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  • masaccio 786 posts

    So an old favourite again.

    Anyone got recommendations of atolls other than the ‘usual’ ones? Male atolls are out for us as OH gets sick on boats. North/South Ari we have been to a fair bit, Baa is full of crap or obscenely priced resorts (£1k+ B&B), Raa doesn’t seem to report mantas.

    Lhaviyani Atoll looks interesting. Diving looks good and a couple of 5* resorts at £500-600 AI.

    Scuba and a good reef is important and I still hold out hope of mantas which I have yet to dive with in various attempts in different seasons. Which might of course mean we suck up Baa.

    Tracey 220 posts

    Angsana Velavaru has mantra rays, they feed them daily.

    The over water villas are a 5* standard, though be aware that you need a boat to move between your villa and the main area. The other villas are very private, but probably not 5*. The reef is by the water villas, so frequent boats to the reef.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    @Tracey, it looks fab, but are the bathrooms in the beach villas totally open air or just the bathtub? When we went to Maldives years ago it was the former at our resort, which turned me into an All Inclusive buffet for the mosquitos at night! Worst idea ever if you attract them like I do 😂

    masaccio 786 posts

    Yes looks very nice. Boat arrangement is certainly unusual but I’m sure OH can cope with that short trip. She was good on a few minutes boat between resorts in St Lucia, but not good the one time we did a 30 minutes in the Maldives.

    Tracey 220 posts

    @Tracey, it looks fab, but are the bathrooms in the beach villas totally open air or just the bathtub? When we went to Maldives years ago it was the former at our resort, which turned me into an All Inclusive buffet for the mosquitos at night! Worst idea ever if you attract them like I do 😂

    They regularly fog the island, so you really shouldn’t encounter any bugs at all!

    Look at the bathroom layout for each style villa, as they are different. We had a villa with a private pool in the rear garden area and that did have an outside shower and toilet area, but the sinks were inside. I think the villas with a plunge pool in front of the villa have different bathrooms.

    Tracey 220 posts

    There are no bathtubs, all outdoor showers and indoor showers. The beach villas have different layouts depending on the type. The ones with an outdoor pool in the “back garden” have open door and window space to the shower and toilet, but I think the villas without the pool have a more enclosed area.

    Seriously, bites should be the least concern, we went just after covid when the hotel had recently reopened, OH got a couple of bites and they immediately fogged the whole area.

    Guernsey Globetrotter 625 posts

    @masaccio How about the Conrad in South Ari Atoll? I know you said you’ve done that one before but it’s a seaplane connection from Male so one box ticked. The mantas are pretty much guaranteed too – certainly we saw plenty when we stayed at the adjacent Radisson Blu resort and the dive site seemed nearer the Conrad. Whale shark are also highly likely as a bonus!
    I understand too that even your other half would have a high chance of seeing Mantas, as they apparently congregate daily/nightly under the bridge between the two Conrad resort islands, as lights attract plankton they feed on. Conrad seems pretty well thought of as a redemption if you can get the 120k points pn rate and also then utilise the 4 nights for 5 discount as well… it is certainly one I am planning to try for!

    JDB 4,654 posts

    @masaccio if your OH wants to see mantas without going on a boat or diving, you need to get to the Pacific coast of Mexico where you can see them in the waves together with dolphins either from the beach or while swimming. From a boat, not far offshore, you see many more including another sort of ray ? mobula that jumps out of the water, often an indicator of where the whales are before you see a water spout or them jumping. You can also knock a 0 off Maldives prices! And low humidity / no mosquitoes in the winter months.

    SBIre 170 posts

    @masaccio How about the Conrad in South Ari Atoll? I know you said you’ve done that one before but it’s a seaplane connection from Male so one box ticked. The mantas are pretty much guaranteed too – certainly we saw plenty when we stayed at the adjacent Radisson Blu resort and the dive site seemed nearer the Conrad. Whale shark are also highly likely as a bonus!
    I understand too that even your other half would have a high chance of seeing Mantas, as they apparently congregate daily/nightly under the bridge between the two Conrad resort islands, as lights attract plankton they feed on. Conrad seems pretty well thought of as a redemption if you can get the 120k points pn rate and also then utilise the 4 nights for 5 discount as well… it is certainly one I am planning to try for!

