Best of the Maldives: Logo Shot – W Retreat

W Retreat - underwater W

On our tours, we always take a shot in front of the resort welcome sign. We are not alone as this is definitely one of the top photo types one sees posted online.

The literally iconic “W” of the iconic W Retreat is not only probably the most popular logo shot in the Maldives (at least judging by Instagram posts – see bottom photo for example), but the resort generously lends a hand. The minute you step on the jetty, they take the shot for you and by the time you have checked-in and made it to your room, a framed photo of your arrival is waiting for you at the room (see ours below).

As with so many touches, the W takes this feature a step further…or should we say deeper. They have submerged a “W” in their lagoon for underwater photos. Not quite the underwater sculpture garden I “haven’t seen yet”, but along the same lines.

W would win world water witness with wonderful water wrinkle we want.

W Retreat - logo shot

Kiki Sunshine (Russia) – W Retreat

Best of the Maldives: Underwater Sea Barrier – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu - underwater sea wall

Resort islands face all sorts of new environmental challenges from COTS to rising sea temperatures taking their tolls on the coral reefs. But an endemic and ancient plague on the islands are the simple currents shifting the precious sands of their tiny plot of real estate all over the place. Of the over 100 active resorts, nearly 40 have either rock groynes (still vertically out from the beach) or sea walls (sit horizontally parallel to the beach)…or both…to limit this natural erosion. Unfortunately, these measures to keep the sand in place can keep guests away who prefer an unadulterated ocean vista.

Some resorts have gotten clever about turning adversity to advantage dressing their groynes up as everything from lounging areas to wedding pavilions. But Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is the first resort to address the less slightly seawalls by introducing ‘turtle-friendly’ submerged ones that wouldn’t impair the view over the water…

“This project consists of a ‘belt’ of breakwater walls built in the North Eastern side of the lagoon, at a distance of 100 meters from, and parallel to the shore line. The purpose of the wall is to control the sand movements by reducing the impact of rough seas and the strong circulating currents. The first phase of the project consists of 9 walls, each of 25 meters in length and with gaps between each wall to allow the passage of turtles and fish as well as a controlled amount of currents. With Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu being a regular green sea turtle nesting ground, these gaps are very important for them to navigate their way onto the island. The wall is built with eco-friendly coir gunny bags filled with a mixture of sand and cement ; the bags will eventually dissolve naturally, leaving the cement ‘blocks’ in place. We are in phase one of this project and 5 walls are now complete, with the 6th at 90% and the remaining 3 all 50% completed. We have already started observing a stable beach near our Lagoon Villas which used to be severely affected. The image above is from a stay a couple of months ago in October, and the thin line that you see near the Lagoon Villas is the breakwater wall that has progressed.”

Sometimes the best resort innovations are hidden just beneath the surface.

Maldives QI – Oceans Eleven


  • Q: What’s the best way to remove coral reef devouring Crown of Thorns Starfish?
  • A: Spear them and collect them?
  • Q: Buzzz…When a COTS is distressed, by something like being speared, it reacts by releasing its eggs. These number about 10,000 per female. So spearing a COTS just makes it worse.
  • A: Poison them?
  • Q: Buzzz…Not great to put toxic substances into the marine environment

QI returned to our screens this weekend with “Season N” as in nautical nature news.   And today’s Maldives Complete QI instalment on the occasion is just that.  Breaking news on the fight against this scourge of the reefs.

Like so many Maldives islands, Kandolhu faced an outbreak of COTS earlier this year and researched a number of methods for effectively solving the problem. The resort Deputy Manager Laura is a trained marine biologist so they had a bit of a ringer in the battle against this reef destroying creature.

One technique she found was injecting bile salts that you could get from Australia. But that was very expensive. Then, they found out that injecting them with vinegar was effective in killing them and was a non-toxic substance. In the end, Kandolhu has removed 9,000 COTS in the past 6 months and appear to have the situation well under control now. We didn’t see a single one in our near circum-navigation of the island.

Best of the Maldives: Golf Pro – Velaa

Velaa - golf pro

If you need a hand following you around the golf course with your game, Velaa resort offers its very own resident golf pro – Christopher Snape. He can wield Velaa’s armamentarium of space-age analytical tools or just join you for a round.

