Editor’s note: The details of the dive sites and the photographs were sent to us by Shafraz Naeem, an enthusiastic and professional diver.
Shafraz Naeem for Maldives Promotion House – The entire archipelago of Maldives is filled with numerous dive sites of high diversity, many of them with distinct features, and corals. Here are just a few of them, considered as the top dive sites of Maldives.
HP Reef / Rainbow Reef – North Malé Atoll
HP Reef or Rainbow Reef is a Protected Marine Area. The site is located near the island of Himmafushi and is in the channel called “Himmafushi Kandu”. Soft corals grow in abundance on the reef outcrops and under the overhangs due to the strong currents coming through the channel. HP Reef has an unusual reef formation in terms of reef outcrops, caves and crevices. Schools of Trevally, Snappers and Dog-toothed Tuna and Eagle Rays can be seen regularly.
Kuda Rah Thila – South Ari Atoll
This is one of the best dive sites in South Ari Atoll. This is also a Protected Marine Area. The coral life is amazing at this site. Seafans can be seen on the northern side of the “Thila”. There is a swim through between the main reef and the separate pinnacle a few feet away. You can see White-tip Reef Sharks, Barracudas, Trevallys, Snappers and Dog-toothed Tunas all throughout the dive depending on the current. Sometimes the currents are really strong here.
This “Thila” is in the middle of “Biyaadhoo Kandu”, between the islands of Cocoa Resort and Kandooma Resort. The top of the reef is full of hard corals. The sides of the “Thila” are covered with different coloured soft corals. The currents are strong here and there is a huge variety of pelagic fish to see. Grey Reef Sharks can be seen regularly depending on the currents.
Hanifaru – Baa Atoll
This is the best place to see Whale Sharks and Mantas together! It’s a small bay on the reef of the Hanifaru Island. The plankton bloom inside the bay from July till November attracts the gentle giants for feeding. Sometimes there are six to eight Whale Sharks together with hundreds of Manta Rays.
“Rakeedhoo Kandu” is the channel on the east side of Rakeedhoo Island and one of most famous channel dives in this atoll. This dive site has a lot of caves, good coral life and massive Seafans. Hammerhead sharks can be seen when you dive early in the morning and Grey Reef Sharks are seen regularly. Napoleon Wrasses, Turtles and schools of Trevallys and other pelagics can be seen here.
Fotteyo – Vaavu Atoll
Fotteyo is regarded as one of the best dive sites of the Maldives by a lot of divers. There are large caves with swim throughs. The caves are covered with thick, long soft corals of different colours. This dive site is a favourite for photographers because of the colourful soft corals. You will see schools of Barracudas, Tuna, Eagle Rays, Trevallys and Grey Reef Sharks. Sting Rays and White-tip Reef Sharks can been seen on the sandy area of the channel. Hammerheads have been seen on early morning dives.
Maalhos Thila also known as Blue Caves is in the channel on the northern side of the island of Maalhos. The caves are covered in various colours of soft corals. The top of the reef has a healthy growth of hard corals. Sting rays can be seen swimming close by the reef and sometimes resting inside the caves. Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles are seen regularly.
Nassimo Thila – North Malé Atoll
This “Thila” is considered to be one of the best “Thilas” of North Malé Atoll. This “Thila” has a number of pinnacles strewn randomly a few feet away from the main reef. The full strength of the currents hit these pinnacles and soft corals are plentiful. Midnight Snappers, Dog-toothed Tunas, Barracudas and White-tip Reef Sharks are seen here. The ceilings of the long overhangs and caves on the main reef are covered with blue and yellow soft corals. Inside the other overhangs are Seafans. The top is reef is covered with hard corals. Schools of Snappers, Oriental Sweetlips, and Eagle Rays can be seen.
This dive site can be dived in one dive depending on the currents. The diversity of marine life here is amazing. You can see dozens of White-tip Sharks, Snappers, Sting Rays, Eagle Rays, Grey Reef Sharks and many other pelagics. This reef has a lot of caves and overhangs. And the reef has scenic soft corals and gorgonians. There are also some coral pinnacles away from the main reef. On the reef top you can see schools of fusiliers and Hawksbill Turtles. A night dive here is a thrilling one. You can see hunting White-tip Reef Sharks, Giant Moray Eels, Sting Rays and Giant Barracudas up close. Maaya Thila is a Protected Marine Area.
