The magic of the Maldives is right at the surface. The landscape doesn’t tower above you and the seascape doesn’t plummet to the depths. Most of the vibrant colour and life takes place within 10 metres in either direction.
The Maldives features a number of different vessels from glass bottomed boats to full fledge submarines to share the undersea world with the land lubbers without getting wet. There’s pretty good sized and diverse fleet of vessels providing a glimpse into the aquatic world. So much that I’m adding a tag for “Glass Bottom” with this post.
The Best Dives semi-submersible at Olhuveli has a fun look. A bit “Yellow Submarine” Peter Max aesthetic. But its real distinction comes at night time. Not be because its bright red colour makes it easier to see. But because it comes equipped with strong underwater lights to allow for night times cruises. A good deal of the ocean creatures are nocturnal. So even if you are an active snorkeler, the Olhuveli boat provides an opportunity to see things you haven’t seen before. The resort runs regular night as well as day excursions.
“Sky of blue. And sea of green” – Ringo Starr
What really floats my boat when it comes to this hobby is discovering something I haven’t seen before. Having stayed at more Maldives resorts than anyone in the world, as well as regularly researching and scanning the digiverse for the latest developments, it’s harder to stumble upon something I haven’t seen. By my recent Instagram trawling yielded this nugget from Constance Halaveli. A HamacLand canopied garden raft described as “a cross between a personal island and a private VIP floating lounge”. Complete with his and her hammocks for swaying in the gentle ocean breeze and undulating ocean current.
If you want to live the maritime heritage of the Maldivian dhoni with all the conveniences and luxuries of this modern day paradise destination, then Velaa offers a distinctive dhoni crusing yacht, “Baththeli Anna”.
- “Baththeli Anna, the prncess of the Southern Seas. Designed to ensure the utmost comfort for her guests, Anna is a beautiful custom built Maldivian baththeli (“baththeli” – boat on Dhivehi language). This luxurious, uniquely designed traditional sailboat was laid down in April of 2012. Then crafted under the supervision of the Master Boat Builder, Matias Luhmann, himself alongside the proficient team of Gladonia Maldives Pvt Ltd. The idea of its elegant lines and comfortable spaces was conceived by the boat design, Philippe Laurella, French at birth, but Maldivian in Spirit.”
One of my biggest pastimes is the sport of rowing. The carbon-fiber sculls are the state-of-the-art, but I’m afraid that I’m still smitten by the aesthetic romance of a boat sculpted out of wood.
- Length – 76 feet
- Weight – 45 ton
- Overnight guest capacity – 3
- Day touring guest capacity – 8
- Maximum speed – 12 knots.
- 2 Hour, 4 person Sunset Dolphin Cruise – $1,695
- 5 hour, 2 person Desert Island Dinner Cruise – $7,440
- 2.5 hour, 4 person Luxury Private Snorkel Trip – $1,895
- 8 hour, 4 person Charter Cruise – $5,495
With this post, I’ve added a new “Cruising” tag as the highest end resorts seem to be extended their super-premium arms race into a naval battle of yachts.
Bonus room! Not just an extra bed, but a completely distinctive experience sleeping on the water. Not just in a water villa perched over the water, but in a Maldivian-styled dhoni yacht. Not just hearing the ocean gently sloshing below you, but feeling the ocean languidly rock you to sleep.
If you are lucky, some resorts will occasionally offer a free upgrade for a night or more from their beach villas to their water bungalows. But Safari Island, if you stay 7 nights you get a free dhoni tour like a sunset cruise or fishing. If you stay 14 nights, then you get a free night on the dhoni.
