What is a vacation in the Maldives if you are not able to experience the culture, the food and the hospitality of Maldivians? Although, this island nation brags luxury in the majority of resorts, the epitome to truly experience its culture lies not in high-end resort brands but in local islands and middle class rated resorts such as Fihalhohi Island Resort.
Situated along the lagoon line of Emboodoo, Fihalhohi Island Resort is among the oldest resorts in South Male Atoll. It is more than 30 years in existence and with that said, it speaks a lot about its contribution to how the Maldivian economy’s rise to extreme heights.
It is also a haven of sea creatures and a sure place to go if you want to swim with manta rays, small friendly sharks and reef fishes. South Male Atoll is well known for that especially during the mid-year to the end of the year season.
With that said, what do you expect?
If you want to truly experience the culture of Maldives without sugar-coating it with Western or European Influence, Fihalhohi Island Resort is the go-to place. You can expect hospitality practiced the Maldivian way. Besides, what is the point of traveling here if you will not indulge in the culture and food of Maldivians? You can find luxury all over the world but you cannot find the authenticity of a certain culture just anywhere.
Upon setting foot on the island, I was greeted by one of the owner’s relatives with a fresh towel of floral scent and a glass of tropical refreshing drink. We sat for a few minutes to talk about the history of Fihalhohi before they guided me and my family to our home for the night. I was informed that even the owners would visit the place every week.
The lobby and almost all places in the resort are equipped with summer-themed furniture made of wood, bamboo, woven pieces.
Our room is equipped with a woven bed, there is hot water on the shower and a bathtub. It is a couple of steps away from the beach which we do not mind. The whole place gives you a feeling that you are still in a local island- surrounded by big trees (coconut and other varieties) that have been standing there for we never know how long, swings to sit and play and hammocks to relax and sleep.
Around the place
Across from the jetty area, nearby the bar and the lobby is a place to hang out facing the blue-green clear waters. For the whole day, you can sit and be serenaded by the peaceful gushing of wind and waves or watch the dancing of colorful reef fishes of different sizes when you peek on the waters.
I was enticed by the whole scene of dancing sea creatures that went about the whole day and night as if they know that they are being watched. Every now and then, a couple of manta rays would pass by and a sea turtle would stroll around before disappearing in farther waters. At night, a couple of sharks came by in circles too. It is as if there is no need to go snorkeling because the shores offer the sight of the sea creatures.
Of course, if you prefer to do some water sports, sandbank, trip to nearby resorts, go fishing, go to a sunset sail, you can just ask the friendly front desk officers who will be very much willing to assist you.
As I have mentioned earlier, Fihalhohi is a place to indulge yourself with the Maldivian culture. The dinner and breakfast buffets greeted us with a variety of pastries and bread but the main dish is a selection of meat (fish, chicken, beef) in Indian and Maldivian curries. As you know, Maldivian food prides itself with coconut, curries, and spices. Grilled seafood is available and a few options for western and European cuisines. But expect more of Maldivian and South Asian dishes on the serving platters.
I love it that a specific attendant is assigned to us throughout the duration of our stay. I actually give him a 10/10 rating for his courtesy and hospitality. He ensures we are comfortable in our place, makes sure our water is refilled often and provides our hot drinks without making us wait for long. He does converse with us but he never interrupts us when we are already enjoying our hearty meal.
I have read reviews in TripAdvisor about some guests who do not appreciate the selection of food but personally, I can say that if you expect to eat luxury food originating from western culture, France, Italy, Europe then I suggest you book a luxury resort and also be prepared to shed some of your hard-earned money on it.
Fihalhohi is a place for people who want to appreciate Maldivian culture.
There are a variety of pastries and cakes for deserts.
The Entertainment Area and the Bar
After dinner, my family and I strolled around the place and played “Carrom” in the entertainment hall. Carrom is a Maldivian Board game. If you do not know how to play it, you can check out youtube videos. There is a mini library for bookworms like me and table tennis for sporty kids.
In the bar is a billiard hall where guests can play while watching a live band play their music. Some day, guests are entertained by Maldivian cultural dancers and some days a DJ plays for those who love to dance. For us, it was a live band that played that night.
The bar has a homely atmosphere with yellow lights, woven furniture with pillows and cushions. During the day, it can be a place to coffee as you read a book while other guests just sit and talk.
So, if you are a family, a newly wed couple wanting to experience Maldives while thinking of mortgages and saving accounts, a backpacker who just wants adventure, say hello to Fihalhohi!