Best of the Maldives: Bird Nest Chairs – Lily Beach

Lily Beach - birds nest seat

 

I’m always intrigued by the inviting perches found on Maldives resorts for sitting and chilling in the warm ocean breezes. The most classic is the ‘hammock’ which has even found its way out to the middle of the lagoon. Swings off more elaborate styles and designs are a regular feature.

I was particular taken by the stylish ‘birds nest’ seats on Lily Beach. Dangling from a single line, gives is a 360 degree motion (versus conventional swings and hammocks that a limited to side-to-side action). Crammed with soft pillows, the seat swing was a place I could definitely spend hours on end.

The ‘bird’ modelling here is the gracious sales manager Agata Sobczak who welcomed me on our visit.

Best of the Maldives: Parakeets – Paradise Island

Paradise Island - parakeets video

 

 

 

You can get up close and personal with musical creatures on land as well. Paradise Island features an extremely friendly family trio (mom, dad and kid) of parakeets. My Maldive expert network informs me that another resort also has one, but Paradise Island has 3! The video clip above shows just how appreciative they are of their fans!

Best of the Maldives: Guitar Sharks – W Retreat

W Retreat guitar sharks

“Swimming in, lord, the deep blue sea. I’d have a, all you pretty women, fishin’ after me.”

Jimi Hendrix would have been 70 today. And I’m sure that he would be riffing today. Often considered the greatest guitarist of all time, today’s post pays tribute with a similarly rare, striking individual in the Maldives waters – the Guitar Fish.

I was first alerted to these allusive critters during our visit by the W Retreat divemaster Hamid who told me about seeing them regularly. Hamid’s successor, Tessa Van Den Abbeele, added the following when I contacted her…

“Out of experience from being in the Maldives for a few years the Guitar fish is a spectacular specie to see but not often spotted, but said that we have encountered 3 guitar fishes together a few times around the house reef of W Retreat & Spa. Other sites we have seen them is Maaye Thila, Fish Head and Himendhoo thila. The guitarfish are a family, Rhinobatidae, of rays. The guitarfish are known for an elongated body with a flattened head and trunk and small ray like wings. The combined range of the various species is tropical, subtropical and temperate waters worldwide. They often travel in large schools. Guitarfish’s have a body form intermediate between those of sharks and rays. The tail has a typical shark-like form, but in many species the head has a triangular, or shovel-like shape, rather than the disc-shape formed by fusion with the pectoral fin found in other ray. The animal looks like a mix between shark and ray, they are often confused with sharks, especially when seen underwater for the first time. Maldivian fisherman for example simply refer to them as sharks. The largest can reach a length of over 3 meters. Guitarfish or most often seen while resting on the sandy bottoms in the vicinity of coral reefs. The mode of reproduction of all the family members is ovoviviparous (yolk sac viviparity) They swim in a shark like manner with lateral strokes of the tail and caudal fin not by undulating their pectoral fins like most rays do.”

It seems particularly a propos that a resort so imbued with music (and innovative music at that) would have such a captivating creature frequenting its reef.

PS. Joke for the kids…What do guitar fish perform? Guitar reefs?

Best of the Maldives: Resident Local Artist – Sun Island

Sun Island Azum artist

This weekend kicks off the holiday shopping season in the USA starting with the infamous post-Thanksgiving ‘Black Friday’. Guests of Sun Island can get their own jump on filling their Santa sacks with any number of treasures at Azym’s workshop. Azym is the resident artist there and wields his paintbrush in his shop there packed floor to ceiling with pieces such as pictures, bowls, frames and all manner of assorted decorative arts.

I find that local artwork is quite variable in quality not just in the Maldives , but at just about any tourist destination that you visit. Some will be quite amateurish and tawdry pieces, but sometimes you can find some real gems of talent and style. I would definitely class Azym as the latter. He captures the Maldivian blues that are bright but not garish. His depictions are simple without being crude.

And because they are made right there, so you can order something customised as a special memento to your stay and favourite memories. A certain part of the island or vista perhaps.

Happy shopping!

 

Sun Island artist

 

Sun Island artist 2

Best of the Maldives: Lemonade – Mirihi

Mirihi lemonade

 

 

“If life gives you lemons, then make lemonade.”

This is the week for blogging milestones as my other major (and longer standing) blogging pursuit – ‘Bruce Lynn Blog’ – celebrated its 7th anniversary yesterday. The site explores the themes of ‘Leadership and Management’ as well as ‘Embracing Failure’. The two subjects are united in the common thread of how people deal with risk.

