When arriving at a five-star resort in the Maldives a welcoming committee is expected: smiling staff, refreshing cocktails and ice-cold towels. Never before, however, has a troupe of sharks welcomed me on arrival. Four baby black tip reef sharks (quite harmless), just 50cm long, wind their way leisurely through the clear shallows. They are a tease of the underwater wildlife to be seen here, the South Ari Atoll is home to some of the world's best diving.
Moofushi is on one of those tiny sandy islands dotted through the Indian Ocean, as beautiful when you step onto it as when seen from the seaplane (a half hour flight from Male). There are just over 100 rooms here, from beach villas to senior water villas (a whopping 94m sq) and smaller water villas, one of which I call home.
The water villas snake out from the island on two raised wooden paths and jut over the big blue. Delightfully, from the room's private outdoor terrace, you can wade straight into the glittering water for sea gazing. Yellow boxfish and rays were regular passersby. The villas' thatched roofs are curved into two prongs, inspired by the prows of Maldivian Dhoni boats, but remind me of the horn-like cephalic lobes of the manta rays I see silhouetted while out diving.
The water villa is gorgeous space, with wooden floors and white walls it has a Zen feel to it. There's a back-to-nature partially outdoor shower and the from-bed ocean view through the glass sliding doors is pretty special. A Mac Mini and WiFi bring a touch of technology.
At Moofushi there are no stresses and nothing is too much trouble for staff; there is a staggering selection of world cuisine at Manta restaurant (Asian breakfast noodles to rainbow salads and Maldivian fish curries), while the Alize Grill offers a more intimate dining option with grilled seafood on the beach. At sunset there are Rothko-esque ruby and yellow sunsets, and at night a sparkle of stars above you. With soft sand on which to wander, plush rooms, communal areas with collapse-into-me couches, Moofushi is a truly relaxing place to stay. When you leave you won't step onto that seaplane, it'll be more of a drift.
World class diving; the staff at the on-site 5 Star PADI Dive Centre are knowledgeable and profession.
Great facilities: complimentary snorkelling equipment, kayaks, pedalos, windsurfing, catamarans and movie library.
A massage at over-water Spa de Constance is worth an appointment (or two).
The not so good:
Luxury like this doesn't come cheap and excursion costs can add up.
Music from the main bar can carry at night. It's not a major disturbance and doesn't go on until late, you just might think your neighbour has a penchant for pop.
A blissful island hotel: buzzy enough for groups, secluded enough for couples, heaven for scuba divers.
Villas from £602 per night. Constance Moofushi, South Ari Atoll, 00200, Republic of Maldives (+960 668 1010; moofushiresort.constancehotels.com)
More on the Maldives.