One of the key criteria to a great house reef is accessibility. The intra-atoll drop-of-sand islands typically have house reefs a few metres from shore. You don’t have to juggle the logistics of signing up to a resort excursion to take you to some snorkel spot. Instead, you can just dive in and the aquatic wonderland reveals itself to you instantly. It is not just the convenience of proximity, but also a bit of reassurance. Despite the fact that you might be standing metre (on the sand not the coral, please!) in merely a metre of mill pond calm water, there is still something unsettling about swimming hundreds of yards off shore. And snorkeling can take a bit of energy so if you have had a particularly extensive outing, then the last thing you relish is an extended swim back to shore.
The islands that on the outer reef tend to be on broad tables which may make for expansive lagoons, but make for either weak or distant house reefs. Some of the resorts on these islands will typically offer regularly excursions taking people to the edge in a dhoni for an easy splash onto the reef.
Kandima does sit on an outer reef plateau and it has gone a step further to support house reef snorkeling constructing a platform in the lagoon relatively close to the edge. You can use it as a base camp for your house reef expedition. Or just for some middle of the ocean swimming or sun bathing.
One of the popular Instagram shots are people mingling with docile nurse sharks. They are quite a big species and so their size and numbers make them look all the more intimidating for those who think are all sharks are scary creatures. Actually, they are about the most docile Selachimorpha you will ever come across.
Nurse sharks are nocturnal and during the day they are often found just lying on the bottom of the seabed or under some overhang. Hence, their French moniker (which is one of my favourite fish names of all time) – “Sleepy Shark”. If anyone claims that a shark always needs to keep moving or it dies, just send them a picture of these dozy dog fish lounging on the seabed. And as a result, unlike the puppy reef sharks so visible cruising the lagoon shallows all day long, nurse sharks are rarely seen during the day from the land.
Rihiveli Dream not only has one of the biggest gathering of resident nurse sharks, but they are very easily seen as they nap in a protected lagoon area just behind the staff quarters. Such proximity and numbers are the result of routine feeding that has lured them in past years; however, the resort no longer engages in such practices. The gang must have decided they like the tranquil and sheltered waters as they continue to hang out there through the day. And guests can go get their Instagram shots from shore during their day-long siesta.
“The full moon comes around only 12 times a year, or on rare occasions, sometimes 13. To have a full moon as well as the wind in Maldives, is quite special, so when the two combined recently we made the best of it and hit the water at night. Safety first, a couple of LED lights and a few dive glow sticks (don’t tell the dive centre) were attached to the kites, a short briefing was held and we were ready. With only a slight cloud cover the full moon made its appearance and eight kiters enjoyed perfect conditions in the Kuredu lagoon, right in front of the Ocean WaterSport centre.”
I have to say that soaring above the moonlight seas (which are often especially calm at night) would be quite the experience.
Rad Raws! Surf photographer Erick Proost will capture your bitch’ carves at Nautilus resort during a 3 month residency there. The property is also host to its very own Vodi surf break which is especially accessible.
Erick will also conduct mermaid photoshoots (which other resorts feature) which includes swimming lessons in the pool learning how to use the monofin as well as posing tips.
If the waters are too calm in the mill pond like Maldives for hanging ten, Cheval Blanc Randheli has introduced the country’s first surf simulator (thanks Paola). The facility is also a great way to learn the sport and move on to some of the famous long, gradual breaks of the destination.
Most people want to know what a resort has, but sometimes guests want to know what it doesn’t have. The most prominent example of this is adult-only properties (ie. no children or at least no one younger than a certain age). One of the rationales for going adult-only is to try to ensure extra peace and quiet which is a major motivation for many guests visiting this idyllic paradise in the middle of nowhere. Another avoidance is Male-area properties for the similar noise-fearing reason of disruptive airplane sound. And from time to time, I get asked about a third potential source of noise pollution – motorized water sports. Petrol-powered speed boats zipping around off the beach with guest squealing with delight.
The resorts that I have come up with that don’t have motorised sports on the island (some do offer sports from a nearby island that they will take you to if you do want to enjoy them) are the following:
The resort Joali is not just the “art” resort, but is also the “state of the art” resort. Fancy electronics and fixtures are not unusual in the high end Maldives properties. But nonetheless, sometimes the more swish switches are actually difficult to figure out what each one does. Sometimes when Lori and I want to turn off or on a specific light, we find ourselves embarking on a mini-treasure hunt trying different switches till we land on the right one. That is why we were de-lighted to see Joali’s controls. The wall fixtures were explicitly labelled. And if that wasn’t clear enough, they also provide an in-room ipad console which controls every device in the villa.