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The Adventurous Hanifaru bay, Maldives

Hanifaru bay – a reef famous for being a nursery for sharks and sting rays. It is a place where the mighty whale sharks come to mate and a park for the ever graceful manta rays come to feed and play.

Hanifaru bay was chosen as a Marine Protected Area and is an important area of the Biosphere Reserve in Baa Atoll, Maldives. This site is strictly a “Look but Do Not Touch” Zone meaning Diving is prohibited. Over the years, Hanifaru Bay has become one of the world’s largest manta ray feeding destinations and has long been famous among underwater photographers.

The manta ray is known as an opportunistic feeder and they dine on plankton and small fishes. While feeding they constantly swim in small circles. These circular movements allow them to dine easily without many of their victims getting away.

So imagine what happens when the season changes and large concentration of tiny organisms that together make up the plankton gets trapped in Hanifaru Lagoon. When these planktons wash over the corals and sway on the surface at the mercy of the ocean current, it attracts large groups of manta rays. When they arrive and together form one large group, their natural feeding patterns are spontaneously replaced by a feeding frenzy behavior and this is when Chaos begins.

Video Credit: Biosphere Reserve Facebook Page

According to one dive instructor sometimes the destination attracts as many as 200 to 250 rays and when that happens, they no longer get to swirl in circles. Instead they spiral out and the circle breaks down.

Best Time of Year

May to November is considered as the best season to visit the Hanifaru bay. This is known as the South West Monsoon that causes massive buildup of plankton in the area which draws in hundreds of Manta Rays accompanied by whale sharks.

Resorts Closest to Hanifaru bay

Hanifaru bay is located in Baa atoll in the Maldives. Here is a list of some of the resorts located around this area

Anantara Kihavah Villas
Coco Palm Dhunikolhu
Dusit Thani Maldives
Royal Island Resort and Spa
Soneva Fushi Resort

Video Credit: National Geographic

Jumeirah Vittaveli announces opening of Royal Residence

Jumeirah Vittaveli is set to unveil its much anticipated Royal Residence in January 2017.

The 5-bedroom / 6-bathroom retreat will cover 3,500 square metres and include a private beach, two pools, and a private arrival jetty.

“The Royal Residence adds another dimension of luxury to Jumeirah Vittaveli. This completely self-sufficient hideaway includes its own arrival jetty with overwater bar, an open air kitchen, restaurant, private beach, two pools, spa and gym, separate living and dining pavilion as well as separate service quarters. Guests can enjoy unrivalled privacy while still having all the activities and facilities of an award-winning resort at their fingertips,” said Amit Majumder, General Manager of Jumeirah Vittaveli.

“We have put much thought into planning out each little detail of the Royal Residence and I am confident that guests will be amazed by the level of service as well as privacy that they will experience when staying at this new ultimate tropical retreat.”

According to the resort, the Royal Residence experience will begin as soon as guests arrive in the Maldives. Read more

Maldives begins charging Green Tax from guesthouses

A guesthouse in Maafushi, home to most of the guesthouses in the country
The Maldives commenced a daily Green Tax of USD 3 for guesthouses beginning October 1.

Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) stated that a daily tax of USD 3 will be charged from tourists staying at guesthouses under the amendment made to the Maldives’ Tourism Act on June 29.

The Green Tax was introduced last November and until now had been charged from tourists staying at resorts, hotels and safari cruises at a daily rate of USD 6. The tax, which is charged from all expatriates in the Maldives except those with resident visas, had not been imposed on guesthouses previously.

In a circular, MIRA stipulated that the Green Tax must be submitted to the authority monthly with November 28 as the next deadline.

According to MIRA’s statistics released last month, Green Tax had brought in a revenue of USD 27 million in August.

20 new resorts to be unveiled in 2017

The Maldives government announced on Wednesday that twenty new resorts will be unveiled next year.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer told reporters that the government is striving to meet its pledge of opening 50 resorts within five years. While the number of resorts opened over the past two years were fewer than expected, he highlighted the four resorts already unveiled this year with nine more to be opened before the year is out.

“… the target [of opening 50 new resorts] can be achieved by mid-2018. We expect to do even better than that,” said the minister, speaking to reporters during the largest conference on tourism promotion held in the Maldives.

Zameer noted that the government’s current priority is to complete the pending 200 or so unfinished islands for resort development rather than lease new islands.

