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Our best excursion to a private island
During our holiday in Keyodhoo, at the Guest House Maakanaa White Lodge, we could make several excursions, since our stay at this guest house lasted two weeks. We went to a strip of sand, desert islands and various private islands, but the most beautiful of all these outings was definitely the one done to go to Aarah, which is a private island situated at north of Hulhidhoo and south of Alimathà, in the Felidhoo Atoll.
First of all, we were very lucky with the weather, because we had a beautiful sunny day, which made us appreciate even more the colors and transparency of the sea and the quiet of the islet, and then we were the only guests in the whole island!!!!
The islet of Aarah is a small diamond in the ocean, and I say this, not only because it has many bushes inside, palm trees and a beautiful vegetation (which more or less is the same that you can see in all the deserted islands of the atoll), or because there you see only few structures (in fact they are few, but quite dilapidated and the only cute is the small mosque which is near the beach, next to the light blue lagoon), but over all for the beach that surrounds the island and the water of sea of that incredible and amazing green-blue, that varies from hour to hour throughout the day and depending on the clouds that veil the sky.
When our Dhoni approached the shore, a young keeper came out of a long house, that was in the center of the island, opposite the pier, and has started coming toward us along the beach. I knew that to land on Aarah we had to pay a fee of $ 15 per head, and I immediately thought that this young man came to collect the money. In fact I saw that our captain Rashaad paid the young, exchanging a few words with him.
Shortly after the young man went away, and the staff of our Guest House began to plant on the sand, near the tip of the south-east side of Aarah, a squared tent supported by four metal rods, then they displaced in the shadow of tent a couple of sunbeds, chosen among those who were not far away, and they made an eloquent gesture at us, as if they wanted to say "Sit!"
I felt treated like a queen... we were the only guests on the island, a tent just for us, the little island to explore at our disposal, an enchanting view, a smooth and warm sea, a clear sky and a bright sun... what more could we want from life?!
Before we lie down on the sunbeds, we preferred to make an exploratory lap of the islet, to take souvenir photos... almost all taken by watching to the sea! To our right we had Hulhidhoo, and the sea that separated us from that desert island, on which we had already been, was a beautiful emerald green colour, which also indicated a fairly deep sea. To our left there were pieces of wood, which could be an old building or an old pier, and a fairly tangled vegetation. Continuing our tour along the beach, we arrived early to a beautiful stretch of sand that stretched to the north. We hiked to the tip of the tongue of sand, then we turned to Aarah. From that position we could take photoes of the whole island, with the sea which framed both sides of the sandbar. We lingered long at that point, half immersed in warm water of the lagoon, watching our dhoni in the distance, the tent waiting for us, the transparent lagoon, to seem made of drinking water, Hulhidhoo ...
At last we returned to our tent, and there we started photographing the nearby Hulhidhoo, having in the foreground the beautiful and very calm lagoon of Aarah. Then we took photoes of the pier on the green water, our dhoni anchored on the sand ... We never were tired to take pictures, perhaps because we had never seen in our lives a so wonderful place and an environment with similar colors, or maybe because we were afraid to forget the images of that calm sea, under a blazing sun and a clear sky.
Finished to take pictures. we dived into those warm, calm waters for at least an hour, relaxed and happy. We came out only when the staff of our dhoni called us for lunch. We had a very good lunch, prepared by Alì, our chef, and then we went back under the tent prepared for us, to relax watching the sea. We continued our relaxing until about 16.00, estimated time for our return to Keyodhoo.
After my return home, in Italy, while I was reading a review about Aarah, between the comments written by a friend of Facebook, I learned that she and her friends found many clams under the sand of the lagoon during the same trip, right by the sea beach next to the location where our tent was. I was stunned by such a thing! I never thought it could be possible, and it was a real story, documented by photographs! When I was a child, I used to go with my father in search of clams under the sea sand in our country... I would have loved to do it too! I wonder if I still get the chance to do it! In fact I knew that the owner of Aarah plans to transform the island into a resort, and it saddens me greatly. I fear that Aarah will be transformed into a resort with exaggerated prices, unreachable by ordinary people like us, and I fear even more that overwater bungalows will be built, and I think they are horrible and ruin a beautiful and natural environment such as what you can see in the deserted and uninhabited islands.
For now, until it will be turned into a resort, to land on Aarah each one will have to pay a fee of $ 15, but the feeling to get there, worth them all, and to be there really is an experience that you can not miss, if you are in the Vaavu Atoll.
A small and nice private island in the Vaavu Atoll
Anbaraa is a little desert island and it’s situated about an hour by boat from Keyodhoo, to the south-west, on the west side of the Vaavu Atoll.
It’s considered a desert island, but it is not really completely empty, because inside the island there are some masonry bungalows (which are very very old), a toilet for tourists, another structure (also this very dilapidated) and two guardians.
Several years ago it was home to a resort for tourists, and I don’t know why it has been abandoned, because the place is beautiful, and there near the reef is full of wonderful fishes and corals. One of the old bungalows is now used as a mosquee by the guardians, and in the dilapidated structure the guardians live and cook for themselves and for the tourists who want to eat in that island.
