Best of the Maldives: Hydrofoiling – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - hydrofoiling 1

The hottest addition to the Laccadive ocean is yet another flashy water sport in the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru stable – hydrofoiling. Featured in Maldives.net:

  • “Brought to the Maldives in partnership with ocean innovators Ocean Group Pvt Ltd, hydrofoils redefine what’s possible on a board: a unique chance to become one with the water, gliding knife-like over its surface at thrilling speeds using a hydrodynamically designed fin with wings.”

There are four “experiences” to chose from:

  • Kite Foiling
  • Slingshot Wake Foil
  • Lift Foil
  • Naish Wing-Surfer

Hydrofoiling is a long standing “Finally Seen” (#20 from post #8) as well as a handy prompt to add the long overdue tag for “Water Sports”.

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - hydrofoiling 2

Putting Ocean Warming into Perspective

Ocean temp 1

Few places provide the perspective the Earth’s vastness as effectively as standing on the seashore and gazing out on the vast expanse of the ocean. The level horizon provides an uninterrupted vista of the planet allowing the view to extend miles and miles (well, 3 miles about). A dip into this immensity adds the dimension of depth as you realise that this body of water plummets to fathoms below. In fact, the lowest point down in the ocean (Challenger Deep 36,200 feet) is deeper than the highest point up on land (Mount Everest 29,029 feet).

This immensity cloaks the blue planet in not just an aquatic wonderland, the birthplace of life and countless resources, but it regulates the world’s climate significantly. It absorbs and releases heat and water constantly. And with the inexorable release of Anthropocene carbon into the atmosphere and the consequential inching up of average temperatures, the oceans are doing their bit to absorb both.

The problem is that when the oceans absorbs carbon it makes the seawater more acidic which makes it less hospitable for a lot of its creatures. Also, when it absorbs the heat, it raises the water temperature which makes it less hospitable for the one of the pillars of the marine food chain – the coral reefs. The result is the widely reported bleaching and dying of the reefs. Over the two decades we have been visiting the Maldives, we have applauded the destination growing in many exciting ways, but each year (especially recently) we despair at the painful shrinking of the living coral primarily due to the warming sea temperatures.

In the Maldives, the reefs are not just foundation to the ecosystem, but the entirety of the county’s very being. As such, the country has been on the vanguard of campaigning for eco-sustainability and cutting carbon emissions. With the global prominence of Time’s Person of the Year Greta Thunberg and the impassioned television series by famed naturalist David Attenborough “Life on Our Planet”, the scale of carbon impact is getting a higher profile than ever.

But just how big is the impact right now? Forget all of the controversial models and forecasts. Forget the graphs showing tonnes of carbon emitted (as few of us are chemistry experts to know what all that carbon really means). Let’s just look at the actual, observed real world impact today of that carbon and climate change with a easily obtained and verified measurement – the temperature of the ocean.

I’ve happened upon a couple of illustrations of ocean temperature increase recently which prompted this post. The first from the Futurism website noted that

  • After analyzing data from the 1950s through 2019, an international team of scientists determined that the average temperature of the world’s oceans in 2019 was 0.075 degrees Celsius (.135 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1981–2010 average…The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions. That averages out to four Hiroshima bombs’ worth of energy entering the oceans every second for the past 25 years. But even more troubling, the rate isn’t holding steady at that alarming figure — it’s increasing.”

But a possibly even more dramatic number and comparison is the simple quantification of the energy that the ocean has absorbed – an accelerating at average of 10 zetta-joules per year(and last year was over 200 zetta-joules added). ZETTA joules. You don’t know what that is? Not surprising since it is such a big number there really aren’t many things in the universe to apply it to. A “zetta” is “10^21” (1 with 21 zeros after it).

Best of the Maldives: Vegan Beef – LUX South Ari Atoll

LUX South Ari Atoll - vegan beef

The ecological impacts of what you eat affects both the surf and turf of your dinner plate. Beef cattle methane flatulence is a major contributor of global carbon which contributes to ocean warming which kills coral. Concern over beef consumption has led to many initiatives to take the beef out of the most classic beef dish of all – the burger. Even mainstream chains like Burger King have introduced vegan versions like its “Impossible Whopper”. In the Maldives, LUX South Ari Atoll has introduced its own vegan “beef” burger

  • Embraced by leading brands, tech companies and major news media, the plant-based protein, formally known as ‘Beyond Burger™’ is now available at three of the resort’s eight restaurants to provide additional vegan and kosher options.”

Inspired by LUX’s culinary carbon-reducing crusade, I found myself trying my first vegan burger yesterday in London. It was a Avocado Chipotle Burger by the UK chain, Leon’s. Admittedly, my expectations were pretty low, but I must say that they were handily exceeded. Eating it, you realise that the taste of a “burger” is a real collection of tastes – bun, condiments, lettuce, charcoal grilling. So getting a patty of something that is remotely evocative of a burger in texture and even some flavour make the whole sandwich a pretty close facsimile to the original. But with much less impact on the coral reefs you are enjoying during your stay.