We caught up with Christopher to tap into a few of his tips and insights into playing in paradise…

  • How did you find yourself on a Maldives resort?
    I work for TROON golf who operate the Academy here Velaa. When I was asked by them if I was interested I practically bit their hand off at the opportunity.
  • What was the most luxurious course you have played prior to Velaa?
    Many courses, what I classify as my second home would be Praia Del Rey in Portugal where I spent 6 years as the Professional.
  • What is your favourite caddie tip for people playing the Velaa course?
    Be conservative with your approach shots, if you take on shots and don’t play them to perfection you will be punished.
  • What’s your best score playing the course?
    When we have low handicapped players in residence we play a very tough formation my best score around that formation was -2.
  • What are people most surprised about playing the Velaa course?
    The quality of the playing surfaces and the beautiful landscape

At the FOOOOREfront.

Follow Me Follow Up

Lauren Bullen (Australia) – Club Med Kani

Happy Anniversary to the Osmanns (and second anniversary for fashionista homage posts). My first thematic fashionista post was a collection of shots with one of the most iconic travelling Instagram shot – the “Follow Me”. Last year’s version stretched the criteria a bit featuring a number of shots just being followed, but not with the trademark “Follow Me” reaching hand.  This year’s collection stays truer to the “Follow Me” form with a bonus video of Nataly Osmann herself at nearby India…

  1. Lauren Bullen (Australia) – Club Med Kani [ABOVE]
  2. Siriarin Siriyanon (Thailand) – Halaveli
    Siriarin Siriyanon (Thailand) - Halaveli
  3. Neslihan Atagül Doğulu (Turkey) – Halaveli
    Neslihan Kaya (Turkey) - Constance Moofushi
  4. Lillith Moon (France) – Mirihi
    Lillith Moon (France) - Mirihi
  5. Rafa Jela (Germany) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
    Rafa Jela (Germany) - Adaaran Hudhuran fushi
  6. Charlie Tighe (USA) – W Retreat
    Charlie Tighe (USA) – W Retreat
  7. Kiersten Rich (USA) – Meeru
    Kiersten Rich (USA) – Meeru
  8. Elizabeth Sleeper (USA) – LUX Maldives
    Elizabeth Sleeper (USA) – LUX Maldives
  9. Violin Julia (Russia) – Meedhupparu
    Violin Julia (Rusia) – Meedhupparu
  10. Helen Owen (USA) – Dusit Thani
    Helen Owen (USA) – Dusit Thani
  11. Nicola Brown (United Kingdom) – Gili Lankanfushi
    Nicola Brown (United Kingdom) – Gili Lankanfushi
  12. Ne Zlaya (Russia) – Holiday Island
    Ne Zlaya (Russia) - Holiday Island
  13. Tanya (Russia) – Sun Island
    Tanya (Russia) - Sun Island
  14. Katarina Maggistro (Italy) – The Residence
    Katarina Maggistro (Italy) - The Residence
  15. Catherine (Taiwan) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
    Catherine (Taiwan) - Adaaran Hudhuran fushi
  16. Kira Eagle (Russia) – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
    Kira Eagle (Russia) - Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
  17. Oana Craioveanu (Romania) – Cinnamon Dhonveli
    Oana Craioveanu (Romania) - Cinnamon Dhonveli
  18. Talyssa van Rooyen (Zimbabwe) – Anantara Veli
    Talyssa van Rooyen (Zimbabwe) - Anantara Veli
  19. Churee Porn (Thailand) – Veligandu
    Churee Porn (Thailand) - Veligandu
  20. Marina Qwerty (Ukraine) – Meeru
    Marina Qwerty (Ukraine) - Meeru


Best of the Maldives: Water Camo – Amilla Fushi

Amilla Fushi - water villa camo

Now you see it. The camouflage of the animal kingdom always fascinates. We came upon the king of camo a chameleon on our South Africa safari. We would never have seen it had the guide not pointed it out. In fact, even when the guide did point it out, we struggled to see it at first. And the Maldivian masters of masquerade are of course the octopi. Lori and I spent a delightful snorkel watching an octopus move around the coral croppings constantly changing his color scheme and his very skin texture to match the new coral he was next too.

The octopi of the resort world is Amilla Fushi’s water villas…

  • Anyway, it has its own magic: it is a mirror that reflects the surrounding colors!! Can you see the magic? — at Amilla Fushi.”

More literally hidden wonders of the Maldives. Thank again to Paola – she knows all the Maldives secrets!


Best of the Maldives: Glow SUP – Kandolhu

Kandolhu - SUP glow

Flying above the house reef with its own night time navigational lights is Kandolhu’s inspired night boarding…

We attach LED lights to the bottom which can change colour (or guests can select a colour) allowing you to see into the water without getting wet.”

