Maldives is like nowhere else on Earth, and Meemu atoll is unlike any place in the Maldives (well at least judging from the 14 of the 18 major atolls I have visited).
Meemu atoll was a bit of a mystery to me. With only two resorts, Medhufushi (which has been less prominent in the European market) and Hakuraa Huraa (which itself was closed for refurb a while back), not much was written about it.
We hadn’t really thought much of the differences between the atolls until our visit to Addu (aka Seenu) last year. It had a very different look, being much smaller, so its islands that are peppered along the circumference embrace you with a wrap-around vista on the interior.
Meemu is the opposite of Addu’s intimate cuddle as Meemu stretches with a diameter so wide you can’t see the other side. Meemu is also the opposite of island laden atolls like Kaafu and Ari sprinkled with green dots of inner atoll islands in the middle. It is pretty much devoid of islands on the interior. The combination of this topology and only 2 resorts in the whole atoll gives Meemu an unmatched sense of remoteness. Just you in the middle of the Indian Ocean, with a few islands to sustain you and keep you company.
But don’t worry about being precariously isolated. Just a few minutes north is one of the bigger islands in the Maldives and capital of Meemu – Muli. It has a hospital that puts you closer to advanced medical treatment than most resorts and a range of other amenities.
I’ve never seen such a mill pond calm expanse of open ocean (see video above). The inner atoll is like glass. Not just at dawn, but in the middle of the day. The expansive shallow (10 metres) on the east side of the atoll with the clear water of the calm sea imparts a robin’s egg blue for miles as well as a glassy veneer.
Not only the seascape, but the soundscape (around its two resorts) stand out. All of the out edge parts of the atolls are characterised by a constant flow of rolling waves at the vast Indian Ocean swells are tamed by the Maldives outer reefs which keep the atoll insides calm. At some resorts, this constant white noise creates a soothing soundtrack for the island (eg. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, Canareef) with the island situated close enough to the edge of the reef and the topology of the reef producing a more dramatic wave crashes.
Meemu’s eastern edge stands out for a number of reasons…
- Proximity – The reef is so close that, during low tide, when the depth of the water behind the water villas was ankle deep, Lori and I strolled right out to the reefs edge for an up close look of these ferocious 2 meter waves being tames by the massive reef. Now we are at Olhuveli with the east edge of the South Male in distance from out water villa, but it is at least twice and far and you hardly hear any wave noise.
- Length – We travelled a few kilometres north to dive the famed Mantas and More site. Then we travelled south to go to Hakuraa Huraa. Finally, we took off in our sea plane transfer. On all occasions, all we could see for as long as the horizon stretched was a fluffy white band of surf.
- Continuity – And that was the other curious aspect. The waves seemed to be uncannily continuous. Most other reefs seem to have a much more punctuated set of breakers. Not surprising that we uncovered a little known surf spot off Muli which is a hit with a number of surfers from around the world who come just for that.
The potential downside of the atoll is house reef snorkelling. Neither resort has “house reef” that is directly accessible from the beach. World famous Maldives snorkelling can be a part of your visit with a short boat ride that both resorts offer constantly (to make it as easy as possible).
A big part of your decision to go to either of these resorts will be whether the extraordinary qualities of the atoll itself appeal to you. Some aspects are purely subjective (I was sort of partial to the Hakura Huraa look and design, but Lori preferred Medhufushi). Both have overwater restaurant/bar, fine food, comfortable villas, and attentive service. Medhufushi had more traditional styling, outdoor showers, swimming pool and generally lower prices. Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa has more contemporary styling, entertainment, and beach activity.
Whichever you choose, you will be treated to not just a distinctive place on the planet, but a distinctive part of the Maldives.