Solstice Sol Sets

Maldives sunset 6

The bad news is that today’s Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. The good news is that you don’t have to wait as long for the gorgeous tropical sunsets. Not that it makes that much difference near the Equator where day lengths don’t vary as much. Nonetheless, this solar milestone seemed a fitting time to share my favourite set of sunset snaps I’ve found throughout the year…

Maldives sunset 1

Maldives sunset 2

Maldives sunset 3

Maldives sunset 4

Maldives sunset 5

Maldives sunset 7

Maldives sunset 8

Maldives sunset 9

Maldives sunset 10

Maldives sunset 11

Maldives sunset 12

Maldives sunset 13

Maldives sunset 15

Maldives sunset 17

Maldives sunset 18

Maldives sunset 19

Maldives sunset 20

I’m Dreaming of a White Villa

White villa - Athuruga

The “traditional” Maldives villa is an earth tone thatch and most of the villas we’ve visited years ago were typically a darker wood. But in recent years, white exteriors have become more popular. First, the exterior walls were painted white. An eco-friendly form of air conditioning to help keep the lodging cooler. Today, doing a quick survey of water villas, the majority have white exteriors. With the timely “White Christmas” theme, I’ve decided to present just the whitest of white villas, those whose coral sand coloured exterior extends all the way up to the tippy top of the rooftop.

May all your Christmases be white…especially over the water of a Maldives lagoon.

  1. Athuruga [ABOVE]
  2. Thudufushi
    Thudufushi - white villa
  3. Amilla Fushi
    Amilla Fushi - white villa
  4. Dhigali
    Dhigali - white villa
  5. Kandooma
    Kandooma - white villa
  6. Cinnamon Hakura Huraa
    Cinnamon Hakura Huraa - white villa

Gliterrati Glamour

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Silver and gold
Silver and gold
Everyone wishes for silver and gold
How do you measure its worth?
Just by the pleasure it gives here on Earth
” – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special

The sea and stars aren’t the only things that sparkle in the Maldives as the fashionistas have their own parade of Silver and Gold

  1. Albina (Russia) – Holiday Island [VIDEO ABOVE]
  2. Aleona Lynx (Russia) – AaaVeee
    Aleona Lynx (Russia) – AaaVeee
  3. Yana Mamma (Russia) – Soneva Fushi
    Yana Mamma (Russia) - Soneva Fushi
  4. Karina Leyman (Russia)
    Karina Leyman (Russia)
  5. Anna Ewers (Germany) – Soneva Fushi
    Anna Ewers (Germany) - Soneva Fushi
  6. Victoria Demidova (Russia) – Milaidhoo
    Victoria Demidova (Russia) - Milaidhoo
  7. Yulia Rybakova (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Yulia Rybakova (Russia) - Sun Siyam Irufushi

  8. Araks Laertovna (Italy) – Sun Island
    Araks Laertovna (Italy) - Sun Island

  9. Liliana Montoya (USA) – AaaVeee
    Liliana Montoya (USA) - AaaVeee
  10. Mary Muravieva (Russia) – Meedhupparu
    Mary Muravieva (Russia) – Meedhupparu
  11. Moni Malibu (USA) – W Maldives
    Moni Malibu (USA) – W Retreat 2
  12. Lindsey van der Hoeven (Netherlands) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Lindsey van der Hoeven (Netherlands) - Sun Siyam Irufushi
  13. Karolina Wozniak (Poland) – AaaVeee
    Karolina Wozniak (Poland) - AaaVeee

  14. Katerina Kaka (Russia) – Anantara Dhigu
    Katerina Kaka (Russia) - Anantara Dhigu

  15. Any Salceanu (Italy) – Paradise Island
    Any Salceanu (Italy) - Paradise Island

  16. Janine Wiggert (Germany) – Constance Halaveli
    Janine Wiggert (Germany) - Constance Halaveli
  17. Anna Trestain (OAE) – Angsana Velavaru
    Anna Trestain (OAE) - Angsana Velavaru
  18. Lera Bukinaa (Russia) – Centara Ras Fushi
    Lera Bukinaa (Russia) - Centara Ras Fushi
  19. Rose Huntington-Whiteley (United Kingdom) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Rose Huntington-Whiteley (United Kingdom) - Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
  20. Little Miss Doctor Girl (Australia) – Hurawalhi
    Little Miss Doctor Girl (Australia) - Hurawalhi
  21. Justina Mikalauskaitė (Lithuania) – Finolhu
    Justina Mikalauskaitė (Lithuania) - Finolhu
  22. Karen (USA) – Fihalhohi
    Karen (USA) - Fihalhohi
  23. Jesse K. (Australia) – Finolhu
    Jesse K. (Australia) - Finolhu
  24. Belle Lucia (Australia) – LUX South Ari Atoll
    Belle Lucia (Australia) - LUX South Ari Atoll

