Dhigali Maldives; an escape into adventure, more than the Maldives
It was a clear, sunny day with the ocean glistening with the waves, as I made my way over Raa Atoll. The view from the seaplane was ecstatic, as we glided over the many coral islands that dotted the horizon, some of them deserted islands and sandbanks, the others inhabited. The slender coral cay of Dhigali Maldives, as seen from the sky, is a sight for sore eyes.
I noticed that Dhigali stood out from the rest of the nearby islands, with its signature white box-like villas with their flat white roofs dotting the azure lagoon. Another thing that pops up as the seaplane made its final approach are the two structures which looked like oversized Weaver Bird nests. It’s just a short 45-minutes transfer to the island by seaplane, but one can also hop on a domestic transfer to Ifuru Airport or Dharavandhoo Airport, and take a 45-minute scenic speedboat transfer to the leafy island with its popping bungalows.
Just a minute following a smooth touch down in the calm ocean, I was walking down the jetty towards an airy structure, which stood out from the rest of the lush green, garden-like surrounding. What I noticed was the way Dhigali Maldives had moved away from the traditional Maldivian thatched style architecture to a way more minimalistic and modern vibe. The reception was bright and airy with its koi pond in the middle, and the staff greeted me with a welcoming drink and a cheerful smile.
Five minutes later, I was driving down the sandy patches of road lined with well-kept gardens towards Capers – the main restaurant – for a hearty breakfast. Again, with its high ceiling and large openings, it was both airy and bright but was completely in place with nature with its wooden furniture and splashes of colour in everything starting from the multi-coloured cushions.
Dhigali Maldives offers a wide variety of accommodation options, and mine was a Beach Villa, a place of perfect tranquillity with its open-air bathroom. The interior was understated and minimalistic – like many of the resorts other features – yet very comfortable, with its king-sized bed sitting atop a mat-like carpet and custom-designed wardrobe built into the wall, and the rest of the interior was dotted with bright colours.
The bathroom was equipped with a rainfall shower, with a bathtub in the open inviting you for a long, sensuous soak. With a view of the porcelain sandy beach and the ocean in front, the expansive deck outside was equipped with a small coffee table, a daybed and sun loungers. It was a textbook place for relaxation in the evening.
The pride of the resort is the Dhigali Suite, a 400m2 impressive sanctuary set on the edge of the beach with its very own courtyard. With its chic interior with modern amenities, and the open-air bathroom would bring you closer to nature for a sensual experience.Other accommodation options on land include the Deluxe Beach Bungalows, 70m2 Beach Bungalows, Beach Villas and Beach Villas with pools, in addition to the 170m2 Beach Suites with pools, perfect for families. They all come with king-sized beds, minimalistic interiors with clean lines, and modern and branded amenities, in addition to LCD TVs, audio connectivity and Nespresso machines in categories above Beach Villas with pools.
After a bit of relaxation, I met up with the man of the house – Glenn Daniels, the general manager of Dhigali Maldives. We met up at the Café – the place for a quick refuelling, but also offers all-day dining with its combination of gourmet cuisines and snacks – for a cup of coffee. During my chat with Glenn, I learnt the most interesting thing about the hotel – the importance it gives to integrating modern technological advancements to ensure ease and guest satisfaction.
The Dhigali app is one of the most significant things guests learn about upon arrival. Available for download on both the Apple Store and Google Play Store, the application provides you with everything you need to know about the resort and the many activities that are scheduled for the day. The best thing about the app is the map which gives you the live location of the shuttle buggies making their rounds around the island. The maps are also displayed in different spots around the island in big screens.
When it comes to dining options, there’s plenty to choose from at Dhigali Maldives. Walking down a jungle path on the northern side of the island will lead you to the old palace-like gates of Battuta – named after Ibn Battuta, one of history’s greatest explorers. The restaurant offers a journey through Middle Eastern and Asian flavours, giving a taste and feel of the many travels of the Moroccan traveller.
Other dining options include Jade – open all-day, serving an extensive selection of international cuisine, comfort food and quick bites; Faru – the place for continental cuisines with evocative, smoky aromas of grilled meat and seafood; the Café – an upscale Café with a twist, offering freshly made hot or cold sandwiches and light snacks; and the East – where guests can unwind near the pool with excellent vibes among the coconut palms, sipping exotic drinks while taking in the island’s breath-taking views.
And yes! The Weaver Bird nest like structure I spoke of earlier is not just a sight from the sky, but a bespoke experience from the inside too. Known as the Haali (translated as “nest” in the local Dhivehi language), also known as the sunset bar, it is the perfect place to skim away the evening, watching the sun dipping into the Indian Ocean after a long, yet exhilarating day. It’s a playful place with its many swings and right outside, comfortable loungers dot the beach – one that can stretch a mile in season.It’s not all rest and relaxation at Dhigali Maldives, as it offers a variety of experiences, including local island visits, sunset and dolphin excursions, fishing trips, castaway picnics to an array of water sports options including glass-bottom boat rides, catamaran, windsurfing and sailing lessons, water skiing, wakeboarding and diving at the dive and water sports centre operated by Euro Divers Maldives.
The best part of my visit to Dhigali Maldives was my time walking down the tropical jungle trail of the island. The “Jungle Walk”, as it is named, gives a sense of belonging with nature, and offers the chance to see the island in all its natural glory of when it was not inhabited. Walking down the lane, you are bound to find one of the wooden benches, secretly tucked away blending into the surrounding — a sanctuary in its own, allowing you to connect with nature while you set and gaze through the thick canopy towards the vast open ocean, preferably with a good read in your hands.