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Reviewed May 20, 2020

The Safari Island Hotel is located in the North Ari Atoll, 60 km away from Mahe. The transfer will be done by waterplane, which gives you already a nice first impression of the island.

The hotel reception is nestled in a small tropical garden, which stretches throughout the island. There are basically three types of rooms. The Garden Villas, from which some of them are a bit too dark for my taste as they are surrounded by a lush vegetation and some stretches of the beach in front of them is eroded. Then the spectacular Water-Villas on stilts inside the lagoon and then my favorite ones the Semi-Water Bungalows, where we were staying. Here you can enjoy on one side the beach and garden and you have on the other side your private terrace (same like the Water-Villas) with direct access to the sea/reef. All rooms are decorated in a lofty island style. More rustic than fancy, but with a real nice island ambiance.

Food was also very good with a great variety of national and international dishes. Super friendly kitchen and waiter team. The location of the restaurant is spectacular, built in a tent-style above the sea. If you are lucky and get a table on the outer side of the resataurant you can observe all the fish life under you. Especially at night time reef sharks and stingrays will float right under you. For a longer stay it would be nice if the hotel would offer an additional restaurant option for A-La- carte for example as only one restaurant gets a bit boring after a while.

Beach and pool area are very nice as well, however on the beach some more beach beds and umbrellas would be nice. Lagoon is shallow and nice to swim. The house reef has lots of colourful fish to explore. Unfortunately the corals are destroyed in colours from the coral bleach. A water sport center offers all kind of motorized and non-motorized activities and you have a professional diving center as well.

One super plus of this resort is the Dhoni Boat cruise, which is already included in the hotel package price. For a stay of 7 nights and more you will get a full-day private cruise on one of these traditional boats. If you stay 14 nights and more you can even do an over-night tour.

A couple of other excursions are also on offer. If you like to know more about the hotel and activities check also traveltreasuresbymarion - for sure there are more luxurious and modern hotel resorts on the Maldives, but we really enjoyed our stay on Safari Island as it gives you a prefect island feel with a very relaxed atmosphere and good facilities. We stayed during peak season, but the hotel never felt crowded. Very often we were almost alone on the beach, although they were fully booked.

Room tip: Semi-Water Villas are really nice with the beach on one side and a private terrace to the water on the other side.
Date of stay: December 2019
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank Marion M
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Abdulla M, General Manager at Safari Island, responded to this reviewResponded May 25, 2020

Thank you very much for the positive feed back.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 2, 2020

I just read the previous review by jykll and could not disagree more. We had a wonderful time! I traveled with my 16 and 11 year old. We stayed at an east facing water bungalow which was very spacious and clean. Yes, it is a longish walk if you are near the end of the pier, but it is a BEAUTIFUL walk. The reef right off the bungalow is dead, but the fish are plentiful and beautiful. It was so nice to snorkel right off the bungalow. We did the half board and if was perfect for us. The food was good. The resort has a nice laid back vibe which we really liked.

Date of stay: December 2019
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank itstheexperience123
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed February 1, 2020

My wife and I stayed here over Christmas, 2019. We have stayed at well over a dozen Maldives resorts, both high-end and budget, so we have a very good basis for comparison of what Safari Island has to offer. I can say without hesitation that Safari Island is by far the worst Maldives resort we’ve have ever visited.

First, and most telling is that the infrastructure is crumbling. The whole resort is in a serious state of disrepair. It is obvious that maintenance is minimal to non-existent, and the resort is really in a shocking state. The jetty that leads to the over-water villas is literally falling apart. The planking you are expected to walk on is loose, splintered, warped, with holes you can see through. All the air conditioning units for every villa on the property are rusted all over, and look to be on their last legs. The AC in our room was completely inadequate. The villas themselves are old and tired inside and out, and are not kept very clean. The steps into the water from the back porch are not kept clean, so they are slimy with seaweed etc, and dangerously slippery. The bathroom walls and light fixtures were stained, the villa emergency flashlight was missing from holder at the front door, and there is a complete lack of attention to upkeep and cleanliness.

