Best of the Maldives: Mini Biologist – Amilla

Amilla - mini marine biologist

For all those budding Cousteaus out there, Amilla Maldives offers Junior Marine Biologist Course. In the same way some people wonder why resorts have fitness centres (“who wants to do workouts on holiday?”), you might wonder, what kids want to do schoolwork on holiday. Well, me for one. When I was a tyke (about 9 years old), I used to go away to Camp Belknap in New Hampshire for a fortnight. While other kids signed up for archery, swimming and baseball, I signed up for the nature activities. They taught you flowers, trees, animals, star constellations (which has come in handy one many a star-filled Maldives night). I thoroughly enjoyed walking around exploring the outdoor beauty and learning all about it.

Amilla’s course features a daily 1-hour activity that include a Marine Walk, Mini Marine Bio Programme – comprehensive learning about the ocean. Over 6 days (each day a different topic). It builds. Ocean, plankton, coral reef, parrot fish, sea turtles and sharks. The sessions included showing selected TED talks and National Geographic clips, but the focus is on engaging with the children with puzzles, book creation and other activities to implement the material they have learned:

  • Monday: 17:00 – 17:30 – Marine Walk (different topics, such as the sea turtle nest, the origin of maldivian islands, some curiosities about Maldives etc.)
  • Thursday: 10:00 – 11.00 – Introduction to Snorkeling (a short presentation followed by a snorkeling session. Location: Spa Jetty or Dive Centre Jetty, depending on the weather and current conditions). VERY IMPORTANT: Please note that equipment (life jackets, fins, mask) will not be provided, so please make sure they come with equipment and they wear a rash vest. FYI: 10 slots available (for the moment). Only 5 years and above can participate. If younger than 5, they can come accompanied underwater with parents.
  • Sunday: 10:00 – 11:00 – Marine Biology Presentation and Q&A

The Mini Marine Bio Program is tailored to those kids who are keen to receive a comprehensive learning about the underwater world and its creatures. The program is run 6/7 days, 1 hour a day. Each session is about a different topic:

  • Sunday: Facts about seas and oceans @15:00 – 16:00
  • Monday: The plankton and its importance for our lives @10:00 – 11:00
  • Tuesday: All about coral reefs @11:00 – 12:00
  • Wednesday: Parrotfish (How to keep a balanced and healthy ecosystem) @16:00 – 17:00
  • Thursday: Lets discover the sea turtles @15:00 – 16:00
  • Friday: Sharks and their amazing world @10:00 – 11:00

At the end of the program, participants receive a certificate plus Amilla’s marine badges (see photos at top and bottom)

Amilla - mini marine biologist 2

Best of the Maldives: Candle-Making Workshop – Cora Cora

Cora Cora - candle making workshop

Happy Halloween. A time for lots of homemade sorcery – carving pumpkins, baking sweets, making costumes. I even crafted my own Halloween montage for a big Halloween party we held last year – “I’m In Love with a Monster”. If you want to make some especially spooky candles, Cora Cora offers a candle making workshop. Perhaps with a pumpkin spice scent.

Best of the Maldives: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Hard Rock

Various martial arts provide not just a form of fitness to train the body, but also a discipline which trains the mind as well as a provide a range of skills for self-defence. One is particularly timely for the global “Black Lives Matter” movement which has been catalysed by police violence to minorities in recent times. All sorts of political pundits and advocates have weighed in with their analyses, but I was particularly impressed with Sam Harris’ proposition that a large part of the problem is due to inadequate training of officers. In this recent “Making Sense” podcast, “Police Training & Police Misconduct” he talks to Rener Gracie is a third-generation member of the legendary Gracie Family credited with creating the self-defense system known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu about how the discipline can transform policing. 

The art is perhaps also appropriate in the destination of the Maldives where the citizens are of a smaller stature.  BFF is distinctive in its ability for a smaller person to neturalise a larger adversary.  Jiu-jitsu came to international prominence in martial arts circles when Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Royce Gracie (Rener’s uncle) won 3 of the first 4 Ultimate Fighting Championships fighting against mostly larger opponents proficient in other fighting styles.  BJJ has since become an core aspect o Mixed Martial Arts.

