Typically, people go to the Maldives for the nano-quaintness of these minute islands outcroppings. But, if such miniature confines are a bit too claustrophobic or if you simply enjoy a good bike ride, then the best island is Gan. Gan is the largest island in the Maldives with several resorts.
In particular, Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa offers guided bicycle tours in the Addu atoll.
“Explore by bicycle the five neighbouring islands connected by a 17-kilometre road that is the longest in Maldives. Set out with a picnic and discover the fascinating lifestyle and culture of untouched Maldivian villages or stop at a coffee shop to chat with the locals over a meal.”
Sometimes resort entertainment can be the weak link in a holiday with anything from a rickety DJ deck, to a local culture dance troupe trying to get reluctant visitors to join in to a lounge singer pounding out the old stand-bys in the local accent. Huvafen Fushi has made it its charter to not just make entertainment hip, but to bring a refreshing breeze of ‘cool’ to a range of things on offer at the resort in its ‘Dream Calendar’ programme.
“On 15 August 2009, internationally renowned French DJ Charles Schillings returns to the Maldives’ coolest resort, Huvafen Fushi, to treat guests to a third dose of his musical magic as part of the resort’s pioneering Dream Calendar. Guests can expect to be moved by an eclectic mix of melodic beats, electro funk, soul and groove, with touches of rock and classic 70s tunes…As the latest icon in Huvafen Fushi’s Dream Calendar, Charles will present an incredible night of music, as guests sip Champagne and throw some shapes on the fine, white Maldivian sands. The Dream Calendar has brought some of the world’s finest in music, cuisine, art and wellbeing to Huvafen Fushi’s shores, offering guests a series of one-of-a-kind experiences in the Maldives.”
“The resort has previously hosted performances by Claude Challé and DJ Ravin, the artists behind the Buddha-bar album series, as well as José Padilla from the sun-drenched Café Del Mar albums…Also coming up as part of the Dream Calendar, Stéphane Pompougnac will touch shores and hearts in the Maldives for a second time. The music maestro behind the Hôtel Costes album series, Stéphane performed at Huvafen Fushi last year to rave reviews from guests, when he launched the Hôtel Costes XI album, and is set to return this November.”
One resort that has embraced our dining on the beach top tip is the newly inaugurated Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa. They are proactively offering to serve meals on the beach in a variety of idyllic and romantic places…
“The resort will also feature Dine By Design, Shangri-La is moving the dining experience outside restaurant walls to a variety of private locations around the resort. From a torch-lit dinner in the middle of a jungle to a quiet picnic on a beach, guests will enjoy meals prepared by the resort's expert culinary team.”
In a part of the world where there is not enough space in one place to land a commercial airplane, you wouldn’t expect to find an activity known for vast expanses – golf. While The Beach House has a golf simulator, Kuredu has a full fledged executive 6-hole golf course.
The website describes…
“Kuredu Golf Club is the first of its kind in the Maldives. The Golf course is located on the eastern portion of the Island, surrounded by natural forest and the noise of the ocean. There could be no where more peaceful for the game of golf.
The Golf Club boasts a full size driving range with the option of a shaded area and also hitting from the grass. A large putting green is also available to perfect the short game.
The golf course is a 6-hole Par 3 course with the average length of a hole being 55 yards. With some great characteristics on the golf course it proves to be a fun and ”sometimes” a challenging experience.
Our Head Pro, PGA qualified golf professional is available for tuition on all aspects of the game. All equipment is provided for rental free of charge from the Pro´s Shop, where all bookings can be made. Any teaching course can be set up to suit the individual or group.”
Quien es Mas Macho of the Maldive resorts? The Beach House at Manafaru seems to think that the Maldives has a greater inherent appeal to women (go figure) and so it has decided to beef up the appeal to the macho side of the travelling party with its own ‘Gentlemen Retreat’…
“Gentlemen’s Retreat is a club house/retreat designed primarily with men in mind. Inside, you will find a 50 LCD TV, relaxing chairs, games consoles (Wii game and PS 3), a virtual golf simulator which allows you sample some of the world’s best eighteen-hole golf courses from the comfort of your Maldivian haven.”
Given the omnipresent reefs that literally define the Maldives and the shallows around them, it is no surprise that the Maldives are littered with ship wrecks for divers to explore. But the best locale has to be ‘The Shipyard’ off Kuredu in the Faadhippolhu Atoll. It has not one, but two wrecks at the site including the ‘Skipjack II’ which has sunk vertically so that its bow is sticking out about the top of the water (see above). It is located on the east side of Felivaru Kandu with a depth from 1 to 30 metres.
From Tim Godfrey’s book on diving in the Maldives ‘Dive Maldives’…
“This ship was the mother ship for the Felivaru fish factory and spent some years permanently moored to the jetty at Felivaru. In 1985, it was decided that old Japanese ship was of no further use so it was stripped of anything of value and towed out to sea where it was to be scuttled. Kuredu Island Resort tried to purchase the ship for a new dive site, but the authorities decided against it. In the end, they got their shipwreck for no charge. While it was being towed out to sea, workers began cutting holes in the ship’s hull in preparation for sinking. However, the ship caught fire and because of the danger from chemicals and the fear of an explosion, it was cut loose…The second wreck was also in use at the fish factory and was scuttled at the same location. It too was in a vertical position until 1992 when a storm caused it to settle on the sea floor.”
What amenities do you need at a Maldivian resort…and then what are those things that really take a bit of creative consideration on behalf of the management to deliver an amazing stay. W Retreat is renowned for its attention to detail and special amenities. Its W Resort in the Maldives snared the #2 spot for Askmen.com’s survey of the Best Hotel Minibars in the world.
“As a haven for super-skinny fashionistas looking to cram their size-zero bodies into something suitably small for the beach, it’s hardly surprising that the W Retreat & Spa has stocked its minibars with an unusual item — a bikini by luxury beachwear label Heidi Klein. In most hotels, guests are expected to bring their own beachwear, but apparently not here. Crafted in W’s signature purple, the bikini is a limited edition sold only on-site and comes with stunning silver hammered-chrome detailing. Oh yeah, and there’s booze and food stocked alongside it. Best part: If the bikini provided doesn’t fit, then a “Bikini Butler” is on-hand to measure your girl up for something more her size.”
The Maldives are more renowned for their swimming pool like tranquillity with ocean waters stilled by the reef enclosed lagoons. However, once you go to the right places on the edge of the atoll reefs where the currents hit just right, you can find some quite ideal conditions for surfing. So ideal that Chaaya Island Dhonveli is hosting the world surfing circuit Sri Lankan Airlines Pro Maldives event this week.
“Widely regarded as the most striking event on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS), the SriLankan Airlines Pro – Maldives has again drawn a brilliant field of 128 international surfers from 20 nations around the surfing world.”
More specifically, the event was held at Pasta Point off the island famous for superb 3m wave surf conditions.
Whales Sharks are a majestic and stirring sight on any diving privilege to see them, and in the Maldives they have a special folklore about them. The best place to see them in the Maldives, if not the world, is at the Dhidhdhoo Beryru Faru dive site (also one of the best wall dives in the Maldives) near Diva resort.
Tim Godfrey reports in his ‘Dive: Maldives’ book: “The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is the largest of all fish reaching 15 metres in length. It is a plankton eater and harmless to humans. Divers fortunate enough to see one will find them curious and fearless, sometimes allowing divers to get close enough to feel their rough skin…In early times, whale sharks were caught by brave Maldivian fisherman who would swim with a rope into the mouth of the shark and out through the gills…The practice of swimming into the mouth of a whale shark was outlawed long ago. In one case, a fisherman from Addoo Atoll was sentenced to 80 strokes of the cane and banished to an island for risking his life by capturing whale sharks in this way.”
The Euro-Divers dive centre at Diva adds, “We are also 1 of the 2 locations world wide with all year round whale sharks. This is our other main attraction. These gentle giants can be found on our outside reefs. Juvenile whale sharks what we have here are between the 3 and 8 meters long.”
The resort Sun Island and Holiday Island are also relatively nearby to these sites.
While alcohol is forbidden in the non-resort parts of the Maldives in line with its Muslim traditions (do not attempt to bring duty free with you into the country), the resorts are granted exemption to serve alcohol to visitors. The resort with purportedly the most extensive array in the archipelago is Huvafen Fushi with its massive underground wine cellar (the only one in the Maldives). The collection is managed by what one report described as ‘its flamboyant sommelier Sonny.’ Cheers!