While the absolute lowest price for the Maldives seems to be Asdu Sun, if you want a refreshing brew, pool-side pina colada or glass of wine with dinner, those refreshments can add a tidy amount to an tight budget. As a result, many prefer the ‘All Inclusive’ scheme which minimises those mounting extras and can provide the lowest total cost of a holiday.
Equator Village has an All-Inclusive (AI) for $167 for 2 people sharing making it $84 per person per day which would seem nearly as low as Asdu Sun’s FB offer. Unfortunately, it does take an extra plane transfer to get there which adds $337 per person or $48/day for a 7 day stay.
But, Club Faru quoted $184.00 on All Inclusive for two people sharing for $92 per person per day. That not only covers an extra meals, but drinks (including spirits), soft drinks, coffees and even an city tour excursion to Male. That could be an even a better deal than Biyadhoo’s FB offer overall.
This week the UK budget was delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a pretty stark theme of austerity. So what is a Maldives aficionado to do in such times of austerity?
Naturally, all sorts of pre-booking, pre-opening, last-minute and other quirky deals can be found. But all things being equal, the rack-rate lowest starting point is Asdu Sun. They quoted a penny-preserving rate for mid-July of $70 per person per day on full board (flights not included).
But you do get less…unless you truly think less is more. Speaking with Reservations, Asdu Sun takes pride in being back to basics island. No mini-bars. No spa. No fitness centre. No underwater golf range. Not even hot water! The reservations assisted boasted (perhaps another superlative for them) of being the ‘simplest island’. Old school nostalgic simplicity. A plot of sand and a palm tree.
If you are looking for something a little less spartan, Biyadhoo is often cited as one of the best economy-priced resorts. They have hot water and a spa as well as a one of the best house reefs. They quoted $191 for two people per day (for 2 people sharing) Full Board in July which works out to $95 per person per day.
Hopefully, in the future the Maldives government will pave the way for even more economical options according to recent reports on their concerns about catering to the mid-market.
Maybe Asdu Sun’s nickname should be ‘ASDA Sun’. The tag line fits, “Saving you money every day.”
March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. As such it is classic kite flying season. The seasons are a bit different in equatorial Maldives, but we are heading into the half of the year with a bit more precipitation and breezes from the southwest trade winds. Not much too much to fret about since most of this time is still sunny, tropical paradise. But if you want to embrace the breezes when they blow, then Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is the place for you. They have 9 boards and kites varying from 2 to 17 metres. And if you needed any further inspiration, Sakis just posted the dazzling masterpiece on his site last week. If you want to find other resorts with kite surfing, it is one of the activities noted in the Maldives Complete profiles.
Happy Vernal Equinox!
The official arrival of spring is a milestone to start working on that garden. And if you are into gardening, then the resort with the ‘biggest’ appeal would be Adaaran Hudhuranfushi.
Hudhuranfushi has the largest produce garden of any resort in the Maldives. So you are guaranteed a massive selection of fresh produce at the buffet. Such diverse produce as squash-like ‘snake goat’ (see picture below). Gardening is big thing in terms of scale and heritage at Hudhuranfushi. Before it was a resort island, it was an agricultural island.
Guests are welcome to tour the massive complex, but a guide is recommended to highlight all the distinctive things growing there (and to help keep from getting lost).
In recognition of Red Nose Day for Comic Relief, I call out Four Season’s Landaa Giraavaru’s own colouring comic book. The activity book is just one of the many examples of Landaa’s exquisite attention to detail one finds across the resort. Just one of the many fun activities at their kids centre.
To do my small bit, for every comment to today’s post that includes a (clean) joke about a tropical island, I will make a £1 donation to Comic Relief (up to £100).
The ‘Ides of March’ marks the opening jump ball to ‘March Madness’ in the sport of basketball. The world’s biggest university sports tournament kicked off yesterday with game one of the NCAA Div I Basketball Championship Clemson vs. UAB.
If you want to celebrate the spirit of March Madness and keep your foul shooting up to scratch or maybe run a bit of one-on-one on holiday, then several resorts claim to have a hoop – Paradise Island, Sun, Holiday Island, Royal, and Diva. But only Hulhule has a confirmed, bona fide court. I checked it out during my last visit and the basket is regulation height, the backboard in fine shape and the court itself level and even. The hotel has basketballs on hand for guests to use. Swish!
The upcoming ‘Times Travel Photo Competition’ and the incorporation of the some of my favourite pictures of the Maldives by Sakis evoke own favourite pictures. The photo above is not just one of the my favourite photos we have taken in the Maldives (taken by my wife Lori), but one of my favourite photos of all time. It captures the peace of experiencing the embrace of loved ones and the sanctuary of a cherished place and moment.
The picture was taken on the very last day of our very first trip to the Maldives. We visited Laguna Beach (now revamped and relaunched as Velassaru). My wife Lori was up early with anticipation and too soak up the last little bit of paradise. Sitting at shore’s edge at sunrise, she glanced up to see two manta rays gliding slowing by in the lagoon. She rushed into the villa and roused me and our son Chase from our slumber to come see this magnificent treat. We missed the mantas, but we nonetheless treated to an array of other marine life scurrying about their dawn activities. I held Chase in my arms and we soaked up the moment that lives with me forever.
