There are beach getaways—and then there are those places that seem more conjured than actual, where the water looks too blue to be true, and the sand more a matter of a photoshop wizardry than erosion. The Maldives is that kind of place. No wonder the legions of honeymooners, and everyone else, for that matter. Moored way out in the Indian Ocean, halfway between Africa and Southeast Asia, its far-flung situation is a lure to those whose bucket lists are full of the most rarefied destinations. Beauty, seclusion, and lots of luxury, what more could be wanted? Here are five reasons to make sure you don’t miss the Maldives.
Spectacular underwater dive sites
Whale sharks, manta rays, giant turtles, and a vast array of colorful fish species all populate the warm waters surrounding the Maldives, attracting scuba divers from around the world. Exquisite coral reefs and submerged rock formations add to the allure of the underwater scenery, while advanced and more adventurous divers often seek out the area’s subaquatic caves and local shipwrecks.
With its crystal-clear waters providing excellent visibility up to 40 meters, the Maldives is also a renowned destination for underwater photography.
Many resorts offer half-day or full-day dive trips, as well as live-aboard options that allow divers to venture out to more remote sites, spending a night (or longer) on the boat. Beginners can take courses for international certification, such as PADI, or enjoy casual dives under the supervision of expert guides.
Extraordinary white-sand beaches
With nearly 1,200 islands, the Maldives is nothing if not a paradise of beaches. Powder-soft white sand meets pristine turquoise water in every atoll, presenting no shortage of opportunities for visitors to sunbathe, feel the sand between their toes, or wade into the tropical sea amidst postcard-perfect backdrops.
At high-end resorts, the menu of beach options usually extends far beyond the ordinary. Honeymooners and other couples can enjoy romantic dinners by candlelight with a table-for-two on the sand. Others cozy up and watch classic Hollywood films at popular cinemas under the stars. And for holiday-goers who want to get their groove on, many resorts host late-night beach parties with tunes spun by well-known international DJs.
Abundant fishing on the atolls and beyond
Fishing excursions in the Maldives give new meaning to the phrase “fresh catch,” with the day’s haul often ending up directly on a beachfront BBQ or cooked in a special local curry back at the resort. Among the fish species commonly hooked near the atolls are grouper, wahoo, dorado, green jobfish, and rainbow runner.
For those seeking a stronger adrenaline hit, big-game fishing on the high seas in the Maldives is second to none. Many visitors dream of landing a giant trevally, which can weigh up to 80kg (176 pounds), or other prize catches, like marlin, barracuda, and sailfish. Traditional pole-and-line fishing in the Maldives dates back centuries, and many foreign anglers enjoy trying their hand at this unique and sustainable practice in which fish are caught one-by-one using live bait.
World-class surf spots
With its countless surf breaks stretching across the Male, Central and Southern Atolls, the Maldives has been considered one of the world’s premier surfing destinations ever since a pair of shipwrecked Australians landed there in the 1970s and began spreading the word.
The North Male Atoll in particular comes in for high praise. On big swell days and with perfect wind conditions, the surf spot there known as Chickens “may be one of the best waves in the world,” Surfer Today has declared.
Waves in the Maldives are generally less intense than in places like Indonesia, and swells are often shoulder-high, producing barrels and long, enjoyable rides. Surf spots in the Maldives also tend to be less crowded than elsewhere. Peak season varies by atoll but generally runs from April to October.
Iconic overwater villas
Perhaps no other type of resort accommodation is as closely identified with its location as the overwater villa is to the Maldives. As an architectural form, these iconic romantic hideaways, strung out in shallow azure waters first appeared in Tahiti just over 50 years ago, but today more than two-thirds of overwater villas globally are found in the Maldives.
At The Chedi Kudavillingili, a new resort by GHM set to launch later this year, the design of the overwater villa might have reached its apogee. Clean lines, understated elegance, and unparalleled privacy are hallmarks of these units, which harmoniously integrate the sophisticated bedroom and interior living areas with a spacious balcony. The water villas offer sweeping ocean vistas—and, perhaps just as importantly, no view of one’s neighbors.
Guests staying in one of The Chedi Kudavillingili’s 36 water villas also receive complimentary access to the resort’s Chedi Club, featuring a private lounge and library, along with nightly canapés, drinks, and cocktails.
Text by Bill Bredesen for GHM Journeys.
Featured image: The Chedi Kudavillingili is GHM’s newest resort, a haven located on a one-kilometre coral island in breathtaking Maldives.