Scattered across the equator in the far reaches of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are like pearls set in the purest, sun-baked azure. With gleaming coral sands, lush tropical vegetation and lagoons teeming with vibrant sea life, it is hard to imagine any better example of the perfect desert island.
The climate is remarkably even throughout the year, with temperatures rarely venturing outside a narrow range, with lows around 27ºC (80ºF) and highs of 31ºC (88ºF), making the islands a wonderful destination in any season – reliably hot, but never unbearably so. The waters of the Indian Ocean are warm and inviting too, and placid within the sheltering lagoons.
With over a thousand different islands spread across 26 atolls there is plenty of choice for visitors, from the idyllic right through to the truly sumptuous, and there are resorts catering to all kinds of tastes. Whether you are a latter-day Robinson Crusoe seeking splendid isolation with a sweeping beach to yourself, an intrepid underwater explorer wanting to dive amongst kaleidoscopic shoals, or an ardent pursuer of nautical watersports, the Maldives will have something for you, and always served with a courteous smile. Most resorts can offer qualified instructors if you wish to try out new adventures like scuba diving, windsurfing or even water skiing.
If all the diving and nautical fun sounds too strenuous, why not try one of the Maldives' spa resorts, like Villingilli island? Enjoy the perfect pampering break with reiki, ayurveda and other relaxing wellness treatments amidst beautiful surroundings for a real escape from daily life that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and reinvigorated.
Throughout the Maldives, accommodation usually consists of your own private villa. It is hard to beat the feeling of waking up to tropical sunshine a few short steps from the beach, and taking a quick, refreshing dip before breakfast. Some resorts offer even more unusual choices. How about a treetop villa, or one raised on stilts over the lapping waves? Depending on your budget you can choose between basic villas with bed and en suite, right through to luxurious palaces with individual décor, internet access and wide screen TV.
For the evenings, most resorts have bars and lounges where you can mingle, or you can simply enjoy the stunning tropical sunsets with a cool drink as the sun sinks below the waves. It's worth taking the time to pick the resort to visit, not everyone wants an island with a night club – or without one! Each resort is self-contained on its own island, with restaurants, bars and other facilities to hand. Catering is usually quite international, though some resorts specialise in particular cuisines – Asian, Mediterranean, even classical French cuisine – though in all cases it is of superb quality. As might be expected of an island nation, the seafood tends to be exemplary. Whether you're in search of a romantic escape, some quality 'me time', or a fun packed activity break, there is a resort out there that fits the bill, and all of them offer that tropical desert island experience.
Flights out to the Maldives are necessarily long-haul, but usually involve a stop-over at Dubai where you can stretch your legs and explore the duty free options, but you will forgive that once the Maldives come into view, like sparkling gems in the endless sea. On the final leg of the journey from Malé International Airport, a small seaplane will whisk you across to your own island, skimming over the atolls and lagoons between to give you a foretaste of the paradise that awaits at your destination.