Perhaps the ultimate in long haul luxury, the Maldives is currently enjoying incredible growth again having bounced back from a series of disasters in the past few years including the coral bleaching wrought by el Niño and the horror of the 2004 tsunami. Indeed, so superior are its beaches, so cobalt blue its waters and so warm its welcome that the country has become a byword for paradise whether it be for honeymooners, sun worshippers or divers.
A geological eccentricity nestled in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are a series of ancient coral reefs that grew up around the sides of towering prehistoric volcanoes. These immense structures have long since sunk into the ocean, leaving behind coral islands of incredible natural beauty, now themselves being colonised by travellers seeking unbridled pampering and romance, from the modernity of Male’ to the idyllic paradise of the Southern Atolls.
This is life stripped down to simplicity – bright blue skies, all-year sunshine and fantastic diving and snorkelling in lagoons the temperature of bath water. The country embraces travellers from around the world allowing them the freedoms holiday makers require without compromising the islands’ deep Muslim faith one bit.
This is an exciting time to visit a country in developmental frenzy. Every few months brings newly opened resorts from top end boutique brands to ecologically sound back-to-nature hotels. Not cheap even at the bottom end, this is a place for a holiday of a lifetime (and that phrase suddenly takes on a new meaning here). The Maldives demands the attention of anyone looking for a uniquely indulgent break, breathtaking nature and sheer beauty that stays with you long after your tan has faded.