As happens these days in many parts of the Maldives, trash does wash up on the island from time to time. While this is not the fault of the resort, I found it remarkable that the resort seemed to have zero interest in picking up any trash on the beach, or floating in the lagoon. At no time during our entire stay did I witness a single employee deigning to pick up trash off the beach or anywhere else. Instead, they would literally walk right past it as if it didn’t exist. On one occasion I picked up a plastic bottle that had been lying undisturbed on the beach for days and asked a bartender to throw it away for me. He grabbed it from me in distaste and hastily threw it away as if he didn’t feel it was his job to deal with it. At other resorts I might have been thanked for taking the trouble to help out, but here I was not only not thanked, but instead glowered at with suspicion verging on disdain. This brings up another point: many of the staff are sullen, apathetic and insincere, with zero concept of customer service. There were a few nice staff members, but most were checked-out at best. The over-all atmosphere created by the staff is not only not welcoming, but is vaguely adversarial, especially if you need something that requires them to make an effort. It is also clear that the staff are poorly trained and not properly supported by management in doing their jobs.

Our check-in experience was a good example of this. As per usual at most resorts, we were ushered to the reception area and asked to have a seat while our check-in was processed. We were offered an overly sweet and cheap tasting juice concoction while we waited. So far, fairly normal, although I have been offered much nicer welcome drinks at other resorts. But what happened next was just flat out disrespectful. We sat, and sat, and sat some more -- for over half an hour. Not exactly how we wanted to begin our vacation, especially after a long overseas flight and a seaplane ride to get to the resort. It became clear that there was only one staff member assigned to check in half a dozen couples. He was doing his best, but he had no chance to process us in any reasonable amount of time. Clearly the resort was expecting us, so It is hard to imagine why so few resources were devoted to checking the guests in. After the lengthy check-in process, there was again only one staff member assigned to walk multiple couples out to the water villas. As we were the last couple finishing up our check-in, this staff member left without us, and we were forced to literally run after the group in order to be directed to our villa! This was a good introduction to the prevailing philosophy of guest service at Safari Island. Basically, things are run in such a way as to make things convenient for the staff, not the guests.

For instance, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that beach towels be available at the pool. This is certainly the case at every other resort I have ever stayed at in the Maldives or anywhere else. But not at Safari Island. If you ask for a towel, you are told to go back to your room and get your towel! And keep in mind the water villas are a long way from the pool (easily a 10 minute round trip). Speaking of the beach towels, they are handed out on a very strict schedule, as we found out. Housekeeping collects the beach towels from the room at night, and then they leave fresh ones in the morning. Okay, but we usually didn’t want our room cleaned twice a day. One night we did not want our room done, but we had the nerve to ask our housekeeper just for fresh beach towels. He explained to us very intensely that beach towels are only given out in the morning. I was like “okay, but?”...Finally, very reluctantly, he agreed to come back later with some beach towels. About half an hour later he came back with the towels. I took the towels, and thanked him, but noticed that he was still standing at the door. Clearly he wanted something. But what? Turns out he wanted to collect the old beach towels, because of course they were supposed to be collected at night! Never mind that we had specifically told him we did not want service that night, and my wife was under the covers in bed. He was clearly intruding, but he was bound and determined to get those beach towels! I explained that I wasn’t quite sure where they were, and I was not in the mood to look for them right then. I suggested he come back in the morning. Literally, I had to argue with him for several minutes, and all but push him out the door! Just bizarre. The next night we had the DND sign up as usual, and he came and knocked loudly and repeatedly on our door because he wanted to pick up the dirty beach towels! We ignored him, and he finally went away after about 5 MINUTES!!!