  25. Ferne McCann (United Kingdom) – LUX South Ari Atoll
    Ferne McCann (United Kingdom) - LUX South Ari Atoll
  26. Milana Koroleva (Russia) – Cheval Blanc Randheli
    Milana Koroleva (Russia) – Conrad Rangali
  27. Elnaz Golrokh (Iran) – Ayada
    Elnaz Golrokh (Iran) – Ayada
  28. Arisha Gz (Russia) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Arisha Gz (Russia) - Sun Siyam Irufushi

  29. Maria Romanova (Russia) – Velaa
    Maria Romanova (Russia) – Velaa
  30. Drea Vergara (Columbia) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Drea Vergara (Columbia) - Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
  31. Uliana Berdysheva (Russia) – Sun Island
    Uliana Berdysheva (Russia) – Sun Island
  32. Olesya Malinskaya (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
    Olesya Malinskaya (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
  33. Regina Ponfilova (Russia) – NIYAMA
    Regina Ponfilova (Russia) - NIYAMA
  34. Ellie Sax (United Kingdom) – The Residence
    Ellie Sax (United Kingdom) - The Residence
  35. Katrina Kaif (India) – Shangri-La Vilingili
    Katrina Kaif (India) - Shangri-La Vilingili
  36. Pauline Montecarlo (Monte Carlo)
    Pauline Montecarlo (Monte Carlo)
  37. Shiralee Coleman (Australia) – Constance Moofushi
    Shiralee Coleman (Australia) – Constance Moofushi
  38. Emma Lapin (Serbia) – Sun Island
    Emma Lapin (Serbia) - Sun Island

  39. Natallia Yakimchyk (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
    Natallia Yakimchyk (Russia) - Amilla Fushi

  40. Natalia Siwiec (Poland) – Kurumba
    Natalia Siwiec (Poland) – Kurumba

  41. Duo Diamonds (Russia) – The Rania Experience
    Duo Diamonds (Russia) – The Rania Experience
  42. Sonakshi Sinha (India) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
    Sonakshi Sinha (India) – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru
  43. Patricia Panigoro (Indonesia) – Velaa – Prestige Asia
    Patricia Panigoro (Indonesia) – Velaa – Prestige Asia
  44. Hester Winkel (Netherlands) – Sun Siyam Irufushi [VIDEO BELOW]

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Aquatic Silver and Gold

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Silver and gold
Silver and gold
Means so much more when I see
Silver and gold decorations
On every Christmas tree
” – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special

Silver and Gold” is one of the musical gems of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special. The Maldives features its own rich vein of these precious colours in the teeming schools of Yellow Striped Snappers. One of the biggest schools you find and one of the most popular aquatic tapestries to post. Here is a yuletidal collection of some of my favorites…

Yellow Striped Snapper 5

Yellow Striped Snapper 6

Yellow Striped Snapper 8

Yellow Striped Snapper 10

Yellow Striped Snapper 3

Yellow Striped Snapper 7

Yellow Striped Snapper 2

Yellow Striped Snapper 4

Yellow Striped Snapper 11

Yellow Striped Snapper 9

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Best of the Maldives: Fish Totem – Rihiveli Beach

Rihiveli Beach - repeater fish

One of my favourite artistic crafts is reminiscent of a sort of tropical Tanenbaum adorned with colourful bass instead of baubles. It is the Rihiveli Beach repeater totem recognition. Situated at the cross roads of the paths which criss-cross the tiny island, is a totem pole covered with decorated fish that include names and dates of the guests’ milestone visits.

  • After 4 visits – Fish added to totem pole
  • After 15 visits – Fish can be put anywhere you like on the island (like on a tree – see photo below)

The record repeater for the resort is 55.

With this post, I’m adding the new tag “Repeater” for such recognitions and celebrations.

Rihiveli Beach - fish totem


Rihiveli Beach - fish recognition

Best of the Maldives: Art Studio – Finolhu

Finolhu - art studio

For a heartfelt gift, you can make your own. Especially at one of the many Christmas workshops that are traditional this time of year. My church’s annual workshop was where I learned half my craft skills (straw stars, clove oranges, yuletide wreaths).  A number of resorts offer various artistic studios (pottery, painting, glass making), but Finolhu have one of the most comprehensive that I have seen with a wide variety of media.  The also have a festive Christmas workshop schedule (including ceramics) for all those budding Santa’s elves who prefer the sunny tropics to the frozen Arctic.

