The world’s lowest-lying nation rises barely four-feet above sea level (at its highest point, a mere eight-feet), and fans over the Indian #Ocean in wide, flat circles of blindingly white sand. The Maldives are nestled halfway between Indonesia and Africa, and attract travelers seriously committed to communing with the sparkling #turquoise tides.
Made up of 26 atolls spanning 1,190 different islands (of these, less than a third are inhabited) the Maldives are like one giant jigsaw #puzzle of sandbars and lagoons. An impressive number of marine species have made their homes in the surrounding reefs and, as a result, the #Maldives are particularly popular among scuba divers.
Within each of the island chain’s ring-shaped atolls — North Ari Atoll, South Ari Atoll, Laamu Atoll, and so on — is a group of different islands typically anchored by a small #airport. In the case of Kaafu Atoll, it’s home to Velana International Airport, which is the main entry point for all travelers. From here, you’ll need to arrange a separate flight or speedboat transfer to get to your individual hotel.
December through April is the dry season, and the most popular time to visit the Maldives. This can make hotels slightly more expensive, but it’s also when you can enjoy a guaranteed streak of gorgeous, storm-free days. Moreover, dry season makes for better visibility (think: crystal-clear snorkeling and underwater diving). No matter what time of year, travelers can expect balmy temperatures in the mid-80s.
The Maldives are full of dreamy, relatively untouched islands, and one of the joys of vacationing here is venturing beyond your hotel. A typical #excursion might include fishing at sunset in a 60-foot dhoni (a traditional Maldivian wooden boat). Another favorite is island hopping, when resort guests are taken to a handful of nearby islands and properties to #snorkel and explore on land (a packed or barbecue lunch is almost always included). Some hotels even offer intimate escapes for couples. Just imagine being taken out to a deserted beach in a dinghy, where you’re left to enjoy the company of your significant other for the entire afternoon, equipped with only a fully stocked #picnic basket and a mobile phone in case of emergencies.