Sunniest time of the year. Well, the longest amount of sunshine in the day (depending on your time zone). Not that it matters that much at the Equator where daytime doesn’t vary all that much. Still an occasion to call out another quirky resort distinction. After visiting nearly 100 resorts, Dhigufaru did strike me as the “sunniest”. Essentially, the property was developed from an existing sand bank. As a result, the foliage is less dense, less tall and less mature. Walking around you feel the sky and sunshine everywhere. Conversely, many parts of many resort islands have dense canopies that can almost feel like tunnels of greenery.
Maldives resorts offer a number of ubiquitous features – jetties, infinity pools, pina coladas but that doesn’t mean they are all the same. A major motivation for my “Best of the Maldives” series is exploring the incredible variety across sometimes very simple amenities. Like the foot rinsing that every villa has to cleanse feet from beach walks (or walks anywhere on the sand covered property really). The simplest are tubs to dunk your feet in. Sometimes they add a locally-inspired hollowed out gourd ladle. But the most elaborate I have come across is Dhigufaru’s double cleanse station. A faucet (not too uncommon) coupled with a flexible shower hose. The latter is especially helpful for sand on the legs or elsewhere if you have interrupted your walk with a leisurely sand wallow.
National Dessert Day today. And as soon as you step off the seaplane to Dhigufaru, you feel like you have landed in dessert country. Some resorts greet you with some tropical juice, others with tasty cocktail, but Dhigufaru greets you with an entire sweet shop. Ice cream, cakes, muffins, coffees, drinks all at your disposal. And the arrival jetty is also the best entry point to the resort house reef so you can have a snack when you come in from your snorkelling safari.
Donut Bar! Those words alone are enough to send goosebumps across the waistline of any true American junk food addict <hand up>. I eat more breakfasts when I am in the Maldives than any other time of the year (breakfast buffets are sort of a big thing there as in most resorts). They feature delicacies from all over the world, but somehow one of the great American AM staples has been out of reach for these culinary maestros – donuts (Latin name: Doughnut).
I’ve had decent donuts twice in the Maldives. Both are no longer served (Kurumba no longer serves theirs at least they didn’t on my last visit, and GoNuts, which isn’t even at a resort, is no longer open). About the only impressive donut you can find at the resorts these days is the blow-up kind. If someone does serve donuts, their glazing is usually some hard caked-on chocolate instead of the de rigeur creamy icing.
But Dhigufaru is blazing new donut trails not just for the Maldives, but quite possibly the world! They have set up a make-your-own-donut bar at the breakfast buffet. A pile of plain donuts set out quirkily stacked on poles. But then a collection of toppings that you can add to concoct you perfect donut – maple syrup, chocolate sauce, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, strawberry sauce and peanut butter. America has make-your-own salads, sandwiches and sundaes, but I’ve never come across a DIY donut.
I had to Google it (maybe a million dollar business idea) and it turns out there is one in existence – Top this Donut Bar in Cincinnati, USA. But that was about it. World-class top of the morning to you!
Airplanes aren’t the only things gracing the skies above the Maldives. One of the most distinctive birds in paradise is the “Dhandhifulhu Dhooni” or “White-Tailed Tropicbird.” The bird is quite rare and protected. Dhigufaru is blessed with having a resident pair who are often seen around the water sports centre. Logo designed based n tail. Just a few hundred metres away is a sister island which is actually dedicated to birds dubbed appropriately enough “Birds Island”. These long feathered friends are especially honoured by the property with a rendition of their extraordinary tail fashioned to form the logo of the resort (see below).
The first thing that hits you about Dhigufaru is the beach. It leaps out of the promotional pictures when you are researching and planning your visit (see above). And its vast expanse of dazzling white hits you again as soon as you step off the seaplane.
Many resorts make bold claims about being the biggest or the best. Often these aspects are quite subjective. I might consider a “Best of the Maldives” piece if they have something substantive to hang their claims on, but sometimes I can get some real numbers for comparison sake especially for Geography superlatives (eg. Biggest Island, Lowest Population Density). So I took out my trusty calculator (spreadsheet) actually to estimate what portion of the Dhigufaru island was actually beach. The resort wasn’t making any claims about it, but I was.
By my calculations, the island is 42% beach by square metre which is the top of any active resort I can find (the runners up were Rihiveli, Gili Lankanfushi, Cocoa Island). If you are looking for that plot-of-sand-with-a-palm-tree aesthetic (pile of sand, a little vegetation, and all set in a vast ocean), then Dhigufaru is it.
Dhigufaru might just be the island of my dreams.
I often characterise the Maldives this way: “You know that image of a plot of sand with a palm tree on it in the middle of the ocean? That’s the Maldives. A thousand of those.” Admittedly, that stereotype is really an exaggerated caricature of reality (in fact, its most frequent incarnation is cartoon form). But Dhigufaru comes closer to that meme than any other resort. Maybe not just a single palm tree, but actually no more than a dozen or so mature ones counted.
I am admittedly partial to petite islands, and Dhigufaru is a diminutive one. Just a few minutes walking gets you from one side to the other. Contrary to popular myth, just because the island is tiny doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do. The resort’s activity centre is packed with equipment. They were taking advantage of the July breezes doing kite surfing in the expansive lagoon while we were there. It also has a top flight beach volleyball and beach court (permanent padded nets with fixed boundary markers and lighting).
It turns out that Dhigufaru was originally neither an inhabited island nor uninhabited “island”. It was just a lonely, white sand bank in the middle of the ocean. As a result, pretty much all of the vegetation has been planted by the resort. Even some of the wildlife was introduced, as the owner’s parakeets were homed here and live in bird houses scattered around the islands.
I would summarise Dhigufaru as Birds, Beaches and Brightness.
- Birds are the pronounced theme of the property with drawings of various types adorning the rooms and public areas. The very logo of Dhigufaru is the tail feather of a “Dhandifulhudhooni” (ie. “White Tail”) which frequents the island and nests there.
- Beaches dramatically dominate the island. In fact, one of the Best of the Maldives distinctions that I am investigating is that Dhigufaru might just be the “Beachiest” resort in the Maldives.
- Brightness of this unique sand pile shines out at you the minute you arrive. The combination of spacious pearly beaches and minimal towering trees to block the sun means the island radiates with a dazzling brilliance.
Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. I met and proposed to my wife of 32 years after 3 days. I might just have been smitten with similar speed by Dhigufaru. Maybe my tropical lust was simply piqued by this scantily clad plot of sand with her dazzling alabaster beaches exposed so provocatively.
“We’re gonna need a bigger boat” – Martin Brody, Jaws
Well, not for the sharks (or “sand puppies” as we call them). More for the marina flashonista set, . Dhigufaru has introduced the largest resort yacht in the Maldives. The Dhaainkan’baa is 41m (LOA) and has 7 Staterooms (6 Doubles and one Twin). That compares to the Four Seasons Explorer at 39 m (although the Explorer does have 10 staterooms and one Explorer Suite).
Fully equipped for diving, motorised water sports, fitness equipment and spa therapies. You can get more massive details from the Fact Sheet here.