Embudhoo Express – South Malé Atoll
Embudhoo Express lies in Embudhoo Channel and is a Marine Protected Area. This site is best dived with an ingoing current. The currents here are considered to be really strong and the site is known to be one of the best drift dive spots. The southern corner of the channel is where the Grey Reef is seen and there are many small caves a few long overhangs. Schools of Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, Dog-tooth Tuna, Trevallys and Barracudas are seen here as well. In the middle of the channel is a small “Thila” with impressive show of hard and soft corals, which covers the reef.
About the Author: Shafraz Naeem is a professional Maldivian Dive Instructor. Shaff has extensive knowledge of the various dive spots in Maldives. We at Maldives Promotion House are fond of his work to promote Maldives. Good luck Shaff and Thank you for you support.
Essential packing guide for your dream Maldives vacation
Make the most of your Maldivian adventure with these must-pack items
The Maldives, a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean, is a dream destination for travellers seeking crystal-clear turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and overwater bungalows. With a picture-perfect setting and countless activities to enjoy, it’s essential to pack smart to make the most of your Maldives getaway. This packing guide will help you ensure you have everything you need for an unforgettable vacation.
Lightweight and Breathable Clothing
The Maldives boasts a tropical climate with temperatures averaging between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing to stay cool and comfortable. Opt for loose-fitting cotton or linen garments, such as sundresses, shorts, and short-sleeved shirts. Don’t forget a light shawl or wrap for cooler evenings and a swimsuit cover-up for lounging by the pool or on the beach.
Swimwear and Snorkeling Gear
With stunning coral reefs and an abundance of marine life, the Maldives is a snorkelling and diving paradise. Pack at least two swimsuits to ensure you always have a dry option. If you have your snorkelling gear, bring it along to save on rental costs and ensure a perfect fit. Alternatively, you can rent equipment at your resort or dive centre.
The Maldivian sun can be intense, making sun protection a top priority. Bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and a high SPF, water-resistant sunscreen to shield your skin. Don’t forget lip balm with SPF to protect your lips from sunburn, too.
With so many water-based activities, waterproof footwear is essential. Pack a pair of flip-flops or water shoes for the beach, pool, and navigating wet surfaces. Additionally, bring a pair of comfortable sandals or sneakers for exploring the islands and enjoying other activities.
Insect Repellent and After-Bite
Tropical destinations often come with pesky insects, so pack an effective insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and other bugs. Choose a repellent with DEET or a natural alternative like lemon eucalyptus oil. It’s also a good idea to pack an after-bite treatment in case you do get bitten.
Travel Adapter and Power Bank
The Maldives uses a type D and G plug with a voltage of 230V and a frequency of 50Hz. Pack a universal travel adapter to keep your devices charged. Additionally, bring a portable power bank to ensure your phone and camera are always ready to capture your Maldives memories.
Reusable Water Bottle and Tote Bag
Embrace sustainable travel by packing a reusable water bottle and tote bag. Many resorts offer filtered water stations to refill your bottle, helping to reduce plastic waste. A reusable tote bag is perfect for carrying your essentials while exploring the islands or shopping for souvenirs.
Waterproof Camera or Phone Case
Capture the beauty of the Maldives, both above and below the water, by investing in a waterproof camera or phone case. This will allow you to take stunning underwater photos and videos while snorkelling or diving without risking damage to your device.
While the Maldives offers plenty of activities, you may also want to relax and unwind. Pack a good book, download movies or shows on your tablet, or bring a travel-sized game for those leisurely moments.
Last but not least, don’t forget to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before your trip. This will provide peace of mind and cover unexpected events such as medical emergencies, lost luggage, or trip cancellations.
A trip to the Maldives promises an idyllic and unforgettable experience. By packing the right essentials, such as lightweight clothing, swimwear, sun protection, comfortable footwear, snorkeling gear, and beach accessories, travelers can make the most of their time in this tropical paradise. Additionally, respecting local customs and traditions adds to the overall enjoyment of the trip. So, be prepared, relax, and soak in the natural beauty of the Maldives.
Five hidden gems of Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi opened in July to great acclaim for its breathtaking views, myriad dining options and glorious seascapes. But there’s a lot more to this property than an aerial view can reveal.
