Biyadhoo, 2014

Biyadhoo island resort is a 3* hotel located in the South Male Atoll, 30kms from Male. I arrived at the airport on an Emirates flight and then had to hang around for over an hour for other guests on another flight. Still, it did give me a chance to go to the mobile phone shop and get a local SIM card. The boat ride takes about 40 minutes and it's inside the atoll most of the way, so there's minimal swell.

The resort has just under 100 rooms which, unusually for the Maldives, are in 5 two storey blocks. This means that even though it's quite a small island, there is quite a lot of areas of native vegetation as well as the more cultivated garden areas. There's one restaurant, which is indoors and air-conditioned, a bar, a small shop, a spa, a watersports centre and a dive centre. My room had air conditioning, a mini bar and that was about it. If you want flat screen TVs, you've come to the wrong place, but I don't think anyone goes to the Maldives to watch TV.

I was on an all inclusive package booked via Kuoni. If you're only on full board, drinks including water are not included. A 2 litre bottle of water was US$3 though that was then subject to 10% service charge and 8% GST taking the price up to nearly US$4. Obviously, it's hot there. I was drinking in excess of 4 litres of water a day. A beer was US$5 (plus tax) and the cocktails started at $8. The all-inc package did include a small selection of cocktails as well as beer, wine, basic spirits (rum/whisky/brandy/vodka/gin) and soft drinks. Sandwiches at the bar in the afternoon were also included.

The food in the restaurant was a bit samey. Breakfast featured lots of pastries, usually sausages, breads, baked beans, french toast, sauteed potatoes or mushrooms and omelettes cooked to order. For some reason, we were only offered cheese in the omelettes every other day. Bacon was available on day a week and Bacon Tuesday was a cause for celebration amongst the guests.

Lunch and dinner followed the same pattern. There were a lot of different breads, salad, then rice, a meat/fish curry, a curried vegetable, a pasta dish, two other dishes, one of which was always fish, and potatoes or vegetables. For dessert, there was usually about 5 choices of cake, cheesecake or mousse. So you can just live on cake for the whole holiday, if would wanted to.

As I was on a morning flight I arrived in time for lunch had time to do the compulsory checkout dive that afternoon. After demonstrating reg recovery, mask clearing and alternate air sharing, we did a dive on the house reef. Biyadhoo has a good house reef and it's certainly a lot cheaper to dive the house reef if you've got a suitable buddy, at $26. There are 7 different entry points and the will ferry your kit in a wheelbarrow if you want to start on the other side of the island and make your way back to near the dive centre. There was plenty to see with some big moray eels and I had a turtle swim alongside me on one dive for about 15 minutes. Some of the snorkellers reported seeing eagle rays on numerous occasions, though I never saw one.

In addition to the house reef, there are also about 20 spots accessible by boat. They're all about 20 minutes away and there's a variety of outer atoll wall dives and reefs inside the atoll. There's also a manta cleaning station, imaginatively called Manta Point. The end of May is the start of manta season in South Male atoll and I was lucky enough to see 3 of them on one dive and one on the surface as we were coming back from a dive. The flipside of this is that the visibility wasn't always that great because of the large amounts of plankton in the water. At times, the viz was down to 15m though it was usually 20+m.

There is also a wreck, the Kuda Giri wreck. It was sank deliberately and lies in about 35m, so the holds are too deep because of the 30m Maldivian diving restriction. I also wouldn't recommend going in the bridge either as there's a lot of cables hanging around. It's quite a nice dive though the the reef, or giri, that it's sank next to is also an interesting site with a number of swim throughs in the coral.

In all, I did 15 dives. It would have been more, but I got water trapped in my ear which was rather painful. In the end, I went to see the doctor on the neighbouring island of Maafushi, and had my ears washed out. It didn't cost much, just $18 for the consultation and $9 in the pharmacy. I saw plenty of sea life, including lots of turtles, big napoleon wrasse, tuna and white tipped reef sharks. Sadly I didn't do the dive where they saw about 20 reef sharks, but that's diving. Had I been travelling with a buddy, I would have done more dives on the house reef. It's a much cheaper option and there was plenty of life on it. It's one of the better house reefs in the Maldives.

For a reasonably cheap 3* hotel in the Maldives, Biyadhoo is hard to fault. A lot of the guests seem to be repeat guests, so they must be doing something right. It's simple rather than luxurious but that is what a lot of us go to the Maldives for.

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