Some look in the shorelines of the Caribbean Sea. Some search the eastern coast of Central America. Others are convinced they’ll find it in South Thailand. Some believe it’s off the coast of East Africa. Or perhaps the Philippines – could it be hiding in the Philippines? Me, I’ve focused my search on that cerulean-and-elusive tropical paradise hidden in Alif Alif Atoll between the islands of Mathiveri and Ukulhas, where coconut palms recede a half-moon of white sand at its southern end…
We set off on a two-hour speedboat journey across the waters from Malé with stops at the Airport, Rasdhoo, Ukulhas and Velidhu Island Resort before docking at Bodufolhudhoo, a small, secluded island nestled in the tranquil heart of Alif Alif Atoll, surrounded by crystal-clear, calm waters, with the deep-orange sun on the horizon, – the only thing between me and the edge of the world. It was the beginning of my trip into the ultimate weekend adventure.
For those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the work week, and unplug from technology and the daily dashing about, this island couldn’t be more perfect to relax and reconnect with nature. Bodufolhudhoo boasts five guesthouses, three food outlets, a large children’s playground to keep the little ones entertained during their eventful days and of course the sun, sea and sand to enjoy.
While this is all to be expected from any resort or inhabited island in the Maldives, Bodufolhudhoo is breaking with tradition by targeting families and groups of friends, rather than just honeymooners, with its chilled-out vibe and outdoor dining experiences. Perhaps the most impressive part of the island, though, is its friendly people, who are constantly there to help with any requirement or concern. The islands’ natives care a lot about their beaches and its pristine environment. Bodufolhudhoo is also the first island in the country to ban plastic bags in favor of fabric versions, resulting it to be one of the most cleanest islands in the region. Although the first guesthouse opened for business three years ago, the islands’ residents are very keen to develop their island as a major tourist hotspot in the future.
Holiday Village Retreat is a four-bedroom guesthouse and only 5 minutes from the beach. Each room features a balcony with a garden view and a seating area, and boasts traditional Maldivian design elements and local handcrafted details. Every room also has an en-suite bathroom with shower and bath amenities, as well as cable television and a minibar. From there you can request a turn-down service. The guesthouse also has a shared lounge, a garden filled with a wild assortment of tropical foliage plants, a 24-hour front desk and free WiFi access. The rooms are slightly smaller but it is the perfect cozy size to contentedly snuggle after a long day’s wandering at the beach. For the best of both worlds, there are two hammocks hanging between palm trees at the garden that provides a place for guests to unwind and tune in to the soothing rhythms of the waves crashing on the nearby beach.
Food and drink
The focus is on regional dishes, including locally sourced seafood, there are treats from barbecued lobster that’s sure to impress to a to-die-for grilled fish incorporating Maldivian influences. Even the fussiest of eaters would be satisfied here; the chefs at the kitchen are more than willing to accommodate your needs. Breakfast is served all day with options such “roshi” and “mashuni” or french toast with honey to fuel you for the day’s activities.
The island also offers three culinary choices: Two restaurants and a small tea shop apart from in-house dining at the Holiday Village Retreat guesthouse. The two restaurants offer a fine choice of local and international cuisine for breakfast, lunch and evening meals as well as snacks, smoothies, shakes, frappes, and mocktails. The tea shop offers a range of Hedhikaa “short-eats” and local delicacies with tea, coffee, and cool drinks. While Maldives is a Muslim country that limits the consumption of alcohol, it is banned on all inhabited islands and are only permitted for tourists in resort islands and liveaboards. However, a floating bar is located just 5 minutes from a speedboat nearby the island providing alcoholic beverages, and are also available for consumption in the nearby resorts, Nika, Velidhu and Gangehi.
While the beachfront is only a stones throw away from the guesthouse, should the heat gets too much, you can retreat into the shade for a mocktail or fresh juice and borrow from the bookshelf.
What to do
Apart from relaxing and soaking in the beauty of this serene island, you can take part in one of the many activities at Bodufolhudhoo, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, picnic island excursions, resort trips, dolphins, manta rays and whale watching. The island’s geographical location is responsible for its spectacular marine life, bordered by an exotic house reef, providing home for hundreds of species of multi-colored fish. The guesthouse offers daily snorkeling trips led by experienced divers that will make the most nervous swimmers feel comfortable, the island also has its own dive center for hardcore dive enthusiasts. For adventure-seekers, customized motorboat trips can also be arranged to venture the neighboring inhabited and uninhabited picnic islands or to visit the nearby “finolhu” sandbank. There’s also a yoga pavilion offering spectacular views of the Indian Ocean and breathtaking sunsets. So, whether you are 10, 40 or 70, seeking pain relief or relaxation, there really is something for everyone and if you don’t feel quite Zen enough, try sunset fishing and cook whatever you catch on the grill.
You really can’t help but unwind in this untouched piece of Maldivian paradise. The island’s slow pace will have you forgetting emails and phone calls in no time. Your first point of contact is your Guest Experience Manager at Holiday Village Retreat who will bring out your inner child and will soon become the smiling face you look forward to seeing each day, and the unspoiled views are quite possibly the best of any island in Alif Alif atoll. Bodufolhudhoo is paradise found.
I stayed courtesy of Holiday Village Retreat.