    Yep – the Manta Rays love it under the bridge at the COnrad Rangali at night. It’s an awesome sight watching them do their underwater back-flips as they eat. When I was there i went on a Whale Shark snorkeling trip where we got to swim with both a whale shark and a few Manta Rays (at different stops – nothing is guaranteed wild animals, so if they see something of interest in the water, they stop, so you might get to swim with manta on a whale shark trip or vice versa)

    The Diving and snorkeling at the W Maldive is fantastic – but I think it’s a bad area for whale sharks, not sure about mantas. Neither of those are off the beaten track though. My suggestion would be to look at the routes of some of the fancy liveaboard scuba diving boats (like the ScuabSpa Ying and Yang) and see what resorts are nearby. You can then do a quick world search for manta, reef etc on the Tripadvisor reviews

    masaccio 786 posts

    Looking at the Conrad and the W, they are not the kind of place I tend to value personally. I can only think of 2 places I’ve spent that kind of money on a resort (Wilson Island and Jade Mountain). We’re not the kind of people who value that kind of top end service unless there’s something else to tip me over the edge. We just came back from Greece spending £500 B&B in a (by local standards) flash resort and felt just a bit robbed as it was nothing special.

    Last visit to the Maldives was what’s now reopened as Nova in South Ari which was plenty enough 5* for us. It was £400 a night AI at the time and looks like it’s now £700 FB which is probably a bit more than I’d value a Maldives hotel, but it’s pretty close to my personal value threshold.

    The gotcha on mantas and whale sharks is they are entirely seasonal. We have flights for the first 2 weeks in April next year which coincides with the monsoon switchover. That makes it a bit unpredictable about where the plankton will be and no plankton means no big critters. I got lucky with a whale shark last time at South Ari. I’m using this map as a guide.

    There is a reason we keep going back to South Ari though: the quality of the scuba/snorkelling plus the range of hotel options. I just got Atmosphere Kanifushi vetoed by OH as they have no house reef at all.

    SBIre 170 posts

    The gotcha on mantas and whale sharks is they are entirely seasonal. We have flights for the first 2 weeks in April next year which coincides with the monsoon switchover. That makes it a bit unpredictable about where the plankton will be and no plankton means no big critters. I got lucky with a whale shark last time at South Ari. I’m using this map as a guide.

    That map is great – cheers!

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    @Tracey, on the website the beach villas are advertised as having a bath tub big enough for 2! I’d probably have to lie under the water breathing through a piece of bamboo, biting insects find me wherever I go 😂

    I’m sure there’s a resort on one of the Hawaiian islands where they feed manta rays, which would be another Pacific option. I should look into @JDB’s suggestion as well as my OH would love to see all those in the flesh instead of on documentaries! He saw mantas off Kuredu island in December years ago and saw a whale shark diving off the coast of Kenya, they get around.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    Kona, on The Big Island is the place for manta rays. Probably also a bit cheaper than Maldives and you can get a car and go and see volcanoes!

    masaccio 786 posts

    Kona, on The Big Island is the place for manta rays. Probably also a bit cheaper than Maldives and you can get a car and go and see volcanoes!

    That’ll be a different holiday. Possibly our RTW retirement blow out in a couple of years. Good to know though. Thanks!

    KevinC 77 posts

    The Conrad isn’t that flash. It is relatively affordable if you pay with points though f&b is pricey.

    There are certainly more individual places to go in the Maldives but seeing the manta rays come to the bridge at night was a real highlight.

    masaccio 786 posts

    The Conrad isn’t that flash. It is relatively affordable if you pay with points though f&b is pricey.

    There are certainly more individual places to go in the Maldives but seeing the manta rays come to the bridge at night was a real highlight.

    $1000 a night B&B in the Maldives isn’t for me though. I wouldn’t even pay that for AI.

    Guernsey Globetrotter 625 posts

    The Conrad isn’t that flash. It is relatively affordable if you pay with points though f&b is pricey.

    There are certainly more individual places to go in the Maldives but seeing the manta rays come to the bridge at night was a real highlight.

