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Joel Parkinson opens Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy in style



The Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy kicked off in fine fashion at flawless four-foot Sultans this morning, with single-fin surfboards the order of the day at the world’s most luxurious surfing event. “Look at this, it’s incredible!” said Adriano de Souza as he saw the empty lineup for the first time. “Just to be in this contest is a blessing, but with waves like this too? Wow!”

At day’s end 2015 world champion De Souza finished runner-up in the single fin division to 2012 world champ Joel Parkinson, who as a previous Surfing Champions Trophy competitor looked comfortable both at Sultans, and with the format. The Surfing Champions Trophy sees competitors battle it out in single fin, twin fin and thruster divisions. Start times are staggered from oldest to youngest and in 2023 Joel Parkinson will surf 31-minute heats while Adriano de Souza will enter the water at the 28-minute mark, Mason Ho a minute later, Coco Ho and Hood Ahmed a minute after that, while Conner Coffin joins the field at the 25-minute mark.

“Today was firing!” said Parkinson. “It’s amazing to be back here. I feel like I’ve put a lot of time into my single fin surfing these past few years. Hopefully I can be as competitive in the next rounds but once the boards get a little more high-performance I think my surfing might get left behind.”

De Souza started the day with a win over Hawaiian surfer Coco Ho and local wildcard Hood “Hoobs” Ahmed, who unlocked plenty of opportunities on his backhand. While De Souza needed the first half of his first heat to adjust to his equipment, once things clicked he engaged contest animal mode, finding barrels and aggressively attacking the lip to comfortably advance with a 15.50 two wave total.

Ho quickly found her groove atop an XOCOCO single-fin, one of many offerings from the new surfboard brand she has founded with shaper Matt Parker. “It’s about time surfboards were designed for women,”

said Ho, “and that doesn’t just mean ‘shrink it and pink it’, that means making boards that actually work.” Ho’s words rang true, the tubes she weaved through the course of the rounds the ultimate proof of concept.

In the second heat of the day Parkinson came up against Ho’s brother, renowned Hawaiian freesurfer Mason Ho, and Californian style master Conner Coffin, who only recently announced his retirement from WSL competition. “I’m new to this,” laughed Coffin, “so I thought I’d better get over here and let Joel show me how it’s done!”

Parkinson did just that, blazing through the opening rounds with a pair of eight-point rides to take the win. The Surfing Champions Trophy came alive at the 15-minute mark of the affair with a four-foot set broadsiding the Sultans reef and rousing the early morning crowd in the channel. Parkinson, already sitting on an 8.5 opener, pulled into a long, deep tube, backed up by a series of trademark carves on the first wave of the exchange. Coffin let his rails sing on the second, before Ho wrangled the foamball on the third. As the judges went to work another three waves turned inside out and spat into an empty channel. With minutes to go Mason found another gem, navigating a long tube to kick out in the channel with the 7.3 he needed to relegate Coffin to third place safely secured.

In the first semi-final Ho and De Souza went back and forth exchanging exquisitely ridden barrels and vicious carves from start to finish. While Ho threaded the best wave of the heat to lock in an eight after bowing to the Gods while kicking out, Adriano’s mixture of turns and tubes saw him advance with a pair of sevens.

The second semi saw Parkinson put on a tube riding clinic. The opener, a barrel sandwiched between trademark swoops earned him a 6.5 before Ho had entered the lineup. Once she did, Ho sat and played the waiting game while Parkinson went to work under priority, a 7.5 for a smaller yet hollower inside drainer putting plenty of pressure on the Hawaiian. Ho’s opener was a long, deep tube that she just missed the finish of, leaving a huge score behind as she got a little high and cartwheeled away.

Parkinson’s technical takeoff skills then earned him an 8.1 for a deep drainer that he threaded from the moment he found his feet. On the wave behind, with Parkinson looking straight into it, Ho again flew threw a huge tube, before again getting clamped.

The last set of the encounter saw Parkinson take off deep on a boat wake-ribbed wave, come from behind the peak and thread the pit to perfection. This resulted in the best wave score of the day, a 9.27, and a front row seat as Ho threw peace signs in the tube on the wave behind, her never-in-doubt exit earning her a 7.1 and plaudits from her opponent, and the channel. “I saw that barrel from the boat!” said de Souza, “It was insane, so good.”

