Best of the Maldives: Biggest Yacht – Dhigufaru

Dhigufaru - yacht 2

We’re gonna need a bigger boat” – Martin Brody, Jaws

Well, not for the sharks (or “sand puppies” as we call them). More for the marina flashonista set, . Dhigufaru has introduced the largest resort yacht in the Maldives. The Dhaainkan’baa is 41m (LOA) and has 7 Staterooms (6 Doubles and one Twin). That compares to the Four Seasons Explorer at 39 m (although the Explorer does have 10 staterooms and one Explorer Suite).

Fully equipped for diving, motorised water sports, fitness equipment and spa therapies. You can get more massive details from the Fact Sheet here.

Dhigufaru - yacht

Dhigufaru - yacht 3

Best of the Maldives: Most Marine Biologists – Athuruga

Athuruga - Marine Biologists

The ultimate “fishonistas” are the increasing schools of marine biologists at the Maldives resorts. A few years back, having a resident MB was limited to a few luxury properties, but now many resorts feature them. They provide an insightful snorkel/dive guide, offer educational talks, and conduct their own research in the surrounding ocean.

I’ve seen a few resorts with two marine biologists on staff (eg. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Velaa), but Athuruga had FOUR there when we visited.

One was Enrico (far right photo above) from the University of Milan. He was conducting research on COTS. He told me he was finishing his secondment and he appears to have replaced by fellow Italanian who spoke about the Athuruga COTS research recently…

“Our resident marine biologist Luca Saponari during a speech regarding his scientific research on the outbreak of ‘Acanthaster planci’ (crown-of-thorns sea star) in the Maldives, a study that he is currently conducting at Diamonds Athuruga and Diamonds Thudufushi Beach and Water Villas. Luca spent 4 days at the #Bicocca University in Milan, participating in the first National Congress named “Biodiversity: Concepts, New Tools and Future Challenges”.

Another one works with the Manta Trust project hosted at the resort…

“On the Islands of Athuruga and Thudufushi, the Manta Trust biologists accompany our guests on private excursions, mainly dedicated to manta rays, explaining their activities and giving tips and scientific information on their behaviour. Diamonds Athuruga and Diamonds Thudufushi, both run a “Biology night” and a “Marine Biology Laboratory” which allows our guests the possibility to enjoy a brief description of overall Marine life in the Maldives, from plankton and up to bigger species.”

One of their ongoing projects is the Athuruga YouTube series “Maldives Marine Lab Diary” which features a number of informative shorts on various aquatic subjects like turtles and feeding habits.

Best of the Maldives: Bog Reading – Athuruga / Thudufushi

Athuruga - Thudufushi - bog reading

World Book Day today. And if you forgot your favourite paperback for your morning constitutional, then at Athuruga and Thudufushi you can still start the day off with a good read. Daily news reports are printed out and left in a purpose-built holder right next the more mission critical paper of the day’s business.

Best of the Maldives: Dive Centre Pool – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La Villingili - dive centre pool

One of the most unexpected swimming holes I’ve come across traipsing about the full extent of the Maldives was Shangri-La Villingili’s “diving pool”. I’ve seen all manner of artistically sculpted infinity pools with frothing fountains, so what was so distinctive about this simple enclosed pool tucked away in the island right next to the dive centre?  That’s just it. It’s not designed to be the centre of attention, but to make students in it the opposite of the centre of attention.

Standard operating procedure for novice divers taking a PADI course during their Maldives holiday is to go through some of the introductory activities in the resort pool. It might be safe and secure from currents, sand or murky water, but it’s considerably less so to a surrounding gallery of pool loungers encircling you like an amphitheatre. Learning to dive can be a bit of a stressful experience for some, and those students’ anxiety isn’t going to be lessened by having an audience of strangers.

The diving centre pool is only available to diving centre students. Another unusual characteristic of Villingili’s pool is that it is raised up. This means that not even the random passer-by can overlook your efforts to get to grips with operating underwater. Definitely the place to learn scuba for the self-conscious.