Best of the Maldives: Ashtray – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu ash tray

The traditional anniversary gift for 9 years is pottery. Actually, I received this “gift” of a post scoop from leading contributor Paola a while back. She spotted it at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and wrote, ““The ashtray is carved in a kind of faux-stone. This way the ashes are protected from the wind.” It also has sort of a Flintstones caveman-chic vibe about it. Twelve shopping days to Christmas (not to be confused with the “Twelve Days of Christmas”) so also a possible gift inspiration.


Haven’t Seen Yet #12

Drone spotting

I also do Maldives Complete to ferret out new discoveries. Some people seek out and collect quirky and distinctive commemorative plates or garden gnomes. I collect distinctive features in the Maldives. Every time I find or someone forwards me something I haven’t seen, I get a buzz similar to a train spotter seeing a 66779 Evening Star.

It’s now become a semi-annual tradition (after my anniversary date in December and before our Maldives departure in July) to share the latest compilation. This group of 24 brings the total to 285. I’ve actually had to start a spreadsheet to keep track of all the “Haven’t Seens” so far (to help me make sure I’m not repeating myself). Of those, 24 have since appeared (with actually a number of resorts telling me that my piece inspired them to acquire or add the feature). They fall in to the following main and secondary groupings…

  • Activity: Water Activity, Entertainment, Romance, Mermaid, Kids
  • Infrastructure: Villa, Shopping, Digital, Seat, Décor, Glow, Spa, Artistry, Gadget, Eco, Service
  • Food: Dining, Frozen, Drink, Lobster, Coconut
  • Water: In Water, Underwater, Soak, Pool, Boat

Here’s the latest selection which happen to add up to an Advent Calendar’s worth with 24 treats…

  1. Drone Spotting – For Mantas and Whale Sharks. The dive boats waste so much time going back and forth between known haunts. Boat captains shared sightings information, but a drone would easily spot these creatures and give the search a broader perspective. Much like the African safaris which use helicopters (and increasingly drones) to spot wildlife movements. [ABOVE]
  2. Underwater Topology Table – Great for diving briefings (for a house reef dive) or for just bringing the underwater landscape to view.
    Topology Table

  3. Lego Model – Maps are one thing for a birdseye perspective of the property, but a Lego model of a resort would be particularly cool especially for a child-friendly property. A Lego model that included a model of the house reef would be pretty amazing.
    Havent Seen - Lego model
  4. Lego Set – The Maldives are sort of the caricature of deserted tiny islands of pirate folklore. When our kids were little, we used to set up treasure hunts for them around the island, and a number of resorts now offer the same. For the young crowd, this Lego set seems the perfect memento for a gift shop.
    Havent Seen - Pirate Lego Set
  5. Pirate Brio Train Set – For an even more upscale block model set, BRIO is the classic. While the notion of trains in the Maldives might be a bit far-fetched, not much more imagination required than pirate treasure I suspect…
    Havent Seen - Pirate Brio
  6. Stick-On Soles – For protecting against the occasionally sharp shards of coral in the sands without the annoying flip-flop tan lines.
    Havent Seen - Stick-on Soles
  7. Underwater Light Show – Empty lagoon a bit boring without the dramatic drop-off and marine life of a house reef drop-off?  Why not bring it to life with an underwater light show?  Laser shows are a staple at big events like galas and concerts.  A chance for a light artist to explore creations projecting lasers into or under the water.
    Laser show
  8. Pool Disco Light – Or for a more modest light show especially for a poolside disco (eg.  W Maldives, Finolhu), these look like a bit of aquatic fun.

  9. Ocean Wave Projector – Instead of lighting in the water, you could bring the water in with light. Might be good for resorts that have spa that aren’t overwater.
    Havent Seen - Water Projector
  10. Reef Engineering for Surfing – The east reef of Meemu is an extraordinarily long stretch. But the waves break unevenly because the underlying reef which causes them is uneven. I was wondering if you could “even” it out a bit with some Reefscaping to create the longest surf break in the world.
    Surf reef
  11. Surf Dock Another bit of surf engineering this time on top of the water is surf dock which makes access to the breaks that much easier.  Maldives surfing is known for its long, gentle breaks which are great for beginners and I suspect a surf dock would cater to them that much more.

