Home to 1200 fantasy inspired islands – the Maldives is everyone’s favourite archipelago. From pearl like sands to a patchwork quilt of blue lagoons, and a string of stunning resorts that know intuitively how to cater to the barefoot but luxe traveller, it’s no wonder this tropical wonderland tempts dreamers and doers to its epic atolls.
Beyond the confines of five-star style, these resorts also know how to serve up beautiful bucket list experiences. Star-gazing, night dives, private yachts, and underwater festivals are just the tip of top-tiered living for those who find solace in the Maldives.
Go flyboarding at the Lux* South Ari Atoll
Channel your inner superhero as you cut through the buttery soft air of Dhidhoofinolhu on a flyboard experience. Few experiences in the world tap into that deep-set joy as you achieve lift off, feeling the adrenaline rush of water beneath your feet as you glide above gin-clear waters filled with drifting turtles, playful dolphins, and silvery shoals of fish. Fly high enough to touch the tropical tree-line and use the hand nozzles to swoop and soar, duck and dive, and soak up the thrill of one of the world’s most unconventional watersports.
The Lux South Ari Atoll is a heavenly hideaway brimming with grown-up pleasures. When you aren’t soaring above the sea, you can lazily sip champagne in your stunning stilted villa sanctuary, lose yourself in aromatic bliss at the award-winning spa, and take your pick from one of the eight astonishing restaurants scattered across this dreamy desert isle.
Heal with the ocean at Hurawalhi
The therapeutic power of the ocean is utterly embraced on the luscious Lhaviyani Atoll as part of the Hurawalhi Island Resort’s water-inspired wellness retreat. Guests are invited to let the lull of the ocean wash over them with special sound baths, to learn to meditate and breathe in time with the cycle of the surf, and to lose themselves in shades of blue by taking underwater yoga classes at the submerged studio. From melting sunsets over the beach to soothing massages at the lagoon suspended spa – every detail of this stay has been entwined to make the most of ocean healing.
Those moments when you need to turn your attention back to land, you will find life at Hurawalhi is all Japanese Zen minimalism with simple natural architecture, swathes of wood and wicker, and comfortable villas with moon views for quiet contemplation.
Private yacht paradise at Cheval Blanc Randheli
A Maldivian private island so tantalising it’s where British royalty and A-list celebrities flock to lose themselves in the art of bliss. Alchemist experiences, exceptional dining at The White, and private butlers bringing beauty to your every move is just the start. While leaving behind the Jean-Michel Gathy designer hideaway may be hard, the resort’s very own private yacht is just enough to tempt you away from sandy shores and out on an open water adventure.
The yacht Azimut boasts a stunning 30m space, a speed of 32 knots, and all those enchanting details like al fresco dining and swish salon to keep you more than satiated when at sea. With room enough for 12 and a captain who knows these waters like the back of their hand, you can stargaze in the bubbling on-deck jacuzzi, indulge in sunset sails, or head out on intrepid family adventures across the pearly atolls.
Fluorescent night diving at Baros Maldives
With one of the most spectacular house reefs on offer, the Baros is a tiny private island close to the hub of Male. There is nothing more mesmerising than tiptoeing across cool sand beneath the light of the moon and plunging into the still sun-warmed waters of the Maldivian sea. As you slip beneath the serene inky black surface, your blue light illuminates the coral and suddenly this midnight world blooms to life.
Night diving is a rare and riveting experience that is sure to spellbind even the savviest of travellers. A special barrier filter across the eye lends a rainbow colour to every inch of the sea, offering a kaleidoscope vision of all the life that lies beneath. Fluorescent night diving is very different to the underwater scenes of the day, there’s a softness and a silence that seeps into every crevice, as shapes emerge from the gloom and turn into something spectacular.
Desert island lunch with a chef at Soneva Jani
The super sophisticated Soneva Jani proves that desert island dreams can come true with their sublime private picnic experience. Leave civilisation behind as you sail away to your very own private island with only your closest companions and a private chef. Kick back beneath the billowing linen umbrellas with a chilled glass of wine, or head out with your personal snorkel guide to glide beneath the blue in the serenity of the surrounding lagoon.
Later, back on the idyllic sweep of sand you can nibble on bountiful gourmet treats whipped up by your own special chef. Stay long past the fiery glow of sunset or return to the resort at your whim – the beauty of desert islands is that you set the time. Back at Soneva Jani and its movies at the overwater cinema, splashing in the blue from your room with its very own water slide, and embracing the barefoot beauty of this exquisite laid-back escape.
