8 Out-Standing Dining Rooms

NIYAMA - Subsix

One of my favourite dining themes is over the water (if not IN the water). The Maldives offers diver menu of in-ocean dining.  Now, I’m not talking about mere “over water” dining.  Just about every self-respective 5-star resort has one of those.  I’m talking about surrounded-by-water dining.  In fact, NIYAMA’s “Subsix” (see above) goes so far as to be both in the ocean and “IN” the ocean with its underwater dining room.

For an outstanding meal out standing in the middle of the ocean, here’s the full list…

1. NIYAMASubsix

2. TAJ EXOTICAOcean Pavilion
Taj Exotica - Ocean Pavillion

3. BAREFOOTBlack Pearl
Barefoot - Black Pearl

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi - Johara

5. BAROSPiano Bar
Baros - Piano Bar

Angsana Velavaru - Azzurro

7. KANDOLHUSunset Pavilion
Kandolhu - Sunset Pavillion

8. GILI LANKANFUSHIWedding Pavilion
Gili Lankanfushi - Wedding Pavillion

Best of the Maldives: Theme Menus – Dusit Thani

Dusit Thani - specialty menus

Any writer appreciates a good theme.  And I’ve been a bit more focused on “themes” recently with the new WordPress blog platform (both for Maldives Complete and one of my other blogs, “Dynamic Work”). The “themes” specify the look and feel of the layout with a dazzling array of choices from technical experts who concoct an expansive buffet to pick from.

Dusit Thani has also assembled a collection of dinners with some of the most luxuriously delectable “themes” – Asparagas, Foie Gras, Lobster, Truffle. One of Lori’s and my most memorable meals was a lobster themed menu at The House of Elliot in Ghent, Belgium. It’s a great way to combine variety with consistency. I have to say that I would have been even more delighted to see “Lobster Ice Cream” as Dusit’s lobster dessert instead though.

The menus also have the option for specifically suggested wines to accompany each which is a typical option for menus degustations. But the twist I love by Dusit turns the “accompaniment” notion on its head. They have a “Champagne” menu where you have a different champagne with each course and the dish is specially selected to go with the champagne! That’s getting priorities right.


  • Asparagus, courgette and tarragon terrine with seared scallop
  • Poached asparagus and slow cooked egg with bernaise sauce
  • Slow roasted beef eye fillet with a warm salad of asparagus, celeriac and parsnip
  • Toasted Brioche with aged goats cheese and asparagus espooma
  • White asparagus and raspberry, rhubarb with chocolate soil

Foie Gras

  • Foie gras with sauterne jelly and sour dough
  • Game and foie gras terrine with pickled vegetables
  • Tartlet of seared foie gras and chocolate soil with truffle vinaigrette
  • Slow cooked fillet of beef with foie gras
  • Foie gras ice cream with poached prunes and short bread crumbs


  • Lobster bisque flavoured with cognac and truffle cream
  • Cold lobster jelly with lobster and citrus salad beer tuile
  • Warm lobster tart with creamed leeks and fennel and dill salad
  • Lobster parfait with poached lobster tail with baby carrots braised fennel


  • White bean and truffle cappuccino
  • Ballotine of quail stuffed with truffle mousse with salsify and truffle dressing
  • Spaghetti linguine tossed with fresh truffle, parmesan and olive oil
  • Slow cooked fillet of beef with foie gras pithivier jus borderlaise
  • Truffle cream brulee with raspberry sorbet

Best of the Maldives: Lobster Burger – Taj Exotica

Taj Exotica - Shilpa Shetty lobster burger

Something that you won’t find on any all-inclusive package, in fact you won’t find hardly any where else that I know of in the Maldives, is a Lobster Burger.

How my New England raised palette loves a good lobster culinary concoction. Apparently so does global celebrity Shilpa Shetty. Who engaged in a bit of lifestyle food blogging of her own during her visit to Taj Exotica

We tried the biggest lobster burger available in Maldives and licked it clean,”

Best of the Maldives: People’s Choice All-Inclusive – Kurumba

Kurumba - TA Best All-Inclusive

I told you so. 3 years ago, I awarded Kurumba the “Best of the Maldives for 5 Star Value”. This week, the rest of the world agrees awarding the resort the Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Award for Best All-Inclusive. Not just in the Maldives. IN THE WORLD.

The “All-Inclusive” category is all about value-conscious travelling. Many travellers push their budget to the absolute limit in order to afford a bucket-list trip-of-a-lifetime to the Maldives. They don’t want to check-out and get hit with a bunch of unanticipated extra-charges. They want to relax and relaxation means peace of mind that they can do whatever the heck they want and not worry about it.

With the rise of the Maldives’ worldwide profile in recent years, room rates have gone up and up. Many people are opting for a few of the budget options that are out there that still provide the enchanting Maldives experience, but do offer quite simple accommodation, food, décor and amenities. The charm of Kurumba is that it maintains true 5-star exquisite luxury standards in all parts of its operation…and still remains reasonably priced. No wonder so many people have returned from their stays there and raved out it in their TripAdvisor reviews.