There is something surreal about the ocean at night. And as with many habitats, a whole new host of creatures come alive and active. Not to mention a captivating way to surround yourself with a canopy of stars.

Offered Monday through Friday 6:30 to 7:30 for 1 to 2 guests per tour at $45 pp

Gan – The Air Force Island: Maldivian Holidays

Equator Village - Air Force Island 2

Historically, when it came to the rest of the world first visiting the Maldives, Gan was the centre of the map, in fact the very heart of navigation and in the whole Indian Ocean area. The Addu Island has a proud aeronautical legacy that goes back decades and continues to this very day. And for a cargo plane full of fun facts that I picked up during my stay there this summer as well as some follow up research, check out Maldivian Holidays’ latest issue features a piece on Gan by yours truly. You can read their online version, and (appropriately enough) it is also distributed as an in-flight magazine in the Maldives.

As it happens, Equator Village welcomed the latest resort manager, Mohamed Waheed, this past week. May this resort fly high for many years to come.

Equator Village - Air Force Island 1

Equator Village - Air Force Island 3

Best of the Maldives Online: Interactive Weather Map – Dark Sky

Interactive Weather Map – Dark Sky

National Geologic Map day is just the time to share one of my new favourite sites. – Dark Sky. I’m a lover of visual representation of data (bit of an Edward Tufte groupie). Dark Sky brings together two of my favourite tools – maps and interactivity. To help share updates on everyone’s favourite topic (and often top reason for going to the Maldives) – the weather. In fact, all of my interactive graphical features on Maldives Complete are map based – Snorkel Spotter, British Admiralty Maps DeepZoom (needs IE unfortunately), and Dive Maps. The Dark Sky site is very high quality and aesthetically well done with lots of weather data.

In honour of Geologic Map Day, I have added the “Maps” tag to the blog.

Happy exploring!

Best of the Maldives: Blind Dining – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - blind dining

The Maldives is a sense-sation for all the senses – the sun warmed sea breeze on your skin, the salty fragrance of fresh ocean air, the sumptuous delicacies of the resort gourmet kitchens, the sounds of the water gently licking the shoreline.

The sense most celebrated here on Maldives Compete has to be sight though. With all our imagery of fashionista guests to resorts highlights, I suspect the site has more Maldives pictures than any other website (Maldives Complete features over 7,000 photos). Today is World Eye Sight Day celebrating the sense of sight and raising appreciation for its gift as well as the issues many can grapple with losing it.

To experience a world without sight, Park Hyatt Hadahaa serve up the unique adventure of ‘blind dining’…

Unique ‘blind’ private dinner: an exceptional three-course feast, crafted with your favorite ingredients, to be enjoyed like never before as you are blindfolded to heighten the senses. Discover unadulterated taste and texture in your delightful dishes, while listening to the lapping of the waves and feeling the gentle breeze on your skin and the sand between your toes. Price – $450 per couple.”

We ourselves enjoyed blind dining here in London at the pioneer of this concept – Dans Le Noir. Hadahaa uses blindfolds, but at Dans Le Noir, the dining room is set in pitch black darkness. The first question is how do the waiters serve you…and of course the obvious answer is – they are all blind! First of all, there is a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability at first, but you do acclimate soon enough. And then it is a lesson in simple manoeuvrability – finding your glass, your fork, your food, your mouth!

But the cross-modal neuroplasty kicks in. Well, not that quickly. The whole notion that people impaired of one sense compensate with extra capability in others is well documented in neurology (but the process does take a bit longer than an evening meal – for a great overview, I recommend Scientific American’s article “Super Powers for the Blind and Deaf – The brain rewires itself to boost the remaining senses”).

More simply, the removed distraction of one sense, especially one so dominant in our lives, allows us to focus more intently on the others. Like taste and aroma. One of the courses at the mythic Fat Duck (voted one of the top restaurants in the world) is served with your eye shut to focus on both the food as well as a spritz of scent they spray when you take a bite to complement the taste. But the all-time iconic depiction of such blind-folded erotic delectation is the kitchen scene in the film 9 ½ Weeks.

If all this talk has made you appreciate your vision just a bit more, in the spirit of the day, I would encourage you to visit Naomi Riches MBE “Great Thames Row”. Just a few weeks ago, this vision impaired Paralympic champion (who rows at my Marlow Rowing Club) rowed the entire 165 miles of our own local coastline, the Thames River. She achieved the Guinness World Record for a woman completing the odyssey in 48 hours to raise fund for her charity In-Vision.

Dans Le Bleu!