As spectacular as the turquoise mottled Maldivian seascape is, the main event is still really under the surface. As the world’s best snorkelling destination, a mask and fins is the most popular way to explore this aquatic wonderland. But for those guests who prefer a drier approach, Lily Beach’s new semi-submersible provides a more than a peak at the underwater world. Particularly effective for those apprehensive about the confinement of a full-fledged submarine, it’s sort of a hybrid between a glass-bottomed boat and a submarine…
“Why let the scuba divers and snorkellers have all the fun? It’s now possible to explore the stunning reefs of the Maldives without even getting wet. Seated below the water level in our new semi-submarine you can watch the amazing marine life in air-conditioned comfort…Choose between a dive during daylight hours or at night, or simply take both and see how the reef changes depending on the time of day. 30 and 60 minute excursions are available both daytime and nightime trips. It’s also possible to book a private 60 minute excursion with the Penguin semi-submarine.”
With the fleet of submersible’s growing in the Maldives, I have add a new “submarine” tag here to help you all keep track of them.
On our tours, we always take a shot in front of the resort welcome sign. We are not alone as this is definitely one of the top photo types one sees posted online.
The literally iconic “W” of the iconic W Retreat is not only probably the most popular logo shot in the Maldives (at least judging by Instagram posts – see bottom photo for example), but the resort generously lends a hand. The minute you step on the jetty, they take the shot for you and by the time you have checked-in and made it to your room, a framed photo of your arrival is waiting for you at the room (see ours below).
As with so many touches, the W takes this feature a step further…or should we say deeper. They have submerged a “W” in their lagoon for underwater photos. Not quite the underwater sculpture garden I “haven’t seen yet”, but along the same lines.
W would win world water witness with wonderful water wrinkle we want.
Resort islands face all sorts of new environmental challenges from COTS to rising sea temperatures taking their tolls on the coral reefs. But an endemic and ancient plague on the islands are the simple currents shifting the precious sands of their tiny plot of real estate all over the place. Of the over 100 active resorts, nearly 40 have either rock groynes (still vertically out from the beach) or sea walls (sit horizontally parallel to the beach)…or both…to limit this natural erosion. Unfortunately, these measures to keep the sand in place can keep guests away who prefer an unadulterated ocean vista.
Some resorts have gotten clever about turning adversity to advantage dressing their groynes up as everything from lounging areas to wedding pavilions. But Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is the first resort to address the less slightly seawalls by introducing ‘turtle-friendly’ submerged ones that wouldn’t impair the view over the water…
“This project consists of a ‘belt’ of breakwater walls built in the North Eastern side of the lagoon, at a distance of 100 meters from, and parallel to the shore line. The purpose of the wall is to control the sand movements by reducing the impact of rough seas and the strong circulating currents. The first phase of the project consists of 9 walls, each of 25 meters in length and with gaps between each wall to allow the passage of turtles and fish as well as a controlled amount of currents. With Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu being a regular green sea turtle nesting ground, these gaps are very important for them to navigate their way onto the island. The wall is built with eco-friendly coir gunny bags filled with a mixture of sand and cement ; the bags will eventually dissolve naturally, leaving the cement ‘blocks’ in place. We are in phase one of this project and 5 walls are now complete, with the 6th at 90% and the remaining 3 all 50% completed. We have already started observing a stable beach near our Lagoon Villas which used to be severely affected. The image above is from a stay a couple of months ago in October, and the thin line that you see near the Lagoon Villas is the breakwater wall that has progressed.”
Sometimes the best resort innovations are hidden just beneath the surface.
- Q: What’s the best way to remove coral reef devouring Crown of Thorns Starfish?
- A: Spear them and collect them?
- Q: Buzzz…When a COTS is distressed, by something like being speared, it reacts by releasing its eggs. These number about 10,000 per female. So spearing a COTS just makes it worse.
- A: Poison them?
- Q: Buzzz…Not great to put toxic substances into the marine environment
QI returned to our screens this weekend with “Season N” as in nautical nature news. And today’s Maldives Complete QI instalment on the occasion is just that. Breaking news on the fight against this scourge of the reefs.
