Best of the Maldives: Rustic – Rihiveli

Rihiveli - room

People come to the Maldives to get away from it all. And at Rihiveli Beach, that does mean *all*. I characterise the Maldives by saying “You know those tropical island cartoons with a plot of sand and a palm tree…that’s the Maldives, a thousand of those.” Admittedly a bit of an exaggeration but an effective caricature. As the Maldives tourism industry has developed now you can go to islands with towers, golf courses, gourmet restaurants, water parks, 9-bedroom villas, etc. In the wake of this expansion and development, a hardened cadre of Maldives purists yearn for the simpler days much more approximating Gilligan’s Island than Thurston Howell III’s estate.

I am usually writing about special things that resorts have, but Rihiveli is distinguished by the things is doesn’t have…

  • Mini-bar
  • Outdoor shower
  • In-room Internet (and the wifi in the Reception and Bar I pretty ropey)
  • In-room safe (you can lock things in a safe at Reception)
  • Phone
  • Clock
  • TV
  • Pool

And I haven’t even mentioned the biggest one – no Air Conditioning. As I mentioned in my tour review, this was the biggest challenge for us especially as the weather was particularly toasty and the breeze unseasonably calm. Our pragmatic solution turned out to be downright romantic (in a clean and decent way) as we slept on our loungers under the stars for one of the most memorable nights of the trip if not all our visits to the Maldives. But if such al fresco snoozing is a bit too exposed for you, then there is actually salvation at hand on the island. 13 of their Standard Bungalows (namely – Boova, Bouraki, Carangue, Cardinalia, Cassis Nana, Dauphin, Demoiselle, Dentice, Digumas, Diodon, Diodora, Donax, Donhica) and their single Deluxe Villa (Escondida) do have AC. The Standard rooms with AC do have a $35 supplement.

You might be asking yourself, “what is actually there?”…

  • Hot Water Showers
  • Kettle
  • Comfortable Bed
  • Ceiling fan

Yep, that’s about it.

So why would anyone put up with such limitations?

  • Value – The property is one of the most affordable of the resort islands.
  • Get Away From It ALL – Especially technology. If I had kids addicted to technology, I would bring them here. They wouldn’t be able to check their phones most of the time.
  • Authenticity – The closest to living the traditional Maldivian lifestyle.
  • Island – Rihiveli is simply on of the best neighbouring-island/lagoon combinations in the Maldives.

With the ample bar, delicious food, water sport centre, Balinese spa, etc., it’s not exactly Bear Grylls material, and it might be just the type of escape to paradise you are looking for.

Best of the Maldives: Staff Community – Rihiveli

Rihiveliu staff quarters

From a vibrant online ‘tribe’ to one of the most distinctive resort communities – Rihiveli Beach. Another gem from Francisco (from the same email as the sandbank) also highlights the spirit of openness. In this case, the Rihiveli staff quarters.

“Staff quarters are open to the guests and make a sort of real maldivian villages (only men though) that you can actually go to and interact with the maldivian staff. Like having a local island visit on your resort island.”

We do enjoy the abundant hospitality that flows effortlessly from the Maldivian staff who work tirelessly to make our visits memorable and flawless. We enjoy our chats with them to appreciate more about their lives and their community. Rihiveli’s approach of opening up their quarters would seem to make a subtle but significant difference to the resort ambience where everyone on the island is together.

Best of the Maldives: Dolphins – Rihiveli Beach

Rihiveli Beach dolphins

The best free divers in the ocean are our aquatic cousins the cetaceans. As I said yesterday, that’s not ‘free diving’ as in ‘free beer’. Nor is it as in ‘born free’. But in Rihiveli Beach it is. Rihiveli have their own resident dolphin pod in their lagoon.

‘Swimming with dolphins’ is one of those magical experiences that are regularly found a top people’s bucket lists. So popular that an industry is growing quite lucratively to provide dolphin swimming experiences. Some of these are tracking dolphin pods down to jump in the water and snorkelling with them. We tried one of these excursions in Mauritius and the dolphins seemed quite bored with our presence and simply kept their distance. Because of the dolphins independent mindedness, another popular alternative is swimming with dolphins in captivity. Either in large swimming pools or enclosed ocean spaces. The Maldives has approved a Dolphin Lagoon, the website for which was launched yesterday.

Such a facility has stirred, and always does, much debate about the ‘zoo issue’. The arguments essentially boil down as follows. Opponents say it is inhumane and immoral to extract creatures from their natural habitat and stress them with confinement purely for our entertainment. Proponents say that such facilities allow people to connect with these creatures they normally would not get a chance to encounter which in turns build financial and political support for environmental causes which in turn enhances the lives of the entire animal kingdom. I personally line up on the proponent side. Of course, I am all in favour of regulation and oversight to ensure that the animals’ captivity is as healthy and comfortable as possible. But in our increasingly virtual, urbanized, manufactured world, the more voters (especially powerful ones who take posh holidays) and walking pocketbooks (especially affluent ones who do the same) who have the chance to be enchanted by these whimsical creatures, the better the prospects for their species overall.

But if you want see the ‘born free’ diving version, then Rihiveli is your resort.

(Thanks Francisco)

Best of the Maldives: Parties – Rihiveli Beach

Rihiveli Beach Party


If there is one night to party, it is New Year’s Eve. And if there is one resort to party at, it is Rihiveli Beach.

There is always a party on there. The next one is their ‘White Beach Party’ on 22nd May (see below). They are advertised on their resort Facebook page and they also send out a newsletter to keep posted. These events are not just some slap on affair to fill out the social calendar for the punters. But rather anticipated events that are part of their ebullient ‘Vive la paradis’ ethos. In fact, they mostly draw local ex-pats and others, but all are welcome. And given their French proclivities, a bottle of champagne shouldn’t be hard to come by.

Bonne Année 2011!


Rihiveli Beach White Party

Best of the Maldives: Francophile – Rihiveli Beach

Rihiveli Beach Umbrella


Concernant des aspects tout à fait français des Maldives, si vous préférez la vie gaulloise, il vous faut cherchez Rihiveli Beach.

The staff and the largest part of the guests are French. This cultural colour spills into many aspects of the resort such a visiting French DJs, newsletter and obviously ‘la cuisine’. If you want a soupcon of French style with your paradis.

Best of the Maldives: Closest Neighbour – Olhuveli / Fun Island

Olhuveli - Fun Island


The person who first introduced me to the Maldives is former colleague in Microsoft, Andy Lees. I still remember him recounting how he simply waded over to a neighbouring island on one of his visits. In one of my first blogs, I set out to find the closest island to wade to and highlighted Rihiveli Beach. But the shallow lagoon doesn’t make it the closest companion island. That honour goes to the Olhuveli and Fun Island resorts that are just over 100 yards apart (though separated by deeper water than Rihiveli’s wade which is about 400 yards away).

Best of the Maldives: Wade – Rihiveli Beach

Rihiveli Beach Sunrise Island

Most Maldivian islands have even tinier islands nearby for day excursions and all have shallow waters to wade or snorkel through, but Rihiveli Beach has a nearly deserted island that is a water stroll away.

“Just 400 metres from your holiday home are Sunrise Island and Birds Island, which you can easily reach on foot. Unmarred by development, they are cloaked in verdant foliage and complemented by lovely beaches”

“We have access to Sunrise Island that you can easily reach on foot where we can have BBQ at lunch (known as ‘Picnic Island’),  the inclusive package we offer and the stunning and peaceful Lagoon we have at our disposal”