Maldives

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Island life

Switch off the BlackBerry and shut down the laptop – this place is all about living the desert-island dream. The beaches come milky-white and virtually empty. The ocean is impossibly blue and hides rainbow-hued coral and multicoloured marine life. And as for the hotels, they tick off gourmet restaurants, rustic-chic villas and overwater spas as standard.

An island for every taste

There are 200-odd inhabited islands, and they’re all pretty much a one-hotel-per-isle affair. While they’re all cast from the same mould, though, each one has a pull of its own. Want a quick journey from the airport hub, Male? Try one if the islands in North Male Atoll for size. Total seclusion on the cards? Head for Lhaviyani Atoll – an island chain with more of a castaway feel.

Desert island delights

After a castaway experience? Make for the coral-ringed isles in Lhaviyani Atoll, South Nilhande or Raa Atoll for a taste of total seclusion.

What lies beneath

While out-of-this-world dive sites are par for the course in the Maldives, South Ari Atoll has the cream of the crop. The cast of underwater characters here includes whale sharks, manta rays and hammerheads. South Male Atoll also ranks pretty highly when it comes to underwater adventures.

Places To Stay In Maldives

North Male Atoll’s big plus point is its closeness to the Maldives’ airport hub, Male. Farukolhufushi Island is the closest. It’s just a 10-minute speedboat ride away, and you can hire private taxi boats to take you back over to the capital for a spot of shopping and sightseeing. Dhonveli Island is pretty close, too – speedboat transfers only take 20 minutes.

Located to the west of Male, this place is one of the top spots in the Maldives for underwater action – the diving here draws people from far and wide. Back on land, South Ari Atoll is also great for learning about local life – head to Dhangethi Island to check out the cultural centre, which showcases traditional Maldivian living.

South Male Atoll lies – unsurprisingly – to the south of Male, on the eastern edge of the Maldives. The islands here offer up some of the best diving in the Maldives, as well as some pretty impressive house reefs for snorkellers.

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