We were delighted to hear from one of our regular snorkelling clients, Sara Lyth, on her return from Thulhagiri Island. Sara kindly agreed to let us use her trip report on our website.
"We had yet another fantastic Regaldive holiday at Thulhagiri. I was asked by a friend to write up a review of the island, as they like to choose different islands each time, as we do. I thought this might be of interest..."
A superb place to be…
Wonderful little thatched cottages. Some cottages are single, and some in threes, but you don’t feel ‘attached’ to neighbours. Very clean, nice finish, bright rooms, all done out with bamboo. Bathrooms are inside, but have vents to outside. There is a back door for entry after beach, with tap to wash feet, goggles, flippers etc. Great shower – like a wet room – not an enclosed shower cubicle. Lovely sink area etc. Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner all provided, and topped up when empty. Plenty of towels, bath mat, flannels. Change of towels each day if you want. Plus beach towels, changed each day for outside. Plenty of wardrobe space, bedside cabinet, television (we did not even turn on!), fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, kettle, dressing table. Plenty of room. Air conditioning (ours worked perfectly). Big bed!
Each room has two long adjustable plastic seats. The patio then has two upright adjustable white plastic seats. Also, there is a washing line on either side of the patio, and pegs provided! The patios are small-ish and thatched – very nice. Big enough to sit on if it rained (which it did for 10 minutes in 15 days!) It means that you have a bit of an allocated space for your chairs and can move them around to get shade, or a better view, etc.
The island is covered with budgerigars of all sorts of colours. These are truly sweet birds, not at all tame, though. There were plenty of baby birds (but they looked just like smaller budgies!) The nests/homes are in various trees: they are empty coconuts! The birds all go to ‘bed’ at sunset!! They really are very sweet: everybody seemed to like them! Also herons and terns. There is a large McCaw parrot in the staff quarters.
The Island Itself
You can walk around the whole island in ten minutes, it’s only a five minute walk from one side of the island to other. There are cottages on each side of the island. One side of the island has sun, but does not get as hot. On the side of the island that has the sunset - all cottages are really hot, and the difference in temperature during the hot afternoon is very noticeable – it’s much hotter on the sunset side of the island which has the large beach. Also, cottages on that side have easier access to the large beach: however there are no shades on the beach at all, so not many people were sat there during the day: it was mainly occupied during sunset hours!! So it depends on how hot you want to be as to where you opt for your room! We preferred the slightly cooler side of the island which often had a breeze.
There was a lovely sunset bar with tables and chairs on the big beach – but you could also take your drinks to the long chairs on the beach if you wanted to.
Tides and currents
The currents changed a lot, and could be very strong to swim against. Also, you really had to watch the tide times, too. It affected both the direction of the snorkelling, and the availability of getting out to the reef, and the areas you could get to.
At low tide it was tough to get over the top of some of the reef, especially on the large beach side of the island. OK if you can float in only one foot of water though – the reef was never exposed above the water at all. The waves were really quick and strong on the cooler side of the island, breaking into the wall, up and over – beautiful to watch. We never felt in any danger in the water, but watched other people struggle against the current a little when snorkelling.
Should say that if you watched the currents and the tides properly, then the snorkelling on the reef could be very calm indeed, especially on the beach side in the afternoons.
House Reef – Snorkelling
Plenty of coral, plenty of fish, and plenty to see. We saw amazing things over a period of 15 days – and tended to see new things each day. All the normal fish, but also eagle rays – off the house reef, one in shallow water on the large beach side, which we swam with for 15 minutes, while it ‘fed’ off the sandy floor.
Also plenty of Octopus – on the big beach side of the reef towards the boat (Dhoni) dock. Late afternoon we saw lion fish, stonefish, octopus, stingrays (large and small, beige and dark grey) and feather tail stingrays.
Black tipped sharks were truly common – all the time – varying lengths – up to 7 feet in length. Probably about 6 on the island reef, I would think – I could recognise 4 different ones by end of the holiday.
Turtles – 3 to 5 of them – usually on the part of reef between the Dhoni boat dock and the water bungalows.
There are two boat docks – the Dhoni diving dock, and a dock which brings people in from Male. Oh, also saw squid and dolphins on the reef edge. Drop off was good everywhere, and visibility was very good, unless there had been a strong tide or current and you were near the parts which had sand underneath, then it was all stirred up and you could not see well. But generally very clear.
Plenty of reef close to the surface, so you were actually eye to eye with fish at times, instead of always being about 4-6 feet above them! Saw about 10 fish we had never seen before, and still have not named!
Also saw 3 types of Moray Eel: usual big brown, small white with black pretty markings all over, small black with white striped all down it, oh, and small brown with blotches over it. Not many of these, and usually late afternoon sightings. No manta rays.
We do not dive, but I spoke to many people. A young couple from Austria did 12 dives. The first two were disappointing, as the current was so strong… the second dive was aborted after about 30 minutes, and all returned to the boat as the current was far too strong. This was also confirmed by a French couple (age about 65 with great experience – brought huge suitcases with ALL their own dive equipment in it – been diving for many years). The dive was to Potato Reef.
The dive to the Banana Reef was excellent, though. BUT it all seemed to depend on the current and the tides a lot. Sometimes it took one and a half hours to do a rough Dhoni boat trip to the dive site because of the tides and currents, and one diver felt sick. Normally the dives are within maximum 40 minutes of the island. They said at the dive school that they have 50 dive sites. They are a 5 star PADI school. Two of the dives the elder couple did they said were the best they had done in the Maldives!!
