If you have a limited budget, and are looking for a spacious water villa with thatched roof. This might be the resort for you
We had a very nice holiday at Fihalhohi, staying for 7 nights in “summer” 2016.
First the positives:
The water bungalows are fab!
They are really charming with thatched roofs (which is the case for all buildings on the island), spacious decking for the price class, with sunbeds and a 4-seating table. Not bling-bling luxurious, but they really give you the Maldivian feeling.
They are also very quiet for being water bungalows, as rain is silenced by the thatched roof. Waves were not an issue either. You could hear it in rusky weather though, but just a bit. I do not know if the water bungalows are slightly more elevated from the water than normal, but might be the case.
The water bungalows has room service/ in room dining, free wi-fi, and they have recently added TVs,
They are also very private, as they are detached with screens between then, and we never saw anyone in front of our deck. It is also easy to enter the water, as the decks are on two levels. The swimming platform is lowered for easy access.
There are also 3 spots that light up the water that can be switched on in the evenings. Watching Mobula sp. /devil fish (small mantas) dancing in the water while having a cocktail in the darkness, was a magical experience.
One great thing is that there are only 12 water bungalows! I am not very fond of 50+ water bungalows in long rows, so this was a big plus for us.
It should also be mentioned is that they have changed the room numbers for the water bungalows. They are now numbered 401-412. We did a room request with the numbers listed on online island maps which is no longer in use. We ended up in the closest bungalow to shore pointing south west (401).
We would have preferred a bungalow on the reef side as far out from shore as possible, and we did consider to change when other bungalows became available. But we ended up thinking it was an ok location, as there are seldom guests on the beach on this side, and the lagoon view is beautiful. We worried about the water would be too shallow, but it was never less than about 1,5 meter in depth, and usually more. Also we had just neighbours on one side which was nice. The only minus would be that you could see a groyne if you looked towards the left side, but at some distance and not straight in front, so it didn’t bother us too much.
The other good thing that should be pointed out is the service on the island. It was my first 3 star resort in the Maldives, so I did go with somewhat lowered expectations. But we were surprised with the good service. It was very efficient, and we never had to wait long for anything.
The roomboy was also very efficient. If we hung up the “please make my room” sign, it was always done if we went for lunch and went straight back!
The island is nice, packed with mature tall palms. The wide beach of fine sand on the west and north side is really beautiful (!), but the beach on the east and south side has diminished over the years. Also the sand is not as fine as in N/W, but all the beaches are kept clean and nice.
If you are worrying about the huge mast/ antennae, you won’t see it while you are on land. It is really only visible from the water villa jetty.
The new OW bar deck is really nice. They completely renovated the old one and extended with a new deck further across the water.
There are lots of stingrays and sharks to be seen in the water here. The old white plastic chairs are also gone, and have recently been exchanged with new comfortable low seating rattan furniture (made of weather-resistant plastic/ polymer).
The minibar consist of 4 beer (San Miguel and Carlsberg) 4 or 6 soft drinks, 2 bottles of water (plus 4 non-chilled), a few half sized bottles of wine, and the regular small bottles of spirits and some snacks.
The food was ok, it did not start out too well, but improved. I would say that the beef meat was not very good on a few occasions. But some of the buffets like the Maldivian night were good. One tip would also to label the most common allergens on the dishes, not just gluten.
The best meal we had was the 4 course lobster dinner with a bottle of Champagne on the new over water dining pods. But I think we were the only guests using it for the whole week. The price was 221$ incl. taxes for 2 persons (price for all inclusive guests), which we found reasonable as Champagne is expensive in the Maldives.
The All inclusive is somewhat limited:
-Anything consumed from midnight until 9 am in the bars is extra.
-No cocktails. Except if they mix items included in the package, like rum + coke and similar)
-Bottles of wine are not included (just house pouring).
-The minibar is not included. Except 2x 500ml bottles of water per person per day.
-Drinks consumed on excursions are extra.
They have also added a new groyne this year.
The reef is a good all-rounder, but it is sad to see the effect from the El Nino. One third of the corals seemed to be dead quite recently, one third bleached and one third seemed to be healthy. The water temperature started to drop 2-3 weeks before we arrived, so it seemed that some of the bleached ones was starting to regain darker colour (zooxanthellae). So we hope the bleached ones are returning back to health.
Fish wise it is really good, being on the edge of the atoll you can see a very large number of species, both small and big.
There are also a lot of sharks, from loads of small reef sharks in the very shallows, to bigger reef sharks and nurse sharks.
We also saw eagle rays, mobulas, stingrays, turtles, morays, cuttlefish etc. at the reef.
We hired a speedboat to visit other reefs in the atoll. We also did a stop at a submerged reef on the way back.
The conditions of the reefs were far worse than Fihalhohi’s. It is possible that getting cooler SW currents on the SW side of the atoll has saved it from the worst damage from El nino. But that is only a guess.
There is not too much area to move around on the interior area, but some of it was nice.
But there were also some negatives:
-Even if we were assured that all work on the island would be finished when we booked (about 6 months before). It was not finished.. There was no noise from the ongoing work, but that area was closed off (south) for snorkelling. Also there was a 5 metres tall mountain of sand on land from building the new jetty.
-It was just possible to get one key for the water bungalows. Very unpractical..
-The main buffet restaurant is quite large, and gives a somewhat canteen feeling. It didn’t bother us too much as the occupancy rate was low when we were there. But in high season it might be constant sounds of people talking and chairs scraping against the tiled floor.
-You have to sign all bills in bars and restaurants if on all inclusive. But then, why did we have to wear all inclusive wrist bands?
-Threadmills in the gym were not working according to my friend.
But all in all we had a very nice holiday at Fihalhohi, and we would have no issues recommending it to friends looking for a budget resort in the Maldives. Especially if they are looking for a beautiful value-for-money water bungalow!
I have been to several other islands, but this time I went with a friend since childhood. It was his first Maldivian island and he surely had a great time!
First, special thanks to Alaudeen (Fisherman’s bar). He was in our opinion a very professional staff member. Always smiling, service minded, interested in how we were doing and perceptive regarding when we needed a refill. He also remembered our preferences, room number and names for the rest of the holiday!
Soorya (also Fisherman’s bar), was always in a sparkling mood. Nothing seemed to be any effort and he always made us smile.
Fazin was our waiter in Palm Grove restaurant. We had several nice conversations with him and he also made our private lobster and champagne dinner something special. He also had very good manners and etiquette and the service always felt genuine.
Also thanks to those not mentioned. All staff members, and at Fisherman’s bar especially; kept a high standard regarding the level of service. Well done!