The Maldives is more than just one resort per atoll, sun, sand and clear air. It’s a state of mind and will always hold a special place in my heart. Going back once a year is enough to remind me of the beauty of the planet, especially the ocean. Enter Mirihi, a resort in the south of the Maldives, closer to Madagascar than Asia.
To get to Mirihi, one lands in Male and transfers to the Trans Maldivian seaplane, the world’s largest seaplane fleet. The seaplane has a separate terminal, Noovilu Seaplane Terminal, and is a short drive from the international airport. Since Mirihi’s lounge at this fairly new terminal is still under construction, you get access to Coral Lounge. Insider’s Tip: Do avail of the facilities, like the hot shower room, buffet, drinks and mainly — the massage chairs that do an excellent job of soothing muscles after any flight.
The seaplane carries around 12 passengers and three crew members, and if you’re lucky will make just one stop before taking you to Mirihi. I did have the plane to myself once the first stop was made. Lush! The bird’s eye view of Mirihi shows you everything you need to know about the resort. Built on one of the smallest natural atolls in the Maldives, Mirihi has it’s own “international airport”, as the plane doesn’t land at the resort like in other places. A two-minute boat ride and you’re at what is the best description of rest and relaxation. This 45-minute journey from Male to Mirihi will likely be the most scenic one of your life.
The first thing you’ll notice about Mirihi, which is named after the small yellow flowers found around the atoll, is that everyone who greets you is barefoot and sand is everywhere. There are no floors in the common areas as nature is at its best and used to our best advantage. After all, you are in the Maldives for the sun, sand and sea life.
White sand beaches, fringed palms and lush vegetation that is typical of the Maldives also share your space and offer the much needed shade from the sun on the hot afternoons. The entire atoll can be walked in 30 minutes; it is that small. There are two restaurants, a gym, meditation and yoga pavilion called “Bhageecha”, which translates as garden in Hindi, a bar, a shop and a small football pitch. The water and beach villas, including two suites, number 38 and are all private.
I had a water villa at one end of the atoll, which is big enough for two people. The spacious room is furnished with the essentials, a dressing area and the shower (no bath) is big enough for four people. Though the best feature of the villas are the fact that regardless of being in bed or showering or on the throne, the view is outstanding, operative word being out. The vast ocean is in full view and it’s breathtaking.
This is a no-TV resort but who needs one when the view is the endless azure of the Indian Ocean? The amble sized balcony with sun loungers under a huge umbrella are perfect for sun bathing. Though look out of your balcony and into the blue only to find that you’re on a natural reef and the corals and fish below are in plain sight. The crystal clear waters make it worth looking down, though there are also steps to lead you into the water should you want to snorkel near the villa.
Discovering the reef by snorkelling is a must on Mirihi. The resort has a scuba diving centre as Mirihi is one of the best resorts to go out into the ocean from. The best beach, IMHO, is the one near the main restaurant, and not because it has the sun loungers and hammocks, but it leads into a reef and snorkelling around it is amazing. You can take lessons from instructors or go out on your own, I highly suggest it. I saw a minimum of 15 different types of fish including the elusive unicorn fish!
Though this may be a small feat for you as a guest, for the resort it has taken hard work. The resort’s Project Hope began in 2018 with the aim of increasing coral conservation efforts around the resort. As a result, more than 10 species of corals grow in the nursery, which the team plants along Mirihi’s house reef. In 2022, some 800 corals and their accompanying marine life were transplanted into permanent positions.
Breakfast is served in Dhonveli, which is the main restaurant and offers a large variety of cuisines. The sand-floored restaurant is also home to a buffet lunch and dinner with dining on the deck offering nothing but the sun, sand and blue skies. The evenings bring about the stars and the lights of fishing boats on the horizon. The nearest atolls are 30 minutes away. Dinners here are always themed and Fridays are not to be missed as they offer the local Maldivian cuisine.
If you’ve had enough of the sand between your toes and need a solid floor, then the sting-ray shaped Muraka (check it out from the seaplane) is a good choice. This is the best spot for sundowners over the vast ocean, with a Mango, passion fruit and chilli daiquiri (my favourite at Mirihi). But that is not the only view, turn towards the beach and you’ll see hundreds of ghost crabs on the beach, catching the last of the sun ray’s as it sets. Though once the sun goes down, the view shifts to a huge “hole in the floor” and you’re in the midst of Ocean Whitetip and Blackip Sharks. The restaurant serves fine dining but in a casual atmosphere as it is non air-conditioned. With the cool sea breeze and fans, it’s never too hot or humid. The menu is contemporary and offers Wagyu and Maldivian lobsters.
For day-drinking (you are on holiday) or a nightcap, Anba Bar is it. The bar is home to the Maldives’ largest collection of rums and the cocktails are smooth. Mirihi even serves its own rum, aptly named Muraka, which is a Caribbean-style rum blend and is a good choice for cocktails. If you’re into wine, Ruhgandu is the intimate wine lounge showcasing more than 300 old and new world wines, and Champagnes. Private dinners for up to six persons are usually hosted here.
What is a holiday in the sun without a spa? Duniye Spa, which translates as universe in Maldivian, offers just that. A universal approach to wellness, using treatments and techniques inspired by ancient and modern expertise from around the globe.
As we know, going out in the Maldives can only mean one thing — exploring the vast ocean. There are some 50 dive sites located within an hour’s boat ride from Mirihi, making diving the major attraction. While each site offers different marine life, expect to see manta rays to whale sharks to beautiful coral gardens. If you don’t dive but don’t want to miss out, Mirihi's Ocean-Pro team will take you diving. The resort offers courses, from Discover Scuba Diving to Rescue Diver, as it is a Padi 5* Dive Center.
Mirihi is a short boat ride from South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area where whale sharks and manta rays are spotted regularly throughout the year. Book the resort’s 55-foot yacht Mirihi Thari to sail to the edge of the atoll, where the whale sharks live. Alternatively, you can board the traditional Maldivian vessel, the Dhoni to cruise along one of the best house reefs in the country. During certain times of the year, manta-rays gather close to Mirihi and you can go snorkelling with them. If you’ve not had enough of snorkelling during the day, you can go night snorkelling.
Discover the natural wonders of South Ari atoll aboard Mirihi Thari, which sails away into a splendid Maldivian sunset with a pod of dolphins. Once on anchor, the chef on board prepares a barbecue dinner of your choice, perfect for those romantic and magical moments under the stars on water.
Take a break from the water and learn the secrets of Maldivan cooking, which is taught at Muraka. The chefs also offer vegan cooking classes. Though if you’re more prone to a liquid diet, the popular Cocktail Class is conducted at Anba. Master the techniques of bartending while learning about at least three different drinks. The best part of both classes is that you get to taste what you create. There are also fruit carving classes for the art-inclined.
Being just 350m in length and 50m meters in width, Mirihi is a gem with its pristine nature, fringed-palm beaches and powdery sand beaches, the hospitality and celestial quietness notwithstanding. The resort is celebrating its 20th anniversary and has many ongoing offers. Visit mirihi.com/special-offers.