For the truly hedonistic water baby seeking paradise, look no further than the Maldives. Spread like jewels across the turquoise skirt of the Indian Ocean, the 1,190 desert islands that make up the archipelago are as close to fantasy as you are ever likely to get.
The island chain encompasses 26 atolls with a combined landmass of 300 square kilometres; yet they span more than 90,500 square kilometres across the Indian Ocean. Each island is surrounded by crystal-clear lagoons encrusted with reefs, providing some of the most outstanding dive sites in the world.
Only one sixth of the islands are inhabited, while a further 90 have been — in the main judiciously — transformed into exclusive holiday retreats. A few of these resorts bring to mind a Robinson Crusoe lifestyle, with the added bonus of modern luxury, each vying for the best/latest/most divine facilities and experiences. Exploring the Maldives by yacht means that you can easily flit from resort to resort, en route exploring the outer islands and remote dive sites and gamefish grounds that most visitors never see.
With a long history of Persian, African, British and Portuguese influences the Maldives nurture a rich cultural heritage, grand architectural landmarks and unique culinary tradition, from the historic Kaani Tree (Cordia Subcordata) on the island of Maroshi, to the birthplace of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu in Utheemu. Those who prefer to spend their time reading under a palm tree are advised to step ashore at Manafaru, located in the Alifu Atoll where winding paths lead you through dense vegetation to the white sand beach that loops the island.
- From the decks of your yacht you can fish at sunrise when sailfish, dog-tooth tuna, wahoo and red snapper are milling beneath the surface.
- Drift off on a musical sunset cruise aboard a traditional Dhoni. You will be accompanied by native Maldivian music, Boduberu, which is known to attract dolphins.
- Enjoy peaceful anchorages perfect for peaceful snorkelling and fishing on the Saviyani Atoll.
- Stop off for a spot of diving at Angu Faru in the Baa Atoll, where you discover the breeding grounds for grey reef sharks.
- Anchor off Kanuhura and enjoy al-fresco dining at one of the four gourmet restaurants the island has to offer.
- A yacht provides the opportunity to visit some of the Maldives most remote communities that most people cannot access.
- The Maldivian waters are among the top five places in the world for spotting whales and dolphins, with over 20 different species, ranging from the mighty blue whale to the diminutive Spinner Dolphin. Watch on deck as they go about their regular routine, feeding offshore at night and coming into the atolls in the early morning before leaving late afternoon for the open ocean.