Best of the Maldives: Staff Boduberu – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - staff bodu beru

For some down island funk, JA Manafaru staff will inspire you with their home-grown boduberu. Most boduberu troupes are professional groups that tour various resorts. But Manafaru’s drummers are all staff at the resort. They perform weekly for the guests as well as enter a number of festivals and competitions. Seeing familiar faces (folks you have interacted with around the resort) performing lent a more intimate and welcome feel to the whole evening and seemed to be more effective in getting guests up and participating.

Best of the Maldives: Graveyard – Filitheyo

Filitheyo - graveyard

“Darkness falls across the land
The midnite hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’awl’s neighbourhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom”

– Vincent Price, Thriller

Happy Halloween! Most resorts will be dressing up a bit for Halloween today with special activities for the kiddies and some extra colourful festivities for the adults. But if you want something a bit more than some orange and black crepe paper, then Filitheyo features its very own “spooktacular” mystery graveyard…

“When the island was being cleared for the construction of the resort, a graveyard marked by approximately 30 headstones was discovered about 25m inland from the south-west shore. The origins of those buried and the reason for their burial on the island is unknown.”


Best of the Maldives: National Heritage – Barefoot

Barefoot - Utheem

Maldives National Day today celebrates this triumph of the Maldivians over the Portugese in 1573 in a revolt led by Mohamed Thakurufaaru. His birthplace, “Utheem”, is one of the most notable historical sites in the Maldives and adjacent to the Barefoot resort…

“Utheem (or Utheemu) is consireded the most famous site of Maldives. It is the birthplace of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu, who fought a war against the Portuguese invasion. The war lasted 8 years (1558-1573) before Mohamed and his brothers rejected the invaders. In Utheem it is possible to visit the wooden palace, Utheemu Ganduvaru, where the Sultan lived, along with some other interesting sites of the island. The excursion is guided by the guides of the EcoHotel along with local guides from Utheem, specialized in the history of the Sultan and his family.”

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Cultural Expo – Vakarufalhi

Vakarufalhi cultural expo boduberu

Today is Maldives National Day. A celebration of Maldivian independence from the Portuguese in 1573.

Most resorts regularly offer their guests a taste of Maldivian culture from local cuisine to some Boduberu drumming and dancing. We’ve sampled many of these and always delight in new discoveries about this enchanting land we visit every year. But Vakarufalhi’s “Cultural Expo” was a real revelation.

It was a true “Exposition” which started with an authoritative presentation on the history and culture. It added the obligatory Boduberu which was offered very tastefully and not overdone. But the climax was a sort of crafts fair with local women showing us broom making from stripped palm fronds, rope weaving from coconut husks, roof weaving from palm leaves, decorative weaving for clothes. They also had some traditional refreshments such as fresh coconut and smoking pipes.

Happy Qaumee Dhuvas.

Vakarufalhi cultural expo presentation

Vakarufalhi cultural expo palm weaving

Maldives Virtual Film Festival

Kon Tiki 2012 trailer




Cannes Film Festival starts today which is a great showcase of fine smaller, independent productions like Norway’s “Kon Tiki”. Which as it turns out features the Maldives as the setting for the final scene (at the resort of Biyadhoo it seems). It’s no surprise then that it was film director Francisco Negrin who alerted me not only this Maldivian cameo (“Just watched kon tiki, this year’s oscar nominated norwegian film. The final scenes, when the raft hits Polynesia, were filmed in the maldives…”), but also all the films ever set in the Maldives.

If you want to have your own Maldivian Film Festival, then if you search IMDB for “location = Maldives”, you will get a list of over 33 films such as ‘The Island President’, “Caught Inside”, and “Dhinveynugehithaamaigaa”.

If I hadn’t saved up all my vacation time for visiting the Maldives, I might be traipsing about Cannes flogging a script myself (yes, like any self-respecting Los Angeles resident, ‘I have a script’). A script of a Maldivian story. If anyone is interested in producing a paradise-set cinematic tale, then drop me a line and we can do lunch. Plot: “Accountant becomes pirate.”

The very definition of ‘Atoll’

Maldives Quiz night – What is one word in English that comes directly from the Maldivian language of Dhivehi? Answer: Atoll.

Today is Dhivehi Language Day. I’ve always been a bit of word buff. I used to look up the meaning of every word that I didn’t know write down their definition on a small slate (probably was a big contributor getting into such a good school for me).

The other official word that is in the Oxford English Dictionary that also comes from Dhivehi is ‘Dhoni’. But to me, it’s not quite the same since ‘dhoni’ seems almost like a proper name of a specific thing in from this specific place. Furthermore, I never heard of a ‘dhoni’ until I travelled to the Maldives. But ‘atoll’ is a much more generic term in widespread use in common parlance.

But my favourite Dhivehi word is one I came across on our visit to Sun Island – “Araamu”. It is the name of the Villa resort spas and is dhivehi for “Total Relaxation”. Just like in the artic, Eskimos purportedly have 100 words for ‘snow’, in the Maldives, they seem to have multiple variations on the word ‘relaxation’. As a part of that relaxation totality, the spa offers you a ‘noni and tamarind’ welcome drink which is one of the most therapeutic welcome drinks I have come across.

Sun Island Araamu Spa

Best of the Maldives: Value Cooking Class – Vilamendhoo

Vilamendhoo cooking class

It’s the optional extras that get you.

Just when we think we have gotten a great deal just within our budget, we come back a bit over-extended from all of the irresistible extras from souvenirs, diving, drinks and excursions. Special activities and special meals always seem to be a particular weakness for us and tote up some extra charges. But at Vilamendhoo, you can do both a superb activity and get a great meal all for $25! It is their Maldivian cooking class. You will work with one of their Maldivian chefs learning some of their traditional recipes as well as try your hand at preparing them for yourself.