Like so many Maldives islands, Kandolhu faced an outbreak of COTS earlier this year and researched a number of methods for effectively solving the problem. The resort Deputy Manager Laura is a trained marine biologist so they had a bit of a ringer in the battle against this reef destroying creature.
One technique she found was injecting bile salts that you could get from Australia. But that was very expensive. Then, they found out that injecting them with vinegar was effective in killing them and was a non-toxic substance. In the end, Kandolhu has removed 9,000 COTS in the past 6 months and appear to have the situation well under control now. We didn’t see a single one in our near circum-navigation of the island.
If you need a hand following you around the golf course with your game, Velaa resort offers its very own resident golf pro – Christopher Snape. He can wield Velaa’s armamentarium of space-age analytical tools or just join you for a round.
We caught up with Christopher to tap into a few of his tips and insights into playing in paradise…
- How did you find yourself on a Maldives resort?
I work for TROON golf who operate the Academy here Velaa. When I was asked by them if I was interested I practically bit their hand off at the opportunity.
- What was the most luxurious course you have played prior to Velaa?
Many courses, what I classify as my second home would be Praia Del Rey in Portugal where I spent 6 years as the Professional.
- What is your favourite caddie tip for people playing the Velaa course?
Be conservative with your approach shots, if you take on shots and don’t play them to perfection you will be punished.
- What’s your best score playing the course?
When we have low handicapped players in residence we play a very tough formation my best score around that formation was -2.
- What are people most surprised about playing the Velaa course?
The quality of the playing surfaces and the beautiful landscape
At the FOOOOREfront.
Now you see it. The camouflage of the animal kingdom always fascinates. We came upon the king of camo a chameleon on our South Africa safari. We would never have seen it had the guide not pointed it out. In fact, even when the guide did point it out, we struggled to see it at first. And the Maldivian masters of masquerade are of course the octopi. Lori and I spent a delightful snorkel watching an octopus move around the coral croppings constantly changing his color scheme and his very skin texture to match the new coral he was next too.
The octopi of the resort world is Amilla Fushi’s water villas…
- “Anyway, it has its own magic: it is a mirror that reflects the surrounding colors!! Can you see the magic? — at Amilla Fushi.”
More literally hidden wonders of the Maldives. Thank again to Paola – she knows all the Maldives secrets!
“We attach LED lights to the bottom which can change colour (or guests can select a colour) allowing you to see into the water without getting wet.”
There is something surreal about the ocean at night. And as with many habitats, a whole new host of creatures come alive and active. Not to mention a captivating way to surround yourself with a canopy of stars.
Offered Monday through Friday 6:30 to 7:30 for 1 to 2 guests per tour at $45 pp
Historically, when it came to the rest of the world first visiting the Maldives, Gan was the centre of the map, in fact the very heart of navigation and in the whole Indian Ocean area. The Addu Island has a proud aeronautical legacy that goes back decades and continues to this very day. And for a cargo plane full of fun facts that I picked up during my stay there this summer as well as some follow up research, check out Maldivian Holidays’ latest issue features a piece on Gan by yours truly. You can read their online version, and (appropriately enough) it is also distributed as an in-flight magazine in the Maldives.
As it happens, Equator Village welcomed the latest resort manager, Mohamed Waheed, this past week. May this resort fly high for many years to come.
National Geologic Map day is just the time to share one of my new favourite sites. – Dark Sky. I’m a lover of visual representation of data (bit of an Edward Tufte groupie). Dark Sky brings together two of my favourite tools – maps and interactivity. To help share updates on everyone’s favourite topic (and often top reason for going to the Maldives) – the weather. In fact, all of my interactive graphical features on Maldives Complete are map based – Snorkel Spotter, British Admiralty Maps DeepZoom (needs IE unfortunately), and Dive Maps. The Dark Sky site is very high quality and aesthetically well done with lots of weather data.
In honour of Geologic Map Day, I have added the “Maps” tag to the blog.