In the all-world champion final, Parkinson (2012) took on De Souza (2012), though the three-minute head start for the elder statesman from Queensland amounted to nothing when the ocean went flat for the duration. After a slow start Parko got the ball rolling with a wider wave that didn’t look like much off the bat, but ended up a 6.43 as it grew down the line and let Parkinson sink his JS single fin into a series of strong turns. De Souza replied with a big set that offered no wall after an impressive drop, and he quickly aborted the mission to regain priority.

Parkinson took up residency on the wider peak while de Souza stationed himself at the top off the lineup. The contrasting tactics were on full display on the next set, de Souza taking off deep and reaping little reward, while Parkinson threaded a deep tube to perfection for a 9.07 and a handsome lead. With Adriano needing two fresh scores tube-pig Parkinson went to work burying his snout in every barrel that dared rear its head, occasionally paying a visit to the open face for a turn or two. Adriano found a late consolation 8.43, for a series of wild hacks, but to the victor go the spoils and Parkinson took out the single fin division to light up day one with his Cheshire Cat grin.

“A win is the best way to kick off the working vacation, isn’t it?” laughed Parkinson. “I’m really looking forward to enjoying the afternoon, and doing it all over again tomorrow. You beauty!”

The Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy runs from August 21-28. The forecast looks good for the rest of the week so stay tuned for more updates when competition resumes with the twin fin division.

Single Fin Division Results:

  1. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
  2. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
  3. Coco Ho (HAW) equal with Mason Ho (HAW)
  4. Conner Coffin (USA) equal with Hood Ahmed (MDV)

2023 FS Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy Leaderboard:

  1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 1000pts
  2. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 900pts
  3. Coco Ho (HAW) 800pts
  4. Mason Ho (HAW) 800pts
  5. Hood Ahmed (MDV) 700pts
  6. Conner Coffin (USA) 700pts


ROBINSON NOONU offers exciting sports, well-being events for guests



ROBINSON NOONU, the premium resort on the Maldivian island Orivaru, is offering guests the chance to experience innovative concepts and practice them with experienced coaches and experts. The resort’s upcoming event weeks include the HOT IRON Event Week, Mindful METIME Event-Week, “BODY POSITIVITY”-Event, and “Your timeout” Yoga-Event.

From October 16th to 21st, 2023, guests can participate in the HOT IRON Event Week “Strength meets mobility”, led by Sebastian Prahl. This strength-endurance training with the barbell is suitable for all levels and focuses on body toning and fat reduction.

From October 16th to 21st, 2023, guests can participate in the HOT IRON Event Week “Strength meets mobility”, led by Sebastian Prahl. This strength-endurance training with the barbell is suitable for all levels and focuses on body toning and fat reduction.

The Mindful METIME Event Week, led by Peter Praunsmändtl, takes place from November 7th to 19th, 2023. Guests can find their inner strength through meditations, breathing exercises, and workout classes, including Pilates and mobility sessions.

From December 22nd, 2023, to January 13th, 2024, guests can participate in the “BODY POSITIVITY” Event with Sava Assenov. This event includes core training, Pilates, and yoga flows, as well as early bird workouts and intensive whole-body workouts.

For those looking for a yoga-focused event, the “Your timeout” Yoga Event with Anja Bölitz takes place from January 13th to 27th, 2024. Bölitz, founder of emBODYMINDing®, focuses on healthy alignment for the body and mind, combining yoga and fascia training with meditation and mindfulness.

“Many of our guests come to our island not only to relax and enjoy the dreamlike scenery, but also to benefit their body and mind during their holiday,” said Jan-Hendrik Karliczek, General Manager of ROBINSON NOONU. “With our sport and well-being event weeks, we offer them the opportunity to get to know new innovative concepts and to practice them with experienced coaches and experts.”

In addition to the special event weeks, the resort offers a wide range of activities for all guests to enjoy, including volleyball, badminton, football, water polo, table tennis, billiards, snorkelling, diving, fishing, sailing, boat tours, and wakeboarding.

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Inaugural Kandooma Manta Week kicks off on World Manta Day 2023



Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives celebrates the annual World Manta Day (17 Sept) with the naming of a recently rescued Giant Oceanic Manta Ray, an award and a variety of guest activities for the resort’s inaugural Kandooma Manta Week. World Manta Day has been created to celebrate manta rays and to raise awareness of the threats that these beautiful, mysterious, ocean giants face.