To celebrate the occasion, I thought I would post something apropos. Perhaps one of the all-time classic ‘embrace failure’ sayings is about making lemonade out of lemons, so I thought I would turn to the best and most varied lemonade I have found in the Maldives.

Mirihi offers 10 different signature cocktails at Muraka bar including the following tart treats…

  • Mihiri Lemonade – “Fresh muddled strawberries, aged rum, strawberry and vanilla liguer with soda.”
  • Wild Honey & Orange Lemonade – “Vodka, Drambuie, Cointreau, honey, oranges and orange lemonade
  • Green Tea & Chili Lemonade – “Green tea, fresh limes, Southern Comfort, Brandy and a bit of chili” (see above enjoyed with fellow TripAdvisor Forum contributor).

Admittedly, ‘embracing failure’ by drinking lemonade in a tropical resort isn’t too hard of a sell.

Best of the Maldives: Board Game – LUX* Maldives

 

 

400! That’s how many ‘Best of Maldives’ pieces I have logged with today’s post. Looking for something suitable for this quadricentennial milestone. ‘400’ is the square of 20, the HTTP status code for a bad client request, the top wealthy people in Forbes. It is also the price for ‘Boardwalk’ in the American version of Monopoly. With all of its hotels, money spending, and entrepreneurship in the Maldives tourism industry, that seemed particularly apropos for Maldives Complete.

Most resorts have a selection of classic board games at a common area library or from reception – chess, checkers, Risk. And the all-time classic for when you really have lots of time to while away – Monopoly. LUX* Maldives, in their characteristically creative-quirk style has lent a twist to even this simple pastime…

Monopoly that makes a difference. Join us in a villa or a suite where we will set up the game and convert the Monopoly money ‘winnings’ of the victor into a real currency donation to our carefully screened and approved community projects.”

It got me thinking that they should do a Maldives Monopoly custom-version.

Each ‘colour’ collection could be a different atoll (with an effort at trying to get escalating prices of properties featured)…

  • Dark red – North Male (Club Faru, Summer Island)
  • Light blue – South Male (Fihahlohi, Club Rannalhi, Kandooma)
  • Pink – North Ari (Chaaya Ellaidhoo, Maayafushi, Bathala)
  • Dark Yellow – South Ari (Vilamendhoo, Vakarufalhi, Mirihi)
  • Red – Nilandhe (Angsana Velavaru, Filitheyo, Niyama)
  • Yellow – Gaafu (Park Hyatt, Ayada, The Residence)
  • Green – Baa (Anantara Kihavah, Soneva Fushi, Four Seasons Landaa Giravaru)
  • Dark blue – (The Rania Experience, Dhoni Island)

Alternatively, each grouping could be a resort operating group…

  • Dark red – (Club Faru, Fihahlohi)
  • Light blue – Villa (Holiday Island, Paradise Island, Sun Island)
  • Pink – Chaaya (Hakura Hura Huraa, Dhonveli, Elaidhoo)
  • Dark Yellow – Crown & Champa (Meeru, Komandoo, Kuredu)
  • Red – AAA (Medhufushi, Filitheyo, Zitahli Kudafunafaru)
  • Yellow – Universal (Kurumba, Baros, Velassaru)
  • Green – Adaaran (Dhigu, Naladhu, Kihavah)
  • Dark blue – Four Seasons (Kuda Huraa, Landaa Giravaru)

Other changes could include…

  • ‘Houses’ would be ‘Villas’
  • ‘Hotels’ would ‘Water Villas’
  • ‘Railroads’ would be ‘Liveaboards’ (Yasawa Princess, Atoll Explorer, Dhaainkan'baa, Four Seasons Explorer)
  • Utilities would be ‘Dive Centre’ and ‘Water Centre’
  • ‘Jail’ would be the ‘Male Airport Transfer Lounge’.
  • ‘Free Parking’ would be ‘Free Diving’

Community Chest and Chance cards would have things like…

  • ‘Step on coral, pay $500 reef restoration fine’ (this idea courtesy of Vilamendhoo)
  • ‘Advance Token to the Nearest Dive Centre’
  • ‘Advance Token to the Nearest Water Sports Centre’
  • ‘Get PADI certified. Pay $150’
  • ‘Pay decompression chamber fees of $100’
  • ‘You have won second prize in a swimsuit contest – Collect $10’

The tokens would have to be all changed…

  • Ship → Dhoni
  • Old shoe → Fin/flipper
  • Top hat → Cocktail with umbrella
  • Doggie → Turtle

Any other suggestions??

