One of my favourite tropical island activities with the kids when they were young was setting up treasure hunts around the resort island where the “treasure” was a box of sweeties. Various resorts have introduced their hunts for children, but Amilla has a sort of a treasure hunt with much healthier fare. A virtual walk through their “Foraging Lunch” was shared in their description:
- “This new eco-adventure sees guests led by staff including the Chef, the Landscaping Supervisor, and the Sustainability and Wellness Mentor, Victoria Kruse, through the lush island to gather edible plants including indigenous varieties such as ‘kulha fila’ (Maldivian rocket). This fun and educational interactive tour highlights the island’s indigenous and island-grown herbs, vegetables and fruit. It culminates in a feast using the freshly-plucked ingredients…Starting out on the Sunrise Beach at the southeastern end of the spacious private island resort, the guests were guided to Amilla’s jungle-clad grove known as The Plantation, where local varieties of small, sweet bananas are cultivated, as well as chillies (a Maldivian staple), lemongrass and passionfruit. Then it was on to the resort’s new Hydroponics Garden, where they discovered a wide array of homegrown greens, before moving on to the UN (short for ‘UNdo the Harm’) where the Amilla Islanders make their own cold-pressed coconut oil from the island’s bountiful supply of coconut trees. Amilla’s chicken coop, Cluckingham Palace, was the next port of call, to see if the pampered chickens there had any fresh eggs to offer…The next destination was the vast area of natural jungle that covers over 70 percent of the island. From this area, the group collected dry coconuts for coconut milk and young coconuts to make ‘mudi kashi’ (the flesh of young coconuts), with a little help from Amilla’s skillful tree climbers. They also helped harvest some wild breadfruit from 15 metres up in the jungle canopy…Finally, the group circled back to Amilla’s beautiful Mystique Garden, where the hungry team collected even more salad greens as well as sugarcane and the traditional Maldivian staples of aubergines, okra, and sweet potatoes.”
Also, helpful survival training for if you ever get marooned on a desert island. Bear Gryll’s paradise edition.
With a dolphin cruise this luxurious, you don’t mind if it takes forever to find them. Soneva Fushi provides guests with a private motor launch with long padded settees for a comfy journey while the captain sets out in search of these playful creatures. In the meantime, you are served champagne, ceviche and Maldivian roshi. Nonetheless, it wasn’t but a few minutes before we spotted the spinners cavorting at the edge of the reef.
The exhilaration of the Maldives begins well before you land. It actually begins about 30,000 feet above the Indian Ocean about 20 minutes before arrival at Male airport. As you cross the first of the northern most islands, you are treated to an ultramartine vista that seems like you are descending on different planet with some bizarre aqueous landscape.
The Maldives are defined by their geography. They occupy a rare “Goldilocks” point right at the sea level’s edge. Not mostly below the water (like the Great Barrier Reef and Red Sea reefs), and not relatively high above the water (like the South Pacific islands). But right AT the water surface’s edge. As a result of this topographical anomaly, the islands paint a cobalt tapestry of colours. You can’t help but ask ‘how did all of this come about?’
The magical formations didn’t happen over night. They are the products of eons of plate tectonics, volcanic eruption, implosion, erosion, and coral formation. Many resort marine biologists cover this subject as a part of their routine bar presentations. But Park Hyatt Hadahaa has taken this odyssey a literal step further with their Island Creation excursion.
The guide walks you through millennia by taking to to an island that is partially submerged and then to another less so, all the way through the various phases of island formation until you finish at a large inhabited one. They show how different formations are representative of different stages of island (or thila or reef, etc.) development. A gee-whiz geology lesson.
The whole concept reminds me of our expedition in the Grand Canyon (another one of those rare destinations where you feel that you are on another planet). You start at one end and as you progress, you don’t just get a history of the canyon, you get a history of the Earth itself.
All of the most stunning places on this planet are so because they provide a glimpse to the ancient miracle of the Earth, its majesty and its mystery. Maybe they should name this excursion ‘the Majesty Mystery Tour’.