IF you're looking for turquoise waters, palm trees and some snorkelling, The Maldives is the place to have a fin-tastic experience.
The Maldives is the ultimate spot for a tropical trip of a lifetime, says Art Editor NIKKI ACKERMAN.
Romance it up
The moment we reach the stunning island resort of Vakarufalhi, it’s easy to see why the Maldives is known as the destination for romantic vacays.
The remote, intimate retreat is accessed by seaplane from capital Malé, which is an adventure in itself. On arrival we’re shown into our spacious villa, featuring a luxe, semi-open-air bathroom and direct access to our own secluded beach spot.
For an even more special treat, stay in an over-water villa, where you can watch fish swimming in the turquoise sea through the glass-bottom floors, and splash about in a private pool on the deck. Double rooms cost from £197 B&B (Vakarufalhi.com).
Relax to the max
Vakarufalhi embodies indulgence. We sip cocktails at sunset, then dine under the stars with a candlelit meal of a lifetime with lobster and wine on the beach, £230 for two.
You can also unwind by rustling up your own Maldivian curry in an on-site cookery class, booking a star-gazing experience with the local astronomer or catching a film at the open-air cinema on the deck.
After a visit to the Duniye spa for a blissful massage, £85 for one hour, we leave feeling zen out of 10.
Live the life fin-tastic!
One morning we grab a snorkel and swim along the colourful coral reef that circles Vakarufalhi, spotting plenty of turtles.
If you fancy going deeper, there’s a dive centre on site, too. We then hop aboard a traditional Maldivian long boat and set off on an amazing whale-shark-seeking experience to swim alongside the friendly giants. Tickets cost £48 and are organised via the resort.
Snap sunsets in style
Next we hit Maafushi, which is just a short speedboat ride from Malé. The island is so tiny that you can explore it all in just 25 minutes, giving you a quick snapshot of local life.
We potter around gift shops that sell hand-crafted goodies, sampling water sports such as jet-skiing, banana boating and kayaking on Bikini Beach, and stop for food at beachside snack shacks that serve lush, healthy nosh.
We hunker down for the night at the Liyela retreat, a beautiful yet affordable boutique hotel with rustic charm at the centre of its vibrant island. The decor is stylishly minimal, with Mediterranean and Moroccan influences.
It also has a rooftop lounge – ideal for a no-filter sun snap – and an impressive menu of iced coffees, fresh juices and smoothie bowls. The tahini tuna fillet, £11, and home-made passionfruit sorbet, £2.50, washed down with a coconut mango crush, £5, is to-die-for.
Double rooms at Liyela cost from £97 B&B (Liyelaretreat.com). Maafushi island is alcohol-free, so if you fancy a nightcap follow the flashing lights and music via taxi-boat to one of the floating bars.
Keep it reel
On Maafushi we head on a speedboat snorkelling tour and spot wild dolphins and nurse sharks. Tickets cost £39 for the day, including a picnic lunch on a deserted sandbank in the middle of the sea (Shadowpalm.com).
We also try our hand at line fishing on a relaxing sunset cruise, an excursion organised by the Salt Beach Hotel, followed by an alfresco dinner to sample our catch, £20. This is the life!
Return flights from London to Malé cost from £550 with Turkish Airlines (Turkish airlines.com).
Get more info and plan your stay at Visitmaldives.com.
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