To give you a peek at the full range of the hotel’s features, we asked five property insiders for their tips about the luxuries that aren’t apparent just by looking at photos. Read on to discover the true hidden secrets of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.
Haircut on the beach?
Personal concierge service is a signature of the Waldorf Astoria brand, but it comes with a Maldivian upgrade here.
Dino Michael, the Global Head of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, says “every aspect of your stay is cared for” – from intimate private dinners to, yes, a haircut on the sand (this was an actual request). “I am confident to say that the personal concierge at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi strongly sets us apart in the luxury hospitality space,” Michael says, because the team demonstrates “a passion for guests that is truly remarkable.”
Personal concierges are available to help you 24/7, and they are well-versed on all that the property and surrounding area has to offer. They can tell you where to go for prime snorkelling, can book spa services for you, make dinner reservations and so much more.
Become Robinson Crusoe
Board the property’s private yacht and set sail to explore a nearby sandbank. Here, guests can arrange for a secluded dinner paired with stunning Maldivian sunset views, unwind with a yoga session or snorkel in the surrounding water.
Daniel Welk, the Vice President, Luxury and Lifestyle Group, Hilton Asia Pacific, says that there is an “abundance of marine life surrounding the sandbank, providing guests with an amazing snorkelling experience. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the sandbank by myself and being the only person on the island provides a true Robinson Crusoe-like experience.”
Taste the world from treetops and beyond
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is home to 11 distinct dining venues. You can literally dine amongst the treetops in private bamboo pods at Terra, sample Peking duck inspired by Shanghainese noble residences at Li Long and order authentic Middle Eastern flatbreads and dishes at Yasmeen. If you’re in the mood for barbecue, head to The Ledge, which is a restaurant partnership between the resort and world-renowned chef and mastermind behind Singapore’s Michelin-starred Burnt Ends, Dave Pynt.
But if you want to eat like Chef Vijay, the Culinary Director at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, he recommends reserving a table at Glow. This interactive, garden-to-table restaurant set in a greenhouse-like structure serves creative-yet-healthy fare cultivated from the hotel’s grounds and herb garden.
Chef Vijay said, “the garden features around 20 types of herbs and fruit plants, including coriander, curry leaves and olive trees and is the first thing guests see when they walk into the restaurant, providing an immersive prelude to the dining experience.”
A true sanctuary
It is getting harder and harder to set your out-of-office reply and resist the temptation to check in back at home. But according to Alan Watts, the President of Hilton Asia Pacific, that all changes once you check in at the Waldorf Maldives. He describes the property as “very much a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of life” and says that he can easily relax “to the calming sound of the rising and falling waves and the salty smell of the Maldivian sea air.”
He recommends checking out the five pools, dedicated spa villa and colorful marine life and leaving your phone in the room (once you’ve captured your photos to make friends jealous).
“There is no other place I would be for a much-needed vacation with the family as we get to spend undisturbed quality time with each other,” he said.
View the stars from a private villa
The Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is on a private island, so chances are you won’t often be surrounded by fellow vacationers. However, if you’re seeking a truly secluded getaway, consider booking a Stella Maris Ocean Villa. These two villas are separated from the main resort and accessible only by boat.
Looking down on the resort from above is stunning enough. Looking up at the stars from the roof of your private villa, though – with the waves lapping the shores around you – is a transcendent experience.
Etienne Dalancon, the General Manager of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, says these villas are perfect for a private viewing of the stars.
“One thing I’d love to do if I were a guest, is to turn off all the lights in the villa at night, go to the upper floor terrace and look up at the stars. The experience is incredibly intimate and personal, made possible because of the exquisite exclusivity of each villa which allows guests to completely disconnect from the outside world,” he said.
The all-villa Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi spans across three private islands, providing secluded enclaves and a tranquil escape for discerning travellers complete with a plethora of activities for guests of all generations.
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers a sophisticated and serene retreat just 30-minutes from Velana International Airport via the resort’s private yacht. An escape or families and couples in search of space and exclusivity, the resort boasts 122 luxuriously appointed villas, each equipped with a pool and uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean in its own private enclave. Each reef, beach and overwater villa opens onto an indoor and outdoor deck featuring a swinging daybed, dining gazebo, an infinity pool, in-water lounge and an outdoor shower.
