Located in the Indian Ocean between the Arabian peninsula and India, the Maldive Islands are as romantically isolated as any island chain known to travelers.
It's not impossible to get here, however. A three-hour flight from Dubai (with a recommended stopover) puts the islands within relatively easy reach of the Eastern U.S. and Europe.
The Maldives are made up of several hundred atolls, grouped in small archipelagos, generally no higher than a few feet above sea level. They’re known for private island resorts and over-water villas – similar to the bungalows you’ll find in Tahiti. Crystal clear waters and near shore reefs make for world-class snorkeling and scuba diving.
While the country is more socially conservative than even Tahiti or Fiji, the Maldivians are friendly, with a culture that seems to draw from South Pacific, Indian and African influences.
My host for the trip was Banyan Tree Hotels, and the accommodations they showcased were top-notch. Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Angsana Ihuru and Angsana Velavaru were three of the private island resorts I stayed at or visited.
Each offers bungalow-style accommodations, and all had spectacularly pristine beaches. Velavaru features two-story over-water villas with private pools, reached from the main resort by a short boat transfer.
I’d recommend the Maldives for honeymooners and anniversary couples, scuba divers and snorkelers, and anyone looking for a unique hideaway. It’s a truly amazing island destination, and becoming a prime spot for visitors across the world despite (or because of?) its remoteness.