The intimacy between land and sea in the Maldives is perhaps most vividly characterised by the ubiquitous tendrils of sand spits extending into the shallow lagoons. These tidally shifting, fragile peninsulas take you out into the water like a VIP gangway.
I have often celebrated the most distinctive of sand-spits in the Maldives, and now Sun Siyam Vilu Reef has made it a venue for celebrating the breaking of fast. We’ve had breakfast in lots of romantic and unique venues and this was one of our favourites. The elongated topology means that the diminutive rippled rolling in from each side crash together at your feet creating a percussive symphony of cross-lapping waves (see video). And being at the very tip of your drop-of-sand-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean island where you are immersed on three sides by the aquatic world around you so it seems even more immersive than sand bank dining or water’s edge dining.
Going natural on the beach facilities can extend to the sports scene as LUX South Ari Atoll has demonstrated with their beach volleyball pitch set up perhaps the way beach volleyball was meant to be played.
We always describe the Maldives to people who have never been as “that iconic image of a plot of sand with a palm tree…1000 of those!” The diminutive sandy dots in the middle of mill pond still lagoons provides an intimacy with a gently inviting ocean. When we first visited, the resorts all sequestered us into dining rooms at mealtime. Eventually we asked if we could move our table out onto the beach by the water and they were happy to oblige. By the end of the week, a bunch of other diners had followed our lead and joined us under the stars with the mini waves lapping nearby.
These days all resort understand the charm of beach dining and offer a number of seating areas on the sand close to the water. But no standard dining venue (as opposed to specialty beach dining experiences) get you closer to the water than Shangri-La Villingili’s Javvu restaurant. Partly this proximity is due to a bit of erosion that has brought the water closer to the dining as much as the dining has approached the water. The tables are all set under a canopy of shore lining palms to that cosying up the seaside experience.
The sand at Cinnamon Hakura Huraa might not polished, but still Maldives-soft making those dramatic diving catches so much easier. And inertia arresting beach makes daisy cutters particularly ineffective so you sort of have to swing for the fences. Mind you, there actually are specific rules for Beach Cricket to help account for the distinctive playing surface.
With its Sri Lankan connection (Cinnamon resorts are headquartered in Sri Lanka and many of the staff come from there), cricket is a popular pastime on the resort. In fact, their team won are the reigning JKMR champions. I remember training on the beach for (American) football as a youngster. The extra work of the sand giving way under your feet made the work out twice as hard, but when you got onto solid ground, you felt like you had extra bonus power which might be part of the secret to their success.
For a treatment “in” the beach rather than just “on” it, Makunudu’s Avuun spa features a double table massage area sunken into the beach sand. The space is surrounded by a natural pavilion structure including a drawable curtain if you want privacy from view but still the proximity to the soothing sounds of the water nearby.
Not the Martha and the Muffins classic, but a new perspective on beach beauty by Six Senses Laamu who are preserving vibrant marine life even if it means much bigger landscaping budget (thanks Paola):
“It takes a lot of effort to maintain the picture perfect white beaches and powder blue turquoise lagoons at tourist resorts. Many of the resorts in the Maldives actively destroy their seagrass beds to maintain this facade. Six Senses Laamu has changed this attitude and are now actively promoting the protection of their seagrass beds as they are a haven for megafauna including green sea turtles, sting rays and baby sharks in addition to being a nursery for juvenile fish, providing oxygen, storing carbon, improving the health of adjacent coral reefs and preventing erosion of the island.”
The resort clarifies that “We have a team of gardeners at Six Senses Laamu that rakes the beach and place the dead seagrass in the jungle so that it can still contribute its nutrients to the coastal system, while also ensuring guests can use the beaches.”
For an helpful introduction to the importance of sea grass in the Maldives, check out the video below.
“Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.” – Pirate diddy
Not just any rum bar (and not a “rumba”), but a Reggae Rum Bar at NIYAMA. Set up and run by rum aficionado Tony from Jamaica (via South Africa). Perched on the beach at the reef edge, it is the ideal spot for landlubber’s to watch seadogs hang ten or watch sunsets with their favourite grog.
Of course, rum is the foundation of my favourite resort drink – the Pina Colada. The Surf Shark didn’t do a pina colada, but instead a slight variation on it called a “Llama Colada”. But its “Zombie” cocktail had one of my all-time favourite descriptions: “The King of the Surf Shak cocktails. Strictly one per person per night” (see photo at bottom). Of course, it was so intriguing, Lori had to have one. Tony’s favourite rum is the exclusive Diplomatico which took the guile of a swashbuckler to get to the Maldives.
Here are some of the rums on offer…
Ron Zacapa Centario
El Ron Prohibido
Ron Flor De Cana
Pyrat Rum XO Reserve
Clement Premier Canne Rhum
Captain Morgan Jamaica Rum
Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
Captain Morgan Cannon Ball
Caribbean Rum with Coconut Flavour
Meyers Rum Original Dark
Flor de Cana
“Drinkin rum before 10.00am makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic” -Earl Dibbles JR
I’ve seen some impressive beach badminton and beach volleyball set ups in the Maldives, but Dhigufaru is the first I’ve seen with equally top flight facilities (eg. fixed ribbon line markets, night lights, padded fixed poles, etc.).
Six Nations might have concluded this weekend, but you can carry on your place kicks in paradise at Cinnamon Hakuraa Hura. They not only have one of the only rugby pitches, complete with regulation goal posts and boundary line, but it is also set on the beach beside Hakuraa Hura’s expansive lagoon. The Sri Lankan run resort has a number of Sri Lankan staff you play regularly if you are looking to join in a seaside scrum.
The Christmas-New Year period is the ultimate calendar week for lingering languor. Lori and I couldn’t make it to the Maldives, but we are still enjoying lounging by the seaside at our family’s place in North Carolina. Our feet are up and we are grazing on American junk food. But it still doesn’t compare with the dormant decadence of Hideaway Beach’s beach bed complete with candlelight and delicacies.