The new resorts already opened this year are Furaveri Island Resort in Raa atoll, Finolhu in Baa atoll, OZEN by Maadhoo and Malahini Kuda Bandos in Kaafu atoll. Other resorts to be unveiled in 2016 are:
  • Resort in Lhaviyani atoll Huravalhi island
  • Cocoon Maldives in Lhaviyani atoll Ookolhufushi island
  • Kandinma Maldives in Dhaalu atoll
  • St Regis Maldives in Dhaalu atoll Vommuli island
  • Soneva Jani in Noonu atoll Medhufaru island
  • Mercury Maldives Kooddoo in Gaafu Alif atoll Kooddoo
  • Resort in Baa atoll Milaidhoo island
  • Four Seasons Voavah in Baa atoll Voavah island
  • Dhigufaru Island Resort in Baa atoll Dhigufaruvinagandu island
Despite the new resorts being unveiled and developed across the Maldives with a number of internationally renowned brands entering the scene, the tourism industry is currently at a low. The Maldives government had abandoned hope Wednesday of luring the previously projected 1.5 million tourists to the archipelago by the end of this year, revising the number to 1.4 million. Moreover, the number of visitors from China, the largest market for the island nation’s tourism, has also been on a decline. 

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Maldives Marine Expo 2016 opens at Hulhumale’

Environment minister Thoriq Ibrahim inaugurates the Maldives Marine Expo 2016 in Hulhumale. PHOTO: HUSSAIN SHAYAAH/MIHAARU
The Maldives kicked off its annual marine industry fair “Maldives Marine Expo 2016” on Tuesday.

The third expo since the event’s creation, the fair this year is held in reclaimed suburb Hulhumale with 32 participants, including a number of international parties.

The four-day expo features various state-of-the-art facilities related to the marine sector, machineries, tools, marine vessels including boats and launches, and prominent brands of diving and water sports. Some of the items are available for sale at rates lower than the market price at the fair.

This year’s Marine Expo also offers a range of brand new activities. According to the event’s organiser and manager BLAK Pvt Ltd, visitors to the expo can participate in marine talks unlike the previous years, and sign up for water sports activities at the National Art Gallery in capital Male. Water sports will be open for visitors on Friday, the final day of the fair.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Marine Expo, environment minister Thoriq Ibrahim declared the increasing numbers of participants as a boost to the fair.

“To expand the Marine Expo, it will become an international expo in the future,” he added. “The Maldives is the most ideal destination to hold such events.”

Pledging the government’s assistance in holding such fairs in the future, the minister also stressed the importance of offering opportunities and jobs to youth in such events.

Short intro on Maldives Marine Expo
  • India, China, Russia and the United States are participating in this year’s expo.
  • The expo is open from 3:00 to 10:00 p.m.
  • Major local firms are taking part.
  • Brand new products will be unveiled to the public.
  • The expo at the Art Gallery also features submitted artwork.

Hosted by Liveaboard Association of Maldives, its president Hassan Haleem said that the expos have increased people’s recognition and trust in the Maldives’ marine industry.

He asserted the expos’ positive impact on the island nation’s economy, saying that it also helps create new local businesses.

Some of the participating firms have unveiled products entirely new to the market at the expo including launches, engines and jet skis. Several stalls are also offering hefty discounts for the items on sale.

World’s first underwater hotel to be built in Maldives

Zen Resort in Maldives, once complete, will host the world’s first underwater hotel.

The hotel will sit 6 meters below sea-level, and each and every one of its 22 rooms will offer a breathtaking view of the ocean.

It is being developed by a Polish company – Deep Ocean Technologies.

Shaped like disks, the hotel has an elevator and stairwell at its center.

The crystal clear waters and the diverse creatures that live in the waters are one of the biggest
draws that attract tourists to Maldives.

A world-renowned tourist attraction – Maldives is home to the world’s first underwater spa – located in Huvafen Fushi, underwater restaurant – located in Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. It’s also home to the largest tourism submarine.

First InterContinental Resort in Maldives opens

InterContinental Hotels Group has signed a management agreement with Hotel Properties Limited (“HPL”) to open a new InterContinental resort on the island of Maamunagau in the Maldives.
The 83-room InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort will mark the brand’s entry into the Maldives.

With the signing of InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, the company now has 13 resorts in its development pipeline which will open within the next five years.

