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Wake up to your own endless expanse of Indian Ocean at this island resort in the South Malé Atoll. Occupying Dhigufinolhu Island, Anantara Dhigu has some of the most expansive overwater villas in the Maldives, some with private plunge pools and all with spacious decks that take in that view.
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The first resort to occupy the stunningly untouched Thaa Atoll in the archipelago’s southwest, COMO Maalifushi offers incredible diving (with regular whale shark and manta ray sightings), excellent nearby surf breaks and an uninhabited island called Lavadhoo where guests can head for their own desert-island experience.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
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This luxurious escape offers a real choose-your-own adventure holiday. Get a seaplane to the resort, spread over two private islands, and then take your pick of activities. You might choose a five-hour tour that takes in local culture, art and food; you could head out on a blissful sunset cruise with cocktails; or perhaps you’re after a pampering session at the Over Water Spa’s glass-floored treatment rooms.
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Guests tread the boardwalks that connect Gili Lankanfushi’s various facilities barefoot: it’s protocol. No news and no shoes are the only two rules guests must adhere to at this intimate 45-villa resort. It’s not hard to be a stickler when the weather is warm, there’s yoga and tai chi on offer and the Over Water Bar beckons.
Lux South Ari Atoll
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At Lux South Ari Atoll, guests drift off to sleep listening to the lagoon lapping, arise to a breakfast of exotic fruits and spend days jet skiing, sunbaking, fly-boarding and sunset fishing. Every day, bottles bearing joyful messages are deposited around the resort: each note promises a gift such as a bottle of wine, a facial at the spa or something from the resort store.
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The Maldives is honeymoon central and nowhere more so than on Milaidhoo Island, where each villa, complete with its own infinity pool and sundeck, feels so secluded it’s like a private island. For those who can bear to leave the comfort of the thatched-roof suite, there are three gourmet restaurants, cultural excursions and overwater spa treatment suites.
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One of several Anantara resorts in the Maldives, Kihavah is a coconut’s throw from Hanifaru Bay, where guests can snorkel magical reefs within a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, home to sea turtles, vividly coloured corals and tropical fish. After a day’s exploration, relax in one of the luxurious bungalows poised over the water or villas situated along a private beach.
One&Only Reethi Rah
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If you’re going to do a tropical island holiday, you may as well do it properly. Reethi Rah is iconic. Situated in North Malé Atoll, it comprises 12 pristine beaches, 128 villas, six restaurants and myriad activities and excursions such as sunrise yoga and tennis. Splash out on a Grand Sunset Residence for a truly lavish experience: there’s a private 50-metre swimming pool, private beachfront, three bedrooms and golf carts for getting around.
Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi
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An island dotted with 43 bungalows, Huvafen Fushi is the epitome of barefoot luxury. Watch the underwater world as you’re gently massaged to relaxation in the world’s first underwater spa, go deep-sea fishing or have a butler bring a refreshing cocktail as you paddle in the limpid lagoon.
Per Aquum Niyama Private Islands
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The islands are twins named Play and Chill: choose your speed and get to it. Play offers beachside villas for access to water sports, speed boating and fishing; Chill has the Lime day spa with steam room, plunge pool and eight luxurious treatment rooms.
Six Senses Laamu
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The sole resort in the Laamu Atoll, Six Senses has a focus on sustainability. The resort is made up of beachfront and overwater villas constructed from environmentally friendly materials and each of the six restaurants is supplied by the island’s own organic gardens. The theme continues in the Six Senses Spa Laamu where therapists offer treatments using natural products – even food waste is composted. Not that there’s any skimping on luxury: watch fish dart under your glass-bottomed tub, enjoy private beachside picnics and have a couple’s massage in the spa’s treatment “nests”.
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With 1190 islands, little patches of paradise continue to spring up in the Maldives. In 2016, Soneva Jani, scattered across five islets, opened and created quite the stir. It’s made up of enormous villas, each fabulous in its own way. There’s the two-bedroom Water Retreat with Slide, complete with slippery dip that curves from the top floor straight into the lagoon below, or the unbelievable four-bedroom Water Reserve with overwater basket swing and net hammocks, walk-in minibar and three dining areas.
Up Next: These Overwater Bungalows in Tahiti Are Just Paradise
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Tahiti was once best known for a torrid history as the chosen home of Bounty mutineers and the sensuous depictions of Tahitian women by French artist Paul Gauguin. Nowadays, though, the word Tahiti conjures vivid daydreams of densely forested and mountainous islands with picturesque thatched-roof bungalows at their shores, hovering over the clear lapping waters.