Travel

Blue crush

Picasa

BLUE. After a month discovering the wonders of the Maldives, this one word stuck in my mind more than any other.

Living and working aboard a surfing charter boat as the onboard photographer for Australia's leading surf adventure specialist, World Surfaris, I was literally thrown in the deep end of this Indian Ocean paradise, tasked with capturing the Kodak moments on behalf of the surf-hungry guests who had travelled from all corners of the globe to share in an adventure of a lifetime.

The Maldives is a fascinating place, both geographically and culturally.

The people are believed to have originated mostly from southern India and Sri Lanka, yet their language is unique.

Although Hinduism and later Buddhism were once practised, Islam has been their religion since the 12th century and it is actually illegal for a non-Muslim to become a citizen.

Coming from a culture where bikinis are the norm, I found unusual the sight of local women getting around in a tropical paradise dressed from head to toe and even swimming in their customary dress.

My home for the duration was the Handhu Falhi: a 24m (78ft) safari boat with six full-time local crew. She was rebuilt in 2005 and accommodates 10 guests in air-conditioned comfort.

Aside from the many exclusive resorts that are dotted throughout the 26 atolls of the island nation, safari boats are the most common and, certainly in my opinion, the best way to holiday in the Maldives.

The islands, though picturesque, are basically all the same - small, flat and covered in coconut palms. From the water, you can enjoy the view of many islands from your shaded deck and the view never gets boring.

Besides, the water is where all the action is.

Diving is a big tourist drawcard, but surfing is my thing and every surfer I have ever spoken to gets glassy-eyed and dreamy as soon as you mention the Maldives.

Most Aussie surfers who have travelled to get waves have been to Indonesia, but far fewer can claim to have experienced the beauty of the Maldives.

It is a little harder to get there, and as such, costs a bit more, but the reward is the lack of crowds and the natural, unspoilt beauty.

Our time was spent in the Gaafu Dhaalu atoll to the south, which picks up the southerly swells that travel the vast open expanse of the Indian Ocean.

The reef breaks that peel along the edge of the many island channels, although not of the quality of some of the famous Indonesian waves, are consistently good with a variety of breaks to test any level of surfer.

We lived as nomads of the sea, following the waves and berthing in a different location every night.

The crew would be up and on the move before dawn so that by first light, we were usually parked beside the break that would be our playground for the morning.

When hunger got the better of us, a chef-prepared feast would be on hand to refuel us before our next session in the waves.

At day's end, we would gather, red-eyed and weary, on the deck and sip on a couple of Tiger beers as the sun sank over the sea or behind a postcard-perfect island.

Occasionally, we visited a deserted island to pick coconuts or accompanied the crew to local islands.

It is quite peculiar that, although tourism is the biggest industry in the Maldives, outsiders are not catered for outside the resort islands and Male.

The plus is, you get to experience their culture as it is, minus the hawkers.

As a photographer, my eye was caught by the natural wonders, so the world beneath the insanely blue sea is where I kept returning to focus my lens.

With the waters being so clear, I discovered a new view of the waves and surfers that has never been available to me before.

From all reports, nowhere in Indonesia compares.

The Maldives is home to more than 2000 species of fish. Manta and eagle rays are common, as are hawksbill and green sea turtles.

Then there are the whale sharks.

The mystical giants are revered by the Maldivians, and our boat was lucky enough to be visited late one night by a 4.5 metre-long shark that decided to feed on krill under our spotlight. Shy at first, the gentle creature spent more than four hours in our company, unfazed by the gobsmacked guests who entered the water with snorkel gear to get a closer look.

It was without a doubt one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced and was the icing on the cake of the trip of a lifetime.

Most Aussie surfers who have travelled to get waves have been to Indonesia, but far fewer can claim to have experienced the beauty of the Maldives.

>> Read more travel stories.

Topics:  maldives sri lanka travel travelling


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Lockyer Dirt Track Kart Club back on track for new year

CELEBRATIONS: Members of the Lockyer Dirt Track Kart Club at their final meeting of 2016 in December.

The club is gearing up for the first meet of 2017 on February 12.

Lockyer Valley Council searches for signs of unusual crime

STOLEN: A Lockyer Valley Regional Council sign promoting Australia Day was stolen from a billboard along the Warrego Highway at Prenzlau. Pictured is an example of what the 6x3m vinyl sign shows.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council's Australia Day sign was stolen.

New sign in Lowood for natural disasters

Member for Ipswich West, Jim Madden, with the new LED sign for Lowood.

A new sign in Lowood will help in emergencies.

Local Partners

'What a wonderful 40 years'

AN EMPLOYEE working anywhere for the majority of their life is extraordinary, and Nancy Murray is no exception.

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

The surprising problem police face at Woodford Folk Festival

STREET SCENE: Woodford Folk Festival 2016.

The biggest issue for police at Woodfordia is not what you'd expect

Jennifer Aniston wants to return to TV

Jennifer Aniston is desperate to make a return to TV

Madonna hopes for election unity

Madonna hopes Donald Trump's election will "bring people together"

JK Rowling rules out Cursed Child trilogy

JK Rowling has ruled out a 'Cursed Child' movie trilogy

Buckley's chance in psychological thriller

James McAvoy and Betty Buckley in a scene from the movie Split.

Broadway veteran back on big screen with James McAvoy

Daniel MacPherson: acting’s a bit like channel surfing

Australian actor Daniel MacPherson in a scene from the American TV series APB.

THE Aussie export talks about making his mark in the US.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Lisa Marie Woodham will be giving readings in Gladstone until Saturday January 21.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

By the water's edge

Secure your seachange

HOT PROPERTY: Money to spend on land, buildings

File picture.

Sale, leasing of industrial real estate picks up in Mackay

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Sunday auction for historical home

Former Catholic school sure to attract spirited bidding

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!