So, I've created a brief guide to the Maldives' rise to tourism fame, and added some tips about places to stay and what you can expect to see here in the future.
Looking at the Maldives today, you wouldn't think that around half a century ago it was free of pretty much all mod cons - not to mention social structures most of us take as a given. But, back in the 1960s, the Maldives was a bank and airport-free place that officials deemed just too difficult to transform into a hive of tourism.
One of the main problems, alongside the above, was that each island was quite isolated, with only traditional slow boats around to carry residents from one place to the next. So, how did this landscape end up changing so dramatically?
Well, it all happened thanks to a chance meeting between Maldivian Ahmed Naseem and an Italian named George Cobin. Believing in the archipelago's tourism opportunities, they set about getting people to come to the island and, in 1972, the first guest arrived.
Other landmarks in the local tourism history include a law in 1984 that prevented people from staying outside registered resorts (something that had become common) and the spread of the now-famous water villas, which were first installed in the 1990s.
The Maldives today
Home to almost 2,000 islands spread across 26 atolls, the Maldives today is, for most people, synonymous with paradise. What I like about the story of the Maldives is that the gorgeous natural environments of turquoise lagoons and pristine beaches have been protected, while the resorts - which are on the whole ultra-luxurious - have been limited to just one per island to prevent overdevelopment.
This makes it quite a secluded, peaceful and romantic place to stay, so naturally it has a strong appeal among couples. I think a particularly lovely option for romance is the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, which houses stunning villas perched prettily either over lagoons or within beautiful gardens. Located on the Baa Atoll, it is also surrounded by untouched coral reefs, so it's an absolutely perfect place for diving and snorkeling. You can get more ideas of where to stay at H and J.
Ready to make waves in the future
I'm in two minds about the plans for the future of the Maldives. There are some pretty big developments on the cards, and with big developments always comes the worry that you'll lose that quality of a tranquil paradise.
On the other side of the coin, a lot of these plans sound pretty exciting and definitely fit in with the Maldives' luxurious image. Probably the most significant is the 5 Lagoons project, which is underway at the moment. This basically consists of the formation of five lagoons, which will be populated with manmade islands.
One will be the world's first floating 18-hole golf course, another will be a star-shaped hotel and shopping centre, while two will be dedicated to water villas. The last will be made of private islands. I'm interested to see how it'll all turn out!
Photo credits: [ThinkStock - iStockphoto]