Maldives was never in my bucket list for travel photography. Can’t imagine
being stuck in a small island for a week. Having said this; my wife can’t resist
a promotional deal from Silkair and the rest is history. The only other happy
person was my daughter because she will missed school for a week. Yes;
this is called good parenting.
Next was to book a resort. I remembered photographing the ex- COO of IHG
Asia-pac, And I asked him which is his favorite beach destination? Holiday
Inn Kandooma. He did mention; it’s a perfect place for families. I guess I can’t
go very wrong with the recommendations of a family man from the hospitality
Now the biggest headache; packing my gears. I know the first camera to
pack is definitely my only underwater camera; Fujifilm XP90. Next was
my X-Pro2; and which lens should I pack? I told myself to bring only 3 lenses.
A wide; a mid and a little more tele. Those who know me, know that I am
never a one camera one lens person. I didn’t keep to the 3 lenses intention;
instead here are my 4 lenses; XF10-24mm, for that ultra wide landscape
needs. Next is XF23mm F1.4, my default fixed on lens for the camera.
The 3rd lens is the classic XF35mm F1.4. Perfect documentary portraits
and some details shots. Lastly I actually wanted to loan a XF55-200mmm
lens for light and very dependable zoom lens; but was not available. So I
decided to use a XF90mm. Did consider a XF50-140mm but decided not
to because I have yet to pack the GFX!!!!! Yes I am crazy.
For GFX, it’s a lot easier to make the decision. GF23mm F4, GF45mm
F2.8 and GF110mm F2. Did I pack a lot? Looks like its business as usual;
or should I say it; holiday as usual.
A 4.5 hours flight brings us to Male from Singapore. Another 40 minutes
of speedboat ride bring us to our home for the next 7 days. We booked a
sea view beach house. It’s a 2 story individual unit. There is a lounge area
on ground level where the kiddo could still build a sand castle under shade
in the scorching noon sun. A flight of stairs at the side of the beach house
bring us up to our lovely room with a balcony.
Holiday Inn Kandooma is a small island but not that small after all. If I
were to walk around it; it will take me about 30-45 minutes. There are
about 2-3 beaches that is perfect for kiddo to swim. The best beach will be
at the main swimming pool area. Just a couple of meters from the sea
shores we could see fishes. In fact my daughter did her first ever snorkeling
on this beach front. Just a day before mommy dearest did a free snorkeling
session and the next day she imparted the knowledge to Summer.
On the opposite side of the island is for surfers dude and babe. I did
manage to wake up early to do a sunrise shot. And I wasn’t disappointed.
I could also see many surfer trying to conquer the waves. If you are a surfer
dad; please book room numbers 130-150 range. It’s the best as you could
see the waves condition from you own balcony.
Every Wednesday is a shark feeding session in the evening. As we arrived
on a Thursday and will be leaving on Wednesday noon and thus misses the
opportunity. Staff Riza was kind enough to arrange a session for us. We not
only see many reef sharks, there are also manta rays.
Here are some pictures of more local residents on Kandooma……
One of many highlight is definitely the dolphin cruise. After 30 minutes into
the sea we saw a pod of dolphins. Could be about 10-20 dolphins. We circle
around for about 30 minutes enjoying the beauty of nature has to offer. Its
definitely a must when you are there. I even briefly saw a flying fish “flying”.
As with such cruise there is a chance you might not see a single dolphin . I
was told if such event were to happened; they will offer you another cruise
session the next day for free. So please book this cruise on the early part and
not the last day of your holiday.
Also had some opportunity to shoot some island “street photography” Here are some B/W
series and also a portrait series of all the wonderful staff of Holiday Inn Kandooma.
We did a total of 3 catamaran rides. It’s really very additive. We did a sunrise
session. It was beautiful. As the water was calm and cruise was very smooth.
On the way back we stop at a small sand bank. Heavenly is a word. Our second
session was a 2 hour late afternoon session. Summer loves the sand bank
so much. Our skipper; Suwaiz took us to a very long sand bank this time
round. Could be a kilometers in length.
We spend about an hour there just soaking in the beauty. Of course Summer
build her biggest sand castle ever. We even saw a small black tip reef shark
coming close to the beach.
The wind pick up on our journey back. We couldn’t used the same route as
the tide was low. And thus we have to sail around an island before we could
head back. The water was pretty choppy. Summer was suddenly quiet as
she was afraid as water keep splashing on her. Even though all around us
was a little “havoc”, our experience skipper is as calm as a cat. Talking to
Summer to distract her for the current environment. It may seem forever for
Summer but we reach back safely. I was told on the next day that yesterday’s
wind was the strongest in the last one week.
Just across from Holiday Inn Kandooma is a local Maldivian island. We took
the catamaran there with our favorite skipper, Suwaiz. Who was a local there.
There we were met by a local tour guide. The guide is short 20 minutes in this
small island town. If you are a photographer like myself; I wish I could have
2 hours there. Many photo opportunity to document the daily lives of the local.
Perfect place for some street photography.
Another important “facility” on the island is the Kandoo Kids Club. The two
story head quarter is situated between the main lobby and the main dinning
hall. Here kids are most at home with many activies to keep them happy.
Just beside it is also a kids water playground. This is where you could “deposit”
your kiddo and head straight to the famous Como Shambhala for some
If I am not wrong every morning there is a complimentary snorkeling session
at a nearby reef. It’s a 1.5 hour session. Even if you can’t swim; it’s also nice to tag
along for the cruise and enjoy the views of nearby islands.
The most important element for this holiday is the genuine and attentive service
of the staff at the dining establishments. Only when we arrived that we were told
that kids eat free. Now you know we didn’t do much research!
As Summer’s dietary is so limited, none of the many kids meal options matches
her taste buds. A big shout out to Chef Min for listening and understanding
and whipping out food that is so close to home. To all parents who have a picky
eater kiddo; fret not, nothing is impossible for this kitchen. Even my wife requested
for some dishes that is not in menu; the team is able to prepare it for our next
dining session. Also wanna say thank you to Dasantha and Retheesh for always
saying yes to our realistic or not very realistic requests!
Thank you executive chef Vincent Tan for all the wonderful dishes you have prepared
for us and running that amazing awarding winning team! We may have left our
foot prints on the beautiful Maldivian beaches but your team and you all have
left a deeper foot print on us in this holiday. We will certainly be back.
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Here is a little video shot with 3 different cameras; GFX, X-Pro2 and XP90.