The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah, a dream place in every way
A week and a half ago, we were in the Maldives. A destination we all have a preconceived notion of even if we’ve never been, however, not only is this notion proved wrong as soon as you set foot in its turquoise waters and white sands but any possible expectations are far exceeded by reality. Because the Maldives is a dream destination in every way. An unparalleled idyllic place where time stops, and the wilderness is overwhelmingly enchanting.
The Maldives islands
The Maldives is a country in the middle of the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka and 450 kms from India, that is made up of 1200 coral islands distributed over 26 atolls, 203 of which are inhabited.
It has a hot and humid tropical climate throughout the year, with an average temperature between 29 and 32 degrees Celsius. The official and predominant religion is Islam.
The Maldives: at least once in a lifetime
The Maldives are very much associated with the quintessential holiday mainly visited by newlyweds but given its peculiarities, it’s an attractive destination for anyone, especially adventure lovers. It’s true that it’s not for everyone’s purse, despite the fact that there are increasingly more offers both on flights and accommodation for people to enjoy a place as incredible as this at least once in their lifetime.
Under the sea…
One of the reasons why it’s a dream destination is due to its climate, the crystal clear waters, the soft white sand and its colourful seabed.
There are thousands of different species of fish, manta rays, whale sharks and dolphins making it an ideal place for water sports.
The Maldives is home to approximately 5 per cent of the reefs on the planet.
We stayed at The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah located on Dhigurah, a local island in the Maldives in the southern part of the South Ari atoll.
Dhigurah means “Long Island”, as it is the longest on the atoll and one of the longest islands in the Maldives.
It is almost 4km long, 300m wide and on one side, you can contemplate beautiful sunrises and on the other unforgettable sunsets. This island is magical, and you will have constant Stendhal moments.
Given its dimensions and in spite of being on a resort, you will feel that you are practically on your own. The island is full of incredible spots where to lose yourselves while you connect with your inner child and are mesmerized by the crabs on the shore (there are a lot, specially at sunset, in all sizes and colours), the sea snails and any other marine animal you stumble upon (such as sharks… but relax, they’re harmless).
There are also bats in Dhigurah but, as with the sharks, inoffensive. They only eat berries, and you’ll see them flying around and resting in the palm trees.
The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah
As we said before, we stayed at The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah and, to be honest, our experience was fantastic.
This five-star resort is linked to another one belonging to the same chain: The Residence Maldives at Falhumaafushi. They are connected by a long wooden bridge that joins both islands. Falhumaafushi is a virgin island on the Gaafu Alifu atoll that is considered one of the largest and deepest in the world.
The bicycle rides over the connecting bridge, both by day and by night, are unforgettable.
We’d first like to remark how welcoming it is and how well it fits in with the surroundings. This heightens the experience and makes it even more memorable, if that were possible.
We want to highlight the following among the things we liked the most:
Although there are different styles of villas, they are all enormous and have everything you could need and more for an impeccable stay. They each have a private pool, sun loungers and a hammock for legendary naps, a bathtub and all kinds of amenities. Their beds are really comfortable, all the villas have excellent soundproofing and the visual distance between them also contributes to the feeling of being in your own bubble.
/Its gastronomical proposal
The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah and The Residence Maldives at Falhumaafushi have six restaurants between them. There are two The Dining Room sites where they serve breakfast, lunch and supper in a buffet based on a wide selection of dishes inspired in Asian, Indian, Maldive and international cuisines. Everything is delicious!
There are also two Beach Clubs, one on each island – Café del Sol is the one on Dhigurah and it offers Mediterranean inspired dishes, and the one on Falhumaafushi has a more western-style menu but reminiscent of Asian cuisine.
Lastly, as if these weren’t enough, it has two haute cuisine restaurants: one is called Li Bai, offering a modern interpretation on traditional Cantonese cuisine and the other is called The Falhumaa, which is an elegant restaurant of French inspiration which sits over the water, at the end of a 230 m pier over the reef. This is the one of the most popular restaurants.
The gastronomical offering at The Residence Maldives is excellent. A journey for your senses through morsels of local, Indian, Asian and international food.
In order to move around the two islands: Dhigurah and Falhumaafushi, your villa has two bikes at your disposal for you to use as transport during your stay. We love riding bikes, so we thought it was a great idea. In any case, if you don’t want to go by bike, you can walk or use their buggy service. Some distances can be quite far, but the surroundings are amazing.
Every morning and sunset, there are yoga classes.
We practiced yoga both at sunrise and at sunset and we loved it. The classes are basic level so that everyone can do them and there is limited capacity (you have to book 24h in advance). The area devoted to this practice is in the Spa by Clarins. The classes always end with meditation to relax your mind so that you practically float out of there, as good as new. Ooooooooooom…
/The Spa by Clarins
The hotel has the first and only Spa by Clarins in the Maldives.
The spa is made up of different independent floating pavilions and a hair salon. It offers a wide range of holistic treatments, comforting massages and hair and beauty services for the body and mind. We had a couple’s massage and we left happily, as if we were walking on air. The massages are excellent, as are their facial treatments.
They also have an offer on very interesting wellness retreats, that can last between 2 and 5 days. The perfect plan if what you are after is a stay that is centred around wellbeing and relaxation.
There is also an area devoted to reflexology in the gardens of the Spa by Clarins. It is a set of circles that form a spiral made up of pebbles in different shapes and sizes over which you need to walk barefoot in order to feel its effect. There is a garden and a gym next to this space that is suitable for those who, even when on holiday, can’t (or just don’t want to) stop exercising.