This is the third resort that IHG has in partnership with HPL. The Singapore-based property owner and developer also owns Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives and Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu.

Maamunagau island is located at the southern point of Raa Atoll (North Maalhosmadulu Atoll). International travellers can take a seaplane directly to the resort from Male’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

The resort’s bar and restaurants include an all day dining restaurant, the InterContinental Planet Trekkers Menu for children, and a Club Lounge.

Jan Smits, chief executive officer, Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA), IHG, said: “Tourism in the Maldives has been a major contributor to its economy, contributing more than 40 percent of the country’s GDP last year, and sentiments are positive as the country continues to be one of the world’s most highly sought after travel destinations. It is a great time to be bringing our InterContinental brand into the Maldives.

“In growing our brands’ presence it is always important we look for the right partner and we are delighted to be working with HPL to bring our luxury brand, InterContinental into the country.”

Stephen Lau, chairman, HPL Hotels & Resorts Pte Ltd, said: “As part of our growth strategy we continuously seek the right opportunity to expand our portfolio across the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region. We see huge potential to grow our resorts business in the Maldives and Maamunagau island is the perfect setting to develop a luxury InterContinental resort.

“We’ve been working with IHG for almost seven years and they have been excellent partners. We look forward to bringing another great resort to life, InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, in partnership with IHG.

The Maldives Wins ‘Best Island’ At The Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards 2016

Maldives wins three awards at the 2016 Condé Nast Traveller, Readers’ Travel Awards in London reaffirming its position as one the world’s preferred destinations.

Maldives was selected as the winner of the “Best Island” category at the Condé Nast Traveller, Readers’ Travel Awards, seeing off stiff competition from the Greek Islands, the Balearic Islands and the Seychelles.

The ceremony was held at the Ham Yard Hotel in central London on August 30, 2016. The prestigious award was accepted by the Maldives High Commissioner to the UK, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Shiaan. After accepting the award, Mr. Shiaan said, “We are honored that the readers of the Condé Nast have chosen the Maldives as their favorite Island Destination. As a small Island Nation with only 350,000 inhabitants, these awards prove that the Maldives continues to provide the world with the best beaches, best hotels and the clearest waters in the Indian Ocean. We feel extremely proud of this recognition.”

The One & Only Hotel in Reethi Rah in the Maldives also won the “Best Hotel SPA and the Runner Up in the preferred overseas holiday hotel in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian Ocean.

The Condé Nast Traveller is one of the UK’s leading luxury travel magazines and its Reader’s Travel Awards, which are voted for by Condé Nast Traveller readers who are some of the most widely respected in the travel industry. The UK travel market remains buoyant for the Maldives. So far nearly 60,000 British people travelled to Maldives in 2016 which represents an increase of 10% compared to the same period of last year.

Upon hearing about the awards, the Maldives Minister for Tourism Hon. Moosa Zameer remarked: “The United Kingdom remains one of our most important markets and it is gratifying for the Maldives to receive such a prestigious prize in the UK. The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, with the full support of the Maldives High Commission in London, have done lots of work to promote Maldives in the UK, and this award is a fitting recognition of this hard work. We are elated to retain our position as one the world’s safest and preferred destination.”

OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo

OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo, opened on 15th July 2016, has captured the imagination of one & all worldwide and within just a matter of few days into operations, the resort would be hitting an overall Occupancy of 90%! Truly an incredible achievement!
OZEN at Maadhoo offers a unique & exclusive Luxury Holiday plan – The Atmosphere INDULGENCE™. The Exotic 90 villa resort presents its guests with an all-encompassing Luxury Beach holiday experience with all elements of the perfect luxury holiday in the Maldives, fully taken care of, upfront. As the key Tagline of the resort states “No Shocks. No Surprises. No Hidden Costs…JUST BLISS!”

Located just 35-minutes by a Luxury speedboat from Malé International Airport, on the idyllic island of Maadhoo in South Malé Atoll, OZEN brings a complete hassle-free lifestyle holiday offering, to those seeking a tranquil escape from the daily grind. The Atmosphere INDULGENCE™ plan even includes an exquisite fine-dining experience within the first Underwater restaurant in Male` Atoll – M6m (Acronym for Minus Six Meters!), at NO extra charge. This is certainly a FIRST in the Maldives.

