Best for: party people
Finolhu is the place to live it up. A party island that delivers on all levels. Forget Club 55: Crab Shack is the new top beach restaurant in the world, halfway down a staggeringly beautiful tail of white sand spearing nearly two kilometres into the Indian Ocean. Here you’ll find litres of delicious pink wine and soft-shell-crab tacos delivered by the metre. Staff are funny, charming and top-brass, filtered from other best hotels in the zone such as Reethi Rah. The main hangout is the Beach Club, part Ibiza, Thunderbirds and Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii. There’s a swim-up DJ bar, a VW Kombi van serving burgers and sushi, Pac-Man and Baywatch pinball machines, and a cinema showing classics from James Bond to Rocky. The beats begin at lunch and flow into the afternoon pool party: inflatable flamingos, mermaid acrobat performers and volleyball on the sand. There’s lively music from 6pm before the pace steps up with live bands, fire-eaters, contortionists and stilt-walkers.
If guests do fancy some shut-eye, there are 91 over-water villas and 34 on the beach, some facing reef-protected calm waters, the rest with pools. Rooms are smart and fun: rattan furniture, Moroccan-style lanterns, Marshall speaker unit and record player to play original Diana Ross LPs. Food is sensational, from mezzes and shisha pipes at Middle Eastern restaurant Arabian Grill; char-siu pork belly with crispy aubergine and roast duck with truffle miso at Asian cuisine joint Kanusan. Downtime and detox is at The Fehi Spa, with its jungle gym, basketball and tennis courts, and the Milk LAB serves flat whites, protein shakes and açai bowls. Even the spa is sociable – sip Martinis on the deck while having a mini massage or a mani-pedi. Despite its party image, Finolhu is not to be underestimated. An instant professional, it delivers on high energy brilliance without forgetting to get rooms, service and food pitch-perfect. Michelle Jana Chan
Number of villas: 125
Transfer time: 30 minutes by seaplane from Malé
Address: Finolhu, Kanufushi Island, Baa Atoll, Maldives
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