I had never heard of Brazilian Ju-jitsu (or “BJJ”) until I visited Hard Rock Maldives last year and saw “The Red Mat” facility. It is a training area specifically for the BJJ training they have brought to the resort. It was introduced to Hard Rock by its General Manager Tolga Unan who studied the discipline in China. Offering daily jiu-jitsu sessions for staff and guests, Hard Rock is the first 5-star jiu-jitsu resort in the world. All resort instructors are purple belts. If you’re a member of a jiu-jitsu Certified Training Center, then Hard Rock has a special discount package offer.

Hard Rock - brazilian jujitsu

Best of the Maldives: Spa Alchemy – Amilla

Amilla - alchemy bar 1

For a scent that is not just reminiscent of the Maldives experience, but evokes your Maldives experience, Amilla’s Javvu spa features its own “Alchemy Bar”. There you can concoct your own magic potions to conjure up the golden moments from your visit. You are guided by a recipe book that shares its properties and other information about it (see sheet on “Moringa” below). Many of the ingredients are grown right on the island.

Travel Trade Maldives featured an interview with Spa and Wellness Manager, Laura Pagano, who developed the concept:

  • “It’s an interactive laboratory where we teach our guests to make their beauty potions and bath products, so it brings a special touch to their experience. During lockdown, the first thing we made was a bath sachet from herbs like lemongrass and neem growing on the island, then we started making our own sea-salt. Then from the dried herbs we realised we could make powders. From there realised can make face masks, teas and more – the possibilities are endless. There were only seven of us ladies working on the island, so we used to have our own girls’ nights with our own homemade face masks, moisturisers, hair masks etc. We even made our own deodorant because we were running out of it in the shop! It’s the best deodorant I’ve ever used, I swear. I’ve been using it since my garden work and it really works, nobody was running away from me!”

  Amilla - alchemy bar 3

Amilla - alchemy bar 2

Amilla - alchemy bar 5

Amilla - alchemy bar 4

Best of the Maldives: Mermaid Lessons – Maamuta

Happy International Mermaid Day. From the destination where all the international mermaids migrate to. If you want to join the school of mermaids, then Pullman Maamuta is offering a mermaid school:

  • You can live your fantasea of becoming a mermaid too! At Pullman Maldives we like to think outside the box and create unique experiences, that’s why our super talented Diving Center team has created this exclusive opportunity to learn how to become a mermaid while you’re on vacation with us.”

No contracts with sea witches are required either.

   Pullman Maamuta - mermaid school

Best of the Maldives: Towel Folding Video – Coco Palm

Coco Collection - turtle making video

World Oceans Day today. While travelling to the ocean to see turtles might still be limited, the Coco Collection has shared a way to bring them right into your own home during lockdown.

I’ve regularly featured striking towel creations, but now Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Bodu Hithi have shared an instructional video so you can create these creatures yourself. They’ve started with a quite elaborate turtle construction.

Happy home schooling!

Best of the Maldives: Cocktail Class – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - cocktail class

Drinks all around then? If you want to personally serve up your entourage of friends with cocktail concoctions, then Park Hyatt Hadahaa offers a Cocktail Making class (1 hour, $55 per person):

  • “Discover Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa’s secret mojito recipe from our skilled barmen, as well as learning a few other favourites, then sit back and enjoy your exotic creations while watching a stunning Maldivian sunset.”

Best of the Maldives: Fish Cooking Class – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa fish cooking class

You don’t get much more fresh or more local than reef fish caught with your own hands a few hours earlier in the ocean just yards away. While many resorts will grill up the catch from your fishing excursion, Park Hyatt Hadahaa lets you take the “by my own hands” vibe a step further with a fish cooking class so you can take it all the way from sea to seasoning yourself…

  • Learn how to create the perfect marinade and discover the secrets behind grinding and mixing traditional Maldivian spices used to prepare local fish. Our chef offers this culinary class amid the Maldivian surroundings of The Island Grill.”

The class is available on request from 3:00 – 4:00 pm at The Island Grill with a $75 USD per person charge.