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Up-close invitation to meet world’s largest known Manta Ray population at Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

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The Manta Trust team at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru is once again preparing for the greatest underwater show on Earth, and thanks to its intensely researched “hot dates,” marine adventurers can now maximise their chance to swim with the world’s largest-known manta ray population.

It’s one of the most exciting times of the year in the Maldives Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Between May and November, plankton-rich currents lure reef manta rays to local waters in their hundreds for graceful feeding frenzies. Having studied this group of gentle oceanic giants for nearly twenty years, the Manta Trust team at Landaa Giraavaru are best placed to offer extraordinary insights into their habits and lifestyles.

During 2022’s manta ray season, The Manta Trust – whose researchers have run The Maldivian Manta Ray Project (MMRP) at Landaa Giraavaru since 2005 – estimated 6,083 manta ray sightings in the waters around the Resort.

At nearby Hanifaru Bay, famed for its mass manta aggregations, an estimated 5,016 sightings were made. Across the archipelago, 176 manta rays were identified for the first time, bringing the total known Maldives reef manta ray population to 5,507 – the largest recorded in the world.

During June 2022, Landaa Giraavaru’s researchers (and guests!) were also lucky enough to encounter more than 60 manta rays on the Resort’s House Reef. For the first time ever, the mantas were observed engaging in cyclone feeding – a rotating feeding circle resembling a cyclone – within a stone’s throw of the Resort’s Arrival Jetty.

“It was so special to show guests cyclone-feeding mantas directly from the beach,” recalls Ellie Strike, MMRP Project Manager at Landaa Giraavaru. “It goes to show, you don’t always need to visit Hanifaru Bay for manta encounters – sometimes they come to you!”

With wingspans of up to 4.5 metres (15 feet), the largest brain-to-size ratio of any cold-blooded fish, and a cognitive function on a par with dolphins, primates and elephants, reef mantas are some of the most impressive creatures in the ocean.

The importance of facilitating connections to mantas to understand their vital place in our ecosystems has sadly only increased this past year, with giant manta rays – the close cousin of the reef manta – being uplisted in December 2021 to “endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List. The reef manta ray remains listed as “vulnerable.”

“When a guest meets these intelligent and curious animals in their natural habitat, something truly magical happens,” continues Ellie. “Awed by nature, they quickly come to realise just how crucial it is to take care of our oceans to protect creatures like mantas. For us as researchers and educators, that’s what our work is all about.”

And it’s not just the mantas that are worth getting wet for at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru: 2022’s manta season also saw a record 27 whale shark sightings in local waters.  The largest of any fish alive today, unthreatening whale sharks also seek to exploit the plankton-rich waters of Baa Atoll – in apparently increasing numbers.

Opportunities for Magical Manta Moments

Guests have various options to interact with mantas during their stay at Landaa Giraavaru. The Resort’s Manta-on-Call service supplies a “manta phone” that rings when mantas are sighted nearby, before a waiting speedboat whisks them away for an unforgettable open water experience. And with manta rays swimming to the surface to feed, the phenomenon is best experienced while snorkelling, making it accessible to anyone able to swim.

Guests can also book private manta-spotting cruises, while the Resort’s new Trainee Manta Biologist program offers environmentally minded 13 to 18-year-olds teens a focused one-to-one deep dive into what it takes to be a Manta Biologist: from photo identification to helping monitor size, behaviour and even pregnancy.

Research driven by the MMRP since its inception in 2005 has been directly responsible for protecting mantas and their critical habitats both within the Maldives and across the world. Some of this research allows the MMRP to determine the most likely mass aggregation dates for mantas around Landaa Giraavaru. 2023’s hot dates are:

  • May 17–21
  • June 2–6
  • June 16–20
  • July 1–05
  • July 15–19
  • July 30 – August 3
  • August 14–18
  • August 29 – September 2
  • September 13–17
  • September 27 – October 1
  • October 12–16
  • October 27–31
  • November 11–15
  • November 25–29

Note: Manta ray sightings are subject to weather conditions and the temperament of the animals on the day.

To be a part of the greatest marine show on Earth, visit click here, email: reservations.mal@fourseasons.com or call the central reservations department of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives at tel: (960) 6600888.

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Catch the wind with Kitesurfing World Champion Youri Zoon at COMO Cocoa Island

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Embark on an exhilarating kitesurfing odyssey from May 6th to 20th, 2024, at COMO Cocoa Island alongside Youri Zoon, celebrated for seizing the kitesurfing world championship twice. Under his seasoned guidance, amplify your kitesurfing prowess, whether you’re a neophyte craving the fundamentals or a seasoned aficionado striving for intricate manoeuvres and airborne thrills.

Kitesurfing merges windsurfing, surfing, and wakeboarding for a dynamic water sport. Using controllable kites, riders harness wind power to glide across the ocean’s surface while being set against the backdrop of endless horizons and azure waters.

Throughout his residency, Zoon will conduct guided kitesurfing sessions, offering novices a gentle introduction to the sport or empowering veterans to elevate their abilities. Additionally, Zoon will host enlightening COMO Conversations, delving into his personal journey to kitesurfing eminence and the obstacles he surmounted along the way.

