Coral King Tapestries

Caterina Fattori - anenome

A of rich and royal hue,
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold
   – Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’

Dive into the Laccadive Sea and you will be confronted with a living spectacle of vibrant colours and images. It’s tempting just to chase one exciting sight after another. But some of the most biggest displays are to be found in the smallest things. After you see your first Nudibranch, you will be slowing your swimming right down hoping to spot more of these alien slugs. Yesterday’s up close and personal interview with Outrigger Konotta marine biologist Caterina Fattori first stemmed from my admiration of her photographic up close and personal exposés of the coral critters literally make up all of the Maldives islands. To celebrate World Ocean’s Day today, I am featuring my top ten intimate polyp portraits from her stunning Instagram feed

  1. Mushroom Coral
    Caterina Fattori - mushroom coral
  2. Diploastrea
    Caterina Fattori - Diploastrea
  3. Octocorallia
    Caterina Fattori - octocorallia
  4. Maze Coral
    Caterina Fattori - maze coral
  5. Sarcophyton
    Caterina Fattori - Sarcophyton

  6. Daisy Coral
    Caterina Fattori - daisy coral

  7. Crinoid
    Caterina Fattori - crinoid

  8. Platygyra
    Caterina Fattori - Platygyra

  9. Bubble Coral
    Caterina Fattori - bubble coral

  10. Pachyseris
    Caterina Fattori - Pachyseris

World’s Worst Snorkeling

Maldives may be the best snorkelling in the world (if Calsberg did snorkelling destinations…), and alternatives like Indonesia might rival it, but here are a few places that definitely do not.  Here is the definitely Maldives Complete list of ‘unconventional’ snorkeling  (shall we say generously) in the world (not surprising at all that 2 on the list are in the United Kingdom)…

  1. Bog Snorkeling – Wales, United Kingdom: In Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales crowds watch competitors swim up and down a 133 meter bog filled with sulphurous, weedy water. Some wear silly costumes but all entrants must not use conventional swimming strokes, relying on flipper power only. [ABOVE]
  2. Jelly Fish Snorkeling – Eil Malik Island in Palau: Well, not as hazardous at it appears as the Golden Jellyfish which populate this lake don’t sting actually.
    Snorkeling - jellyfish
       
  3. Snow Snorkeling – Somewhere in Michigan: Not a lot of detail provided, but we think alcohol is involved.
    Snorkeling - snow
       
  4. Sheep Field SnorkelingWest Bank, Jordan: Not quite the spectacle of the Red Sea, but still a spectacle of sort.
    Snorkeling - West Bank
       
  5. Reed SnorkelingCineplex near you:  “I don’t care if you did see that in a movie, Gilligan is not breathing through that reed!” — The Professor, Gilligan’s Island.   Turns out that escaping the bad guy by breathing through a reed would cause problems that “the width of the reed (or snorkel) needs to get wider the longer the tube. Otherwise you are just rebreathing the same air over and over, which will kill you after long enough. Unless you breathe out into the water, which defeats the purpose by highlighting your position with bubbles”.
    Snorkeling - reed
       
  6. Elephant SnorkelingPacific Islands: “Jumbo shrank after snorkel trip across Med” looks at the diffusion of pre-historic elephant species across a wide range of inaccessible islands and have come to the conclusion that elephants did their own form of snorkeling to cross large bodies of water though they speculate that these excursions were not exactly voluntary as they suspect that events such as a tsunami might have swept them out to sea. “[Gert van den Bergh of Wollongong University in Australia] has found fossils of pygmy elephants on islands across the Pacific. ‘The important thing is that elephants were excellent swimmers with high buoyancy and a snorkel for easy breathing’.”
    Snorkeling - elephant

        
  7. Polar Snorkeling – If the hypothermia doesn’t get you, the leopard seals might.
    Snorkeling - polar
        
  8. Australia Snorkeling – And in Australia, who knows what might get you…

       
  9. Fountain Snorkeling – Notts Market Square, Nottingham, United Kingdom: “There’s a kid snorkelling in the fountains at Notts Square. I’m done – Beth”
    Snorkeling - fountain
        
  10. Paddling Pool Snorkeling – And if you can’t get to a body of water, you can always make do with a backyard outing.

School of Life

Powder Blue Surgeonfish

You need cooling
Baby I’m not fooling
I’m gonna send ya
Back to schooling – Led Zeppelin

