Best of the Maldives: Concave Shoreline – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah aerial

 

 

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.

Best of the Maldives: Neighbourly – Angsana Ihuru and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Angsana Ihuru and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru aerial

(photo courtesy of Luxury hotels TravelPlusStyle.com)

 

 

 

Olhuveli and Fun Island might be the closest geographic neighbours, but Angsana Ihuru and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru are the closest operationally (not attached).

You have Angsana which is literally a 2 minute hop by hourly water 'taxi', so you have the benefit of two islands in one resort (you can also charge any costs on Angsana to BT, and visa versa.” (thanks John)

You might not be able to go pick watermelons, but you can enjoy any of the other amenities (perhaps a watermelon martini).

Best of the Maldives: Natural Arch – White Shell Beach Inn Maafushi

White Shell Beach Inn Maafushi tree arch

This weekend was a chance to catch up on some updates to the website including the addition of new property, White Shell Beach Inn Maafushi. I came upon it after finding this great picture of a “climbing tree” that has gone completely horizontal creating its own unique arch canopy.

White Sheel Beach Inn is really classified as a guest house and I have made a concerted decisions not to focus on guest houses. I have never stayed in one and so I’m don’t feel qualified to comment on what makes for a good experience, what sort of things should people be looking for, etc. As it happens, it is located on Maafushi island which has more guest houses than any other Maldives islands (a distinction in itself).

There is a big call for budget options especially close to Male (for limited duration trips and to avoid high transfer costs). White Shell Beach Inn has a good website and quite a good property so I decided to add it to the database as a further step to even more completeness.

Best of the Maldives: Climbing Trees– Vilamendhoo

Vilamendhoo climbing tree

For a more natural hang-out over water, take stroll down “Climbing Tree Alley” at Vilamendhoo. The nearly horizontal palm trees are nearly as iconic a shot of paradise as the sunsets and the turquoise lagoons. The palms start to grow this way by the water’s edge when erosion undermines the stability of their root system and on the water’s side and the start to gently tilt and eventually grow in that direction. You will find such orthogonal specimens across the Maldives, but Vilamendhoo has a particularly extended stretch of them along the northeast side which they have named after many people’s favourite activity on these arboreal jungle gyms.

 

Vilamendhoo climbing tree 2

Best of the Maldives: Raised Walkways – Gangehi

Gangehi walkways

 

 

Sometimes the “no shoes” ethos isn’t all a walk in the park. It is meant to embody the relaxed and casual atmosphere of the Maldives combined with its pervading sensual nature right down to the powdery soft sand across the island. This element is so prominent that during this last tour, I started collecting data for a “Walkway Rating” by resort (stay tuned). But, when I got to Gangehi, their walkways defied Maldivian categorisation. They are unlike anything else you will tread on in the Maldives. Instead of sandy, hardened or paved walkways, Gangehi features wooden walkways snaking through the island interior.

When I first saw these, I was quite intrigued. I wondered if they would be a real detraction, but over the stay I grew to appreciate them more and more. For starters, they are a ‘natural’ solution to folks who need hard walkways. The sandy by-ways seem romantic, but for people who have difficulty getting around – wheelchair users, otherwise unsteady individuals, and ladies who want to enjoy their high heeled fashion on their holiday – they are actually quite an inconvenience. Also, some people have sensitive feet and the aboriginal avenues can be a bit uncomfortable at times if there are stray stones and coral pieces that you can step on.

Some islands have paved paths, but somehow that often seems to take away from the natural feel. Gangehi’s wooden paths preserve a very natural aesthetic. They even impart a bit of stylistic distinction to the place. Because they are slightly elevated, it almost seemed as if I was traversing something out of Swiss Family Robinson’s lush tropical settlement.

Of course, if you hanker for the sand between your toes, you can always circumambulate the island beaches (quite easily as Gangehi is so tiny).

Best of the Maldives: Number of Beaches – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah beaches

 

 

 

 

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).

Best of the Maldives: Free Range Birds – Nika

Nika pheasant

 

 

From flyboarding to free birding.

This post is also a contendor for “Most Nostalgic for My High School Years”. First, “Freebird” was the Ipswich High School Class of 1979 “Class Song”. Second, me and my buddies were big Monty Python fans (perhaps shades of my eventual UK life) and one of my favourite skits was “Albatross.

While I had parroted the “Albatross” sketch endlessly to pubescent tittering, I had never actually seen one. Until I visted Nika. Lori and was even more mesmerised by him, and his goofy wing-flapping walk, than I was I think. We dubbed him “Albert Ross” (my adolescent sense of humour has matured that much since high school).

Nika has its own bird sanctuary. But not in a cage nor in a segregated section of the island, but right in one of the main thoroughfares are the two main pathways converge in front of the dining area. All of the birds roam freely around the island, but they tend to congregate in this area where they are fed and they have some shelters.

A truly diverse bunch too. Bandito the peacock (see above), exotic dove, hens, parrots (see bottom) and ducks.

Maldives Menagerie!

 

Nika parrot

 

Nika albatross

 

Nika albatross 2

Best of the Maldives: Longest Sand Spit – Gangehi

Gangehi sand spit 2

 

 

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.

Outstanding!

 

Gangehi snad spit

Best of the Maldives: Aviary – Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo

Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo aviary parrot

 

Colourful creatures floating all around you. Some inquisitive about your presence, while others more skittish and shy. Large and small, or all shapes and colours. Not the marine life in the water, but the bird life in the air on Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo. Elaidhoo features an expansive aviary filled with fowl of all description – parrots, exotic hens, cockatoos [OTHERS]. As colourful as any collection of tropical fish you will find in the water.

We took as many pictures visiting the aviary as we did on any house reef. But my wife Lori’s favourite (so much so that she changed her Facebook profile picture to it) was of the baby chicks who hid in their mother’s wings and poked their heads out (see bottom).

 

Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo hen with chicks

 

Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo aviary 2