Beach in reach, Maldives

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.

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