Kurumba - Trip Advisor lagoon
[Kurumba staff celebrating their recognition]

Top 20 Lifestyle Bloggers in the Maldives




Total Points

Instagram Followers

Twitter Followers

Facebook Followers

YouTube Views

1 Zoe Sugg United Kingdom





2 Bianca Heinicke Germany Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru





3 Malini Agarwal India Club Med Kani






4 Natalie Tran Australia LUX Maldives





5 Chriselle Lim USA Six Senses Laamu






6 La Carmina Japan Gili Lankanfushi






7 Alison Teal USA Dusit Thani





8 Nicole Warne Australia Amilla Fushi





9 Gala Gonzales Spain Sun Siyam Irufushi





10 Jessica Stein Australia W Retreat





11 Jasmin Howell Australia Six Senses Laamu





12 Rosie Londoner United Kingdom Huvafenfushi





13 Elif Tanverdi Turkey NIYAMA





14 Juliet Angus USA FS Landaa Giraavaru





15 Alexandra Pereira Spain Constance Halaveli




16 Sabrina Tubic Bosnia Herzegovina Paradise Island






17 An Nguy Vietnam




18 Maureen Schauder Germany Anantara Kihavah Villas





19 Josie Fear United Kingdom Thudufushi





20 Alina Lisina Latvia Dusit Thani






Ten years ago I started blogging. Not about the Maldives, but about topics more related to my work at Microsoft at the time. But it was that blogging which led me down the path to both this big part of Maldives Complete. I launched Maldives Complete complete with its very own blog. So I could share my own stories and special perspectives from years of researching and visiting this paradise destination.

To some, blogging rose to prominence and now has been superseded by other digital sharing platforms. But just like TV didn’t kill radio, and the Internet didn’t eliminate TV, all new formats – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube – might have crowded the pure “Blogosphere” (eg. WordPress, Blogger), but really they have just expanded it with new media and tools.

When I first started blogging about the Maldives, there really weren’t that many others. A few resorts and experts (eg. Seven Holidays, Dreaming of Maldives) have dabbled in it. And while there are still relatively few dedicated to the destination, as I mentioned in last week’s WTM post, the recent rise of the international “lifestyle blogger” nearly always includes the Maldives on their bucket lists.

When I was researching fashion and lifestyle icons visiting the Maldives a couple of months ago, I was struck by how many of these selfie-paparazzi were “Bloggers” of one sort or another. Many of these bloggers essentially serve up lifestyle porn (travel/food/fashion) with the overarching theme “I sucks to be me <wink>.”

While sex appeal sells and all of these bloggers are quite photogenic, the top of the leader board are not the Victoria Secret pageant queens. Instead, they are personalities who have carved out their niche with more substance than stylish photoshoots. They all have folksy, trendy monikers like La Carmina, Miss Everywhere, Miss Malini, Gary Pepper Girl, Alison Adventure, Tuula Vintage, Cizen Bayan, Lovely Pepa.

Of the 336 personalities identified (and logged in my database), 100+ are bloggers (the others are models, actresses, singers, athletes and other celebrities). I developed a ranking system based on things like followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as things like entry details in Wikipedia and IMDB. I’m featuring the Top 20 today (if I were to rank Maldives Complete, I would score 3 points putting me in joint 45th place, but then I focus on a very niche subject area).

6 of top 10 are high profile enough to have their own Wikipedia articles (nobody below top 9 though make it into Wikipedia). There are only 3 Vloggers in the top 20 (not surprising as Vlogs take an order of magnitiude more production resources and skills). Six Senses Laamu and Dusit Thani score deuces with 2 entries each, but otherwise a good sampling across resorts. And on the geographic side, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia all score hatricks with 3 entries.

Reading blogs is great, writing one is even better.” – Seth Godin

1. Zoe Sugg (United Kingdom) – Ranveli
Ranveli - Zoe Sugg
2. Bianca Heinicke (Germany) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Bianca Heinicke
3. Malini Agarwal (India) – Club Med Kani
Club Med Kani - Malini Agarwal
4. Natalie Tran (Australia) – LUX Maldives
LUX Maldives - Natalie Tran
5. Chriselle Lim (USA) – Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu - Chriselle Lim
6. La Carmina (Japan) – Gili Lankanfushi
Gili Lankanfushi - La Carmina
7. Alison Teal (USA) – Dusit Thani
Dusit Thani - Alison Teal
8. Nicole Warne (Australia) – Amilla Fushi
Amilla Fushi - Nicole Warne 2
9. Gala Gonzales (Spain) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - Gala Gonzales
10. Jessica Stein (Australia) – W Retreat
W Retreat - Jessica Stein
11. Jasmin Howell (Australia) – Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu - Jasmin Howell
12. Rosie Londoner (United Kingdom) – One & Only Reethi Rah
One and Only Reethi Rah - Rosie Londoner
13. Elif Tanverdi (Turkey) – NIYAMA
NIYAMA - Elif Tanverdi
14. Juliet Angus (USA) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - Juliet Angus
15. Alexandra Pereira (Spain) – Constance Halaveli
Constance Halaveli - Alexandra Pereira
16. Sabrina Tubic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – Paradise Island
Paradise Island - Sabrina Tubic
17. An Nguy (Vietnam)
Maldives - An Nguy
18. Maureen Schauder (Germany) – Anantara Kihavah Villas
Anantara Kihavah Villas - Maureen Schauder
19. Josie Fear (United Kingdom) – Thudufushi
Thudufushi - Josie Fear
20. Alina Lisina (Latvia) – Dusit Thani
Dusit Thani - Alina Lisina

