Diving and underwater adventures at Halaveli

Here’s the second installment from marine biologist Robin Aiello, with tales of her escapades and adventures underwater at Halaveli.

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Some of my best moments this week…

It has been another wonderful week at Halaveli Resort. I’m getting into the routine of diving most mornings, then maybe a snorkel, and every Monday and Thursday night I give a talk on the weird and wonderful marine creatures found here in the Maldives.

The weather has been absolutely perfect with bright sunny days and a slight breeze. As wonderful as the days are, it is the evenings that I really look forward to because of the sunsets. Since I have been here, every sunset has been different. Seriously, no two sunsets have been the same so far – one evening the sky will be lit a vivid orange, then another night the sky will be glimmering yellow, and yet another night the sky will be glowing a soft pink. Incredible!

I cannot describe the beauty of sitting on the beach at sunset with the shifting colours of the skies as a backdrop to the nightly frenzy of dive-bombing seabirds (terns) as they finish their evening feeding session – just perfect.

Diving conditions this week

Diving at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Diving at Halaveli

The TGI Dive Center has been very busy. This week has been full of great dives, snorkels and cruising excursions. The tides have been perfect, so in the mornings the visibility has been fantastic – we had about 30 metres this morning. And, the currents have also been good.

Current diving

I love current diving for one main reason – the fish life is extraordinary. The waters above the reef become packed full of all sorts of fish. A majority of the fish are the plankton feeders including small neon blue fusiliers, black surgeon fish, red-toothed trigger fish and unicorn fish, which, by the way, love to hover over your head playing in the bubbles.

They seem to get a real ‘kick’ out of the jacuzzi-like blasts of bubbles as we exhale. But there are also the less abundant, but eye-catching predatory fish, such as the giant trevallies (jacks), blue trevallies (jacks), dogtooth tuna, black snappers and, of course, the whitetip and grey reef sharks.

One memorable dive the other day was at a reef where the current was a good ‘medium – plus’ (according to our dive guide). We made our way along the reef to a spectacular look out point, where we hooked in with our reef hooks and looked out into the blue water ahead of us.

Baby whitetip reef sharks

White tip reef shark, Constance Halaveli, Maldives

White tip reef shark, photo copyright Marco Care

There we were – the six divers flying like kites a few feet above the reef. Suddenly, to my left, a motion caught my eye – there was a very young (not more than a few months old) whitetip reef shark hovering right next to me, looking right at me. Just beyond was another one. They were so cute and perfect without a scratch or scar on them – perfect little sharks.

But the funny thing was that they obviously had not quite mastered the skill of swimming in such strong currents. For several minutes at a time they would be hovering just fine, barely moving their tail, but maintaining perfect position beside me. But then, the baby shark would start drifting closer and closer to me, until it was a mere few inches from my face.

Then, suddenly it seemed to realize that it was too close and would try to quickly maneuver away, but it didn’t quite have the skill to do it gracefully. Instead, it would tumble and get tossed by the current and become totally out-of-control -discombobulated – before regaining control, position and composure. It would then take up position next to me again and the whole sequence would start all over again. Hilarious!

Napoleon Wrasse

One of the dive’s highlights appeared without notice, slowly appearing out of the murky distance. The large shadow came closer and it was revealed to be a huge male Napoleon (or Humphead) Wrasse. He was magnificent – about 1.5m long and 1m deep. This dark green giant swam so easily against the current making it seem like there was no current at all. He simply drifted past in front of us and then off again into the distance.

Robin.

Find out more

Read Robin’s first instalment from Halaveli including Creature Feature #1: Redtooth Triggerfish

Read more about check booking availability on our website: Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Coming soon: Creature Feature #2: Starfish of the Maldives

Spotlight: Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

If you’re looking for an indulgent Indian Ocean experience, head to the elegant surroundings of Constance Lémuria in the Seychelles’ archipelago. Situated on the idyllic island of Praslin, few places can match the beauty and serenity of this ultimate island getaway.

Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Beach paradise at Lemuria

Find your own secluded spot on one of three unspoilt white-sand beaches, escape to the spa or play a round or two on the only 18-hole golf course in the Seychelles.

Sumptuous accommodation

At Lémuria you can take your pick from spacious, contemporary suites or indulge in the opulence of your own luxury villa. The villas come with their own pool and garden running down to the beach. And there’s even a villa master on hand to make sure your holiday is just as you want it to be.

