As promised, here is my live blog from Reethi Faru!
After a long trip from Norway through Doha, I finally arrived in the country I love from the bottom of my heart; The Maldives!
The immigration went fairly quick. As you arrive you now have to pass a thermal camera (due to the pandemic situation at the moment), but you hardly notice it. You pass it right before you are queuing up for passport control. It is also mandatory to complete a health condition form, which was delivered to us on the plane. Getting through immigration and picking up the luggage was done in 35-40 minutes. Waiting for the seaplane took about an hour. We first landed on Milaidhoo before FINALLY, Reethi Faru
After being appointed to Jacuzzi Beach Villa 421, I went to have some lunch at Dhiyavaru (the overwater restaurant). I ordered a burger which was ok, but after a long journey and little sleep, my appetite was not really present..
After that I had a nap, followed by a dinner again at the overwater restaurant. This time I had tandoori pizza, which was quite good. Yeah I know, really sophisticated; burger for lunch and pizza for dinner haha.
I ended the day with a nice cocktail at The Haruge (the main bar) «Raa Atoll Classic» not sure if there are classic alchoholic drinks from the Raa atoll, but it was quite tasty.
Ok lets start with the villa. As mentioned I am staying in a Jacuzzi beach villa. And I must say I am quite satisfied with my choice. It is nicely furninsed with natural materials. No bling or luxury, but it has a nice rustic and relaxing atmosphere. I especially like the shower and the deck with a hottub and a beautiful view of the beach and lagoon.
Another good things are: an efficient AC which is not placed right over the bed. Also two fans in the ceiling which have 6 speed levels, from a gentle breeze, to a strong blow. There is also one above the toilet/ vanity in the outdoor bathroom. I really love that, as we all know it can be soaring hot in the bathrooms.
Some cons about the villa: Minbars are not stocked which is a bit disappointing in a 4+ resort, but luckily it was stocked within 5-10 minutes after I called room service. The other issues was the safe not working, but a man from the technical team fixed it this morning.
Tomorrow I will write more about the maybe strongest point on this island. The wonderful vegetation..
Finally some snorkeling! I snorkeled from the South West side to the East side. It was against the current all the way, so I got an excuse for not going to the gym 😁
As I already knew, the South side is not the best part of the house reef. I saw only the usual suspects on that side. The corals are mostly dead, but saw quite a bit of tiny bluetip Acropora gemmifera making their way, which really is a good thing. There was also a 1,5 metre staghorn in the shallows. Other than that I would not categorize it as as good, but not very bad either. There were some fairly big schools of fish, and enough to catch my interest.
As I reached the far East tip of the house reef, the number of fish really improved. This is an area with strong currents and waves, so only fairly strong swimmers should make their way out there. But after a short time I was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. If you get exhausted; slightly anxious can suddenly turn into panic, especially when alone. The depth was about 15-20 metres with sloping sandy bottom (past the coral) and I decided to head back towards Nala Bar.
Luckily my snorkel was very much rewarded in the end. As I was getting into shallower area, I had a close encounter with a large adult lemon shark! All caught on camera 😉 And when I reached the shore, I celebrated with a beer at Nala bar.
Food was better than the first day. For lunch I had grilled chicken breast with mashed potatoes and shitake reduction. For dinner I had Vietnamese spring rolls for starter and nasi goreng for main course. The latter was very tasty and really good. A lovely couple from London invited me to join them for dinner, which made the whole experience even better.
Regarding the vegetation on the island, it is really well kept. The gardening team have done a great job transforming the island into a true gem. There are lots of flowers and also a dedicated garden where they grow vegetables and herbs (and even more flowers!) There are areas where everything is perfectly manicured, but also areas where they have kept it raw which gives you a true jungle feeling. In addition there are also classical forests with mature palms. Walking around on the inner paths is a true sensation. They also have a lot of planted walls.
It is the most beautiful vegetation I have seen on any island in the Maldives.
Another beautiful sunny day in the Maldives. The wind have picked up a bit, but still lovely!
I have decided to not write about every meal I eat and every single thing I do, to avoid the blog being too repetitive. I will rather mention the things and meals that stand out (in a good or bad way).
