Best of the Maldives: Beach Cricket – Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - beach cricket

The sand at Cinnamon Hakura Huraa might not polished, but still Maldives-soft making those dramatic diving catches so much easier. And inertia arresting beach makes daisy cutters particularly ineffective so you sort of have to swing for the fences.   Mind you, there actually are specific rules for Beach Cricket to help account for the distinctive playing surface.

With its Sri Lankan connection (Cinnamon resorts are headquartered in Sri Lanka and many of the staff come from there), cricket is a popular pastime on the resort. In fact, their team won are the reigning JKMR champions. I remember training on the beach for (American) football as a youngster. The extra work of the sand giving way under your feet made the work out twice as hard, but when you got onto solid ground, you felt like you had extra bonus power which might be part of the secret to their success.

Best of the Maldives: Tsunami Assembly Point – Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - tsunami assembly point

While Brits tuck into Christmas turkey leftovers and start jigsaw puzzles brought by Santa, today marks one of the biggest natural disasters in modern history and the biggest in Maldives history – the 2004 Tsunami. The tragedy touched every corner of the country and devastated a number of inhabited islands and resorts.

One silver lining was the opening up of country’s economy and politics in the aftermath. Maldives desperately need outside assistance to rebuild and the international funds stepped up but only on the condition that the country reformed some of its institutions. For example, the first democratic elections were held for decades.

One resort hit hard was Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa who lost its General Manager. In the aftermath, the resort set up “Tsunami Assembly Point”, akin to “Fire Assembly Points” for which they double as, which help the staff more quickly identify who is safe and who is missing and maybe in need of assistance.

I remember people asking me if it was safe to visit the Maldives for fear of tsunamis. For starters, such an occurrence is a once in a lifetime event. And while, lighting does strike twice, the odds are so small that you are much likely to be hurt by a commonplace incident (like a car accident on the way to the airport) than any tsunamis. Furthermore, the world has learned an enormous amount and also invested considerably in anticipating (early warning systems) and responding to (things like this assembly point) ocean tsunamis even if their remote chance of happening does occur. So the danger is even more minuscule than it was before.

When I came across the assembly point, I thought it was not just an extra-careful precaution, but also a very subtle and tasteful monument to the people who sadly suffered from this bizarre calamity.

Best of the Maldives: Beach Rugby Pitch – Cinnamon Hakura Huraa

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - beach rugby pitch

Six Nations might have concluded this weekend, but you can carry on your place kicks in paradise at Cinnamon Hakuraa Hura. They not only have one of the only rugby pitches, complete with regulation goal posts and boundary line, but it is also set on the beach beside Hakuraa Hura’s expansive lagoon. The Sri Lankan run resort has a number of Sri Lankan staff you play regularly if you are looking to join in a seaside scrum.

Best of the Maldives: Snacks – Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - plane snack

Sometimes all you want is a snack. You don’t want to be beholden to restaurant schedules and so grabbing a lite-bite is a great way to handle the hunger pangs. All the more tasty when served over an azure lagoon like Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa. The resort offers a range of sacks throughout the day. They also put on snack stations at certain times like a mid-afternoon creperie.

Lots of resorts offer treats throughout the day, but what swung it for Hakuraa Huraa for me was their seaplane transfer snack-pack (see photo above). When you are flying back, they prepare a box with an assortment of sandwiches, fruit, cakes, etc. The seaplanes usually don’t even serve water (the domestic flights often have water and sometimes a little packet of nuts or biscuit). Lori and I had been a bit busy the morning before our departure getting last minutes things attended to and we didn’t really have time to go to lunch with our early afternoon flight time. So the snack was an especially welcome sustenance for journey to Male.

Best of the Maldives: Tented Roofs – Cinnamon Hakuraa Hura

Cinnamon Hakuraa Hura - tented roof

Great covers aren’t limited to pop songs and fashion mags in the Maldives. Their thatched roofs are a world recognized icon of tropical paradise. But a few resorts have opted for more creative designs with different aesthetic than the ubiquitous thatch. One of the most original in all the Maldives is Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa’s tented villa roofs. It’s actually not just the roof, but the ceiling as well (see photo above). It gives the villas a light and airy feel to them. And the interiors are very stylishly decorated.

Lori is amazed at how many details I can remember from the dozens of resorts we have stayed at, but I must admit that sometimes they do blur a bit in my mind as so many follow such a similar villa look and feel. Hakuraa Huraa is one that is distinctively memorable though.

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - tented roof exterior

Best of the Maldives: Rickshaw – Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - rickshaw

You don’t need industrial grade, high-tech equipment to see the aquatic sights of the Maldives. The simplest and most ancient of transports can provide a romantic ride through the panorama of paradise. Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa offers rickshaw rides for $30 USD per couple for a tour around the resort beach and its massive jetty.

