The Maldives really doesn’t need much of an introduction as a holiday destination. After all, what’s not to love about endless palm-fringed beaches, breathtaking pastel sunsets, and those shimmering azure lagoons? Booking a vacation to the Maldives will probably be one of the best decisions of your life. However, if you’re vegetarian, vegan or even a raw foodie, then you may feel a little apprehensive about choosing the right resort to stay at. A huge percentage of traditional Maldivian dishes are traditionally meat or seafood based, yet times have changed in recent years, with a number of resorts going above and beyond to cater for those on a plant-based diet.
Long gone are the days when you had to live off salad and fruit from the buffet bar, these exclusive resorts offer up wonderful dishes dreamed up by world class chefs that will delight your taste buds. Read on for our top picks for the best three vegetarian-friendly resorts in the Maldives.
Plant-Based Paradise: Atmosphere Kanifushi
If we had to choose our favorite vegetarian-friendly resort in the Maldives, it would have to be the incredible Atmosphere Kanifushi. This magical resort is home to the first ever veg-only restaurant in the Maldives! That’s quite the accomplishment, and boy have they done it right.
The restaurant offers up a delectable blend of dishes that have been inspired by European, Middle Eastern, Indian and Maldivian cuisines. Favourites include Fettuccine with Almond Pesto, Vegetable Biryani, Tofu Curry Laksa and Paneer Butter Masala. Desserts include sticky Carrot Halwa and a super dreamy Mascarpone Tiramisu. Every dish is incredibly well presented (you’ll want to snap a pic for Instagram before you tuck in). The restaurant is all-veg, and they have a huge selection of vegan dishes. They also have a number of Jain dishes, and can of course cater for those on a gluten-free or raw food diet too.
There are other non-veg restaurants the island, if your other half or family prefer to eat meat. But the incredible chefs are always on hand to ‘veganise’ almost any dish that you see on any of the menus. They are so thoughtful with their offerings that the in-room mini bar is even stocked with some vegan sweet treats for you to snack on – such as Oreos.
Don’t think it could get any better than this? Think again. Dining at this restaurant is actually included as part of the resort’s very generous platinum plus all-inclusive package. That’s right, you can actually feast on the very best vegan and vegetarian food around and it is all included in the package price. If you choose this package, you will also get access to the special complimentary lounge prior to your seaplane departure, plus it includes unlimited exotic cocktails as well as a range of free activities and island excursions.
Overall, this really is a top-pick for veggie foodies, and you’ll be amazed with the sheer variety on offer as well as the creativity of the dishes. Five stars!
Veg Options Galore: Ayada Maldives
Ayada Maldives is home to some of the most prettiest over-water villas that we have seen. The Ocean Suites sit on stilts over the crystal clear waters of the lagoon, while turtles and and rainbow colored fish dart underneath. The villas feature over-water hammocks and comfy daybeds where you can sip on something sparkling while watching the sun set over the horizon.
But of course, you’re probably here for the food review, and Ayada Maldives are sure to impress with their lengthy vegetarian-friendly menus. Let them know that you are vegan or vegetarian when you arrive, and they will pull out all the stops to make sure that you are presented with the most incredible food during your stay. We absolutely love the fresh salad bar, where you can choose your vegetables and the chefs will chop them up in front of you. For a satisfying lunch, order the homemade vegan burger that comes loaded with all the trimmings that you could wish for.
The Ocean Breeze Restaurant is the place to head for a fine dining dinner with a loved one. Here you can choose from delights such as the lentil salad with parsnip pineapple and a zingy lemon dressing, or the marinated polenta and grilled eggplant with mozzarella. The Japanese Teriyaki Grill has a range of vegetarian dishes too. In fact, no matter what resort restaurant you choose to dine at, the chefs are very knowledgeable and able to transform most dishes into vegan-friendly ones that you’ll be sure to love. If you do have space for desert then go for one of the delicious freshly-made sorbets including mango raspberry and coconut.
There are a huge variety of vegan and vegetarian drinks to choose from too. In fact, this resort has fabulous Turkish coffee which you enjoy in the Arabian-themed Ottoman Lounge. Here, an incredibly strong tiny cup of coffee is served on a beautiful engraved silver tray, making it a very special afternoon pick-me up. And of course you’ll find a big selection of international wines, hand-crafted cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages to sip on during the day and night.
Unlike Kanifushi, this resort does not have an all-inclusive package, so you will be buying your meals separately. However don’t let this put you off as the accommodation packages are actually very affordable considering the luxurious rooms that are on offer. If you are traveling with a loved one then you may want to take a look at the special romantic package, which includes a mix of luxury experiences and activities that can be added-on to your accommodation. The package includes a dolphin snorkeling tour, luxury spa package, bed decorations, afternoon tea in the Turkish cafe, a shisha experience, and bicycle rental for the duration of your stay.