Best of the Maldives: Ping Pong Protection – Zitalhi Kudafunafaru

Zitahli Kudafunafaru - ping pong

A more practical consideration to table tennis pavilions is chasing the darn ball. Especially in the hard surface areas where it’s extra bounciness means it just keeps bouncing and bouncing as you go chasing it. When we set up a ping-pong table in our garage we rigged up and bunch of flat boxes to provide a back-stop to either side of the table to reduce such frenetic chases (and occasional lost balls). Zitahli Kudafunafaru has provided a more sophisticated solutions with netting on either side of its top quality table. It let’s the light and air through, but keeps ping-pong balls under control.

Best of the Maldives: Table Tennis Pavilion – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi table tennis pavillion

The smaller “table” version of tennis is almost always set in covered areas and pavilions at the Maldives resorts. Usually in entertainment buildings. But Soneva Fushi has given the full first class treatment to its “ping pong” pavilion – natural construction, thatches roof, Maldivian-style lounger chairs for spectators. All set on natural soft sand which might slow your panther-like reactions, but keep the game more comfortable and more “outdoors” as you toes sink into the warm sand.


Best of the Maldives: Covered Tennis Court – Velaa

Velaa - covered tennis court

I’m always a bit surprised at how popular the sport of tennis is in the Maldives. Some visitors struggle to conceive of any pulse-elevating activity in this languorous paradise. The water sports and pool games I can understand since the water cools you off and they don’t take that much exertion.

One answer to the tropical heat is to move the activity into an air conditioned buildings like most of the fitness centres. But then you are sort of segregated from the natural fresh air and environs you came to immerse yourself in. Plus, a full sized indoor tennis court would be a lot of AC.

It’s an issue for people like my father who as it happens turn 80 years old today. And he is still playing competitive tennis. Still dissecting his swing for that serving perfection. For him, the brilliant sun is more than just energy sapping and dehydrating, but it is also a medical concern as he has had a few skin cancers removed so he needs to watch his exposure to the sun.

Velaa resort has the perfect solution. Their full sized covered court provides the best of both worlds inside and out. The roof shields from the sun (and the occasional rain) while the open sides maintain an outside feel. They have also installed patented “Big Ass Fans”, gigantic ceiling fans which gently move the air around the help keep it fresh. Finally, they have set up a training wall for those who just want to practice some hitting on their own.

With all this tennis enthusiasm and innovations, I’ve added a new new “Tennis” tag to the blog.

Happy 80th Birthday Dad.

Best of the Maldives: Welcome Wreath – Jumeirah Vittaveli / Dhevanafushi

Jumeirah Vittaveli palm leaf pendant

Origami Day today. If you are impressed with what the Japanese can do by folding paper, then you should see what the Maldivians do folding palm leaves.

One of the iconic welcome gifts in the travel world is the Hawaiian aloha lei. More than just a greeting, it is an immediate generous gift of hospitality. In keeping with its ‘everything Maldivian’, guests arriving at Jumeriah – both its Vittaveli and Dhevanafushi properties are greeted with an artistic folded palm leaf pendant (hung on a palm leaf chord).

Best of the Maldives: Cultural Group – Centara Ras Fushi

Centara Ras Fushi - Giraavaru woman

On Centara Ras Fushi’s island of Giraavaru, the local traditions date back to before the arrivals of the Maldivians themselves. Unlike nearly all resort islands which are developed from uninhabited islands, Ras Fushi’s island had been inhabited for centuries (in general, the bigger islands have more space and resources for habitation, while the smaller dots of land are more attractive to the isolation and tropical isle fantasy seeking tourists). Its ancient inhabitants, the Giraavaru people, maintained a distinct dialect and traditions (see table at bottom).

Their name may have presaged a challenge that all the Maldive islands would one day face with rising sea levels…

Giraavaru island was much bigger, housing magnificent buildings and temples in those days, as the surrounding lagoon still testifies. Changing weather patterns gradually eroded the bulk of the island, which was once the capital of a proud and civilized people…Giraa means ‘eroding’ in the Maldivian language. It was thought that the island was called ‘Giraavaru’ because it was gradually being eroded away into the sea. It is quite possible that the name proceeded the word. Indeed the word ‘giraa’ may have been coined as a result of the natural calamity that was claiming an important island.”

In the end, it was not the erosion by the sea but by civilization that led to Giraavaru’s end as a distinct entity. Their proximity to the metropolis of Male meant that the population emigrated leaving only a small number of families to few to sustain the island.

Centara Ras Fushi has published an overview of their history here.




Original settlers of Maldives

Came later in 11th century



Liberally permitted under Islam


Tied in a bun on left-side

Ties in a bun on right side



Not worn


Headed by women

Headed by men


Same addressing to all

Different addressing to superiors