My wife and I are divers, and when staying at Maldives resorts we count on diving most days. This is a major part of our vacation experience. Generally we find the dive staff at most resorts to be welcoming and professional, and we enjoy the interactions we have with the dive guides and other divers. Unfortunately, our diving experience at Safari Island was soured due a bizarre incident with one of the dive guides, Jannaka (I am guessing at the spelling). While we had a perfectly pleasant interaction with her when we first visited the dive center, we were blindsided by her rude behavior when we showed up for our first boat dive. We were admittedly a few minutes late for the dive because we miscalculated how long it would take us to get to the dive center from our villa. We were no more than 5 minutes late, and yet Jannaka greeted us as if we were wayward children that needed to be scolded. I would have been perfectly prepared to be politely asked to be on time, but I was really not prepared to be scolded long and loud and very unprofessionally. The harangue continued as we got on the boat, in an apparent bid to show off for the other guests. The whole thing was very odd and inappropriate. There were just two other guests waiting on the boat, and they were perfectly nice and relaxed about the whole thing. We of course apologised to the other guests, and they were very gracious. The only person who was bizarrely upset about the whole thing was Jannaka. I could not help but conclude that she must have some sort of personality problem. As I did not want to deal with her any further, I requested that we swap dive guides. Needless to say, the atmosphere on the boat was rather frosty after that. We completed our dive, and decided not to dive any further the rest of our stay. This was very disappointing for us, as we would normally have continued to dive every day. Thanks, Jannaka!

Food offered at Safari Island is buffet style, as is common at Maldives resorts. But what is not so common is that the dinner buffet is open only from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. Again, the emphasis seems to be on the convenience of the staff, not the guests. Another example: guests are randomly assigned a table in the dining hall on the first day, and then expected to sit at the same table for their entire stay. We were initially assigned a pretty undesirable table in the middle of the room. When we asked if this was the only table available we were told it was the ONLY free table. This was hard to believe, as the resort was far from full. Turns out, what was really meant was that it was the only table our server happened to have available in his section! There were plenty of other, better tables available, but that would have inconvenienced our server! Or, god forbid, required that we be reassigned to a different server. We spoke to a manager, and lo and behold there was a nice table available by the water. This was another absolutely typical interaction with staff, I’m afraid. But let’s get back to the food: this is some of the worst food I have been served at any hotel anywhere in the world. Just absolutely unimaginative, low quality, repetitive, tasteless mush. I likened it to high school cafeteria food, but my wife figured it was closer to a prison cafeteria. Definitely not what you expect at a Maldives resort, even a budget resort. Again, we have stayed at multiple Maldives resorts, and we can appreciate the difficulties of trying to serve fine food on a remote island. But in fact, most resorts manage to succeed to the point where the food is actually a big draw and a highlight of the day. At Safari Island I can tell you I did not look forward at all to mealtimes, and rarely found anything that I wanted to eat. FYI...I am NOT a picky eater!

Getting back to the trash problem, the resort does actually contribute to this problem in a big way by propping up their beaches and beachfront villas with massive installations of plastic sandbags. Not only are these sandbag installations remarkably ugly, but the bags themselves are decaying badly. The result is that little plastic strips from these bags are floating everywhere, and are found all over the lagoon and the house reef. No doubt about it, this is an ecological nightmare. The current situation is bad enough, but I shudder to think about the long term effects. These bags are everywhere, all around the island, and they are decaying badly with bits and pieces strewn around the beaches and tangled in the trees by the beach. The amount of micronized plastic being added to the environment is horrifying to think about. Again, nothing is being done about this. I can only imagine what the guests staying in the beach villas make of the plastic-strewn beaches their villas face onto, but in fact the unpleasantness of it for guests is not even the worst part by a long shot. The worst part is the ecological disaster that is being wrought.

