Just five minutes away from the airport on Maamigili island by speedboat, Sun Island Resort and Spa takes up a hefty slice of the expansive turquoise lagoon it shares with a couple of islands.
The resort sprawls — kilometers and makes use of its land with spectacular landscaping. It’s one of the largest resorts in the Maldives. Our team from Island Voyages receive warm greetings at the pier and are immediately shown our beach bungalow. The room faces a powdery white beach scattered with mangroves and coconut palms which cast their shade over sun loungers overlooking the pristine lagoon.
The beach bungalow is cozy and clean, with only the design hinting at the age of these rooms. We recover from our travel fatigue after half an hour of lounging out on the veranda facing the sea and sipping coffee. Before we investigate other accommodation options at the resort, we head out to lunch at the main restaurant; it is a veritable labyrinth of chairs and tables, being the largest restaurant in the archipelago, which gives an effect of adventure to our scrambling to and from the scrumptious and widely varied buffet. We have the freedom to choose from Indian, Maldivian, and European cuisines to our hearts content. Hunger satisfied, we begin our inspection of all accommodations the resort offers.
With four main categories of rooms to choose from, the unquestionable best is the water bungalow; two rows of over-water bungalows march down the lagoon, each with some greenery on a small terrace, all the way up to the Sun Star Thai Restaurant at the very end that magnificently looms over them all. As we explore the bungalows hemming the wooden walkway that crisscrosses over the crystalline water, we see snorkelers below, languidly splashing by observing the scintillating fishes and sharks pups that frequent these waters. The rooms themselves are a delight for honeymooners, with absolute privacy and luxury made complete by the astounding sight of shades of blue as far as the eye can see. There’s a veranda fenced in by greenery and a private staircase which leads straight down into the sea.
At the very end of the walkway stands the vast presidential suite, with exquisite design and luxury. With the aquamarine scenery of the lagoon against a backdrop of azure skies, guests would no doubt feel like they’ve escaped from the confines of time and the rest of the world. The song of the sea and wind lulls the euphoria of decadent peace. There is absolutely no choice except to kick back and relax, to enjoy the tropical sunshine and some serious alone time, while at the same time reveling in all the amenities you could want during a getaway. We are reluctant to leave the over water bungalow area solely because of the surreal atmosphere it emanates, while the island is still visible some distance away virtually detached.
Those queasy of living over water can choose the splendor of the high-end beach bungalows, which includes sun villas and sunset villas. The sunset villas are more modern, plush, and packed with amenities than the beach bungalows we chose to stay in. The veranda here faces the west-side lagoon which lights up in vibrant gold when the sun dips to kiss the purple horizon, a glorious view that puts the perfect end to a relaxing day. The sunset can be enjoyed even if you’re cuddling in bed, thanks to the large picture window directly across that grants a satisfying view. The sun villas, meanwhile, are further inland and fenced in for private with no view to speak of. However, the villas house subtle delights such as a small garden and a better outdoor shower area.
Sun Island Resort and Spa has certainly made full use of its land area in offering one of the best varieties of accommodations in South Ari Atoll. Though the number of visitors are high throughout the year – mostly in the hundreds – it often felt to us that we were the only ones on the island. Our beach villa alone was enough to satisfy the need to escape from the hubbub of the world, and healed the stress from the world beyond.