T’s not un­com­mon for diners at nearby ta­bles in restau­rants, or new ar­rivals on the way to their seats, to ap­praise your se­lec­tion as the waiter places it be­fore you, but it’s quite some­thing else to have your per­fectly cooked fish sur­veyed by its own bre

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As the name sug­gests, we’re din­ing nearly six me­tres un­der the shim­mer­ing sur­face of Lhaviyani Atoll’s pris­tine la­goon, a 40-minute flight in the re­sort’s own sea­plane from the ar­chi­pel­ago’s in­ter­na­tional air­port on the main is­land of Malé. While un­der­wa­ter din­ing is not a new ex­pe­ri­ence in the Mal­dives, a des­ti­na­tion that counts a brunch hot spot, a jazz club and even a spa among its un­der­wa­ter venues, 5.8 trumps them with the imag­i­na­tive, eclec­tic cuisine of shy Ger­man chef de cuisine Bjo­ern van den Oever, a veteran of Miche­lin­starred kitchens. His de­gus­ta­tion menu, packed with flavour and in­no­va­tion and paired with ex­cel­lent wines, is served to no more than 10 cou­ples in the in­ti­mate set­ting per sit­ting.

It’s all very so­phis­ti­cated, but that’s what you’d ex­pect from an un­apolo­get­i­cally adult­sonly, all-in­clu­sive re­treat. With its world-class din­ing and crisp, in­tel­li­gent ser­vice, Hu­rawalhi Mal­dives Re­sort sets it­self apart from many of the sun-kissed set­tings of the sprawl­ing In­dian Ocean na­tion. But most im­por­tant for me is the re­sort’s abil­ity to keep other peo­ple’s lit­tle dar­lings out of the pic­ture. The ban­ish­ing of chil­dren un­der 15 leaves beaches free of sand cas­tles, meal­times undis­turbed by temper tantrums, and long, lazy morn­ings to savour un­in­ter­rupted by ear-pierc­ing squeals.

You’d be for­given for rarely ven­tur­ing from your villa. Hu­rawalhi has 90 of them— the Beach Vil­las nes­tled on white sand and shrouded by lush fo­liage, the Ocean Vil­las perched above a reef that me­an­ders through the la­goon. Some have pri­vate plunge pools, but that’s the only dif­fer­ence. All are bright, spa­cious and airy, with splashes of bold colours calmed by pol­ished tim­ber floors. The bath­rooms, big enough for tae-bo ses­sions, open onto a sweep­ing sun­decks with ver­sa­tile shad­ing. There’s high-speed in­ter­net, 48-inch flatscreen tele­vi­sions, heav­enly king-sized beds fac­ing the ocean, mini­bars and wine fridges packed with all-in­clu­sive good­ies, and dili­gent villa at­ten­dants to en­sure you en­joy nig­gle-free hi­ber­na­tion.

When you feel like be­ing ac­tive, there’s plenty out­side the vil­las to keep you oc­cu­pied: a ten­nis court, games room, a wa­ter sports cen­tre with Ho­bie Cats, wake boards and jet skis, a res­i­dent ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist, and an out­post of Pro Dive of­fer­ing cour­ses and ex­pe­ri­ences for those who like to ex­plore be­low the waves.

Early one morn­ing I head out with Dutch dive master Mor­ton. At Hu­rawalhi—un­like at some of the Mal­dives’ big­name re­sorts, built on man­made is­lands a long boat ride from de­cent coral gar­dens— you sim­ply step off the end of one of the re­sort’s two piers to im­merse your­self in the cap­ti­vat­ing colours of the vi­brant house reef. We trace our way along mes­meris­ing coral walls that are home to blennies, coral hawk­fish, hawks­bill sea tur­tles, black­tip reef sharks and squadrons of ea­gle rays. If you time your visit right, you can also see manta rays just me­tres from the re­sort.

Later that af­ter­noon, my wife and I join a clutch of the re­sort’s rather gor­geous guests and take to the house reef again for the guided snorkelling ex­cur­sion in­cluded with our pack­ages. Within waiter-hail­ing dis­tance of the main bar, we’re joined by cu­ri­ous Moor­ish idols, Napoleon wrasse and el­e­gant ea­gle rays, which show off in the shal­lows be­fore div­ing deep.

