Best of the Maldives: Coconut Bar – LUX* Maldives

LUX Maldives coconut bar

  

  

If you would like to be treated like a god(dess) on Coconut Full Moon weekend (or any other day of the year), then one of LUX Maldives’ omnipresent surprises is a ‘Coconut Bar’ where fresh coconut is provided for passing guests. Just about all resorts have some worker who will retrieve a fresh coconut for you and prepare it, but at LUX’s Coconut Bar, it is already prepared for you to sample this tropical treat offering.

Best of the Maldives: Coconut Beer – Kurumba

Kurumba - coconut beer

Coconut Full Moon today. Of all of the special “moons”, the Coconut Full Moon must be the most apropos to the Maldives. And of all the Maldives resorts, the eponymous Kurumba – which means “Coconut” in Dhivehi – is the most apropos to toast it. Kurumba offers a number of coconut specialties including its recently introduced, “Mongozo”, coconut beer. It is brewed in nearby Sri Lanka using normal processes but with a touch of coconut essence. Truly exotic brew.

Full moons have a number of colloquial names around the world. In the subcontinental region, the Coconut Full Moon is actually a cause for celebration, in particular the Coconut Day festival or “Narali Purnima” takes place in coast communities on the Indian Ocean to thank the sea God for calm waters…

“Nariyal Purnima, also known as the Coconut Full Moon, is celebrated with great merriment in many states of western India. Nariyal Purnima falls in the month of Shravana Purnima, which symbolises the end of monsoon season, and marks the beginning of the new fishing season for the fishermen as they avoid going into waters before this. Post festival, monsoon starts to recede; the sky becomes clear and the sea calm, as the tides too recede. All this makes fishing in the seas easy and safe. Therefore, the festival is very significant for the fishing community which is completely dependent on the sea for its livelihood. On this occasion, the sea god Varuna is worshipped and his blessings are sought; people offer coconuts to the sea as a symbol of thanksgiving.”

“The fishermen celebrate this festival by adorning their boats and putting flags on them, painting the coconuts and taking them to the sea to offer them to the God Varuna with prayers for bountiful fish catch and to protect them from all the risks and allowing them to sail safely…Thus, this time of happiness is rejoiced in the community gathering by singing and dancing in groups. As a coconut has three eyes, it is believed that it represents Lord Shiva and this is why it is considered an auspicious offering to the holy deity. In addition to this, it is believed that, it is the purest offering which is available on the earth and also, the water and the kernel inside it are considered to be pure. Coconut is broken in front of the divine beings as a mark of respect and also to take their blessings before setting off on to a new fishing season. The pieces of the broken coconut are given as prasad and the delicacy prepared during this festive time is coconut rice.”

The increasing ‘clear sky’ and ‘calm sea’, is something that all visitors can appreciate. So raise a glass of purest Mongozo!

 

Kurumba - Mongozo cocnut beer

Best of the Maldives: Whale Shark Event – LUX* Maldives

LUX Maldives - whale shark sand sculpture

 

 

Forget the 3-days off of Monday’s holiday (Summer Bank Holiday in the UK, Labor Day in the USA), the highlight this weekend is Discovery Channel’s mega #Shweekend! And LUX Maldives is coincidentally holding its own shark celebration of most mega-shark of all – Whale Shark…

“LUX* Maldives will team up once again this year with the Maldivian Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) and IUCN for the organization of the Whale Shark Festival, to be held at Maamigili Island on the 29th of August. ‘To raise once again awareness of conservation issues and the marine diversity in the Maldives, LUX* Maldives has decided to support the volunteers working for MWSRP in sponsoring the Festival.’ A whale shark replica competition, sea-creatures sand sculptures and painting competition alongside a family scavenger hunt and special ‘cinema paradiso’ sessions with marine life documentaries will be organized. Above all, the participation of highly experienced Maldivian artists including the famous Maldivian singer Unoosha, as guest of honor will permit to add a heart-lighted exposition of the event across the South Ari Atoll, Malé and beyond. Unoosha will be performing as part of the Festival’s Finale and will be one of the three judges looking at costume design, the whale shark mascots and mobile art work created by local island communities.”

