Luxury, beaches and other delights at the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
Through the window of your plane, a string of paradise islands and atolls creates a picture of surreal beauty. You are within touching distance of your ultimate fantasy of a holiday by the sea in the Maldives.
This fabulous archipelago includes Vaadhoo, an inhabited island where a magical natural phenomenon takes place. Before unravelling the mystery of the Sea of Stars, you leave Malé, the country's peaceful capital, behind. Your luggage is transferred straightaway for you as you step aboard the fast boat. You are heading for a hotel-island that is the stuff of dreams.
After a 35-minute journey over the turquoise lagoon, you will be beside yourself with joy as Vabbinfaru comes into view. The luxurious Banyan Tree had the great idea of setting up on this round island covered in lush vegetation and surrounded by a coral reef. Kick off your shoes and feel the soft white sand beneath your feet. You picked this exclusive retreat for its secluded natural environment. A dense coconut grove sits at the heart of the island, while low-key villas with thatched roofs are dotted around the lagoon. A butler shows you in to your comfortable cocoon.
There is a private pool and jet pool behind your villa, shaped like seashell spirals. On the ocean side, a wooden walkway leads you straight to the beach. Everything is in place for you to share a truly memorable experience. As the sun starts to dip, you go for a sail on the Indian Ocean in a dhoni, a traditional wooden boat widely used in the Maldives. You sip champagne as you gaze at the dreamlike sky with its pink-tinged clouds. When you get back to Vabbinfaru, your face lights up as you see a table set out for you on the beach. You savour a wonderful candle-lit seafood dinner, dreaming of the Sea of Stars spectacle that awaits you tomorrow.
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
North Malé Atoll
Magical experience on the beach of Vaadhoo
The time has arrived to head over to mysterious Vaadhoo. At first glance, this idyllic spot with pristine sandbanks, bathed in crystal-clear waters, looks like all the other islands in the archipelago. But, when night falls, its beaches reveal a Sea of Stars for the privileged few who arrive from all four corners of the world. A bioluminescent phenomenon, caused by tiny crustaceans, glows in the dark as waves lap on to the beach. Vaadhoo is considered the place where this spectacle is at its most impressive anywhere in the world. The Sea of Stars regularly occurs any time between August and November.
If you are there for the new moon, you have a good chance of witnessing this one-of-a-kind experience. The constellation of electric blue lights looks like a starry sky reflected in the glittering waters of the sea. As you walk along the sand, this almost supernatural phenomenon leaves glowing footprints in your wake and illuminates the movement of your arms in the water. You have entered an unknown, fairy-like world.
A surprising stopover in Malé
Do not leave the Maldives without visiting its capital which has surprises of a different sort in store. In the bustling fish market, fishermen unload their impressive catch of swordfish, bonito and grouper freshly plucked from the ocean.
In the shade of the tropical trees in Sultan Park, the National Museum blows you away with its collections of jewellery, daggers and painted drums – reminders of the archipelago's Islamic period. To your astonishment, you then come across the white coral head of a Buddha, a symbol of a bygone Buddhist age. It all makes for a decidedly surprising stay.
National Museum of the Maldives