Best of the Maldives: Highest Mountain – Shangri-La Vilingili

Shangri-La Villingili Mount Villingili 1

Ain’t no mountain high enough…”

That just might be your feeling in the Maldives when you want to shout out your love for your beloved. And for good reason with an average elevation the lowest in the world. But on todays “Beloved Wives Day,” your highest option is Mount Villingili on the eponymous Shangri-La Villingili resort.

“The world’s smallest mountain, Mount Villingili, at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives has just been officially certified as the highest point in the Maldives, which is known for being the flattest and lowest country..Despite its humble height, it dwarfs over the previously known highest point on Addu Atoll that stands at only 2.4 metres above sea level…From 25 November 2013, visitors may conquer Mount Villingili with the opening of a daily Mount Villingili Tour. They will be issued a certificate confirming that they have climbed the islands’ highest point, a perfect memento of their trip to the Maldives.”

At a less than nose-bleeding 5.1 metres, it might be more aptly named “Mound Villingili”.


Shangri-La Mount Villingili certificate

Best of the Maldives: Full Moon Excursion – Nika

Super Moon over ocean

Another rare “Super Moon” tonight!

While the sunrise and sunset seems to be the celestial obsession of the Maldives resort, it is the moon that really seems to evoke the romance for which this part of the world is renowned. Like the eponymous “honeymoon”, which many consider the Maldives to be the capital of, the shimmering moon has been the inspiration for lovers forever.

And nothing is as heart-throbbingly magical as the bright full moon. Many resorts offer sunrise yoga and sunset cruises, but Nika offers an excursion crafted around this monthly event. Their “Full Moon Excursion” features “Swimming in the lunar path reflected in the sea. There will be a drink to celebrate this special night. 23:00 – 1:00.” (35 euros)


Best of the Maldives: Dhoni Cruise – Safari Island

Safari Island dhoni cruise

If you want the actual cruising dhoni, then the excursion word on the water is that Safari Island’s is the tops according to authority on all things Maldivian, Adrian Neville

They are the dhonis from Dhoni Island, formerly Dhoni Mighili and now Safari Island Resort (Per Aquum once ran Dhoni Mighili). They are terribly nice and certainly the best dhoni cruise around.”

Gone are the days when these vessels were the villas, but they are still a cracking cruise.

They are also graced with Sakis’ portraiture…


Safari Island dhoni cruise Sakis

Best of the Maldives: Nautical Lodging – Cocoa Island

Cocoa Isand dhoni villas


Instead of construction inspired from overseas, Cocoa Island features villas inspired from over the sea. These dhoni-inspired delights are the centrepiece of the all-water villa resort. The design makes if one of the most captivating resorts. Cocoa was one of the top resorts recommended to me by one of the Maldivian government ministers on my last visit and it is regularly featured in distinctive hotel lists like “The 100 Most Amazing, Unique, and Beautiful Hotels In The World” (one of the best lists I have come across and has inspired a short Italy getaway for Lori and I next month).

Best of the Maldives: Indian Spa – Gangehi

Gangehi Indian spa

Neighbouring India has its national Republic Day this weekend as well (today in fact). And if you want to celebrate with a distinctively Indian spa, then Gangehi’s “Ginger Spa” is the place. The striking facility is made up of cottage taken apart from Kochin in south of Indian and re-assembled (also, the Library on the island is a similar re-assembled building from Kochin). Aruvedic ingredients like oils and incense imported from India and offered in treatments provide by Ratheesh (see photos), the resort masseur also from India.

Gangehi Indian spa 2

Best of the Maldives: Rare Scotch – One & Only Reethi Rah

Macallan 50 year old


The ev’ning gilds the ocean’s swell; All creatures joy in the sun’s returning.” – Robert Burns

Break out your neeps and tatties and put e’ haggis on de fire. It’s Burns Night. A chance to celebrate all things Scottish. And for an obligatory oblation as rare and mellifluous as Rabbie’s own verse, One & Only Reethi Rah serves a 50 year old Macallan. Not sure what Reethi charges for a wee dram, but the bottle retails for £30,000.

Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, Bethankit! hums.”

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Cultural Expo – Vakarufalhi

Vakarufalhi cultural expo boduberu

Today is Maldives National Day. A celebration of Maldivian independence from the Portuguese in 1573.

Most resorts regularly offer their guests a taste of Maldivian culture from local cuisine to some Boduberu drumming and dancing. We’ve sampled many of these and always delight in new discoveries about this enchanting land we visit every year. But Vakarufalhi’s “Cultural Expo” was a real revelation.

It was a true “Exposition” which started with an authoritative presentation on the history and culture. It added the obligatory Boduberu which was offered very tastefully and not overdone. But the climax was a sort of crafts fair with local women showing us broom making from stripped palm fronds, rope weaving from coconut husks, roof weaving from palm leaves, decorative weaving for clothes. They also had some traditional refreshments such as fresh coconut and smoking pipes.

Happy Qaumee Dhuvas.

Vakarufalhi cultural expo presentation

Vakarufalhi cultural expo palm weaving

Best of the Maldives: Underwater Wedding Package – Centara Grand

Centara Grand underwater wedding 2

Your most romantic moments can be spent not just by the water, over the water or in the water, but actually under the water in the Maldives. A number of resorts do offer underwater weddings (eg. Anantara Kihavah, Conrad Rangali), but none is as elaborate and colourful as Centara Grand’s lavish affair. Newlyweds Chris and Janet inaugurated the coral garden ceremony offering in October (shown above).

What does one throw for good luck?

Centara Grand underwater wedding 1

Centara Grand underwater wedding 3

Best of the Maldives: In Ocean Dining – Angsana Ihuru

Angsana Ihuru in ocean dining

If you fancy a private soak, then Angsana Ihuru offers a step beyond beach-side dining with in-ocean dining.

“The sandbank dining is set on a private sandbank which is located just 15 minutes ride away by speedboat. You may enjoy a breakfast, lunch or a dinner.”

And if the wrasses show up, you might get fish pedicure as a bonus.

Best of the Maldives: Jacuzzi Cabana – Nika

Nika jacuzzi cabana



Most outdoor Jacuzzis are set out in the open air I guess to provide the most expansive view, but in keeping with Nika’s distinction in the area of privacy, it offers charming Jacuzzi cabanas in the private beach area of each villa. It uses temperature controlled water like drawing a bath so you can get it nice a piping hot unlike many rather tepid Jacuzzis.