International Surfing Day today. Maldives continues to be one of the top surf destinations in the world making for some of the best action photoshoots from there blending the graceful motion of the water and the wave riders.
When we think of coral reefs, we often think of the hard corals whose calcium carbonate exoskeletons are the stuff that this destination is made out of. But just as dazzling to the undersea adventurer are the colourful soft corals that line walls and often caves on the reefs. And the best dive spot for soft corals seems to be Becky’s Caves according to a number of experts I’ve conferred with. It is a site for Advanced divers as the sub-aquatic display, described as “lots of soft corals all coming out like grapes” starts at 22 metres deep. The nearest resort, JA Manafaru’s“Sun Diving School” describes it as
“This reef is the north side of Madulu Island. The top reef starts from 7 meters and drops down until 20-25 meters depth, showing all its beauty. It is a real wall reef, where you can meet napoleon fishes, red snappers and morays, lion fishes and different kind of nudibranches in the small overhangs. At the depth of 20 meters, one huge recess of the reef shows on one side a wall completely covered of soft corals of different colors; from yellow, pink, white to orange, a real universe of colors! Bring with you your torch and your camera: one fantastic dive for everybody but one rare show to see!”
Happy Father Day! Finolhu has a special treat for all fathers out there with its “Man Cave” (their actual name) complete with pin ball, cinema lounge, retro video games, refreshments, etc. All set in a stylishly chic casual denim décor.
I guess if the fashionista models won’t get out of bed for less than a certain amount, you can’t blame them for getting tired on their photoshoots and lying down on the job though it would seem that the ubiquitous jetty would be a tad uncomfortable. It does allow you to frame the shot with the natural colours and textures of the rough-hewn decking with the dazzling ocean blues adjacent, I guess.
When we were first considering going to the Maldives two decades ago, our friends described their trip and how they were on their resort island and saw another even smaller island across the water. They waded out a bit further to get a better look and before long they hade waded all the way across the lagoon to it (Rihiveli Beach). This one anecdote stuck in my mind more than others and seemed to capture the plot-of-sand-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean vibe more than any other illustration of the Maldives.
Since, then I’ve been on the constant lookout for miniscule islands as a part of the distinctive Maldivian aesthetic. With this post, I’ve even introduced a tag for it, “Mini Island”. The latest is this little sandbank with a touch of greenery and a small thatched cabana at The Residence Dhigurah. With the jetty passing so near, it might just be the closest of the detached mini-isles (thanks Francisco – long time fan of the original “mini island” at Rihiveli).
With the help of MIT, the Maldives are looking for some “homegrown” islands themselves. A study taking place at Taj Exotica, is investigating ways for islands to build themselves: “MIT’s bold plan to save the Maldives–and the world”. Ocean currents notoriously strip shorelines and sandbars taking their material away. The “Growing Islands” Self-Assembly Lab is looking at ways to turn that ocean force to advantage, but instead to get it to deposit sands onto the islands to build them up.
People often ask about the most authentic Maldivian island. A number of resorts are inspired by Maldivian tradition and local aesthetic, but by and large the resorts are enclaves of landlubber creature comforts shipped in. In fact, even the famous water villas were a concept imported from Bali. But “Nature’s Paradise” resort, AaaVeee, is really the ultimate “Maldives paradise” for sheer indigenous authenticity. Most everything on the island was made on the island, by islanders from materials from the islands.
For example, the stools in the bar are carved from a single coconut tree trunk (see photo above). And I have already written about their distinctly traditional Maldivian “koari” throughout the island (see photo below) and even its tradition breaking local snorkel guide.
Fashionista foreigners are the only style icons gracing the Maldives fashion-scape. Next Top Model has arrived in the country with the grand final hosted by resort Hudhuranfushi. Maldives Insider reported on the gala event which was dominated by beauty originating from these islands renowned for beauty with not just models, but also local designers displaying their style and flair:
“The top 10 contestants awed judges and invitees at the grand finale held at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi resort. Jamsheedha along with Dheena Aboobakur, Nadhuha Amir, Mariyam Malsa Hassan, Hanan Mohamed Rasheed, Bunaanath Yoosuf, Aminath Saina Ahmed, Fathimath Mirusha, Hawwa Inasha Gayyoom and Khadhyjath Shafeega wore beachwear by local designer Wimla and evening wear by Azu, while Yumna Rushdhee’s YR Collection of jewellery also made an appearance. The 19-year-old Jamsheedha, whose dream is to become a pilot, won the local edition of Top Model of the World franchise, securing the chance to represent the Maldives at the grand finale of Top Model of the World 2018 to be held in Grenada in September.”
Design is about creating a feeling with ingredients. Some might consider a carpet at a Maldives resort an unnecessary extravagance. The typically stone floors feel cooler to the touch in the hot climate so why spring the expense for something so seemingly extraneous. Well, it’s all part of the Velaa vibe which is possibly the most homey of any resort we have been too. Which is not surprising since the very genesis of the resort was as the resort owner’s private vacation home that eventually grew to a resort in its own right.
Most hotel properties try to get by with spartan décor to cut costs. This approach is why do many hotel rooms seem to sterile and uninviting even if they are done with panache and style. Velaa’s villas feel like someone’s home you are visiting. Only at a home would you put so much care into adding so many details which I’ve highlighted before. The rugs are not cheap industry bulk buys, but really elegant orientals that add a distinctive touch of style as well as warmth.