There are few places in the world that capture the imagination quite like the Maldives. This scintillating sea of a thousand islands encapsulates a mythical memory of a past Garden of Eden.
The crystalline waters and sandy islands, festooned with palm trees, provide the ideal destination for those seeking the very best scenery and luxury. Average temperatures of 23º - 31ºC all year round, with only the occasional showers from May to October, assures great weather. Superior architecture in the form of the luxury beach and water villas, plus the provision of extensive water sports, make it the ultimate location for a wedding, honeymoon or anniversary.
We chose dive experts Dolphin Base, at OZEN By Atmosphere at Maadhoo Island in the Maldives, for an adventure anniversary holiday of epic proportions. This is the picture-perfect island for a wedding. Share your vows overlooking the Azur sea. After the ceremony pop off for a dive with whale shark, a luxury spa, or a Jet Ski Safari. Friends and family will love you and the photographs will resonate forever.
On the first day, we registered with Dolphin Base who have a gorgeous dive centre that fits effortlessly into the surrounding palm trees. Your stay includes a weekly dive, windsurfing, dolphin trip and kayak. We started our adventure with a dive on the first day with instructor Shakoor. The Dhoni, a gorgeous traditional Maldivian fishing boat, picked us up at the jetty and sailed to the nearest reef just opposite the water villas. We aimed to find some manta and swim along taking photographs.
Shakoor was not optimistic as he felt the water currents were not quite right, as they tend to feed in strong flows. We dived anyway, following the reef and within five minutes a vague outline appeared in the distance. Three flowing manta, gliding towards us from the murky shadows, flew right over our heads. Their movements are beautiful, the sinuous wings billow gently as they pass, impressive and incredibly graceful. The cephalic horns funnel water into the mouth for feeding and the gills flare gently as they swim.
We saw another pair again a little later and took more pictures. A magnificent experience as this was only our first dive. That afternoon I took the windsurf for around two hours, sailing up and the Northside of the island. The wind was ideal coming into shore at around 45°, which made it easy to tack right past the water villas at the East end of the island and back.
The very next day we took a Jet Ski Safari to the surrounding islands. Our two Yamaha WaveRunners had a top speed of 70 mph and the sea was calm with just a light chop, so we hit 60 mph with ease. Our tour took us to the nearest island of Biyadhoo. We whizzed past this tiny verdant, palm-covered, circular islet towards the open sea. Our next point was the inhabited island of Guraidhoo. There is a famous surfing spot here, created by two strong currents that meet and form long rolling waves, known as Bomboras. The locals famously paddle far to surf these perfect breaks. We cruised by, admiring them from a distance, as they took full advantage of the "gnarly" swells.
We turned back towards the last island on our trip, Vilivaru, the smallest of the trio and deserted. We jumped the waves as we circled it, heading back up to the water villas in the distance. As the sea grew shallow towards the reef, the bikes appeared to be flying over thin air. The landscape around us was incomparably magnificent. Just the vast open glassy sea, with little islands dotted in the distance. A solitary, tiny cloud wafted past, a speck of white highlighting the saturated turquoise sky.
Our next water sport was Flyboarding. If you've never seen these, they are boots with a hose connected to a Jet Ski. Think Iron Man with water jets exploding from the boots. It took around ten minutes to get the hang of it. I glided five to six metres above the water, soaring forward, spinning and practising small dives towards the sea. The view from up there is terrific, you soar over the Jet Ski, looking down on the beach, villas and dive shop. This is the closest to flying like a bird, except perhaps for skydiving with a wingsuit, but so much safer. You do feel like a superhero. My instructor Ahmed then showed me how an expert does it. He soared straight up, then twisted and spun three to four times at speed. He then dived from six metres, down into the water, staying submerged for 10-12 seconds, before emerging like a dolphin. Truly magnificent acrobatics.
Monday was Parasailing day. We boarded the swish speedboat at sunset and headed towards the setting sun, past the reef. Emily and I geared up in the harness at the back of the boat, with the parachute tucked neatly behind us. Once we were comfortable, Bakku pushed the throttle forward. His colleague released the folds of material, which swiftly caught the wind and ever so gently lifted us off the boards. We rose seemingly forever, as the sun and Maadhoo Island dropped ever lower beneath our dangling feet. The height and view took my breath away. Only the sound of the wind whistling through the panelled silk disturbed the utter tranquillity of the scene. The sea stretched forever, lit in dark contrast by the waning light. A pod of dolphins gambolled below us near the boat. Though we could barely see either them or the crew, just the ripples formed in the waves as they cavorted. Another precious memory shared on our anniversary.
After another dive to a different reef where we saw another two pairs of mantas, it was time for some mono-skiing. You have to get the right time, which is either early morning or late in the afternoon. The chop is better with little or no wind. You can kitesurf, wakeboard, kneeboard, ski or mono-ski. My favourite sport of all-time is mono-ski. The sheer aggression of being pulled at 30-40 mph, skidding over the waves, slaloming back and forth behind the boat is unbeatable. Plus it's safe. Fall and you bounce a few times before sinking into the soft, warm water. Adventure sport with little risk. Perfect for a wedding to remember, honeymoon or anniversary.
Of course, you don’t have to do any sports, you can relax by the pool, indulge at the spa, or lie on the beach with the crystal waters lapping at your feet. The privacy is exceptional and we had entire beaches to ourselves every time. If one of you likes to lounge and the other throw themselves into an adventure, this island has it all. They even arrange heart shaped flowers to frame your dinner on the beach, or a bath with foam and rose petals, anything you can think of, your butler will make it happen. They hold the wedding ceremonies on a private beach, by the water lily pond and open-air temple, filled with flowers and scented candles.
There is no more stunning spot on earth. If you hanker after a wedding or honeymoon that is unique and infinitely different from anything else, with adventure thrown in, OZEN By Atmosphere at Maadhoo Island in the Maldives, is the place. The butler service is the best I have ever come across. The island is unbeatable for its service, beauty, food, luxury living and sports facilities.
There is also an underwater restaurant, the M6m, where sharks glide past as you dine, that will make your wedding dinner sensational.
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