Known, loved and deeply envied the world over, the Maldives is the total embodiment of an island idyll destination. Like celestial constellations flung across the sky, this archipelago is comprised of 26 perfectly-formed atolls, emerging almost impossibly from the crystalline Indian Ocean. And if you think that sounds pretty special, we haven’t even started on the aquatic playground beneath the surface. From bio-luminescent beaches, to cocktails and cuisine alongside a coral reef, the underwater experiences in the Maldives are unlike any other in the world. Our experts at Kenwood Travel have done you a solid and picked out their Top 6. Now it’s up to you to take the plunge:
Big Five Diving at Six Senses
Famed worldwide amongst the scuba community, the Maldives’ plankton-rich waters draw in a star-spangled roster of reef residents, including the ‘Big 5’ of sub-aquatic safari: sea turtles, eagle rays, whale sharks, manta rays, and dolphins. And if you’re wondering how best to get acquainted with your neighbours, we recommend you jump in with both feet and head straight to ‘Manta Point’. Six Senses Laamu is just ten minutes away from this marine haven and, with its own environmentally-certified dive centre, makes the perfect gateway to the big blue. For those who’d sooner explore the shallows, Six Senses Laamu also has an indescribably beautiful house reef and provides each guest with snorkelling equipment free of charge.
Eating with the Fishes at Ithaa
The first of its kind in the world, Ithaa Underwater Restaurant, at the Conrad Maldives, has employed ground-breaking architectural design to create an innovative dining experience 5 metres under the sea. The all-glass domed ceiling and walls offer a 270° panorama of the unending seascape around you, teeming with life. There is a four-course lunch, which can include a whole grilled Maldivian lobster, whilst the six-course dinner begins with sunset champagne and Oscietra caviar. If the idea of dining on catch of the day whilst surrounded by marine species seems slightly fishy, fear not: the chefs and stellar waiting staff will be glad to provide an alternative option with a smile.
Glowing Reception at Mudhdhoo Beach
Pristine beaches decorate scalloped, sugar-white bays along innumerable azure coastlines; there’s no doubt where you’ll be spending most of your holiday in the Maldives. Perhaps even more phenomenal than this destination in dazzling daylight, is the sea continuing to sparkle even in the dark. The magic behind this incredible display is down to microscopic bio-luminescent crustaceans giving off a psychedelic glow. Night divers can enquire at their local scuba centre to experience the sea aglow whilst moving weightlessly through the water. Just as cosmic, however, is watching from the beach as waves roll in emblazoned with blue lights. Though there are plenty of places to catch these otherworldly organisms, but Mudhdhoo Beach in the Baa Atoll is best for bio-luminescence.
Submerged Sipping at Niyama Private Islands
Whilst many nightclubs compete for the best rooftop views, Subsix has ventured into previously uncharted territory, becoming the world’s first underwater nightclub. Cast anchor at Subsix, just 500 metres by speedboat from Niyama Private Islands, and descend an imposing three-tier staircase to reach the club. Decked out in floor-to-ceiling windows and impressively tasteful marine-inspired décor, Subsix is the ideal spot to sink a few sophisticated cocktails from their extensive menu. On Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9pm you can join a well-attended Glow Party, where flashing lights and DJ-curated melodies compete for attention with the gleaming pageant of wrasse, parrotfish and snapper. Don’t want the night to end? Rumour has it that the club only shuts up shop when the very last patron ascends those stairs.
Feeding Time at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
Visitors looking to preserve the underwater environment as much as observe and enjoy it, should perhaps consider a trip to Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. This breath-taking luxury resort uses its fantastic resources towards local ecological projects. Their Marine Conservation Lab on the island includes a coral-regeneration facility, a turtle hatchery, and a staff of environmental experts. So if you’re feeling green, we recommend participating in activities including educational sessions, coral clean-ups, and (not to be missed) the daily sting-ray feeding. Watch as a graceful flotilla of rays descend on the powdery-white shoreline, twirling gracefully and returning to the big blue once sated.
Bottom’s up at Milaidhoo Island
If you’re in any way tempted by the concept of an island paradise surrounded by glassy, tepid water, make your way to Milaidhoo Island Maldives. Uniquely situated with a UNESCO-protected biosphere reserve on its doorstep, the resort’s crystal-clear waters are festooned with bright corals, encircling the entire island. Along with a five-star PADI dive centre offering all manners of scuba sessions, Milaidhoo Island Resort also offers complimentary use of their transparent kayaks, therefore you never need to miss a beat of the underwater theatre as you skim the surface. We recommend before your excursion that you check in with one of the island’s resident marine biologists, so that way you’ll know for sure when you find Nemo.