The picture is also an illustration of advice for family snappers that we now give with authority to young families in our veteran positions of empty nesters. When the kids are gone, we have piles of pictures of all sorts of special occasions – birthdays, holidays, performances. But what my wife and I reminisce about most are the simple, mundane, every day memories. “Do you remember how Chase always used to do…?” So the photographic advice is to ‘capture the everyday’. And the corollary to that rule is ‘capture affection’. Much as the special occasions were important at the time, what we miss most, and hence what images we savour and like to recall most, are those weekend morning cuddles, those welcome-home-Daddy wild abandon hugs, and holding joy in your arms on a quiet morning.
I’ve now started a Flickr stream for my favourite Maldives pix and have uploaded a few to start. The other one (shown below) is of a Blue Surgeon fish school. I love the colours and patterns of the Maldives. The Blue Surgeon fish is for many the aquatic mascot of the Maldives. The variegated blues offset by the streak of sunshine yellow seems to capture the Maldivian landscape in their little marine bodies. In fact, the Bleu Surgeonfish is the inspiration for the colour scheme to Maldives Complete.
Question asked on Quora last week ‘Where are the best scuba diving sites in the Maldives?’
I turned to my two trusty Maldives diving resources…
Godfrey uses a 4-star rating system where only 4 dive sites out of the nearly 300 he reviewed got the top mark…
Harwood and Bryning are more liberal with their 5-star rating giving 14 dive sites the full marks out of a similar number reviewed.
To no surprise, one can start by looking at the Ari atoll. Three of Godfrey’s four tops are there as are 4 for Harwood and Bryning. The other atoll mentioned by Godfrey is Male and Harwood and Bryning cite 6 in Male atoll (North and South). But I’m weighting Godfrey more because he is being more selective with his top gradings. Furthermore, the Ari atoll has a generally distinctive reputation as being the top atoll for diving in the Maldives. It is the most renowned area for whale sharks in the plankton bloom seasons. Finally, the Male spots are quite spread out, but the two North Ari sites are both very close to each other which secures it.
Godfrey describes Miyaruga, “The landscape is stunning and divers can easily circle the reef in one dive if the current permits…Much of the thila is undercut with caves and the surface is coated in soft coral and colourful sponges.”
Actually, three resorts – Gangehi, Nika and Velidhu – lie close to both these resorts, but mathematically, Nika is the absolutely closest.
Disclaimer – Obviously, ‘the best’ diving is subjective at best. Do many variations of taste and interpretation. Also conditions will vary considerably season to season as well as day to day. A normally mundane area could come alive during certain periods and conditions. Furthermore, the grading system of stars is crude at best. Finally, a number of atoll where there are fewer resorts are not covered at all in these books. This post simply tries to distil some of the basic research and assessment that has been done on the Maldives to date.
Once you get going on your surf board and can stay up longer and longer, when you want to go longer still, then you need to head over to Adaraan Hudhuranfushi. Their ‘Lohis’ search break is renowned not just in the Maldives, but the world over. It is the best ‘Left Hand Break’ in the Maldives and the 8th best spot in the world. Enthusiasts report that you can get a 14 second run which is a relative eternity. In fact, you might get coaching tips from the resort General Manager Asim Mohamed himself as he is a regular on the waves there. He has even included some great action shots on his Flickr site. And even if ‘falling off’ is more your forte, you can still enjoy the long runs from the superbly positioned beach bar (where my wife snapped the pic at top).
In light of the ASP World Tour which started this week with the Quicksilver Pro event, I thought I would do a few surf pieces. I’ve already covered the Maldives hosting this very same event in June 2009. But you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy surfing in the Maldives. In fact, it would be an ideal place to start. It doesn’t feature the giant rip-curl waves of Hawaii. Instead, the Maldives are famous for long runs of gentle rolls as more modest waves hit the long breakers of extended reefs. If you have never even surfed at all, then the place to go is Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and their Tropic Surf surfing school.
They offer special beginner course for 2 days called the ‘Dream Programme’ where you learn safety, paddling, standing-up and falling-off (I thought that I might be able to skip that last bit seeming well proficient in fall off many things, but the instructor informed me that there is a ‘proper’ way to fall off). They then take beginners to surfing spots that are ideal for novices for guided and supervised outing.
Tropic Surf has a “100% success rate getting people to stand up on the first lesson.” They feature ‘soft boards’ and an instructor is always in the water with the student. I met with the manager Chris Prewitt (see picture above) who described the programme as a “shortcut to success”
For the more ambitious, Kuda Huraa also offer a 4 night ‘Surf’s Up’ package as well as surf cruises on various boats (including the Four Seasons Explorer yacht) to different locales around the Maldives. The Male atoll itself has 8 surf breaks for all levels of skill such as ‘Sultans’, ‘Jails’, and ‘Honkys’. For more information on Maldives surfing check out the Surf in Maldives website or the Maldivian Surfing Association Facebook page