For a small group of islands, barely visible on a map, the Maldives has a surprisingly rich and interesting history. It may be famous for relaxation but this archipelago offers an experience every bit as cultural as it is refreshing.
Legend goes that first Maldivians were followers of an exiled Indian Prince called Vijaya, who fled southern India with several hundred subjects and established himself as the first King of Sri Lanka. During the voyage one of his ships sailed adrift and ended up in what is now known as Maldives. Officially the lowest and flattest country on Earth, it’s unsurprising that its modern inhabitants are committed to battling climate change and rising sea levels in a bid to keep their paradisiacal island homes. In 2009, the Maldivian government even held an underwater cabinet meeting in a quirky attempt at drawing attention to the issue.
Of course, the islands aren’t disappearing any time soon, but if their people’s plight is unsuccessful, Maldives stands to become the 21st century’s lost city of Atlantis. If you’re lucky enough to visit, there’s a very real chance you may one day be able to tell your grandchildren the tale of your visit to a paradise that was swallowed by the sea. So, if you’re eager to visit while you still can, we’ve put together some of the most luxurious resorts on offer for you to explore.
Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa
Sitting just south of the equator, is Shangri-La Villingili, located on an atoll known as Addu City. Although Villingili itself offers quiet relaxation, its close proximity to Gan and other more populous islands, gives you a much larger area to explore, as well as a chance to discover the friendly locals and their culture. To accommodate your adventurous spirit, Shangri-La offer various speedboat excursions around the atoll. In particular, we’d recommend taking advantage of their popular bicycle tours and exploring the longest road in the Maldives, which links three separate islands together. The resort is popular with leisure sports enthusiasts, offering a range of water sports and a 9-hole golf course, as well as boasting around 25 diving sites located around the atoll. For people who’ve been before, it goes without saying that every inch of the Maldivian island landscape harbours an ambience as devastatingly romantic as its views, but Shangri-La’s fabulous in-villa dining experience really is the icing on the cake.
Six Senses Laamu
Just on the other side of the equator is the exceptional Six Senses Laamu. Waking at sunrise in one of its quaint overwater villas is what Maldivian mornings were made for. Disappearing over the distant horizon in every direction, the ocean shimmers and serenades the shore with a gentle rhythmic shush. The sound of lapping waves and the visually imposing vastness of the ocean composes an irresistible siren’s song, tempting you to sink your toes in the sand and ponder the infinite wonders of the universe. Life’s worries set sail, leaving in their place a sense of bliss that sticks with you throughout your stay. After each morning’s stunning sunrise, true to Maldivian tradition, there’s a whole host of land and water sports to set pulses racing, along with one of Maldives’ most stunning spas to restore you back to relaxation for the evening. Six Senses Laamu encapsulates the essence of Maldivian appeal.
Per Aquum Niyama
Situated over two islands, aptly named Play and Chill, Niyama presents two contrasting tropical worlds for you to explore. After peeling your eyes away from the captivating surrounding scenery, one of the first things that strikes you upon arrival is the vibrancy and colour, particularly in the evening, when the resort is illuminated by a spectrum of candescent light. As you might imagine, Play Island offers an exhilarating menu of water sports, diving and land-based leisure activities, while Chill Island invites you to kick back and unwind, either lounging in supreme comfort on the beach or in the sanctuary of Lime Spa. A day of pampered rejuvenation can surprisingly muster just as much of an appetite as a full day of adrenalizing activity, making Niyama’s nine restaurants all the more mouth-watering at the end of a fulfilling day. Whether staying in a Beach Studio or a Beach Pool Suite, this delightful double island destination is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
Oblu by Atmosphere at Helengeli
Before Atmosphere took over in November 2015, Helengeli Island was already a long-established hit with experienced divers. Its deeper waters bring the prospect of seeing a much wider variety of marine life, from turtles to placid whale sharks. One difference between Oblu and most other Maldivian resorts, which is immediately apparent, is that it doesn’t have any overwater villas. This was a conscientious step taken to protect the island’s wonderfully diverse reefs and its fishy inhabitants, however, the superb Lagoon Villas rest half on the beach, half in the water, meaning you can walk onto your terrace each morning and step directly into the sea. Your appetite for adventure isn’t the only thing you’ll satisfy, as the Beach Grill offers a delectable selection of locally caught seafood, while Main Restaurant serves an eclectic menu of world cuisine. Oblu by Atmosphere at Helengeli really does represent the ultimate diver’s paradise.
So, there you have it. Maldives islands may be small but they are many, and each one offers something surprising, beautiful and different from the last. Find your niche and explore our fantastic Maldives resorts today.