The hardest thing when going snorkeling and free diving in the Maldives is to get a decent unbiased information on how is the reef and fish life. Everybody claims that everything is just amazing, but there are few pictures or videos which can prove it. It is true that most of the reef and fish in the Maldives are well above the other places in the world, but which are amongst the best and money wise at the reach?
We will try to wrap three islands we have visited so far - Embudu, 4 years ago for 16 days, Madoogali, 3 years ago for 3 weeks ,and the last, Vilamendhoo, for 16 days.
Embudu is very near Male, just a boat ride, packed and small rooms away from the sea, little breeze. We have stayed in the water villas, which was nicer. The reef is/was the poorest compared to Madoogali and Vilamendhoo, but there is strong current in parts of the reef and the visibility was very good, with lots of fish. The coral was average. But, it is the cheapest of the three.
Madoogali is very nice, pristine white sand, self standing bungalows apart from each other. The reef on the east side is beautiful, but short compared on what you can see in Vilamendhoo. Madoogali has a more pristine feeling than Vilamendhoo, less crowded accommodation. The lightning in Madoogali is much more discreet and better designed, you can gaze at the stars and still not trip over when walking!
The fish life in Madoogali was poorer than in Vilamendhoo, less species.
Vilamendhoo was a great surprise, considering few reliable information available concerning the reef and fish life. Pity the island is sold more as the beach, honeymoon , spa and pool place.As any of the Maldivian islands, the stereotype which the average tourist wants is winning. What one needs in the middle of the fantastic lagoon and the best reef? A sweet water pool with chlorine instead of swimming in the clearest waters one has around the island. Vilamendhoo should be advertised as a snorkeling and free diving destination instead, but, you know, the guest is king...
Since the reef at Vilamendhoo is really huge, a big island, you can see in time almost any kind of fish passing by in the Indian ocean. The coral is very healthy, huge table corals almost everywhere cascading in the blue.There are 10 exits to the reef, and a very nice coral garden at the north east side.
We were very lucky to meet Mr. Solah, director of operations, very kind, efficient and a reef lover himself. As qualified, experienced snorkelers and free divers we were able to make photos of the many outstanding spots around Vilamendhoo.
The whale shark trip was outstanding, free diving with the whale shark was real fun.
The overall visibility was very good to average, depending on the current/lack of current in some days.
To wrap it up, Vilamendhoo has the outstanding, big reef and plenty of fish life.
We were for the first time on full board instead of all inclusive. The all inclusive, we found, was needles, since we do not drink that much. The bottle of good red wine started from 40USD in Vilamendhoo, but there was the 30% discount on happy hour time, just before dinner. The 1,5 litre bottle of water was 4,5 USD. The all inclusive wine we drank in Embudu and Madoogali was not worth the package.
Oh, we forgot about the food, but when free diving you do not eat much....there was plenty of all,
well, the pasta was overcooked. Maybe we will need to return, to check if the pasta is properly cooked!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Vilamendhoo Island Resort, surrounded by a beautiful lagoon, an excellent house reef and long stretches of white, sandy beach, is the only Resort on the island of Vilamendhoo, South Ari Atoll. It is 900 meters long by 250 meters wide, about 55 acres. Your seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport is a scenic, 25 minute flight. 184 Rooms include 30 Jacuzzi water villas, 30 Jacuzzi beach villas, 111 beach villas and 13 garden rooms. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Vilamendhoo Island Hotel Vilamendhoo
- Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa Maldives
- Hotel Vilamendhoo Island