The island is very little, but we couldn't do the whole walk around the beach, because in some places the sea water was too deep, and the plants and brushes inside were close. In front of the house of the guardians there is a beautiful stretch of sand, and walking up to his tip you can have a beautiful view of the whole island. Tied to the branches of a large tree, near the pier, then there is a strong swing, which allows you to swing by touching the green water of the Anbaraa’s lagoon.
Next and united to the main structure, that one in which guardians live, there is a simple roofed structure, under which you will find a table and some chairs. We ate under this roofed structure, because a storm was coming. At first a guardian had prepared a table for our lunch near the jetty, and had decorated it very gracefully with fresh yellow flowers and green leaves, but then our chef Alì, our captain Rashaad, the guardian and we had to bring every thing under the shelter, because it was beginning to rain.
When we finished lunch, we began to chat with the guardians, who were two very nice boys from Bangladesh. One of them had always a smile on his lips and was very pleasant. He told us that he was there almost since five years, with a short break after the third year. We asked him if he felt alone, and he told us no, because with the mobile he could be in touch with all the world. Then he explained to us what he had to do in the island, because the island's owner was far from there. He and his colleague had to receive tourists, collect $ 5 as a ticket for each person who chose to go into that private island, and try to meet how they could the wishes of visitors. If a tourist wanted to dine or sleep on that island, he could do it. The guardians would have cooked dinner for him, and then he would spend the night sleeping under the stars.
He told us that sometimes groups of people come to the beautiful island to spend the night sleeping under the stars: they land in the afternoon, have dinner there, then they sleep on the seashore under the stars and then they leave the next day.
Instead, we came there in the morning, we immediately went to do snorkeling along an amazing reef and we took lots of photos of fishes and corals. After lunch, unfortunately, due to a strong storm which was unleashing in the meantime, we had to leave Anbaraa immediately with our dhoni. We were very sorry to leave so quickly that beautiful place, because we had to give up to do the snorkeling scheduled for the afternoon.
At that time I thought I wanted to go back to that island so pretty, because the time spent on that beach was too short for me and I did not have enough time, nor to contemplate the wonderful colors of the sea, nor to explore it as I wanted...I will be back there next year!
Bodumohoraa: excursion to a desert island
Bodomohoraa was the first desert island we visited this year, it is located on the south of the Vaavu Atoll.
We left at 9:00 from Keyodhoo, with our Guest House’s dhoni, and we reached the Bodumohoraa’s lagoon after about an hour of navigation.
Before landing on the island, our captain Rashaad stopped the dhoni in its vicinity, to allow us to do snorkeling along the beautiful reef which is on the north of Bodumohoraa. There we saw the most beautiful corals ever seen up to that point in our lives: they were for various types, shapes and sizes, colored pink, blue, purple, yellow, brown and white ... they looked especially puffy and fluffy, they were so wonderful, a real garden!
There were not many fishes, in fact they were very few, but our eyes were only for corals, in those moments of pure relaxation.
When we finished to do snorkeling, we climbed again on Dhoni, and then the captain led us into the beautiful, tranquil lagoon of Bodumohoraa, through a passage in the reef. A little swimming and a little walking in the water, we reached the sand tip of the islet, armed only of our camera. We wanted to go around the island on foot, looking for corners to be immortalized from our photos.
The island was beautiful, so wild and abandoned, with palm trees fallen to the ground and left to dry in between the sea and the sun, if he had not had a huge amount of waste, partly brought from the sea, but others abandoned there certainly from the neglect and incivility of some (or many?) tourists.
Even when we were on the sand strip we could see large pieces of nylon, rusty cans, plastic bottles and glass, bins, cloth... and we saw an amount of waste more and more while we were walking along the island's shore which is located to the inside of the atoll
We were very sorry to see all that rubbish along the bank, or stuck in the branches of the plants that licked the sea, and I could not help but pick up some nylon bag that was still floating on the sea, hoping to at least ensure that some fish or another animal accidentally swallow the stuff.
What a pity! An island so beautiful ruined by neglect of man!
Considering that our stay at the Guest House lasted two weeks, the second week my husband and I asked to go back to Bodumohoraa.
The second time, after doing snorkeling, we didn’t want to go around the island (which we had called the ''dirty island"), but we stopped on the sandy tip. The low tide had created a long extension of sand and, thanks to a clear sky and a blazing sun, it was of a bright white, in the middle of a lagoon with beautiful colors... there we took at least one hundred photos! (those pictures were so wonderful that when I returned home I made to print one of them in my t-shirt!)
Rashaad, the captain of the Dhoni, told us that occasionally the island is cleaned (will it?), but after a little time it becomes back dirty in the same way, as the sea continues to bring there garbage.
I was appalled and perplexed for the huge amount of bottles and more things which were present along the shore... I hope that the local communities, along with all the tourists who enjoy these beautiful places, shall act to clean and above all to keep intact such beautiful and fragile surroundings.
Good value for money
For the first time this year I traveled to the Maldives with Etihad Airways, afterwards an advantageous offer I had found on the web last September (it was the lowest price ever paid so far, neither with charter flights, nor with other airlines which depart from the airport of Venice to Male).
The reviews I had read on Etihad were definitely very discordant, with assessments ranging from "excellent" to "negative", so the evening before my departure I was a bit in apprehension, especially thinking back to the last review I had read, about a flight of just ten days before, in which the writer complained about the not delivery of luggage for two consecutive times: his luggage had remained in Abu Dhabi and only two days after they had been delivered!
