My husband and I travelled to Athuruga at the beginning of July for two weeks. We first went to the Maldives 3 years ago on a 'one-off' holiday and like so many others became addicted! Previously we had stayed at Meeru and Veligandu but this year wanted somewhere with a better housereef so after a lot of research chose Athuruga. This is an Italian owned island (Planhotel) which has recently been refurbished. It is a very samll island (approx 10 mins to walk around) with about 40 beach villas and 21 new water villas. It is all inclusive and the AI deal includes much more than your typical Maldivian island. All we paid for during our trip was some purchases from the shop and a couple of excursions, everything else was included in the cost of the hoiliday.
The journey there
We flew with Sri Lankan airlines on what was supposed to be a direct flight to Male but unfortunately on arrival at the airport we were told that due to operational reasons the flight would be going to Colombo where we would need to change aircraft. This added an extra couple of hours onto our journey which wasn't a great start to our holiday but couldn't be helped. We had paid (£50 pp each way) to upgrade to premium economy. We had more legroom and were in the quieter front section of cabin just behind business class. Nothing extra special about this but we think it's worth it for the extra space and the peace and quiet.
We didn't have long to wait in Male for our seaplane connection which was with Maldivian Air Taxi. We dropped off travellers in Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo before going on to Athuruga, taking approx half an hour in total. We were met on the dhoni by 2 of the Italian animation team who were extremely welcoming.
Accommodation (water villa)
Check in at reception was quick and effortless with the usual (extremely welcome) cold facecloth and fruit juice. We got shown to our water villa, which was no more than a 5 min walk from the reception/bar/main restaurant. We had villa 2 which is on the lagoon side looking over towards the island (These villas are numbered 1-13). The villa was extremely spacious. Coming in the front door there is a seating area with a sofa and coffee table. The main part of the room is the sleeping area with a huge, extremely comfortable bed, off here is a large walk in wardrobe with more than enough shelves and hanging space for luggage and everything you could possibly take with you. The mini bar and kettle is also here (mini bar stocked with water, coke, diet coke, fanta, sprite, soda water and carlsberg lager, re-stocked daily). The remainder of the space is taken up with dressing tables and there is a door through to the bathroom area. Straight ahead there are two sinks with plenty space for toiletries. To one side is the toilet and to the other a double shower with two separate overhead showers, one with a hand held shower attached. There is a door out to the deck from the shower room and the whole front of the villa is made of sliding glass doors so you can access the deck that way too. Outside you can walk around the whole villa and the deck is very spacious. There is a dining table with four chairs, 2 sofas with removable cushions and a coffe table and either 2 single sunbeds or one double with cushions. We found the accommodation to be excellent with everything we needed and more. The bed really was amazingly comfortable and the outside space far bigger and with more furniture than we had experienced at other islands.
From our steps into the sea (beware, these can get extremely slippery, although they were cleaned when we were there) there was a nice lagoon, with not much current so good for swimming. The water villas on the other side (14 -21) look out to the open sea and the reef. As we like to go snorkeling at least twice a day we asked after a couple of days if we would be able to move to a villa at the other side. We asked at dinner one evening and had moved by lunchtime the next day to villa 17. From here we could swim straight out over the coral at high tide but usually swam down to the cut through at the over water restaurant and got out to the drop off that way. From there we snorkeled down towards the island. There was another cut through at the main jetty, another one further round and the Dhoni pass at the other side of the island so plenty options for getting in and out without ever having to swim against the current. The reef was great, not terribly colourful but a wide variety of sea life. As well as the usual surgeonfish, sweetlips, parrotfish, snappers, clown fish, trevally, fusiliers etc we also frequently saw eagle rays (six at once at one point), reef sharks, lion fish and remoras. We didn't spot any turtles but went on a snorkelling excursion to nearby Dega Thila where we saw 4. On another trip to a plateau reef we stopped off at a sandbank in the middle of the ocean on the way back to Athuruga. Both organised trips were excellent and well worth the money ($37 pp, I think) As well as these organised excursions, there are free daily trips from the beach around the house reef at 11am and 4pm. We went on these a few times, and they were good, as the guides are marine biologists and point out things you might not otherwise notice, including a stonefish one day! This would also be good if you aren't a very confident swimmer, as they take out flotation aids, you can also use a lifejacket if you wish. Hire of mask, snorkel and fins is free (part of AI deal), I only used fins (having brought my own mask and snorkel), but they were in good condition and easy to get from the dive shop. We didn't go diving but diving trips were offered twice daily as well as night time diving on occasions.
Other activities were on offer during the day but we very much come to the Maldives for peace, quiet and relaxation so we didn't try any of them. From memory they included beach volleyball, aqua aerobics, Latin dance, snorkelling lessons etc. You could also use kayaks and there were hobby cats available for those trained to sail them. The evening entertainment was pretty low key - quizzes, slide show of Maldivian fish, kareoke once a week etc.
A variety of excursions are offered, mainly snorkelling and fishing and a free trip to the local island to have a look around and visit the shops they have.
While we were there, many of the satff were taking part in essential fire training. we were greatly entertained by watching our waiters, room boys and bar staff running up and down the beach, rolling out hoses, giving each other firemen's lifts etc!!
