Roberta and Paolo's travel journal
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We thought for a long time to go back to the Island Hideaway Dhonakulhi, and to see Thudhufushi and Athurga after the renovation. We finally managed to fix all the dates and transfers and we were able to leave this May
On May 15, at 7.20 pm we take off with our Meridiana Fly flight. There are 79 people only on board, so we are able to sleep pretty comfortably splitting on the plane. On May 16, at 7.00 am we land in Hulhule. Our domestic flight will leave at 12 and we wait for our departure in the domestic area lounge of the airport: our first step in Island Hideaway Dhonakulhi, in Haa atoll, in the North Maldives.
Hulhule Maldives Airport: domestic flights airport
Hulhule: domestic flights airport, check-in area
Maldivian: our plane
We leave at 12 with the Maldivian airline, and in one hour we will be on the island.
The domestic flight from North Male to Haa
After more or less one hour we reach the airport in Hanimaadhoo, in the Haa atoll. The island is extremely green, the landing strip are surrounded by British-like grass.
Airport in Hanimaadhoo, in Haa atoll
A member of the staff of Island Hideaway Dhonakulhi comes to meet us at the airport and after 20 minutes of speed boat we arrive to the island.
The island is very big. 1.2 km long and 270 m wide. There’s a distance of about 300 km from Malé; it’s shaped like a particular crescent, covered with tall trees vegetation, extremely green, where nature is almost pristine; in the inside part of the island it almost looks like a little forest, in the middle of which they created paths in order to move from one part to the other and between bungalows. They have left a big distance between them, so that guests can have their own privacy.
The Island Hideaway Dhonakulhi is a 5 star superior resort and despite the island being very big, it’s made of only 44 rooms, and just 2 of them are Over Water.
On one side there’s a broad lagoon, while on the other side you can swim to the reef. The resort has got a little harbour (Marina) to dock the boats.
As usual we deal with the check in and registrations at the Reception before being walked to our room.
They give us one of the seven Rambaa Retreat Villas, number 7: these are 385 square meters flats, with bedroom, living room, bathroom, veranda and garden.
In front of our Villa we find our bikes “parked”, a big comfort given the dimensions of the island.
We meet Razzaq, our Buttler: every bungalow has got its own person who follows the guest throughout the entire stay. During lunch and diner he takes care of orders and he serves the dishes in the restaurant or directly at the Villa; in case of use of the buggies, the electrical machines that are offered to the guests, he walks the guests, in case of room service or other necessities he’s always available, always with the greatest discretion and he makes sure that everything is always in place.
Razzaq shows us our Villa and everything we can find in there: at the entrance there’s a big living room with huge couches, plasma screen TV, DVD player, Hi-Fi system and phone.
Between the living room and the bedroom we find a wardrobe, with bathrobes, safe box, umbrellas and k-ways for rainy days.
In front of the wardrobe there is a bar area, with drinks and appetizers, coffee machine and a Wi-Fi router.
The bedroom is equipped with telephone and air conditioning. It’s very wide and livable and it faces directly on the external veranda.
On the left side of the bed a door opens up to a wide room half covered half open. Opposite to the bed there’s a big bathtub under a roof made out of coconut tree leaves that enables you to have a bath even when it rains, while the shower is outdoor. The bathroom set is complete with shampoo, bubble bath, moisturizers, toothbrush, razors and different kinds of soap.
You have access to the sea from the veranda. In between we find a swing seat and a table with chairs that enable you to eat directly at the Villa by candlelight.
Each Villa has got its own sun umbrella and sun bed available, a little bit sunken from the beach. Looking right and left it’s almost like being on a desert island.
Before we go to dinner, we drop in the bar of the island for appetizers: the bar is partially above water and there’s a special area dedicated to special cigars choice.
We go to the main restaurant for dinner, the Matheefaru, restaurant with sand: the cooking is high level, very neat. We eat with Mr. Metin Sportmen, the Sales Manager of the island. On the island there is a second restaurant, the Gaafushi: it offers Japanese, Indian and Thai food. The guests can decide whether they want to eat at the restaurants or in their own bungalow.
In the morning of the 17th we wake up with the sun and we dedicate the morning to sightsee the island and the other types of rooms.
We start from Dhonakulhi Residence, where we stayed the first time we went on this island. The bungalows are 550 square meters wide and they have a big living room, a terrace on the first floor, outdoor bathroom and a small pool with water massage. The room is equipped with plasma screen TV, DVD player, Hi-Fi system, high-speed internet, bar area, tea kettle and coffee machine.
The bathroom is outside, similar to the one in the Rambaa, like the bathrobes and bath set equipment.
On the upper floor we find a terrace, where you can relax during the night enjoying the stars.
On the back of the bungalow there is a little veranda and a pool with water massage.
From this area you can reach the beach.