If you are planning your own holiday #Shweekend celebration, you might consider a tuna salad on the menu from Marks & Spencer. M&S have teamed up specifically with the Maldives to fund “Project Greenfin” which provides training and other resources to the Maldivian fishing community so they don’t have to rely on any shark fishing for their income and M&S have made a commitment to source only eco-friendly tuna.

Cue cellos!

 

LUX Maldives - whale shark festival

Best of the Maldives Online: Weather Broadcast – Kurumba

Kurumba - weather video

What a weekend! We have sun, earth, and atmosphere, so we have weather! Not weather, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun!” – Harris K. Telemacher, “LA Story”

In the spirit of Harris K. Telemacher and Brick Tamland, a new addition to one of the great weather comedic broadcasters.

One of the most frequently asked questions by prospective visitors to the Maldives is, “When/where is the best weather?” I’ve post about periodically myself. The TripAdvisor Maldives Forum has a special FAQ thread about it. But Kurumba decided to really tackle the subject in a fun and informative way on its blockbuster YouTube channel.

High Pressure systems!… High pressure systems!…” – Brick Tamland, “Anchorman”

Best of the Maldives: Mushrooms – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi mushrooms

World Mushroom Day today (who knew?).

As part of its intense focus on sustainability, Soneva Fushi has its own mushroom hut for cultivating a wide varieties of Basidiomycotae and Agaricomycetes. Oyster and other varieties grown from tubes of mulch made by their resort’s recycling plant. The hut interior is kept cool and moist with a light spray of water on constantly.

Putting the “fun” into “fungi” and the “eco” into the “enoki”.

 

Soneva Fushi mushroom room

Best of the Maldives: Lagoon Table – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - in lagoon lunch

 

 

I love Maldives lagoons. The whole magic of the Maldives centers around its unique shallow and calm waters. In my “Haven’t Seen” series, a recurring theme is resorts not doing enough “in water”. A few resorts are starting to move tables into the shallows for some wet-piggy-toes dining, but Centara Ras Fushi has made a bolder move with a thatched-parasol table set permanently in its lagoon.

You can even pre-book the table for your lunch at no extra charge (the seafood platter is appropriately the most popular). Mind you, you do need to think about the tide timings (see below).

I have now added the “In Ocean” category tag for all of the examples of exploiting this unique resource.

 

Centara Ras Fushi - lagoon table high tide

Best of the Maldives: Activity Schedule – Sun Siyam Irufushi

Sun Siyam Irufushi - shuffle table

One of the myths I hoped to bust with the “Best of the Maldives” series is that “there is nothing to do in the Maldives.” Well, 1,000 “Best of the Maldives” pieces posted or drafted and I can assure you that there is something for every possible interest and taste. One resort that exemplifies the smorgasbord of offerings is Sun Siyam Irufushi. They publish an Activity Schedule that runs nonstop 7:30 am through 1:00 am. Every hour, every day. It’s great to have lots of equipment and activities on offer, but it is especially inviting when a special slot has been organised when others might be able to join in. I particularly liked the fact that they organised like tournaments and competitions. So if you like table tennis or pool, but get a bit tired of just hitting the ball around with your youngsters, you have to opportunity to be matched up with someone else on the island who also plays a bit more seriously for a more engaging match.

Below is one day’s agenda of activity taken at random from their weekly schedule…

  • 06:30 – 09:30 Sunrise Snorkeling Safari
  • 11:00 – 12:00 Round Ping Pong Competition
  • 12:00 – 19:00 Brewery Day
  • 15:00 – 16:00 Darts Challenge
  • 15:00 – 18:00 Holhudhoo Island Experience
  • 15:00 – 16:00 Body Building
  • 16:00 – 18:00 The Cooking Class
  • 16:45 – 17:15 Introductory Yoga Class
  • 17:00 – 18:00 Family Happy Hour
  • 17:00 – 19:00 Happy Hour
  • 17:30 – 18:30 Beach Volleyball
  • 17:30 – 19:30 Lucky Dolphin Sunset Cruise
  • 18:30 – 22:00 Shanghi Night Buffer
  • 21:00 – 01:00 Mojito Night with DJ

Best of the Maldives: Golf – Velaa

Velaa - gold sand trap

There’s “Best of the Maldives”…and then there is “Best of the World”. Velaa’s golf academy is not just a Maldivian high point, it is world class paragon of pars. One could make the case that it is one of the best short courses in the world. It is certainly one of the most exclusive.

