The favorite, even iconic, holes in the boards in the Maldives are the infamous glass floors of the water villas. But, Safari Island has lifted this feature with its indoor glass table. Sure beats a coffee table boo of underwater photography to instead sit down and gaze at the real thing. It’s a nice twist so that you can linger, perhaps over a cuppa or a cocktail to real savour this special view instead of staring down at your feet.
Bonus room! Not just an extra bed, but a completely distinctive experience sleeping on the water. Not just in a water villa perched over the water, but in a Maldivian-styled dhoni yacht. Not just hearing the ocean gently sloshing below you, but feeling the ocean languidly rock you to sleep.
If you are lucky, some resorts will occasionally offer a free upgrade for a night or more from their beach villas to their water bungalows. But Safari Island, if you stay 7 nights you get a free dhoni tour like a sunset cruise or fishing. If you stay 14 nights, then you get a free night on the dhoni.
Most resorts offer a “main restaurant”, which is a large buffet stuck somewhere inside the island as the default option for board packages, and a range of “a la carte” eateries, which are usually a bit more distinctive in menu and location like being over the water. Safari Island puts its main restaurant in the prime location on the resort with a striking design and ambience to match (see above).
The structure is sort of reminiscent of Baros’ “Lighthouse” restaurant, only on a grander scale and Lighthouse is a la carte. It is completely open all around (well, there are storm blinds they put down when it gets too windy). One of my pet peeves with main restaurants is that they often have no view. Even when the ocean is just a few feet away, they never seem to clear the foliage so people can actually enjoy the view. But Safari Island is right over the water.
And you can top and tail your evening with an antipasto aperitif and/or post-prandial potation at their Sundown Bar (See below). We sat on its deck watching only the reef sharks circling in the lagoon shallows below, but a larger shark which we thought was a nurse shark. It turns out it was a lemon shark. So the perfect place for a cocktail with a twist (an turn) of lemon!
Many Maldives aficionados complain that all of the best islands are being snapped up for building (or re-building) super-luxury properties out of reach from the average pocketbook. Safari Island bucks that trend being a value priced 4 star resort on an exceptional 5 star island. In fact, Safari has actually gone in the opposite direction as the island that used to be the super exclusive Dhoni Migili. The lagoon is still filled with the fleet of 12 elegant dhoni yachts from its Dhoni Migili legacy. You can’t book these, but you do get an experience or stay on one if you stay for 7 or 14 days respectively.
With Maldivian prices challenging guests’ wallets so deeply, visitors need to choose what they want to pay for and what they don’t. What you are not paying for at Safari is fancy food, fittings and furniture. Safari villas have simple bamboo furniture with the palm weave ceilings that embraces a simpler, rustic vibe.
The small island means that villas are pushed right up close to the water’s edge. Ours was a Beach Villa and the water was lapping at our deck at high tide. Safari has another room category called a “Semi Water Villa” which are situated right over very shallow water right on the lagoon/beach edge.
The food is a good basic buffet victuals, but in the Maldives is it hard to go too far wrong with this option. Fresh tropical fruit like the ripe papaya that melts in your mouth (the best of our trip). Grilled reef fish caught that morning just yards away, local curries, with occasional chef special treat like the banana chocolate cake with vanilla sauce. How much more do you really need from a resort kitchen?
But the island itself is a remarkable patch of sea and sand. The beaches have some of the finest talcum powder soft grains I’ve ever wriggled my toes in (in the Maldives or anywhere else). And the house reef has to be a contender for one of the top 10 in the Maldives.
If you want 5-star Maldives “the landscape” without paying 5-star Maldives the luxury resort prices, then check out Safari Island.
“They are the dhonis from Dhoni Island, formerly Dhoni Mighili and now Safari Island Resort (Per Aquum once ran Dhoni Mighili). They are terribly nice and certainly the best dhoni cruise around.”
Gone are the days when these vessels were the villas, but they are still a cracking cruise.
They are also graced with Sakis’ portraiture…
One trick to SEO is ‘keyword density’, ie. packing each page with the words ‘Maldives Resort’ every where. I didn’t think you folks would appreciate such gratuitous, self-serving clutter so I’ve avoided such contrived measures.
One trick to ‘Population Density’ (ie. rooms per square metre of island) on a Maldives Resort is lots of water villas. And the new leader is the new kid on the block. Safari Island now wins hands down in the ‘Population Density’ stakes. Maldives Complete has all the population densities of all the resorts. The previous king of cozy was Jumeirah Vittaveli with 91 rooms on 14,000 sqm for 154 sqm per room. Safari has 84 rooms on 8,000 sqm for 95 (!) sqm of island per room. Another relative newcomer has also opted for the jam them in approach, Centara Ras Fushi (140 rooms on 29,000 sqm for 215 sqm per room).
But on the horizon is a resort that Dutch Docklands is building whole resorts in lagoons with no island at all. Mathematically, a population density of infinity (that’s what you get when you divide by zero). Actually, the other Maldivian Jumeirah, Dhevanafushi, already sort of has an ‘all water villa’ feature with its complete detatched ‘Ocean Pearls’ villas set out in the middle of the ocean (see below), and Gili Lankanfushi pioneered the boat-only water villas with its collection of residences.