Visiting Kandima in the Maldives last summer was so much more than we ever expected it to be. As followers of PackThePJs will know, I’ve wanted to visit the Maldives for most of my life. I wanted to see if the amazing blue sea colour, as appears in holiday brochures, was real – or photoshopped! (It’s real, by the way.) I wanted to snorkel and see the incredible fish that live among the coral reef. But beyond this, I hadn’t really considered what else we’d do – other than relax and swim in the lagoon.
I’ve held back writing this post because it’s the last one based on our time in Kandima. Let’s say I’ve been reluctant to give it up and move on … 🙂
Night Fishing Excursion
We signed up to an optional excursion to go night fishing. It was an activity that Huw was keen to do, as was Toby. Millie and I – not really into fishing – went along as it was an opportunity for a ride on a boat! It was, though, one of the most exciting few hours of our lives!
We rendezvoused at the Aquaholics centre at a set time, where we met the other guests going out on the boat with us. Among the crowd were other children, putting Millie and Toby at ease (and me too as I was worried the fishing would be really serious and not very child friendly). We walked down the pier to the boat, leaving our shoes in a box before stepping on board. After a quick introduction and safety briefing we were on our way.
On the way out to the reef, with the sun setting in the distance, we were lucky enough to see a pod of spinner dolphins spinning out the water and having what looked to be a really fun time! This was a new dolphin for me to tick off my ‘have seen’ list. They were truly amazing, but after a short visit they all swam off 🙁 But we were close to our fishing area, so we turned our attention to getting ready.
Everyone spread out around the sides, front and back of the boat and we were each given a weighted, baited hand line. Our instructions were to drop the line down until the weight hit the bottom, then raise it up a metre or so. And then we waited … and waited! Within no time at all the sun had disappeared and everywhere was pitch black. You could see the lights of the resort glistening in the distance.
“I’ve got something” shouted one of the guests … and they had. It was a baby reef shark that was quickly unhooked and released. Everyone got excited then, hoping they would be the next to catch something. Millie stood next to me. I saw her line tighten and move – she too had caught a small reef shark but it luckily jumped off the line. Some of the other guests were catching fish, but all were too small to keep and so were released quickly.
Maldives night fishing highlight
And then Huw hit the jackpot and caught his very first red snapper! As you can see he was really pleased with himself – but the fish was too small and was quickly returned to the sea.
Poor Toby and I looked on while everyone else caught something … it wasn’t our evening! But we all really enjoyed it.
We were out at sea for a good 2-2.5 hours – we all wanted to stay longer 🙂 My highlight was seeing the dolphins. Toby saw a baby shark. Millie caught a baby shark. And Huw caught his red snapper! Lots of fun – highly recommend it.
Fish Cooking at Azure
The following day we were invited to join the chef at Azure, pre-lunch. Azure is a beautiful Mediterranean-styled restaurant with tables that extend out onto the beach. Our invite wasn’t to sample the delicious food … it was a lesson to learn to cook it! Toby was really excited – for over 5 years he’s been telling people he wants to be a chef when he grows up.
We were introduced to the kitchen team and were handed aprons to put on. Huw and I were directed to two cooking stations while the children stood at two others. The grown ups were tasked with descaling and filleting some red snappers. OK this is where we should have been preparing the fish we caught the previous evening! I had a go. I wasn’t very good – my knife skills leave a lot to be desired. Huw has filleted fish before, so was a natural. Meanwhile the children assembled a nice-looking garden salad and made a citrus dressing to go with it.
Toby’s Star Turn!
At this point the heat in the kitchen got too much for Millie and she sat the rest of the session out. Toby, however, stepped up to the plate (or should I save stove) and for the next 40 minutes or so Huw and I took a backseat while the head chef and Toby made the most amazing meal. They made a black (squid ink) risotto, a caper dressing and then carefully cooked the red snapper.
Finally, they assembled the dishes, just like they do in Michelin starred restaurants! Even better, we then got to sit at the chef’s table to enjoy the meal that Toby had just cooked!
He was so chuffed to have been able to do this. Working his first professional kitchen at the age of 8! As bystanders, Huw and I learned some new cooking tricks and techniques too.
It was an amazing experience.
The short time we spent at Kandima made so many life-long memories, for all of us. The children talk about it all the time, asking when can we go back! I wasn’t sure how child-friendly the resort would be, but I worried unnecessarily. The resort caters for absolutely everyone. There is so much to do while you are there – the Aquaholics centre has most (if not all) activities covered. It is such a friendly place. When your time comes to leave the island, you know you are leaving behind somewhere very special. It ticks every box, and it will be incredibly hard to beat. We’ve certainly never been anywhere like it before. I wonder if we will again …? 🙂