a WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER in MALDIVES
Our 10th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY Family Vacation
Those of you who are reading and who follow me on a regular basis already know that I’m an Italian photographer, mainly working in the wedding industry as a destination wedding photographer. But they also know that I shoot weddings in the same way I shoot my personal affairs, and I take care of clients’ visual inherits with the same carefulness I craft my family memories. The real huge difference is that I’m always late with my own photographs because I basically put clients first. So, here we are today: it seems I needed a #stayathome pandemic mess to finally find the proper time to put my hands and eyes on our 10th wedding anniversary holiday photos in the Maldives! Today I’m here to bring you with us on a dreamy vacation at Cocoon Design Hotel, situated on Ookolhufinolhu Island in the Lhaviyani Atoll. Here you’ll find sea turtles, Nemo&Dory, deserts sandbanks, Manta rays, jet skies, kayaks, boat cruise, and a lot of blue skies and emerald-green seas. Have fun with us!
It was October 2018 when we took kids from school and we left Italy straight to Malé airport. And, after a 30minutes flight with the Trans Maldivian Airways – the local airline company – we finally got to our little dreamy place.
The Beach Villa
Considering we’re a family of four it’s pretty hard to find in the Maldives a place that at the same time you love and that can host a family. Luckily at Cocoon we found this possibility, with the only compromise that we needed to book two different beach villas, giving up to the idea to have a lagoon villa or suite. The beach-villas have been built in groups of two and they can be connected with a door that goes from one villa to the other’s patio. In front of each villa, there is a private piece of beach with two romantic (if you’re just two!) sea-view wooden deckchair. Where – to be honest – we didn’t spend that much time. Oh, there is a swing in the bathroom and an outdoor shower with a palm view.
Exploring the Island
We spent the first day exploring the island. It’s a pretty easy task I must say, as you need just 15 or 20 minutes for the full round (if you’re not in rush). But after the long trip of the day before, we decided just to relax and chill out the whole day, doing basically nothing all the places we could. We discover a double swing overlooking the ocean, a beautiful pool (that we didn’t use again (I mean, did you look at THAT sea?) with a really nice bar, a Spa (that we never used as well… maybe next time?), a water-sports corner, another bar on the opposite side of the island where you can enjoy probably some of the most amazing sunsets of your life.
The Lagoon Villas and Suites pier
This is a nice walk that permits you to reach the center of the lagoon. There is a really captivating light immediately before the sunset and a lot of nice creatures populates the water. Kids played with crabs, while gigantic stingrays cross the shallow waters below the pier. And a baby grey reef shark as well!
The First Snorkeling Excursion
While we stayed there it was possible to book a couple of snorkeling excursions every day. They always bring you to a different spot. It was nice because there isn’t any reef you can explore leaving from the beach. we brought with us all our mask-fin sets, but if you don’t feel like doing it, they can provide you with all the equipment. I’ll never forget the first time kids saw a sea turtle.
The Sand Bank Excursion
There are a few pieces of sand out of the lagoon water, that you can see from the plane, landing, or leaving the island with a bota. These sandbanks are a long swim far from the beach, but they’re easy to reach if you get a couple of kayaks at the water-sport point. There, you can enjoy a kind of relaxing loneliness, surrounded by a landscape that looks like a few desert dunes immersed in a piece of liquified sky.
Another Snorkeling Excursion
One of the best parts of the snorkeling excursion definitely is the travel to get to the dive spot. You can reach the reef with 20/30 minutes trip aboard a traditional dhoni, effortlessly gliding through the tranquil emerald green/blue sea. These excursions are usually just a couple of hours long, so you still have time tolie down on the peaceful beach. Oh, it can rain. Especially if it’s not peak season. But it’s usually pretty fast. Meanwhile, the baby gray reef shark has found a mate.