Let me end this review by talking about our check-out experience. We had made it plain to the staff weeks before our arrival, and again when we checked in, that we wanted to either catch the latest possible seaplane flight back to Male, or the earliest possible flight. Our international flight from Male was leaving late at night, and we did not want to spend the day sitting at the airport. If we could not leave Safari Island late, then we wanted to leave early and get a day room at another resort. Without getting in to tedious detail, let me just say that the staff was unable to schedule us for an early flight or a late flight. We were eventually scheduled for an 11:30 am departure, which was far from ideal. To make it worse though, we had zero trust in the truthfulness of the staff. The whole process of scheduling the transfer was completely opaque, and the staff were very loath to share information with us. I was told I could not speak with the transfer coordinator ahead of time, but should instead wait until he had scheduled everything, and THEN take any complaints up with him. As this made no sense, I insisted on speaking to the transfer coordinator before he scheduled us, and eventually I had a very unsatisfying conversation with him. He was evasive, arrogant, and unhelpful in the extreme. After we were assigned the 11:30 am flight, I called the front desk to inquire if there were any earlier flights? I was initially told that there were NO earlier flights, and then told that in fact there were earlier flights but that they were “almost full”. “Almost full?” I asked. “So then maybe you can you get us on?”. Again, the conversation was unsatisfying to the extreme, and very confusing as well. The flights were simultaneously “almost full” but somehow also there was not even one seat available. Naturally enough, I tried to get to the bottom of this, but no explanation was forthcoming. I was then transferred to the front desk supervisor, who rather than make any kind of satisfactory explanation chose instead to insist that the girl I had been speaking with had told me that the flights were full. It was like I was living in bizarro world. It didn’t matter how many times I explained to him what she had said, he simply insisted that she had told me all along that the flights were full. Needless to say, this left my wife and I feeling we could not trust anything we were told by the front desk.

This distrust was confirmed the next day, when we tried to pay our bill. We had received a schedule the night before which outlined the departure procedures. The schedule listed our checkout time as 10:10 am, with a boat pickup time from the dock (100 feet from reception) at 11:10, and a seaplane departure at 11:30 am. To be clear, the boat ferries the guests to the seaplane loading platform in the lagoon, about 2 minutes away. So we had an hour to spare from our “checkout time” to the time we had to be on the dock 100 feet away. I assumed the spare hour must have been meant to allow plenty of time to pay our bill, etc. I managed to miss the fact that in addition to the “checkout time” provided on the schedule, there was also a “bill payment time” listed as being the night before departure. My bad, I did not notice that there was a separate bill payment time and checkout time. Given the extra hour in the schedule, it made sense to me that bill payment would be accomplished at checkout. So, I showed up at 10:10 am the next day to checkout and pay our bill. Unfortunately, our bill was wrong in a particularly obvious way. Although my wife and I had only done one boat dive, there were boat charges on two days, including one day on which we had not dove at all. The dive shop was called, and one of the dive staff brought over their billing. They had NO record of the second boat dive, and had NOT asked the front desk to charge us for it. The dive staffer showed me their billing, and there was no second dive charge. So, somehow, the front desk had managed to add a completely spurious charge to our bill, out of thin air. Pretty embarrassing, right? One would expect an apology, followed by deleting the charge, and away we go, right? Nope, not so fast. First, there was no apology at all, let alone any sign of embarrassment. Second, there was no deletion of the charge. Deleting the charge required the account manager to approve. Despite the seemingly open and shut nature of the situation, the account manager had to be sent for. And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. To the point where we started to be concerned we might delay the seaplane. Other guests were also concerned, and the staff promptly began telling them that it was OUR fault! After waiting over twenty minutes for the account manager to arrive, and with no sign of him, I asked why it was taking so long? Turns out the account manager was in his quarters sleeping, after staying up late processing payments the night before. This is when I found out that I was expected to have paid my bill the night before. I pointed out that I couldn’t be the first guest to not understand their checkout schedule, and that regardless they should have SOMEONE on hand at checkout that could authorize a change in billing. For one thing, even if guests paid the night before they might still have further charges the next day. In fact, another guest had such charges to pay, and it just so happened their bill was incorrect as well. With still no sign of the account manager, and the situation getting very tense, I insisted on speaking with the general manager. The general manager did finally show up, after we had waited about 30 minutes, and he was able to sign off on the bill changes. The account manager never did show up, so who knows how long we would have waited if I had not insisted on speaking with the general manager! Although I did not make any accusations, it seemed pretty likely to me that the front desk had added the extra charge on purpose, probably because they did not like me very much. Since the charge had materialised out of thin air for no obvious reason, and with no attempt at explanation provided, I tried to ask the general manager to look into it. He immediately assured me that it was a mistake made by the dive center. When I pointed out that it was definitely NOT the dive center’s mistake, he said he would look into it. No doubt there is a feverish investigation going on as we speak...