  12. Floating Beach – Or your overwater engineering could simply help you to chill out swaying and bobbing with the ocean, while being dry and stable on firm platform (Hillside Beach Club, Fethiye Turkey).
    Havent Seen - Floating Beach
  13. Water Go-Kart –  For a bit more speedy bobbing around the water, how about an electric water go-kart?
  14. Jet Pad – A bit faster bobbing about the ocean…

  15. Water Car – Even faster?
  16. Jet Capsule Yacht – How about this transfer shuttle?
  17. Fishing Camera – A luxury techno-yacht calls for some luxury gadgetry for some deep sea fishing.

  18. Mask with GoPro Mount See for yourself where the fish are and bag snaps.
    Snorkel mask with gopro mount
  19. Wallpaper LED TV – Watch your underwater videos still still in the water.  Coincidentally and curiously advertised on this photoshopped Instagram pic in the Maldives (their marketeers must have had the same idea I did).
    Havent Seen - Wallpaper TV
  20. Shared Cocktails – For a location renowned for honeymooners, a bit surprised this hasn’t cropped up.
    Havent Seen - Shared Cocktails
  21. Lobster Tempura – Lots of Asian fusion in the Maldives and lots of the ultimate luxury seafood – lobster – but not yet the classic tempura preparation. I had this dish at Circus in London and it was quite tasty.
    Havent Seen - Lobster Tempura
  22. Coconut Sugar – A less processed for of sugar, many people consider it to be a healthy alternative to cane sugar with more nutrients. Made from the sap of the coconut palm flower, it seems like an opportune venture for some Maldivian entrepreneur.
    Havent Seen - Coconut Sugar
  23. Salad Station – Salad Bars, yes. But a station where a chef freshly cuts and prepares your salad to order, no. Inspiration from Hillside Beach Club in Fethiye, Turkey.
    Havent Seen - Salad Station
  24. Disabled Staff – Pararowing. Have any resorts recruited disabled individuals and supported their adaptive needs?
    Disable staff


Making Your Soul Grow

Gapingvoid - creativity

If you work at something fun, then you will never have to work. That is part of the spirit of why I do Maldives Complete (still the second most frequently asked question about the website). I value keeping my creative edge sharp in much the same way that I enjoy keeping my physical fitness up. The problem is that tedious gym sessions can be a painful and boring way to workout. Which is why I enjoy activities like ballroom and Latin dancing, basketball, and rowing all of which provide an engaging and enjoyable way to keep the [fitness] up. Similarly, my hobby of Maldives Complete pays considerable dividends in my professional life. Here a few pieces of advice which resonate with me and illustrate this concept of life-long exercise of the creativity muscle…

  • “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut
  • “Employees who did something creative after work – like knitting, drawing or even playing a video game that required creative thinking – were more likely to be helpful and creative problem solvers on the job, according to new research from San Francisco State University.” – CNN
  • “#5 – Make Writing a Practice – A common first mistake is thinking you’re not a writer. That it’s a domain reserved solely for people with ‘creative’ in their title. Nonsense. If your job depends on articulating ideas, you need to write. Not to mention, you need to write with clarity, with simplicity and, at times, unfettered imagination.” – Doug Kleeman, “20 Ways to Become A Better Strategist

Maldives Complete-ly By the Numbers – 6

Maldives Completely by the numbers 2017

Another year of Maldives fandom completed. The 9th anniversary of the Maldives Complete website.

The Resort Profile data is inching forward in completeness with Resort Profiles up to 98.9%. The primary issue causing remaining holes has been the addition of new resorts at new atolls, like Raa and Thaa, where I have less dive site information so Dive Charts and Dive Maps are missing from the profiles. The completeness of the Room Type profiles dropped a tad with a record number of new resort launches (room type material is hard to obtain and takes longer to collect).

This is probably the first year that I have not added a major feature or component to the site. So maybe not just the Profile data, but the even the functionality of the site is growing more “Complete”.

All that said, the site hasn’t stood still. In addition to the ongoing research, responding, updating, and other refining and polishing, I made a few significant changes:

  • New Logo – The look of the website got refresh a bit with its new logo by Maldivian artist and designer Aima Musthafa. The new branding added an local Dhivehi dimension. In the process, Aima provided some superb input as we cleaned up the look a bit with her more coherent colour palette. She has proposed some more dramatic change to the home page which I am working on (stay tuned).
  • Name Meaning – I actually cleared down a number of unused fields in the database, but I did add a fun one which took a fair amount of research populate further extended the Dhivehi dimension of the site – “Name Meaning”. And I learned a bit more Dhivehi in the process.

The Fashionista features keep growing in popularity and are fuelled by even more Instragramming than ever providing lots of shard photos to curate for the Maldives aficionado crowd. Below is sort of a ‘leader board’ of the top social media fashionistas to visit the destination…

Fashion Board