Best of the Maldives: Groupers – Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu - Grouper 1

You’ll should see more groupers at on the Six Senses Laamu house reef if Blue Marine work succeeds:

  • “Grouper in the Maldives are in trouble. Due to high demand and market prices, the Maldives grouper export fishery has escalated since the 1980s, spreading throughout the country. The most recent study in 2011 revealed a concerning situation: grouper stocks are declining and smaller sized fish are being taken. Larger fish have selectively been removed and fishers are targeting spawning aggregation sites. Recent catch data show that for the ten most commonly exploited species of groupers, 70% of individuals are taken prior to reaching sexual maturity, meaning that they had not had a chance to reproduce before being caught. The Blue Marine Foundation has formed a partnership with the Maldivian Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MOFA) and Six Senses Laamu, a beautifully sustainable, luxury resort with a passion for marine conservation. In collaboration with MOFA, BLUE has designed a project to promote a better documented and more sustainable grouper fishery in the Maldives by protecting threatened grouper spawning aggregations. Research suggests that grouper have been overfished for at least 15 years in Laamu Atoll.”

Blue Marine are the grouper groupies of the Maldives.

With this post, I’ve added the tag “Marine Life Conservation” to cover post about initiatives to save various aquatic creatures (bigger than coral polyps as those projects are covered extensively in the “Reef Regeneration” tag).

Six Senses Laamu - Grouper 2

Best of the Maldives: Glass Bar – Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani - glass bar

Best place in the Maldives for a glass of something. Soneva Jani’s “The Gathering Bar” features a captivating vitreous sculpture for its bar and seating:

  • Drinks and tapas can be enjoyed at any time at this day-into-evening overwater bar. As the sun begins to set, ease into an organic aperitif. Our main bar has one of the best selections of freshly made cocktails, spirits and liqueurs in the Maldives.”

Glass has long been a very fitting material for the Maldives with its aqua-green hues and light refracting properties evoking the glassy lagoons themselves.

What To Do with a Male Layover?

Maldives lay over

One of the most frequently asked questions that I get is not about “visiting” the Maldives, but “passing through”. There are two major groups of these stopovers

  • Flight layovers
  • Cruise stops

What you can do is very dependent on how much time you have. The more time, the further down the list of alternatives below you can go…

  • MALE AIRPORT (more than 1 hour) – Velana airport has a number of things to do itself including eateries, lounges and spa treatments:
    • Moonima Spa (domestic terminal): Really fine little facility and all things considered a reasonable value for a range of packages it offered.
    • Hulhule Island Hotel (5 minute walk): Pool use fee and restaurant with elevated ocean view.
  • MALE VISITS (more than 2 hours) – With the opening of the new bridge, getting over to the capital city of Male is easier than ever (no more ferries needed), but you still require a shuttle or taxi ride over and the extra logistics will require having a bit of time on hand. Here’s my report when I made a day visit there.
  • HULHUMALE VISITS (more than 3 hours) – Adjacent to the Male airport island of Humale is the newly created and developed island of Hulhumale. It also takes either a taxi or bus ride of about 15 minutes so requires a bit more time available to get over there, but it includes lots of new restaurants, public beaches, shopping and provides a taste of modern Maldivian city life not quite so bustling as Male itself.
  • MALE EXCURSIONS (more than 4 hours) – A number of companies offer trips and excursions around the Male area based out of Male, but again, the duration and logistics required would mean having even more time on hand). The best place to start looking into excursions from the Male area is the TripAdvisor “Things To Do” list which includes comprehensive details and often useful reviews.
  • DAY VISIT RESORT (more than 5 hours) – A number of properties in the Male area do allow day visitors which enable you to see one of the legendary “drops of sand in the middle of the ocean” resorts in person and sample some of their trademark activities like snorkelling their house reef or enjoying their manicured beaches. However, these day passes typically entail a not cheap fee. Hulhumale Tours and Excursions features specific packages for visiting local resort islands (they also offer their other excursions for visits to local islands, diving and waters sports) which is a pretty comprehensive list of near-to-Male resorts that offer this service:
    • Adaaran Club Rannalhi
    • Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
    • Adaaran Prestige Vadoo
    • Centara Ras Fushi
    • Cinnamon Dhonveli
    • Club Med Kani
    • Fihalhohi
    • Malahini Kuda Bandos
    • Summer Island

Other islands which have featured day passes in the past or are reported to offer such visits (always best to contact the resort to confirm their current policy and protocol) include:

    • Bandos
    • Crossroads
    • Embudu
    • Paradise Island

Secret Paradise also offers a range of excursions including snorkel trips which I have featured previously.