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.
Think I missed one? Share your favorite house reef in the Maldives in the comments section, or take my poll below.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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).
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).
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).
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).