March 2011: The Maldives were not top of my photographic hit-list - luxury travel photography isn't really my thing - but my wife was offered the chance to review a number of luxury resorts and I was lucky enough to tag along as her plus one. Not the sort of thing you get offered very often - or at least not the sort of thing I get offered very often...

My great regret of the trip was not hiring an underwater housing for one of my DSLRs. While the islands are very beautiful, the real action is underwater, and it really is quite spectacular.

For anyone reading this considering a trip to any of the resorts we visited, with an interest in underwater photography, I strongly recommend the W Resort and Spa - the reef here blew the others away. We swam with large turtles, rays, several species of shark and innumerable shoals of photogenic fish. 

The thought of a beach holiday like this had never appealed to me in the past - but snorkelling and diving here really is the underwater equivalent of a safari in the Masai Mara. If armed with camera, flash, underwater housing and laptop, I could very happily spend four or five hours a day in the water and edit in the evening.
I'm no plane spotter, but I believe this is a De Haviland DH-6 Twin Otter seaplane, seen here at Male airport. These rather romantic contraptions ferry guests to the more remote island resorts, usually landing at several on the way to pick up or drop off holidaymakers.
Male airport, which is on its own island, next to the tiny capital.
The coral reefs that the Maldives are famous for. The Maldives consists of over 1,000 islands, around 200 of which are inhabited. The highest point in the entire country is just 2.3m above sea level.
Fesdu Island - aka the W Retreat and Spa.
Departing seaplane.
The view from reception, W Retreat and Spa, Fesdu Island.
Transport on most of the islands is by chauffeur-driven golf buggy. At the Shangri-La Villingili, one of the largest island resorts, we were given a mobile phone for the duration of our stay so that we could call for - among other things - a buggy to pick us up wherever we were on the island.
Breakfast view from the Shangri-La Villingili, Addu Atoll, at the southern end of the Maldives - about ten minutes by speedboat from Gan.
Sunset, Furanafushi Island, Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa.
Blacktip reef shark in about a foot of water, dusk, Furanafushi Island.
Ray, dusk, Furanfushi Island.
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