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Legendary Locations: Maldives

Bar Refaeli in 2010 :: Walter Iooss Jr./SI

Bar Refaeli in 2010 :: Walter Iooss Jr./SI

SwimDaily is celebrating the impending launch of Swimsuit's 50th anniversary issue with this video-a-day series featuring our most memorable shoot locations, hosted by the memorable-in-her-own-right Emily DiDonato.

Be sure to come back daily because we are sending ONE LUCKY READER on the trip of a lifetime to the No. 1 Legendary Location. Go here for more details!

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Day 5: Maldives

CENTURIES AGO, back when explorers sailed the seas, they tried to avoid the expanse of the Indian Ocean 400 miles or so southwest of Sri Lanka, where more than a thousand small islands dotted the water, creating a nautical hazard.

Their loss.

The Maldives might make for a treacherous voyage, but once you've safely arrived, the place ticks every box on the island-paradise checklist: impossibly clear water, ultrafine sand and breathtaking skies.

Alas, the average elevation of the Maldives is only three feet, and some scientists believe that within a century or two, the whole place could be submerged. In 2009, then-President Mohamed Nasheed held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to the rising sea level, and the government has been looking to buy property (in India, Sri Lanka or Australia) on higher ground.

They'll have a hard time finding something more beautiful than this.

Mark Bechtel