There is no more perfect place to simply be. It is as if the 1,190 coral islands of the equatorial Maldives have made it their individual responsibility to ensure a picture perfect island vacation on board a luxury yacht charter. These idyllic islands, strung on a coral chain in the Indian Ocean, are protected by barrier reefs that further enhance their appeal to man as well as avian and marine animals. It is truly paradise with perfect scenery and perfect weather.
Six days of complete exhales, from dawn to dusk, this Maldives itinerary could read the same daily: wake up, enjoy the view, play in the water, dine on delicious seafood, then celebrate the day. Come dive in. The water, in a word, is exquisite.
Day 1: From the main island of Male in the North Male Atoll, set out for the Ari Atoll and a drift dive full of colorful fish. Expect pelagic fish, such as whale sharks, manta rays, and hammerheads, along with large schools of batfish and barracuda. After an exhilarating day, consider a spa treatment at any of several resort islands. The Four Seasons Kuda Huraa Spa, the Sonova Fushi Spa, or the Japanese inspired Angsana Velavaru Spa all have full spa menus with many local ingredients applied by skilled hands.
Day 2: A lovely day for exploring the real lifestyle among the Maldivians, head to the provincial island of Manigili, where the simple life proves pervasive. Fishermen mend nets while craftsmen weave mats, hats, and useful household items from grasses and reeds, and women prepare and dry fish caught by the men that day. The pace is slow, and the island is not commercial, but this enviable simplicity is a lovely excursion encouraging all to slow down and live every moment. Unlike the resort islands, women should remind themselves to cover shoulders and legs out of respect for native customs when visiting native islands.
Day 3: Another beautiful day in paradise, surrounded by the ultra-clear aquamarine water and the brilliant white sugar sands, fanned by graceful palms, cruise out around the atoll for a swim, dive, snorkel, and a picnic on one of the uninhabited islands like Dhiffushi. Relax on the beach and perhaps even set a BBQ on the silky sand. Challenging dives around Kudarah Thila or Mushimasmingali Thila provide dramatic drops and exotic views of sea fans, black corals, and anemones. Simpler dives like Banana Reef or Kuda Girl give neophytes a confident outing that encourages exploration. Swimming with whale sharks and manta rays is a thrilling day no matter where you do it, but when you are in the Maldives, the scenery is also sublime.
Day 4: Cruise around the atoll for a peek at some of the other islands and reefs teeming with colorful parrotfish, eels, and unusual creatures. Lazily swim from sandbar to beach to boat, watching the scenery through the warm, clear water, or grab a snorkel and fins for a quicker tour.
Day 5: Spend another divinely perfect day on board your gorgeous yacht, cruising stunningly beautiful islands and pursuing your pleasure, whether it is water, land, or boat-based. Then dress for dinner at Rangali Island’s Ithaa underwater restaurant. With five meters of water above, and a 180 degree view of the ocean, exquisite six course European-inspired meals are served up properly with paired wines and champagnes.
Day 6: Cruise back to Male on the last day of the itinerary, exploring the markets for souvenirs and checking out the betel leaf vendors, as you prepare to disembark.