Last month divers from Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives led by Japanese PADI-certified Dive Instructor Tomoyo, freed a Giant Oceanic Manta Ray tangled in ghost nets, at a site nearby to the island resort. The Manta Trust through its identification process has now confirmed the Manta is an adult male and is the 915th Oceanic Manta Ray to be spotted in Maldivian waters. As part of the identification process the Manta was named ‘Kandooma’ in honour of where it was seen and the dive team who freed it from tangled nets.

“We are delighted to have the Manta named after our natural island, Kandooma. When the Manta Trust shared confirmation of the name with us, I was absolutely thrilled,” said Mark Eletr, General Manager, Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, who was one of the divers who freed the Manta.

As part of the Kandooma Manta Week activities at the resort, the team at Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives will host a naming ceremony for Kandooma the Manta and will honour the Dive Instructor, Tomoyo from the Kandooma Dive Centre for her bravery, seizing the opportunity to cut ‘Kandooma’ the Giant Oceanic Manta Ray free. Other activities for the week long celebration of Manta Rays includes special scuba dives and snorkelling excursions to observe these giants in their natural environment and learn about their behaviours, the threats to their survival and share the story of the freeing of ‘Kandooma’.

“Tomoyo showed no hesitation on the dive. First ensuring the group of accompanying divers were all safe before proceeding. Fortunately they were all experienced and each had enough air remaining for her to do this. In all it took about three and a half minutes to free Kandooma. I was so proud of her for the way she conducted herself and took positive action. I think also the other divers need to be acknowledged as well, they remained calm, kept their distance, didn’t interfere with what Tomoyo was doing and recorded the entire encounter,” added Mark.

The newly named Manta, ’Kandooma’, is estimated to be 4 metres in size. While confirmed origin of the fishing net is yet to be confirmed, it is understood it is not Maldivian and has drifted with the tide from another country, reinforcing the importance of education and responsible disposal of nets and fishing line.

The theme of World Manta Day 2023 is Tourism. Tourism plays a pivotal role in Manta Ray conservation, as it helps to raise awareness, generates funding for research, and contributes to efforts to protect Manta Ray habitats and prevents their exploitation.

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma is on the doorstep to some of the Maldives Top Ten Dive Sites and the wellbeing of the ocean and all the life within it, is important to guests and hotel staff alike. The resort aligns its efforts with IHG’s purpose True Hospitality for Good, through their sustainability programme ‘Journey to Tomorrow’ which is the hotel group’s response to helping achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

Recent events with Kandooma the Manta have inspired the resort’s management to add two free Scuba Dives per day for certified divers staying at the resort for 3 nights or more.

Located in the South Male atoll just 40 mins from the airport by boat, Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives is a beautiful island paradise. White sandy beaches, swaying coconut palms and turquoise waters form the backdrop for various leisure pursuits and some of the best diving in the Maldives. Guests can choose from Garden and Beach Villas, two-storey Beach Houses and the popular Overwater Villas. Families are well catered for with a choice of 2- and 3-bed villas, the Kandoo Kids’ Club, and its complete activities programme. Six food and beverage outlets ensure healthy appetites are satisfied and the flavours of the Maldives are explored. For guests who desire the ultimate relaxation, sun loungers and hammocks are located around the island. The Kandooma Spa by COMO Shambhala offers the ultimate tranquility and escape for body and mind.

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Kandooma Maldives shakes things up with free scuba diving for guests



Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, just days after being awarded Best Dive Resort 2023 in the Maldives, has added free scuba diving for guests as part of their stay.

“This inclusion sets us apart from our competitors and offers something pretty fantastic for keen scuba divers visiting the Maldives,” said Mark Eletr, General Manager, Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives.

“Just like we include breakfast, snorkelling lessons and access to the Kids’ Club as part of a stay, we now include diving!”

The resort has it’s own five-star PADI Resort dive centre, known as Kandooma Dive complete with experienced and professional dive instructors, purpose-built facilities and a dedicated fleet of dive boats.

