Motoring about the Maldives
January rolled around and the itch to travel bit again. We'd been to this low lying island nation last January and had very much enjoyed the Atmosphere Kanifushi Resort. Our attempt to return to the same location was thwarted when we found out that any type of fishing - including our catch and release style - has now been banned by the resort. Ugh.
A Google search for resort alternatives gave up a couple of names - Hideaway and Ayada. Each place looked fairly good but not exactly what we were looking for. The Google search also turned up the name of Awave Travel - a Euro travel advisor that suggested a boat trip might be the answer to our needs. The owner of the agency, Giulia Manfrini, gave us so much helpful information and was so responsive that we eventually booked a charter boat from her to chauffeur us around the islands for a week.
The trip to the Maldives
......was almost as ugly as the last time we made it. The airport at Male (capital city) is exactly twelve time zones away from our place in Tucson which of course makes it at the opposite side of the earth. Even with only two layovers and connecting flights, the total time to get there and/or return home is in the 40 hour range each direction.
What saved our sanity this time was Sue upgrading the longest leg from Dallas to Doha, Qatar and for the return by moving us into business class. Despite the much higher fare, having a nice bed and unlimited good food and drink made the move a great one.
Here's a short video of getting to and around Male:
....... was named Fascination. It had been purchased by a very nice Maldivian couple. The boat is a tunnel hull design that they commissioned and had built and freighted from Italy to Male. It's a very well laid out and comfortable design. The specs for it are at the end of the upcoming video labeled "The Boat". A normal crew for the vessel is a skipper, a deck hand, a chef, and a server/house person. We were very well taken care of by those folks as well as by the owners.
The owners spent the week on board with us. Naseem is a local and his wife Maxine - is an ex pat Brit. Exceptionally nice people. While they have no shoreside home on the main island where the boat is docked, they do use a local Male B & B for an onshore getaway when the berths on their charter boat are completely filled.
Here's a quick video of the craft:
.......really wasn't what we'd call great, but it wasn't awful either. Somewhat indifferent might be the appropriate term. What we did was fairly simple - motor Fascination around to some likely looking sandbanks or uninhabited sand islands, take the tender to the beach, get off, and spend a few hours casting until we got tired of it. Then repeat this over and over for the next few days.
Probably sounds a bit boring, but it really wasn't (at least for me). The fish population is similar to what we find in the Seychelles and around the South Pacific. Lots of juvenile reef species, a few lunker critters (mostly trevally and triggerfish), and some types that frankly were annoying. What we did not find here were large numbers of snappers, bonefish, and toothy predators like barracuda and sharks.
This is the short video of some of the fishing:
And the final question is
......would we repeat the trip? The reality is a no. As satisfied as we were with the chartering operation and the way they found places for us to do our casting, the Maldives really aren't a great way for us to enjoy saltwater fishing. The government regulations that forbid any type of fishing on any of the resort islands is a big roadblock.
Half the fun for us on these trips is to be able to walk varied shorelines and reefs unimpeded so we not only get to fly cast but also have a bunch of exercise along the way. But we do profusely thank our hosts for their help in making the boating a great experience, and we will highly recommend them should someone ask about the trip.
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