I can find absolutely nothing about this resort that I would recommend. It is falling apart. It is an ecological nightmare. The food is terrible, and most of the staff are sullen and adversarial. Again, by far the worst resort we have experienced in the Maldives, in almost every way!

Date of stay: December 2019
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
14  Thank jykll
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Abdulla Mifthah, General Manager at Safari Island, responded to this reviewResponded May 15, 2021

Thank you very much for your comments, we can agree with some of your comments we do not agree many of them , selectively picture of eroded beach areas, and damaged wooden paces on sport , dose not represent the whole property, though you have mentioned we do not clean the island and beach, we have 24hrs staff who collects trash form the beach in the early morning and evening , it is very unfortunate that time of your visit we had terrible beaches, and specially all around the island looks in terrible shape due to high erosion, and all the bags in there we have put from island protection is visible, we leave your comments as one of those guest who just write anything when they don't like few things, evidence is there to see from many positive comments and real time picture availed form our Guests.

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Reviewed January 21, 2020 via mobile

Visited safari island for seven nights in January
We stayed in a water bungalow and glad we did as it was spacious modern with big glass windows looking out to the sea
It was so private ,you couldn’t see into the other villas so had total privacy
The view was stunning - glorious blue sea and steps down to it
The reef was right there , it is our fourth trip to the Maldives and the reef was the best one we’ve experienced
Beautiful coloured fish everywhere and live coral
The last island we visited the coral was all dead
The beach on the lagoon side was lovely for swimming - we found the best bit was near the dive school where there was a natural “ swimming pool “ - a deep area
Totally uncrowded we often only saw one or two other people
There is a swimming pool which was nice to sit at after lunch
There are three bars
The sunset bar which tended to get very busy
The pool bar which was on the beach
The palm bar which was out at sea and very chilled out
We were all inclusive -
There was a great choice of cocktails . 15 I think , my fav being good old pina colada
The food was very good - breakfast , all u could want ( pancakes made freshly and an egg station )
Lunch - great salads and choices of meats etc
Dinner - always found something good , best night was Sunday when we had lots of curries
A good feature was we could take cans of beer or soft drinks back to our fridge as much as we wanted
Included in the price was a full day trip on a traditional boat
It had 3 crew and u could chose what u wanted to do
It was our best day - we went to a fab snorkelling site then to a sand bar where they set up a table and we had grilled fish and salad
Wonderful day
It is a very small island with not much entertainment but that is exactly what we wanted
Another thing was we were the only British people there , the other guests were all German or Chinese - other times we have enjoyed chatting at the bar , you brits are missing out by not going here
It is such an amazing beautiful island
So romantic and beautiful xxxxx

Date of stay: January 2020
Trip type: Traveled as a couple
9  Thank Lucy-mac
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
safariIsland, General Manager at Safari Island, responded to this reviewResponded January 26, 2020

Thank you very much for your positive comments !

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Reviewed October 31, 2019

It was my first visit to Maledives and it was just amazing. The hotel has 3 types of accomodation, we stayed at water villa. In these villas there is a direct entry to the ocean. East side villas are directly at the reef and that's why they have nicer under sea life. The furniture in the villas is little bit older but this doesn't metter to me. Villas were clean, the room boy came twice a day to do the room.
Food in restaurant was good, a lot of curry, fish, chicken, always something good to choose. And an amazing papaya.
The reef around the island is full of life but unfortunately corals are almost death. We had seen some sharks, a lot of beautiful fish and also one moray (little bit terrifying
The island also offers a boat trip, which is included if your stay is at least 7 nights. We were on one and it was really nice. We had seen dolphins, turttle, other fish and also a colorful corals. We also had had a lunch on the lonely island. It's a shame, that there is so much waste on that island.
I hope it wasn't my last visit to Maledives I really love it.

Date of stay: October 2019
4  Thank Lenka O
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
safariIsland, Manager at Safari Island, responded to this reviewResponded November 17, 2019

Thank you very much for your positive comments !

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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