Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, located in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, offers guests the chance to get up-close-and-personal with manta rays at the world’s largest natural manta feeding destination, during their annual migration across the Indian Ocean. For the first time, guests have the rare opportunity to freedive with the gentle giants at the protected site of Hanifaru Bay, which can attract more than 100 rays around the time of the full moon. With the season well underway, guests still have time to witness the spectacle first hand before the end of November or to plan ahead for the next season which starts in May 2017.
With a wingspan of up to 7 metres, manta rays congregate at Hanifaru Bay during the south-west monsoon and, with optimum wind and tide conditions, enter a shallow cul-de-sac in the reef to feed on microscopic plankton, small fish and crustaceans. The Anantara team works closely with the rangers who protect Hanifaru Bay to get the insider scoop on the mantas’ movements so that guests can quickly reach the site, which is located only 45 minutes from the resort, maximising their chances of spotting the rays. Scuba diving is not permitted so guests now have the choice of snorkelling or freediving.
Hot on the heels of sister resort Anantara Dhigu Maldives’ announcement in May that it was opening the first PADI-accredited freediving centre in the Maldives, Anantara Kihavah is now also fully licensed. Whilst freediving has been popular in the Maldives for some time, the PADI certification offered by Elements, the water sports centre at Anantara Kihavah Villas, teaches divers proper breathing techniques and trains them on how they can enjoy the sport safely.
Coasting through the ocean with flowing, graceful movements that echo the natural motions of the Mantas that surround, freedivers experience a sense of oneness taking the Maldives’ manta experience to an entirely new level. Closer encounters, liberating mobility and the ability to glide with freedom from scuba or snorkelling equipment enhance an already unforgettable outing.
At the helm of Anantara Kihavah’s freediving centre is Talya Davidoff. A passionate, advanced freediving instructor, Talya is also a fully qualified marine biologist and a competitive freediver with a personal best of a depth of 42 metres. Adding even greater depth to her aquatic expertise, Talya will be undergoing training with freediving world champion, Alexey Molchanov, before the South African Championships in June next year.
Talya and the Elements team at Anantara Kihavah Villas are dedicated to safeguarding the wellbeing and habitat of the manta rays and enforce the strict regulations that have been set by the local rangers. Known for its commitment towards sustainability and protecting the local environment, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas also launched a coral adoption programme when the resort opened in 2001. Over the five years to date, Anantara’s team has continued to enhance its reef initiatives to accelerate the regeneration of coral growth.
Anantara Kihavah, which offers 79 spacious private pool villas poised overwater or nestled on a private beach, is located 30 minutes from Male by seaplane and boasts an abundant and colourful house reef of its own. For guests who wish to maximise their ‘bottom time’, SEA. FIRE. SALT. SKY. offers a one-of-a-kind over and underwater dining experience.
To reserve a stay at the resort and experience the thrill of freediving with mantas, or to learn more about freediving, contact +960 664 4111 or [email protected]. For more information on Anantara’s Maldives resorts, visit anantara.com.
The world’s globetrotters are invited to explore their creativity amidst the Maldivian paradise of Baa Atoll and create a masterpiece to take home. In collaboration with internationally acclaimed visual artist, Julie Simpson, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas welcomes guests to tap into their inner talents and express the beauty of its magnificent surrounds in a personal masterpiece.
Guests can indulge in artistic revelry on this private island in Baa Atoll, surrounded by dazzling blue ocean. Julie will be offering classes six days a week, both at the resort’s poolside Manzaru restaurant and also private In-Villa tutorials. Guests of all ages will benefit from the expertise of the artist-in-residence and receive guidance on creating their work. All materials will be provided and each piece can be brought home as a spectacular holiday souvenir.
Looking out to the ocean, the poolside setting at Manzaru creates an ideal open air studio and Julie encourages visitors to drop by for painting demonstrations or an informal chat. Julie will paint during the evenings to “demystify the artistic process” and guests can also buy her work to adorn their walls at home, a splendid way to relive memories of their Maldivian escape.
Hailing from Australia, Julie has brought her expertise to destinations such as Russia, Morocco, Italy and France. Known internationally for her abstract sand, sea and sky artworks she will draw from the emotion and colour of the environment’s beautiful natural canvas to create a mural for the resort’s children’s club. In her first visit to the Maldives she expects the Maldivian blues surrounding Anantara Kihavah to inspire new work.
“I draw extraordinary inspiration from the environment surrounding me,” Julie commented. “I love helping others to express their passion through art, and Anantara’s island is an amazing backdrop to unlock hidden talents. Immersed in serenity with nature literally painting the horizon in a flowing colourscape – what setting could be more perfect?”
