Idyllic Beaches of the Maldives

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Idyllic Beaches of the Maldives
Idyllic beaches are what make the Maldives famous, and thousands of them ring the islands. Some are sheltered by reefs, others nudge gently against the edges of rain forest, and plenty are perfectly deserted.
Photo courtesy of The Maldives Tourism Board
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    Activities at Sea
    Sun-warmed lounges and soft beach towels are tempting, but after visitors have perfected their tans, they'll find the action is on the water. Surfers ply Maldivian waves from March to October, seeking the 10-foot swells brought on by storms. Chickens, a break in the North Male Atoll, is a top spot, as is Cokes near Thulusdhoo island. Snorkeling, diving, and boating are the most popular pastimes, and adventurers can also hop on a Jet Ski. Those looking for something less rigorous can choose simply to captain a canoe or glide out to sea on a banana boat.
    Photo courtesy of The Maldives Tourism Board
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    Celebrity Beaches
    When celebrities want to sneak out of the limelight, they head to the Maldives—not only for its unparalleled luxury, but because the islands offer complete privacy. Star-spotters with a careful eye can still glimpse VIPs at the swanky One&Only Reethi Rah resort, which is frequented by the likes of Tom Cruise, singer Fergie, and the whole Beckham clan. The Anantara Kihavah Villas are also popular with the rich and famous, having hosted tennis star Roger Federer as well as supermodel Chrissy Teigen (whose husband, John Legend, proposed during their trip).
    Photo courtesy of Anantara Kihavah Villas
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    Touring the Seascape
    The waters surrounding the Maldives are brimming with sea life. Lily Beach Resort & Spa and Mirihi Island Resort are two properties celebrated for their house reefs, where snorkelers swim alongside dozens of species of fish, eels, sea snakes, manta rays, and turtles. The presence of sharks might give some pause, but note that those found near the resorts mostly are harmless reef sharks. People who prefer to contemplate the marine fauna from the comfort of a jetty, drink in hand, can still attend a resort's feeding time for a waterside spectacle: Enormous stingrays and hungry sharks are whipped into a frenzy when dinner leftovers are thrown their way. Away from the resorts, Fish Head and Banana Reef are both popular diving sites, the latter being a protected aquatic area marked by cliffs and overhangs, sheltering the likes of barracuda, snappers, and groupers.
    Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/age fotostock
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    Oceanside Dining
    A multicourse meal, enjoyed on the beach at sunset, is an essential ingredient in a Maldives honeymoon. Resorts pull out all the stops for such occasions, enhancing the mood further with gauzy tents and flickering candles. Some hotels can arrange dinner on a private jetty or, as is the case with the Soneva Fushi resort, on a private sandbar surrounded by glowing lanterns. The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island will set up a picnic table, chilled drinks, and an umbrella right on the beach, while the Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru serves dinner on a floating platform in the middle of a lagoon.
    Photo courtesy of Conrad Hotels & Resorts
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    Yoga on the Sand
    The warmth of sunrise and the gentle sound of waves add a deeper sense of peace to a morning yoga practice. Nearly every resort in the Maldives offers yoga classes; some take place right on the shoreline, while others are held in a special pavilion overlooking the water. Kurumba employs an in-house yogi, who helps guests work on their poses and guides them through a meditation. Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa offers sunrise yoga on the sand, and the Six Senses Laamu draws visitors from around the world thanks to its many different yoga classes—including aerial yoga in a beachside studio.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Beaches for Families
    A family vacation in the Maldives doesn't—and shouldn't—mean that parents are relegated to pools packed with toddlers. Some resorts cater to families by offering kids' clubs, which occupy children so parents can pursue rest, relaxation, and a quiet cocktail or two; the One&Only Reethi Rah and Kurumba resorts are popular for that reason. Kuramathi Island Resort employs a marine biologist to introduce young guests to the biodiversity surrounding the island, while other activities include beach games, visits to a tropical-plant nursery, and treasure hunts.
    Photo by Norbert Eisele-Hein/age fotostock
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    Secluded Sands
    The Maldives may be secluded, but—short of renting an entire island—it's tricky to totally restrict contact with other travelers. Enter Soneva Fushi, which built its villas in a way that makes each one feel completely isolated. Guests enjoy the comforts of a five-star property without feeling like they’re sharing each of those stars with everyone else. The resort itself is in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, where coral reefs host a colony of nesting turtles among other diverse marine life. In keeping with its location, Soneva is also equipped with a solar-power plant and sources its food locally. Not to be outdone, Nika Island Resort offers a dedicated beach for every single villa, guaranteeing privacy.
    Photo courtesy of Soneva Fushi
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    Shark Spotting
    While the idea of coming face-to-face with a shark may not be terribly appealing, curious guests can still spot the fearsome fish from the safety of a beach or jetty. Reef sharks and small nurse sharks are the species most common in the reefs surrounding resorts, and they don’t usually pose a danger to swimmers. The Maldives’ South Ari Atoll is known to attract whale sharks, and area properties such as Conrad Maldives Rangali Island offer day trips to snorkel with the enormous creatures. A number of nearby dive sites are also frequented by whitetip sharks, full-grown blacktips, and hammerheads.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Long Walks on Long Beaches
    The Maldives is famous for tiny islands. But two of the archipelago's biggest islands can help keep those who prefer open spaces from pacing back and forth on the same stretch of sand. Lux South Ari Atoll sits on Dhidhoofinolhu, one of the country's largest landmasses; the resort boasts two full miles of beaches. Landaa Giraavaru, home to a Four Seasons, commands a staggering 44 acres of wilderness; the island is within the Baa Atoll, a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Guests are welcome to explore the lush tropical forest and the stunning coral reef surrounding the property, which is the site of numerous conservation projects.
    Photo courtesy of Ken Seet/Four Seasons Resorts Maldives
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    Preserving Land and Sand
    The Maldives consists of more than 1000 islands. Some hotels have managed to maintain the integrity of their islands while building five-star properties on them. In an effort to protect vegetation and reef, the tiny Reethi Beach Resort only takes up about 16 percent of its land area. The beaches on Filitheyo Island Resort are also striking and sustainably managed. The surrounding coral reef remains completely untouched, and the island has been preserved to make the most of its natural habitat. Conservation efforts are under way at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, where staff members work to safeguard sea turtles and their habitat by removing dangerous ghost nets, while educating guests and local schoolchildren about the problem.
    Photo courtesy of Reethi Beach Resort