A Holiday Among Taro Fields – at Alafehi Retreat, Fuvahmulah
Alafehi Retreat is a modern holiday home built on Maadhandige (the home of the vast field) in Fuvahmulah island – the unique single island atoll located in the south of Maldives – home to an abundance of biodiversity made of freshwater lakes, mangrove species, endless taro fields, and the unique esoteric ways of life of its inhabitants.
“Ala-Fehi” means “taro-green”. Taro (ala) is the traditional staple food of Fuvahmulah, usually eaten with different varieties of coconut delicacies and fish. Ala is grown everywhere in the island – in every inch of muddy fertile soil, on the peripheries of freshwater lakes, and in the backyards of houses. The lives of the taro fields of Fuvahmulah are deeply intertwined with its people and their traditions.
The Alafehi Retreat is the ideal home from which to explore the allure of this mystical island. The modern three-bedroom holiday home is designed to provide a comfortable, restful experience – an intimate private holiday environment for small families or a group of friends. It houses two deluxe double rooms and a twin room – all designed with private veranda gardens and ensuite open air bathrooms. The living room and bedrooms are decorated with attention to detail using solid, grand structures and adorned with elegant, hand-carved timber furniture and custom fittings, and pleasing white upholstery. The warmly lit living and dining areas are serviced to provide a quiet restful abode, while the outdoor family plunge pool with swim jet system sets the ideal layout for an active day. The grounds of the house are equipped with barbecue facilities, a garden seating area and an undholige (swing house) – a pavilion and lounge area with comfortable reclining seats and a suspended undholi bed – an essential item of comfort and convenience in most Fuvahmulan homes.
A step outside the main door of the house will welcome you to the home’s green, breezy surroundings and quiet neighbourhoods. Narugis Magu – the name of the alley where the house sits on – is the local name given after the white rain lily, a garden flower commonly seen on the sides of roads. The houses in the neighbourhood are tucked away beneath shading mango, breadfruit, jambul, and ambarella trees. A short walk among the back alleys of the house will lead you to the taro fields and damp peripheries of the Dhandimagi kilhi, teeming with minuscule insects and overgrown vegetation of the wild ecosystem. A minute’s walk eastward from the house will take you to dynamic eastern shore of the island, where huge oceanic waves break vigorously against the island’s edge, blowing in a continuous salty breeze through the tall coconut tree groves, evoking a mesmerising, meditative effect on one who stops to observe the surroundings.
A stay at Alafehi Retreat is the perfect way to experience the unique characteristics of the enthralling biodiverse environment of Fuvahmulah as well as its rich history and traditions. The Alafehi butler is prepared to organise the ideal holiday itinerary for each visitor. Local food tastings, guided forest walks and explorative bicycle trails through meandering green pathways leading to wetlands and natural mud baths along the island’s two protected freshwater lakes named Dhandimagi Kilhi and Bandaara Kilhi, and visits to agricultural farms and local produce outlets, or to shops and seaside cafe venues enjoyed at sunset can all be arranged upon request.
Being situated among one of the richest natural ecosystems in all of Maldives, Alfaehi Retreat is always ready to serve visitors the best varieties of local food sourced from the island’s farms and nutrient-rich marshlands. Mangoes, taro, guavas, pineapples, bananas, pomegranates, breadfruits, papayas, coconuts, brinjals, pumpkins, kan kun, moringa leaves, and many seasonal delicacies are sure to be served fresh for the nourishment of residing guests on a daily basis. For a more tantalizing experience, guests are catered in the old age tradition of celebrating a special feast at the island’s large thoondu beach, amidst the vibe of the vibrant sea waves breaking on the shore to smoothen the thoondu sand, with delicacies of homemade steamed coconut and jaggery patties, smoked fish, boiled taro and breadfruit, and pandan fragranced rice pudding, all prepared according to distinctive recipes passed on from generations.
The more thrill-seeking holidaymakers can choose to go diving or deep-sea night fishing. Fuvahmulah’s unique submerged reef topography and isolated location make it one of the best diving destinations in the world. It’s vibrant coral reefs of healthy porites and acropora fringing at its peripheries are continuously visited by trevallies, barracudas, large schools of fish and magnificent pelagic creatures such as thresher sharks, large numbers of tiger sharks, silver tips, grey reefs, the occasional hammerheads, and gigantic whale sharks. The deep-sea “kattelhi”, a fish belonging to the snake mackerel species, too resides along the island’s atoll slopes. Night fishing enthusiasts join Fuvahmulan fishermen, who have for hundreds of years gone out to learn the ways of the deep mystical seas and catch the kattelhi, which when brought home, is cooked in a broth and served with boiled taro, chilli and lime, and enjoyed fresh as an impromptu late night meal by the family. It is part of the island’s hospitable tradition for hosts to invite visitors to experience this exotic meal, accompanied by stories of the kattelhi and island folklores.
The people of Fuvahmulah, have for centuries, found ways of living harmoniously with nature, seeking refuge in the depths of this island oasis which sits in the middle of the vast blue ocean. Fuahmulans have learned very specific ways of existing among it’s thriving biodiversity and elements of wilderness. Alafehi Retreat is the ideal stay for travellers seeking to experience the environment, traditions and culture of this dynamic island and its inhabitants, from the comfort of a luxury island home.