My first thought was: "It’s better I put at least a couple of swimwear in my hand luggage, you never know!"
Well, they were useless apprehensions.
The trip was almost perfect, both outward and return journeys. The flights were on time, the staff was friendly, the entertainment in line with Qatar or Emirates, the lunch was good and sufficient and the seats were comfortable.
It was very positive for me, compared to previous flights, to find above the seats (in the first part of journey from Rome to Abu Dhabi) not only the blanket and the kit for rest, but also a nice cushion, like a collar, to be put around the neck to rest more comfortably.
Negative notes? First of all, being Etihad Airways partner of Alitalia, two sections of the flights were made precisely by our airline (the first, Venice-Rome, and the last, Abu Dhabi- Venice) and for this reason we couldn't do the check-in online; then Alitalia’s carriers were not quite as comfortable as those of Etihad, and our seats were very hard and difficult to slant.
Another note on the outward journey: during the flight from Abu Dhabi to Male the crew gave us the usual forms to fill out and hand over to the passport control when we would arrive to Male... .but they were not going well! They were incomplete and different from those projected, and therefore they were useless and at the end all passengers had to recompile the forms provided by the airport staff.
In return, our luggage arrived on time and in perfect condition!
Hulhidhoo (Desert Island, Vaavu Atoll)
Hulhidhoo is a small island close enough to Keyodhoo, about a quarter of an hour or so, sailing with a dhoni, and it is considered a"desert island" because it’s lacks housing at the moment.
On our arrival, in front of us, we saw four people comfortably seated on four plastic chairs, who were chatting around a picnic table. Behind them there were two tents, some fences built with nets and a construction made with metal sheets and branches (which was used as a "bath", but without toilet or water), and these things completed the accomodation of the four people we had seen on our arrival. Ali, our guide, told us they were "the island's owners."
Ali told us that those owners wanted at first to build two toilets and a masonry structure to sleep, reserved for tourists, and then to leave to keepers the task of managing the arrival of visitors, just as it’s happening in Anbaraa Island.
The island is very small, completely covered by vegetation, with a beautiful sandy tip pointing towards the inside of the atoll. The sea is an enchantment, with all possible shades from blue to emerald green, and the white sand, in the tip, is thin as talc. Walking to east, you can see that the sand becomes gradually more and more grainy, becoming composed entirely of broken corals in the most eastern tip.
Between the sand and the roots of the plants that are closest to the sea, you can see hundreds of hermit crabs, of all sizes and with many different shells, an assortment of nature, I never saw so many!
The island is surrounded largely by a beautiful reef, however, you have to explore it with caution, because in some places you can find dangerous currents.
Close to the sandy tip, but still hidden between the green of palms and bushes, there are some benches and a table, made of raw wood, very useful in case of picnic or otherwise to support handbags or any object that you do not want to dirty with the sand. Since my husband and I were the only visitors on the island at that time, we took advantage of that shadow and silence, to make us a nap after snorkeling, before rising to the boat for lunch, prepared as always by the excellent captain Rashaad and Ahmed.
Fishing trips from the White Maakanaa Lodge
From the Guest House where we were staying, the White Maakanaa Lodge, we went four times to a fishing trip, which is the favorite hobby of my husband and one of the reasons because this year we chose to go into a Guest house rather than into a resort.
Under the leadership of the captain of our dhoni, Rashad, and together with other Maldivian friends, like Ali, or Ahmed, or Adam, we participated to three sunset fishing excursions and a fishing excursion in the morning. We were the only foreigners, because in that period our guest house didn’t have any other guest.
The first trip was in the evening, for the Big Game fishing: we had a long and solid nylon fishing line wrapped in a spool, which ended with a big lead pellet, followed by about another piece of line and finally the fishhook with bait of raw fish pieces.
That time the catch was quite poor: three small fishes, about 15-20 centimeters long, which we promptly freed, because they were too small.
"The monsoon is changing and the current isn’t favorable", was Ali's explanation for our failure.
The second time we tried to catch fish in the morning, with trolling fishing. We used a long fishing line, wrapped in a plastic bottle, which ended with a fake bait, like a little tuft of pink strips, in which the fishhook was hiding. Then the captain had a curious wooden instrument, that I thought it looked like the shape of a small catamaran toy. This tool, tied to the boat by a strong and long fishing line (it was around a dozen meters or so), had two short fishing lines with a fishhook, hidden in the usual pink tuft like a shrimp.
On that occasion we fished three small tunas, long about forty centimeters, two of which were caught with that curious wooden instrument. That time the fishes were not released, but cooked for dinner: a real delicacy!!!
The third fishing excursion was again in the evening, another Big Game fishing, and it was a huge success, in my opinion, although I felt sorry for those fishes. The sea was very calm, without the slightest breath of wind, and above us a million stars shone.
There were six people on the boat, and five of them were holding a fishing line.
The first fish which took the bait was a wonderful nurse shark, about a meter and a half long, and it was catched by my husband. It was a beautiful animal, promptly liberated after having snapped some pictures (but, poor shark, it has gone with the fishhook still in his mouth!).
