What is it? A gem of a resort set in the jewel-like waters of the Indian Ocean. Huvafen Fushi - meaning "dream island" in the local Dhivehi language - is true to its name; white sand leads to dazzling hues of turquoise, aquamarine and azure before a plunge into the deep blue of the sea. More than 10 years after opening, Huvafen remains one of the Maldives' most intimate resorts - it takes less than 10 minutes to stroll across the island. And being just 30 minutes by speedboat from the international airport, there's no need to spend a night in the capital, Male, if you arrive in the evening (as is the case with many other Maldivian resorts), making it an ideal destination for a short break. You might be close to the city, but privacy and tranquility reign.

So we won't be marooned like Robinson Crusoe? Daniel Defoe's shipwrecked hero would have eaten his right arm for this. Some of the resort's 44 contemporary beach and overwater bungalows and pavilions feature glass floors, and all have a private plunge pool and are served by a thakuru, or butler. Two-bedroom Ocean Pavilion guests may slink into an indoor/outdoor infinity pool from their lounge room; those in a Beach Pavilion, which come complete with a guest wing, can luxuriate on a private patch of sand.

What's there to do? Sloth is no sin at Huvafen, although activities are plentiful and the house reef is one of the finest in the region. Dive or snorkel among fantastical marine life - turtles, manta rays, sharks, eels and fish of the clown, butterfly and lion varieties as well as grouper and tuna - or just stand on the beach and feed a stingray. There's parasailing, kitesurfing, waterskiing, wake boarding and deep-sea fishing, while unimaginative landlubbers can work out at the gym or, better still, be indulged in the world's first underwater spa (below).

Whoah, did you say "underwater spa"? Set 100 metres out to sea, at the end of a wooden promenade, the Lime Spa has overwater pavilions and two treatment rooms eight metres below the surface, into which filtered light streams through a bank of windows. Book the signature Lime Light Ritual, a three-hour indulgence that includes a massage using locally made coconut oil, and afterwards chill out with a mocktail in hand as exotic sea creatures flash in and out of the coral gardens beyond.

Nice. And the food? Standard international fare is available at Celsius while Cardamom serves excellent Indian food under the stars. Alternatively, you could take a table for two, barefoot, in the shallows of the infinity pool, illuminated by fibre-optic lights. Raw, as the name suggests, serves uncooked delights, including a healthy and delicious tuna sashimi pizza, and the restaurant's deck is a terrific spot for sundowners. Oenophiles are well catered for here: 6,000 bottles of wine sit in the Maldives' first underwater cellar.

Who stays here? George Clooney and Kate Moss are said to have wriggled their toes in Huvafen's sand, alongside royalty, sports stars, corporate titans and other assorted high-fliers, not that the discreet staff will name names. The resort is best suited to couples and families with older children, as there is no dedicated kids' club. For that, try the sister resort, Niyama.

It doesn't sound cheap. It's not; you might have to think about raiding your children's college fund, with rates starting at US$1,150 per room per night, plus taxes and service charge. For more details, go to huvafenfushi.peraquum.com.