The Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with the average natural ground level sitting between only one-and-a-half and three metres above sea level. Also, more than 80 percent of the country’s terrain is made up of coral islands, which makes for calm seas where the reef breaks the oceanic tides. And this all means that a snorkelling heaven awaits. However – and there’s no way to sugarcoat this – the coral reefs have been experiencing the worst case of bleaching in history, due to those times when the water is too warm. Luckily, though, Falhumaafushi, in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, has escaped much of the damage, meaning that there’s plenty of breathtaking colour to explore beneath the waves.
The water villas on the western side of The Residence luxury beachfront hotel (Falhumaafushi, Gaafu Alifu Atoll, +960 682 0088; theresidence.com) are actually built right on the cusp of the reef, so the snorkelling can be done from your own deck. You literally leave your back door, drop down into the water and you’re there, exploring the area. There’s an abundance of manta rays and sea turtles skirting around here. It’s commonplace to spot up to a dozen of these at a time by merely snorkelling along the reef cliff. Not only will the little ones be in awe but it can also inspire them to learn about these sea creatures as well.