Stargaze at Anantara Kihavah
After the sun sinks into the rose gold sea that laps at the shore of the blissful Baa Atoll, the night sky prickles with a thousand pin drops of light. Stargazing at the gorgeous Anantara Kihavah makes for an epic evening experience. Enjoy a medley of handcrafted cocktails in the lounge before ascending to lay back on a moonlit circular daybed and let the Sky Guru guide you through the secrets of the midnight sky. With no less than three hundred thousand stars suspended above your head, you can take a sensory journey to the far-flung corners of the galaxy, pausing only to peer at Saturn’s stunning rings through the resort’s powerful telescope.
In-between waiting for the stars to rise and fall, you can sink down in glass-bottomed bathtubs, dine with epic views at the underwater restaurant, and sip sea siren slushes peppered with gleaming bright vodka and basil beside the giant ocean facing pool.
Sip and swirl in an underground wine cellar at the St Regis Vommuli Resort
Soaring floor to ceiling white racks house some of the world’s greatest wines in the exquisite cellar of the St Regis Vommuli Resort. Who would have thought paradise would have such a stash; from a crescendo of Chablis notes to beautiful Beaujolais – every cork popped is a journey into perfection. The executive chef and wine director boasts a precise hand when it comes to curating pairings that are a match made in heaven. Sign up for one of their five-course experiences where all the very best vintages are served alongside divine continental dishes where taste, texture, and palate doesn’t skip a beat.
After emerging dizzy from the Italian marble clad cellar, the grace of the Maldives is still waiting. Organic architecture trimmed with a modern edge, anti-gravity yoga, a spa on stilts, and stunning villas caught between the jungle and the sugary shores brings out the best of the Dhaalu Atoll.
Attend the underwater festival at Lux* North Male Atoll
Swim alongside turtles, whale sharks, and manta rays as you immerse yourself in endless shades of blue at the Annual Maldives Underwater Festival. In 2019, the beloved aqua inspired festival will be held across both the Lux South Male Atoll and the brand-new Lux North Male Atoll set to fling open its doors in February 2019. Dreamy atolls, the lull of two lagoons, and a magical marine biology site brimming with experts sets the mise-en-scene for some of the worlds greatest diving and snorkelling experiences.
Against a stunning backdrop, guests can partake in plenty of ocean-inspired adventures; from brushing up on marine conservation to underwater painting and photography, exceptional excursions, and gorgeous gala ceremonies, this is your chance to celebrate and support a much-needed commitment to keeping our oceans safe. When not immersed in warm blue water, the Lux North Male Atoll will offer penthouse perfection with its Singapore designed main house, worldly culinary journeys and speakeasy charm.
Swim with turtles on your own private island Coco Privé
When a resort doesn’t feel refined enough to satiate your needs; shut the door on the outside world revel on your very own private island. Coco Privé lives by the genie-inspired motto that every wish is their command – only you get more than three. Beloved by billionaires and royalty, this discrete white and blue space is tucked away in the depths of the Maldives – far from the paparazzi flash and prying eyes. Four exquisite villas groan beneath the bloom of bougainvillaea, fourteen handpicked staff are on call at all times, and everything is curated around you and only you.
One of the most poetic experiences you can wish for is to swim with hawksbill turtles against a shoreline without another soul in sight. Forget shared experience at Coco Privé, it will just be you, your loved ones, the open ocean, and the serene grace of swimming alongside these gentle creatures.
Mid ocean table at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
When it comes to the final flourish of paradise, the Four Seasons doesn’t disappoint. Nestled amid the curved moon sands, the jungle, and the manta rays, Landaa Giraavaru is the setting for laid-back luxury to bloom. Romance lovers will delight in the enchantment of this magical Maldivian resort with its oversized water villas offering direct beach access, the on-call manta spotting service, hidden jungle spa, and delectable dining experiences.
One such dining experience is sure to leave you starry-eyed; as you drift away with dinner right on the ocean. Sail away on a floating platform dressed in flickering candles and set with a linen-draped table for two. The chef will take the boat out to greet you, serving a sumptuous dinner, before leaving you marooned with your loved one in the midst of the glittering lagoon looked upon only by the watching stars.
Be marooned with a Michelin starred chef at Jumeirah Vittaveli
For a limited time, everyone’s favourite upmarket resort is offering guests the chance to swoon over an exclusive dining menu served in style on a marooned desert island. Chef Ollie Dabbous has crafted dishes at the world’s finest restaurants, and finally flung open the doors to his very own place back in 2012. The Dabbous was a rip-roaring success and lauded as one of the hardest reservations to get in London, just a month after opening it was awarded a Michelin star. Guests can admire the chefs vision and innovation as they watch him prepare a stunning wine dinner between the sand and the sea.
Jumeirah Vittaveli is also unveiling its latest luxurious overwater villa – complete with its very own water slide leading from balcony into the blue lagoon. Along with swish slide fun, these epic villas offer enchanting open-air decks, private bars with well-stocked wine fridges, and sleepy overwater hammocks.◼
© This article was first published in Dec-Jan 2019 edition of World Travel Magazine.