Fine dining with a touch of spice

Fresh delicious food is a key ingredient to any holiday. At Lémuria, each of the three restaurants provide a different ambience. Choose from the tree-house style of the Legend Restaurant to the breathtakingly situated Beach Bar & Grill perched above the ocean. Then savour a range of flavours with everything from light lunches and Creole seafood grills to European-style fine dining.

A golfer’s paradise

Luxury golf at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Luxury golf at Lemuria

The Par 70, 18-hole golf course at Lémuria is often described as the most beautiful golf course in the world. It’s an opinion shared by the World Travel Awards who have awarded it Leading Golf Resort in the Indian Ocean every year for the past five years.

This is golf with an extra dash of luxury. Swing your clubs over a series of beautifully terraced greens built into the magnificent granite hills of Praslin with ocean views from every hole. Then finish with a chilled glass of champagne at the clubhouse.

Golf at Lémuria includes:

  • Free green fees for guests
  • Free club cars
  • Coaching sessions with pros, by arrangement
  • Golf equipment available to rent

And you can even book your tee-off time with our online concierge service before you arrive.

Spa haven

Spa on the beach at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Spa treatments on the beach

The simple beauty of the natural environment on Praslin makes it the ultimate backdrop for a spot of pampering.

Try an outdoor skin treatment in the Shiseido Pavilion before entering the calm haven of our Spa de Constance where you can choose from a long menu of treatments including Hot Stone massage, Ayurvedic and Shiatsu massage, natural body scrubs, wraps and polishes, and a full range of beauty treatments.

Our staff offer coaching in meditation and yoga, so you can learn some new techniques for dealing with the fast-pace of daily life and take that sense of reinvigoration home with you.

Discover the beauty of the Seychelles

And if discovery is something you crave while on holiday, quench your thirst for adventure with our outbound and adrenalin sports.

Watch the sunset at the beautiful Anse Georgette or explore the award-winning beach Anse Lazio.

Dive into the stunning underwater world around the island of Praslin, completely unspoilt thanks to strict conservation in the region. Diving or snorkelling the granite reefs around Lémuria is like discovering a vibrant underwater kingdom with a breathtaking array of marine life.

Turtle conservation

Turtle preservation at Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Baby turtles make their way to the water

Some of the world’s most endangered creatures, the Hawksbill and Green turtles, are offered protection at Lémuria. We have our own Turtle Manager who runs our turtle preservation programme, alongside the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, and we are always happy to let guests watch or help out. In March 2013, over 250 baby turtles were released into the water following another successful turtle-nesting season at Lémuria.

Watch baby turtles making their way to the sea from the beach at Lémuria – from blog Wanderforth.

Find out more

Discover more about the delights of Lémuria, and check booking availability, on our website – Constance Lémuria, Seychelles.

Underwater tales from marine biologist at Halaveli

Robin Aiello, renowned marine biologist, is at Constance Halaveli this month. Enjoy tales of her underwater adventures and find out more about your dive buddies with the special creature features she’s writing for us during her stay.

Robin Aiello

Robin Aiello

Arriving at Halaveli

It is hard to believe that I have been on this wonderful island for a week already. Time is passing too quickly and tere is so much to do, and see, and explore.

I arrived last Sunday to the resort by seaplane – which in itself is a fabulous experience with wonderful views of the reefs and lagoons while enroute.

I’m staying in a Water Villa. It’s spectacular, and for me, living somewhere I can step out onto my deck and down a few stairs directly into the ocean for a snorkel is a dream come true.

Within the first few minutes of snorkelling from my deck I encountered a school of silver mullet fish hungrily feeding at the surface of the water, saw several baby blacktip reef sharks (only about 40cm long, so they were only a few days old), and spotted a manta ray passing by. Wow! What a start to my month on the island.

While I’m at Halaveli, I’ll be working with the TGI Dive Center guiding dives and snorkels and sharing all my expertise on coral reefs and the animals living there.

One of the things that has really impressed me is the diversity of the marine life on the reefs that we visit. There is just so much to see. During my stay, I’lll be writing a series of Creature Features in which I want to highlight some of the lesser well-known creatures that you can easily see while diving and snorkeling. I hope you enjoy the fun facts.