I know that I have featured Velaa’s golf academy already. I did so on the basis of the press reports which made clear that the resort had introduced something special. But only when I visited it was I able to appreciate how extraordinary this feature of the resort is.

So expect to see a good number more pieces on various special aspects of this one piece of the island that all stand out among the resorts in the Maldives, such as…

  • Kids Golf
  • Golf Store
  • Hazards
  • Golf Pro
  • Golf Technology
  • Inflatable Hole

The course itself consists of 8 tees and 6 holes which can be combined into a 48 possible “holes” ranging from 55 to 194 yards. No worry of bumping into other golfers or being rushed or held up since when you play, the entire course is devoted to you. Sometimes when we play locally and for some reason our course is particularly deserted, we like to fantasize that we are playing our own private course. At Velaa, you actually can make that fantasy come true.

The grass on the fairways could very well be the most expensive in the world. It is made of a special variety – Pure Dynasty Sea Shore Paspalum – suited for the sand and heat that has to be planted a seedling at a time. When the resort was being developed, it took an army of workers over a month to hand plant each blade of turf.

Just the week before my visit, I had been up at the British Open at St. Andrews (coincidentally, so had the Velaa Golf Pro Frank Murray). As a result, I’m reminded that holes that overlap and share each other’s space is nothing new for links golf. In fact, Velaa sort of reminds you of St. Andews – unparalleled quality, smell of salty ocean nearby, and a pervasive carpet of short grass across fairways and greens (the weather similarities between the Maldives and Scotland are another story, however).

Furthermore, one of the lessons of the Open is the criticality of the short game. Not just the adage of “drive for show, putt for dough”, but also underscoring the importance of the approach shot. Essentially, none of the Open competitors varied much in the tee shots. In fact, very few hit their drives anywhere near as far as they could have (is that an oxymoron?). On a Par 4 (which all but a couple of the hole were), everyone drove a near identical 200 yards give or take, clean and placed precisely where they wanted it. Then, they made their birdies on either amazing approach shots landing within 10 feet of the pin, or amazing putts they sunk over 10 feet. Everything else was approach and 2-putt for par. All the birdies depended on the short game.

So if you want to perfect your short game on a course as gorgeous as the paradise that surrounds it, then Velaa is the resort for you.

Ace!

 

Velaa - golf course map

 

Velaa - Golf Digest

Best of the Maldives: Bed Decorating – Zitahli Kudafunafaru

Zitahli Kudafunafaru - bed decorating 1

Winner and new champion of the hotly contested bed decorating. Custom room greeting décor has become such an extreme art form in the Maldives, I started a Pinterest page a while back to showcase the best I came across.

Room décor falls into two basic categories…

  1. Bed Decoration – The original classic involving flower petals, sheet folding and palm fronds (mostly for spelling out greetings).
  2. Towel Art – Folding towels into various sculpture.

Zitahli Kudafunfaru has set the new bar with its “Happy Anniversary” extravaganza which elegantly combined both. Mind you it was a particularly special one (30th). The only downside is that is was so beautiful that we were tempted to sleep on the sofa so as not to disturb it. Gorgeous.

 

Zitahli Kudafunafaru - bed decorating 2

Best of the Maldives: Pancake Station – Coco Bodu Hithi

Coco Bodu Hithi - pancake station love

Often it is the little touches that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I had to start off my Best of the Maldives posts on Coco Bodu Hithi with their creative pancake station. I already featured the special Maldivian flag pancake made for the 50th anniversary celebrations a fortnight ago. But that was just a sample of the creative concoctions the chef Endro (see photos below) makes.

He uses three types of pancake batter – (a) Red (strawberry), (b) Brown (chocolate), and (c) White (plain). He made the above “Love” heart for me to give Lori and a special “Maldiv” flapjack for me.

In fact, this post made me realise that I didn’t have a “Breakfast” category tag…yet.

 

Coco Bodu Hithi - pancake station 2

 

Coco Bodu Hithi - pancake station 3

 

Coco Bodu Hithi - pancake station 4