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The Maldives is an underwater honeymoon paradise.

It’s pretty hard to locate the Maldives on a map. Google it, and you’re shown just a vast expanse of Indian Ocean with seemingly nothing there. You have to hit the plus sign quite a few times before the 26 atolls of this island nation 380 miles off the coast of India come into view....
Time: 19:45     Date: 18.06.2018
US Living News: The Maldives is an underwater honeymoon paradise. NY Post 24 - US News

Surrounded by a calm turquoise ocean teeming with aquatic life, many of the islands that make up this independent nation consist of hotels and resorts. Most of the population lives in the capital, Malé, and from there, guests are whisked to their destinations by speedboat or seaplane in search of unpopulated sandy beaches.

Getty Images

A Maldives visit promises a romantic idyll that’s synonymous with honeymoons. The newest offering for this most special of trips is the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi — the name means “secret water island” — a pristine, all-villa resort on its own 40-acre island in the Shaviyani Atoll.

Flying in by seaplane from Malé, an hour away, gives you a glimpse of the luxury that awaits. The resort pool, dotted with islands of palms and glittering with lights after dusk, stretches 656 feet from one side of the atoll to the other. An arc of overwater villas perches over the sea, while other bleached-white beach villas lead out onto white sand. Upscale tented jungle villas are surrounded by lush mangroves, and also offer “safari dining,” where a chef will come and prepare a sumptuous Maldivian barbecue for you. The whole resort overlooks a 5.6-mile coral reef lagoon. If it’s romance and serenity you are looking for, this is paradise found.

To start, you’ll want to move in permanently to your villa. Each of the 120 units has its own private deck with infinity pool and expansive loungers. Interiors are in a cool Asian-Arabic fusion decor, mirroring the culture of the islands, and feature vast bathing tubs — some of them are made of burnished copper, while others are outdoors.

Getty Images

Should you require anything, no need to call reception — each villa is assigned a private butler who is on call 24/7. Need a snorkel so you can swim over the reef from the steps of your villa? Need a golf cart ride over to the dive center? Your personal Alfred will assist.

There’s a delicious array of offerings from the three on-site restaurants. Using fresh produce brought in from the neighboring islands, the Raha Market offers all-day dining as well as tables on the beach. Menu options are plentiful and delicious, from Maldivian line-caught tuna curry to fusion dishes like chicken tikka pizza.

Azure is an upscale restaurant with seasonal offerings, while Kata has flavors of Japan, with a spacious rooftop bar overlooking the ocean.

If you need to work off the calories, work out at the full gym, or take a tennis lesson from the enthusiastic instructor. Guests can also enjoy a sunrise yoga class or Maldivian warrior training on the beach. Round out the day in the full-service spa, where treatments like the spirulina algae body wrap will have you feeling truly at one with the sparkling seascape.

Getty Images

Because, of course, it’s the azure sea that is the natural jewel of Sirru Fen Fushi. Motorsports, kayaks and paddleboards await, plus diving and leisurely cruises, where the flying fish and spinner dolphins put on an evening show as you sip Champagne and watch the sunset.

A guided snorkeling tour of the reef is a must. Teeming with life, it’s also home to several manta ray cleaning stations where the giant creatures come to have little fish nibble off their annoying parasites.

Getty Images

Sadly, though, the one-degree rise in ocean temperature is causing devastation to the coral. In part to address this, the resort’s unique Coralarium, due to open this summer, stands front and center of the resort.

Part ecological innovation and very much a work of art, it’s the work of renowned British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.

In the first-ever installation of its kind anywhere in the world, guests will be able to follow a submerged path to the partly-underwater stainless steel Coral Cube.

“It’s an inter-tidal art gallery,” explains deCaires Taylor as he finishes up the project, which features statues on top of a stainless steel cube, plus others that are revealed and concealed by the tide each day, and more yet that are completely submerged.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Within literally a week of its installation, the Coralarium will become inundated with sea creatures.

“They gravitate to any structure where they can hide or live, so we’ll get all the juvenile fish, crustaceans, lots of filter-feeding organisms like sponges and corals,” he says.

DeCaires Taylor is no stranger to underwater sculpture, with extensive sub-aquatic pieces in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and British Isles. Each project is designed to provoke thought.

In this exhibit, the pieces that are revealed as the tide goes out are mostly children, all looking up, with their eyes closed.

Getty Images

“They are looking to us,” says deCaires Taylor, “asking what kind of future are they going to inherit. Where will the sea levels be?”

As the coral grows over the statues, so they take on a new (and sometimes evocatively sinister) beauty. As a result, deCaires Taylor’s art is never the same one minute to the next, so he spends a lot of time documenting the creation and installation process. After that, it’s time to let them go.

“As soon as I put them in the sea, they belong to the sea,” he says.

Guests at the resort will be also able to leave a legacy by planting coral at the site in propagation cells. So, if you need an excuse to return — for a special anniversary, perhaps — you can always say that you need to see how “your” coral has bloomed into the ocean.

The author was a guest of the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi.

The lowdown

Prices start at $900 a night based on two sharing, including breakfast, excluding tax (13.2%), service charge (10%) and green tax ($6 per person per day). For more details, go to Fairmont.com/Maldives.

How to get there: Emirates flies to Malé via Dubai from JFK and Newark. Prices start at $1,722 round trip. Seaplane transfers are $500 round trip per person and can be arranged with the resort.

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