Spread over 26 silk-sanded coral atolls lost in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are the textbook desert-island paradise.
Take all the golden-sun, white-sand, azure-water clichés you care to think of, shake well, sprinkle over the equatorial ocean, and season to taste with luxury – well done: you’ve made yourself the Maldives. Its two groups of atolls (North and South) make up the world’s lowest-lying (and most strikingly beautiful) country, rarely reaching more than a few metres above sea level. The archetypal honeymoon destination, these far-flung palm-tree hideaways tick all the tropical-island boxes, offering balmy adults-only seclusion above water, and a spectacular undersea landscape below. Shoals of scuba-lovers come to explore the life aquatic, while loved-up couples and jet-set veterans come for the exclusive resorts. Connected only by speedboat and sea-plane, the Maldives – all 1,192 of them – were made for romantic sun-soaking, beach-based star-gazing, and turquoise-ocean toe-dipping.
There's never really a 'bad' time to go to the Maldives, which has a wonderful year-round climate – even in the Monsoon season (mid-May–November), you'd be very unlucky to get more than a few days' rain on the trot. Christmas is very popular, as is anytime up to Easter, although you might be lucky and find deals for late January getaways.