Best of the Maldives: Plankton Spectacles – Conrad Maldives Rangali

Conrad Rangali plankton spectacles

 

The legendary Dom Perignon reportedly exclaimed when he first sipped the sparkling wine of his cellars “I am drinking stars.” Well, at Conrad Maldives Rangali, you can sometimes wade in them too. Set in the marine-rich South Ari atoll, Rangali is in the heartland of whale shark country who are drawn by the plankton-rich waters. Also, their marine cousins the mantas can be found so readily that they can be regularly seen of the Rangali jetty in the evening doing loop-de-loops in the pier light feeding on the plankton drawn there. But the possibly the most striking example of plankton spectacles was this photo released by Rangali this month showing bioluminensce on the beaches. The aquatic microrganisms emitting their glow with the gentle stimulation of the equally minute ‘waves’ ticking the shore. When we used to sail in Maine, our friends taught us how to prompt this phenomenon by stirring an oar in the nighttime ocean waters. You can even even swim through this constellation with Rangali’s night dive offer called “ocean of stars”.

May your 2014 be filled with sparkling wonders!

Best of the Maldives: Number of Beaches – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah beaches

 

 

 

 

Life’s a beach. And in the Maldives, it’s all beach.

Most Maldive islands are little more than a plot of sand and a few palm trees. In short, they are all beach. But, some of the more substantial ones actually have a few discrete beach areas with their own character (eg. east facing for sunsets, west facing for sunrises). One & Only Reethi Rah are a pinnacle of beach choice with a dozen separate (and named…see picture above) beaches to choose from. My favourite is “Frangipani Beach”…a great name for a lovely flower (the white petalled one with soft yellow touches in the centre).

Best of the Maldives: Shifting Beaches – Bathala

Bathala 1

 

Bathala ariel 2

 

One island that has avoided the groynes blemish (and water breaks) is Bathala. As a result, the sandy beaches are completely exposed to and subject to the whims of Mother Nature. The resort is accustomed to regularly shifting beaches as the tide and wind moves beaches around the island. One of the villas seemed exceptionally close to the water’s edge when we visited and exposed roots of nearby palm trees made evident that the water line hadn’t always been there. The resort explained that such shifting was quite common for Bathala and they monitor the edges carefully, but in general fluctuating circumference stays within acceptable tolerance to not threaten the infrastructure.

Heraclitis famously remarked that "No man ever steps in the same river twice.” At Bathala, one doesn’t visit the same beach twice.

Best of the Maldives: Longest Sand Spit – Gangehi

Gangehi sand spit 2

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.

Outstanding!

Gangehi snad spit

Best of the Maldives: Beach Badminton – Kanuhura

Kanuhura beach badminton

 

 

While it’s called ‘Beach’ Darts, it’s actually set inside the island underneath of copse of shady palm trees. Admittedly, it’s a bit of semantic pedantry since in the Maldives, everything is ‘Beach’, inside and out. Not just the inside of the island, but even many of the buildings of the best resorts have talcum-soft sand floors.

Not only does the inner island setting keep the sun out of your eyes, but it also shields the match from ocean breezes. Another ‘inner beach’ sport is ‘Beach Badminton’. I’ve come across a few set ups on the proper beach, but Kanuhura has set up on inside for the same protections. The feather-light shuttle-cocks are even more susceptible to breezes which makes the setting superb.

Furthermore, Kanuhura offers other bonus features. First, the ground chosen is a good balance between firmness so you can move easily and soft layer of sand so you can play comfortably in bare feet. Second, the boundaries are marked off with fixed lines to regulation size so you can play a proper match. And finally, Kanuhura offers a badminton player on staff who can provide both a worthy opponent or some instruction.

Smash!

Best of the Maldives: Beach Darts – Mirihi

Mirihi beach darts

 

 

If you prefer your gaming activities more natural, then you can’t get much more so than Mirihi’s unique Beach Darts. Mirihi resort itself is distinguished by its ‘natural’ feel with so much of the island kept in a pristine state unencumbered by excessive infrastructure or artificial contrivances.

Darts are a relaxing game so suitable for the pubs and taverns in which they usually reside. Mirihi’s white sand, palm copse fits that mellow vibe just right. You can have some fun games without having to take yourself away from the gorgeous Maldives weather.

Bulls Eye!

Best of the Maldives: Accessible Sand Bank – Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu sandbank

When I need to describe the Maldives to people unfamiliar with them, I say “You know those pictures of a deserted tropical island of a plot of sand in the ocean with a palm tree in the middle?…that’s the Maldives.” But, the even more secluded, minimalist isolation comes from such plots…sans palm trees. The sandbanks.

The ultimate on open space bounty comes courtesy of Francisco Negrin, one of most helpful correspondents, who recently returned from Six Senses Laamu

“A real, and beautiful sand bank with maafushivaru type sand as per your description and a stunning reef around it. And you can swim or kayak to it from the main island in just a few minutes. No need of a boat , no sea planes landing next to it etc etc.. And you can book it to have it to yourself too.”

Discovery of a treasured isle…in Laamu’s aquatic backyard.

 

Best of the Maldives: Beach Table Tennis – Mirihi

Mirihi table tennis

 

Many think that the Olympics have some and gone, but here in the UK the ‘London 2012 Games’ were just the warm up. Now London is buzzing with the Paralympics which are equally sold out and in many ways even more enthralling than the conventional Games. One of the events I have been watching recently is Table Tennis.

For all those Table Tennis fans out there who are inspired to sharpen their skills, Mirihi lends a touch of paradise to the sport with a twist…’Beach Table Tennis’. Their table is set up in its own shaded alcove on a pitch of deep, soft sand. Reethi Beach has a ping pong table on sand, but it is indoors.

If such idyllic training isn’t enough to inspire you, then check out the video below. One of the greatest sports promotional short films ever filmed…

Meet the Superhumans.

 

 

Meet the Superhumans

Best of the Maldives: Natural Frontage – Holiday Island

Holiday Island front

 

 

Could be dubbed ‘Best Curb Appeal’.

All of Holiday Island buildings have been kept sequestered behind bush so the beach looks completely natural. Walking along the beach, you could convince yourself that you were on your very own dessered island. The resort even had an instance of a guest convincing the boat transfer driver to take them to neighbouring Sun Island because they thought Holiday was uninhabited since they couldn’t see any buildings on it. Sun also has this aspect for large stretches, but a number of welcome and activity buildings belie the resort behind the greenery.  The picture above is indeed the front of Holiday Island.

Eau naturel.