Another kind of rooms is the Hideaway Palace. There are 2 rooms total and they are 1420 square meters each, with a very spacious bedroom, two guest rooms, living room, pool and private beach, ideal for a family or a group of friends.
On the island there are 5 Jasmine Garden Villas (705 square meters, pool, garden and private beach), 7 Funa Pavilions (176 square meters, bedroom, living room and terrace) and 1 Garden Family Villa.
The diving is run by Meridis Dive. The immersion sites in the area are many and not that busy. The diving center is fully equipped and it looks well organized.
In the afternoon we dedicate to the snorkeling, patrolling the reef as much as possible: near the island there is a big pass and the reef is very rich, full of alive corals, colorful anemones and madrepores. There are a lot of fishes, of different varieties.
In the morning of the 18th we end our tour of the island facilities. In the afternoon we’ll go on a very interesting excursion.
The Mandara Spa is a very big and well organized facility. Every detail is neat and massages are particularly relaxing and well done. We are going to be able to receive one once we will be back from the excursion.
Near the SPA there are the only two Overwater on the island, the Spa Water Villa. 235 square meters, with massage room, Jacuzi and private steam bath, dedicated to who wants to spend the vacation feeling good.
On the island there are a MiniClub, an Internet area, a library (well stocked), a poolroom, a swimming pool, 2 tennis courts, a gym and an area dedicated to water sports and a boutique.
The beaches around the island are exceptionally wide and they give the impression to be on a desert island.
The inside part of the island is very green, plants are luxuriant and the management of the island decided to affect nature as little as possible, leaving it almost uncontaminated.
On the afternoon of May 18, right after lunch, we leave by boat to the excursion to the island Utheemu, national center of linguistic and historical research in Maldives, a place rich of epic history and true patriotism. Home of some of the most revered and respected national heroes of Maldives: the brothers Mohamed, Ali and Hassan Thakurufaanu.
Mohamed was the famous savior of Maldives from 15 years occupation of Portugal halfway through the XVI century. He, with his companions, took the Maldives from the darkness of the harsh occupation to the light of peace, serenity and sovereignty.
Mr. Metin Sportmen is our guide.
One of the most significant representation of this period is the Utheemu Palace, the residential home where Mohamed and his family used to live, the constant memory of Mohamed’s heroism, besides the depiction of the Maldivian lifestyle in the XVI century.
Outside we find a well. The legend says that the water in it is good for fertility.
Unfortunately it’s not allowed to take pictures inside the Palace. The Thakurufaanu family’s residence is more than 500 years old and it’s the oldest in Maldives that it’s still in good conditions. It was probably built during Sultan Kalhu Muhammad Siri Dhanmaru Bavana Mahaaradhun’s reign. He reigned for three consecutive times, from the end of the XV to the beginning of the XVI century. The building foundations are made of wooden supports inserted in the ground. The house walls are made of wooden boards weaved and covered with mats from the inside and coconut palm leaves from the outside.
Close to the main building there is Mariyaadhu Gekolhu, the youngest sister of the Thakurufaanu family’s house, built some years later.
Kandhuvalu mosque was where Mohamed’s family members used to prey. Its construction started in 1295, adequate to the Maldivian architectonical style, with wooden varnished boards with passages from the Koran, prayers, and other sermons carved on them.
The day was almost over. Before our departure they offer us something to drink, a relaxing break in the shade, after hours spent under the blistering sun.
In the late morning of May 19 we leave for Malé, as usual our domestic flight allows us to admire these wonderful spots from above.
At 4 pm we take the seaplane to go to Thudufushi.
The Thudufushi Diamonds Island Resort is located on the South Ari atoll and there is a distance of about 96 km from Malé: the seaplane trip takes about 25 minutes. It has been re-opened since December 2010, after the renovation and the addition of the new overwater, whose structure is completely white.
The island is 220 m per 200 m big, for a total of 70 rooms: 47 Bungalows, 21 Water Villas, and 2 Water Villa Suites.
After the check in formalities, they walk us to our room.
They give us the Water Villa number 18.
Furniture is of white wood, that contrasts with the dark wood floor. After a small entrance with a couch and a small table, we enter the bedroom, with air conditioning, Wi-Fi system, phone, coffee machine, iPod platform and bar area all comprised in the All Inclusive.
On the left of the room there is a wardrobe, with gown and safe box.
On the right there is the bathroom, indoor, with a separate box for the toilet and the shower box goes directly on the external veranda. Bathrobes, hair dryer and a complete bath set are available.
The room faces the veranda, wide and a real beauty: a table with chairs, some couches and sun beds make the space look like an open air living room, very pleasant, with direct access to the sea.
They are fixing the curtains in order to give us some privacy, the same thing they have done at Athuruga, “the twin island”.
Each afternoon the room is replenished with fresh fruit and sandwiches, all inclusive, like the laundry service.
