I had certain apprehensions about going to the Maldives alone at New Year. In my mind I had resolved to be surrounded by romancing couples and honeymooners, yet in reality there were many families and other solo travellers. There was however a wedding which was lovely to witness. There’s no getting away from it the Maldives is expensive. However, Ellaidhoo is comparatively good value and I booked independently though Expedia which saved me over £200 on the online price I found from a major travel agent. Try Expedia here*:
Ellaidhoo Island is located on the eastern side of the North Ari Atoll. I arrived by seaplane which was fantastic, it’s amazing how fast the plane comes in and then whooshes through the water; a bit like the log flumes at amusement parks. It’s not a luxury resort (it’s billed as “rustic luxury”) but suited me due to the reviews of the great house reef for snorkeling and diving, and it’s location in the atoll which meant that some excellent dive sites were in reach of a short boat ride.
Although it was the “dry” season it can still rain a fair bit. I arrived to an afternoon of rain, which resulted in me sleeping off the jet lag prior to the New Year’s Eve gala dinner later that day.
What’s the diving and snorkeling like?
The Dive and Sail team are on site, this is a very well run operation. I hired everything apart from fins and mask and the equipment was in great condition. Nitrox is available at no extra charge and I completed the course to make the most of this offer. The house reef is open to divers 24 hours a day and if you don’t have a buddy it’s not difficult to find one. I did several boat dives, again organized and well equipped to good sites. Spots included White Tips, Black Tips and Grey Sharks, turtles, boxfish, puffers, rays, morays and a wide range of species including macro stuff. There are also regular trips to a manta cleaning station and a whale shark site.
I was expecting more coral than I witnessed, though the house reef had plenty of small new corals so I suppose the area may have suffered in recent years, but was bouncing back. Ellaidhoo has a small lagoon where you can snorkel with juvenile sharks, morays and lots of different fish…. beware the trigger fish (Titans are the ones known for aggressively protecting their nests, but it was the small blue ones that seemed to chase me!)
I have lots of videos to edit for youtube…coming soon.
What about the food?
I arrived on the day of the New Years Eve Gala dinner, there was an extra mandatory cost but the dinner was incredible, as you can see from these pictures the food was presented so beautifully and the variety was huge.
The food in the rest of the week was equally good but less variety and not quite as elaborate. It’s probably the first time I’ve put on weight on a holiday, usually I lose weight as my appetite diminishes as the temperature increases, however the food was so good I ate at all three meals (sometimes more than once!) I was full board rather than all-inclusive as the all-inclusive option only allowed for local beers and house wine and I prefer cocktails.
The service across all venues was impeccable, many of the staff come from Sri Lanka – quick shout out to my favourite barman Lal who made the best cosmos and caipiroska!
How’s the accommodation?
I chose a superior room and was on the 2nd floor a few steps from the sea. It was a large room with a very comfortable bed. Strangely the outside bathroom was more inside than outside, but was clean and had a good shower. Other accommodation included single story beach bungalows or water bungalows, which looked nice but didn’t include steps into the water (this is due to the tides and coral in the area). I think I chose well, the island is so small that it doesn’t really matter what room you’re in. However, I think the resort is looking a bit tired in the bathrooms and reception area and is probably due an update.
What I enjoyed most
The food, the diving, the pool and the staff. Travelling solo was no issue.
What wasn’t so good?
Fogging….! The island is “fogged” with some kind of pesticide every day; this fills the area up with foul smelling smoke that can’t be good for people. I’d rather the island had a more environmentally friendly way of discouraging mosquitos. In fact the only time I was bitten was when they came out of hiding during the fogging.
Leaving the island…rained when I arrived and rained when I left!
If you love diving Ellaidhoo is a good choice in the Maldives. If you want more activities it would be better to choose an island with a bigger lagoon suitable for watersports.