The Dolphins and Manta Rays Cruise
Each day was made by a slow awakening and a ginormous breakfast. Wath makes the difference is how you decide to spend your time after that. I personally don’t like to go to a place and just stay there waiting to leave. I’m an explorer, I like to see as much as I can, also if with the comfort of a five-star holiday like this. We got to know that it was possible to see dolphins and to swim with manta rays, and we decided to join the cruise. Underwater photos of this megafauna don’t do justice to the magnificence of these creatures. The water was incredibly full of plankton (it hurts skin!) and it was impossible to take nice pics. I decided to enjoy the natural show, you’ve just to trust me…or try it yourself! Bonus Track of the day: during the afternoon snorkeling session, we got to meet Crush giving directions to Dory (do you guys know finding Nemo, right?)!
The Jet Sky Adventure to the Desert Island
No many photos of this experience, indeed. It’s freaking hard to take nice pics with the wide-angle lens of a crappy underwater camera while driving these beasts. But it was beautiful. What it hurt us a lot was the crazy amount of trash we found on the beach of that island. I came to the Maldives 30 years ago with my parents, and we don’t remember anything like this. Sad to see how we’re transforming our beautiful Planet Earth in a rubbish dump (no picture of this, sorry). We came back in time to enjoy the sunset on the westernmost point of the island.
Chill out on the beach
Yep, we did it. One day just doing nothing. But you can bet this is actually one of the best doing-nothing of my entire life.
10th Wedding Anniversary – Vow Renewal Ceremony
I thought a lot about doing this while there. Can you imagine, celebrating this milestone – together with kids – in the sunset, with a symbolic ceremony on the beach, some candles, you know. It has been hard to get here. We fought our battles and we’re more connected than ever. So I got in touch with the hotel before leaving Italy, to see if it was possible to arrange something for us. The good news was that it was part of their offer, they have a photographic studio too, on the island. But – unfortunately – what they proposed to me was a bit too far from my vision.
So we decided to have our super-simple Vow Renewal Ceremony on the desert sandbank, under a DIY altar made by coconuts, algae, and trunks. We just said a few words, sure that all the path we made together to get there doesn’t need too many speeches. Just a self-timer, to fix this moment on paper.
The Family Portrait Session at Sunset
It looks a bit classic, but I needed to snap some more traditional photos, to remember me in the years to come how Incredibly lucky I’m (if I will ever forget it)
Another Fins-Day-Snorkeling-Adventure – We Got to Meet Nemo!
The last reef adventures of these days gave us an unexpected surprise. After meeting Dory and Crush, we finally got to know Nemo, the clownfish (to be honest, this is the typical Maldive Anemonefish, characterized by a single white stripe running vertically, but don’t tell kids)!
The Sunset Fishing Cruise
To be honest, we really didn’t care to fish something (and we didn’t). But we wanted to enjoy a sunset on the ocean before leaving the island, after nine days of pure joy and relax. It ended well, with a candlelight romantic dining in the Manta Lagoon Restaurant and a few smiles, before to sleep for the last time in our villas.
That’s all, Folks!
Going through these photos after several months has been, for me, an amazing adventure. I don’t lie if I say I enjoyed it like I was reliving our holidays in the Maldives. And putting down these few words just permitted me to dip again in our amazing family memories. To me, this is what photography meant to be: a splash in your past. An honest and authentic series of frames that permits you to leave home with your mind (especially useful in days like these ones): to smell the same smells; to feel your eyes blinded by the same light; to breathe – also if just for a moment – the same saline breeze coming from the ocean in the sunset. To feel the same joy. No matter if it comes to shoot a family adventure, a wedding in Florence, or a laid back couple session. So, to all of you that read until here, thanks a lot for diving with me in our seas! 🙂
Photographic Gear Used on this Vacation
Because there are some gear-addict outta there, here below I put a list of all the camera I used to shoot these photos:
If you have question or comments, feel free to comment below, I’d be happy to answer (especially on the reason that made me sell the Sony immediately after we got back from the Maldives).
All the photos of the post “A Wedding Photographer in Maldives! Our 10th Anniversary Holidsay” have been shot by Wedding Photographer Francesco Spighi