While the Maldives corals have taken a hit from the warm oceans of climate change and El Nino, the schooling bathing beauties remain as colourful and concentrated as ever. A-fish-ionadoes of the Maldives often refer to the waters as “fish soup” (perhaps an unfortunate term with the excessive water temperatures hitting 30 degrees!). And Instagram has become the digital runway for these fishionista pageants to be shared with the world. My favourite snaps are the one so jam packed with fish that they sort of form kaleidoscopic tapestries of underwater colour (thanks to Verena for help with identifying the more obscure marine models)…

 

  1. Powder Blue Surgeonfish [ABOVE]
  2. Glass Fish
    Glass Fish
  3. Blue Striped Snapper
    Blue Striped Snapper
  4. Fusilier
    Fusilier
  5. Convict Surgeonfish
    Convict Surgeonfish
  6. Yellow Sweeper
    Yellow Sweeper
  7. Trevally
    Trevally
  8. Orange Anthia
    Orange Anthia
  9. Blue Fusilier
    Blue Fusilier
  10. Oriental Sweet Lips
    Oriental Sweetlips
  11. Cardinal Fish
    Cardinal Fish
  12. Schooling Bannerfish
    Schooling Bannerfish
  13. Bigeye
    Bigeye
  14. Double Saddle Butterflyfish
    Double Saddle Butterflyfish
  15. Humpback Snapper
    Humpback Snapper

17 Dhoni Inspirations

Centara Ras Fushi - dhoni swing

The traditional dhoni has been the life blood for the scattered Maldivian archipelago pumping people and goods across its waters for centuries. In modern times, the dhoni also provides cultural inspiration to all manner of décor and items on the Maldives resorts.

The term “dhoni” is not only essential to Maldives life since its earliest history, but has even entered the global lexicon as one of two Dhivehi words that have made it into the English language (the other is even more characteristic of the very essence of the Maldives).

I have added a “Dhoni” tag to keep track of all the nautically inspired resort features now.

1. Boat SwingCentara Ras Fushi [ABOVE]

2. Boat VillaHuvafenfushi
Huvafenfushi - dhoni boat suit

3. LoungePark Hyatt Hadahaa
Maafushivaru - dhoni lounge

4. Room ServiceConstance Moofushi
Constance Moofushi - dhoni room service

5. FountainPark Hyatt Hadahaa
Park Hyatt Hadahaa - dhoni fountain

6. BuffetLily Beach
Lily Beach - dhoni - buffet

7. BarCanareef
Canareef - dhoni bar

8. Housekeeping Coco Bodu Hithi
Coco Bodu Hithi - dhoni housekeeping

9. PlanterAaaVeee
AaaVeee - dhoni planter

10. Bar – Jumeirah Vittaveli

11. RestaurantMillaidhoo
Millaidhoo - dhoni - restaurant

12. Kids ClubAnantara Dhigu
Anantara Dhigu - dhoni kids club

13. Dining TableJA Manafaru
JA Manafaru - dhoni dining table

14. ReceptionSun Siyam Irufushi
Sun Siyam Irufushi - reception

15. SeatingAyada
Ayada - dhoni seating

16. LoungingTaj Exotica
Taj Exotica - dhoni lounging

17. Water VillaCocoa Island
Cocoa Island - dhoni water villa

Sunday Sunsets

Maldives sunset 7

Easter Sunday is one of the most colourful days of the year with brightly coloured eggs sequestered amongst the spring garden blossoms. The Maldives tends to have more of a tricolour motif – blue, green, white. Until sunset. Then the Maldives explodes with a kaleidoscope of colour.

The sunset is a big event in the Maldives. All the men (it is the gadget guys) abandon their loved ones to their cocktails and grab their SLRs to start shooting. As a result, Instagram and Flickr are awash with an ocean of sunset snaps.

The criteria I use to filter the ordinary from the extraordinary is the following…

  • Colour – Rich, deep, gradient, varied. No black (the sunset equivalent to the “No Sunglasses” Rule). And *multiple* colours…not just a wash of golds. A bit of Photoshop to accent the highlights is okay as long as the image is not saturated like some kids colouring book.
  • Light Play – Not just a glowing orb in the distance, the sun must certainly ignite the clouds in the sky. Also (more frequent oversight) is that the ocean seascape must also be alight with reflected and refracted colours.
  • Maldivian – No “CBA” (ie. “Could Be Anywhere). The shot needs to have some distinctive iconic Maldives bits like a dhoni or sand bar or water villa to give it a destination signature.