Sequentially then fishermen captured a big coral grouper, four large fishes that our friends called "Sirani" (I found their scientific name: letrinus olivaceus longface emperor) which were more than a pound each, a very big jack fish, two red fishes barrier and... other two nurse sharks! These two sharks were longer than the first one that took the fishhook, and were released immediately even these, of course, although the luckiest one was the last, because he could go free without a fishhook in the mouth as a souvenir!
All these fishing trips were really exciting for my husband, who dreamed for a long time such a beautiful fishing, a real story to tell our grandchildren.
Despite the same number of people involved with the fishing line on the boat, and despite a calm sea as the other times, the last fishing trip to the Big Game fishing was less rich in captured fishes, only three fishes: a "Sirani" and two snappers, one big and one smaller... and luckily no sharks to be released!
Excursion to the sandbar (Vaavu Atoll, near Alimatha)
At 9 o'clock we left from the port of Keyodhoo and, after about one hour of sailing in a sea which was smooth as oil, we got to a beautiful sand spit, that is close enough to Alimatha resort. Ahead, in the distance, we also recognized the outline of Dhiggiri resort, where my daughter C. spent her honeymoon.
Before going on the sand spit, we went down into the water with Ali, to do some snorkeling: beautiful corals and clouds of damselfishes and butterfly fishes immediately appeared to our eyes! We swam maybe half an hour or so, too little to satiate our desire to see all those beautiful fishes that animate those warm waters. We moved a little with the dhoni and then we returned into the low water, only equipped with cameras, because we had to walk across a short stretch of water before getting dry.
The little island was completely deserted and his image did not come to me entirely new: in fact in its center there was a small pyramid, high a little over a meter and a half, completely built with pieces of coral, which remembered a Christmas tree. His image was repeatedly appeared on Facebook just during the Christmas period.
Next to the pyramid there were some poles planted on the sand (perhaps to attack the awnings), some very young palm trees and an overflowing bin for rubbish.
The sand was like talcum powder and, here and there, you could see the holes excavated by crabs. Ali had come with us on the sandbar with a bucket, and he was trying to catch crabs with his bare hands: "For lunch, for spaghetti", he told us, and soon he captured a dozen of crabs, sinking his arm in their dens.
A cloud of seabirds, blacks and whites, moved from one side to another of the sandbar as we were passing.
Being in that place of an incredible peace and beauty was wonderful.
Before rising on the dhoni I wrote on the sand, using a piece of coral, "Keyodhoo 2016", and I photographed it in memory of our visit to the Maldives.
As we went back on board, we found Ali who was fishing, and at that moment it seemed that a fish had taken the bait. Immediately my husband approached, just in time to help Ali to pull aboard a big Titan triggerfish. We soon photographed it, because we wanted to throw it back into the sea (it was too nice to be killed!), but Ali widened his eyes, exclaiming that no, it was not really to do, the meat of the triggerfish was as good as that of chicken!
We didn’t eat it at lunch (there were spaghetti with crab for us!), and I saw that after an hour the poor fish was still alive!
We went back to this beautiful sandbar a second time a week later, this time with Gep and Ibrahim, and of course the captain Rashad.
On that second occasion we chose to do a snorkeling much longer, and also this time we saw colorful reefs and fishes, like the first time, we took more photos, did another round on the sand spit, had another lunch on the dhoni, this time eating a grouper caught the previous evening.
The sea was smooth as silk and the transparency was incredible.
On the way back we could see much of the reef we had photographed in the morning, while we were doing snorkeling, so great was the transparency... and as if it were not sufficient , a little group of dolphins passed in front of our eyes, so we were delighted with the their stunts.
We were never tired of admiring and photographing places and animals so beautiful!
Our first experience in a Guest House, the White Maakanaa Lodge (second part)
We continue the story of our experience at the White Maakanaa Lodge talking about its beach and its beautiful reef.
About 50 meters far from the Guest House there is the beach reserved for its guests and for those of other Guest Houses, which currently are about 5 or 6, but were mostly deserted during our stay.
There are some wooden sunbeds and others in plastic, all quite old, and some structures specially prepared to create a bit of shade, as well as several wooden seats fixed to the ground.
The beach is very wide, especially considering the fact that it is very little frequented, since every G.H. takes its guests every day to excursions.
The sand on the beach is pretty clean, almost perfect I would say, while in the water, on the sandy bottom, unfortunately, it is much easier to find objects in plastic, cans, textiles, glass or other, as a sign of negligence of many people...
The lagoon slopes gently toward the sea, and at the bottom, on both sides, one can find wonderful and large stretches of reef filled with colorful and also very large live corals, as well as a fair number of fish, even of extra-large size. The last day, I saw the biggest porcupine fish that I had ever seen, about 60-70 cm long, then a turtle, some very big parrot fishes, butterfly fishes...
I was greatly disappointed to discover, the second time we went snorkeling at that place, that someone had in the meanwhile rudely torn to pieces four gorgeous, yellow, white and blue corals, which were intact the day before... probably with the fins!
I hope that everyone, tourists and Maldivian islanders, does anything to keep clean and intact such a beautiful sea!
The beach, as I said before, is comfortable and wide and its reef is very nice, but you don’t go there often, unless the weather is bad. Indeed, the Guest House schedule contemplates every day a hike in heavenly places (I will talk about that in the appropriate sections), except on Friday, the holy day for Muslims, when you can seize the opportunity to learn about the island, the mosque, the local games, the beach and the reef of Keyodhoo ....