Creature Feature 1

Redtooth Triggerfish at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Redtooth Triggerfish at Halaveli

The Redtooth Triggerfish (Odonus niger)
Also known as Black Triggerfish or Niger Triggerfish

As soon as you put your head into the waters on any of the reefs here, you can see why people come back for diving over and over again to the Maldives. The ocean is full of marine life – in every imaginable shape and colour. It is like being inside a large aquarium.

All around you fish dart to and fro – some are very curious and even change direction to pass close to your mask and look you right in the eye.

Many people ask me which is my favourite fish, and to be honest, I cannot choose – they are each so beautiful and interesting in their own way. But there is one fish that I have developed a great fondness for since being here in Halaveli – the Redtooth Triggerfish. To me, these are incredibly endearing.

Their behaviour

These fish are schooling fish that feed on zooplankton floating in the water, so they form massive groups of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. They hang off the edge of the reef, forming a ‘halo’ around it.

All triggerfish are easily recognised by the way they swim – they undulate their ventral (top) fin and dorsal (bottom) fin from side to side, so it almost looks like flags flapping in the breeze. When there are hundreds of fish doing this all at once, the motion is mesmerising – like a fish ballet.

Although on first glance they do not look like this would be an effective way to swim, these fish are actually highly maneuverable. They flit around in the water column catching small zooplankton (small animals that float in the ocean). In fact, when you take a close look at these fish, you can see that their tiny little mouths are upturned, pointing upwards, which makes it easier for them to grab zooplankton floating by.

Recognising the Redtooth Triggerfish

Redtooth Triggerfish

Redtooth Triggerfish

The Redtooth Triggerfish is known by many names, including Niger or Black Triggerfish. Although they can reach up to 30cm long, they are generally much smaller – about the size of you hand.

Their colours vary greatly depending on the light conditions. When schooling in deep, blue waters they appear black, but in good sunlight you can see their true bright blue or teal green colouration. And, yes, when you get a close up look at the teeth, they are in fact a dark red colour (no one seems to know why they are red). Around the head they have delicate lines that create a beautiful facial tattoo. However, for me, the most beautiful part of these fish are their long lyre-shaped tails that wave in the currents.

The triggerfish spine

All triggerfish have a shared characteristic – a spine (the ‘trigger’) on their forehead. This is a special spine that they can erect and lock into place with a second spine – much like a trigger on a gun, hence the name ‘triggerfish’.

They use this unique feature in two ways. One is for defense against being eaten by predatory fish. Imagine a fish’s surprise if it tries to swallow a triggerfish and suddenly it gets spiked in their throat by the ‘trigger’ spine.

But the most important use of the ‘trigger’ spine is for tightly wedging themselves into coral crevices or small holes in the reef while they sleep (yes…reef fish DO sleep). To stay safe, these fish find their own personal hole or crevice in the reef to hide out in. The spaces are usually so narrow that the fish need to wiggle into them by turning sideways.

Once inside the hole (usually all you can see are thee tips of the tail sticking out) the triggerfish erect their ‘trigger’ spine to lock themselves in place. In this way, any predatory fish, like a reef shark who hunts sleeping fish, cannot grab and tug them out from their holes.

When the triggerfish are ready to leave the holes, they release the ‘trigger’, lower the spine and wiggle their way out – backwards! (Yes…these are one of the few fish that I have seen that can swim tail-first!

So the next time you are diving on one of the reefs around Halaveli, take a moment to observe these little triggerfish.

Catch up later in the week…

…with more of Robin’s Creature Feature specials or find out more about Robin’s work and her visit to Halaveli.

Constance sommeliers trained by leading winemakers Thierry Germain and Stephane Derenoncourt

As part of our exciting Art de Vignes week our sommeliers had the wonderful opportunity of receiving training from Thierry Germain and Stephane Derenoncourt.

Sunset at North Beach

Sunset at North Beach

One of the world’s leading wine consultants and producers, Stephane Derenoncourt of Domaine de l’A was keen to talk about the benefits of Biodynamic wine producing techniques.

Thierry Germain, of the acclaimed domaine de Roches Neuves, is also an advocate of Biodynamic farming and explained to our sommeliers how he used his vineyard’s natural resources without pesticides and synthetic fertilisers to cultivate the highest quality grapes.

Wine menu

In honour of their visit Chef Aviraj collaborated with the sommelier team to create a menu based around the wines of Domaine des Roches Neuves.

