Not only sand and water: what to do in the Maldives

Not only sand and water: things to do in the Maldives

The azure ocean framed by emerald green – this beaten cliché inevitably comes to mind when you think about the Maldives. But this archipelago, lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean, is much more than sand and water. “Subtlety” visited the paradise islands and found at least 10 ways to spend your vacation magically – lazily, actively, tasty and healthy – in a word, whatever you like, but not boring.


During their week-long trip, “Subtleties” visited three different parts of the country – in the far north (yes, the Maldives has its own far north), in the south and relatively close to the capital city of Male.

  1. The Westin Maldives Mirandhoo Resort is a very chamber and cozy resort hotel located 111 km from Male in the south of Baa Atoll. Its main features are excellent cuisine, an unusual architectural concept and maximum personal space for guests. And it is The Westin that is located as close as possible to the world-famous dive spot in Hanifaru Bay, where manta rays live – only 18 km.
  2. JA Manafaru, the luxurious hotel of the famous Arab chain JA, combines several features that are not typical for the Maldives. Firstly, the island is big – you can walk and ride bicycles. Secondly, there is the first underground wine cellar in the country, where more than 400 varieties of wine are stored. Despite its status as a luxury hotel, this place is completely devoid of unnecessary pathos, which allows you to relax and not get out of your favorite shorts and slippers for the whole vacation.
  3. Radisson Blu Resort Maldives is located 105 km south of Male, which is probably why the ocean here is a little different than in the north. For example, the local waters are very fond of dolphins – they can be found here literally 5 minutes from the coastline. And here, right under the walls of the main restaurant, baby sharks often frolic. The local reef seems quite comfortable and “full” to them, as generous tourists feed them with tuna. At the same time, it is impossible for large individuals to cross the reef wall, so snorkeling with Baby Sharks is absolutely safe.

1. Swimming with manta rays

Manta ray, they are also giant sea devils, despite their nickname, completely safe and extremely impressive inhabitants of the underwater world. Judge for yourself: they reach 9 m in size (but most of them are still 4–5 m), weigh up to 3 tons, they like to swim near the surface, and not alone, but immediately in a large company. A dive spot in Hanifaru Bay is a great way to see this. You can get here from The Westin Maldives Mirandhoo Resort in 20 minutes and enjoy swimming with these huge “birds of the ocean” without unnecessary equipment – just a mask and snorkel. From May to November, in 99 cases out of 100 in this place you can see up to 30 (!) stingrays circling under the water, like huge and elegant underwater cars. 1/1

2. Yoga by the ocean

Even if the expression “downward-facing dog” doesn’t mean anything to you, and you can only bend over and touch the floor in your sleep, we advise you: go to The Westin for morning yoga. The gentle dawn sun, the refreshing breeze from the ocean, the sound of the waves and the very calm instructor will charge you for the whole day in a way that no coffee is capable of. Bonus – a bottle of life-giving potion right after: fresh shot of spinach, celery and apple.1/1

3. Marine biologist lecture and house reef snorkeling

Philippa Lopez is a staff marine biologist at The Westin Maldives Mirandhoo Resort from Portugal, who once traded her native Atlantic for the Indian Ocean and has not regretted it a bit. During a half-hour lecture in English, she talks about how the Maldives appeared, why the shape of the islands is sometimes in the form of a donut or a crescent, who lives in the surrounding waters and how dangerous local fish are, as well as how to distinguish a male manta from a female, and where did the magic Maldivian sand, which does not burn at all even on the hottest afternoon. Spoiler alert: it's all the parrot fish that got it wrong! After a fascinating lecture with colorful photos and videos, swimming on the house (and very rich) reef becomes much more exciting.1/1

4. Cooking class

Let's leave, as our ancestors once did, from water to land, to the next resort – JA Manafaru. Here, the traditions and customs of the Maldivian people are sacredly honored, supporting the population in every possible way and educating tourists. And one of the most important cultural features is, of course, the cuisine. As you know, almost nothing grows in the Maldives, except for the “tree of life” coconut. Therefore, grated, in the form of milk or cream, dried or fresh coconut, as well as tuna, are present in almost all local dishes. JA Manafaru Chef Musa, a native of the neighboring island, will tell and show you all the intricacies of making tuna curry and hand you a ladle full of spices to consolidate the result. It will be sharp and fun!

