Rihiveli, Rihiveli… where to begin. I’ll begin with our arrival. I questioned for quite some time whether it’d be worth it to fork out the cash for a resort on a private island. The thing is, I’m no spend thrift… anyone that’s ever seen my shoe collection knows that I’m not afraid of spending money (not always a good thing…). I place a very strong value on the money I spend, though, and have a strong allergy to overpaying for things that simply aren’t worth it. I was determined with this trip to not go crazy with the budget (like I usually do for hols like this), but decided that I couldn’t justify a trip to the Maldives without at least a teeny splurge at the ‘best French resort in the Maldives’. A bit of history about the Rihiveli resort and why we chose this as our splurge. The original owner (who is French) saved some Maldivian soldiers in a shipwreck and as a thank you, was granted a resort license for 10 years by the Maldivian government. The concept of Rihiveli is meant to be entirely eco-friendly, and everything is designed to respect the local environment. The place is relatively small with only 48 bungalows, and definitely feels like the peaceful haven it was designed to be. Each bungalow (ours was ‘Bismass’) has its own hammock (albeit not the typical Maldivian ones!) and beach chairs, and you’re provided with gigantic lush beach towels. Our bungalow was located on the back of the island, near the restaurant and I have to say we got really lucky! It felt deserted and the other bungalows were spaced far enough out that it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the arrival to any private island resort can cost an arm and a leg, as transfers from the airport are usually arranged directly by the resort and are either speedboats or seaplanes. Since we were traveling to other islands before our final stop in Rihiveli, logistically this proved to be quite challenging to get there without having to go all the way back to the airport and then getting a boat all the way back to Rihiveli. I’m no logistical expert but I knew that made no sense, both in terms of time and cost. When Ahmed at the (amazing) Raakani hotel in Guraidhoo agreed to help us sort a speedboat to Rihiveli for a very reasonable fare, we jumped at the chance and found ourselves…yet again on our favorite little blue dingy. It got the job done though and as we got to the jetty at Rihiveli we could tell the welcome staff could barely hold in their laughter at the sight of our tiny little barely afloat boat. But instead of paying $250 to get there, we paid $38 so I had a nice little chuckle to myself and hopped off the boat ready to see if this whole private island stuff was worth it. Hint: it was. it totally was, in every way.
The first thing you’ll notice when you get to Rihiveli is that the place is beautiful, everything about it is beautiful. The water is clean and clear and warm, the sand is somehow magically always freshly raked, and each bungalow is simple yet luxurious enough. The sunrise view from our Bungalow was one of the best we’d seen in the Maldives, and being alone first thing in the morning watching the sun come up through the clouds… I had definitely stopped thinking about anything else other than the total beauty of my surroundings by this point, and the thought of heading back home to London was the furthest thing from my mind. Vacation objective = accomplished.
Our first day there was spent exploring the island, taking the free kayak out to explore the two islands that also belong to Rihiveli. They have snorkeling trips twice a day, free water sports like kayaks, snorkeling gear, surf and paddle boards, and even catamarans…! All for free, and accessible to anyone at any time. The group activities are posted right outside the Water Sports Center, and there’s enough to keep even the most activate vacationers happy.
There are two food options on the resort, either the restaurant (which is ridiculously expensive at something like $130 for two) or the bar. We never tested the restaurant and opted for the bar food as it was delicious and much more reasonably priced. The food was very good and the drinks were cold and cheap, so no regrets there! It’s also the only place you can even have a remote chance of getting a wifi signal, and is overall a place to hang as there’s a pool table and some other games and is generally just the lounge area of the resort if you want to relax.
There was a happy hour every evening we were there on the huge beach out front, where certain cocktails were served at the open air bar pictured below, and we could sip drinks while watching the sunset.
The grounds were immaculate, and the overall vibe at Rihiveli was just… to chill.
We only stayed at the resort for three nights, but it was totally worth both the logistical headache to get there without paying a fortune, and the cost of the resort itself. Like I mentioned, we wanted that resort feeling without paying the resort money. After hours and hours of research, Rihiveli sounded like a great option. At only £178/night (plus tax, of course) we definitely got what we were looking for. And no Maldivian trip report is complete without sharing a few shots of this bird which we saw everywhere: the Grey Heron.
I haven’t found any other resort in the Maldives that can offer such a setting at such a reasonable price. If you don’t opt for the meal plan which in our opinion was not worth it, then you can have a very reasonable vacation in a truly mind blowing setting. If you’re like us and want to mix it up, then including Rihiveli as the luxury leg of your trip is a great option, and you almost certainly won’t be disappointed.
Or view everything on one page: Maldives on a budget – full series