It just so happens that this island has one of the best surf breaks in the country and is close by to 2 others. The resort’s surf school was founded by the late Tony Hussein Hinde, an Australian who married a Maldivian and was credited with pioneering surfing in the Maldives. Now run by his son, the surf school looks after an eclectic gathering of surfers, old and young, from around the world. The loose but bonded group hangs out at the corner of the island with a private surf point, known as Pasta Point. They have their own bar, own timetable and rituals and are generally only glimpsed at mealtimes and in the bar. The surfing season is during the southwest monsoon, which is otherwise known as the low season.
Guests from the UK are the largest proportion of visitors, with a sizeable minority of Italians doing their own thing. During surf season, professional and semi-pro surfers from Australia, America and other countries with significant surf scenes often visit in groups and tend to be the life and soul of the Raiyvilla Bar and nightclub, which closes ‘when the last guest leaves’ - although a few fun-loving couples also can be found there, dancing the night away.
The resort’s animation programmes are soft rather than the full-on club style of previous years. Nonetheless this is a resort that suits family fun and activities. The animation team is the classic profile of bronzed, fit and enthusiastic young men and women whose job it is to tell people what’s on, to run the events and to encourage participation. There is one wide and long beach on the island and that is ideal for getting together for aqua gym, fun and games, sunbathing and all the other ways of generally enjoying each other’s company.
The bad news is that the beach is far from the Maldivian ideal of sand as soft and fine as icing sugar. This is a man-made beach that is still gritty with coral pieces underfoot. In the water, it must be said, the sand is frequently ideal.
In the middle of the thin island is a large sunset bar, a sizeable peanut-shaped swimming pool with a huge wooden deck and hard court badminton and tennis courts. These are fine facilities to grace any 5 star but time is needed to bed them into vegetation - from coconut palms to potted flowers - for shade and beauty.
Being close to Male and the international airport and moving upmarket - its next-door neighbour is the Four Seasons - it is thought that a variety of room options is the way to go. There are 5 land room types and the waterbungalows offer a few more. The core of the room design is the same throughout: a thatched roof and light interior with dappled, white plastered walls, a good bathroom, a day bed, tv, hairdryer and safe. The differences are in location, size and details.
The cheapest rooms are the Sunset Villas, which are in 2-storey blocks and look out to the sunset but over a rocky or walled shoreline. The other rooms (bar the surfers’ Garden Villas) are on the other side of the island around the big beach, facing east or north.
Some Sunrise Cottages face north away from the sun and towards the waterbungalows. Their floor is of stone effect tiles and they only have a single basin but these are nonetheless fine rooms. Other sunrise cottages face east like the sunrise villas and top end Vista Suites.
The sunrise villas have wooden floors and unusual carved wooden doors and furniture, giving them a somewhat Spanish feel. These are delightfully light and comfortable. The vista suites are a tour de force of 7 interconnecting circles on 2 floors. These are large unquestionably beautiful rooms with large, whimsical inside-outside bathrooms.
The waterbungalows are likely to have their own separate reception, restaurant and other facilities, like a premium resort within a resort. The rooms themselves though are somewhat disappointing with the extensive use of hardboard and their narrow lounge, although the deck space is generous.
There is a Meridis Dive and Relax centre on the island, which offers access to many excellent sites in the neighbourhood, including a channel where turtles and pelagic species like dolphins and reef sharks can frequently be spotted. There is no snorkeling from the island but trips are taken to nearby reefs.