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!
My wife, our son Chase and I dove ‘Hammerhead Point’ when we visited Kuramathi Village a few years ago. You get up extremely early around 6:00 am and you go off the dive boat in the middle of the deep channel. You descend to 30 metres where you are still quite a ways off the bottom pretty much suspended in the middle of vast blueness. And you wait for the hammerheads.
Now no dive is a sure thing and Rasdhoo Divers are very open that the hammerheads can be hit or miss. So the three of us were just suspended there for the full 40 minutes of our dive trying not to be too bored. It was a bit reminiscent of that Family Guy bit where they go on vacation to Purgatory (minute 6:57). But my colleague Philippa went on the same dive and said that it was amazing seeing lots of these eerie, prehistoric looking creatures.
Snorkelling and diving in the Maldives spoils you for colourful scenery and sealife and one of the popular favourites are the sea turtle. Several resorts, like Filitheyo and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, operate turtle hatcheries and nurseries.
We have always readily seen turtles while diving and snorkelling in the Maldives, so choosing a top spot for them would be difficult. But Microsoft colleague and fellow Maldives enthusiast Keith Miller reckons it has to be Kuredu. In particular, a dive site known as ‘Turtle Cave’ or ‘Turle Wall’ Keith estimates that on a bad day you see a dozen turtles and on a good day you can see as many as 40!
‘Turning down the bed’ takes on an elaborately resplendent meaning at many tropical resorts and with so much colourful flora at their disposal, the Maldivians take this pre-slumber ceremony very seriously. Maldives Complete has assembled a collection of the most stunning examples it has come across, and in a tightly contested decision, we would give the rosette of repose to Meeru for the example displayed above. The sheer volume of petals in the heart combined with the distinctive touch of the palm leaf origami in the corners at the foot make it a real masterpiece. Admire the other contenders here
If Maldivian paradise is not escapist enough and you need a dose of Hollywood/Bollywood silver screen spectacle, Soneva Fushi features probably the most comfortable and relaxing film cinemas not just in the Maldives, but in the world. If you miss all of the stars around the resorts, then you can always catch some on the large screen set out on the beach with comfy lounges for taking in a flick.
Having a ‘Most Relaxing’ award for a Maldive resort is a bit like having a most gaudy award in Vegas. The islands are the very epitome of chilling out. The ocean is placid, the people gentle. In fact, the one thing that sometimes puts people off coming is that it is so laid back and some prefer a bit more activity and buzz.
So how does a resort distinguish itself as the most reposed in the land of indolence? Well, Iru Fushi has established the first ‘Sleep Spa’ called ‘Sweet Dreams’ which designed to take dozing to refreshing depths.
For Adults, the Sweet Dreams programme includes:
- Special afternoon and evening spa treatments to encourage a siesta or good night’s sleep
- A yoga specialist who will offer private classes teaching special breathing techniques and stretching exercises designed to encourage relaxation
- Special teas designed to aid sleep
- Massages and baths with essential sleep-inducing oils
- A sleep concierge who is on-call so if guests can’t sleep they can ring for encouragement
- CD’s of poetry, music or a talking book which can be delivered to the room so Sweet Dreams guests can listen to their very own bedtime story
- A Sleep-All-Night-Cap, a special cocktail created using ingredients to aid sleep
They even have a children’s programme that includes slumber parties, bedtime stories and hot cocoa.
It might seem like a bit of a strange thing go to a spa for a nap, but actually my wife and I went to a nearby spa in the UK, Pennyhill Park, which featured a ‘nap room’ with special gel beds to simply lie down and doze. For all of the fancy pampering treatments we enjoyed that day, the memorable highlight was the decadent luxury of a midday snooze in the prime environment. So Iru Fushi might be on to something. It certainly would take a bit of special effort to make the Maldives more relaxing than they already are.
At 1420 square metres, the largest suite in the diminutive Maldivian isles is the “Hideaway Palace” at the Island Hideaway resort at Dhonakhuli: “The Hideaway Palace comprises of five exclusive individual Villas which sit on top of a beautiful timber deck and are surrounded by a number of private Infinity Swimming Pools.”
The Maldives are all about being close to the ocean. In the tiny islands, the waterside is never more than a few yards away. The water bungalows put you right over the water. But the ultimate water bungalow, if you will, are Dhoni Mighili’s floating ‘villas’. Luxurious accommodation fashioned into the a traditionally styled Maldivian dhoni boat.
Dhoni Mighili is also highlighted in Time magazines ‘Best of Asia’ feature winning the ‘Best Place to Blow Serious Cash’ badge.