Here are a dozen eggs-eptional shots (especially check out Abdulla Didi (#2) who is a bit of a Maldivian sunset specialist)…

  1. Extremely PierreW Retreat [ ABOVE]
  2. Abdulla DidiHithadhoo
    Maldives sunset 14
  3. Luca AugAngaga
    Maldives sunset 13
  4. Infinite ExplorerAnantara Dhigu
    Maldives sunset 12
  5. KandolhuKandolhu
    Maldives sunset 11
  6. Conrad RangaliConrad Rangali
    Maldives sunset 10
  7. Shestak KonstantinSun Island
    Maldives sunset 9
  8. Camila AsenjoDrift Thelu
    Maldives sunset 8
  9. Hussain ZaheenDhigurah
    Maldives sunset 6
  10. Pun PhotosFihalhohi
    Maldives sunset 3
  11. Rid PerspectivesLUX South Ari Atoll
    Maldives sunset 4
  12. Travellers PlanetSix Senses Laamu
    Maldives sunset 1

I Heart Maldives

Hearts - beach beauty

IRed heartMaldives

The Maldives is long renowned as one of the most romantic places on Earth.  No surprise that there are hearts are everywhere you look in this corner of paramour’s paradise.  So to celebrate Valentines Day today instead of a dozen roses, a dozen hearts in paradise…

  1. Sand – Anantara Kihavah
    Anantara Kihavah - sand heart
  2. Balloons – Kurumba
    Kurumba - heart balloon
  3. Underwater – Rasdhoo Madivaru
    Rasdhoo Madivaru - diving heart
  4. Breakfast – Centara Grand
    Centara Grand - heart breakfast
  5. Fruit – Constance Moofushi
    Moofushi - fruit heart
  6. Acrobatics – Finolhu
    Finolhu - Acrobatics
  7. Dinner on the Sand – Centara Grand
    Centara Grand - sand heart
  8. Dinner in the Sand – LUX Maldives
    LUX South Ari Atoll - sand heart dinner
  9. Beach Candles – Atmosphere Kanifushi
    Atmosphere Kanifushi - heart sand candles
  10. Simple Bed Décor – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
    Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu - heart bed decor
  11. Fancy Bed Décor – Huvafenfushi
    Huvafenfushi - bed heart
  12. Hands – One and Only Reethi Rah
    One and Only Reethi Rah heart hands

Saving Dive It / Lie In

Maldives National Day today. Celebrating its independence from the Portuguese. Unfortunately, the country is still dependent on the rest of the world taking action on climate change. The very aspect which makes the Maldives to alluring, also makes it the most vulnerable. The country lies right on the edge of sea-level. Like the classic plot of sand with a palm tree. Nearly all of the Maldives wonder takes place a meter below (snorkelling) and a meter above (max elevation of the country) sea-level. As a result, changes in sea level have a profound impact on the country even existing at all (or just eventually becoming on big underwater reef).

Furthermore, one of its great attractions is it colourful reefs, but now these are being threatened by warmer sea waters in which the vibrant coral cannot survive. It is no surprise then that the entire country has become one of the most environmentally progressive on the planet. You start to appreciate your planet under your feet more intently when you only have a tiny patch of it to stand on.

Maldives Complete has been covering the many eco-sustainability initiatives by the various resorts for years now. Here is a top ten list of their ecological initiatives…

  1. EDUCATION– Kuramathi [ABOVE]
  2. RECYCLING – Kurumba
    Kurumba recycling 2
  3. REEFSCAPING – Kandooma, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, Kurumba
    Kandooma reefscaping labels 2
  4. SOLAR POWER – Club Med Finolhu Villas
    Club Med Finolhu - solar panels 1
  5. REEF RE-GENERAT-ION – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
    Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru Lotus project 2
  6. LOCAL SOURCING – Jumeirah Vittaveli
    Jumeirah Vittaveli - local sourcing
  7. VOLUNTOURISM – Soneva Fushi
    Six Senses Voluntourism
  8. WASTE REDUCTION – Soneva Fushi
    Sineva Fushi - food waste reduction
  9. MANTA RESEARCH – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru manta sculpture
  10. TURTLE RESEARCH – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
    Four Seasons Kuda Huraa Nargis Fakhri turtle

Couple Powers of 10

David And Victoria Beckham

One of the first, most frequent and highest profile power couples, David and Victoria Beckham, return to their favourite holiday haunt in the Maldives this holiday season with a few friends (eg. the Gordon Ramsay family). But “Posh and Becks” aren’t the only power couple to jet set into this tropical haven. Their holiday event is having Spice Girls band-mate, Mel C, perform for their New Year’s Eve party. 

