“The Blue that Stretches Forever”
The fabled honeymoon spot that every wed couple seems to dream of going, I found myself flown to Maldives courtesy of Canon Singapore, to do a review on one of their cameras recommended for travel snappers like myself.
All the pictures you see in this article were taken with the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS, which in a way simplifies convenience rather than shooting with my usual Canon 6D DSLR. The compact size of the PowerShot SX530 HS makes travelling a lot easier with its versatile and convenient point-and-shoot feature.
Yes, the colour of the sea is exactly how it looks in the picture, taken here at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport of the Republic of Maldives; a bright sapphire blue more unbelievable than a Korean nose job. A 16 megapixel CMOS sensor driven by a DIGIC 4+ processor with iSAPS technology of Canon PowerShot SX530 HS takes images full of colour and richness, which allows me to capture all these memories and moments throughout the trip.
It’s as if artificial blue dye had been spilled into the ocean, and most first-time tourists like myself will have the same bewildered reaction the locals are all so familiar with.
Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean-Arabian sea area, with its capital Malé about 600km south-west of India.
Upon arrival, we quickly find our ferry chaperone who would guide us by sea to one of the 26 atoll islands where our resort lies. We also found that the cheapest Cheeseburger Set meal at Burger King costs $10 USD.
Kudos to the superb porters from Sheraton Maldives, doing most of the heavy lifting and making sure we are assuredly hydrated and drown-proof with life jackets.
The blinding Maldives sunlight is especially provocative to my feeble eyes, and hence you will notice my eyes are but slits throughout the entire trip.
Good thing there was great company on this trip, joined by Bryan, Bobby and Weixiang along with our overlords to ensure we don’t try to stay on the island forever.
A quick 20 minute boat ride brings us to our home for the next 3 nights: Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa. It seems that most resorts will take up tenancy on a whole island, and Sheraton happens to be located on Furanafushi island, North Malé.
A quick walk around the resort reveals everything the movies portrayed to be true: Maldives is such a beautiful beach island getaway you won’t believe it until you see it with your own eyes.
We quickly scavenged for food around the resort and found ourselves at Anchorage Bar, which serves up cocktails and snacks along with a panoramic view of the ocean.
I attempted to order the most Maldivian-inspired dish I could find on the menu, and ended up with this fusion pizza dish containing shredded tuna and coconut shavings. Pretty ordinary but you can see the elements of Maldivian cuisine present.
Traditional Maldivian cuisine is known to mainly revolve around the use of fish (especially skipjack tuna), rice, curries and coconut. The food is of course, heavily influenced by Indian culture.
We also ordered the more western items, like this Black Angus beef Cheeseburger with 2 onion rings.
We also had spicy chicken wings, which surprisingly wasn’t as spicy as I thought since Indian cooking relied heavily on the use of spices. I guess most foreigners here aren’t big fans of spiciness.
After our rooms were ready, we took a short stroll to our amazing water bungalow rooms.
These room on stilts look deceptively traditional with their hut-like exterior, but we were in for a surprise.
Isolated and cosy, yet with all modern hotel amenities within, the change in atmosphere (especially the cooling air-conditioning) is welcoming yet abrupt once you step into the room.
With a king bed, hardwood floors and an outdoor terrace, this room really caters for couples.
And the best thing for us non-couples staying here is that the outdoor terrace not only overlooks the vast crystal clear lagoon, there’s even stairs that lead out to the water.
The ocean just beckons you for a swim with such convenience, who can resist? Evidently not me.
Life jackets are provided in the room and you can even borrow snorkelling gear from the Water Sports Centre to go snorkelling all day and mingle with the fishes like Aquaman. The waters in Maldives seems to be more saline than usual from my immense water tasting session with the sea.
The crystal clear waters allows you to see the beautiful fishes just swimming below and all around the water bungalows.
With the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS 50X zoom lens, even from the safety of my balcony I can take these pretty decent shots although probably a waterproof camera bag would yield even more amazing shots.
But that’s not all folks.
Yes, these are little sharks!
Around 6pm the staff starts throwing fish meat near the shores which attracts little Blacktip sharks that swim reaaaally close to shore. Fortunately with the camera’s zoom lens, I can shoot pictures without risking my cowardly feet to these carnivores.
After a whole afternoon of swimming and just frolicking against the strong current, we ordered room service Fish and Chips, which just seems pretty natural to eat in this sea surrounded locale.
With the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Macro feature, you can shoot up-close and capture all the specks of detail on this beautiful deep-fried dish. The camera comes with advanced Zoom Framing Assist Auto which automatically tracks the subject and zooms in/out accordingly to maintain subject’s relative size in the frame. Fish and Chip just seems to be comforting anywhere you go, although this one had a slightly heavier oceanic tang to it.
What not to love about the 50x optical zoom-in function, when you can always get a perfect shot even from far away. So what else is there to do in Maldives? Watersports, watersports and watersports. Tourists can do Stand Up Paddling, Windsurfing, Canoeing, Parasailing and many other sea activities which involve getting into the water.
