Maldives

 
CONSIDERED ONE OF THE ULTIMATE ISLAND DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD, THE MALDIVES ARE THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR HONEYMOONERS AND COUPLES WHO TRULY WANT TO ESCAPE INTO A FAIRYTALE VERSION OF TROPICAL PARADISE.

WHY HONEYMOON HERE?
When couples daydream of going to an idyllic tropical island resort – luxuriously appointed, totally secluded and surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters – what they’re picturing is probably something quite akin to what you’ll find at dozens of world-class resorts located in the Maldives.

The archipelago nation, located in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, consists of 1,200 islands, of which just about 190 are inhabited. Incredibly, over 100 of those islands are home to resorts. With so many island retreats to choose from, there are plenty of niche markets. Honeymooners will want to make sure that they pick just the right resort for them, one free of families or surfers (unless that’s what you’re both into, of course).

The only major city in the Maldives (and we use ‘major’ relatively here) is the capital of Malé, but most vacationers only see it when they fly in and out of the airport. More than likely, you’ll be doing all of your eating, activities and relaxing at your chosen resort, so you’ll want to be sure to choose well. Fortunately we’ve picked three of the best, most romantic resorts where you’re sure to get your tropical fairy-tale experience.

FOR AWARD-WINNING ROMANCE
If you’re looking for the ultimate in romance, Baros Maldives (www.baros.com; +960 664 26 72) is without a doubt one of the most perfect couple’s accommodations in the world. And that’s not just our opinion – it won the World Travel Award for Most Romantic Resort in the World in 2012.

When it opened in 1973, Baros Maldives was only the third island resort in the archipelago and from Malé it took a 3-hour ride on a dhoni (a traditional Maldivian boat) to reach its humble collection of unconditioned cabanas. In the 30 intervening years, Baros has upped the luxury factor by many degrees. It now features 45 beautifully appointed villas by the beach and 30 villas built on stilts over the water.  As well as having a private veranda or sun deck, sun loungers and a teak dining table for two, each villa has a spacious, teak-floored bedroom featuring a king-size bed. All have direct access to the beautiful lagoon by the beach from the veranda or by wooden steps from the sun deck, and several of the villas have their own private plunge pools.

The exact placement of the resort was chosen because it lay on a small and unspoilt location at the centre of the atoll, with its own reef encircling a pristine lagoon and untouched sandy shores. The resort’s operators have done an excellent job of maintaining the island’s natural beauty and pristine waters, making it an excellent place to not just relax but go on underwater adventures as well.  Baros Maldives has its very own PADI dive centre where you can get certified to scuba and there is also a marine biology centre where you can learn, up close and personal, all about coral ecology and the teeming biodiversity of the resort’s reef (which often include sea turtles and sharks).

Baros Maldive’s signature fine dining restaurant, The Lighthouse, is situated in an overwater pavillion, allowing diners to enjoy magnificent views of the Indian Ocean while enjoying decadent dishes such as the Lobster “Wellington,” which sees the toothsome crustacean baked into saffron puff pastry with mushroom duxelle.

But for the ultimate romantic dining, you can have the resort set up a very special dinner date for you and your loved one on one of the nearby sandbars, creating a once in a lifetime experience as you enjoy an elegant meal, surrounded by the ocean and served discreetly by your own personal waiter and chef.

FOR HIP HONEYMOONERS
For most couples, spending long days lounging by the beach and playing in the water is plenty, but some may find such languorous pleasures can get boring after a while without the possibility of some exciting nightlife to make their time in paradise complete. For happening honeymooners who want the option of grooving the night away at a swanky club late into the night, NIYAMA Maldives (niyama.peraquum.com; + 960 6762 828)  is definitely the right Maldivian resort.

Actually, swanky is an inadequate adjective to describe the unbelievable Subsix, the world’s first underwater club. The indigo and blue decor goes swimmingly with the glass walls that look out upon the spotlit sea. Dancing to international DJs while watching schools of fish swim by is so wonderfully surreal it’ll be hard for you to go to a land-locked club ever again. If you get sore from too much booty shaking and feel like a massage at 3 a.m. they’ve got you covered too – NIYAMA’s Lime Spa offers treatments 24 hours a day.

The resort has a wide variety of rooms, everything from beachside studios to overwater ocean pavilions with private pools, each designed with clean modern lines and smart, thoughtful amenities. There are lots of lively dining options, including Tribal, which does “modern campfire dining” and intriguing grilled dishes like a loin of African Karoo lamb with a Nicaraguan coffee rub, and Edge, an overwater fine dining restaurant only accessible by boat.

FOR SOPHISTICATED ISLAND LOVERS
Anantara already had three other resorts in the Maldives when it opened up the Anantara Kihava Villas (kihavah-maldives.anantara.com; +960 660 1020) in 2010. As such, they brought an ocean of island luxury knowledge to bear on its design, resulting in a venue that is somehow extravagant, spectacular and understated at the same time. One of the goals when creating the resort was to make everything as ecologically friendly as possible, which involved, among many special considerations, not chopping down a single tree during its construction. As such, many of the beachfront villas were designed around the abundant palm trees, creating accommodations that blend in beautifully with their verdant surroundings.

After a short 35-minute flight from Malé via seaplane, guests will be welcomed with a tropical drink and a foot cleansing ritual as they settle into their villa.  The Anantara Kihavah features 78 spacious overwater and beach suites, each with high ceilings as well as elegant timber and marble interiors. Standard features including private infinity pools, outdoor showers and oversized bathtubs for two.

The resort offers up some spectacular dining and drinking options at their Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky dining complex. As the name suggests, the complex encompasses four concepts – Sky, a rooftop bar that offers breathtaking views of the Baa Atoll, Fire, a teppanyaki lounge featuring chefs acrobatically slicing and dicing freshly caught seafood, and Salt, which specialises in special dishes such as lamb and red snapper baked on top of large blocks of Himalayan salt. But the most impressive of all is, without a doubt, Sea, their underwater wine cellar and restaurant which allows you to indulge in gourmet dishes and drinks while watching ocean life swim right by you.

To work off all those decadent meals, the resort is ready to help you engage in a number of watersports, including diving, waterskiing, windsurfing and even big game fishing. If you’d rather indulge some more, head over to the superlative spa and choose from their extensive menu of traditional treatments from Thailand, India and Indonesia.

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