In line with Waldorf Astoria’s legacy of culinary expertise, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers 11 exceptional, specialty-dining venues. Each venue delivers distinctive, immersive dining experiences – the variety of which is a first in the Maldives. Guests can enjoy an elevated treetop-dining concept at Terra, featuring spectacular views of the ocean and horizon, as well as exquisite food and wine pairings in a tranquil setting seemingly chiselled out of the face of a boulder at The Rock. Yasmeen boasts authentic Middle Eastern flatbreads and mezzes, impeccably prepared crispy Peking duck fresh out of the first wood-fired oven in the Maldives, and embracing the garden-to-table concept, Glow serves healthy and holistic cuisine made from the freshest ingredients harvested from the resort’s herb garden.
To further elevate Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi’s culinary offerings, the resort has launched an exclusive barbecue grill restaurant, The Ledge by Dave Pynt. Chef Dave Pynt is the culinary mastermind behind Singapore’s Burnt Ends restaurant, which has been awarded one Michelin star and most recently ranked No. 10 on the San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List 2019.
For those seeking the ultimate in exclusivity, the Ithaafushi Private Island features a two-bedroom overwater villa as well as a three-bedroom beach villa. The 32,000 square foot island sanctuary – accessible by yacht – comes complete with a dedicated chef and personal concierge team, as well as its own spa, gym, five swimming pools, entertainment centre and pristine beaches. Two Stella Maris Ocean Villas, inspired by a celestial charm – accessible only by boat – also allow discerning guests to enjoy unrivalled privacy. Floor-to-ceiling windows, chef service, a jacuzzi and direct ocean access make for an unforgettable and memorable escape.
For additional pampering, guests can visit the Waldorf Astoria Spa, comprised of ten idyllic overwater or garden treatment villas, which offers an extensive menu of treatments and Asian-inspired therapies focusing on relaxation and rebalance. The Waldorf Astoria Young Discovery Park, a water park for young guests, and the Lagoon Pool, are ideal for families looking to enjoy a variety of activities with ease. Other facilities include the beachfront, 40-meter Mirror Pool; the Ocean Pavilion, which hosts a range of wellness activities; a fully-equipped fitness centre; and a combined water sport and PADI dive centre.
Happy Independence Day!
Maldives.net.mv – After a long 78 years of being a British Protectorate, on 26th July 1965 Maldives was granted full independence from the British. To celebrate this independence, the Republic of Maldives, marks the 26th of July and declares it a public holiday. This is the 49th anniversary of independence for Maldives.
Although governed as an independent Islamic sultanate from 1153 to 1968, the Maldives was a British protectorate from 1887 until 25 July 1965. On December 16, 1887, the Sultan of the Maldives signed a contract with the British Governor of Ceylon turning the Maldives into a British protectorate, losing her sovereignty in matters of foreign policy.
The British government promised the Maldives military protection and non-interference in local administration in exchange for an annual tribute paid by the Maldives. In 1957 the British established a RAF base in the strategic southernmost atoll of Addu, where hundreds of locals were employed. Fiscal feasibility in question, 19 years later the British government decided to give up the base, as it was too expensive to maintain
In 1953, there was a brief, abortive attempt to form a republic, but the sultanate was re-imposed. In 1959, objecting to Nasir’s centralism, the inhabitants of the three southernmost atolls protested against the government. They formed the United Suvadive Republic and elected Abdullah Afeef as president and Hithadhoo as capital of this republic.
The agreement giving the Maldives full political independence was signed on behalf of His Majesty the Sultan by Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefan, Prime Minister; and on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen by Sir Michael Walker, British Ambassador designate to the Maldive Islands. The Ceremony took place at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in Colombo on 26 July 1965. After independence from Britain in 1965, the sultanate continued to operate for another three years under King Muhammad Fareed Didi.
On 11 November 1968, the monarchy was abolished and replaced by a republic under the presidency of Ibrahim Nasir, although this was a cosmetic change without any significant alteration in the structures of government. The official name of the country was changed from Maldive Islands to the Maldives. Tourism began to be developed on the archipelago by the beginning of the 1970s. The first accurate census was held in December 1977 and showed 142,832 persons residing in Maldives.
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