Best of the Maldives: Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa – Beach Sport

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - beach rugby pitch

Dhigufaru might be the “beachiest” island, but Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa is definitely the beachiest activity center. Hakuraa Huraa boasts its own impressive expanse of brilliant white sand (and when the tide goes out it more than doubles in size). Here is there impressive line-up of beach activity…

  • Beach Rugby – A few resorts play some beach rugby (eg. Adaaran Hudhuranfushi, JA Manafaru), but no one has a permanent pitch with goals and line markers in the sand (see above).
  • Beach Cricket – I’ve seen cricket played in the Maldives, but not Beach Cricket. Again, a permanent bowling area in concrete has been set in the beach.
  • Beach Darts – I’ve only seen this at a few resorts.
  • Beach Volleyball – Ok, lots of resorts have this too and Hakuraa Huraa’s is a nice set up.
  • Beach Badminton – You can find this at several resort, but most resort that do offer badminton offer a hard surface court. The beach would make it harder to run, but could make for some crafty strategy (getting someone out of position is all the more valuable) as well as some heroic diving saves.
  • Beach Football – And this is common, but not to be left out here.

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - beach darts

Maldives Tour 2017 – Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - tour 2017

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa sits like a whimsically mystical village in the middle of an equally quizzical seascape. The resort has one of the most distinctive “skylines” in the Maldives with its orb-topped tented roofs on villas and jetty. The structures sit like alabaster Bedouin tents nestled in a sandy oasis of dryness in a boundless desert of turquoise sea.

When the tide goes out this dot of land swells to nearly double in size as submerged sea beds emerge into beach for a few hours. The long, slow gradient is reminiscent of a Maldivian Mont Saint-Michel (but no need to worry about being trapped by rushing incoming tide as tidal forces are much more modest near the Equator). The reason the resort has the longest arrival jetty in the Maldives is because it has to go out that far before you hit water deep enough for a boat to get to.

This distinctively shallow lagoon imparts another quirky aspect to the property…if you want to go explore the marine life, instead of snorkeling you can go for a little stroll. While the main event for sea-life aficionados in the Maldives is the house reef drop-off, I’ve often thought about having a “lagoon rating” (to parallel the “House Reef Rating” on the website) because a number of resort lagoons have their own distinction. In Hakuraa Huraa’s case, their east-side (water villa) lagoon holds quite an extensive array of small coral croppings. The area can have some tricky currents at high tide (signs warn people not to swim), but at low tide it is a giant tidal pool that you can simply wade through. The lagoon has lots of shards of broken coral so you will need to wear some foot protection. That said, you will also need to be very careful not to step on any live coral (ie. looking for the white sandy patches). We were quite encouraged by the extent of little pink corals popping up all over the place. During our little ramble, we were treated to the most bizarre “Snorkel Spotter” outing ever. Yes, all over the Maldives you will see fish and creatures like puppy sharks and stingrays scurrying in the shallows as you walk along the shoreline or above on a jetty. But this excursion was something a bit more. The coral croppings gave the seascape dimension. And the creatures we saw were more than you would see from these typical vistas – a turtle sleeping, a moray hunting, a baby lion fish hiding. We weren’t staring down at them from afar, but like a good snorkel, were right there in their world along side them.

Cinnamon has boosted this spirit of water-world whimsy with a veneer of sparkling white and accents of bright colour. An extensive range of activities (probably the most extensive beach activity offering in the Maldives, including built-in Beach Cricket and Beach Rugby cross bars), and delicacies (including snacks offered during the day and special dining nooks) make the resort experience as enchanting as it looks.

Maldives Tour 2017–Meemu Atoll

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.

Best of the Maldives: Longest Arrival Jetty – Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa

Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa - arrival jetty

A good first impression can work wonders.” – J. K. Rowling

I am trying to keep the Profiles somewhat limited so they are a real “at a glance” impression of the resort. I try to focus on distinctive aspects of the resorts that all my readers enquire about. Each photos and datapoint needs to be some variety across resorts which is why I don’t feature pictures of palm trees and sunsets that often fill the resort web sites as they just aren’t different enough from one resort to another. But there also has to be some constancy within the resort which is also why I don’t feature restaurants and bar photos. There are usually more than restaurant and bar and they often differ considerably. As a result, it is hard to choose one photo that typifies the F&B areas.

But in this last Tour, I was especially struck on the vast variety across Arrival Jetties. Some are simple docks while others are elaborate constructions. It is your first (and last) impression of the resort so it always has impact. We love walking along the resort jetties. They are great places for getting out over the water and you always see so many creatures scurrying about often attracted to mini-artificial reef-like structure it forms.

With a bit of snapping this summer and some further web research, I amassed 47 resorts which I think is just enough to add this piece of each resort to the Profile.

To mark this occasion, I also wanted to call out one of the most impressive arrival jetties I came upon in my research. It’s always easier to claim distinction for objective and quantity differences rather than subjective and quality ones. Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa appears to be the longest arrival jetty in the Maldives. It’s so long that they have added a couple of sheltered pavilions along it. I am guessing to give visitors a chance for a rest along their stroll from one end to another.

As always, if you have any snaps of any arrival jetties that I don’t yet have, I would love to have them to add to the database.  Thanks!