WITH toddler twins, Baby Shark and I have spent many hours together.
But I can assure you something a little stronger than “do-do-do-do-do-do” passes my lips when I see them swim past my feet.
Though these baby reef sharks — a common sight in the turquoise-blue waters of the Maldives — are harmless, Steven Spielberg’s thriller Jaws has a lot to answer for when it comes to our reaction to these amazing creatures.
But you don’t have to be a diving expert to observe one of the most spectacular marine ecosystems on the planet.
Just a short while into my 15-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport to Crossroads, a newly opened island, I am lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins dancing and playing in the waves.
Over the next few days, I spot a myriad of marine life, with the clear waters home to 26 species of shark as well as pufferfish, eagle rays, stingrays, angelfish and sea turtles.
The Maldives, with its 1,000 islands spanning 300km, is a byword for get-away-from-it-all romance and luxury in the Indian Ocean.
But new offering Crossroads hopes to appeal to holiday-makers beyond honeymooners and the super-rich with its three-in-one destination.
There are two hotels — Saii Lagoon by Curio Collection Hilton and the Hard Rock Hotel — both connected via footbridge to Crossroads’ Marina, which houses rows of restaurants, shops and entertainment facilities including a dive school, beach club, spa and a branch of the Ministry Of Crab, one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants.
My first stop is Saii’s laid-back, 198-room 4H resort, offering the intimacy of a private isle just a few minutes’ walk from the marina.
For a magical experience, opt for one of the overwater villas with outdoor terrace and bathtub, direct sea access and jaw-dropping panoramic views of the shimmering, crystal-clear waters.
Inside, large rooms feature rustic interiors and natural textures, while the ensuite with waterfall shower and ocean views means you can easily spend too long lathering up with products you can make in the aroma lab on arrival.
If you can tear yourself away from your terrace, the infinity pool offers yet more incredible views. It is handily located next to the bar.
For toes-in-the-sand relaxation there are pristine white beaches where you could share your experience with heron, tropical fish and, of course, those reef sharks.
If you fancy finding out a little more about the marine life, a trip to the Marine Discovery Centre on the marina is a must.
Here, guests can learn more about conservation issues with an immersive experience showcasing its cutting-edge coral propagation projects.
And to dive into the culture of the islands and its inhabitants, the Maldives Discovery Centre offers an insight into the islands’ rich history.
Back at the hotel, there is plenty to keep little people entertained, including a junior beach club and playground.
When hunger pangs hit, dining options include a poolside Mediterranean seafood grill and private dining.
Thai-Italian fusion Mr Tomyam, with its intimate al fresco dining under the stars, puts a twist on traditional dishes. My tofu and bok choi pizza, though the pairing sounds bonkers, was delicious.
Farther afield, on the Marina, Japanese, Indian and American delights await. But the jewel in its crown is Ministry Of Crab.
As its name suggests, this offers a culinary celebration of the sea creature plated up in various ways. Being a novice, staff were on hand to show how to crack open the crustacean with expertise. It is messy as hell — diners are presented with aprons on arrival — but well worth it.
I highly recommend the garlic-chilli crab served alongside huge hunks of freshly baked garlic bread.
But be warned. After that much garlic, lip-smacking will apply only to the food for a while.
Night owls can head to Cafe Del Mar — also a beach club with a stunning infinity pool by day — or the Hard Rock Cafe for chilled-out beats and booze.
On the other side of the island, the Hard Rock Hotel is also inspired by melodies.
The leave-your-baggage- at-the-door fun starts the moment you check in to the 5H resort, as staff encourage you to dump your belongings, slip into your beach wear and enter the pool down a water slide. Truly a rock-star entrance.
Music memorabilia from the likes of Prince and Lady Gaga adorns the hotel’s walls.
And guests can continue making music behind closed doors in one of the 178 rooms and villas by ordering an in-room Crosley turntable or Fender guitar.
Though I have no idea how to strum a tune, I order one for the hell of it.
The water villas on this side of the resort offer more of the same mesmerising views, but the lux factor is cranked up a notch by way of a private infinity pool.
Those who want to mingle can go for sundowners at the nightly drinks hour (included) on the beachfront.
To soak up some of the booze, opt for private dining, the ocean side restaurant serving Latin American-inspired cuisine and live music, while Sessions, inspired by world flavours, has a-la-carte menus and daily specials such as a barbecue on the beach.
It is also where you fuel up at the start of the day, with gut-busting choices from fruit to pancakes and pastries, as well as eggs cooked to order.
Other facilities include a huge pool, kids’ and teens’ clubs, a gym and fitness classes including yoga and jiu jitsu.
Plus there is a music-centric spa where the signature rhythm and motion treatments such as massage are timed to perfection alongside the pattern of the tunes.
So whether you want to rock out, recharge or relax with your feet in the sand, there is something to please baby, mummy, daddy . . . and even grandma shark.
GETTING THERE: Economy return flights in November from London to Male (stopover in Dubai) from £900pp with Emirates. See emirates.com.
STAYING THERE: Saii Lagoon entry-level rooms from £115 plus tax per night, B&B. Over water villa from £230. Hard Rock Hotel Maldives from £190 night B&B. Platinum over water villa from £345. Full-board options extra. See crossroadsmaldives.com for more details.