All the villas have a private pool for your exclusive use and enjoyment, but additionally it has two infinity pools that are located at each of the Beach Clubs. After a day at the beach, it is great to do a few lengths or to simply relax while you are mesmerized watching the beautiful sunset.
Because we are telling you now, the Maldives are synonymous with Zen. When you visit, you’ll see how you will be overcome by good spirits and a sense of balance throughout your whole stay. The landscape and the fact that they are so far away are contributing factors.
As well as bathing until your fingers shrivel up and toasting under the Maldivian sun, The Residence Maldivesoffers many activities. Of course, it all depends on what you feel like doing, but the good thing is that there’s a lot of choice. These are some of the most popular options.
1. Dolphin watching on a traditional Maldivian boat
There’s practically an 80% chance of seeing them, as it’s an area with lots of bottle-nosed dolphins and Spinners. They travel in pods of five to fifteen dolphins that later join up with other groups forming super pods that can vary between fifty and more than a hundred dolphins. That’s why, if you decide to do this unmissable activity, you will see a great many dolphins when they do appear. It’s an amazing experience! These highly intelligent mammals will parade and jump around the boat while you are astonished and even moved by the sight of them. We even saw one pirouette in the air! Speechless.
2. Scuba diving and snorkelling
Dhigurah is considered one of the best islands in the Maldives for scuba diving, due to the richness of its marine life, where the whale sharks, sea turtles and manta rays stand out, as does the array of colourful fish and coral reefs.
If you don’t feel up to scuba diving, you can snorkel, both around the island or on an organized trip. When snorkeling, we recommend you wear a protective T-shirt to avoid sunburn.
3. Jet-skis, canoes and kayaks
A good way to explore the island is to do so on a jet-ski or in a canoe or kayak. Of course, don’t forget your snorkeling kit for a complete experience.
Snorkeling is the activity par excellence at the Maldives, in order to enjoy its seabeds.
4. Learning to cook with a local chef
One of the experiences we liked the most was learning to cook hand in hand with a chef in a lovely vegetable garden that they have on the resort, using their home-grown ingredients. We did so in the open air, in a specially designated sheltered area with views to the vegetable garden.
The dishes we prepared were a delicious fish curry, a salad and a gorgeous and very fresh mango and coconut dessert.
The best thing was chatting to the chef who shared his tricks with us and explained the different uses of spices and herbs with which he normally cooks to give his dishes that special touch.
All the staff we encountered were very kind, warm and efficient. They are very attentive and make you feel incredible. We also fell in love with the way they always greet you with their hand on their heart. We don’t know if this is due to the pandemic or if it’s typical of the country, but it is a beautiful gesture.
The best time to go to the Maldives:
The best time is from November to March/April because the monsoon starts from May onwards and lasts until October so there is a greater chance of rain.
In any case, the temperatures are high throughout the year, with a maximum of 32 degrees Celsius during the day and no lower than 24/25 degrees at night.
Additionally, you should also know that the weather is difficult to predict on these islands. We enjoyed very good weather for the whole week despite our mobile app, and all the websites we visited, predicting rain with thunder and lightning…
How to get to the Maldives:
There are different airlines that go to this desired and exclusive destination. We travelled with Qatar Airways, but Iberia is also an option. Our flight only had a one one-hour stopover in Doha on the way there and a two-hour stopover on the return making it a total of seven flight hours.
To arrive in Dhigurah, you have to take a domestic flight to Malé. There are two a day and they take an hour to arrive at Kooddoo-Viligili airport. From there, a quick boat ride will take you to The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah. The journey takes ten to fifteen minutes.
With one thing and another, the truth is that it is a long journey, but it is well worth it.
Essentials in your luggage:
As you can imagine, suntan lotion is a must, but it needs to be waterproof as you will spend a great deal of time in the water and it is easy to get burnt. We also recommend you take a T-shirt to protect you from the sun, your own snorkeling kit (the flippers which take up the most space can be rented there), a hat/ cap, sunglasses, a waterproof camera or a protective underwater case for your mobile, as well as the medication that you usually take or that you think you may need.
With regards to clothing, there are no restrictions at the resort, but it is important to remember that it is a Muslim country and that topless bathing or exposing too much skin is frowned upon. Some restaurants may ask men to wear long trousers.
Some tips before you travel to the Maldives:
Taking into account that these are Covid times, it’s mandatory to have been vaccinated and also to present a negative PCR test- The Residence Maldives has a doctor onsite to carry out the tests you may require- and it is also mandatory to fill out the IMUGA and SpTH Spain Travel Health forms, the former on both the outbound and the return journey, and the latter only for the return.
/Vaccines: There are no compulsory vaccines, but a Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required if you are travelling from an infected country. Notwithstanding, before you travel to the Maldives, it is advisable to check the following websites: Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Rights and Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (if travelling from Spain) to be up to date with possible changes to health and visa requirements.
Currency: The local currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR), that is divided into 100 larees. However, in hotel complexes, the currency is US dollars. At the resorts, you don’t need to carry cash as everything you eat or drink that is not included in the pack that you have signed up for will be charged to your room and you will settle the bill on the day that you leave.
Credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, JCB and China UnionPay.
Electricity: 220/240 CA volts, 50 Hz circuit. There are international adapters available on request at the resorts.
There is nothing to add, we cannot but recommend this destination.
As we said at the beginning: at least once in a lifetime. It’s absolutely amazing and it is hard to find the right words to describe the sensations produced by a setting such as this. It needs to be seen to be believed.
(*) Photos: Ely Sánchez & Cecilia Camacho. Dolphines photo: Jess Loiterton.