During these trips we went to Bodumohora, Hulidhoo, Aarah, Anbaraa, in the beach next to Alimatha, to snorkel along the Kuda Kandhu and to fish in the evening and in the morning.
With regard to our experience in fishing trips or in the various desert islands, as I wrote, I will talk about in special reviews, while it really deserves to be mentioned right away that the Kuda Kandhu reef is of an extraordinary beauty.
When I saw the Bodumohoraa reef I exclaimed "I have never seen such a beautiful reef!"... But it was only because I had not yet had the chance to see this: so convenient and close to Keyodhoo, so rich, colorful, close to the surface, vast ... such that we asked to be taken there three times.
In our opinion, we can say that we were very pleased by this new experience, and that we would not mind at all being able to repeat it next year, in fact, I hope so!!! "
Our first experience in a Guest House , the White Maakanaa Lodge
Our arrival at the jetty of Keyodhoo, in the afternoon after an hour and a half by speedboat from Malé, was received with exquisite courtesy by almost all the staff of Maakanaa, who gave us two necklaces of flowers and refreshing towels. Loaded our luggage on a cart, we were taken in five minutes to what would have been our home for the next two weeks, the White Maakanaa Lodge.
A refreshing colorful drink was waiting for us just beyond the door of the outside wall, in a small and welcoming "lobby" furnished with taste and simplicity, with wooden table and chairs, sand floor, plants, corals and other decorations coloured in red, white or blue.
In one corner there was a faucet and a shower head, useful to rinse off the sand from the feet before entering the house, and on the opposite, the ladder to climb to the terrace-restaurant.
Handled the formalities (Fittey listed us briefly the schedules and the programs of the various days, adding that for that week we were the only guests in their structure) and settled our things in the room, we went on the terrace for dinner.
Being our first time in a Guest House (we had 5 previous experiences in the Maldives, but always in resorts that included a self-service buffet), we did not know what to expect: we found a table prepared in a wonderful way with flowers and leaves, in addition to everything needed for dinner. We could choose what we wanted to drink (except alcohol obviously) and, at the side of our table, over a longer and equally decorated table, there were six plates full of delicacies, enough to feed at least a six-persons family: spaghetti with seafood (and perfectly cooked!), rice cooked in two different ways, delicious eggplant, seasoned with an ingredient unknown to me and cut into small cubes, fresh vegetables and grilled carangid.
Like my usual, I wanted to taste a bit of everything ... and I thought, "Well, also this year I will gain weight in the Maldives ! All too good !!! "
This happened on the evening of our arrival, but it repeated all the times we had lunch at "home", with the only difference that the content of the dishes was different every time (pasta and rice, however, always there). As fruit, we usually had only one type of local fresh fruit (mango, pineapple, watermelon, banana ...) in abundant quantity, and there were no sweets, except on rare occasions.
If someone cannot renounce to the dessert after the meal, shall say that to the chef.
After the meal we were always offered the coffee, until they realized that we never drank it.
They asked us right away, on the day of our arrival, what we preferred to have for breakfast, and they accommodated us: some sweet and some savoury food, bread for toast, butter and jam, sandwiches, cakes; to drink we had a fresh juice jug, tea, coffee and a compound soluble in a sachet called "ye-ye", which we liked a lot (it tasted like a balanced mixture of sugar, coffee and milk). My husband and I have almost always drunk that.
For the day of my husband's birthday the staff organized a party with extraordinary decorations and an amazing chocolate cake, music and lights.
Finally, they made us twice an appreciated and unexpected surprise: a candlelit dinner by the sea.
The first time, Fittey told us they were late with the dinner and invited us to have a little tour of the island with him ... but in a small bay near there, everything was already set up for the dinner, with flowers and plants on the table and on the sand, candles protected by colored paper containers put in a circle, Ahmed and Gep ready to serve at the table! And to increase the romance, a beautiful full moon reflected on the sea, while Adam handed to my husband two gifts for his birthday, celebrated the day before, and one to me !!!!
The second time, Fittey accompanied us, as soon as we got ready after we had returned from a trip, on our beach, and there were candles planted deep in the sand, forming a heart! How not to be struck by so many attentions? Delicious dinners, as always, but with that extra touch that makes them stay in your heart for a long, long time!
The rooms in the Guest House are not large, actually a little bit smaller than those found to date in the other resorts, but comfortable and functional. The bed has a nice new mattress, hard as I like, and covered by a canopy veil; I thought it was for mosquitoes, but during my stay in the house I've ever seen one. The bed is made two times a day, and we found it decorated in a masterful way, not only on the day of our arrival or on my husband's birthday, but also other times.
Next to the bed are two bedside tables, and in front of it, a small closet with two doors (about 2 meter wide x 2 meters high x 50 cm deep) with a drawer at the base. In the room there are also a small table with a drawer and a mirror and a second table to put our suitcases.
Outside of the window of our room there is a drying rack with enough clothespins for the holiday needs.
The bathroom is small, composed for half by a shower comfortable also for two, however leaving little room for the toilet and the sink.
Needless to say that everything is new, since the structure has been opened for only a year and a half.
