The Maldivian Dhonis
The Traditional Maldives Boats
For this very first "FOCUS ON", we could not speak about Dhonis as first.
They can be considered as a symbol of the Maldives and we, at Dreaming of Maldives, love them since the beginning of our story.
A long and beautiful Dreamy Story.
Dhonis are ever present in the all Maldivian Archipelago and are, in our opinion, one of the strongest symbol of Maldives.
We love Dhonis and thus have always reserved them a very special place since the beginning of our photographic adventures in the Maldives.
They have always inspired many of our photos.
One of the many Dhonis we've photographed was chosen in 2005 to be the cover of the First Edition of our book, Dreaming of Maldives. Since then, a small sailing Dhoni remained as our symbol too.
How a small Maldivian Dhoni inspired us the name "Dreaming of Maldives"
We wanted to illustrate our first book cover with a photo that would unequivocally identify the Maldives from any other tropical destination in the most heavenly and iconic way as possible. The second idea was to represent as much as we could the splendour of the Maldivian landscapes.
Among many photos, a little Dhoni beautifully stranded on a beach kept our attention. The picture seemed to be straight out of a Dream and the destination could not not be mixed up with anywhere else in the world.
For the record, the same picture inspired us the title of the book too as well as the official name of all our creations since then. Dreaming of Maldives was born.
At the very heart of Maldivian Life...
The Dhoni is at the very heart of the Maldivian way of life and cannot be missed during your stay. They are the most common transportation in Maldives and play a fundamental role in the Maldivian economy for fishing and transportation of people and goods between Atolls and Islands.
Modern dhonis have become today a usual way to transport tourists for transfers, during excursions, diving safaris or to reach diving spots.
They cross open seas and lagoons by hundreds on a daily basis and can be spotted everywhere, from the airport to the most remote Atoll of the archipelago in all kinds of weather conditions.
Very strong, elegant and reliable they have braved oceans and stormy weather as mighty vessels for ages.
Building Dhonis. A knowledge passed down from generation to generation
Built in Maldives, their construction follows ancestral guidelines, transmitted orally from one generation to another.
The Atoll of Raa hosts most of the shipyards where highly talented and respected carpenters still build them with sometimes no plan.
Traditionally made of coconut wood, the Maldives most common tree, trusted for its incorruptibly and solidity, the Dhoni shape was very probably inspired from the ancient Arabian sailing dhow, which was commonly used as a trading ship in Indian Ocean around the 11th Century AD.
Today, for more convenience and speed, the shapes, construction techniques and material have changed through the times and most of the dhonis are equipped with diesel engines and built with imported wood. Their size can vary from 3 to 4 meters (14 ft), the rarest, up to 30 meters (100 ft) and even more.
Mighty Ships for Brave Captains and Crews.
Still today, some dhoni Captains and Crews do not need to use compass or GPS to slip through the Islands and Atolls.
They find their ways throughout the labyrinths of coral, helping themselves with the bow of their dhonis together with the stars. During clear nights, some of them have the (rare) ability to avoid the dangerous reefs, by carefully observing the moves of the water at the surface of the lagoon.
Cruising on a Luxurious Dhoni ...The Dream
Dhonis are more and more used as Luxury Liveaboard by many Resorts to offer their guests the possibility to cruise between Islands and Atolls for a few days.
Traditional on the outside, high on design and cutting-edge technology on the inside, the legendary Maldivian boat has been transformed into a luxurious cruising nest for two.
The Small Traditional Dhoni
Small dhonis ( like the one on the right photo) are one of the most beautiful fishing boats we have seen around.
Unfortunately, due to their size and low speed, they become more rare among the islands. Some Resorts use them as decorative furniture or to transport their guests to their Water Villas. However, sometimes, if you are (very) lucky, you might be able to see them with open sail, gliding gracefully across the lagoon.