The Maldives are not only for honeymooners or a couple’s getaway. With their natural beauty and biodiversity, they are also a delight for adventurers of all kinds.
In my bag, I have a swimsuit, a beach dress, a camera and flip flops. I also have books and magazines; after all, I am soon off to The Maldives — a beach destination in the Indian Ocean where everyone expects to enjoy an uber-lazy romantic routine in an Ocean view overwater bungalow.
In fact, not everyone: with some of the most pristine underwater sites, world-famous surf breaks and wide, unexplored lagoons, the clear turquoise water of this bizarre archipelago is also a magnet for divers, surfers, wind and kite-surfers. After all, 99 percent of The Maldives is water, which means there are ocean games for all types of adventurers.
After jumping on a seaplane in Malé, I land 220km south-west of the capital soon after. Also known as Kolhumadulu, this remote Thaa Atoll is among the least-visited destinations in The Maldives. While boats may battle for the same sites further north, here it seems like I have the ocean all to myself.
I’m staying at Como Maalifushi – the only resort in entire Thaa Atoll – where I enjoy an easy-going luxury experience (shoes-free somehow feels like a perfectly acceptable dress code) and, for my surprise, world-class watersports.
As I hear about the dazzling coral walls, magnificent caves and schools of brightly coloured tropical fish, I soon get down to the reef; I then dive into deeper water in search of manta rays and sharks. The water is clear and warm—I barely need a wetsuit. I spot some exotic species of turtles and eagle rays, but the corals are, in some parts, severely affected by bleaching due to climate change.
I’ve also been aware the Maldives are currently being billed as one of the world’s hottest up-and-coming surf destinations. What I didn’t know is that “Farms”—the latest cult break to open in the archipelago—is located just a few minutes away from our resort by speed boat.
I meet Adam Webster from Tropicsurf, an Australian luxury surf operator, and I am soon convinced to take a surf lesson for the first time in my life. As we finish the theory class, we head to Farms, where I expect wild waves without crowds.
At first, I wobble before standing on the long board; then I paddle the board hard until I’m close to exhaustion. “Pop-up now!,” I hear Adam shouting. After some attempts, I eventually work my way up on the board. “Holy crap! I’m standing up on it now!” I think to myself, while I experience incredible views of Farms from an entirely new angle.
I discover the sensation of being part of the ocean: I feel nature’s energy in the waves as I catch them. And just as quick as it comes, it dies on the shore. But I am hooked and from that moment on, I just need to do it again and again.
As I pack my bag before I fly out, I notice that all my books are untouched. It’s true that there is luxury to spare on these islands, and most of the travellers visiting The Maldives are already in a honeymoon-ready vibe. I, on the other hand, got consumed by a sense of adventure—a remote surf break, a marine heaven, and a vast lagoon were irresistible to me. I was too busy to enjoy a lazy routine.
We travelled to The Maldives from September 30th to October 4th (4-day trip), 2016. Stayed at Como Malifushi. Travelled from Singapore to Male with Singapore Airlines and from Male to Thaa Atoll via seaplane.