5. Spa and Ayurveda

There is a spa in every resort in the Maldives, but the Ayurveda reserve is in JA Manafaru. Here they will not just give a massage, but will accompany it with good advice on nutrition and activity, finely selected aromas and care products. The local pros first of all seek to help health, and only then – as a result – beauty. Visiting an Ayurveda and Spa session at least once is a must for every guest over 12 at JA Manafaru.1/1

6. Museum of the History and Traditions of the Country

The whole life of the Maldives revolves around the ocean – he is the breadwinner, and the protector, and a frightening secret. However, to think that fishing for tuna or exchanging coconuts for spices with India and Sri Lanka is all that has happened in the history of the Maldives is fundamentally wrong. The country is extremely well located – great scientists and navigators have been here, religions and rulers have changed, the British have left their mark on culture with their military base during the Second World War. On the island of JA Manafaru, you can learn much more about the culture and traditions of the locals in a real museum. It is small, but very rich – history and ethnography, crafts and cooking, everything is collected in one room. And next to it on the street is a house where our guide's grandfather lived 80 years ago. Looking at it, you immediately believe that the Maldives is developing by leaps and bounds.1/1

7. Dinner in the wine cellar

The first wine cellar in the Maldives opened right here, in JA Manafaru, after which many resorts picked up this idea – to delight their guests with aged red, exquisite sparkling or light white. You can try all this richness during a tasting dinner: the sommelier and the chef each time create a new menu based on fresh products that have arrived in the kitchen. Digestif, dessert, champagne sorbet – a gastronomic explosion of pleasure here will complement the interior and surroundings. The surroundings here are almost like in a cartoon about Beauty and the Beast – an English castle, candles in candelabra, Persian carpets on the floor and heated stones underfoot so that no one freezes – after all, the cellar is real.

8. Swimming with sharks

Now we are waiting for the Radisson Blu Resort Maldives with its mini-dining room for sharks. The local rich house reef with an abundance of small fish has long attracted harmless baby sharks and juvenile sharks.

The main restaurant of the hotel stands on stilts in a picturesque lagoon and in the evening, when the “children” wake up with an appetite, the bottom is illuminated with spotlights and it becomes perfectly visible how they are having dinner. But in the daytime, armed with a mask and flippers, you can swim very close – sharks are shy and do not come immediately, but having grown bolder, they begin to play and cut circles around their friends. You should not be afraid: their size does not exceed 1-1.2 m, and they are much more afraid of people than they are.

9. Wine tasting in the ocean

Radisson Blu Resort Maldives is another innovator in the hospitality industry in the Maldives. While the kids frolic in the children's room, the older kids swim with sharks or play tennis and football, parents can go for a tasting in the lagoon. This is a special pleasure that affects all the senses at once: bare feet caress the sea, the sun plays in glasses, and several varieties of wine are responsible for taste, smell and hearing, a fascinating sommelier story and light snacks.

10. Encounter with dolphins

Watching animals in their natural habitat is a hundred times more interesting than at the most exciting show in the aquarium or zoo – you don’t need to take a word, it’s enough to visit the Radisson Blu Resort Maldives. It is worth sailing very close to the island, and the joyful squeals of two biological species at once announce the area: tourists emotionally react to dolphins, and they squeal in their own way. The ocean changes its color from indigo to azure, here and there flocks of charming mammals cut through it. They flirt with each other, clearly show off in front of the two-legged, dive and jump, look with sly eyes and quickly swim away into the distance. To reappear – but on the other side of the board. You can easily spend two hours watching dolphins frolicking in the open ocean, while treating yourself to canapes and a glass or two of sparkling wine. 1/1

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