Best of the Maldives: Barefoot – Northernmost

Barefoot map

 

Welcome to Barefoot resort who opened this week. Barefoot is a proper resort, but located on inhabited island of Hanimadhoo. It has all of the amenities and infrastructure of a resort, with the exception of serving alcohol (a limitation on inhabited islands). But Barefoot has sorted a solution to that issue by anchoring a “Bar Boat” in the lagoon that guests can go to for their drinks.

Barefoot caters to a number of popular demands. First, it is offering rooms at increasingly hard to find value price range. Furthermore, it is designed from the outset to be “eco-friendly”. Environmental credentials have been a popular consideration in recent years, but have tended to be the domain of the premium resorts.

“The Barefoot Eco Hotel is an ecological touristic structure that follows the Ecotourism principles of

uniting Sustainability and Conservation, involving Local Community within its activities…The Barefoot is located within an almost untouched forest on Hanimadhoo island in the preserved deep North of Maldives. This 4 star Eco Hotel is well connected to Male international airport by numerous daily 45 minutes flights. Due to its luxuriant vegetation and privacy everybody can fall in an untouched nature, living the genuine and natural Maldives with all modern accommodation facilities. A half mile private sandy beach and a turquoise lagoon frame the hotel.”

Hanimadhoo’s 6 45’ latitude makes it the northernmost resort in the Maldives. Despite it being nearly a 1,000 miles north of the southern extreme Gan, the average temperate differs by less than a degree. It is completely virgin territory for Maldive resorts for people looking for untouched landscape and unexplored dive sites.

Best of the Maldives: Nearest Local Island – Kandooma

Kandooma local island

 

 

As for intimately close rocks, many islands are just a wade away from each other. Other resorts, companion resorts, deserted islands. But the closest island where Maldivian locals live and work is adjacent to Kandooma. The picture above shows me a few metres into a 50 metre swim to the local island Guraidhoo. The resort will arrange visits a taste of Maldivian life…probably the most convenient ‘local island excursion’ in the country.

Best of the Maldives: Water Villa Neighbour – Fours Seasons Kuda Huraa / Chaaya Island Dhonveli

Four Seasons Kuda Hura - Chaaya Island Dhonveli water villa neighbours

 

The other title for this post could be ‘Surf Buddies’.

Some Maldives visitors like the utter remoteness of many of the islands. Feeling like you are on a solitary deserted island in the middle of nowhere. While I enjoy that desolate sensation, I also enjoy the little ‘communities’ of the archipelago. Clusters of land bridged by sand spits and shallow lagoons. It was one of the first stories Andy Lees intrigued me with when describing the Maldives. He told how when walking around the island he spotted another tiny island offshore. Not too far away and the water seem quite shallow. He started walking towards it and before long he was on the other island having waded over from his resort.

My twist today is taken from the community of surfing resorts in the spirit of this week’s posts. I’ve highlighted close clusters of islands before, but in this case the islands aren’t especially close, but their water villa complexes are – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and Chaaya Island Dhonveli. As the Bing map above highlights, the two water villas come to within a couple of hundred yards of each other. On top of that, they have a handy little sand spit to provide a bit of a sand bridge for any particularly neighbourly strolls. Mind you, resorts are quite keen that you alert them if you are going to visit their island so spontaneity needs to be kept to a minimum.

Their proximity is not that surprising. Both are located on a reef plateau which provides both with rich surfing in the vicinity.

Best of the Maldives: Impatient Arrivals – Kurumba

Kurumba transfer

 

 

Red Bull all around then after Vettel’s World Championship win this weekend. If you are as impatient to get to your resort as Vettel is to get around the hairpin, then Kurumba is the place for you. They are the closest resort island to Male at 3 kilometres away. They also have a fleet of luxury motor yachts (so they are always readily available) to that get you to the welcome pier in 8 minutes.  Also one of the most comfortable and plush speedboat transfers you will find.

Best of the Maldives: Southernmost – Shangri-La Vilingili

Hours of Sunshine - Southern Maldives

This award could also be called the ‘Driest of the Wettest’. That is, the driest place to be (south) during the wettest period of the year (June).

June is the wettest month of the year with an average of 12 inches of rain. Not to fret too much. I’ve travelled to Maldives in June on several occasions and never once saw a cloud. Same old dazzling sunshine. I kept dreading to pull back the curtain in the morning and see the climate of Macclesfield in January only to be blinded by the sunlight. The other counterbalancing statistic is that the ‘Hours of Sunshine’ is pretty much uniform across most months.

But if you are playing the odds, then June will indeed bring greater likelihood of a dampening to your day. And if you really want to try to outsmart the weather gods, then the south is drier in June. However, the south is wetter in May (so if you were going on 30 May / 1 June, then I don’t know how you would make the call).

‘Goffy’ highlighted this thinking in his Trip Advisor Forum post of targeting regions of the Maldives to try to get the slight edge on even more sunshine. But the big resource is ‘Mariaeugene’s post to TA where she analysed the differences quite thoroughly (see above).

Still, if you want to be as south as possible for whatever reason, then Shangri-La Villingili is your place at 0.041 degrees below the Equator (one of the few Maldives resorts in the Southern Hemisphere).

Best of the Maldives: Closest to Airport – Hulhule

Hulhule near airport

 

One of the common questions on the Maldives Trip Advisor Forum is where to stay for a quick Male stop-over. If you are going for the sheer mathematics of convenience, then the closest hotel/resort to the Male airport is Hulhule. The picture above shows the hotel snapped from the water taxi ranks in front of the airport. I strolled the few hundred yards of waterside in a few minutes to check it out during one of my many transits out of Male during my recent tour.

Some people dismiss Hulhule as a weaker offering relative to the dedicated resorts sprinkled across the atolls. But compared to ‘airport hotels’ around the world, Hulhule re-defines the genre. Instead of being tucked into some industrial park, the hotel is surrounded by water. Instead of being an empty guest warehouse, it actually has invested in extensive entertainment facilities including basketball, archery, pitch-and-putt golf, one of the largest and best equipped fitness centres I have seen and a fine pool.

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Best of the Maldives: Closest Neighbours – Dhigu / Veli / Naladhu

Naladhu Dhigu Veli

While Olhuveli and Fun Island might be a football pitch apart, if you want a little neighbourhood of tiny companion islands, then the Anantara resorts – Dhigu, Veli – and Naladhu. Each resort is just under 300 yards apart. So if you are apprehensive about being too remote and isolated, then maybe this little cluster in the Lakshadweep Sea is for you.

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 Maldives: Most Remote – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La by Sakis

(photo reprinted with permission)

Today’s superlative comes to us again courtesy of Maldives photographer extraordinaire Sakis Papadopoulos whose Dreaming of Maldives site shares tidbits often as colourful as his snaps. Last week, I caught this superlative on his Twitter feed wishing a ‘Happy Birthday’ to Shangri-La Villingili which happens to be shared with Maldives itself (26th July).

He also noted Shangri-La Villingili’s distinction as the ‘Furthermost Resort of the Maldives’. Actually, if you used the Maldives Compete Resort Finder, you too could have uncovered this as it would stand out with a list topping 550 kilometres from Male.