Instagram has started as a straightforward snap sharing service from simple phone cameras, but it has exploded so much that now you get Hollywood quality productions being shared. I check out the Maldives geotag every morning over coffee as a great scouting radar for resort highlights as well as the latest fashionista shoots so I have been tracking the Maldives material for a couple of years. The video clips have increasing popped up and feature more and more in my fashionista posts. My favourite, that really stuck out for its sophistication and quirky style is Nicole Mazzocato’s post (above) filmed by Fabio Colloricchio.
I remember the arrival of MTV in the 80s and how its short form music videos shook up the world of television. It seems like techno-media has been on a gnarly ride ever since. The Internet and YouTube have now taken the wind out of MTV’s TV pre-eminence, but the video awards last night are still an anticipated fixture on the media scene. Similarly, the Instagram images have evolved from simple snaps and basic animations, to rather elaboration productions in their own right.
The MTV Video Music Awards gives out 17 gongs, so here are the top 17 Instagram videos featuring a Maldives fashionista in a posing role:
1. Belle Lucia (Australia) – LUX South Ari Atoll [ABOVE]
2. Lindsey van der Hoeven (Netherlands) – Sun Siyam Irufushi
3. Emma Golijanin (Bosnia) – AaaVeee
4. Viki Odintcova (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
5. Natalie Roser (Australia) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
6. Any Salceanu (Italy) – Paradise Island
7. Timea Vajna (Hungary) – Shangri-La Vilingili
8. Margaret MacPherson (Australia) – Club Med Finolhu Villas
9. Jenia Shtefan (Russia) – One & Only Reethi Rah
10. Samantha Hoopes (USA) – Paradise Island
11. Alessandra Ambrosio (Brazil) – Shangri-La Vilingili
12. Ekaterina Pimenova (Russia) – W Retreat
13. Yvette Dusol (United Kingdom) – One & Only Reethi Rah
14. Renee Somerfield (Australia) – Six Senses Laamu
15. Marina Salmanova (Russia) – Cinnamon Dhonveli
16. Jessica Lee Buchanan (South Africa) – NIYAMA
17. Eva Adams (USA) – Cocoa Island
While the summer winds down in the Northern Hemisphere, Maldives remains an Endless Summer. The dramatic photos capture some gnarly moments on the board, the year round Maldives really comes to life in video.
- “Billabong Girls” – Courtney Conlogue (USA), Catherine Clark (USA), Alessa Quizon (USA), Felicity Palmateer (Australia), Ellie-jean Coffey (Australia), Paige Hareb (New Zealand), Justine Dupont (France) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
- “Nobody Surf” – Monyca Eleogram (USA), Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), Kelia Moniz (USA), Zoe Cros (Australia)
- “KALOEA Surfer Girls” – Eve Riviere (Australia) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
- Angelika Timanina (Russia)
“Roxy Surf Team” – Kassia Meador (USA), Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia), Rosy Hodge (South Africa), Monyca Byrne-Wickey (USA), Kelia Moniz (USA), Bruna Schmitz (Brazil)
Kristie Murray (Australia) – Thulusdhoo
There is no reason to not come to Shangri-La Villingili.
The number one reason people give against coming to the Maldives is the myth that “There’s nothing to do there.” Admittedly, some of the smaller islands do have limited activities (but that is actually a draw for some people). But Villingili is a spacious island enabling it to support a rich infrastructure of activities and facilities. The spa is one of the largest in the Maldives and it sports a mini “village” of shops, services, dive centre, photo studio, etc.
The biggest activity “can’t do” complaint about the Maldives is golf. Many affluent travellers are happy to go just about anywhere…as long as they can swing a club. A few golf facilities have cropped up over the years across the Maldives, but only Shangri-La sports a full 9 hole course with independent fairways. Lori and I played a round during our stay and we were thoroughly impressed. Our home in Buckinghamshire, England has no shortage of world-class golf courses and Shangri-La’s is as challenging and thrilling course as any. They are short holes (maximum hole is just under 200 yards) so no opportunity to practice your 200 yard drive. But, the modern game is all about the approach shots anyway, and as the old saying goes, “drive for show, putt for dough.” The greens and fairways are all as well maintained and manicured as any prime English course. Yes, you can play serious golf in the Maldives…at Shangri-La. Seriously laid out, seriously challenging, seriously beautiful surroundings and seriously fun.
