The Maldives is sheer paradise. With aquamarine sea as far as the eye can see and private wooden villas perched above the waterline, this peaceful corner of the world is utter perfection for those looking for escapism and sunshine.But there’s even more to this tropical idyll than meets the eye and a stay at one of Centara’s beautiful hotels – both of them in the best spots the Maldives can offer – will help you to get under the skin of this picture-perfect place, starting a life-long love. The Maldives is made up of 26 atolls, or ring-shaped coral reefs and these consist of 1,192 little coral islands.They can only be found in warm tropical and subtropical waters, making it even more special. Make the most of these dazzling coral islets, their pearl-white sands and cyan-blue waters by staying at Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa.Based on the North Malé Atoll, this resort’s over-water luxury villas offer spectacular views of the surrounding islands and enable you to take a dip whenever it takes your fancy. The many islands that make up the Maldives offer something for everyone. Want some grown up peace and quiet? The adults-only Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa is the resort for you.Looking for a paradise holiday for the whole family? Take a look at the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa on the South Ari Atoll for a fun-filled destination everyone will love. The position of the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean means it’s a fabulous cultural melting pot, with customs and traditions from Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and many more different countries.The many islands that make up the Maldives offer something for everyone. The position of the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean means it’s a fabulous cultural melting pot, with customs and traditions from Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and many more different countriesSo kick back and relax as you watch the Boduberu dance, performed to the sound of drums and the unusual scraping of the onugandu bamboo instrument. Or take a stroll around a market to admire the locals’ beautiful handicrafts. Get to know the different flavours, sounds and cultures of the Maldives: it’s easy to arrange a private boat from your hotel so you can explore the islands around you.Thanks to the isolated nature of Centara’s Maldives resorts, in the most beautiful parts of the Maldives, you can relax on holiday here safe in the knowledge that crime is low. And your little ones will be safe, too.Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa is a luxurious resort set in a shimmering shallow lagoon, combining the beauty of a tropical paradise with a safe space that makes it perfect for families with adventurous youngsters.Meanwhile, at the upmarket Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa, the attentive staff and spacious, private, over-sea huts make this not only an idyllic spot for honeymooners, but also a safe haven for enjoying the sunshine care-free.Plus, with a population of just under 400,000 and fewer than 300 of its 1,192 islands inhabited, the Maldives is one of the most peaceful places you will ever visit.Dolphins are abundant in the waters surrounding this little corner of paradise and can easily be admired from the beach, while kite-surfing across the Indian Ocean, or from the decking of your private Centara villa.But if you’d like to truly experience the wonders of the aquamarine waters, why not go for a dive?Beneath the waves, you’ll see luminescent coral reefs teeming with life.Turtles, lionfish and striking lagoon triggerfish here, clownfish and breathtaking manta rays there, the sea life is all around you – and simply bewitching.The Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa is surrounded by the warmest waters in the region, so it’s a perfect place to dive. In fact, if you opt for the Ultimate All Inclusive package, you can scuba dive here for free.This resort also boasts its very own house reef, so you can slip out of your villa into a kaleidoscope world of colour. Or why not visit a shipwreck dive site nearby?It’s easy to get a taste of the underwater world here on your own with simply a snorkel, but if you fancy getting up close to the likes of whale sharks, sign up to a diving tour and prepare for the experience of a lifetime.If you’re in the market for a sun-filled holiday, the Maldives is your best bet.Located close to the equator, Centara Ras Fushi Resort and Spa in the Maldives enjoys average day time temperatures of about 30°C – bliss!Visitors can expect brilliant sunshine here all day long, so make sure you’re well-protected during your stay and take plenty of refreshing dips in the azure waters surrounding your villa.Alternatively, if lazing around isn’t your thing, why not try out some water sports such as kite-surfing or jet-skiing through the resort?The perfect time for a trip is between December and April, when there will be the least amount of rainfall, very little wind, and great temperatures day and night.While it’s probably more famous for its manta rays and tropical fish, the Maldives is also home to some incredible land animals.Brilliantly coloured geckos and vibrant blue Agamid lizards dart through the trees and lie on rocks absorbing the midday sun.You could be lying out on your personal sun bed at the Centara Grand Island Resort and Spa alongside some of these friendly creatures.As the sun sets, the skies come alive with fruit bats and Indian flying foxes, which feast on the wealth of fruit growing in the trees.The Maldives is also a birdwatcher’s paradise. Keep an eye out for frigate birds are a popular sight at both of Centara’s Maldives resorts – the males have red pouches under their bills that they inflate to attract females!Make the most of all the natural beauty the Maldives has to offer by joining an excursion through your Centara Hotel and Resort. From sunset fishing and cruising, to snorkelling, island-hopping and even a whale shark tour, there is something that you will love.Published in Daily Times, March 19th 2019.