We have dinner at the Water Villa Restaurant in the evening. The restaurant is reserved to people who stays at the Water Villas. The “a-la-carte” kitchen offers international and Italian food.
May 20, in the morning we wake up with the sun shining. We leave with our cameras and video cameras to sightsee the island.
Going back on the island, at the end of the pontoon of the over water, on the right, we find the bar and restaurant, in front of them the beach bar and on the left the diving, the water sport, the beach volley and the reception.
The Beach Bar is open during the day, always well-stocked with available fruit and sandwiches.
In front of the Beach Bar there is a sun beds area.
The Diving Center is run by the Dive: Italian and foreign guides who go with the subs in the frequent immersions in the area, and a marine biologist who organizes a guided snorkeling helping guests to recognize the marine wildlife, with particular attention given to the reef and sea environment preservation.
Next to the reception there is a small bookstore.
Behind the reception there is a bagatelle and a boutique.
There is an infirmary, open on stated hours, but with a doctor always available on the island in case of necessity.
The main bar is behind the restaurant.
The main restaurant service is buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner: the cook is Italian and the food is various and neat. Entrees, first courses, second courses, raw and cooked vegetables, buns, pizzas, fruit and desserts.
Behind the restaurant there is a tables and chairs area, with ping pong table and dartboard.
Right after lunch we visit one of the 47 Beach Bungalows.
The furniture is all made of dark wood, essential, but elegant and practical, with air conditioning and phone.
The bathroom is Maldivian, with outdoor shower. There are bathrobes and hairdryer.
Each bungalow has its own veranda with table and chairs that faces directly the beach.
The Serena SPA is all made of wood with the coconut tree leaves roof. Unfortunately we can’t make to receive a massage this time. The Serena is a very famous chain in the Maldives and the environment looks really relaxing.
The beaches along the island perimeter are pretty wide.
The inside part of the island is very green and neat.
We spend a part of the afternoon snorkeling: the reef is so rich here. A lot of fishes of different colors and shapes and very colorful corals.
On May 21, in the morning, we catch the dhoni to go to Athuruga, Thudufushi “twin” island.
Athuruga Diamonds Island Resort is located in South Ari atoll and there are 83 km to Malé: the seaplane trip takes more or less 25 minutes. Athuruga too has been recently renovated. They added new overwater, a lot similar to the ones in Thudufushi.
The island is 210 m per 160 m big and there is a total of 71 rooms: 46 Beach Bungalows, 15 Lagoon View Villas and 10 Sunset View Villas.
We arrive at the reception and the island General Manager welcomes us, he will walk with us during our patrolling.
They give us a Water Villa, by chance it’s the 18, the same number that we had in Thudufushi. They really are twin islands!
The room is almost identical to ours in Thudufushi. The main features are the same, except for an iMac for each room, both for surfing the internet and listening to already uploaded music.
The bathroom is similar too, with bathrobes and hairdryer.
The veranda is the same to the one in Thudufushi, even if it’s slightly smaller. There are curtains that can be closed if needed, to grant privacy from the room neighbors.
The Water Villa restaurant is “a-la-carte” and it’s included for the overwaters guests, while the other guests have to pay.
The just have one short day, so we immediately start our tour to see the island areas.
On the left of the Reception we find the island Bar. In Athuruga the service is all inclusive too.
Next to it we find the Diving, managed by iDive. Immersions in South Ari are various and numerous.
Then we find the ping pong, the pool table, the boutique, the bookstore and internet area, with iMacs available.
Walking along the shore of the island, we find the water sport and the beach volley.
In this period beaches are extremely wide along almost the entire perimeter.
We visit the inside of a bungalow. There are 46 of them.
Both the bedroom and the bathroom have the same features of the twin island. Dark wooden floor and furniture, air conditioning and phone.
The shower is outdoor, with bathrobes and hairdryer.
The back veranda offers two sun beds, a small couch and there’s direct access to the beach.
We eat at the main restaurant, where you have buffet service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. International and Italian food. Cooking is wide-ranging and neat, with entrees, first courses, second courses, raw and cooked vegetables, buns, pizzas, fruit and desserts.
After lunch we visit the Serena SPA. The wooden building and coconut tree leaves roof are the same. It’s made of different and very natural settings, relaxing to watch.
We do some snorkeling to enjoy the seabed: the reef in Athuruga is very rich, with a lot of fishes of different colors and shapes and very colorful corals.
We end our visit in Athuruga and we go back to Thudufushi.
As you can see from the pictures, the two resorts are very similar. Both islands are small and they both have a gorgeous reef that surround them for more than half the island. The all inclusive package is excellent. They give particular attention to Italian clients. It’s a right mix between new and old Maldives.We spend our last night in our overwater and we leave for Hulhule next day.
This week passed too soon as usual! See you next time!
Roberta & Paolo