Best of the Maldives: Soft Coral Wall – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru soft coral

When we think of coral reefs, we often think of the hard corals whose calcium carbonate exoskeletons are the stuff that this destination is made out of. But just as dazzling to the undersea adventurer are the colourful soft corals that line walls and often caves on the reefs. And the best dive spot for soft corals seems to be Becky’s Caves according to a number of experts I’ve conferred with. It is a site for Advanced divers as the sub-aquatic display, described as “lots of soft corals all coming out like grapes” starts at 22 metres deep. The nearest resort, JA Manafaru’s “Sun Diving School” describes it as

  • This reef is the north side of Madulu Island. The top reef starts from 7 meters and drops down until 20-25 meters depth, showing all its beauty. It is a real wall reef, where you can meet napoleon fishes, red snappers and morays, lion fishes and different kind of nudibranches in the small overhangs. At the depth of 20 meters, one huge recess of the reef shows on one side a wall completely covered of soft corals of different colors; from yellow, pink, white to orange, a real universe of colors! Bring with you your torch and your camera: one fantastic dive for everybody but one rare show to see!”

Jetty Setters

Eliza (funkografik)

I guess if the fashionista models won’t get out of bed for less than a certain amount, you can’t blame them for getting tired on their photoshoots and lying down on the job though it would seem that the ubiquitous jetty would be a tad uncomfortable. It does allow you to frame the shot with the natural colours and textures of the rough-hewn decking with the dazzling ocean blues adjacent, I guess.

  1. Eliza Budu (funkografik) [ABOVE]
  2. Sophie Choudry (India) – Naladhu
    Sophie Choudry (India) - Naladhu
  3. Marinella Bezer (Romania) – Kurumba
    Marinella Bezer (Romania) - Kurumba
  4. Carolina Santy (Mexico) – W Maldives
    Carolina Santy (Mexico) - Gili Lankanfushi
  5. Marie Gorokhova (Russia) – Paradise Island
    Marie Gorokhova (Russia) – Paradise Island
  6. Monika Asenovaa (Ukraine) – Sun Island
    Monika Asenovaa (Ukraine) - Sun Island
  7. Roxana (Russia) – Plumeria
    Roxana (Russia) - Plumeria
  8. Kate Onyshchenko (Russia) – Sun Island
    Kate Onyshchenko (Russia) - Sun Island 2
  9. Sananas (France) – Hurawalhi
    Sananas (France) - Hurawalhi
  10. Julia Bondarchuk (Russia) – Kandima
    Julia Bondarchuk (Russia) - Kandima
  11. Josefine Forsberg (Sweden) – Hideaway Beach
    Josefine Forsberg (Sweden) - Hideaway Beach
  12. Inna Nech (Russia) – Holiday Island
    Inna Nech (Russia) - Holiday Island
  13. Malia Murphey (USA) – W Maldives
    Malia Murphey (USA) - W Retreat
  14. Martina Medau (Italy) – Vilu Reef
    Martina Medau (Italy) - Vilu Reef
  15. Boriana Dimitrova (Bulgaria) – Anantara Dhigu
    Boriana Dimitrova (Bulgaria) - Anantara Dhigu
  16. Leila Joy (Australia) – Eriyadu
    Leila Joy (Australia) - Eriyadu
  17. Sukki Singapora (Singpore) – Finolhu
    Sukki Singapora (Singpore) - Finolhu
  18. Fã Clube Joana Costa (Brazil) – Anantara Kihavah
    Fã Clube Joana Costa (Brazil) - Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
  19. Alana Kay (USA) – Anantara Dhigu
    Alana Kay (USA) – Anantara Dhigu
  20. Aleona Lynx (Russia) – AaaVeee
    Aleona Lynx (Russia) - AaaVeee 2
  21. An Nguy (Vietnam)
    An Nguy (Vietnam)
  22. Ednyr Marie (iCanada) – AaaVeee
    Ednyr Marie (Canada) AaaVeee
  23. Karolina Wozniak (Poland) – AaaVeee
    Karolina Wozniak (Poland) – AaaVeee
  24. Ksenia Tsaritsina (Russia) – Conrad Rangali
    Ksenia Tsaritsina (Russia) – Conrad Rangali
  25. Liliana Montoya (USA) – AaaVeee
    Liliana Montoya (USA) - AaaVeee
  26. Lily Marie (USA) – AaaVeee
    Lily Marie (USA) - AaaVeee
  27. Maggi Apa Bhavilai (Thailand) – Club Med Finolhu Villas
    Maggi Apa Bhavilai (Thailand) – Club Med Finolhu Villas - 2
  28. Marianna Nagl (Ukraine) – Kurumba
    Marianna Nagl (Ukraine) – Kurumba
  29. Olga Storozhuk (Ukraine) – AaaVeee
    Olga Storozhuk (Ukraine) - AaaVeee
  30. Janie Tienphosuwan(Thailand) – Anantara Dhigu
    Janie Tienphosuwan(Thailand) – Anantara Dhigu

Best of the Maldives: Jetty Isle – The Residence Dhigurah

The Residence - jetty isle

When we were first considering going to the Maldives two decades ago, our friends described their trip and how they were on their resort island and saw another even smaller island across the water. They waded out a bit further to get a better look and before long they hade waded all the way across the lagoon to it (Rihiveli Beach). This one anecdote stuck in my mind more than others and seemed to capture the plot-of-sand-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean vibe more than any other illustration of the Maldives.