It’s a great way to build up an ap­petite to sate at any of the re­sort’s culi­nary

It’s all very so­phis­ti­cated, but that’s what you’d ex­pect from an un­apolo­get­i­cally adults- only re­treat

des­ti­na­tions—where there isn’t a bib, high chair or kids menu in sight. Above Van den Oever’s tem­ple of un­der­wa­ter din­ing is the Aquar­ium Restau­rant, which serves a con­tem­po­rary menu of de­lec­ta­ble Asian-in­spired bites laced with or­ganic in­gre­di­ents. Its in­ti­mate tep­pa­nyaki bar is pop­u­lar with cou­ples soak­ing up the night air.

At the other end of the re­sort, the Cham­pagne Pavil­ion is the per­fect spot for en­joy­ing breath­tak­ing sun­sets with a se­lec­tion from the ro­man­tic bar’s ex­ten­sive list of vin­tage cham­pagnes (it’s also the best lo­ca­tion for dolphin spot­ting).

But the heart of this tod­dler-free utopia is Coco Bar, which is ad­ja­cent to the re­sort’s in­fin­ity pool. Here, shar­ing-style snacks and tiki-es­que cock­tails are served to the nightly ac­com­pa­ni­ment of live mu­sic and DJS. Just steps away, a multi­na­tional culi­nary team led by dy­namic young Kiwi ex­ec­u­tive chef Shan­non Bat­ten cooks up a storm at the live sta­tions of the stun­ning Can­neli Restau­rant, a shrine to great global cuisine. Hu­rawalhi’s bliss­ful iso­la­tion seems to have lit­tle im­pact on the fresh­ness and di­ver­sity of in­gre­di­ents. One night we’re feast­ing on Mal­di­vian and south­ern In­dian cur­ries, the next we’re whisked away to Italy, com­plete with caviar-topped pasta dishes, and jet­fresh oys­ters and lob­ster.

To make the most of your es­cape from the coal­face, be sure to book a can­dlelit din­ner on Dream Is­land, a pic­turesque sand­bank peek­ing above the wa­ter, and make a bee­line for Du­niye Spa, an in­ti­mate, el­e­gant well­ness en­clave that boasts an ex­ten­sive menu of Asian-in­spired treat­ments us­ing Heal­ing Earth or­ganic prod­ucts.

17,000 is­lands, In­done­sia is in­deed the world’s largest ar­chi­pel­ago. While Bali or Ko­modo are usu­ally the des­ti­na­tions most fa­mil­iar or well-known for tourists or for­eign vis­i­tors, there are many more equally gor­geous and fascinating is­lands to visit in In­done­sia.

Even though lesser-known and gen­er­ally un­in­hab­ited, these idyl­lic and re­mote des­ti­na­tions have a lot of trea­sures, from an amaz­ing va­ri­ety of vol­canic scenery, ma­rine life, vi­brant cul­tures, and sail­ing and div­ing ad­ven­tures, all wait­ing to be ex­pe­ri­enced. And there is sim­ply no better way to ex­plore, snorkel or dive the re­mote is­lands of In­done­sia and beyond other than through book­ing or char­ter­ing a yacht, es­pe­cially if you love dis­cov­er­ing the beauty of our coun­try’s hid­den trop­i­cal and ma­rine par­adises.

And more new boats keep com­ing to Eastern In­done­sia’s wa­ter­ways thanks to a surge in new pas­sen­gers who are at­tracted to cruis­ing and more im­mer­sive travel ex­pe­ri­ences. These in­clude the Se­quoia,

ad­vanced Amer­i­can ma­rine tech­nol­ogy. On our first day, we had not yet started sail­ing, but our trip started with ex­plor­ing Maumere and we got a glimpse of the city’s ma­jor points of in­ter­est, like Alok Mar­ket and Tan­jung Beach. The next morn­ing, we didn’t for­get to take time to en­joy the breath­tak­ing sun­rise at Ke­limutu Na­tional Park and visit the old­est church in Flores Is­land lo­cated at Sikka vil­lage, as well as wit­ness­ing the an­cient hand­i­craft pro­duc­tion of ikat weav­ing. Af­ter­wards, we be­gan sail­ing, mov­ing and pass­ing through from Babi Is­land to Panga­batang Is­land to Watu­peni Is­land to Keroko Is­land, then Kon­awe Is­land, Adonara Is­land, Pura Is­land, Reta Is­land, and Alor Is­land. You may never have heard of these re­mote lo­ca­tions, but they have their own im­mense beauty. And among the sail­ing and is­land hop­ping, we en­joyed ev­ery­thing from wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties to is­land ex­plo­ration.

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