Illustrating Sporty Swimsuits

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Heidi Klum SI cover

While While the Maldives might have competition for being the top photoshoot destination in the world, there is definitely one top photoshoot in the world…the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. The 2016 issue which hit the stands yesterday now so hotly anticipated that they have developed a television show to launch it. Famous SI Swimsuit models include Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Elle MacPherson, Kathy Ireland, Paulina Porizkova, Anna Kournikova, Kate Upton and Beyonce.

And two of the most famous today – partly for their own reality TV shows – shot their issues in the Maldives. Tyra Banks was on the ascendency to becoming her “Americ’a Top Model” with the 1998 edition shot at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. Her previous year’s cover was historic as she was the first black American to grace the cover of the blockbuster annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. That year also introduced “America’s Got Talent” Heidi Klum as 1998’s cover girl.

The next Maldives issue was 2010 shot at Anantara Veli and Dhigu featuring Christine Teigen, Bar Refaeli, Dominique Piek and Brooklyn Decker.

While the USA Swimsuit Edition is the main event, SI South Africa has also been drawn to these neighbouring picturesque Laccadive shores. SI South Africa produced a swimsuit calendar featuring Joelle Kayembe at Bandos, as well as Lee Ann Liebenberg and Liza Botha back at Anantara.

Here are 10 true “10s” from the SI Swimsuit collection…


1. Tyra Banks (USA) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Tyra Banks
2. Brooklyn Decker (USA) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Brooklyn Decker
3. Lee Ann Liebenberg (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2008
Anantara Veli - Lee Ann Liebenberg
4. Bar Refaeli (Israel) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Bar Refaeli
5. Beri Smither (USA) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Beri Smither
6. Joelle Kayembe (South Africa) – Bandos: 2008
Bandos - Joelle Kayembe
7. Christine Teigen (USA) – Anantara Dhigu: 2010
Anantara Dhigu - Christine Teigen
8. Liza Botha (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2008
Anantara Veli - Liza Botha
9. Dominique Piek (South Africa) – Anantara Veli: 2010
Anantara Veli - Dominique Piek
10. Heidi Klum (Germany) – Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru: 1998
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru - Heidi Klum SI inside


And if the pin-ups are not enough, Sports Illustrated has kindly posted a whole collection of videos taken from the shoots so you can enjoy the backdrop of the Maldives with this assortment of aesthetic additions.

Best of the Maldives: Heart Shaped Jacuzzi – Bandos

Bandos heart jacuzzi



For a destination renowned for romance and honeymoons, I remain a bit surprised at how few heart-shaped features you find in the Maldives. True, the Maldives is has a classy and posh vibe these days, but still some of the schmaltz is can be a bit of cheeky fun. At least Bandos is getting into the romantic spirit with its Orchid Spa VIP treatment room that offers a heart-shaped Jacuzzi.

Maldives Tour 2013 – Day 3: Bandos

Bandos tour visit

These tours of mine can throw you from one extreme to the other. From super-luxe (One & Only Reethi Rah) to budget (Bandos). From large (Reethi) to small (Bandos). From canoeing out to the house reef (Reethi) to just jumping in off the beach (Bandos)

The house reef is the main event at Bandos. It is the classic circular wrap-around which is always a favourite among Maldives aficionados. The Bandos one is distinguished by ledges. For starters, the far predominant coral are massive platters of Table Coral. Like giant dishes from some Neptunian Greek wedding. But it’s not just the coral formations, but the reef formation itself that takes on this ledge structure. The best part of the north side of the reef was sharp overhangs. Probably best for a diver to see all the critters secreted underneath. I tried free diving down a few metres to take a peek, but the practice quickly wore me out.

Bandos is a Maldivian classic of a natural setting, attractive accommodation and a striking reef that is still affordable to mere mortals. Kuoni is adverting a week in Bandos at just over a thousand pounds which is a price point I thought has long gone extinct in this part of the world.

Best of the Maldives: Deep Sea Fishing–Bandos

Bandos Maldives Game Fishing



Lots of resorts offer deep sea fishing as an excursion, but today Bandos has organised the first ever Maldives Catch & Release Game Fishing Tournament at the resort in conjunction with the non-profit association Maldives Game Fishing Association (MGFA)…

“The aims of holding this tournament event are to:

  1. Bring Maldives game fishing operators & resorts on to an international stage, where they can gain further exposure through international media , highlighting the great fishing opportunities & genuine friendliness that is on offer.
  2. To unite the Maldives game fishing operators, and introduce sustainable & professional practises of the likes seen internationally.
  3. To be a central body at local & international levels

Tournament Dates: 9th – 12th November 2011 These dates have been selected due to shoulder season on resorts & to coincide with the Maldivian fisherman’s calendar giving the best fishing periods”

Full details and rules located here…

Best of the Maldives: Babies – Bandos

Bandos Kids Club




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.”