Saturday, October 26, 2013

An early autumnal treat, let's get tropical

Holiday challenge, it's unusual for me to be happy returning to places. There are many obstacles, in some cases restraining orders and in others, angry hoteliers with long memories.

If I've really enjoyed somewhere I irrationally fear that it will be disappointing on a second visit, and, if I've not enjoyed myself, well,  why would I return?

It's different for Mrs Stuffy, annually she and her chums swan off on a girls trip to the Greek islands, recently returning thrice to the same hotel in Mykononos, and that's fine for her but would make me most uncomfortable. 

We do however agree that the multitude of choices of island in the Maldives works for both of us. 

We both love the casual shoe-less sandy laid-back ambiance of most resorts, the staff are invariably great and enough of the guests well mannered and pleasant to be tolerable to the ageing misanthropes among us (me).  

She gets to lie on a beach or a veranda and Kindle away the days with occasional breaks for fine food, snorkel and swims. I tend to jump on a boat and get underwater for extended periods of time and I've found nowhere in the world that I prefer to dive. 

The 'not going back syndrome' means that we've been, in the past to Kuramathi and Komandoo, but this time we decided to throw caution to the winds and visit an island that does not start with the letter K. 

We flew off to Hakura Huraa in the Meemu atoll, a 10 hour BA flight and a 45 minute seaplane hop. Again, opinion is divided on the matter of seaplanes, He "isn't this fun?" Her "no".

The island, as one would expect, is very lovely although the weather was changeable and occasionally very damp as the rainy season started to flex its muscles. We had booked a water villa, a very pleasant setup on stilts over the lagoon with a private deck and steps into the sea, a glass floor and all mod cons. 

We've always been on land before and her ladyship found the constant susurration relaxing whilst I, inevitably, found it difficult to sleep as the tides and waves played a never ending symphony of imminent maritime disaster. 

The food was fine, the wine quaffable, we ordered a bottle of nice wine one evening and found it about as average as the all-inclusive plonk served nightly, It's the overall relaxing pace of these places that make the islands a delightful place to spend a few days, relaxing evenings with cocktails in the bar, critiquing the singers and the clothing choices of our fellow travellers. 

I should mention the swim/snorkel/dive  situation.

 The lagoon here was bigger than we've experienced elsewhere (maybe it's a K island thing) but it did mean a long swim to the house reef and against a strong current which meant her ladyship didn't enjoy the quality of snorkelling she was used to. 

On the up-side, for me the diving was excellent. I've always enjoyed every dive centre I've used in the Maldives (unlike occasional disappointments in the Caribbean, and that prat in Mallorca, deep breath, move on). The Dive team in Hakura were great and a joy to dive with. Interestingly some 60% of the 170 or so guests were young Chinese who apparently are not greatly enamoured of swimming although they are hugely in favour of taking millions of photos of each other every thirty seconds. 

This meant that on many occasions the dive boat with its crew of three was at the disposal of myself, the dive master/instructor and at most two other divers. An excellent and rare ratio and made some stunning diving both more relaxed for all of us and a very personalised experience for me as for three of my six days I was the sole client, spoilt rotten.

The biggie for me was to finally break my Manta ray virginity, it's long been a wish and was finally achieved. I won't write too much as I'm linking to a film produced for me by the very lovely Sylvia from Maldives Dive and Sail.  I'd also like to offer a huge thank you to Basti, Bjorn and Achmed and if you're looking for a holiday with some world class divers they are, without a doubt, the biz.

           Click on the photo of the porky chap in a wetsuit to see the brief movie...                      

I would have some photos of my own but, for the second time my "waterproof dive camera housing" failed to live up to the first word in it's name and this enabled me to bring back to shore a camera sized sample of Indian Ocean water and $300 dollars worth of camera-shaped scrap metal.

Would we go back to Hakura Huraa? No, of course not, read the intro. 

Would we go back to the Maldives, yes, of course, like a shot.

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At 12:39 pm, Blogger Vera Mihailovich said...

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