Best of the Maldives: Spa – Huvafen Fushi

In the spirit of the Ithaa restaurant at the Conrad Hilton Rangali, the Huvafen Fushi resort has opened an underwater spa. A number of spas have delightful settings on jetties and beaches right near the water, but if you truly want to be immersed in the aquatic serenity of the atolls, the Lime Spa.

Greetings of the Season

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Greetings are always a curious part of any language. The Hawaiians have ‘aloha’ which means ‘hello’ and ‘good bye’ as does the Italians’ ‘ciao’. The English – as in what people in England speak – have an all purpose word ‘cheers’ which can not only be used as ‘hello’ and ‘good bye’, but also ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’.

Dhivehi is the native language of the Maldives islands and it has no direct translation for ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhivehi_language). Instead, islanders greet each other with a smile or the raising of the eyebrow and just ask "where are you going?" followed by "what for?" The tradition evoked for me one of the earliest ever Dilbert cartoons show above (featured in Dilbert’s ‘Build a Better Life by Stealing Office Supplies’).

Seasons Greetings!

Satellite Views

Maldives Satellite

Virtual Earth and Google Earth provide useful and sometimes stunning images from above of the Maldives to provide a sense of where you are heading to.  But often the images are months if not years old.  If you want the uber-birds-eye view, especially to see what the weather is looking like, check out Eumetsat hourly satellite photography online for a peek at the (usually) blue skies awaiting you.  The ‘Southern Asia’ (which covers the Maldives) colour photos are found here.  If you select the ‘Play’ option, then the site goes through the pictures in sequence to provide an animation of the weather movements.

Maldives for Families

Maldives beach 1   Maldives beach 3
(our children, Isley and Chase, fish watching including ‘wading with the sharks’ – harmless, mini-black tipped reef sharks – on the right)

I had originally thought of creating a web site on the Maldives called ‘Maldives for Families’.  It is renowned as a top diving and honeymoon destination, but we found it distinctively suitable for children.

The first and foremost appeal is safety.  You never really have to worry about them running off or for that matter being absconded because the islands are so small and there is little traffic on an off.  If you lose sight of them, you know that they can’t be far because there is not far to go.  In fact, in many islands, no one is ever more than shouting distance away.

Of course, the circumpresent water is always a potential danger, but of all fun in the sun beach destinations the Maldives are about as safe as you get.  Their unique archipelago topology means than most islands are surrounded by shallow calm lagoons, often protected several metres offshore by a coral reef.  This means that there is often very little current and swimming in the ocean is like swimming in a paddling pool (or your own personal aquarium when you consider all of the colourful fish around – always a delight for the children).

Despite the charms of the beach for children, one recommendation I always make to families of all ages is to select a resort with a pool (Resort Finder allows you to filter for Pools).  After a while, the salt and sand get aggravating for children and the cleaner more confined pool makes for a crucially refreshing change of pace.

For a fine piece on other aspects to vacationing in the Maldives with children, check out the Sunday Times article “The Maldives:  now for children too”.

Best of the Maldives: Restaurant – Ithaa at Conrad Maldives Rangali

Conrad Hilton Rangali Maldives Restaurant

While just about any part of the Maldives are dazzling and remarkable, a few place within the magical atolls stand out even for paradise.

There are dozens of enchanting ways to enjoy a meal in the Maldives – on the beach with the water lapping at your toes, on a deserted spit of sand in the middle of the ocean – but perhaps none so distinctive and ‘Maldivian’ as the Conrad Maldives Rangali’s Ithaa underwater restaurant.

“Dine 16 feet below sea level at Ithaa, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s unique undersea restaurant. Marvel at 180° views of reef and marine life, sip champagne cocktails and sample Maldivian-Western fusion cuisine at this spectacular Maldives venue – the world’s first all-glass, undersea restaurant.”