Last Updated on January 11, 2019 by

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ittle atolls rise from the dark blue water like droplets of turquoise pearls, in different shapes and sizes. There are hundreds, if not thousands of them, scattered randomly all over the Indian Ocean. It’s as if Mother Earth had sprinkled a handful of sapphire gems into the sea and created this nation of atolls.

In actual fact, Maldives is made up of approximately 1,200 coral islands — only about 200 inhabited — grouped into a double chain that resemble a necklace draped along an undersea plateau. The islands are small, and none rise more than 1.8 meters (6 feet) above sea level. They are spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers, making this one of the most disparate countries in the world.

Maldives is known affectionately as paradise on Earth, and as cliche as it sounds, I can’t help but agree.

The island nation is one of those places where you have to take to the sky and see it from above. And you don’t even need to take a pricey seaplane to get those views.

On board a commercial airline, we fly just low enough to feast on stunning aerial views of the Maldives. As the plane made its descent, the view became even clearer, as coral reefs, resorts and sand banks revealed themselves.

Words don’t do Maldives any justice – I’ll let our photos do the talking. Here are some iPhone photos I shot while on the plane. Enjoy the colors!

Different shades of blue

Different shades of blue as seen from the plane.

Thousands of islands make up Maldives

Maldives is made up of 1200 islands – when seen from above, they look like little pearls shimmering in a sea of blue.

An island up close

Atolls as seen up close.

Flying just below the clouds

Male Airport in the distance – the government is reclaiming more land to expand the island.

Resort islands as seen from above

An island resort seen from the plane.

Our hotel Sheraton Maldives from the air

It was really cool to see our hotel Sheraton Maldives from the air.

Video: Dolphin Sunset Cruise in Maldives

Descending into Male

Coral reefs and sand bars surround these islets.

An atoll

An uninhabited island with a large sandbar underneath the water surface.

A small islet

Don’t you wish you were cast away on this island?

Landing at Male Airport

Arriving at Male Airport.

How to:

Numerous airlines fly to Male, the capital city of Maldives, from other parts of Asia and Europe. You can get airfare deals for as low as $300 return from Singapore or Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, which has been named the best airline in Europe five times in a row. For more information, visit the Turkish airline website.