Along with this unique artistic experience, guests can enjoy snorkelling in UNESCO World Biosphere reefs, delighting in an underwater dining event at Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky or soothing sun-kissed skin with a massage with island-sourced essences in the resort’s luxurious sanctuary.
Julie will be in residence at Anantara Kihavah Villas until 27 May 2016 and offering her insights to guests of all ages. Adult classes cost USD 95++ per two-hour session whilst classes for children (4 – 11 years) can be reserved for USD 55++. Classes will run from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm six days a week.
Celebrating the festive season with family and friends on sunkissed powdery white beaches by day and a starlit sky by night, guests were invited to join the team at Anantara Kihavah Villas for traditional carols as the resort’s festive lights were switched on for a fifth year, including the renowned and much-awaited underwater coral Christmas tree.
Christmas Corals 4 Metres Below
This year’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony illuminated the unique coral tree that has become a seasonal showcase element to the natural beauty of Anantara Kihavah Villas. Taking prime place of joy just beyond the viewing windows in the award-winning underwater restaurant Sea, the coral tree rests 4 meters below the water level, stands 2,5 metres tall by 2 meters wide, and is decorated with broken pieces of coral harvested from the ocean bed surrounding the resort.
The Indian Ocean’s abundance of marine life can be admired by descending into a connoisseur journey, indulging in an exquisite festive degustation menu paired by a vast array of new and old world wine selections from the world’s only underwater wine cellar. In addition to the neon fusiliers, parrotfish and surgeonfish all around, diners can feast their eyes day and night on the underwater coral tree displayed until 7 January 2016.
A Magical Wonderland of Sights, Sounds and Tastes Crowning the resort’s festive theme, A Magical Wonderland of Sights, Sounds and Tastes, the countdown to New Year’s Eve 2016 begins with a sumptuous gala gourmet buffet on the beach. Entertainment throughout the evening will see the old year out in style and ring the new one in with suave.
Set on one of the most pristine Maldivian islands, Anantara Kihavah Villas offers unique guest experiences in unsurpassed luxury with 79 private pool villas surrounded by untouched natural beauty, poised over the water with sweeping ocean views or nestled along a pristine stretch of private beach. This luxury resort and private island is reached by a mesmerizing 30-minute seaplane journey from Male international airport. For more information on Anantara Kihavah Villas special offers visit http://kihavah-maldives.anantara.com/special-packages.aspx
Surrounded 99.9% by crystal clear water, The Maldives is considered to be one of the leading dive destinations in the world. Baa Atoll is a jewel in the island nation’s crown and for any novice or serious diver planning on going there, Anantara Kihavah Villas has become known as the ‘must-go-to’ dive destination.
Award-Winning Luxury Diving Renowned for the incredible density of marine life on the Anantara Kihavah Villas house reef, any dive here is sure to result in encounters with a broad variety of marine life. Recipient of Hotel of the Year Awards “Best Luxury Diving Resort Worldwide 2015”, Anantara Kihavah Villas offers an experience of diving that is second to none. Combine the Maldives Travel Award for the best beach resort in the Maldives with a thriving house reef, a professional team of divers with a resident marine biologist year round with a private Villa Hosts for every guest, and the holiday experience takes on new levels above and below the water surface.
Spectacular dives are just metres away from any of the 79 private pool villas when staying at Anantara Kihavah Villas. Javier Lazarus, manager of resort’s water sports centre, believes there are many reasons why the resort has been recognized as the best luxury diving resort worldwide in 2015.
“Our location is definitely unbeatable. Being a thila close to the Baa Atoll channel means that there is always a degree of current clearing the water, which helps corals to grow and thereby attracting bigger fish too. All of our dive groups are very small, we are often the only group diving on the reefs and we have multi-lingual teams who make sure every nationality staying with us feels at ease and comfortable in the water. But that alone isn’t enough, our diving equipment is of the highest quality from Scubapro, and we service all equipment regularly to pass quality inspections every month. We also offer personalized rental diving equipment, which means that once a guest rents it, they spend all their holiday at the resort with the same equipment.”
