Paradise, like the Maldives used to be
by Times Online
A When our local dive club started going to the Maldives almost twenty years ago, most of the island resorts were quite simple and unsophisticated. That's what made them so appealing, but since then they have steadily become more and more upmarket and expensive, with spas, water bungalows, and freshwater swimming pools. What we want is an unspoilt "Robinson Crusoe" island that has managed to retain its natural ambience and still offers great diving. Any suggestions? Mike Horgan, Heswall, Wirral
Sunday Times travel expert, Richard Green, responds: Just a 50-minute speedboat-skim away from Male, is a barefoot beauty; Makunudu island. This pint-sized atoll has just 36 rooms, arranged in 18 well-spaced semidetached cottages, each thatched, surrounded by lush vegetation and just a few new footprints from the water's edge.
The style is simple, the staff very friendly, and because the resort is so small, the dive centre is able to offer a very personal service. Tropic Breeze (01752 87 33 77) has seven nights half board from £1,149pp, including flights with Emirates from Manchester (or five other UK airports), via Dubai, and speedboat transfers. Additional nights from £65pp.
Or there's Crusoe-esque Reethi Beach in the Baa Atoll, a 30-minute seaplane ride away from Male.
This unspoilt little island has been left sensibly uncluttered, with thatch bungalows, each with a nice private veranda and partially open air shower. There are many uninhabited island to explore nearby, with one of the best house reefs in the country.
This super little resort does have a pool and a few water bungalows, but it's all very low key, and won't spoil your desert island ambience. Hayes & Jarvis (0871 664 0246) has seven nights from £1,125pp in low season (22 Apr-6 Jul 08) including direct charter flights from Manchester (and other UK airports) on First Choice Airways, B&B accommodation, and seaplane transfers. Extra nights are from £25pp.