On our first few days in the Maldives, we stayed in a local island called in the South Ari Atoll (now called Alifu Dhaalu Atoll). The atoll has 49 inhabited islands and we stayed in the island of Dhangethi. We chose this island, even if it was quite far, for two reasons: one, scheduled speedboats travel here on a daily basis (except Friday) and and two, because of the diving opportunities. The Ari Atolls are famous for pelagic diving and indeed, we saw sharks, turtles, rays, and dolphins in our dives (six dives in three days). Of the choices of accommodation in this island, we chose Ariston Maldives based on website reviews and this is our experience.
Dhangethi is a small island with a view accommodation choices. Ariston, and one more guesthouse, is located by the beach (although not at the bikini beach) with Ariston facing the eastern side of the island. This area has been quite busy though with the construction of a new port but the lagoon in front of the resort is still untouched. The bikini beach is a three-minute walk away. Since the island is small, everywhere else in the island is accessible by foot, but in terms of the inn, it is a bit out of way from the island center and the old jetty (where we take the boat for our diving lessons).
Our room was very spacious and was located at the back of the building. We were on the top floor (which is the third; before the roof deck). Our bed was quite comfortable and there was a TV but we never used it. The room had a small fridge which was really nice because it made sure our water was kept chilled (the weather can get very hot). I loved that our room had large windows that would let the light in. The hotel’s neighbors were bungalows so we could keep the windows open in the morning and afternoon. The bathroom was good but we just had small problems with the water being too hot and the shower drain not draining fast enough. Otherwise, it was perfect.
Life in Dhangethi is simple and one would expect Ariston to be, too. There is no fancy lounge or swimming pool, as the in-house restaurant and nearby beach are good enough for the guests. The inn had wifi and connection was surprisingly good in both the lobby and in our room. Our room got cleaned everyday which was a treat. The inn arranged transport services the moment we landed in Male (for an additional 10 USD rate per person which we gladly paid for) and the speedboat kindlby dropped us off in the airport on our way back. I was very lucky that the inn kindly facilitated the retrieval of my left luggage (considering our location): my bag was in my room in a couple of days. Lastly, Ariston manages the only dive center in the island which was very important since we went to Dhangethi for the diving. They had their own boat and dive team and they helped us on our first day since we had not gone diving for a year. The gear they provided, although not brand new, were in good condition and we did not have complaints. We got our gear during the first night and it was kept in our own ‘storage boxes’ for the rest of our stay. The dive team, led by Kokky, took us to awesome locations where we got to see sharks, turtles, dolphins, and mantas (which was nothing short of awesome) on our dive trips. No dive site was boring. I enjoyed all of them immensely.
There were three other restaurants in the island, apart from our hotel restaurant. Since we did not take full board, we tried one of the restaurants by the beach and they served really good curry. Our hotel itself cooked the most amazing food. We had curry almost all the time except for our last night, when the team arranged a dinner by the beach for us and one more couple who were leaving – so we got the set dinner of fish and other typical Maldivian meals. We had daily breakfasts, which were served buffet style. There were pancakes and bread but I had fallen in love with the local breakfast dish called mas huni. A mixture of tuna, coconut, and lime juice served with roti. It was so good that I had it everyday.
The people in Ariston Dhangethi are some of the most hospitable people I had ever met. The staff were very accommodating and the kitchen even cooked for me chicken curry even if it wasn’t on the menu. The dive team was awesome and made sure we were comfortable on our dives. They gave us an assessment about what we were doing wrong (we did not dive for a year) and made sure our next dives were fun and safe. They also packed for us snacks so we could eat after our trips. During our last night, the guesthouse let us have candle light dinner by the beach. It was the best thing they could have done for us! Everyone was so amazing that it set the bar high for our expectations of the Maldivians.
If luck would let us come again to dive in the Maldives, I would not hesitate to go back to Ariston. It was worth our time and money. Plus, the local island of Dhangethi was a charm – link to a guide of the island here. We found Ariston Dhangethi Inn via Booking.com. Get 10% off your stay by clicking on this link to book.