My husband and I travelled to Chaaya Reef Eliadhoo on the 16th of August with Monarch Airlines. We booked with an online company called Blue Bay Travel who gave us a fantastic deal and were always very helpful.
We had read several bad reviews about Monarch airlines and we were dreading the flights. However, there were no problems at all. We upgraded our seats to premium and I believe it was well worth the money. Check in was quick and easy at both ends and both flights left bang on time. The meals were good and drinks were handed out regularly, however on the flight over as the lights had been dimmed you had to ask for drinks but this was not a problem. The luggage was off the plane and ready to pick up in good time. We had read several reviews that Monarch often runs out of water on the way home, this did happen on our flight but only bottled water and when you asked for water they were able to give you a glass of water so it wasn’t such a problem.
After the short ride on a mini bus to the sea plane airport we had around a 40 minute wait for our seaplane. Again this was not a problem but just so that you know the airport is not air conditioned but it was nice wandering just outside and watching the sharks swimming in the sea. The transfer took around 25 minutes.
On arrival we were taken to reception where we were greeted with a cold towel from the spa and a welcome drink – yum. We had a couple of forms to fill in which didn’t take long and then we were asked to identify our luggage and then we taken to our rooms. Our luggage arrived quickly after. We then went straight to lunch.
We booked a beach bungalow.
The bungalow was a good size and it had a day bed, chair as well as a desk and ample wardrobes. There was a mini bar, which we never touched, and a large TV with a lot of English channels on – good for those rainy days. Many reviews said the rooms were too dark – I don’t believe this. Yes it was dark in the sense that it shut out the sun light on the morning so you could have a lie in if you wanted. But it did not stop you from seeing things like in your safe. The room boy – Bobo – came every day, twice a day and clean towels both beach and shower towels were provided. Every evening Bobo create some king a shape or art work like fish with our bed sheets. The bungalow has an outside bathroom which was lovely. It did not however have a bath which was advertised but this was not a problem. The only down side to an outside bathroom was the local visitors which sometimes called around. These included the largest spider I have ever seen, and a couple of cockroaches, again, the biggest I have ever seen. Each time we rang reception and someone was sent to ‘deal’ with the situation.
I can honest say that the quality of the food on the island was the best I have ever known. Five meals a day are provided on the all inclusive.
Firstly, breakfast – as some of the chefs as from Sri Lanka there is either bacon or sausages, fried eggs, omelettes, baked beans, scrambled eggs and an assortment of breads and pastries. There is also some healthy options of fruit, yoghurt and cereals. There is also curry available every morning – what ever floats your boat!
Morning Snacks – these are available from the main bar from 10 until 11. There is a choice of sandwiches and they come with fries and a side salad. These snacks are really good and are well worth missing breakfast for!!
Lunch – there is a selection of meats (cold and cooked) rice, salad pasta, pizza, soups, curries and breads. A lot of daily main meals is cooked fresh in front of you and it is always delicious.
Afternoon tea – these are available from the main bar too. There is always sandwiches, cakes, pastries and something cooked fresh (deep fried) these could be banana fritters, pineapple fritters, pancakes, or donuts with a selection of chocolate sauce, honey or maple syrup.
Dinner – very similar to lunch but they often have more meat and fish portions available. One evening they even had chicken kebabs in pitas – like I said earlier – paradise!
For lunch and evening meal there is always a good selection of deserts which includes a custard selection.
This was one of the main down sides to the holiday (and it was a minor one). In total we had a week of thick cloud and rain, it was however split into 4 days one week and 3 days the next. I still believe that Donald’s crib dancing was actually a sun dance because both Fridays the weather started to pick up. One day it was heavy rain all day with no let up at all. Although the weather for half of the holiday was terrible that didn’t stop us and other guests from having a good time and the management did everything they could to try and keep guests happy. They put up large screens in the bar and put films on. In everyone’s room there were large umbrellas provided and big yellow wet coats, so no one needed to get wet! Like I said, even though the weather was bad we could still snorkel as the water was still quite calm. And I believe that the bad weather made you appreciate the good weather even more.
When the sun did come out it was extremely hot. I cannot express this enough and many guest burnt. The island is right near the equator and the sun is hot and strong and it does not take long to burn. If you are going you must make sure that you have some high factor sun screen (this may sound obvious but many guests only took 2 bottles and the highest factor being 20). Many guests were burning even though they had factor 30 on!!! In addition, sun tan lotion in the small shop on the island is extremely expensive. We saw one bottle (not branded) that was $46!!! SO take enough with you.
The entertainment on the island was good – although a little repetitive at times. The island has a small house band which often plays when you are having dinner and will then either play in the main bar or wander around and play for guests. There is other entertainment like the crab racing which is such a laugh, and Donald’s bingo which is certainly a one off. But the best two pieces of entertainment are free and are not put on by the staff. Firstly, there was sitting at the main outside bar after dinner and watching the sting rays, sharks and eels swimming in the shallow water – paradise. Secondly, the sun sets. The sun goes down between 6 and half past and lots of people on the island gather at the pool bar or at the end of the water bungalows and watch the sun set, often with a planter punch. Magic!
There was a good selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks available including some very nice cocktails – I would recommend the planters punch. The beer is either Lion or San Miguel but if you want San Miguel you should ask for it. Fruit juice out of a carton is available but you have to pay for freshly squeezed fruit juice. The all inclusive stops at mid night but the bar staff (who are fantastic) will happily give you a couple of drinks to keep you going and if you want to drink after that you have to pay.
Excursions and trips
We did the night snorkelling which was very good if not a little scary. I was a little concerned however that one of our party got out early on the round and the member of staff who was supervising us didn’t realise this until we were all getting out.
I then did the sun set fishing which was excellent! You get a cocktail to have whilst watching the fantastic sun set. Lots of people on the boat caught fish but mine was the biggest – sorry Callum it’s, true ha ha. The staff do all the baiting and help you bring the fish in especially if it’s a big one – like mine was. You can then have your fish cooked the following night. Donald arranged for us to have ours at the pool side restaurant which is the water bungalow restaurant and I have to say it is the best fish I have ever eaten. I would definitely recommend this trip.
The house reef is absolutely fantastic. We saw lots and lots of different fish including massive titan trigger fish, parrot fish, jack fish and many many more. I believe the best snorkelling is go into the water and past the wall at the main beach and swim up past the jetty and the place where the boats go past and get in past the restaurant. Every time we did this we were not disappointed and we even saw sting rays, which was a little scary at first but they didn’t bother us just gracefully glide past – it was magic.
I would recommend this island to any one. What really makes the island so special is the staff; they work so hard to make sure you have a fantastic stay. The food is brilliant and the snorkelling is the best I have ever seen. A lot of people mention the wall which is there to protect the island and does not spoil the view at all but I also believe it helps to make the house reef so fantastic. Sorry this is so long I just wanted people to have as much information as possible. Hope it helps.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.