In the case of families with one or two children, the staff can put in the room a single or a bunk bed, even if the remaining space is limited (one should spend little time in the room, weather permitting!)
Beautiful, peaceful Keyodhoo (second part)
We continue with our story to the discovery of this small and quiet island.
In front of the Keyodhoo pier, there is a large square, and there Fittey showed us a volleyball court, a playground for children and a football field. Then he told us about a tradition of people of this island, which I think is wonderful and brilliant, he really left me speechless! He told us that every day, from 16 to 18 or so, the mothers and women of the island meet in this area to play volleyball together... nor the males, nor the children, nor other people are allowed: women only. In fact, in that time frame, the volleyball court is only for women. (Other women and girls meet and play "bashi" inside the fence of the school).
And the children? Right next to the volleyball court there is the playground. Here is the ingenious solution: on the one side there are the mothers playing, on the other there are the children. They play completely safe (there are no cars!), at most a thud in the sand or in the grass.
And the fathers? On the other side of the playground there is a football field, where the males play. There is a fence for young kids, another fence for other older boys, and a real football field for the great matches. What more could you want from life? The whole family can have fun at the same time, safely, with friends, with no stress!
And in the evening, if you want, you can jog along the roads around the island. I met several women, young and old, practicing this sport.
These are not the only hobbies of the inhabitants of Keyodhoo. During the fourteen days we lived alongside with them we could see, for example, in a "Bashi" female tournament, organized by the school's teachers and played on a field with a low net in the center, which is located inside the school’s fence, next to a huge banyan tree. The rules of the game “Bashi” are interesting and exciting.
The last day of our stay in that paradise finally we saw a fishing competition which took place between three teams, one from Malé, one from Felidhoo and one Keyodhoo, if I remember correctly. There was even a TV crew from Malé. The teams, who had started at five in the morning, had returned at eleven to compare what they had caught: the team with the greater weight of fish caught would win. The team with the biggest fish would win an award as well. The biggest fish was a huge carangue that weighed about 19 kilograms.
On that occasion the girls from Keyodhoo played a beautiful dancing show with tambourines and vases.
Along the streets of the island you can see the other Guest Houses of Keyodhoo and numerous souvenir shops, but it is not easy to find them open and their opening hours do not appear anywhere ... .you must be lucky , or ask ... in the evening, if the owner or a neighbor sees you go over there and see you are interested, maybe he will call you and invite you to enter (this is what happened to me), showing modest but varied assortment of craft items or sarongs at very fair prices. The two small supermarket opposite the harbor are open in the evening, after dinner.
Finally, next to the school there is the most beautiful building of Keyodhoo: the mosque. It is brand new, gold and white, with large windows and an outdoor area with work in progress that will surely become more and more filled with plants.
The tall white minaret, with its golden decorations can be seen from far away, arriving with the dhoni from hiking. Moreover, you can hear the prayer through the loud speaker even when waiting off the island for evening fishing.
One Friday, a day of celebration for Muslims, since at the Guest House no excursions were organized, we are adequately covered us and we stepped inside the mosque to see the beauty, brightness and feel the sense of peace.
Almost in the center of the island, next to the mosque, there is the small cemetery of Keyodhoo. It is very different from the cemeteries that we see in Italy, and reflects the simplicity of these people: it is a simple lawn, covered mostly by grass, with small concrete headstones.
The streets of the island, arranged perpendicularly forming a grid, are always very tidy and clean. Each morning all the women of the island clean them, armed with brooms of various sizes and, as you pass by, you are amazed for seeing them always so clean.
Among the plants and in some corners of the island, sometimes you can see heaps of rubbish, but never on the streets. The homes along the streets sometimes look poor or untidy, but never dirty.
I would make one final point on this: When I left Italy I thought I would have found many more mosquitoes, but I was pleased to see very very few, only close to the plants and bushes at the seashore. Despite having brought with me the mosquito spray, I never needed to use it.
Beautiful, peaceful Keyodhoo (first part)
After an hour and a half by speedboat from Malé, with a nearly flat sea and a slightly cloudy sky, we have finally arrived at Keyodhoo pier, an island on the east side of the Vaavu atoll.
Almost the whole staff af the new Guest House White Maakanaa Lodge welcomed each of us with a refreshing towel and a necklace made out of tropical flowers.
Once we loaded the suitcases on a cart, we walked to the Guest House and we began to observe and discover this island, which would have hosted us for the following fifteen days.
The same evening the friendly Fittey has offered to guide us among the island's streets, explaining everything and answering my numerous questions.
First of all, we have seen the Vaavu Keyodhoo Health Centre, which is the island's hospital, with only four beds, but it handles perfectly the first emergencies. The most severe cases are in fact sent immediately to Malè, using one of two ambulances, which are the only cars on the island.
We then moved in front of the Secretariat of the Keyodhoo Council, the townhall, a neat short blue and white building next to the school, attended today by over 150 children aged from three to sixteen.
The children start school at 6:45 AM (they are accustomed to wake up early for prayers) and finish at 1 PM, when they return home for lunch (with variations according to age). Obviously, more than six hours in a row of school activities for a child are a lot. Therefore, to make a mid-morning break for about half an hour for a snack, they go home! In fact it takes just a few minutes to walk from school to home! Such a school is so beautiful!