Mr. Venkata Giri, General Manager of OZEN states, “Today is a very special day as we welcome our first guests to OZEN by Atmosphere. It is gratifying to see all our hard work come to fruition and our vision coming to life. My team & I are fully excited & prepared to take care of our discerning guests during the coming weeks. We look forward to welcoming many more to our home away from home during the coming months and create lasting memories!”

OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo is the third resort within the Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts portfolio. After the successful launch of Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives in December 2013, the brand opened a wonderful & extremely popular four star superior resort – OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli in November 2015.

Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts intends to expand their portfolio with another two resorts during the coming year!

Maldives Wins 2 medals at Food & Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge!

Maldives has won 2 medals in the Food & Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge. The FHA Challenge was held on Singapore and Maldives won 1 silver medal and 1 bronze medal.

The Silver Medal was won by Abdul Rasheed in Dress the cake category and the Bronze medal was won by Abdulla Sabah, the sues-chef of Soneva Fushi Maldives. These 2 chefs have achieved medals in the previous International culinary Challenges.

Food and Hotel Asia (FHA) Challenge began in 1978 and is now one of the prestigious culinary competitions in Asia. This challenge has attracted more than 800 talented chefs from all over the world. The FHA Challenge has served and estimated 48,000 trade visitors from 90 countries/regions. This has allowed them to present a formidable purchasing power to boost their business for the Asian market.

Source: Maldive

TMA launches its first air-conditioned luxury seaplane

Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) has launched its first luxury air conditioned sea plane. This comfortable seaplane can accommodate up to 8 passengers with comfortable leather seats. TMA has stated that the luxury seaplane is known to be the first of its kind and will contribute to the satisfaction of the passengers.

The event was held in the TMA Terminal building and was attended by the key partners, staffs and government officials. Mr. Adil Moosa, Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited was the chief guest of the event. Fawzy, CEO of TMA has stated that the launch of this new luxury aircraft is a demonstration of commitment to innovation. The ceremony was concluded with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the launch of the Seaplane by the Chief Guest of the event.

Trans Maldivian Airways started in 1989 and is known to be one of the oldest air service operator in the Maldives. The company has now grown to become one of the largest seaplane operators in the world. TMA has won several awards such as the World’s Leading Seaplane Operator Award, Indian Ocean’s Leading Seaplane Operator Award, etc…

Source: Maldive

Maldives wins prestigious awards at World Travel Awards 2016

Maldives wins prestigious awards at World Travel Awards- Indian Ocean Category 2016

Maldives wins the prestigious position of the Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination at the 23rd edition of the Annual World Travel Awards; Africa and Indian Ocean held on 9th April evening in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Maldives once again secured the prestigious position as the Indian Ocean’s leading Destination after having won the title also in 2015 after fierce competition with Indian Ocean’s top tourist destinations including Seychelles and Mauritius.

Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the “Travel industry’s equivalent to the Oscar’s”
the World Travel Awards are the most comprehensive and most prestigious awards program in the global travel industry. It was established in 1993 to acknowledge and celebrate excellence in the world’s travel and tourism industry. The Indian Ocean category was introduced in 2003.

Since then, the Maldives had won prestigious positions in various categories over the years. 2016 Award series is yet again another tremendous year for the Maldives as a tourist destination. Being a winner of most awards in the most prestigious categories truly bench marks the destination profiling at the highest level. One of the main events of Visit Maldives Year 2016 includes the Maldives hosting the World Travel Awards Grand Finale of 2016.

The winning categories for Maldives in 2016 are;

  • Indian Ocean's Leading Destination

  • Indian Ocean's Leading Dive Destination

  • Indian Ocean's Leading Beach Destination

  • Indian Ocean's Leading Honeymoon Destination

  • Winning Other Winning categories for Maldivian Tourism Industry

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Airport – Ibrahim Nasir International Airport

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Dive Resort – Constance Moosfushi

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Family Resort – The Sun Siyam Iru fushi

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Hotel – Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Hotel Suite – Royal Island Suite @ JA Manafaru

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Leisure Hotel – Hulhule Island Hotel

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Luxury Water Villa – Ocean Pavillion @ PER AQUUM Huvafen Fushi

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading MICE Hotel – Kurumba Maldives

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading New Resort – aaaVeee Nature’s Paradise

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Seaplane Operator – Trans Maldivian Airways

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Travel Agency – Vermillion International Maldives

  • Indian Ocean’s Most Romantic Resort – Baros Maldives

For more information about the awards, please visit
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