The Maldives is home to debatably the most luxurious hotels on the planet. Couple that with a quite startling amount of diverse marine life, from nudibranchs to manta rays, frogfish and stonefish, and you're onto a winner.
After two recent research trips, we at Original Diving have chosen the best of a very, very good bunch of hotels, be the requirement a honeymoon haven, the ultimate dive destination, or just the quintessential desert island experience.
If you were lucky enough to enjoy diving the Maldives ten years ago, you would have found them utterly spectacular. In 1998 they were devastated by El Niño, which is said to have destroyed 95 per cent of the region's coral. Thankfully nature is making an amazing comeback, largely thanks to the nutrient-rich currents that sweep the area. Soft corals are once again plentiful, while hard varieties, including cabbage and staghorn corals, are slowly but surely reappearing.
Go now while you still can. These low-lying islands off the west coast of Sri Lanka will be among the first to disappear as sea levels rise due to global warming. The loss will be devastating, not only to the Maldivians but also to the 300,000 annual divers and visitors. These 1,190 unique jewels are strung out like a necklace from north to south, spread over some 500 miles of the Indian Ocean. Totally unspoilt, they offer a breathtaking sight from the plane before you even touch down.