During the course of wedding planning, there's inevitably a conversation about the honeymoon: hold a beat, go right away, take a close-by minimoon and then a one-year extravaganza, go for broke? These options all have merit, but as far as the destination, opt for a sure thing: the Maldives. The collection of 1,000-plus coral islands in the Indian Ocean is very far from America, yes. It's expensive, yes. But live a little, splurge, go. It's breathtaking. If intimacy, excitement, romance, and some of the most insanely colored seawater in the world are what you seek, you can't be disappointed.
There are of course slight downsides to every place you could pick for your once-in-a-lifetime vacation, but if you play your (credit-card) points right, you can turn the halfway-around-the-world-long trip to the Maldives into a positive. Snag splurge-worthy Emirates business-class seats and the honeymoon begins the second you set foot into the airport. You'll be sipping champagne almost immediately (don't miss the view just before landing in Malé), and a few multicourse meals later, before you know it, you'll be on a paradisiacal island beach with yet another glass in your hand.
In the Maldives, each island has its own resort, and there are oodles to choose from. Because the setting is so postcard-perfect, it's almost hard to go wrong. Many are more than stunning and offer that Maldivean signature: the overwater villa. The new St. Regis Vommuli's are sleek and contemporary, with blond-wood interiors and decks and a slightly futuristic shape. The slightly more affordable bungalows at Baros are more traditional in looks, with arched infinity pools that blend into the ocean and horizon. Beyond ocean bungalows, the Four Seasons has the Explorer, a live-aboard luxury catamaran for real overwater adventures.
But the most private water villas of all are found at the One & Only Reethi Rah (which means "beautiful island" in the Maldivean language), a 45-minute boat ride from the airport. The resort has the distinction of being on one of the largest islands, with relatively few accommodations, meaning incredible privacy. It's perhaps why the Beckhams are regular guests. The 32 water villas—and 90 beach villas, each with massive private sandy beaches, hammocks, and daybeds—were just completely renovated, and they're stunning, boasting wraparound netted hammocks that suspend you over the turquoise water, beds looking out into the distance, and giant, luxurious bathrooms and tubs. Some have infinity pools and Jacuzzis too. As opposed to being built in rows along one path, like many others, these are in clusters, all facing different directions, which gives you complete privacy. It is your honeymoon, after all; you don't want to hear your neighbors or have anyone seeing in. The butlers are sweet, gracious, and discreet. What's more, your villa will be outfitted with monogrammed pillowcases with your new initials, and custom-embroidered caftans too.
Other places to be completely alone in paradise are plentiful. There are a number of private dining opportunities. You could book the snowy-white sandbank for a sunset picnic surrounded by nothing but azure water lapping gently at the shore. You can paddle or swim out to a floating wooden dock in the middle of the ocean where there are just two chaise-lounge chairs and an umbrella. Or dine—think tomato gazpacho with tamarind and coconut, beet and Comté carpaccio, caviar risotto, and eggs with uni—in the supremely romantic and intimate orchid house at the new organic Botanica restaurant. Share sashimi at sunset at Tapasake, or book an open-air Teppanyaki booth where a private chef customizes bites of Japanese wagyu beef and Maldivean lobster. Fanditha, the Middle Eastern eatery with prime sunset views, also has allure; share bites of exotic flavors with your lover, feet in the sand and light coming from colored lanterns hanging in the trees. There are 12 kilometers of beach, so it's quite easy to hop on your white beach-cruiser bikes and get a little lost.
Lest you think you'll be eating your way through your honeymoon, the real magic of the Maldives is out in that unreal water. Simply swimming in the crystalline substance is an incredible experience, but swimming with sea turtles, dolphin, manta rays (FYI, high season for these guys, whose wingspans can reach some 16 feet, is February), or even sharks is completely otherworldly. Snorkel or scuba dive with marine biologists who point out the life under the sea, whether it's Marvin, the biggest hawksbill turtle in the area, or octopus, unicorn fish, or clownfish (like Nemo!). You can also fish, take pottery and cooking lessons, sea kayak, play tennis, rock climb, box, and listen to live jazz. The resort's pools are some of the sexiest in the world.
Of course, no honeymoon would be complete without a spa experience. The One & Only's is one of the Maldives' most massive, with sprawling, lush grounds, a jaw-dropping overwater meditation pavilion, glass-sided crystal steam room and sauna, a Watsu pool, and idyllic couples' rooms with the most insane views. After all, this environment is what you came for—unmatched elsewhere, and totally, utterly magical.