80° BY THE SEA
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There are many nations around the world with bragging rights to miles of pristine white coral sand and balmy turquoise seas but few can take it to the same level as the Maldives. Its 1,200 islands are spread out over 26 coral atolls; the combined land of all the islands is little more than 100 square miles. That means you are rarely more than a few steps from the beach. Many
of the villas are actually built on stilts out over the water, so you may actually have to walk onshore in order to get to the beach. Besides curling your toes in the sand, many people come here to sample the Maldives enviable world-class dive spots. Others simply snorkel among the endless coral reefs. There are so many coral atolls here that our English word derives from the Maldivian name atholhu.
Over a thousand tiny islands spread over 26 tropical atolls straddling the equator in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives offer some of the world's most exotic island getaways. A balmy climate and stunning beaches are ideal raw materials for a dream vacation, so it's no surprise that dozens of the islets have been transformed into luxurious and intimate resorts offering the ultimate in 21st-century rest and relaxation. Considered one of the world's best dive destinations, the Maldives are surrounded by waters boasting exceptional visibility and one of the world's healthiest marine environments. Over 99% of the total area of this country is ocean, and with an average ground level of only 1.5 meters, it is the lowest country on the planet, making it a vocal party in the climate-change debate.