So, Male was an adventure that most people avoid by going directly to their resort. This log will be everything you expect from the Maldives- paradise and its upkeep. My resort island was Kandooma, home of the Holiday Inn. Now, Holiday Inn you say…? Sounds boring. With an island full of Australian surfers, how can anything be boring?
Kandooma is in the South Male Atoll, about a 45 min boat ride from the capitol/airport. All resorts are on singular islands making them completely self-contained. The one island, one resort policy goes back a ways in finding an efficient way to grow tourism in an Islamic nation. The resorts can carry items otherwise banned on the inhabited islands like booze and bacon. The staff lives on the island with the tourists and is a mixture of Maldivians and international immigrants.
In every way, Kandooma is paradise; perfect turquoise water, all inclusive options, drinks with little umbrellas, and people to wait on you all day. But paradise takes work; an island this idyllic does not exist in nature. Every morning a group of unskilled men and women from the neighboring island rake and sweep the open areas free of fallen flowers, branches, and palms. The resort fumigates the mosquitoes. The water is recycled and the waste transferred by barge to “rubbish island”. It’s actually quite Eco-friendly, but you’d not see any of this as a tourist. You’d walk around the property and marvel at its beauty and say things like, “Oh, I could just live here!” but never understand the work it takes to keep a place so picture perfect. Never mind that broken coral is packaged in metal fencing to combat increasing shoreline erosion and that the beaches are replenished with sand dredged from the lagoon.
Keeping up the tourist illusion of paradise takes work. I was lucky to get the inside tour of island up-keep and was impressed with the staff and management of the Holiday Inn Kandooma. Not only are they professional, but their corporate office takes on-going restoration and the islands’ ecology seriously. Now I will leave you with a few quintessential images of the gnarly surf break and underwater life before my next post.