Best of the Maldives: Closest Water Villa to House Reef – Club Rannalhi

Club Rannalhi water villa near house reef

Livin’ on the edge.

If that’s for you, but instead of the edge of land above the water you want to be on the edge below the water (and if Dhevanafushi’s Ocean Pearls are a bit to pricey or you don’t want to be detached from the main island), then look at Club Rannalhi.

Most water villas situated on shallow table reef lagoons for obvious architectural reasons. While a handy little snorkel in the lagoon shallows can be fun, the big action tends to be in the deeper house reefs. And one of the big allures of the Maldives is having stunning reefs so conveniently nearby. Throw on your fins and mask and with a few splashes you are at the reef’s edge. If you want the best of both worlds – a water villa and reef proximity – then the closest is Club Rannalhi’s water bungalows which are 20 feet (7 metres) from villa #417 (see photo above).

We snorkelled the reef in that area, staying in a villa just a few doors down, and found it first class. Lots of colourful healthy coral and just about every (small) fish on the ‘Fish Identification’ card.

Close to the action!

Best of the Maldives: Deep Water Villas – Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Ocean Pearls


Going from boat on the land, to a house on the water. But not just your classic lagoon villas in the archetypal Maldives shallows. But a villa on the ‘high seas’. Adrian Neville noted on his recent research tour, “The Jumeirah Dev. water villa village is the only one in Maldives not in resort lagoon but outside, in deep water, around a sandbank.”

They are called the ‘Ocean Pearls’ and are completely detached from the main resort island of Jumeirah Dhevanafushi so you transfer there by a chauffeured dhoni.

Getting even further away from it all.

Best of the Maldives: Biggest Glass Floor – Velassaru

Velassaru glass gloor


For those with weaker sea legs, you don’t have to go on the high seas or undersea to have a window to Maldivian marine life.

In fact, just this week the topic of glass floors came up on the Trip Advisor Forum. A couple of posters dismissed them as just gimmicks. But I actually applaud them. They are fun in their own right to see sea life from your very room. The whole allure of the Maldives is the gorgeous ocean and it seems a shame to ‘leave it’ when you close your villa door coming inside for the night or some other reason during the day.

Many times, water villas are built in shallow, sandy lagoons and so there is not the most fish life to see. I always wish that if a resort is going to invest in a glass floor feature, that they make sure it is over some coral cropping that will attract some colourful fish to actually look at. And if there is not a coral cropping handy, then invest in a SeaMarc regeneration frame to start some.

But even where there are few fish, the simple window over the water can have a dramatic feng shui effect over the villa. The light comes into the villa with the characteristically aquatic dappling which brings a bit of the playful spirit of the sea inside.

Sometimes these glass floors are rather modest little portals which nonetheless provide that stylish design touch. But, the most dramatic glass floor I have found in the Maldives is Velassaru’s Water Suite which measures an expansive 138 square feet. I used to live in a room that was smaller than that.

Best of the Maldives: Surround Decking – Adaaran Club Rannalhi

Club Rannalhi Water Villa deck


A lot of Trip Advisor queries ask about the best villas and the best sides of a resort (watch this space). Does one want an eastward facing villa for glorious morning sunshine or a westward facing villa for sunset pina coladas?

You do have to choose because most Maldive resorts line up the water villas next to each other with a distinct outward facing aspects. Some stand alone, but the deck is only on one or maybe two sides of the villa. But Club Rannalhi has 360 degree decking all around its water villas. Sunrise AND Sunset views. Or if the sun is getting a bit strong at in the afternoon, just slide your deck chair around to the shaded side. You can choose between windward side for a cool breeze on a hot day or leeward side to shelter from a particularly strong breeze. Short of renting a palatial water villa suite at some of the super top end resorts, the 360 degree Club Rannalhi is relatively unique.

Best of the Maldives: Water Villas – Sonva Gili


If being just a few feet away from the edge of the Maldives’ glorious waterside appeals, then one of the special treats of a visit to the Maldives is to be in one of the ‘water villas’ or ‘water bungalows’ where you can stay right on top of the water.  These days most resorts feature water villas (you can search on this characteristic with ‘Resort Finder’), but by far the most spectacular of all of these is the 7 “Crusoe Residences” at Soneva Gili (not to mention the special ‘Private Reserve’ residence). These villas are not just off the land, but they are actually detached from the land. Guests access them by their own personal motor transport.