Published: 10 September 2013 by: Nicole Deuble

Snorkelling bliss - iStock

Enjoy a fine romance on an island made for two; there are literally hundreds to choose from at this fabled Indian Ocean getaway.

If you must get shipwrecked, you might as well do it in style. So discovered Australian surfer Tony Hinde who was washed up on a heavenly North Malé Atoll shore in 1973, enroute to Africa, and never went home. He fell under the spell of both the local breaks and lifestyle, married a Maldivian woman, Zulfa, and set up a surf school.WhileTony was helping visitors master the shallow coral reefs, the buzz started building about the near-mythical appeal of the destination he had ‘discovered’.

 Find a hammock and slip into island time - Dreamstime

A local bat fish - Dreamstime

Now couples who are circumnavigating the globe in search of the perfect swathe of sand have the Maldives on their mind.The fact that many people couldn’t readily place this enchanting archipelago on a map seems only to enhance its allure (it’s just south of India by the way). Postcards promise a far- flung paradise of tiny white-sand islands braceleted by colourful coral reefs and anchored in the kind of water which defies superlatives – no photoshop required.The reality is pinch-yourself pretty, and with only 200 of the 1000 islands inhabited there’s always a pristine empty beach just waiting for two beach towels and a bottle of Champagne.

If you’re looking for a castaway experience that doesn’t skimp on comforts, the Maldives has developed its own special brand of laid-back luxury and discreet decadence. Relaxed indulgence has become an artform here and with a generous ratio of one resort per island, the accommodations are superb. You won’t find high-rise hotels tottering on sinking sandbanks but rather carefully designed and constructed five-star escapes which have been created with the fragile environment in mind. Think airy low-rise beachfront pavilions in beautiful natural timbers, perfectly-appointed overwater bungalows that barely rate a passing glance from the marine life below and spa sanctuaries which showcase nourishing local ingredients as well as international super brands. Dining is a highlight too; local specialities feature spectacular super-fresh seafood and delicious tropical fruits with the exotic influences of nearby Sri Lanka, India and Africa making their mark on menus which also boast classics from around the world.

Haveli Resort - Constance Hotels

Don’t expect to spend all your time lolling about the sunset bar either. In a place that boasts more sea than land, it’s almost mandatory to make like a local and get wet! In the balmy Indian Ocean waters, high underwater visibility almost year-round and the stunning spectacle of over 3000 coral reefs have made the Maldives a diving and snorkelling favourite. And you won’t be alone; the region boasts over a thousand species of fish and underwater creatures to keep you company as you slide through the silky waters. Everything from tiny plant cells to starfish, giant clams, tropical fish, turtles and manta rays jostle for attention in a marine hub that will have you grabbing your partner in astonishment at every turn.And if you want to follow in the footsteps of Tony Hinde, affectionately known as ‘the father of surfing in the Maldives’, the main season runs from May to October. Look for names like Pasta Point and the Honkeys (long lefts), Sultans (a right with barrels) and Chickens (a reef off an uninhabited island in the North Male Atoll).

The Maldives really is made for two, so whether you spend your days supine in the sunshine on a deserted beach, snorkelling hand-in-hand in an underwater fishtank, or drinking in the views from your overwater bungalow terrace, you’ll feel like you’ve discovered paradise.

The salt white sands of the Maldives - Dreamstime

One of the many pristine uninhabited islands - Dreamstime

 

Fact File - Truly, Madly, Maldives

DO:

Get out on the water. Play celebrities on a glamorous sunset boat cruise where the Champagne flows freely and the dophins seem to frolic for your amusement alone; or visit one of the local fishing villages and while away an afternoon on a wooden swing in the shade while the locals gather at the holhuashi; a traditional thatched roof communal gazebo. Or why not trial every watersport on offer; think kayaking, surfing, snorkelling, diving and parasailing; there’s something for every skill level.

DON’T:

Leave without experiencing the Maldives from the air. Only a seaplane flight can really showcase the unique beauty of the individual isles, and while most visitors give the capital of Malé a miss (as the airport is located on a nearby island, Hulhumale) it’s an unexpected treat from the air; a floating pencil box jam-packed with brightly coloured buildings.Ask your resort in advance to organise a trip for two.

COUPLES WILL LOVE:

The splendid isolation, first-class appointments and sublime natural beauty of this paradise-found escape. It really is unique!

ACCOMMODATION:

To plan your own romantic island getaway to the Maldives, check out our accommodation directory

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