For two mornings I went in front of the entrance of the school, to see how the children of this island start the school day, and it has been a wonderful experience
Every morning the children arrive in front of the school gate (the older ones alone, the younger ones accompanied by their mothers) and there they quietly wait for the 6:45 bell. Females are all dressed in total white from head to toes, boys wear white shirts and blacks pants; only children who have gym class have blue and white T-shirt and black shorts. The little girls do not wear the veil, and I saw that they are all combed the same way: a braid, long or short, tied with two blue ribbons of the same color (one at the top and one at the bottom of the braid). When the bell rings they all enter the school and bring their books to class, then they go out and arrange themselves in lines divided by groups, ready for the morning prayer. Then the teachers and school operators arrive at school, and within five minutes some students in charge sing the prayer with a microphone, while all the others listen carefully.
The first morning, two 7 or 8 years old children (a boy and a girl) sang the prayer, and it was wonderful to hear their shrill little voice at the microphone singing the prayer without hesitation. The second time, I saw two older students singing the prayer.
After the prayer all the students sing the national anthem, then everybody enters their classrooms to attend the classes. This ritual lasts for ten, fifteen minutes and, as I understand it, is done every morning.
Near the harbor we saw a bar, the only one currently open on the island. It is a meeting point for friends for a chat or to play cards, where we could find soft drinks and coffee.
Nearby there is also a restaurant decorated throughout the year with bright colored lights. It is quite popular, perhaps because it features a large TV screen. In that restaurant, each evening, we saw people who were staying at another Guest House, not equipped with its own restaurant, having dinner.
We knew that Keyodhoo currently has just over 800 inhabitants, doing many different jobs just like all over the world (there are not just the fishermen), and I wondered why tourists continue to call these islands, inhabited almost exclusively by Maldivians , "the fishermen islands", as most of the inhabitants did that work.
Close enough to the sea, opposite to the port, Fittey showed us two tiny supermarkets where to buy groceries we could need and, a little farther, a fairly large building called "the house of the current", where a powerful generator produces the electricity needed to all the houses of the island.
During our recent holiday in Fihalhohi we got to see how great is The passion for volleyball for the staff working on these small islands. Before leaving I had seen on the Facebook page of Fihalhohi that I follow regularly from HOME that the
Volleyball team of the island was proud to announce that it has won the game against the rival team of nearby Ohluveli. In our previous trips to the Maldives We had often attended matches of volleyball between a representative of players of the island and a makeshift team of tourists but we didn't know that there was this kind of events. A few days after our arrival we were invited by the waiters in the restaurant to go to attend the
Match between fihalhohi team and jumeira vittaveli, this match was the
semifinals of the tournament of the zone 2 and the winning team would then played the final. At 16.45 an attendant was waiting for tourists on reception to accompany them in the area reserved for the staff at the Centre of the island
Where The match would be held at 17 o' clock. When we entered on to staff quarters we understood how important this tournament is for them. On the walls of the dormitories are posted billboards with pictures of the winning teams of the volleyball and soccer tournaments between the Islands. There are captions of thanks for their results. It is clear that these events are very popular. The team of Fihalhohi won easily with a 3 sets to zero against the opposing team and thus qualified for the final match. The game was quiet and there was much cheering from supporters of the team. Guests partecipating to The event were spread of bands to be tied in front with the team name of our island. The victory has thus allowed the team to play the
Final, the opposing team was again Ohluveli. Also this game would be played in Fihalhohi and for
The opportunity the front desk sent an official invitation to the guests to join the game. Orange t shirt with the symbol of the 35 years of Fihalhohi and green belts Were distributed and lots of colorful balloons were tied around the field greens and orange. Supporters of olhuveli dressed pink and white shirts and the team wore black and orange, the colors of the Fihalhohi team are green and
Orange on a white background. All
Players have their own name on the T shirt.The match was exciting, especially since supporters of Fihalhohi was able to involve with enthusiasm the guests of the island. Singing, drums, even a metal tub
Was beaten to the rhythm of the choirs. On the last set has appeared even a mermaid, rooting it felt from every part of the island, it was very nice. At the end of the game great enthusiasm among the fans who Embraced each other and they applauded their team. Finally there is the podium and both teams
Have been awarded and the best players too.Then slowly the crowd of tourists is dispersed leaving the team
Celebrate with the direction of the island and the staff. The team will then meet the
Winner of the tournament
Area 1 Male Atoll, and the winning team will play then the final match in Male and will be the winner of all the Maldives. Us from home we will follow developments and of course force Fihalhohi!!
Qatar part 1-2
There is no indication, we ask
And we head towards the great Teddy bear in the center of the hall. The hotel is behind it but to access it is necessary to go upstairs by elevator. The lobby is welcoming, reception people spoke good English. We paid immediately in dollar and required the alarm for 6.30. They accompanied us to the room that is
Better than standard that we requested. The room actually is huge and has a
Giant TV. The bathroom has a large glass shower, 2 washbasins water close and bidets but it does not work. We have complimentary The coffee and two bottles of water.
The child does not pay and he wasn t
Counted. We realize that there are
Slippers and bathrobe and toothbrush for just one person while we're in 3. We have our toothbrushes with us so no problem. The double bed is spacious, we are comfortably in three and the sheets are very soft. The alarm clock rings, we get up refreshed and ready for the second flight. We are happy with our choice. The second flight begins to take on just when we arrive at the counter. We are in board and here they will deliver immediately to children their complimentary kit. The flight is quiet, many empty seats, in the back rows there are people lying on 4 central places. The breakfast is good and valid service.
