includes four restaurants and two bars, as well as a spa and wellness centre. Yes, it’s all included in the price, along with water sports – making it a more affordable Maldives option than most.

Villas where noise doesn’t carry and slides go into the sea

We just love the villas spread out around the circumference of the island, all with their own pool and sitting either beachfront or within a private garden. The offshore breeze that blows three sheets to the wind means noise doesn’t travel further than you, or your neighbours, want it to and makes the need for air-conditioning redundant, both day and night. And as an added bonus, families with older children can opt for overwater villas with curving slides into the sea.

The beachside two-floor OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI villas feel more like houses, with a master bedroom, and kids’ bedroom, separate living area and study, along with a covered outdoor dining area, and a private L-shaped lap pool.

Choice even applies to how you get around the island: on foot, by bicycle – complete with a personalised name plate – or in an electric buggy.

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Giant chess, BOLIFUSHI Kids’ Club

Outdoor kids’ clubs and an island playground for teens

A kid in tow at OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI doesn’t amount to compromise.

On arrival, we were met by our butler Ahoo, who welcomed everyone with iced basil and mint cocktails, followed by a quick orientation of the villa and resort. He kept in touch via WhatsApp throughout our stay, which worked brilliantly, even if it meant the digital detox dreams went down the pan.

The resort’s Kids Club for 3 to 12 year olds has been designed to give parents some time-out while children enjoy non-stop fun with their peers. It’s on the central northern tip of the island, surrounded by a sand-filled shaded playground, large swimming pool, beach and lagoon, and the playhouse offers everything from art decks to nature talks.

Understandably most kids just want to be outside, so days are planned with this in mind. Four friendly members of staff run the club, with entertaining activities like nature walks or treasure hunts around the island, and there’s even a semi-submarine experience so kids can marvel at the ocean’s wonders.

The rest of the island is essentially a teen playground, with a choice of activities including snorkelling and diving trips, beach football, windsurfing, table tennis, snooker, and countless options for beachside soirees.



Affordable Maldives means dining with your toes in the sand

When it comes to mealtimes, there’s something deliciously remote and out-of-place about a dining table sitting in bare sand, but it epitomises the whole 21st century trend for barefoot-luxury perfectly.

Our favourite island restaurant is Saffron, where carefully recreated Indian heritage recipes are paired with fine wines in a very relaxed ambience. The traditional Indian Thali, served on Mondays and Thursdays, is not to be missed.

We were all enchanted by the belly dancing entertainment at Sangu Beach and Bar, which serves Arabic cuisine, not to mention mocktails, frozen fruit and Champagne cocktails. Then, after dark, it turns into an adults-only bar with bubbling shisha and DJ’s on some evenings.

That said, the main bar is perhaps the best hang-out spot for teenagers. As day draws to a close, there’s a chilled-out party vibe here and sundowners compete with the sky’s dazzling colours. They’ll definitely want to come back next year.

Now plan your Maldives family holiday

How to get there

Direct UK flights to the Maldives from 10 hours, 30 minutes

Where to stay

OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI, Earth Pool Villa Sunrise (2 adults, 2 children)7-nights all-inclusive, including return UK flights and transfers, from £18,469 per family

OZEN LIFE MAADHOO, Earth Pool Pavilion (2 adults, 2 children) 7-nights all-inclusive, including return UK flights and transfers, from £17,809 per family

Find out more and book

Read more about the Maldives

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Choosing between Maldives resorts made easy

Where to find kids clubs your children will love

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