Among Maldives aficionados, the big showstopper to choosing a resort is the “housereef”. And no house reef is adequate without (a) a drop off, and (b) easy access. Shangri-La ticks the housereef box strongly. A special set of stairs on the northern water villas jetty provides a very simple entry (I love stairs because it is so much easier to put on your fins without getting sand in everything). Given the vagaries of maritime creatures, I am always impressed by resorts’ “called shots” in the sport of snorkelling where they call out “if you go here, you are virtually guaranteed to see this…” In Villingili’s case it was turtles. Several turtles are virtual residents there. And no less than 10 minutes into the water one of them came swimming up to us (see video clip below). Actually, it’s not too surprising as Villingili has its own turtle nesting area (which it has marked off and protected).
Another reason people avoid straying too far from the resorts close to Male is avoiding the seaplane transfers. Seaplane schedules can be quite changeable and timings are especially vulnerable to the weather. Also, some people are bothered by flying in such a small, loud, unpressurized craft, like a seaplane. But the transfer to Gan is by domestic turbo prop planes. The schedules are fixed so you will know your logistics precisely before you set off. And they fly higher over the weather in more comfortable, pressurised planes. And for the well-heeled clientele, the Gan airport accommodates private jets and Villingili provides a special greeting service where you are picked up on the tarmac. Private jets can even fly directly to Gan and clear customs avoiding a Male transfer altogether. An increasing number of charters and commercial operators are looking to expand services here so everyone can have this direct connection convenience.
If you are thinking of an exceptional stay at Villingili, then there’s nothing stopping you.
For those of you who can’t make even a brief stop over to the Maldives, but still wish to explore the wonders of its world famous coral reefs, I highly recommend Kristen Marhaver’s TED talk “How We’re Growing Baby Corals to Rebuild Reefs”…
“Coral reefs are farmers. They provide food, income and food security for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Coral reefs are security guards. The structures that they build protect our shorelines from storm surge and waves, and the biological systems that they house filter the water and make it safer for us to work and play. Coral reefs are chemists. The molecules that we’re discovering on coral reefs are increasingly important in the search for new antibiotics and new cancer drugs. And coral reefs are artists. The structures that they build are some of the most beautiful things on planet Earth. And this beauty is the foundation of the tourism industry in many countries with few or little other natural resources.”
Quite a few resorts now (17 by my count) invest in reef regeneration programmes on their island. Someday maybe Marhaver’s work will allow us to go beyond strapping coral pieces to frames and actually cultivate and propagate corals.
Today is International Water Safety Day. So time for a quick edition of Maldives QI…
Q: What is the greatest danger of water fatality in the Maldives?
A: Eaten by sharks?
Q: Buzzz…Nope (in fact, the Maldives has not had a single report of a shark attack on a human)
A: An adrenalin sport like scuba diving?
Q: Buzzz…Nope. Nearly all scuba diving is run by very high quality PADI dive centres or liveaboards with very high safety standards and one of the strongest safety records in for diving in the world (contributed by the fact that many dive sites are not overly deep and are often relatively sheltered in atolls).
The most dangerous activity is the one that seems so alluringly easy – snorkelling. It’s not that snorkeling in the Maldives is particularly dangerous per se. In fact, one could argue it is some the safest snorkelling in the world. But it is those he mill pond calm waters in often shallow depths which lull guests into a exaggerated sense of security. When water is involved, you have a serious risk to respect no matter what the situation. As the saying goes, you can drown in an inch of water in your bathtub (and some people do). So today is the ideal good occasion for a refresher on making this inviting activity as safe as it appears (and often is) easy and thrilling.
The typical contents of a snorkel bag are snorkel, fins, mask, towel, and room key. But the “safe” snorkeler might want to bring along some extra items – eg. whistle, floatation aid. And my favourite snorkelling accompaniment – a snorkel guide. Not a book or map, but a trained, proficient, resort staffer to help and support your outing. They not only will be there to assist if anything goes awry, but they know all the best places to see resident critters on the house reef and can provide lots of great information about what you are seeing.
“TravelJody”, also a top contributor to the Maldives Forum on TripAdvisor, has written a superb piece on snorkel safety “Staying Safe whilst Snorkelling!” She goes through a catalogue of possible safety concerns including…
- CoralRock Cuts
- Boats/Motorised Water Sports
- Snorkeling Transportation
- Marine Life
Her tips include…
- Use well fitting equipment
- Be careful judging distance in water
- Wear a whistle
- Snorkel with buddy
- Get instruction
A few tips that I would add include…
- Consult the experts. Every resort has a dive centre and the majority of resorts have staff marine biologists both of whom know the resort waters intimately. They can not only tell you how the water behaves and where various hazards are, but also provide insider tips on where to see the best stuff and how (eg. maybe free dive to look under a ledge).
- Don’t let the weather fool you. It’s all about the water and currents in the ocean not the air. We have snorkelled in a monsoon with an expert who knew the currents and knew the conditions in the actual ocean were fine. Conversely, a warm, bright day might seem innocuous, but some current shift or other under the surface situation could create a surprise problem.