Very kind hostess on both flights. bathrooms always clean. We arrive on time. You always travel well with Qatar and We suggest the hotel break in case of long stop in Qatar. I hope in return flight to Pisa we can change the places but in any case we are more than happy with choosing Qatar airways
Qatar part 1
Qatar airways. Our summer holiday 2016 were not directed toward the Maldives because due to work problems we didn't know in which period we would get the holidays and then couldn't book flights. It is no secret that early bookers for flights save money. I was always monitoring the
Situation of prices of major airlines and waiting to know when we would have
Had our holidays I looked around. The best rates for August were those of
Oman air then suddenly the company has cancelled direct flights from muscat clutching a partnership with sri lankan Airlines. This resulted with the addition of the stop over in Colombo. The total duration of the flights for us
Did not justify the price. We therefore excluded this company. The turkish was slightly cheaper than the Emirates and Qatar but we didn't
Flew well last year so it wasn't appetizing. I was so looking elsewhere when in April we
Finally got confirmation of the dates of holidays and in those
Days the Qatar launched the promotion for the new airport of Pisa. Discounted tickets went sold out from morning to evening of the same day : the flight that we were interested in was already all sold for promotional rates. We found great rates by making a stopover in outbound flight. As we had the afternoon departure from Pisa and a morning departure from doha we decided to exploit the opportunity of staying inside the new airport In
Doha in Hamad airport hotel. We requested a quote for the minimum duration of stay, between 5 and 8 hours, the price of around $ 200 is not cheap but it seemed preferable than waiting 7 hours at the airport. When we
Booked and paid for the tickets we chose the neighboring places. We were good to go. Three days before departure we receive a route change
For flights to and from Pisa which were
Advanced of 10 minutes. Type of aircraft does not change but in fact The seats are reassigned separating un on The flight. We have not appreciated. Following the instructions of the website we try to go in and edit the seats, of course the site does not allow us to edit the posts, it reports an error loading seating chart. We Called Qatar and they told us that they can't change places but just make a report to keep is near if possible. I try to change seats during the
Check in online but you can't ... We are very disappointed. We understand that the seats are not guaranteed but if you have multiple people on the same ticket
Purchased months earlier and places nearby you cannot intersperse on plane putting a kid in row 9 and The parents lin line 18 and 23. This is ridiculous. I Called again Qatar and they tell me that the most they can do is to put 2 people close and the third remains distant. This I did not really like but had ti accept it.We get to the day of departure, with the new seats. The joke is that many places on
Flight are empty so we don't understand why there were no seats available when during Check in we tried to change places, maybe they all missed the flight? Who knows!
The first flight on a Boeing with 2 rows of three seats, each equipped with screens
Tv. The seats are comfortable. We expected gadgets for children but for our son It was missing
And he was also booked on
Child meal, they apologized but they say on the aircraft they do not have anymore ... We travel in the evening, but they didn't give any travel kit, even sleeping mask, only headphones to follow the movie. Meals are served immediately after take-off to the children, their Briefcase contains a plate of pasta, French fries, fruit mousse, fresh fruit juice
Chocolate chocolate and jam sandwich. The
Children are licking their chops. The
Standard menu includes a choice between chicken and fish, I chose a light meal, chicken and boiled vegetables accompanied by fruit salad. The food is good. They Brought is drinks and then tea and coffee. The flight is quiet and reach the Qatar 10 minutes early. Pass the luggage controls and look for the hotel.
Epicurean SPA Fihalhohi Fihalhohi on the occasion of the 35th anniversary opening made it big, a new jetty,they extended bar and restaurant, a new customer loyalty program and a new SPA. As I had already reviewed after the visit last year in 2015 the SPA was being enlarged. Now the SPA is ready and has been expanded. There are more working girls and often we see them go into uniform, always smiling. new treatments have been introduced and the range is now more complete. The massages range from typical Swedish massage or hot stone Oriental, thai, balinese, energizing up. they also Have a massage that mixes together several types of Ayurvedic and thai massage shiatsu, balinese culminating in a head massage, good price, I would recommend it. Reflexology, manicure pedicure are available. There are also various facial treatments, cleansing, moisturizing, refreshing technique with oils and lymphatic massage. Treatments can also be made with short or longer duration times and the price varies depending on the length of treatment. The SPA offers discounted packages of mini treatments such as massage or head massage of 25 minutes. Also you can do the treatment or the sauna and jacuzzi. You can also give a treatment
With the gift voucher. For last I recommend the treatment for sunburn that is typical of the Maldives where so many Europeans get sunburnt because they are not paying attention to the recommendations on the Sun and its intensity at this latitude. Treatment refreshes and helps skin cells to regenerate.
When we arrived they delivered two voucher in order to take advantage of an extension of 10 minutes of treatment if we booked a Swedish massage or balinese of thirty to fifty minutes within two days of our arrival. The treatment was available on time between 2 and 9 p.m. This discount is only and guests in the premium room. Who chose the all inclusive package can do a test massage of 15 minutes. These incentives are definitely nice to promote SPA
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