As water villa guests, we could choose to eat brakfast in either the water villa restaurant, the main restaurant or have it delivered to our deck. As we like to go for an early morning snorkel, we often took advantage of the option of having it deliverd. It was so nice to go for a swim, come back, shower, put on bathrobes (provided in the villa), just in time for breakfast to be delivered! Breakfast consisted of; cooked breakfast (bacon, sausages, tomato, mushrooms, baked beans and eggs cooked in a veriety of ways), cereal, youghurt, fresh fruit, plate of ham and cheese, bread basket (toast, croissants, mini pastries, muffins etc), tea or coffee and fruit juice.
Lunch was provided at the main restaurant, buffet style. You are assigned a table and a waiter for your stay. Water villa guests get the tables in the inside while beach villa guests get the tables around the outside. We still had a good seaview from our table however. a wide variety of food is available at lunchtime, and the Italian influence was evident. There was a large selection of food, including, soup, a wide variety of salad including freshly cut cold meats and fish (cooked and raw), freshly cooked pizza, a barbecue station which nearly always had freshly caught fish, curries with rice, poppadoms and chutneys, a pasta station and a selection of meat and vegetable dishes. Dessert consisted of a wide selection of mini pastries, cakes and mousses and a choice of freshly made ice cream and sorbet. There was also a large selection of fruit. The quality of this food was very good but there wasn't much variety from day to day. And in fact on the one day we ate our evening meal there it was also pretty similar.
Most nights we went to the over water restaurant. From 7pm onwards it is open for drinks and canapes. There was always a jug of cocktail made up, or you could choose from a wide variety of spirits (including premium brands) or wines. Dinner here was a la carte and although there wasn't a huge choice, the quality of the food was excellent. This restaurant primarily serves the water villa guests, although beach villa guests can pay to dine here and are welcome to drink in bar area. As a result the restaurant was very quiet with excellent service. Our waiter Rakyn was fantastic. The menu consisted of a choice of 3 starters, always including some seafood, choice of 3 soup or pasta dishes, choice of 3 main courses, usually 2 meat and one fish, and dessert which was always ice cream, sorbet, another dessert or cheese.
Snacks were also available throughout the day - on the last few days of our holiday, sorbet was delivered to the villas about 11am, and mini sandwiches and fruit were delivered daily at approx 5pm. Snacks were also available at the main bar in the afternoon, and at approx 5pm a waiter would come round handing out slices of freshly cooked pizza! All drinks (apart from champagne) are included in the AI package (even cocktails, sparkling wine, milkshakes etc) and available all day and night. Being Italian owned, a wide variety of good quality coffee (eg espresso, latte, cappucino, iced etc) was also available.
We had been told when booking our holiday that each water villa had its own Imac computer so we didn't bother to take our laptop (OH needs to check work emails). We were told at the island that they didn't have these yet, which was a shame. We were allowed to use the mac in reception free of charge however to make up for this. Internet connection was pretty slow so glad we didn't have a lot ot do.
We decided to use the free laundry service to get some clothes washed. The order form says it takes 2 days but in reality it is more like 4 days. Unfortunately 4 items of our clothes got ruined. Our poor room boy (who was excellent) was mortified and assured us it wasn't him who did the washing! He explained that this had happened before, although only a handful of times in 5 or 6 years and that what had happened was that the clothes had been sat on top of the washing machine and then the staff had gone for lunch. When the spin cycle was on, some of the clothes had fallen off the machine and into some bleach! One of the animation team spoke to us about what had happened and was very apologetic. She offered us free excursions or a lobster dinner to compensate. We had already booked our snorkeling excursions but she agreed to get the cost of them (approx $150) taken off our bill, which we were quite happy about.
With July being low season, the island was far from full. Only about 8 of the water villas were ever occupied at one time although I think a much higher percentage of the beach villas were occupied. The staff were all very friendly but not intrusive, and although it is a small island, without a lot of space between the beach villas, it was nerver crowded and in fact, often deserted! The water villas are of a very high spec, although not totally private as there are no walls to the outside deck. We were lucky that for the most part we didn't have immediate neighbours which gave us all the privacy we needed. The food was very good and the general atmosphere relaxed but friendly.
We would definitely come back to Athuruga, but not for some time as there are so many other islands to visit!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Athuruga Island Resort is the twin island of its sister Thundufushi. The island comprises of a thick vegetation of coconut palms and surrounded by powdery beach which extends to one side of the island. The lagoon on this side is small and the superb house reef is within the swimming distance while on the other side the lagoon is very large, sandy and is ideal for paddling around. Athuruga Island resort is best described as an elegant and intimate holiday resort with a high standard of service which offers offer All Inclusive only. There are only 51 rooms, named as 46 Beach Bungalows and 05 garden Villas. Catamaran, laser boat, canoe, windsurfs offered free to guests who must be experienced & licensed for these activities. Snorkeling equipment are offered free against a deposit towards loss of damage. Free guided snorkeling on house reef daily. Free laundry service. Aerobic, stretching, water gym and dance lessons free of charge.1 sunset fishing and 1 fisherman island excursion per stay included free. Beach towels provided free. Free doctor's service and infirmary. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Diamonds Athuruga Beach And Water Villas
- Diamonds Athuruga Beach & Water Villas Hotel South Ari Atoll
- Athuruga Hotel South Ari Atoll