Here is the Maldives Complete Top Ten List of Power Couples in paradise…

  1. David and Victoria Beckham (USA) – Amilla Fushi [ABOVE]
  2. Ashish Chowdhry and Samita Bangargi (India) – Lily Beach
    Ashish Chowdhry and Samita Bangargi (India) – Lily Beach
  3. Sam Thompson and Tiffany Watson (United Kingdom) – LUX South Ari Atoll
    Sam Thompson and Tiffany Watson (United Kingdom) – LUX South Ari Atoll

  4. Richard and Amy Kotch (USA) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
    Richard and Amy Kotch (USA) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
  5. Ylianna and Michael Dadashi (USA) – Huvafenfushi
    Ylianna and Michael Dadashi (USA) - Huvafenfushi
  6. Aliaa Bhaat and Sidharth Malhotra (India) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Aliaa Bhaat and Sidharth Malhotra (India) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
  7. Ana Ivanovic and Bastian Schweinsteiger (Serbia/Germany) – Huvafenfushi
    Ana Ivanovic and Bastian Schweinsteiger (Serbia - Germany) - Huvafenfushi
  8. John and Toni Terry (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
    John and Toni Terry (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
  9. Ryk Neethling and Sahar Biniaz (Australia/Iran) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Ryk Neethling and Sahar Biniaz (Australia - Iran) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
  10. Sepideh Haftgoli and Max Loong (Switzerland) – NIYAMA
    Sepideh Haftgoli and Max Loong (Switzerland) - Huvafenfushi
  11. Karan Singh Grover and Bipasha Basu (India) – Jumeirah Vittaveli
    Karan Singh Grover and Bipasha Basu (India) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

Spitting Distance

Cocoa Island - sand spit 2

One of the fav features of any Maldive island is the sand spit. The spit is the Kodak Photo Spot. Surrounded by the India Ocean on all but a few feet of sand. If you are planning your next photoshoot and scouting for a bit of shallow wallowing, here is a list of the top resort sand spits in the Maldives…

  • Cocoa Island [ABOVE]
  • Gangehi
    Gangehi - sand spit
  • Sun Island
    Sun Island - sand spit
  • Kuramathi
    Kuramathi - sand spit
  • Kuredu
    Kuredu - sand spit
  • Kanifushi (thanks Paola)
    Kanifushi - sand spit
  • Finolhu
    Finolhu - sand spit
  • Palm Beach
    Palm Beach - sand spit
  • Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru - sand spit
  • Rihiveli
    Rihiveli - sand spit
  • Ranveli
    Ranveli - sand spit
  • Dhigufaru
    Dhigufaru - sand spit
  • Loama at Maamagili
    Loama at Maamagili

10 Smile Inspiring Services

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa sunglasses cleaner

World Smile Day today. And if there is one place in the world that knows how to put a smile on your face it is the Maldives. If the sheer other-worldly aquatic beauty alone doesn’t do it, then the service obsessed resorts will find some special touch guaranteed to get your grin on…

1. SUNGLASS CLEANING – Four Seasons Kuda Hura [ABOVE]

2. FOOT WASHING – One & Only Reethi Rah
One and Only Reethi Rah foot washing

3. GREETING MASSAGE – Anantara
Anantara - greeting massage

4. ICE CREAM SERVICE – LUX South Ari Atoll
LUX Maldives ICI ice crean cart 1

5. BIKE RETURN – One & Only Reethi Rah
One and Only Reethi Rah bicycle homing service Purple Passport

6. PILLOW MENU – Anantara Kihavah Villas
Anantara Kihavah Villas - pillow menu samples

7. SNACK SERVICE – Gangehi
Gangehi bruschetta

8. BUTLER BRIGADE – Jumeirah Dhevanafushi
Jumeirah Dhevanafushi bath

9. TREE MOVING – One & Only Reethi Rah
One and Only Reethi Rah palm tree moving

10. FACE MIST SPRAYING – Kanuhura
Kanuhura pool