Best of the Maldives: Whale Shark Odds – Holiday Island

Holiday Island whale shark sightings

Perhaps the ultimate underwater treasure in the Maldives is a whale shark sighting. Most of the time, the biggest animal that you can see there. And a paragon gentle-giant docility and prehistoric charm. And number of spots are known hang outs for these elusive creatures who spend their lives in the depths unless they are feeding. Those locations (eg. Dhidhdhoo, Hanifru) are all protected by the Maldives as Marine Sanctuaries. While they are more prevalent in these places (and at certain times of the year), there are never any guarantees when it comes to mother nature.

The resort dive centre, Dive Oceanus, keeps and publishes detailed data on whale shark sightings (see above) which can also help to focus one’s holiday timing and planning for the highest incidence and probability as well.

I have to confess that Lori and I were tinged with a touch of disappointment when our whale shark excursion this summer came up empty. Most South Ari resorts offer such excursions, but on specific days. If you really are obsessed with sighting one and want the highest odds possible, then Holiday Island (also located within the Dhidhdhoo Marine Sanctuary) offers daily excursions. They will even add extra trips for people if they request it. It might mean a lot of event-less boat rides for your holiday. But at least you will have given the effort you all. And the beautiful Maldives seascape makes for dazzling scenery as a consolation prize.

Best of the Maldives: Treasure Surprise – LUX* Maldives

LUX Maldives message in a bottle 1

You might need a looking glass when looking for this glass. LUX* Maldives’ ‘Message in a Bottle’ is one of the most creative and apropos touches to their resort experience I have come across.

LUX* hides bottles around the island with special messages inside. They even hide some in the lagoon underwater for snorkelers to happen upon.

First, the notion just conjures up exactly the mystique that permeates this tropical paradise. When describing the Maldives to someone who doesn’t know about them, I say, “You know those pictures of a plot of sand with a palm tree in the ocean…that’s the Maldives.’ And if you were to think of one image on that empty, isolated island it would proabably be a message in a bottle. Either a shipwrecked soul sending out a rescue message or a lonely sole having one float to shore (typically as part of a punch line to some New Yorker cartoon).

The other prominent image for this exotic landscape is swashbuckling pirate adventure. When our children were young, one of the highlights was us organising a ‘treasure hunt’ on the island with a sequence of clues scattered around the island ultimately leading to a bag of sweets. At LUX*, my wife and I could just lounge by the pool and set the kids off in search of the elusive ‘message in a bottle’ lucre.

The messages all include a special treat for the luck treasure hunter. Best one is a free massage at the spa. Wait for it…’Massage in a bottle’

 

LUX Maldives message in a bottle 3

LUX Maldives message in a bottle 2

Best of the Maldives: Room Telescope – Lily Beach

Lily Beach - telescope

 

The Leonids are back!

Our favourite astronomical event. We love to be in remote places with little air pollution or light pollution which provide ideal viewing. Just lie on the ground and star at the heavens waiting for the staffs to fall.

If you want to be a bit more pro-active with your personal star gazing, then Lily Beach offers the most powerful personal telescope we have found in the Maldives. A number of resorts offer a high powered device for group star gazing and Soneva Fushi even has its own observatory. But for more private viewing, Lily Beach offers Celestron Power Seeker 80EQ in its water suite which includes “3x Barlow lens triples the magnifying power of each eyepiece…[and] ‘The SkyX – First Light Edition’ astronomy software with a 10,000 object database, printable sky maps and 75 enhanced images.”

Star struck!

Best of the Maldives: Longest Jetty – Constance Halaveli

Constance Halaveli jetty

Guinness World Record Day today.

Only natural that Maldives Complete ‘Best of the Maldives’ collection of distinctions would rank not just among the best in the country, but across the world as well. One such example appears to be Constance Halaveli’s water villa jetty. They have the longest jetty in the Maldives at 850 metres. Two-thirds of the Maldives resort islands themselves aren’t even that long. And with the Maldives leading the way in the world with water villas (due to its unique shallow reef/island topology), some research indicates that it appears to be the longest in the world.

Back here in blighty, we have to console ourselves with celebrating distinctions like ‘Fastest bog snorkelling triathlon’ (see below – slide 36). With the current UK weather, it might become the new national pastime. If Maldives is the ‘Best Snorkeling in the World’, then the UK has probably achieved the distinction of hosting the ‘Worst Snorkeling in the World’.

 

UK bog snorkeling record