Happy Boxing Day!
The meaning of “Boxing Day”, a uniquely British celebration the day after Christmas, is packed with urban mythology to rival any QI question. Rumoured origins include reference to the “boxes” (ie. gifts) given to servants and other service providers (eg. postmen) as well special gifts given to the poor in “Alms Boxes”. It definitely has nothing to do with pugilistic contests (notwithstanding a few bust-ups breaking out among families getting together and fed up from the holiday stress). But if you want to celebrate the day in eponymous style in the super-heavyweight sunshine of the Maldives, then sign up for a session of Beach Boxing at the One & Only Reethi Rah.
Resort Trainer Lindley (see photo above) runs half of all training classes and programmes outside. In the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” department, I hear people fret that there is nothing to do in the Maldives, and then conversely I hear people moan that they don’t want to be stuck in the gym on their holiday. Beach Boxing is lets you have your cake and eat (speaking of which, I think I just pop to the kitchen to finish that last bit of Christmas pudding).
One & Only Reethi Rah inverts the one of the most classic landscapes of the Maldives. The archipelago is renowned for its pointilistic array of white sand dots punctuated by green centres strewn across an aquatic tapestry of variegated blues. Those “dots” mean that nearly all the shorelines are convex, ie. outer curves. These shapes protrude the beach comber out toward the ocean with limited shoreline in view as it wraps behind him. But Reethi’s shorelines are terraformed into a collection of cosy coves. These convex harbours provide a completely different ambience which amplifies the sheltered sensation of the shallow lagoons surrounding the island.
It’s official! Baros has its own plot of sand and this one is actually a “registered” sand bank. The only resort to do so with the Ministry of Agriculture.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.