Pillow Talk: Between the Sheets of Anantara Dhigu, the Maldives

Anantara Dhigu has all the amenities and gorgeous weather needed for a great family getaway
Anantara Dhigu has all the amenities and gorgeous weather needed for a great family getaway | Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Photo of Nina Zietman
Senior Commissioning Editor16 December 2021
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Who says honeymooners should have all the fun? Not this family-friendly hotel in the South Male Atoll, which lays on an archipelago’s-worth of activities for kids and grown-ups.

Step off the boat at Anantara Dhigu and you’ll be handed ice-cold coconut water in its original husk. That’s just the first of many surprises at this barefoot luxury resort, a 30-minute boat ride south of the Maldives‘ capital, Malé. This is a place to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect as a family. From the eternally-bustling Dhoni kids’ club to outdoor movie nights and glass-bottom boat adventures, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained, plus pindrop-quiet spots where children won’t disturb the peace. Here’s how to experience the best this island resort has to offer.

Anantara Dhigu

** Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort - Overwater Pool Villa - Interior
Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Let’s imagine for a minute that your whole family has relocated to a desert island. Which Crusoe crashpad should you choose? Our vote goes to the thatched beach houses with an open-air bathroom under swaying palms. Or maybe the overwater bungalows with unfettered access to the lagoon. Grab your snorkel to spot damselfish, eagle rays and black-tip reef sharks. Each suite comes with Electra bikes for pedalling around the island’s sandy paths, plus a personal host available 24/7 on WhatsApp, ready to assist with anything from massage bookings to finding your bike after one too many piña coladas.

Anantara Spa at Dhigu

Spa
Anantara Dhigu - Anantara Spa Thai Sala with guest
Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Gaze down at tropical fish, visible through a glass floor, during a signature massage at the overwater spa on Dhigu, which follows the body’s meridian lines, using deep stretches alongside traditional techniques to melt away tension. Each session starts with a lavender foot soak and finishes with an invigorating ginger tea; the therapist’s intuitive touch will iron out any kinks that crept up during your flight. Couples should opt for the Indian Ocean Escape, which includes an aromatherapy bath for two overlooking the brilliant blue water. Looking for a health kick? Book a session with resident naturopath Kelly Manning, who offers nutritional guidance to restore your body back to health, while your kids are occupied at a sushi-making class with Spice Spoons.

Felidhoo

Natural Feature
Anantara Dhigu - Shark Snorkelling
Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Snorkelling with nurse sharks is a must while staying on Dhigu. Forget Jaws: while these sharks can reach up to 4.2m (14ft) in size, they’re completely harmless. Take a 50-minute boat ride from the resort to the Vaavu Atoll, near Felidhoo. Dive into the water and you’ll find up to 15 nurse sharks, gracefully gliding beneath the surface. They won’t pay you much attention, but they do get close enough for you to see every mark on their sleek grey bodies. Kids as young as four years old (with lifejackets) can join in, too. Remember, never touch or feed the sharks; Mother Nature likes to be observed at a distance.

Baan Huraa at Anantara Veli

***Baan Huraa Evening
Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Draw a line due east from Dhigu and the next country you’d hit would be Thailand. Baan Huraa restaurant captures the culinary essence of the southeast Asian nation on the shores of Dhigu’s sister hotel, Anantara Veli. Stroll along the torchlit dock to the pyramidal restaurant, built on stilts over the lagoon. Teak tables, flickering candlelight and the sound of lapping waves create an intimate atmosphere. Start with goong thod bai cha ploo, a traditional Phuket appetizer of chilli-spiced prawns wrapped in a betel leaf, before tucking into the reef fish red curry, served with pillowy pineapple-fried rice. Remember, when the menu says “spicy”, it means it. There’s also a kids menu with less perky dishes, such as stir-fried chicken noodles.

Aquafanatics on Anantara Dhigu

Sports Center
hi-avel-69355013-aquafanatics-water-sports-and-dive-centre
Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
With sea temperatures hovering around 29C (84F) year-round, even the most reluctant swimmers can be tempted into the Maldives’ warm waters. Looking for something more energetic? Onsite water sports specialists Aquafanatics offer everything from kitesurfing to jet ski rides. Book a SeaBob session, where an underwater motorised torpedo propels you like a dolphin. Alternatively, meet the real thing on a dolphin-snorkelling tour. It’s also possible to swim with whale sharks and manta rays all year round.

Tropicsurf on Anantara Dhigu

Natural Feature
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Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Few realise the Maldives is a surfer’s paradise, thanks to warm temperatures and breaks for all abilities. Beginners can master the basics in the lagoon with a lesson from Tropicsurf, while intermediates are guided to the peeling reef break at Nonya’s, just a five-minute boat ride from the resort. If you’re an advanced surfer, half-day excursions to renowned spots such as Sultans and Cokes beckon. April to October promises the best conditions, but it’s still possible to find a decent swell outside these times.

Gulhifushi Island

Natural Feature
DINNER ON GULHIFUSHI
Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Nicknamed the “picnic island”, Gulhifushi is a miniature sandy speck, just 400m (1,300ft) off Dhigu island. It’s home to the resort’s best snorkelling. Head to the north side and swim to the edge of the reef, where hundreds of fish – including blue-fin jackfish and titan triggerfish – dart among the coral forest. If you’re lucky, you might also spot a hawksbill turtle. Spend the rest of the morning sipping iced coffee on your sun lounger and floating in the calm lagoon. Kids can bring along their complimentary beach bag, colouring book and pencil kit for the adventure. Reach the island by taking a pontoon ride, available from 10am to 5pm every day.

Sea Fire Salt on Anantara Dhigu

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort - Sea Fire Salt Restaurant
Courtesy of Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Fat, juicy tiger prawns. Seared scallops. Silky ceviche. It’s all about Maldivian seafood at the enticing Sea Fire Salt restaurant, perched on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Nab a table outside on the deck, where you can sip sauvignon blanc, while tucking into perfectly-grilled grouper fillet. It’s also the perfect spot for a sundowner; try the Barbaru cocktail, made with white rum, Cointreau and fresh pomegranate, as the sky burns crimson pink. There’s a dedicated children’s menu, too – featuring pizza and chocolate fudge cake – that will keep them smiling.

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