Tag Archives: Maldives

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Maldives Under the Reef

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Your first underwater experience of the Maldives is likely to be your local house reef. All the islands have their own unique house reefs, and Makunudu is no exception. For many people, this is all you actually need. Just put on a mask and step into the shallows. You don’t have to go further than a few yards to enjoy this other world under water.

Immediately you are greeted with colorful corals and an abundance of small vibrant tropical fish. Typical are the ubiquitous Powder Blue SurgeonSaddleback Butterfly fish and Oriental Reeftips, lazily feeding on the coral polyps.

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Slip on some fins in the shallows, then head out a little further. As the water gradually deepens, you get to see larger, more graceful coral formations and shoals of small fish.

Of course you need to avoid touching the coral. Apart from everything else, the coral is the natural habitat for many small fish. You can even see how defensive the little fish become when you get too close (see video below). You can also get some nasty cuts from some types of coral.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef – Shallow Coral Formations

Maldives Under the Reef

As you gently paddle out to the reef edge, normally 20 or 30 meters from the beach, the colors start to change. Instead of the brightly-lit tones of the shallows, you begin to see the darker blue shades of the deep, stretching down to the much darker depths of the reef wall.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef – Blue Surgeon Fish

The reef edge is usually a great place for spotting the larger species. With a little patience, you can encounter Turtles and some of the smaller Blacktip or Whitetip Reef Sharks.

At Makunudu, they actually feed their community of sharks in the evenings from the end of the jetty.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef – Saddleback Butterfly Fish

If you’re spending several days or longer on your island, you will quickly become familiar with the layout and landmarks of your underwater environment. You can then quickly navigate to places of interest at different times.

The same hideouts may be regularly inhabited by different species at different times of the day/evening.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef Landmarks

Manta Point

From the Makunudu Island Resort there are four organized snorkeling trips each week. These are morning trips by dhoni to nearby ‘thilas’ (underwater reefs). We were told there was a good chance of spotting Manta Rays, so we didn’t need any more encouragement to join the trip.

We boarded the dhoni with about a dozen other keen snorkelers, and headed off into the blue. We were accompanied by 2 Maldivian divers who knew exactly where to moor the boat and lead our group. Even before we got into the water, we could see 2 Manta Rays passing by close to our dhoni, occasionally breaking the surface.

Maldives Under the Reef

Snorkeler’s Day Out

The reef we were visiting wasn’t visible from the surface – we just appeared to be somewhere in the middle of the ocean. Once we got into the water, however, we could see clearly the undulating form of the coral. In some areas it was quite shallow, and the visibility was very good.

I had my camera ready, and was hoping for some decent footage.

Maldives Under the Reef

Maldives Under the Reef – Parrot fish

With such a large group of people, I wanted to maintain a distance from the others while keeping an eye on the Maldivian group leader. The excitement level rose a few degrees when the first manta ray came into sight. It seemed curious, almost playful, as it gracefully glided in close to take a good look at us.

Then, like a stealth bomber, it drifted past only to turn again for a second pass.

Around the same time I noticed some commotion out of the corner of my eye, and turned to see our Maldivian Guide in determined pursuit of a large turtle. When he actually tried to grab it, the startled turtle suddenly switched gear, deftly evading his pursuer and the other snorkelers.

Lucky for me, he headed in my direction. I managed to get some decent images before the turtle had enough and slipped away through the rocks.

Maldives Under the Reef

Post-snorkel: Wet and Happy

All the excitement attracted a White tip shark, but he didn’t hang around for the photo shoot. In all, we spent an hour or so in the water, though it felt more like 10 minutes. It was a great way to start the day. On the boat trip back we drank water and dried off in the sun.

This is really what the Maldives is all about.


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Maldives Under the Reef
Maldives: Under the Reef

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Sandbank Affaire

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The Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives is a special experience devised by the Management of the Makunudu Island Resort. This is a private evening excursion to a distant mini-island (the Sandbank). You are accompanied by just your waiter and a chef, and are treated to a Lobster BBQ with a bottle of wine.

Since this was our last evening on the island, we decided to try what promised to be a truly unique experience.

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Speedboat from Makunudu island

Reaching the Sandbank

We set out at at 6 pm from the jetty in a small motorboat. We were accompanied by Ibrahim (our assigned waiter), one of the local chefs, and 2 of the boat staff to take care of transport. The speedboat was fast, and we quickly covered a considerable distance out into the Indian Ocean.

After around half an hour we spotted our destination: A thin sliver of white sand on the horizon.

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives – Arrival

We approached from the opposite, shallow side of the Sandbank. Our boat handlers moored the boat about 30 meters out, and we hopped out into the shallows and waded ashore.

Our venue for the evening comprised a thin strip of sand, around 150 meters long by 30 meters wide, rising maybe half a meter above sea-level. This used to be an actual island, but like everywhere else in the Maldives it’s gradually being reclaimed by the sea.

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Wading ashore to our private island restaurant

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

We did a detailed reconnoitre, looking for any interesting flotsam and jetsom. In the meantime, Ibrahim and the other guys carefully brought ashore 2 large boxes and assorted goodies. It was still light enough to set up the barbecue and table area.

Of course, we could choose to sit wherever we wanted 😉

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives – Preparation on the sandbank

As we stood alone on the tip of the Sandbank, we felt a gentle early evening breeze. The ocean around us was calm, and lapped peacefully onto the sandy shoreline.

We scanned the panorama around us, and could just make out the tiny silhouettes of 2 islands on the extreme horizon. If ever you really want to get away from it all, this is the place.

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

We didn’t want to risk running out of booze, so in addition to the red we took along a bottle of sparkling white wine. I chatted with the guys from the island as they were setting up. Ibrahim turned out to be one of the senior staff members: He had been working on Makunudu since the early 1990’s. Like many Maldivians, who work for long fixed periods on the resort islands, he didn’t get back home to his family very often.

If time allows, it is well worth the effort to visit some of the non-resort islands in the Maldives. It is the only way to appreciate the genuine nature of the place and the people.

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Ibrahim prepares our table

Surf-and-Turf Sandbank-style

The barbecue was kindled as the light started to fade. Soon after, we could smell the aroma of barbecued steak and lobster. Yes, a proper surf-and-turf menu with baked potatoes and roasted vegetables to compliment our venue.

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Taking into account where we were, our dinner was prepared and served impeccably, with a nice assortment of side dishes and deserts.

Sandbank Affaire

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As night fell, Ibrahim lit up the candles in the sand holes he had prepared around our table. We were then left alone to enjoy the peace and solitude of the Indian Ocean, just meters from our feet.

We eventually got back to Makunudu Island around 9:30 pm.

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

Dinner alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean

The cost for our Sandbank Affaire came to $220 (€190) for two, including the complimentary bottle of wine. Considering the uniqueness of the experience, this was excellent value of money and an unforgettable way to end a trip to the Maldives.

Sandbank Affaire Makunudu Maldives

As dusk falls, our own private restaurant


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Sandbank Affaire
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Maldives Under the Reef
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