Luxury and Vegan Treats: Soneva Fushi
Last but not least is the luxurious Soneva Fushi. You may have heard of this resort already, as it is commonly listed as one of the best places to stay in The Maldives. And it is easy to see why, this eco-conscious and environmentally friendly resort is an oasis – a true private island sanctuary. It has it all and more: Beautiful stretches of sugary sands, fabulously designed villas, and even a music room and an observatory! There are imaginative initiatives in place, including an eco-friendly toilet in the jungles, a glassycle art studio where you can upcycle pieces of glass into personal artwork.
And then there is the food…..Soneva Fushi clearly spent a lot of time creating an awesome vegan-friendly menu. Their dishes are made with premium ingredients, many of which off either locally grown or sourced. They have a range of special condiments available including oil, vinegar and flavoured salts that allow you to get extra creative with your meals. We love the buffet selections, as well as the pizza and pasta cooking stations, where you can create your own vegetarian friendly meals.
The ‘By the Sea’ restaurant is famous for its Japanese fare, and has a wide range of vegetarian meals to choose from. Try the vegan tasting menu which starts with the most delectable vegan sushi and ends with a mixed berry soup and coconut oil ice cream that will leave you with the biggest smile on your face. For a truly memorable meal, eat high in the treetops of ‘Fresh in the Garden’ where the ingredients have just been picked from the local organic garden. Just some of the things on offer include almond milk cheese and a rather fancy ‘Papillote of vegetables’ which is unwrapped at the table to reveal potato, asparagus, leeks and herbs.
If you have a sweet tooth then you’re in for a real treat. Make your way over to the resort’s chocolate room, and you’ll find a huge selection of vegan chocolates to sample – complimentary, of course. There’s also an ice cream parlour which surprisingly has a selection of vegan offerings too.
Soneva Fushi goes beyond just vegan food offerings, they have huge vegan pillow menu to choose from where you can even select your own fragranced vegan pillow, as well as organic vegan amenities that are made from natural ingredients. Soneva Fushi comes highly recommend it to all eco conscious holidaymakers.
Veggie-Friendly Dining in Male and other Local Islands
If your flight arrival and seaplane departure times don’t align, you may find yourself staying overnight on the local island of Malé. Here, it may be a little trickier to get hold of some decent vegetarians grub, but we have a few tips and tricks to help you stay well fed. Firstly, try and book yourself into on of the larger higher end hotels in the area, as they are more likely to have a selection of dishes to choose from. Give your hotel a call or drop them an email before hand to see if they can cater for your dietary needs. Hotels that offer a large buffet selection may be a good pick, as there is typically an assortment of things to choose from.
If you are dining out, try European inspired restaurants where you may be able to find salads, pastas, pizzas, and veggie burgers. Deserts can include things like fresh fruit, mango sticky rice, and if you’re lucky some vegan coconut ice cream.
If you are planning a day trip from your luxury resorts to one of the local Islands, then your resort may be able to make you up a special lunch box or picnic for you to take with you. This is a great idea if you’re not sure on the food options available on your trip, and you can always keep it to snack on throughout the day should the veggie options be limited.
Tips for Vegan and Vegetarians Travelling to the Maldives
Eating veggie-friendly is one thing when you’re there, but it is another things finding it while you are on the road. In order to make sure that you always have something to nibble on, it’s best to be prepared preparation. Call up your airline that you are traveling with and check that you have arranged a vegan or vegetarian meal. You may want to scout a good vegetarian restaurant to eat in the airport by having a look online for reviews or listings. If it’s a very small airport, then eat at home before you leave. Snacks are always a great idea whether you a vegetarian or not. So pre-pack a few of your favorites in both your main luggage and hand luggage before you go. This can include things like dried nuts and fruits, as well as everyone’s favorite – chocolate.
When you arrive at your resort, always mention at check-in that you are actually vegetarian or vegan. Quite often they will pass this info on to the chefs, let you know the best restaurants to dine at, and make a special effort to make sure that you are happy and well catered for.
Overall, a stay in a Maldives resort for any vegetarian or vegan should not be an issue. You may have some difficulty if you stay on a small local island, but even then you’ll be likely to have a selection of exotic fruits, rice and vegetable dishes from which to take your pick. Choose to go with one of the three amazing Maldives resorts listed above and you may just feast on the best vegetarian food that you ever tasted in your life.