    $1000 a night B&B in the Maldives isn’t for me though. I wouldn’t even pay that for AI.

    Well that may be the rack rate but this is HfP! You can get nights at the Conrad Maldives for an average of 96k Hilton points (120k on discounted by the 5 nights for 4 reward rate). Using HfP valuation of 0.33p that is only £316.80 per night (or $399 pn). You can often buy HH points in their sales at this cost.

    If you have Honors Gold status, as many on here do via Amex Plat, then apparently you also get the following on rewards bookings:
    Complimentary Daily Breakfast (7am-11am)
    Complimentary Daily Afternoon Tea (4pm-5pm)
    Complimentary Daily Happy Hour (5pm-6pm)

    Assuming you are looking to minimise excessive F&B spend then you can go a long way to meeting your daily requirements by making the most of these benefits. I certainly don’t think you’d be spending another daily $600 between a couple, unless you were dining in the underwater restaurant and getting plastered very night! I reckon you could be quite well fed and watered and keep your overall daily cost to c. $650 this way, which feels like value to me considering the quality of the Conrad and the location!

    KevinC 77 posts

    Most people from here who have visited the Conrad would have payed with Hilton points, bought any points in a sale, and got five nights for the price of four. So they are paying around £400 a night. Then breakfast is free with status.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    https://triprep.wordpress.com/conrad-maldives-revisited/

    I think this guy did his trip on avios and HH points. However, I seem to recall reading somewhere since then that the complimentary afternoon tea was removed as a Covid enhancement and may not have reappeared?!

    masaccio 786 posts

    I don’t do hotel points or status (was a hotels.com fan) so these Hilton offers will never be for me. That and I’m reluctant to do B&B in the Maldives anyway. I realise that is probably anathema to HfPers.

    Tracey 220 posts

    I don’t do hotel points or status (was a hotels.com fan) so these Hilton offers will never be for me. That and I’m reluctant to do B&B in the Maldives anyway. I realise that is probably anathema to HfPers.

    Same here.

    qc 246 posts

    Kona, on The Big Island is the place for manta rays. Probably also a bit cheaper than Maldives and you can get a car and go and see volcanoes!

    Also at the Mauna Kea Hotel. Magnificent sight.

    masaccio 786 posts

    Answering my own question, specifically for mantas towards the end of the north-east monsoon.

    There is a manta expedition planned for the first 2 weeks of April that cuts across Ari atoll between the north and south atoll, then follows the west side of the atoll before going east through the marine park south of the atoll.

    On that basis, the best scuba resorts are Conrad Rangali, Diamonds Thudufushi, and Constance Moofushi. Others are close, but you start needing special trips and 60 minutes in a slow dhoni.

    Thudfushi is currently top of my list, but around 50% above September/October rates for next April. BA has some HB deals on the Conrad though all 3 are about the same price (£15k for 2 weeks). Thudfushi has the best reef near water villas with a lagoon one side and the drop off the other. They also have a resident marine biologist that catalogues the atoll’s manta population. I’m still put off by the Conrad’s HB but it’s also available in the slightly dodgy 15:1 Avios hotels collection which I count as a 6% discount. Moofushi is a good mix of both and friends really enjoyed it pre-pandemic and also in BA’s 15:1.

    Anyway just sharing what I know for posterity and SEO.

    tiriavpo 319 posts

    We dived with Mantas (and whale sharks) from Maafushivaru, which is a seaplane transfer.

    Otherwise, Komandoo Island in Lhaviyani Atoll is our favourite. We’ve been 3 times now, diving initially but now only snorkelling. Last autumn we saw plenty of mobular rays and eagle rays and lots of turtles.

    It has lost some of its sparkle over the 10 years that we have visited but it is still peaceful, with no kids or motorised anything – except the dive air compressor.

    NorthernLass 8,270 posts

    Is Komandoo the one you can see from Kuredu, where we stayed many years ago? We paid £800 each for 2 weeks AI via Teletext. F & B were pretty grim; we ended up inventing our own cocktail from the limited types of spirits and fruit juices permitted in the package, by the end of the holiday everyone was ordering it at the bar. OH was blown away by the diving though and it was something of an unspoiled paradise. Apart from the flaming open-air bathroom!

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