This day I snorkeled the reef from North-West side to the East, and back. I am glad to share that the North side is good! Far more fish, marine life and corals. I have now snorkeled the entire reef (except the reef which extends out along the water villas). The very best section of the reef is between the arrival jetty and Nala Bar. No sharks or turtles spotted, but large schools of different tangs/ surgeonfish (black, powder blues, desjardinis and convict tangs), but also swarms of blue line snappers, blue triggers and more. Also spotted pufferfish (porcupine, immaculatus, atothron), batfish, lots of parrotfish, octopus (which disappered as soon as I turned my head) etc etc. I was very happy to see that. Also one thing I have noticed about the reef here, is lots and lots of black, red and yellow feather stars. Another really good thing that comes with a larger island, is a larger reef to explore!
Today I will write more about the beaches. The best beaches at the moment are between the South (overwater restaurant) and the North until you reach the arrivals jetty. The sand is fine and soft; grading from talcum soft, to slightly course, but comfortable to walk on everywhere. The very best beach is on the west side, from South-West to North West. All jacuzzi beach villas are on the South-West side, so all have good beaches. This is also the area with the widest lagoon and nicest colours.
There is quite a bit of erosion on the North-East, East and South-East side, the beaches were washed away a few weeks ago (due to rough weather). Many of the bungalows have almost no beach. There are not many sandbags though, some in front of the decking at the main bar, Haruge, and some under two of the jettys for protection. They are not pumping the beaches back in place for two reasons. 1. To protect the house reef. 2. To let it naturally move between seasons, to keep it fine and soft.
Meal of the day would have to be the Maldivian fish curry at the overwater restaurant. The fish chunks were juicy, tasty (fresh taste) and the curry sauce wonderful. It should be mention though that is was rather «tourist hot». We all know know that Maldivian curries are really hot (which I like), but it is not to eveyones’ taste. I am certainly recommending it!
First two photos are from the South-West side, the next two on the South-East side where the beach is more narrow.
It was really a scorching hot day, and it was the first day it was actually painful to walk on the sand, even if it is bright white. So this day was spent relaxing in the hottub (which was now set to 25C), in the ocean and in the sunset bar. I also had a beer in Nala Bar and Thari Bar. The latter is the one you should visit if you wish to avoid people. There are actually no signs showing towards that one. There are more people than usual at Nala Bar, due to lacking beach for many of the beach bungalows on that side.
Snorkeling was again good on the North side, but saw mostly the same species as the day before. Except another lemon shark. It was below 2 metres so not as big as the one I saw on Tuesday (day 2), but still great to see another one. Again, I had the camera ready! Still no turtles or reef sharks. There are the usual baby black tip reef sharks in the shallows though.
Service continues to be good in all outlets, except maybe a bit less personal at Vakaru (main restaurant) and at The Haruge (the main bar). The number of guests are much greater there, so I guess its natural.
The best meal was the Neptune cocktail with octopus, scampi, crab and fish. It was lovely 😉 I also had my first dessert, the Nutty Coco Brownie with icecream. I am not much of a dessert-person though. It was ok, but nothing to write home about. But again, others might feel differently.
The house keeper, Debaakar, has kept my room spotless since arrival. He seems to time it very well, so I am usually gone or about to head somewhere. He is very polite and always wait outside until I leave, even if I tell him that he can come inside.
Well, started the day off with a lovely breakfast at the overwater restaurant. I’ve had breakfast there the recent 3 days as it is more quitet and lovely.
In regards of snorkeling, there was not much to report. The water was very choppy with white tops on the waves, so I called it for the day after only 30 minutes. I actually felt slightly seasick after (impossible to lock your view on to anything due to all the movement). The only new sighting in comparison to other days would have to be a moray eel
As there was starting to slightly form foam on the water in the hottub (when running) I asked them to change the water, which they did.
Dinner at Reethi Grill was nice. Both the carpaccio and the tandoori chicken was tasty, but in difference to most other people, I prefer the overwater restaurant. It is not beacause the food is better there, but because the view, the lapping sound of waves and the lovely breeze. That being said the atmosphere is nice at Reethi Grill as well. The service at the overwater restaurant is also better, as it is not fully booked every evening.
Well, dinner finished at 10:30 pm. I went straight to bed as I had my alarm clock set for 07:15.
Day 6 (Saturday)
The day had come for the «Manta Lagoon» excursion! So I got up early to have a breakfast at the overwater restaurant, as the departure from the dive centre was 9 am. We were 7 people signed up for the trip.
We first went to a feeding lagoon which is close to Reethi Faru, but we had no luck there..