There were a lot of Japanese divers, with a Japanese speaking person at the Dive School. Everybody seemed happy with the diving, and also with the organisation of the Dive School. The facilities were good – we went to visit. Teaching seemed good – met a lady from Scotland who tried a first dive ever, and described it all to me.
Depends on what you like to eat!!! Most things either used garlic or chilli, or both. Quite a spicy buffet each evening: difficult to find plainer food sometimes. There was lots of live cooking – 3 stations each night.
The buffet was supposed to change every evening over a two week period, but many of the same items appeared a lot of times! The buffet in the evening was huge – the queues were long if you went at opening time (7.30pm). When the island was full, this wasn’t so good, but the second week was quieter.
We never went hungry and there was always plenty of choice. The Chinese stir fry (which was done to your specification) at lunch time was very nice. We didn’t try the pasta. They had a Vietnamese evening, a Maldivian one, a barbeque one, a continental one, a European one… but they were all pretty mixed, despite the titles! Good salad buffet, but if the something ran out as you got there it was not quickly replaced by more.
On the whole, the food was a bit too spicy for us, sadly I am allergic to chilli, so had to keep asking about the food. The chefs knew the answers, though, but it did limit me to a lot of chicken! Fortunately I love chicken! Not as much fish on offer as other some islands. Plenty of fruit, freshly cut, each evening.
Head chef is Austrian, so patisseries were good, especially meringues, and biscuits. Many home-made gateaux: much choice.
Restaurant, Reception and Inside Bar
All buildings ran into each other – with a beautiful thatched roof outside and bamboo inside. The dining area was nicely divided into different areas. On the last night you are invited to eat dinner on the beach, or the patio by the pool which is cooler, it’s the same buffet but nice to be ‘under the stars’! We thought the waiters were slower than at other Maldives islands we’ve been to.
The bar was also nicely divided into sections on two different levels. Service a little slow – better to wait at bar to get drink, then order at chairs, we found. Usual things each evening: crab race, diving video, watersports talk, magician (that was unusual!), disco, live band. Only started at 9pm when dinner finished.
Fridges in rooms are empty. They did not mind us taking drinks back to our room to put in fridge for use during the day. Because we had chosen all inclusive this time, they would give us 1 litre containers of mango juice (or other juice) for us to take back to our rooms… not all islands are as ‘easy’ as this, and will only serve drinks ‘by the glass’, and not allow them to be taken away from the bar area so we thought this was good.
Loads of cocktails were included in the all-inclusive, and many more drinks than usual, like Pimms, Grand Marnier, Good Whisky, not just local. Measures were huge: got a bit woozy one night after only two cocktails, as they used really good alcohol, not cheap stuff like most Maldivian islands!! Unusual to see so much included in an ‘all inclusive’ package.
Very helpful. NO MOSQUITOS – INCREDIBLE! They fumigate once every two weeks. When I saw a few mosquitos around, I asked at reception when the next fumigation would be. They looked on computer and said it would be in four days’ time. They asked if this was a problem: I explained a few people were getting bitten, and I was thinking of using the spray I had brought, and being careful about leaving all doors open now. They brought the fumigation forward and did it the next day – just because I asked if they could! Unusual for the Maldives, in my experience!
Also, I had an accident with a beach chair. I reported it, and they went straight away to collect the broken chair (I did not break it – it was already broken!).
Room boys were good…came once a day. Do not come into rooms into evening, which we didn’t mind. They did not clean the patio area that well, but the wind blew so much sand and leaves into this part each day… It was the windiest island we’ve been on, but warm wind, not cold.
The usual – a day in Male, (only 25 mins from airport/city), sunset fishing and eat fish you catch, sunset trip, desert island, deep sea fishing.
Actually we saw more than used: windsurfers – 2 of them for about 4 days in the afternoon. One banana boat. Catamaran out one afternoon. Paddlers on boards for 2 days. A few canoes. Plenty of stuff to hire, for sure.
Also table tennis, table football. Books in reception, but mainly in German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian.
Mostly German speaking, though mainly from Austria, then Switzerland, then Germany. More Japanese than we are used to. Also some Russians. I reported two Russians to the Dive School staff…they had seen an Octopus, so were naturally excited, but they kept standing on the coral, and actually were breaking pieces off the coral. ALL people very friendly, except some of the Russians and the Japanese, but I think this was because of the language barrier. They didn’t seem to talk to anybody, really.
The Austrians and Swiss were very friendly, but then we have been to those countries a lot, and I speak good German. Met a number of nice people and keeping in touch with two Germans, have already received an email from an Austrian woman! Met only one French pair. Asked other people if they had seen any Italians… only one pair on the island, it would appear! We were the only people from England for 14 days, which suited us very well! On the last day, two people arrived from England, and told us the news and that there had been three lots of snow and freezing weather while we were away – YIPPEE!
Dress… casual. Very easy going. Sand everywhere – no shoes.
Lots of room to fly kites on the large beach in the sunset. Lots of people thought it was fun, too, so that was nice!
One day I was half way round the island snorkelling. We had decided to miss lunch, as we really don’t usually eat so many meals each day. So I thought I might as well go all the way round – I do try to snorkel each island without stopping all the way round once only during a Maldives holiday. It took over 3 hours, as I took many photos all the time, and I hit very strong currents on the last homeward stretch of water – but saw some beautiful bat fish right at the end! Loads of baby fish in the shallow parts…love to see them, too.