The aqua waters surrounding the 1,190 small islands and 26 atolls just southwest of Sri Lanka that make up the Maldives are filled with more than 900 species of fish and more than 200 types of soft coral. Currents are mild, the water is warm, and the ocean is so clear that you can see plenty of marine life while standing on the white-sand beaches or floating aboard a glass-bottomed boat. So it's no surprise that this remote corner of the globe has become a diving and snorkeling destination. But it's an equally ideal setting for a relaxing spa vacation, and four new spas have opened within the past year. But you'd better plan your trip soon: The archipelago is only ten feet above sea level at its highest point and, thanks to global warming, may not be around forever.
Where to Stay
The Soneva Gili Resort & Spa (doubles from $500; 800-525-4800) has a diving school and a spa on stilts over a lagoon. The Four Seasons at Kuda Huraa (doubles from $375; 800-332-3442) on the North Malé atoll has beachfront bungalows; the spa is on its own private island. The Taj Exotica Resort & Spa features Balinese and Ayurvedic treatments (suites from $400; 800-223-6800). At the Angsana Resort & Spa Ihuru (doubles from $420; 011-960-440-326), guests can dine on a glass-bottomed boat.
Pick up local wares like scarves and lacquered boxes in Malé, but beware: The prices aren't as friendly as the natives.
The Maldives are an independent Sunni Muslim nation, but alcohol flows freely at the resorts.
How to Get There
Malaysia Airlines offers flights to Malé from Newark three days a week, with stops in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur (800-552-9264).