Since, then I’ve been on the constant lookout for miniscule islands as a part of the distinctive Maldivian aesthetic. With this post, I’ve even introduced a tag for it, “Mini Island”. The latest is this little sandbank with a touch of greenery and a small thatched cabana at The Residence Dhigurah. With the jetty passing so near, it might just be the closest of the detached mini-isles (thanks Francisco – long time fan of the original “mini island” at Rihiveli).


Best of the Maldives: Sand Flow Research – Taj Exotica

With the help of MIT, the Maldives are looking for some “homegrown” islands themselves. A study taking place at Taj Exotica, is investigating ways for islands to build themselves: “MIT’s bold plan to save the Maldives–and the world”. Ocean currents notoriously strip shorelines and sandbars taking their material away. The “Growing Islands” Self-Assembly Lab is looking at ways to turn that ocean force to advantage, but instead to get it to deposit sands onto the islands to build them up.

Best of the Maldives: Homegrown – AaaVeee

AaaVeee - bar stools

People often ask about the most authentic Maldivian island. A number of resorts are inspired by Maldivian tradition and local aesthetic, but by and large the resorts are enclaves of landlubber creature comforts shipped in. In fact, even the famous water villas were a concept imported from Bali. But “Nature’s Paradise” resort, AaaVeee, is really the ultimate “Maldives paradise” for sheer indigenous authenticity. Most everything on the island was made on the island, by islanders from materials from the islands.

For example, the stools in the bar are carved from a single coconut tree trunk (see photo above). And I have already written about their distinctly traditional Maldivian “koari” throughout the island (see photo below) and even its tradition breaking local snorkel guide.

AaaVeee - koari entrance

Best of the Maldives: Top Models – Hudhuranfushi

Fashionista foreigners are the only style icons gracing the Maldives fashion-scape. Next Top Model has arrived in the country with the grand final hosted by resort Hudhuranfushi. Maldives Insider reported on the gala event which was dominated by beauty originating from these islands renowned for beauty with not just models, but also local designers displaying their style and flair:

  • “The top 10 contestants awed judges and invitees at the grand finale held at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi resort. Jamsheedha along with Dheena Aboobakur, Nadhuha Amir, Mariyam Malsa Hassan, Hanan Mohamed Rasheed, Bunaanath Yoosuf, Aminath Saina Ahmed, Fathimath Mirusha, Hawwa Inasha Gayyoom and Khadhyjath Shafeega wore beachwear by local designer Wimla and evening wear by Azu, while Yumna Rushdhee’s YR Collection of jewellery also made an appearance. The 19-year-old Jamsheedha, whose dream is to become a pilot, won the local edition of Top Model of the World franchise, securing the chance to represent the Maldives at the grand finale of Top Model of the World 2018 to be held in Grenada in September.”

Hudhuranfushi - Maldives Top Model 3

Hudhuranfushi - Maldives Top Model 2

Hudhuranfushi - Maldives Top Model 1

Best of the Maldives: Carpet – Velaa

Velaa - carpet 2

Design is about creating a feeling with ingredients. Some might consider a carpet at a Maldives resort an unnecessary extravagance. The typically stone floors feel cooler to the touch in the hot climate so why spring the expense for something so seemingly extraneous. Well, it’s all part of the Velaa vibe which is possibly the most homey of any resort we have been too. Which is not surprising since the very genesis of the resort was as the resort owner’s private vacation home that eventually grew to a resort in its own right.

Most hotel properties try to get by with spartan décor to cut costs. This approach is why do many hotel rooms seem to sterile and uninviting even if they are done with panache and style. Velaa’s villas feel like someone’s home you are visiting. Only at a home would you put so much care into adding so many details which I’ve highlighted before. The rugs are not cheap industry bulk buys, but really elegant orientals that add a distinctive touch of style as well as warmth.

Velaa - carpet 1

Best of the Maldives: Seaside Pitches – Kandima

Kandima - football pitch

As the football season winds down caped by Liverpool’s win last night, more and more footie stars are heading to the Maldives for some post-season recuperative therapy. Bunyamin’s legendary feed is packed recently with star players invading paradise over the past week.

If they start to miss kicking around the ball, then the most idyllic venue would be Kandima’s seaside pitch. Kind of evokes the luxurious coastal cachet of AC Monaco’s Stade Louis II (while the infrastructure is undoubtedly more modest, one could argue that the scenery is even better). Yes, most of the players are resident staff, but guests are always welcome to join in. Most of the time, these football grounds are sequestered in the interior of the island in the staff area. But Kandima has kindly situated its pitch right by the beach. So for the spectators, if the match gets boring (like most of last nights Champions League final), they can always gaze out on the picturesque ocean. Of maybe, amble over to the adjacent badminton court with the same seaside positioning some racquet fun.