Love blossoms in the romantic Maldives

Maafushivaru, Maldives
Maafushivaru, Maldives
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I gingerly take the hand of the cabin crew member helping me down the steps of the twin-engine sea plane to a small pontoon surrounded by calm turquoise water.

The glistening white sands and lush vegetation of a small island are finally within my reach.

After a 20-minute flight, my husband and I have arrived at our romantic hideaway. About 93km from Male, Maafushivaru (‘maaf’ means flower and ‘fushi’ island) is on the southern tip of an ancient underwater volcano called the North Ari Atoll.

It’s a giant lagoon that’s fringed by reefs and dotted with other remote resorts.

A dhoni wooden boat gently glides into view and an outstretched hand welcomes me on board for the briefest of crossings to a wooden walkway. Perched above the reef, it’s the gateway to our romantic island escape.

I’d chosen a water villa over a beach bungalow as I loved the idea of staying in a bedroom on stilts and stepping down to swim straight into the sea.

Settling into this unique ‘one-island, one-resort’ concept (there’s no island-hopping in the Maldives) we feel like we’ve joined an elite club where everyone’s friendly, the staff greet you with a genuine smile and where you can simply relax or enjoy some of the best diving and snorkelling sites in the south of the Ari Atoll.

Maafushivaru is an all-inclusive resort with a la carte dining options and 48 villas.

Activities can include a sunset cruise or snorkelling excursions where you can come face to face with turtles, whale sharks and manta rays.

What marks Maafushivaru out from other resorts is its smaller neighbouring uninhabited island of Lonubo.

Guests can take advantage of a complimentary trip to the idyllic getaway, where they can spend a couple of hours swimming and sunbathing with a picnic.

But my husband and I decide to splash out the extra 1,000 US dollars for an overnight stay.

The dhoni boat drops us off on Lonubo and we stroll barefoot in the sand to our bungalow.

We arrive to find an exterior bathroom with a rainshower, big screen TV, pink frangipani scattered on crisp white bed linen and a bottle of sparkling wine on ice.

It doesn’t take long for us to head to the dead calm sea which is 30 degrees. Waist deep with glasses in hand, we steal a kiss (even though no one is looking!) and burrow our toes into the sand.

As darkness falls the dhoni boat returns and a couple of members of staff set up the barbecue for a menu of grilled fish and lobster, served by candlelight.

Twenty feet from our table, there’s another light show going on which captures our attention. Bioluminescent plankton are performing in the sea under a blanket of darkness.

That night, alone on the island, we enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep and awake to the sound of blackbirds frolicking in the palm trees.

Back at Maafushivaru, we continue the romance with a 60-minute couples massage in the newly refurbished spa.

That evening, on the way back to our room, I notice a big white flower with petals splayed wide open. During the day, I’m told, it rests, unfurling only as darkness falls.

I later discover its name, Queen of the Night, which aptly describes how I feel during my stay in this holiday paradise.

Sam Wylie-Harris was a guest of Kuoni (01306 747 008; who offer seven nights all inclusive at the 4.5-star Maafushivaru in a beach villa, including flights with British Airways from Gatwick and seaplane transfers in resort. Prices for 2014 are from £2,539 per person, based on two sharing. To book please quote: IO0625 (price includes one bonus night).