Diving with Top Class Service Anantara Kihavah Villas provides a comprehensive range of luxury services and serves as a gateway to the myriad of experiences in the Baa Atoll region of The Maldives – from the magical underwater world to pristine beaches and the exploration of deserted islands and secluded lagoons.Jean-Marc Ma-Poon, General Manager at Anantara Kihavah Villas, says, “We are delighted to receive such this acknowledgement for our diving and watersports. The luxury element on the water is enhanced with our comfortable boats equipped with a shower, washroom, and also Lavazza coffee and fridge for chilled drinks. Straight after an amazing dive, our guests can reminisce in style over their marine life encounters; the boat ride to and from the resort becomes just as much a part of the whole dive experience as the diving itself.
For anyone looking to really personalize their underwater adventure, we offer dives from our luxury sailing yacht – The Ocean Whisperer – and combine this with different excursions. It’s a truly unique way to experience these waters”
The Paradise of Anantara Kihavah Villas is fascinating above and underwater. When staying on the luxury resort island, listening to the ocean lapping the shore or beneath your over water villa, it’s a gentle calling to explore the waters. Suddenly, new worlds open up to you filled with colourful coral, and schools of tropical fish. So take your sense of adventure to new levels and enjoy diving in the Best Luxury Diving Resort Worldwide at Anantara Kihavah Villas.
Encounters with Manta Rays and Anantara Kihavah Villas‘ house reef ‘The Golden Wall’ are two lifetime experiences snorkellers of every ability shouldn’t miss out on. The manta ray is one of the most mysterious and largest fish in the ocean with wingspans of up to 5 metres or more and Anantara Kihavah Villas offers your best opportunity to encounter these amazing creatures in their natural annual migration to The Maldives.
“This year’s migration to Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll is particularly exciting,” says Joseph Lassus, Anantara Kihavah Villas resident Marine Biologist. “According to reports from the Manta Trust research team based in Baa Atoll, when the mantas arrived in May this year, there were more sightings of pregnant mantas than in the last 10 years. We are noticing this as well with the mothers getting bigger as the season progresses. With a pregnancy term of 12 – 13 months, this means that next year we can expect to see a lot of baby mantas in Hanifaru Bay. Already on a recent snorkeling trip we came across a newborn pup, which is really quite rare to see, roughly measuring 1.2 metres from wing-tip to wing-tip.”
Curious, friendly and, unlike stingrays or eagle rays, mantas do not have stingers. They feed on a variety of plankton, which accounts for their large, gaping mouths. Hanifaru Bay is situated in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO marine protected biosphere covering an area of 303 hectares. From May to November each year, huge amounts of krill and plankton here attract all kinds of marine life, making it the world’s largest natural manta ray feeding destination.
Being the best place to spot manta rays in the Maldives, access to Hanifaru Bay is regulated by park rangers, who have close contact with Elements water sports centre at Anantara Kihavah Villas, giving our guides information on sightings before they head out on the 20 minute boat ride to the protected area. With no previous snorkelling experience required, tours depart 3-4 times a week from Anantara Kihavah Villas. Our tour guides scout the spots where mantas frequent, usually in Hanifaru Bay or in nearby currents where plankton and krill swim. Once in the water, snorkellers are then treated to an amazing underwater ballet whereby giant mantas glide and somersault in mesmerizing patterns. The mantas often swim within centimetres of snorkellers, always managing to avoid contact at the last second. On any given day visitors to Hanifaru Bay can see anywhere from a couple of mantas to more than a forty depending on plankton levels. Getting this close to these majestic creatures is truly an experience of a lifetime.
At Anantara Kihavah Villas itself, the house reef has become known by the local divers as ‘The Golden Wall’. Joseph explains, “The beauty of this dive site results from the incredible amount of sedentary life forms inhabiting the wall, completely covering its steep surface, edges and overhangs. This provides an immense variety of habitat to many local species of fish, lobsters, sea stars etc. The area is clearly dominated by widespread colonies of soft corals, these being of many different species displaying a huge range of colours, such as the orange, magenta or mauve spiky soft corals and cauliflower soft corals. To have this quite literally on our doorstep means an amazing dive no matter what the conditions are. Among all the bright colours displayed, the particular presence of yellow and golden coloured variations make it clear to any diver why this reef is best called The Golden Wall and a “must dive” reef when in the Maldives.”
Anantara Kihavah Villas provides a stylish haven just 35 minutes by seaplane from Malé. The Ocean Discovery Package for two persons is bookable on Anantara.com and includes five nights’ accommodation in a Beach Pool Villa or Over Water Pool Villa, daily buffet breakfast, and both guests enjoy a Dolphin Discovery excursion, a Turtle Quest or Manta Ray Snorkelling excursion, a choice of one Scuba Dive or one Scuba review course, a 30 minute Seabob water sport experience and a local island visit.