The final point really concerns over-confidence. Just because it is all calm and sunny on the exterior (which is it most of the time in the Maldives) doesn’t mean that some hazards don’t exist below the surface. Some people get skittish about sharks and even fish, but the real monster of the deep is the deep itself. Deep water where people go beyond their capabilities, and get into trouble. In any water activity, the risk of drowning is an ever-present danger whether it is in a community pool or even the tranquil waters of the Maldives.
This syndrome of false confidence is the key reason why some experts on the TripAdvisors protest against the use of flotation aids in snorkelling. They feel that such aids instil confidence in the weak swimmer to go beyond their limits and going beyond you limits imposes more risk (to yourself and to the reef) than the flotation aid mitigates. I agree that over-confidence is a risk, but a floatation aid will in nearly all cases provide critical protection against the greatest risk which is drowning so do consider bringing or wearing one (but just don’t let it drop your caution).
Happy and safe snorkeling everyone!
Sadly, no hoverbords yet in this ‘Back to the Future’ era. Not even at the most exclusive billionaire hang outs in the Maldives. But the Maldives does have some kicking “boarding” spots that would charge up even Marty McFly.
The Red Bull (initial) video did include some footage of Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, but most of it is shot in downtown Male with several pass-bys in front of Hotel Jen.
As it happens, Male features a well rated (at least by these world class pros) skateboarding bowl (see below).
Maldives gives you wings!
[Our own ‘Maldives Shark’ filmed this summer at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi]
National Poetry Day today. The big “Maldives” poem is of course Herman Melville’s “The Maldive Shark”. Coincidentally, the poet of the family, our daughter Isley (herself a veteran of many a Maldives visit and Maldive shark encounters) just participated in a Melville marathon as a part of last week’s London Literature Festival which read Meville’s classic “Moby ” over 4 days.
Melville hailed from my home state of Massachusetts, USA and also shared my fascination with both the ocean and world travel. He hopped a merchant ship when he was 20 (the same age I ventured to Togo, West Africa). But it was his time on the whaling ship “Acushnet” (two years later) that inspired much of the masterpiece “Moby ” The travels definitely have taken him to the other side of the world, but it doesn’t appear that he ever made it as far as the Maldives themselves. So his now famous account was likely based on the tales of fellow sailors. The poem reinforces the dated mythology of sharks as a mindless menace, but it is so sumptuously composed, it is still worth of admiration.
The Maldive Shark
About the Shark, phlegmatical one,
Pale sot of the Maldive sea,
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
How alert in attendance be.
From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw
They have nothing of harm to dread,
But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank
Or before his Gorgonian head;
Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth
In white triple tiers of glittering gates,
And there find a haven when peril’s abroad,
An asylum in jaws of the Fates!
They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey,
Yet never partake of the treat—
Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull,
Pale ravener of horrible meat.
In this past week’s fashion fiesta, 23 of the 194 shoots were accompanied by YouTube videos of the shoots. The video shoot adds an extra dimension of both alluring poses and immersion into the paradise of the Maldives. The biggest source of shoots was Prof. Hersch Chadha who has an entire YouTube channel full of video shoots he does in the Maldives at the Taj Exotica resort. His subjects are all Russian models so he has played a big role in driving that country to the #2 slot on the country league table. Tune in for a more animated fashion feast for the eyes.
As promised, I have now completed my own list of post-tour challenges of getting all of the research material consolidated, profiles updated, notes organised, and as promised, expanded information on the resorts’ House Reefs. I’ve added a row to the Resort Profile devoted to House Reef details (see below).
Mostly, I have broken down the very crude “House Reef Rating” into several more granular ratings…
- House Reef Rating (focusing on the “drop off”)
- Drop-Off Coral Rating (focusing just on the coral variety and density as opposed to fish life or ease of access.
- Lagoon Coral Rating (focusing on the shallow water coral croppings)
As a part of my enhancing the House Reef information, I’ve also added a second video link to the resort profiles of footage taken on the house reef. Very often, the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum refers to such videos for first hand documentation of the reef quality. I’ve gone through the videos on YouTube and selected the best I could find in terms of showing the most of the reef (ie. not all close ups of fish and other sightings).
Through my house reef YouTube research, I came across a whole range of quality from grainy camera clips to Hollywood-style editted GoPro productions. The one that rose above as “Best Picture” (among some very worthy competition I must say), was “Maldive – The Movie” 39 minute feature film of the Maayafushi house reef.
Other special mentions include…
- Most Views – Filitheyo: 4934.
- Most Likes – Embudoo: 59.
- Best Soundtrack – Helengeli: (fun and apropos medley of tunes)