As spectacular as the turquoise mottled Maldivian seascape is, the main event is still really under the surface. As the world’s best snorkelling destination, a mask and fins is the most popular way to explore this aquatic wonderland. But for those guests who prefer a drier approach, Lily Beach’s new semi-submersible provides a more than a peak at the underwater world. Particularly effective for those apprehensive about the confinement of a full-fledged submarine, it’s sort of a hybrid between a glass-bottomed boat and a submarine…
“Why let the scuba divers and snorkellers have all the fun? It’s now possible to explore the stunning reefs of the Maldives without even getting wet. Seated below the water level in our new semi-submarine you can watch the amazing marine life in air-conditioned comfort…Choose between a dive during daylight hours or at night, or simply take both and see how the reef changes depending on the time of day. 30 and 60 minute excursions are available both daytime and nightime trips. It’s also possible to book a private 60 minute excursion with the Penguin semi-submarine.”
With the fleet of submersible’s growing in the Maldives, I have add a new “submarine” tag here to help you all keep track of them.
All the resorts will offer transfer from the airport to their hotels. And some hotels offer trips to sister resorts. But Club Med provides a regular, scheduled boat shuttle between its Club Med Kani and Club Med Finolhu Villas properties (departing about every 90 minutes from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm on about a 10 minute journey).
The courtesy gives guests the best of both worlds between two quite different properties. All the expansive facilities of the Kani are available free of charge to all Finolhu guests as a courtesy. Kani guests can also get guest passes to visit Finolhu.
Beloved Wives Day today (husbands in China must shout out declarations of love to their wives). And I am taking my beloved wife, Lori, for a quick escape from English wind, rain and cold. Down to the French Riviera for some friends’ New Years celebration and a quick stay in Monaco. The sunny Med shores have made them a magnet for yachts from all over the world.
One yacht that won’t be straying quite that far from home is Soneva Fushi’s new concept “suite” – “Soneva In Aqua”. A sort of mobile “water villa”. Great to see this concept revised every since the demise of The Rania Experience and Dhoni Island. Of course, the resort will provide the crew you need. Not the only boat villa in the Maldives (eg. Conrad Rangali’s “Goma”, LUX Maldives “Kokomo”), but the distinctive in its modern styling and spacious accommodation..
“Soneva In Aqua will further elevate guest experience by offering the option of a boat villa which will combine all the benefits of this iconic resort’s services and amenities with the freedom and exclusivity associated with a private boat charter.”
LORI, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS AS WARM AS THE MALDIVIAN OCEAN BREEZES AND MY PASSION AS HOT AS ITS TROPICAL SUN!!
If you prefer your bar on the water rather than your (coconut) water on the bar, then Velaa’s “Dahna” only (moving) boat with bar on it. And yes, it absolutely is a “party boat” with aquatic festivities hosted on it regularly. Yo ho and a bottle of rum (not to mention tequila, cognac, whiskey, etc.).
Olympic Day today. Celebrated since 1947 to promote the ideals of the Olympic movement of sport bringing people together from across the world. The day also focuses on getting people to try new athletic endeavours. If you are looking to exploit the calm Maldive waters to just try your hand at the Olympic sport of Windsurfing (aka Sailboarding) or want to ride the waters to an Olympics standard, the the Anantara resorts provide the best windsurfing kit around.
I conferred with Maldive veteran and expert Catherine Watkinson who is both an active contributor to the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum and whose son is an accomplished windsurfer. The genesis of this post here was a posting she made to TA commenting on the troubles her son had finding top grade kit. Most of the gear you find in the Maldives is designed for beginners. That post prompted an investigation by us to find the best kit out there. The tops came out as Anantarta who described their inventory…
“We do offer a big range of top brand equipment, sails from North Sails and Neil Pryde and boards JP Australia and Mistral. Having sails from size 1.9 to 7.3 and board sizes from 094 to 205. Different harness sizes also available, gloves and booties. New equipment has been ordered from the brand Starboard.”
Catherine and her son comments, “These are good quality brands and would suit all levels of windsurfer from beginner (including children) up to the experienced wave sailor or free sailor. If we had been visiting these islands with our son we would not have needed to have flown windsurfing equipment out with us – he would have been very happy with what these [Anantara] islands have to offer.”