Kandooma is known for it’s diving, positioned on the doorstep to some of the Top 10 Dive Sites in the Maldives. Divers can expect to see a wealth of marine life, including manta rays, whale sharks, reef sharks, colourful reef fish, turtles, eagle rays, and a variety of coral species. Some of the dive spots near to Kandooma, include:

  1. Kandooma Thila: This renowned pinnacle showcases schools of vibrant fish, colourful coral formations, and an abundance of marine life. From white-tip reef sharks to eagle rays, the site is a captivating spectacle of biodiversity.
  2. Guraidhoo Corner: Drift along the currents and witness the congregation of gray reef sharks, white-tip sharks, and eagle rays. The site’s dramatic underwater structure adds to the allure of this exciting dive.
  3. Cocoa Corner: Known for its thrilling currents, this site is a magnet for pelagic species. Divers often spot hammerhead sharks, manta rays, and other large marine inhabitants as they glide through the deep waters.
  4. Kuda Giri: The Kuda Giri wreck is an interesting dive site in South Malé in the Maldives, which includes both a small wreck and a pinnacle. They have created a welcoming habitat for a variety of marine life. There is hardly any current around this area making it suitable for less experienced divers.
  5. Manta Point: Witness the mesmerising dance of manta rays as they gather to feed and be cleaned by smaller fish. This site promises awe-inspiring interactions with these majestic creatures.
  6. Lhosfushi: The channel deepens inside to a sandy bottom to 30 metres. There are plenty of fish and marine life including turtles, schools of snapper, sweet lips, fusilier, tuna, Napoleon and white-tip reef sharks. There are also large morays, ribbon eels and elegant fire gobies.
  7. Medhu faru: This channel dive is good for both incoming and outgoing current. You will be likely to spot Napoleon, the graceful Eagle rays and a wide selection of colourful fish. Medhu Faru is one of the best dive sites to see large numbers of reef sharks at close range.
  8. Kandooma Caves: Explore a labyrinth of swim-throughs and underwater caverns adorned with sponges and gorgonians. The site is known for its macro life and the occasional appearance of larger predators.
  9. Waggiri: This is a great dive site for every diver, especially those who love to see small life and have long dives. The formation of this giri is very unique and a perfect place to try a night dive. Expect to see anemone fishes, groupers, frogfish, ghost pipe fish, schools of bat fish, stonefish and yellow mouth moray eels.
  10. Miyaru Kandu: This channel dive features an explosion of marine life, including barracudas, snappers, and reef sharks. The site’s coral-encrusted overhangs and vibrant soft corals create a stunning backdrop for underwater exploration.

“At Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives we are passionate about our aquatic wonderland and sharing it with our guests. The beautiful crystalline waters, vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life all make it a paradise for underwater enthusiasts and those seeking unparalleled exploration of the deep blue,” added Mark.

Marketed as Dive Free @Kandooma, the new inclusions are available to full paying guests staying a minimum of three nights and includes two single tank group dives for two certified divers per day of stay. All dives are fully guided and include free dive equipment, boat transfers and air/Nitrox. Guests must be fit to dive and be fully certified. The offer is governed by PADI best practice, meaning there is no diving on day of departure + 24 hour ‘no-fly’ time. Any unused dives can only be rolled over to other days at the discretion of the Dive Centre Manager and unused dives are not encashable or exchangeable for other services. Note: some flash sale/discounted accommodation offers may specifically exclude this Dive Free inclusion. The Dive Free @Kandooma inclusions commence 1 September 2023 and will be reviewed 31 October 2024.

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives is a beautiful natural island paradise, located in the South Male Atoll just 40-mins from the airport by boat.  White sand beaches, swaying coconut palms and turquoise waters form the exquisite backdrop for a wide variety of leisure pursuits and some of the best diving in the Maldives.

Guests can choose from Garden and Beach Villas, two-storey Beach Houses, the three-bedroom Beach Pool Villa and the popular Overwater Villas with direct ladder access to the water below.

Families are well catered for with the Kandoo Kids’ Club with its dedicated water zone and a full activities programme.  

After a day of diving you will have a healthy appetite.  Delight in a choice of six food and beverage outlets with an array of delicious cuisine and a showcase of Maldivian flavours influenced by India and Arabia.  

Between dives and for those guests who desire the ultimate in relaxation, sun loungers and hammocks are located around the island and the Kandooma Spa by COMO Shambhala is the ideal place to unwind.

Whether an experienced diver seeking adrenaline-pumping encounters or a novice eager to embark on a new adventure, Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives offers an abundance of opportunities to explore its underwater treasures. With its warm waters, exceptional visibility, and a Five-Star Resort Dive Centre, it’s easy to see why Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives was named Best Dive Resort 2023. At Kandooma scuba diving is elevated into an immersive experience that forever lingers in the heart and memory, and now its FREE.

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