So we headed to the cleaning station West of (and slightly North) of Emerald. The reason they call it a cleaning station, is because the mantas go there to be cleaned for parasites and debris. Cleaner fish, like cleaner wrasses, but also other species; simply pick them of the skin and the mouth of the mantas.
On the way there I had a feeling that we would not see any. For anyone booking such trips, you should be aware that it is definitely not sure that you will see any (and usually the chance is below 50%).
On the way we got a crash course on Mantas, and how to behave in the water with them. This was not my first time swimming with mantas, but I really appreciate that they did, as most people have never done it before.
A few minutes before we reached the cleaning station our guide got a message from a boat from another resort (they collaborate on spottings). He turned around a looked at us. «Guys, there are four mantas! Put on your equipment and be ready to jump into the ocean»
I could feel a boiling sensation in my body. It is happening now!!
They checked the currents and positioned the boat, and then off we went. We swam to one of the sides of the cleaning station and waited for the mantas to come to us, and not the opposite. If you stay calm, ensuring the mantas are comfortable with you, they dont mind coming up close.
And finally the first one came. A large reef manta dancing in the water. They are such majestic animals and you have to experience it yourself, it can simply not be explained. I did not move a muscle, just flowing with the current. The manta came up really close and swam right under my belly. It was so close I could have touched it, but I surely didn’t. You should never touch them, as you scare them away, and human skin is actually hurting them.
Then I turned my head, another one was heading towards us. Making a huge turn right in front of our faces. And another one after a minute or two.
The mantas were circling the cleaner station, and kept coming back to us for almost an hour. I am not sure if there were 3 or 4 of them. They are usually found in spots with lots of plancton (food) so the visibility was not great, so they disappear before you see them again. One of the guides said 3 while the other said 4, but anyhow a fantastic experience.
I should also mention that there was a huge amount of new tabling Acroporas on the seafloor, which was great to see. They are surely returning!!
Later on that day, while having a cocktail in the Sunset Bar or in the restaurant eating dinner, I was watching all the clips I had recorded. I was feeling true happiness while watching them. Lucky lucky me 😉
The pics below are not real photos, but screenshots from some of the clips I recorded. That is why the format is different.
Day 7 (Sunday)
Last full day in paradise was now a fact.. Time flies when you are having a great time, especially when you are there just for a week. On these days I often repeat the favourite things I’ve done during the holiday, for a last time experience.
The couple from London joined me for a snorkel on the North side of the reef, again good fish life, but no sharks or turtles. Not been lucky in terms of turtles on RF, but the North-Eastern part of the reef have been better than expected, so overall been happy with the snorkeling.
Then a few glasses of fizz in the jacuzzi, watching the beautiful lagoon.. This was really one of my favourite things to do at RF.
Then some of the favourite pre-dinner cocktails at the Sunset Bar. The favourite one must be the passion fruit daiquiri.
The last dinner was extra nice. Started off with a glazz of fizz before I had a mixed seafood plate with one lobster, tiger prawns, octopus and scallops. Really yummy!!
After dinner I had a last evening stroll around the inner paths and beaches of the island. The sky was clear and stars were really bright. Then it was time to settle the bill at the reception, before heading to bed.
Day 8, departure day
I had late checkout until 3 pm and seaplane pickup at 4. Plans for the day was breakfast, one more snorkel, another hour in the jacuzzi, a cocktail in the bar, and lots of time for packing and getting ready.
Again I headed for Dhiyavaru for breakfast. On most mornings I’ve had continental breakfast, as its less heavy than the English one with eggs and sausages. Oh, I also forgot to mention that they have real pork bacon on this island for those that prefers that.
The continental breakfast includes a fruit platter, white and brown bread toasts, croissants, pain au chocolat and the best mango and passion fruit jam. Coffee of choice, juice, water (still or sparkling). The breakfast is huge, so was only able to eat half of it.
But while I had breakfast they called from the reception to tell that my seaplane departure had been changed, and was in one and a half hour!! So I had to finish up the breakfast and pack, shower etc in a hurry! The late seaplane was changed due to the pandemic situation.
It resulted in a long wait at the airport and a long journey home..
A big thank you to all staff at Reethi Faru for a wonderful holiday, and thank you to my readers for following my holiday.
For more information about Reethi Faru, check out my live blog on Tripadvisor: