Eeek a shark! One of the most prevalent sea creatures that you will encounter in the Maldives is the white-tipped reef shark. But for those who have gorged on too many Hollywood special effects, rest assured there is nothing to fear. In fact, one of the most prominent characteristics of these infamous fish is how skittish they are themselves. After a while of snorkelling and catching glimpses of them, you really start to want to see them closer and realise how apprehensive they are about getting anywhere near you.
The most prevalent are the bitty ones you see in the lagoons like the one our children Isley and Chase are admiring above. But they do grow up to several feet long, but those ones are just as harmless (in fact, the bigger they are, the bigger scaredy cats that they seem to be).
If you want to see as many of these popular and populous creatures, then the place to go is Maaya Thila, described at the ‘White Tip Reef Shark Capital of the Maldives’. While Maayafushi and Halaveli are nearby, the closest resort to this specially protected marine area is Bathala.
Tim Godfrey describes Maaya Thila in his book ‘Dive Maldives’…
“The smaller white-tips are the centre of attention, with dozens of them circling the reef. Maaya Thila is about 80 metres in diameter and can be easily circumnavigated in one dive – if the current is favourable – although it is not uncommon for divers to spend the entire dive in one area to digest the incredible diversity of marine life.”
With such dazzling scenery from the turquoise crystal waters to the lush tropical foliage, one would imagine the Maldives to be an ideal venue for artistic inspiration. To enhance the inspiration, the resort Robinson Club is offering a special program of a art inspired events including ‘Art in Full Bloom’ and ‘Cook n Art’.
“Heidi Gerstner, the recognized Queen of Roses, has made her name in the art scene with her precious flower and blossom paintings. With stimulating and professional guidance, she will introduce you to her refined spatula technique and lead you into the sophisticated art of acrylic painting…Nowhere else is the flora and fauna so diverse, inspirational and incomparable, as in ROBINSON Club Maldives-best conditions for good motifs, exciting days, and enjoyment. Experience in a gorgeous setting a workshop, which you will long remember.”
“At this unique event you will experience a symbiosis of cooking art and exciting passion. We look forward to welcoming, Werner Fink, renowned expert for our exclusive event. Werner, who is famous in Germany and an award-winning chef, who was cooking at the Olympics over two decades and winning many gold and silver medals for recipes, will guide you through a wonderful and creative week. Originally self-taught, but later known as a student, he studied with well-known art professors at the Frankfurter Staedel and also made himself a name with his beautiful, meaningful and large-scale artworks. He is regarded as an exceptional talent and combines the two skills like no other…In addition, you will be introduced in Werner`s workshop to the art of painting. Painting your own chef`s jacket with tropical or culinary motifs, every other hobby chef will envy you, and you can take home an unforgettable souvenir and the memories of a beautiful and fabulous week in paradise.”
Both events are full week long programmes with daily activity.
One of the most memorable and distinctive excursion that one can do on a Maldives visit is the deserted island experience. Various resorts offer day trips, picnic visits, BBQs, snorkelling outings and a range of other day excursions to local even tinier, even more remote uninhabited islands. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu has one of the best arrays of excursions that I have seen from ‘Magical Mornings’ to ‘Island Afternoons’. But they don’t stop at sunset, and the most distinctive trip is their ‘Overnight on a Desert Island’ excursion…
“A once in a lifetime experience…Spend one night together on a deserted Maldivian Island, Robinson Crusoe style. Your experience begins with Romantic Red Sunset journey by Dhoni as you sip a cool glass of Sparkling Wine…Your own private Chef attentively prepared Fresh Seafood and the choicest cuts of meat tenderly barbecued to the savoured under the stars as the moonlight reflects from the silver sea. The exotic choice of Maldivian Lobster, Tiger Prawns, Sirloin Steak, Lamb Chops, and fresh Reef Fish from the Lagoon will leave you spoilt for choice. After Dinner stroll around the beach to your Rustic Beach Hut which has been carefully prepared for you. This accommodation follows a traditional beach hut style yet still provides some of the comforts of home. In the morning your private butler will deliver your breakfast to enjoy on the beach of your Island before returning to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. This is a Uniquely Coco Experience that will live on long after your vacation is over.”
My wife and I visited this desert island for an afternoon picnic and private snorkelling excursion when we visited Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and had a truly memorable afternoon in idyllic and romantic remoteness. An absolutely top activity.
Despite being an exotic locale, the Maldives food is as high, as clean, and as safe a standard as you will find anywhere. The only food problem I have encountered in our many trips was friend who suffered an allergic reaction to the fresh pineapple.
But if you are particularly fussy about such considerations, then according to the Food Safety Asia organisation, Kanuhuraa is the resort for you.
