I wake up to a gorgeous, bright sunny day…it is hard to believe that I am in this paradise, in the gorgeous South Male atoll, with beautiful sunshine, clear blue skies, jade waters, white sandy beaches. Life couldn’t get any better…or could it? I am going to kick the fear of water today. The water around our villa is a little shallower today than it was yesterday, and I am looking forward to gliding over coral and marveling at the world underneath later on today.
But before that, breakfast and some beach time is in order. I am attracted to the bright and luscious looking variety of fresh fruit …from mangosteens, to all kinds of berries, rambutans, ripe red strawberries, cantaloupe, all placed on ice to keep them nice and cold, and I cannot resist indulging in a freshly made waffle drizzled with white and dark chocolate sauce, and topped with freshly sliced fruit, and then heading straight to a hammock on the powder white beach and sinking my head into the bright blue cushions to laze the morning away!
With an ice cold mojito, and some glossy magazines…I am well and truly in holiday mode, enjoying this slice of heaven and before I know it, the clock strikes 12 and it is time for this wanderluster to wander into the world under the sea!
Now, I have mentioned before that you cannot come to the Maldives and not stay in an over water villa. You will be doing yourself a great injustice. There is something exciting and satisfying in being able to plop straight into the water from our sun deck, and get comfortable with the marine life beneath us.
Which is exactly what I do – as the water isn’t too deep, I am happy to plop right in off the ladder from the balcony. Today, there is a trigger fish which turns out to be a feisty little bugger and comes to attack us….M thinks it is the bright blue underwater camera but some googling later reveals that they are feisty buggers anyway! It is too shallow to glide over coral comfortably but on the up side, I think I have figured this snorkelling malarky out – as long as I put on my goggles while my face is dry, create a seal and do not insist on taking them off once I am in the water, then I will be a-ok. Oh, and I need to do something with my hair. Forget about looking sexy. Just tie it up in the highest, tightest topknot, kirby grip the strays, and get on with life!! TMI I know, but I do tend to babble somewhat!
Oskar, the nice guy at aqua fanatics says that the best snorkelling life is to be found near the pontoon. But it is really deep out there. Am I brave enough? Somehow I find it in me to plop right off the jetty and into the deep water below, and am ever thankful for my life jacket! I ended up enjoying myself so much that time just flew by, and before I knew it we had been snorkelling for 2 hours, gliding over coral, viewing the most gorgeous fish…all colours, yellow, green, blue, razor fish, lion fish, and we even followed a school of fish around the area and lingered a while watching the thousands of goat fish! Sadly, we had a disposable camera and the pictures were just terrible. Next investment – a proper underwater camera!
And then the crowning glory – a reef shark! We followed it excitedly all the way to the depth of the coral, and I am feeling ecstatic, I feel like i have accomplished a major goal. See, I have never been very sporty, in fact I have the grace of a duck with two left feet where anything sporty is concerned… but that doesn’t stop me from having visions of myself dancing like a pro (not like a rusty robot) and swimming like a fish. So being able to snorkel may not seem like a big deal…..but I am oh so proud!!
The rest of the day flies by in a blur, and before we know it, it is time for dinner – at Fudaan, over at Anantara Dhigu.
We sat again, in a state of utter disbelief as we dined on a deck overlooking the reef sharks swimming away, enjoying an extremely different kind of dinner – a table top bar-be-que that I have not seen in any other destination in our travels.
The alarm clock jangles at 5 am the next morning…we are up at the crack of dawn because we are attempting deep sea game fishing. This is something we have always wanted to do and so we booked the adventure through the Aqua Centre at Anantara which offers a wide variety of water activities. We were lucky enough to get another lovely couple to share the boat with us as it costs $850 ++ to go on your own but half that if shared. The boat is really nice, it has the signature pivots of a deep sea fishing boat, the captain Azhar tells me that it is 15 metres long, and it has 5 fishing rods, all of which are cast into the blue waters of the ocean via the pivots. The most interesting part of the boat was what we nicknamed ‘ the dentists chair’, which is actually the fighting chair, from which the fish is reeled in.
Before we set sail we were told that some fish, such as blue marlin can take up to 2 hours of fighting time to reel in. We did have some hope… The lines were cast a few minutes after we sailed from the resort, using colourful fish hooks shaped like fish and squid, one as colourful as my strawberry margarita pink nails with glitter!
Our new friends Simon and Rebecca are from Melbourne and on their honeymoon, and we spend some time chatting when we hear the telltale sign of a fish having bitten the bait, which is a kind of grinding of the rod. M happens to be sitting in the “dentists chair” at the time, and so is lucky enough to fight and reel the first catch in!
M catches a dorado, which takes about 5 minutes to fight and reel in, and once on board, plonked into the cooler on board and smacked ‘gently’ with a baseball bat to knock it out, as it was flitting about too much. Sounds barbaric I know, but it was actually quite funny. The excitement of our first catch was barely over when 15 minutes later, the grinding started again! It was Simon’s turn to reel in our next catch, which was quite far out and took longer to reel in. We thought we had a big one but caught a Wahoo, not quite a sailfish but bigger than the dorado.
It was just 7 am and we had two fish in and more time on the water so, maybe, just maybe the sailfish and blue marlin were out there somewhere?! Our crew got word from the other boat that they had caught two sailfish, so they changed the bait and changed course in an attempt to get some too. We sailed for 2 hours but no luck. I guess when they start off the journey with the no guarantee speech they do mean no guarantee…..but I suppose we were lucky enough to have caught two.
We are having our catch for lunch, at the Dhoni bar. Was the trip worth the hefty price paid? The experience has a thrill of its own, and the adrenaline kicks in when you hear the grinding and have to reel the fish in but I think that the price tag attached to a morning of deep sea fishing is exaggerated somewhat. If you can get a couple to split the cost, then it may seem slightly less painful forking out that kind of money. The resort charges $35 per person to cook your fish for lunch. One would think after charging a whopping $800 ++ to get you to catch something, they would include the cooking in the price but resorts tend to make money off their patrons any way they can…. So, given that this dorado and wahoo cost us almost $ 500, it better be the best darn fish I have ever eaten in my life…..lets see!
As the sun melts away into the ocean like an orange ball, we are sat sipping sun-downers, watching the sky turn all sorts of gorgeous colours until twilight turns to darkness and all that is left is the mesmerising flicker of candlelight.
The Maldives have truly been magical, a dream come true. I have a new lease on life, and am ready to take on 2013 by the horns! These islands have waved their magic wand and sprinkled stardust all over us – indeed, one of the places I am glad that my footsteps ventured on!