One of the days though we took a boat out the open ocean reef to snorkel. This is an amazing lifetime experience and the sight of the coral reefs and immense number of fishes is even more spectacular than snorkelling near the resort.
Taking the ferry out, it took about 20 minutes to reach our snorkelling destination where we were dropped off. The Intelligent Image Stabiliser allows me to shoot on the move while still achieving superbly sharp and clear photos. And thanks to its inbuilt Wi-Fi, the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS lets you upload, and transfer photos and videos directly to your social networks. All that’s needed is to turn on your mobile device’s wireless setting and select the camera. Download the Canon Camera Connect App (on either iOS and Android devices) to complete the process. – or you can use the on-board NFC to transfer files to your smartphone or tablet.
I don’t really have many shots of us actually snorkelling, since I don’t want to risk dunking my $459 camera into the water. But trust me, this snorkel trip is worth it despite the rather high price.
But yea, you get the idea what snorkelling is like. Goggles down, snorkel tube up.
While on the way back to the island, we spotted a couple parasailing in the distance.
Putting the 50x Optical zoom to the test, this is how zoomed in we got. Pretty darn impressive.
A spectacular trip that worked up an appetite no doubt. Since I’m the designated food blogger on this trip, I was tasked with showcasing more of the native foods.
So for dinner, I ordered a Maldivian Tuna curry, which came with rice and papadum as well as some Indian Yogurt (Raita).
Although the tuna tasted like canned tuna, the Maldivian curry was amazing. This Maldivian Tuna Curry actually has a very familiar hearty taste to Indian curry in Singapore, with a strong spice mix of Tumeric, Cumin, Cardamom and of course, Curry leaves.
Not overly strong on any particular spice, each flavour blends wonderfully in this viscous broth. The Indians did invent curry, I’ve no doubt they are superb at making it.
Another authentic curry I tried during breakfast is the Dhal Curry, which is made from dried split pulse (lentil, peas or various beans).
Upma (the yellow porridge on the bottom right) is a South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil breakfast dish, cooked as a thick porridge from dry roasted semolina or coarse rice flour is another very local dish one should not miss while in Maldives.
Paratha is another common flatbread dish that originates from India which you can find at the buffet tables.
So other than chilling at the sunny beach and snorkeling around all day, what else is there to do in Maldives? Did I already mention watersports? Oh yea I did. I’d say that’s the gist of it other than doing a spa or perhaps island hopping.
So let’s get back to eating, shall we?
On our last night in Maldives, we decided to go fancy and visited Sea Salt restaurant, a casual open-kitchen concept featuring fresh daily seafood and sizzling steaks.
As I’ve duly learnt by having to go back and change, singlets are not allowed here despite having tables at the beach and being labelled ‘casual’ dining.
Black Angus Grain-fed Rib Eye. Grain-fed steaks tend to have more fat and are generally more tender than their grass-fed brethren, which conversely has less fat but acquires more flavour through the grass. The ribeye cut is also more well-rounded in flavour and fats generally, making it one of the most popular steak choices.
Baby Lamb Rack. Adequately char-grilled, it seems that everyone was going for meat grills tonight.
Black Angus T-bone Steak. Probably the most bang-for-buck dish here at 450 grams for $60 USD, this is the steak of choice of hungry famished boys.
I’d say the grills at Sea Salt are a safe bet, but far from any out of this world gastronomical affair. Ambience wasn’t too bad and the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS allows me to shoot well in the low light. It utilizes a sophisticated light-capturing design and provides a high sensitivity for improved ISO in low light setting. Food on the island however, has been catered to suit a very international audience which has worked well for them.
The Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Intelligent IS image stabilization has eight distinct stabilization modes that are available to best suit different types of shooting modes. Tried out the macro function on this sand crab we saw at the beach, and the camera Macro (Hybrid) IS corrects the image shake that commonly occurs when working with close-up subject matter to give off sharp and clear images.
As our trip comes to an end, there’s no doubt we will miss being just a stone’s throw from the multitude of fascinating sea creatures of Maldives’ beaches.
Clear blue seas that stretch as far as the eye can see with modern facilities and food that will satisfy most tourist, Maldives is a relaxing escape from the brutal reality of urban civilization.
Connecting you to nature yet still providing the comforts of modern technology, Maldives is definitely one of the most picturesque holiday destinations on Earth, so don’t forget your cameras! And of course, if you do bring one, make it a Canon.
Overall, the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS is designed for those who love to travel or take shots of distant subjects. It’s easy to work around with and is one of the smaller cameras available with a 50x zoom ratio, and the best part – it doesn’t really skimp on its other features in order to get there.
Book a Hotel in Maldives
Canon Singapore is giving away three Canon PowerShot Cameras and it can be yours in these 2 simple steps:
- Follow @CanonSingapore on Instagram.
- Upload a picture on your Instagram with the hashtag #TravelWithPowerShot and tell us why you want a Canon PowerShot as your travel buddy by 15th May.
Visit the contest website to find out more: http://travelwithpowershot.com.sg/