  • Chef Aviraj aperitif selection – served with Samur, Bulles de Roche, 2010
  • Chilled red mullet fillet, green apple and citrus cigar – served with Saumur, L’insolite, 2011
  • Lightly smoked ‘bourgeois’ fish wrapped in Serrano ham, breadfruit scoop, glazed vegetable and red wine sauce – served with Saumur Champigny, La Marginale, 2010
  • Cherry surprise – served with Saumur Champigny, Terres Chaudes, 2011

More about Biodynamic wine growing

The term ‘Biodynamic’ refers to an agricultural movement defined by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. The goal of biodynamic wine growing is to get a vineyard to be as self-sustaining as possible, using waste products from one area to be used as fuel for another area. It’s a system that looks at the vineyard as a living organism itself from the soil to the sun, all working in harmony towards a well-balanced ecosystem that is self-sustaining.

Biodynamic wines and growing practices go beyond organic farming methods and focus on soil sustainability and viability via crop rotation, composting, non-chemical interventions for pest management and astronomical cycles to provide continual vineyard input. This emphasis often means the qualities of biodynamic wine offer more balance, clarity and depth of aromas and flavours.

Find out more about Thierry Germain and Domaine des Roches Neuves  and Stephane Derenoncourt and his philosophy of wine.

 

Fill up on Indian Ocean sunshine this Easter

After a long, cold winter, Easter is the perfect time of year to treat yourself to some guaranteed sunshine.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Across the Indian Ocean you can expect up to 9 hours of glorious sunshine every day in April, with average temperatures ranging from 29-32ºC.

Feel the sun on your face as you lie back and relax on picture-perfect white sand beaches. Then kick start a personal renaissance as you reboot body and mind, and enjoy our range of water sports, spa treatments, fitness classes and deliciously healthy menus.

Madagascar
Constance Tsarabanjina is celebrating its own rebirth this April as it emerges transformed from a multi-million pound refurbishment. It’s the perfect time to come and experience the new barefoot luxury feel of the resort. Find out more about the revamped barefoot chic of Tsarabanjina.

Seychelles
In the Seychelles, April is known as the calmest, warmest month as the winds die down and start to change direction, making it an idyllic time to visit Constance Lémuria and Ephélia.

April to May is also considered one of the best times to explore the stunning marine life which teems through the waters of the archipelago – with water temperatures at a delightful 29ºC and visibility excellent at around 30 metres. This is also the beginning of the big game fishing season in the Seychelles.

Constance Ephelia, Seychelles

Constance Ephelia, Seychelles

Maldives
Easter is an ideal time to visit Moofushi and Halaveli in the Maldives as April is one of the ‘iruvai’ or ‘dry-season’ months. Guests can enjoy calm seas lapping against their luxury water villas, and dive and snorkel in water with temperatures of around 30ºC.

Mauritius
At the exclusive Le Prince Maurice and the vibrant Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius, there are 2 championship golf courses, superb spas, great selection of restaurants and the lure of stunning reefs off the East coast of the island.

Find out more

Revive your spirit and get yourself back on track this Easter. Visit our website to find out more and check availability at all resorts – Constance Hotels & Resorts.

Read about our Secluded hotels and resorts with passion

And check the best time to visit the Indian Ocean: Responsible Travel.

The Sunday Times names Tsarabanjina and Moofushi in world’s best 20 all-inclusives

The Sunday Times this week highlighted Constance Moofushi and Tsarabanjina as offering truly all-inclusive packages.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Susan d’Arcy applauds the Cristal package at our resorts for genuinely ‘including everything’, lamenting how other resorts claim to be all inclusive but go on to charge guests for everything from bottled water to Mars bars.

The praise for Tsarabanjina and Moofushi came in an article outlining the 20 best all-inclusive packages around the world.

D’Arcy defined all inclusive as meaning, ‘You’ll get the drinks you want, endless fabulous food – often à la carte and, if not, of the highest quality and freshly prepared – and free wi-fi.’

Subscribers to The Sunday Times can read Susan d’Arcy’s article in full: ‘All inclusives – minus the hidden extras‘.

And in The Financial Times

The FT was also singing the praises of Tsarabanjina this week in ‘How to spend it‘ describing the resort’s new refurbishment as bringing a luxury element to Madagascan tourism.

Find out more about Moofushi and Tsarabanjina