The dhoni boat of the Maldives is seen as a versatile workhorse that has been able to adapt to changing times while maintaining the same traditional design. Today’s divers, fisherman and tourists alike use dhonis each for their own purposes in the water-rich archipelago – proof of its adaptability.
What was once the principal form of transportation in the island nation has not changed much in form over the years, but the function and fabrication continue to diversify. The simplest original style was without motor and used a sail. Some larger models, like those used for dive boats, have upper decks that block the sun for divers below and are open to the sun for sunbathers above. A luxury cruiser has even been modelled on the traditional dhoni style; Dhoni Stella has 2-3 bedrooms, ensuite baths, dining areas and all the comforts you would expect of a yacht holiday. Dhonis clearly range from modest to marvellous.
Dhoni Advancements and Accomplishments
Maldivian legends tell of a truly marvellous dhoni that adeptly outmanoeuvred seemingly more powerful enemy boats upon invasion. Sailed by the national hero, Mohamed Thakurufaanu’s boat was named Kalhuoh Fummi and was said to have a sail made of woven coconut leaves.
The sails of dhonis later turned to modern canvas and then with the arrival of tourists came the inboard diesel engine. Mechanization changed the routes that sailors passed through, with the motors allowing direct routes into the wind and amidst rough weather.
The traditional craftsmanship is a handicraft passed down, previously carried out without written plans. Coconut wood was used, then imported wood and now even fibreglass is used which has been found to escalate speed and fuel efficiency with its lighter composition. While large fibreglass boats are now often used as holiday cruisers in the Maldives, such as Gulf Crafts, some have stuck to their traditional roots. Dhoni Stella, available as one of the Maldives Dive Travel package options, has maintained the time-honoured style and it available for private charter.
Dhoni Travel and Diving
The future of tourism in the Maldives once seemed as big of a feat as that achieved by Mohamed Thakurufaanu’s with his dhoni. That is to say, as late as the 60’s, tourism in the Maldives was basically non-existent and the barriers seemed too large to overcome. Then came the investments in hotels and resorts and tourism is now part of the identity of the Maldives internationally.
The dhoni has been a part of tourism as a transport vehicle as well as a sport vessel. Dive dhonis are often used alongside liveaboard cruise boats as they are more convenient for housing scuba equipment with a number of divers and for accessing the dive sites.
Big boats use smaller dhonis to get their guests to places the big boat can’t access, like local or deserted islands, or they create extra space for more divers when the deck of the yacht may not be large enough. Dhoni Stella, for example, recommends hiring the supplementary dive Dhoni when 4 or more passengers will be taking part in scuba excursions. If less than the main dhoni yacht is more than sufficient and equipped.
Small dhonis are often rustic – don’t wear your best white tennis outfit. When traveling in a small local fisherman’s dhoni or even on the dive dhoni, anything you don’t want to get wet should be kept in a water proof bag. A dry towel, a camera and similar gear could easily get caught in the spray of the warm Indian Ocean waves.
You may also want to bring a type of splash guard – a towel, scarf or rain jacket. If the water gets rough you may want something to protect yourself from the spray of the waves – on the other hand it may be the refreshing blast you need on a hot day.
It’s virtually impossible to visit the Maldives without seeing a dhoni and it’s highly likely you will take a ride in one type or another. Imagine having your own private luxury yacht, designed on the model of the traditional dhoni. You could sail when and to where you like and have the boat to yourself for sunbathing, romantic or family dinners, watching the sunset and stars. This is the experience that Dhoni Stella offers, and at surprisingly affordable prices.
Most tourist boats in the Maldives take on multiple guests who book fixed itineraries around the atolls. Dhoni Stella yachts offer exclusivity and flexibility. Check out the great offer on now, click here.