Journeys: Reef Reconnaissance: Diving into the Maldives

Most of the upscale resorts in the Maldives are on private islands. The government restricts visitation to the country’s inhabited areas, so contact with the local culture is limited. Because you will spend most of your time on a private island or on the water, choosing the right resort is essential.

ONE&ONLY REETHI RAH Opened in May 2005, One&Only Reethi Rah occupies a massive—and largely man-made—island with 12 beaches, countless private coves, and 130 bungalows that afford complete privacy. The villas feature arched bamboo ceilings in the bedrooms, terrazzo baths overlooking the Indian Ocean, and large, flat hammocks that suspend from private decks above the water. The 100,000-square-foot ESPA facility focuses on what the resort calls Personal Lifestyle and Wellness Journeys, a series of three-, five-, and seven-day experiences that combine fitness, spa treatments, holistic healing rituals, and healthy eating guidelines. Treatments take place in either stand-alone oceanfront bungalows or in over-water couples’ suites. The spa’s communal areas offer fitness equipment, swirling vitality pools, crystal steam rooms, and ice fountains. Guests can arrange everything they need for diving at the PADI dive center, and Reethi Rah also offers yachts for charter, catamarans for sailing, boats for waterskiing, and a tennis center with a Peter Burwash academy. www.oneandonlyresorts.com 

SONEVA FUSHI Great for families and sportsmen, Soneva Fushi is a large private island with activities such as biking through the jungle, swimming beneath flying fruit bats in your private pool, and watching movies under the stars at an outdoor theater. Rooms vary from single bungalows to a private residence with a gym and an outdoor bathroom surrounded by 26 palm trees. www.sonevaresorts.com

SONEVA GILI This small island resort is a perfect base for hard-core divers or for those who want to do little more than sit on the beach and relax in the spa. The Crusoe Residences, double-decker units surrounded by water, have large living spaces, baths with outdoor showers, and two sundecks. www.sonevaresorts.com

FOUR SEASONS EXPLORER At press time, Four Seasons was scheduled to open its new Landaa Giraavaru resort in November and reopen its Kuda Huraa resort, which had been severely damaged by the tsunami, in mid-September. The Four Seasons Explorer will pick up guests at either resort, as well as at North and South Male atolls, for three-, four-, and seven-day diving journeys. Guests stay in one of 10 spacious stateroom cabins or in the Explorer Suite, which features a dining area and private deck. Rates include beachside barbecues, snorkeling trips, cultural excursions, and all dives. www.fourseasons.com

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