Mastercard-friendly Master Chef!

Vilamendhoo chinese fondue

Best of the Maldives: Boduberu Competition – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru Boduberu competition

The Olympics are always a chance to get acquainted with less familiar sports. The 2012 Games event that I saw was Synchronised Swimming which is not a programme on my record favourites at home. The Paralympics this week takes this introduction to even more varied competitions like ‘Goal Ball’.

The Maldives is pioneering some its own competitive spirit this month in the highly physical and talent demanding Boduberu Drumming sponsored by the Four Seasons. The Four Seasons are becoming a bit of champion for local competition having also promoted the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy 2012 earlier in the year.

Minivan News reported on the event

“Beyond its significance for the holiday industry, a number of young people and cultural organisations, boduberu is serious business – not least for for the eight teams that on Saturday (September 1) night contested in this year’s Four Seasons Saqaafee Vaadha tournament on the island of Kamadhoo. Held barely five minutes by speedboat from one of Baa Atoll’s most high-profile resorts, the tournament saw teams representing the islands of Kendhoo, Kurendhoo, Holhudhoo, Kudafari, Dhivaafaru, Meedhoo, Madduvary and Rasmaadhoo competed for a grand prize of MVR100,000 to help fund development projects for their respective local communities. A further MVR 10,000 in prize money was also provided to be shared amongst the winning team’s members. The competition, organised in association with the Four Seasons resort group and local cultural organisations, was televised live across the nation with a team from the island of Rasmaadhoo being crowned the overall winners, based on the views of a four member panel of judges.”

Culture has been part of the Olympic since it started. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies are themselves major extravaganzas of music, dance, theatre, drama, sculpture, performance art and more. Also, since the Olympics last graced England in 1948, a ‘Cultural Olympiad’ has accompanied the festivities to further celebrate and promote the aesthetes with the athletes.

Events like the Boduberu competition aren’t that far removed from other ‘judged’ events (eg. Diving, Gymnastic, Syncronised Swimming, Dressage) that score equally as importantly for ‘Artistry’ as ‘Technical’ proficiency.

Best of the Maldives: Viral Cameo – Conrad Rangali

Conrad Rangali Where the Hell is Matt



A real international and cultural treat perfectly timed to ring in the London 2012 Olympics with the Maldives featured with bodu beru dancing on a white sand beach by a tranquil lagoon next to a horizontal palm tree. Classic.

Conrad Maldives Rangali gets the honours of hosting the cameo here. I haven’t provided the time mark of the Maldives appearance in the video because everyone should watch the entire thing.

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Experience- Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Maldives flag National Day

Happy National Day!

A celebration of Maldivian independence from Portuguese rule in 1558.  Our recommendation for the resort to celebrate all things Maldivian is Park Hyatt Hadahaa. For starters, they add a bit of an authentic twist to their local island excursion. Most resorts offer day trips to local island which provide a glimpse of daily life through a cursory tour. Perhaps the chance to pick up a more native piece of handicraft. Hadahaa has put a bit more effort into introducing its guests to the Maldivian culture with it ‘Journey to the Maldivian Passions’ with 3 distinct experiences on offer..

  • Identity, Faith and Celebration – Take a journey to an outlying island and explore the Maldives first hand. Your personal guide will accompany you to Kondey or Dhandhoo on our high-powered speedboat and then provide an educational tour on the intricacies of local culture, religion and festivities.
  • Artisans – We visit the source of this unique skill and meet the local artisans in their workshops to glimpse a moment of their life. Incorporating traditional values and skills of the people of the islands, handicrafts of Maldives which combine skilled craftsmanship with artistic techniques.
  • Food and Family – Meet a local host and share a moment in the daily life of a fisherman’s wife and her family devotions, and see them living in coral houses furnished with handicrafts. Discover the simple existence of Maldivians in harmony with nature, learning the women’s daily household chores, how they prepare the unique main meals from scarce wood in the smoky traditional kitchens.

Each take about 3 hours, cost about $200 per person and have a minimum of 2 and maximum of 4 people.

Hadahaa’s interest in the local culture is not relegated to fancy forays, but rather are woven into the entire resort. Just this month they launched a community development initiative called ‘Hadahha Thrive’ which involves the contributions of all of the Maldivian staff…

“Currently more than 55% of the resort’s employees are Maldivian and despite most coming from the nearby islands, the remote location of Hadahaa means nearly all staff live on the island. With this in mind, Park Hyatt has begun to develop a symbiotic relationship with the neighbouring islands and has formed a committee of elected ‘Ambassadors’ to represent the different communities. Through better connectivity, shared knowledge, development of business skills, and encouragement and participation from both sides, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa hopes to create a mutually beneficial programme that inspires sustainable development projects, allows the resort to gather supplies and recruits from nearby islands, and ensures the local communities develop and prosper…Park Hyatt has selected Gemanafushi and Dhandoo as the first communities to take part in the kick-off projects, based on the number of employees from each of these neighbouring islands. The programme will initially focus on improving five key areas – Business Development…Career Development…Hospitality…Environment…Social Awareness”

Finally, at the resort itself, Hadahaa features the distinctive Battuta restaurant (photo below)…

“Here at our signature Maldivian restaurant, we provide our guests with a distinctive and authentic dining experience. Battuta’s delivers guests with a culinary journey that samples local flavours and regional spices…Nestled into the native flora of the island, guests are offered a thoroughly indigenous experience in a beautiful open space cooled by ocean breezes….An open kitchen is central to the restaurant where you can experience the ultimate regional food experience being cooked right in front of your eyes. This restaurant offers food specialties from the Maldives, India and the Middle East.”


Park Hyatt Hadahaa Battuta restaurant