Guests may arrange activities with Zoon at their leisure, with plenty of time to make the most of our private island comforts, from massage treatments at COMO Shambhala to sandbank dinners under the stars and more.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Zoon’s affinity for kiteboarding burgeoned at the tender age of 13. A prodigious talent, he swiftly amassed accolades, securing victories at the Junior European Championships and Dutch Nationals in his inaugural year. Subsequently clinching the world title in 2011 and 2012, Zoon’s enduring passion for the sport fuels his ongoing commitment to mentorship and coaching, ensuring his legacy endures both on and off the water.

Nestled within South Male Atoll, COMO Cocoa Island beckons discerning travelers with its intimate enclave of 33 overwater villas. Renowned for its iconic Dhoni Water Villas, which pay homage to Maldivian maritime heritage, this idyllic retreat offers a sanctuary of tranquillity and indulgence. Accessible via a scenic 40-minute speedboat journey from Velana International Airport, COMO Cocoa Island promises an unrivalled blend of luxury and seclusion.

For details on COMO Hotels and Resorts or to plan your next escape, please visit https://www.comohotels.com/cocoaisland.

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Sheraton Maldives hosts successful second season of Full Moon Futsal Cup

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Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa celebrated the culmination of the highly anticipated Full Moon Futsal Cup on March 31, 2024. The tournament, which commenced on March 17th, brought together 12 teams from neighboring resorts in Malé Atoll, fostering a spirit of friendly competition and camaraderie.

SO/ Maldives emerged victorious after a thrilling final match, securing the coveted title of Full Moon Futsal Cup Champions 2024. Mohamed El Aghoury, General Manager of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, presented the winning team with the Championship trophy and gold medals during a closing ceremony. Additional prizes, medals, and certificates were awarded to recognize the exceptional talent displayed by all participants.

“We are honored to have hosted and participated in such a vibrant tournament,” Mohamed El Aghoury commented, reflecting on the event’s success. “The Full Moon Futsal Cup celebrates not only sportsmanship but also fosters strong bonds within the resort community.”

Throughout the tournament, all teams showcased exceptional skill, determination, and teamwork, captivating spectators and fellow competitors alike. Notably, Sheraton Maldives’ own associate teams, Team Sheraton and Team Furana FC, participated with commendable spirit.

This involvement aligns with Marriott International’s Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) initiative, which prioritizes fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel valued. The participation of the Young Professionals ARG team specifically exemplifies the group’s dedication to community building, skill development, and mentorship. The tournament provided a platform to spotlight the energy and potential of young professionals, promoting their growth and contributing to the organization’s future success.

Extending beyond a sporting event, the Full Moon Futsal Cup embodies the values of unity, friendship, and healthy competition. This aligns with Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa’s commitment to fostering community connections and Marriott International’s TakeCare philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of physical well-being among associates.

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa extends its sincere gratitude to all participating teams, supporters, sponsors, and organizers who contributed to the resounding success of the Full Moon Futsal Cup 2024. The resort eagerly anticipates continuing this tradition of sporting excellence and camaraderie in the years to come.

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Dive into memorable underwater adventure with Baros Maldives’s Eco Explorer Experience

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In today’s world, where the fragile balance of marine ecosystems teeters on the edge, to call for sustainable tourism practices resonates louder than ever. Baros Maldives, deeply rooted in its respect for nature, leads the way in conservation and preservation. Baros’s Eco Explorer Experience stands as a testament to the island’s commitment, inviting guests to not just observe but to actively contribute to the safeguarding of our underwater sanctuaries.

Nestled on a lush, natural island paradise, Baros is a sanctuary surrounded by a kaleidoscope of marine life, boasting a world-class house reef, celebrated for its unparalleled beauty and biodiversity, attracting adventurers and nature lovers alike.

The Eco Explorer Experience is a carefully curated immersive experience designed for those who seek to delve deeper into the mysteries of the ocean. This experience is more than an adventure; it’s a journey of discovery and contribution, offering intimate encounters with the marvels of the sea, all while promoting marine conservation.

With this experience, Baros guests enjoy a myriad of enriching activities, culminating in a bespoke photobook documenting the essence of their Eco Explorer journey beneath the waves.

Coral Restoration and Conservation: Participants will immerse themselves in coral ecology, by planting personal coral gardens under the guidance of Baros’s resident Marine Biologist. This hands -on experience not only fosters coral growth but also contributes to the restoration of these vital habitats. Through the Coral Cube initiative, guests will apply innovative techniques like using fast plug cement to build thriving underwater ecosystems. The Baros marine team will share bi-annual updates with the guests so that they can follow the growth of their corals.

Marine Life Identification: This educational session equips guests with the knowledge to identify different fish species and understand their vital roles within the marine ecosystem. Equipped with snorkelling gear and new insights, guests will explore Baros’s world- class house reef during a snorkelling tour, guided by the resident marine biologist, to witness the vibrant marine life.

Night Snorkelling and Bioluminescence: As night falls, the reef reveals a different kind of beauty. With UV lights, guests will explore this nocturnal wonderland, observing the reef’s inhabitants in a new light. This magical experience is not only enchanting but also educational, offering insights into coral health and the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

Baros recognises the fragility of the marine environment and is committed to fostering sustainable tourism practices. The Eco Explorer Experience is more than a holiday activity, it’s an invitation to become part of a larger movement, advocating for the protection and preservation of our marine environments.

Join the Baros marine team on this extraordinary journey. Together, dive deeper, explore further, and unveil the boundless wonders of the ocean, ensuring they remain vibrant for generations to come.

For bookings and more information, please visit www.baros.com or contact Baros directly at reservations@baros.com or call +960 664 26 72.

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