If anyone tells you that their idea of paradise doesn’t involve a few days cocooned in five-star comfort fringed by a lagoon teeming with colourful reefs and vibrant marine life, they’re lying.
A 30-minute speedboat ride from Malé’s Velana International Airport brings me to Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, an all-villa property whose 67 bungalows either fan out across the turquoise water or come perched on the cliffside, with dazzling views of the Indian Ocean. My home for the next three nights has a plunge pool, direct lagoon access and a ringside seat to the most intense sunsets I’ve seen in ages.
Anantara Veli Resort
The deck of an Ocean Pool Bungalow
As tempting as it is to pass the day alternating between the cool of the pool and the warmth of the ocean, there’s too much to do to justify such unwarranted laziness. So I laze at the Balance Wellness by Anantara Spa instead, where I’m kneaded into sleepy submission inside one of its treatment suites. I emerge refreshed, ready for anything.
The interiors of an Overwater Pool Bungalow
Next stop: snorkelling with nurse sharks. The water is much colder here, but the adrenaline drowns out the chill. The nurse sharks—first five, then ten, then fifteen—dart past, inches from my face, at times nearly grazing my flippers with their tail fins. It is a surreal, almost reverential experience.
I’m ravenous upon my return, and a Maldivian curry at Dhoni hits the spot. There’s a vast culinary selection at Veli—73 Degrees for international cuisine, Baan Huraa for gourmet Thai, Origami for fine Japanese, and the all-day Dhoni—but guests can also dine at the adjacent family-friendly sister resort Anantara Dhigu, a two-minute pontoon ride away. Here, Sea.Fire.Salt is perfect for an early dinner, I discover, as I tuck into seafood and watch the sky turn from fiery orange to dazzling violet, before dissolving into an inky black.
By the end of my stay (and more swimming, snorkelling and all-round indulgence) I’ve bronzed myself under the tropical sun, but still only scratched the surface of what Anantara Veli offers. Clearly, three nights are not enough. Next time, I’m doing seven.