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My partner and I hadn’t been on a real vacation in two years, which means that the walls of our tiny NYC apartment were closing in around us and our IG main grids were just a bit stale. What we needed this past winter was the opposite of a city caked in snow: a tropical getaway where the views were a never-ending horizon over clear waters, and the most pressing question of the day was “which fruit am I eating?”. Well friends, I'm glad to say that The Ritz-Carlton Maldives answered this, and many other questions.
So in case you had to also look up where the Maldives are, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives is located on the Fari Islands, which are a new, reclaimed archipelago about an hour’s boat-ride from the capital city of Male. Because it's an island, it should be no surprise that everything from the resort’s iconic architecture to its food and adventures were literally centered around the beautiful waters of the Indian Ocean (as in, you're surrounded by 360 degrees of gorgeous ocean views).
Once you get to the Fari Islands, you won't have to leave for any reason, which is always an ideal vacay. You can do everything from triple-fist smoothies in the morning to swim next to sea turtles, to just stare out your balcony and spend all day getting the perfect candid shot of you in your private pool. Here's everything you can take advantage of at this brand new (and already legendary) spot.
Heads up: The editor received a comped stay, meals, and activities for ~researching~ this trip.
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives: The resort uses a classic minimalist, curved design to accentuate the beautifully turquoise Maldivian waters and its natural marine life. The less-than-a-year-old resort’s design is already iconic, featuring a circular boardwalk (or as the resort calls it, ~The Halo~) connecting to individual overwater villas with the resort’s ring-shaped spa that's been all over Instagram in the center.
While beach villas are available to book, we wanted the experience of staying in an iconic overwater room, which was bigger than most city apartments. We stayed on the sunrise side of the oval, where, you guessed it, we woke up to red-orange rays when we opened the floor-to-ceiling glass doors overlooking the water. Every morning after coffee on the deck, we'd soak in various bodies of water. We would climb down the ladder on our deck to meet up with our fish friends at the corner reef for our morning snorkel, then greet many colorful schools and once even said ‘sup to a five-foot-long reef shark.
After my dip, I'd rinse off the salt in our private freshwater pool suspended over the sea I just swam in, then suds up in the outdoor shower with a view of the horizon. Transport to the rest of the day's activities was either via beach cruisers along the boardwalk or buggy. We usually opted for biking for a little more freedom and—let's be honest—aesthetics.
Water sports: Since the theme of the resort is water, the go-with-the-flow vibe can be summed up with the sentence “there’s a thousand ways to do nothing here,” which we heard from more than one guest. For active vacationers like myself (I can’t help it), there are more options than a choose-your-own-adventure comic. Most of these are water-based, and range from motorized water sports like tubing, water-skiing, and banana boating to activities like snorkeling and scuba diving.
Marine biology programs: The Ritz Carlton Fari Islands hosts the Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment program, which features marine biologist- lead activities and promotes connection and education with the environment. For experienced divers, the Maldives is a bucket-list destination because its extremely clear waters provide visibility to see the thousands of unique species of marine life. For those of us who have never dived (*raises hand*), the instructors at Dive Butler International make a once-in-a-lifetime experience truly spectacular.
Diving excursions: My boyfriend and I decided to take our first diving plunge together. Without being certified, you can go as deep as 12 meters, which is still almost 40 feet deep. In my fashion wetsuit (gotta look cute for my fish friends) I dove, or slowly sank, tbh, 40 feet down to float sexily along the edge of the reef. While the idea of being surrounded by water where everything swims faster than you was scary, our guide made all of my worries disappear as she taught us how to resolve any issues that we could face. My one complaint would be that this experience most likely ruined future diving excursions...I can’t imagine there being a more beautiful place to explore the underwater world.
Snorkeling after dark: If I haven’t quelled your worries about diving, The Ritz-Carlton’s night snorkeling experience is a truly unique alternative. Armed with underwater flashlights, a night snorkel gives you the opportunity to witness a reef’s nightlife. Hopping off the boat at the edge of the island, the water is pitch black, but once I turned on the torch, hundreds of sea critters came into view. Fish that I would normally see swimming around the overwater villa were sleeping, replaced by moray eels, lobster, and sharks. It was an ~experience~.
The breakfast spread: With the time zone change, jetlag, and travel hours, saying my sleep schedule was off would be an understatement. In the biggest plot twist of my life, I woke up every day with the sunrise at 6 a.m.. In a setting like the Maldives with a breakfast like I'm about to describe, you would too. While you could order most egg dishes à la carte, I stuck to the buffet of rainbow fruit, fresh juices and smoothies, and French patisserie-level bakeries. My plate always consisted of at least one fruit I'd never seen or tried before, a jar of something *healthy* like chia seed pudding, and a pastry for breakfast dessert. Obviously, I'm a three beverage girlie, so I always had my caffeine juice aka Americano with oat milk (perfectly steamed), orange juice (the freshest), and water (duh). Since we were so early to arrive to the breakfast pavilion in the mornings, we took our time eating as the light turned from golden orange to blue over our colorful plates.
Beach Shack: Between swims and relaxing, we had some incredible meals on dry land at one of The Ritz-Carlton’s Michelin-caliber restaurants. Our first meal set the bar high with lobster under the stars, where we sat at a table at the shoreline and ate seafood plucked from the water hours earlier. Très romantique.
Poolside grazing: Lunch was usually small plates or sushi platters by the resort's massive infinity pool, which gave off chic beach club vibes. And of course, I took advantage of the iconic cocktails at most meals, eager to try out every interesting drink vessel and flavor.
Iwau: Our last dinner was at the Japanese-inspired Iwau, where we had the most intimate dining experience on the island. Sitting at the 8-seat chef’s table, we were served the day’s selection of fresh sushi, sashimi, and maki rolls. Trust me when I say that sushi just hits different while listening to the waves roll in and knowing you are surrounded by the sea. If you make it to the resort, I recommend reserving your dinner spot here ASAP because it's more exclusive than other restaurants on the island, and it's also the perfect note to end your vacation on.
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