The sense of being in the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean is outstanding. And a Gangehi you can literally (or should I say “littorally”) be out standing in the middle of the ocean.
One of the absolute distinctions of the Maldives destination are its pervasive shallow lagoons. Lots of places in the world have atolls and coral reefs, but the Maldives has an elevation that just hits sea level. A few inches above sea level and a few inches below. This topology means you can snorkel in waist deep water a kilometre off shore, and walk or wade to the neighbouring island.
Or you can, on some resorts, just amble out into the middle of nowhere. One of our favourites is Kuramathi’s which points nearly due west making it an ideal sunset “point”. Other prominent powdery promontories are at Ranveli, Cocoa Island, Palm Beach and Kuredu (thanks Adrian), but the longest is Gangehi’s which juts out a full 800m from shore. The picture above provides some perspective and we weren’t even all the way to the end because the tide wasn’t fully out.
It is a truly romantic sensation to be standing in the middle of the ocean in the middle of nowhere just you and your loved one.
Two things I personally love about the Maldives – tiny islands and great snorkelling. Gangehi comes up top trumps in both categories.
Despite Gangehi’s tiny size, you won’t feel claustrophobic. Not only are the rooms extra spacious with very high ceilings, the water facing doors slide open up 7 feet wide bringing the inside out and outside in. Even the beds themselves are a commodious 7 foot wide.
The décor is a distinctive Rocky Mountain cabin chic with stained wood and slate throughout in spacious (especially for a 4 star property) chalet villas. Sort of Komandoo villas amped up a bit. The villas were designed by a Swiss architect brought in by the original Swiss owner who copied the homes of ancient Maldivian nobles.
Some Maldive purists might be put off by the wooden walkways throughout, ie. no interior sand paths, but they do lend a distinctive Japanese garden feel especially with the well tended foliage.
Like Bathala, another gem previously hidden away in the German and Italian markets, Gangehi is now increasingly available in the UK and beyond. Kuoni is offering it in the UK, and they also offer direct booking on their website. Kuoni has an offer for £1,725 for a week of full board which is very competitive to the 5 star properties that Gangehi rivals in many respects.
I came away with 10 “Best of the Maldives” candidates and a great option for another diminutive island with a great house reef and stylish accommodation.
Most of the special events in the Maldives take one down into the water (like Six Sense Laamu’s Water Wo/Men event). But equally as sparkling as the turquoise lagoons and shimmering reefs is the firmament of stars above. Usually at least once during our Maldives visits, we lie down on the warm sand after dinner to gaze at the night sky packed with stars with a flourish of Milky Way across the middle.
Resorts are catching on to this night time showpiece with increasing numbers offering telescopes, beach star gazing sessions, eclipses, observatories and special events. In fact, today’s post has prompted me to add a new category tag – ‘Astronomy’.
Gangehi is going a step further with an entire ‘Astronomy Week’ devoted to celestial celebration. The line-up includes…
- “Astro-millionaire” game
- Brief after-dinner astronomy talks
- Let’s take a shoot to the moon
- Astronomy walks
As it happens, tomorrow we enter the ‘Lagu’ period of the ‘Seed Moon’ which is Celtic for ‘Flowing Water’ (!). The Runic Calendar of Nordic traditions, which is governed by half months rather than full months, divides this moon of the year by Man (Human) from April 14th through April 28th, and Lagu from April 29th through May 13th.
If you are interested in marking other big astronomical events in your diary, then check out this handy reference chart for 2013 of "13 Must See Star Gazing Events in 2013".
Bumf, swag and paraphernalia. That is the burden of conventional marketing. The most popular give-away (often sponsored) at trade-shows is a carrier bag to haul all of the brochures, pamphlets, flyers, fact sheets and other assorted promo material. After a tour, I have to watch my baggage weight with piles of paper I bring back. LUX* Maldives has remedied all that with their credit card USB press kit. After my island tour, PR Manager Dolores Semeraro handed me all the material I needed on the handy little device shown here.
As it happens, when I met with Raffaela Colleoni of Gangehi at WTM and they had the same gizmo. But they had a picture of the island on it. In fact, several of the business cards I collected featured aerial resort shots. I think this is a smart idea. The romantically diminutive dot nestled in swathes of turquoise IS the ‘product’.
Like the Maldives islands themselves, good things do come in small packages.
Question asked on Quora last week ‘Where are the best scuba diving sites in the Maldives?’
I turned to my two trusty Maldives diving resources…
Godfrey uses a 4-star rating system where only 4 dive sites out of the nearly 300 he reviewed got the top mark…
Harwood and Bryning are more liberal with their 5-star rating giving 14 dive sites the full marks out of a similar number reviewed.
To no surprise, one can start by looking at the Ari atoll. Three of Godfrey’s four tops are there as are 4 for Harwood and Bryning. The other atoll mentioned by Godfrey is Male and Harwood and Bryning cite 6 in Male atoll (North and South). But I’m weighting Godfrey more because he is being more selective with his top gradings. Furthermore, the Ari atoll has a generally distinctive reputation as being the top atoll for diving in the Maldives. It is the most renowned area for whale sharks in the plankton bloom seasons. Finally, the Male spots are quite spread out, but the two North Ari sites are both very close to each other which secures it.
Godfrey describes Miyaruga, “The landscape is stunning and divers can easily circle the reef in one dive if the current permits…Much of the thila is undercut with caves and the surface is coated in soft coral and colourful sponges.”
Actually, three resorts – Gangehi, Nika and Velidhu – lie close to both these resorts, but mathematically, Nika is the absolutely closest.
Disclaimer – Obviously, ‘the best’ diving is subjective at best. Do many variations of taste and interpretation. Also conditions will vary considerably season to season as well as day to day. A normally mundane area could come alive during certain periods and conditions. Furthermore, the grading system of stars is crude at best. Finally, a number of atoll where there are fewer resorts are not covered at all in these books. This post simply tries to distil some of the basic research and assessment that has been done on the Maldives to date.