The Maldives comprises a string of coral atolls that are home to 1,190 islands. Although they have a combined land mass of less than 300 square kilometres (115 square miles) they span more than 107,500 square kilometres (41,500 square miles) of ocean from the tip of India south to the equator.
Only about one in ten of the coral islands are inhabited, usually by a luxury resort, but the ultimate way to experience the Maldives is by luxury yacht charter.
You’ll discover island upon island dotted with graceful coconut palms surrounded by crystal clear lagoons encrusted with reefs. On board your yacht you can easily flit between the resorts that do welcome outside visitors, explore the outer islands, remote dive-sites and fishing grounds inaccessible to most tourists.
The Maldives lends itself to a variety of ‘sand and sea’ activities from relaxing and sunbathing on the beach to diving, surfing and fishing. It’s a good idea to choose a yacht with plenty of watersports equipment such as kayaks, wake-boards, snorkelling gear and towables to make the most of the warm, uncrowded seas.
Your crew can take you to remote deserted islands where you’ll have the whole place to yourself, and set up a luxurious beach camp where you can laze the day away and feast on fresh seafood. You can also visit the small villages found on some of the islands where you can pick up local handicrafts.
For real luxury – why not relax at some of the resorts’ spas – one is even entirely underwater so you can watch the colourful fish glide by as you enjoy your massage.
High season runs from around December to May when the weather is wonderfully warm and dry and the sea is at its clearest. However with year round temperatures of 26-30°C there is no ‘bad’ time to go – there may be showers in the -low- season, but this is also the best time for surfing.
The coral Gardens here are gorgeous. At Hukurudhoo Uthuru Kandu, a main channel through Ari Atoll, reef life is particularly vibrant due to the wealth of nutrients swept past by the tidal flow. A drift dive allows you to see schools of Barracuda, Manta rays, Spotted Eagle rays, and the occasional White-tipped shark cruise off the drop-off, whilst Unicorn fish, colourful Butterfly fish and sharp-finned Surgeon fish hold the middle ground between deep and reef. Close in, Moray eels, Moorish Idols, Butterfly fish and Oriental Sweetlips lurk amongst the coral branches.