Forget the “Vacations ‘R’ Us” feel of some resorts and visit the secluded, luxurious, romantic Maldives islands in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives and its surrounding turquoise waters are known for world-class scuba diving and snorkeling, and many resorts feature ultra-private villas tucked away on their own stretch of beach or hovering directly above an aqua lagoon.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Language: Dhivehi is the national language, but English is widely spoken, especially by staff at the resorts and spas
Flight time: Check for connecting flights from major European cities or South East Asian locales — from London, it’s approximately 11 hours
Getting around: Taxi, boat and plane
When to Go: Maldives at its best
Best weather: It’s sunny, warm and humid year-round. April is often the hottest, and December the coolest. Monsoon season is from May to September.
Best prices: High season is dry season — December through April — so look for deals between May and November.
What to Do:
Nothing! The Maldives are perfect for seclusion, spas, scuba, snorkeling or just sitting still. Whether you choose to stay over the ocean in a bungalow or take a lazy swim with colorful fish, you can do it all, or have just as much fun doing nothing at all. Located southwest of Sri Lanka on the equator, the Maldives is made up of 1,190 coral islands (only 200 are inhabited) with 90 serving as resorts. This place is made for guests who relish having alone time.
Go under the sea: Take a ride 120 feet below the water’s surface in a state-of-the-art passenger submarine (99 percent of the Maldives is covered by water, so to see it all you’ll have to take the plunge). Descend beneath the surface where you’ll encounter corals and the reef fish that call them home; it’s common to be greeted by schools of snappers, lionfish, boxfish, turtles, huge groupers and sometimes White Tip reef sharks. Some dives tour historical shipwrecks and shark-feeding sites, while night adventures search out manta rays. Check out Whale Submarine for more info.
Hang with whales and dolphins: Clear waters and an abundance of sea life make the Maldives an amazing place to see whales and dolphins in their natural environment. There are more than 20 different species in the area, from the Blue Whale (the largest animal alive) to the acrobatic Spinner Dolphin. Safari boats take guests into the open waters to spot species not often seen outside the Maldives, like the dwarf sperm whale, melon-headed whale and tropical bottlenose whale. Beautiful black and white orcas have also been known to make an appearance.