The Maldives is a surreal land of blue lagoons and soft white sands awash in an ocean of teal and indigo. Its beguiling name means ‘garland of islands’ in Dhivehi, the local language. Although no one knows who first named this glittering archipelago that stretches north-to-south across the equator, explorers, traders and travellers have been coming here for centuries – each generation as enchanted as the last.
Very little has changed since ancient mariners first sailed these seas. Just one-sixth of the country’s 1,190 islands are inhabited – mostly peaceful fishing villages nestled among the palms. The Maldives today remains a necklace of soft sand atolls laid out on the shimmering azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Maldivian culture is a distinctive blend of the different influences that have shaped the isles over the years – from African drumming to Oriental jewellery-work.
The azure blue sea with extremely clear water in combination with the many coral reefs are the requirements for an unforgettable diving or snorkeling experience. There are of popular spots: you can spot coral in all colors of the rainbow on North Male Atoll, and in South Male Atoll you will find Shark Point, the best place to see sharks. At Maaya Thila you can swim with whale sharks and encounter manta rays and hammerhead sharks. If you don’t see these, you can still admire the beautiful coral, or spot other underwater animals such as turtles and barracudas!
Snow-white bounty beaches with a bright blue sea in the background: the dream image for many holidaymakers. Because the Maldives consists of many different islands, there is an abundance of beaches to linger. One of the most exotic beaches is probably on Cocoa Island. On this flat beach you gradually walk into the sea, and you spot the most beautiful fish and coral walls. Prefer to relax on your towel? Grab a book, order a cocktail and enjoy this little paradise.
The magical starry sky
A sea of stars with a twinkling luminous glow … You hardly believe your eyes, but this magical phenomenon is certainly not a myth! The sea around the Maldives is not only azure blue, but in some places the water seems to glow. In fact, this is a special kind of plankton, which lights up when it is set in motion by, for example, waves or footsteps. You can admire this phenomenon best on Vaadhoo Island.
The ultimate rest
Because it is still a fairly exclusive destination, you can enjoy the tranquility. You will not be easily overrun by hordes of tourists. The resorts are small-scale, with almost every residence having its own stretch of beach. You can also stay in bungalows on the water, where you enjoy even more privacy.
Can you picture yourself sipping a cocktail in a hammock on the beach?
Examples of luxury places to stay
There are so many wonderful islands where you can stay in the Maldives, but we have picked two that will ensure the paradise feeling.
How about the Laamu Resorts by Six senses. Could this be your idyllic palm-fringed paradise? It’s the only resort on the remote Laamu Atoll in the southern Maldives yet just a short inter-island flight and boat hop away. On-land and over-water villas, dolphins playing in the warm sapphire seas and restaurants serving mouthwatering East-West cuisine create an exceptional, natural nirvana.
One and Only Reethi Rah
A surreal land of blue lagoons and soft white sands. Surrounded by the wonders of the Indian Ocean, One&Only Reethi Rah makes its home on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll. A jewel among a string of coral atolls, lagoons and white sands, it is about 700km (430mi) southwest of Sri Lanka.