Take me back to the Maldives. And take me back to the Maldives that we fell in love with is what OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli certainly does. Walkable size, retro early-tourism era structures (like their games area cement seating), sand floors in the bar and restaurant (oh how I miss these in so many of the luxury properties, but I guess they do a number on the LE BOUTIN stilettos), North Male atoll convenience (no seaplane to mess with, but sitting but on the upper fringe of the atoll, it does have a distinctively remote “middle of the Indian Ocean” feel). But Helengeli has also kept up with the times with some well-chosen revamps and additions – dining area with over water seating and big windows, charming “spa oasis” laid out around a water garden, and even and over-water gym!
And like classic Maldives, the main event at Helengeli is the snorkelling. Situated on not one but two channels provides an extra flow of water helping the corals a bit and providing an appeal boulevard for a range of marine life making it one of the most vibrant house reefs in the Maldives. We saw encouraging growth especially among the block corals like porites and diploria (brain coral) along with three of the Snorkel Safari Big 5 – shark, turtle, moray.