Centuries ago, back when explorers sailed the seas, they tried to avoid the expanse of the Indian Ocean 400 miles or so southwest of Sri Lanka, where more than a thousand small islands dotted the water, creating a nautical hazard.
The Maldives might make for a treacherous voyage, but once you've safely arrived, the place ticks every box on the island-paradise checklist: impossibly clear water, ultrafine sand and breathtaking skies. And there's no better place to take it all in than at the Anantara Dhigu resort. Among the resort's many charms and conveniences: It has a marine biologist on staff, so if the scuba diving or surfing or luxurious spas aren't enough, you can always hop in a boat and have an expert take you out to snorkel with manta rays.
The attentive Anantara staffers aren't the only locals who will do anything to improve your stay. On the day our group went to see the manta rays, the fish were nowhere to be found. So a band of dolphins stepped in and put on a show, racing our boat—like the scene in Titanic. As if on cue, the more the crowd gaped, the more elaborate the tricks the dolphins performed.
Alas, the average elevation of the Maldives is only three feet, and some scientists believe that within a century or two, the whole place could be submerged. Last year President Mohamed Nasheed held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to the rising sea level, and the government has been looking to buy property (in India, Sri Lanka or Australia) on higher ground.
They'll have a hard time finding something more beautiful than this.
Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa and Naladhu Maldives