“Kanuhura, Madives was awarded as ‘Full FSA recommendation’ by the Food Safety Asia Ltd, officials from the resort have said. According to a press release issued by the resort ‘Kanuhura is the first resort in Maldives among 22 resorts audited by the FSA, testing and rating all 5 Star resorts on Food Safety and Food Quality throughout the year on a monthly basis.’ “
If you want to escape everything with your trip to the Maldives except beloved ‘footie’, then the most sympathetically fanatical resort is Mirihi who not only, like many, have their own football team, but also have their own astro-turf foot ball pitch. Guests are welcome to join in the games as reported by ‘librahi’ on this Trip Advisor report.
Many are attracted to the Maldives for the distinctively tiny croppings of land that make up the islands. No island is big enough for an international airport near the capital of Male (so they had to create a long, rectangular strip of land out of landfill) and most can have their perimeters traversed before finishing a pre-dinner pina colada. But the grand-biddy of them all is Coca Palm Kudahithi at a mere 5,600 square metres (140 metres long and 40 metres wide – not much larger than a foot ball pitch). With a proportionately small number of rooms – 7 villas – it is the closest thing to your own secluded deserted island with a palm tree on it.
Maldives is a great destination for families with children, but one common question is what about the very youngest. The consensus at TripAdvisor’s Maldives Forum is that Bandos is the top resort for babies.
“Quite a number of people have said, truthfully and helpfully, that Bandos is about the only 'baby friendly' hotel in the Maldives.”
Some debate the advisability of bringing extremely young children to a place as remote as the Maldives with less extensive care on hand. One of the benefits to Bandos is its proximity (8 km) to the main island of Male where the most extensive medical care, full hospital and airport are all located in case of an emergency.
“At Bandos we think of making your holiday as hassle free as possible, and for those families travelling with young children the Child Care Centre and Kids Club will prove to be a blessing. Now you can enjoy your holiday comfortable in the knowledge that your children are in the capable care of our professional child minders and baby sitters. The facilities are free of charge and the staff of Kids Club provides baby-sitting services free of charge, for children between 8 months to 12 years, between 0900hrs to 1700hrs, although a small charge is levied after 1700hrs. The Kids Club is equipped with a nursery full of toys and a large playground outside so that even your children would be guaranteed an enjoyable holiday experience.”
Most Maldivian islands have even tinier islands nearby for day excursions and all have shallow waters to wade or snorkel through, but Rihiveli Beach has a nearly deserted island that is a water stroll away.
“Just 400 metres from your holiday home are Sunrise Island and Birds Island, which you can easily reach on foot. Unmarred by development, they are cloaked in verdant foliage and complemented by lovely beaches”
“We have access to Sunrise Island that you can easily reach on foot where we can have BBQ at lunch (known as ‘Picnic Island’), the inclusive package we offer and the stunning and peaceful Lagoon we have at our disposal”
If you want a change from vanilla fare for your savory snacks, then you need to be gingerly cumin on down to the the Fuddan Restaurant at Anantara, the epice-ntre of allspices. Fuddan features a seasoning expert – Nasrulla (pictured above) to assist with just the right final touch to your cuisine.
The Times Online has a fun review of the seasoned expert…
“Rubbing salt into the wound…Water sommeliers are so last Thursday week. The latest thing is, drum roll, the salt sommelier. Oooh, yes. With no hint of irony, Anantara, in the Maldives, presents Nasrulla, who will guide you around 11 types, including Cyprus black lava flake, Bali coconut and lime-smoked sea salt. “We’re quite serious,” the hotel says. “Don’t take it with a pinch of salt.” Oh, please. Mindful of the dignity of Nasrulla’s calling, we don’t stoop to puns ourselves. Except in headlines.”
The Eye of Dubai has a detailed report including details of some of the salt varieties on offer (“Smoked Salish salt from Washington State (Nasrulla’s favourite) goes well with grilled food, especially red meats, while smoked salt from Bali is recommended to enhance the taste of tuna prepared with coconut and kaffir lime”)
One of the very first and most common questions to ask of any ‘Maldives Best Of’ selection is what is the ‘Best House Reef’.
Maldives is easily one of the world’s top dive areas up there with the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, the Caribbean. But it really stands out for snorkelling. It’s topology of eroded atolls (check out Atoll Terms and Atoll Formation) provide endless shallow and protected areas for leisurely snorkelling as well as steeper reef walls for a different perspective.
The subject was raised on the premier travel review site, TripAdvisor – “Which are the Top 10 Best Resort Reefs?” – and the expert opinion for the top one is Kandoludhoo. The assessment comes from one of TripAdvisor’s top Maldive forum experts, ‘spammie’ with 1,946 posts on the Maldives to his credit. He writes…
“Kandoludhoo has been not been harmed in the ’98 el nino due to lucky currents. So while the other reefs have had to recover from severe coral bleaching, Kandoludhoo looks just like the Maldives used to. To my knowledge its the only actually intact reef in the Maldives. It’s generally considered the number 1 reef because of that. It’s full of huge table corals and just impressive. Also easily accessible. However, several of the other reefs are recovering nicely and are quickly catching up again.”