Villa Park at Sun Island
Best Experience for: Couples, Family, Value, Beach, Diving, Swimming with Whale Sharks
Updated April, 2023
Villa Park at Sun Island Resort is located in luxurious surroundings of South Ari Atoll. It is not everyone’s cup of tea and parts could do with some modernisation but for a moderately priced, sporting, entertaining and easy Maldives holiday with a good beach and lagoon, this is a world of breathtaking possibility, where adventure and relaxation are equally within reach. No other resort does it quite like Sun Island. With a relatively large island and a long list of dining and recreational facilities, Sun Island Resort is ideal for active groups or families on a budget, but probably less than ideal for honeymoons or those in search of a secluded romantic holiday.
Opened in October 1998, the 462-room Sun Island is the largest in the Maldives, considering its size and its capacity for more than 700 guests when the resort is full. It's also among the cheapest, especially for the overwater rooms, so if price is a major factor then this resort offers good value. It's the largest resort in the Maldives and draws a budget-conscious, social, and active crowd. Bungalow-style rooms are on the simple side, with dated decor and basic bathrooms, but they have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, minibars, patios, and air-conditioning. Over-water villas are available also. There are five bars, a 24-hour coffee shop, and five restaurants, including three specialty dining spots on the island. Meal and drink plans are available, though they have many restrictions. Catering to many large tour groups and families, the all-inclusive plans here are the most popular. There are also tons of land and water activities, a PADI dive shop, kid-friendly facilities, a massive pool, and lovely spa. Beach areas are perfect for shallow snorkeling and sunbathing.
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The island itself is beautiful however it's far from the small getaway ‘settle back and relax’ concept. It’s big and it’s busy. Yet, because it is a big island, there are different areas with different feels. The tropical grounds are home to flower gardens , shady palm trees, and numerous birds and bats. The resort's botanical gardens produce more than 20000 coconuts monthly as well as wide variety of other tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs served in various restaurants across the island. While birds can be seen everywhere across the island, their sanctuary is located close to the botanical gardens and has been left untouched. Land activities include a multitude of sports courts, such as tennis, badminton, soccer, and volleyball.
A turquoise lagoon surrounding the island is teeming with colorful fish, reef sharks, and patches of coral. The small zone around the watersports centre and beachbeach bar is entirely quiet and laid back. The resort is neither stylish nor fancy, but it meets the needs of most budget travelers. And yet it is a very green island with a full circuit of beach and a long list of activities, so you don't see a lot of your fellow guests except at mealtimes and in the evenings. Just know that there are much better resorts in the Maldives for similar or only slightly higher prices.
Being the largest resort in the Maldives, Sun Island Resort resort can be explored by foot, buggies, or for-free bicycles. Locally known as Nalaguraidhoo, the island is nearly a mile long and half a mile wide and takes about about 35 minutes to walk across. Sun Island is unquestionably a friendly place. While many travelers choose the Maldives for its beauty and intimate island feel, Sun Island draws folks who thrive in large resort atmospheres where socializing is welcomed and the activities are plenty. The relations between staff and guests are warm and easygoing, and the vibe around the swimming pool and main bar is very good, especially in the evening, as it spills out on to beachside decking. Additionally, the property has some of the lowest rates for hotels on their own private island. DOWNLOAD RESORT MAP
Over the years, guest have noted visible wear and obvious neglect, leading the property to undergo some renovations around 2016. The updates addressed concerns such as mosquito problems to mediocre food. Vegetation around the room and other areas has been redesigned to lower bug populations and improve overall appearance, and the resort revamped their food program. Kid-friendly features, new TVs in rooms, and features like free in-room Wi-Fi and yoga classes were added. However, rooms and public spaces still remain on the basic, dated side -- think floral fabrics and wicker furniture.
Biggest resort in the Maldives, measuring 1.6Km long X 440m wide, The Sun Island Resort & Spa is located on Nalaguraidhoo Island in the South Ari Atolll, just 110 kms from Malé International Airport, approximately 17 minutes by domestic flight.
The South Ari atoll is famous for world class diving and whale shark sightings. After flying into Male Airport, travelers will have to catch an additional 20-minute domestic flight to Maamigili (Villa International) airport and then hop on a 10-minute speedboat ride to Sun Island. The neighboring Maamigili, also known as 'Whale Shark Island' is an inhabited island and the only airport in South Ari (Alif Dhaal) Atoll. There are a few guesthouses, and it's a popular base for divers, who especially love staying here for the easy access to Dhidhdhoo Beyru with its whale sharks.
Bungalows and Villas
Most of the 354 rooms at Sun Island are Beach Bungalows or Superior Beach Bungalows. Both are set back slightly from the beach, measure 225 square feet, and have similar dated decor white walls, simple wicker furniture, and tile floors. In general, the rooms, like the resort, are solid, straight-lined and visually unsympathetic to their natural setting. 218 of the land rooms are designated Super Deluxe, the remaining 136 merely Deluxe. They are all semi-detached and have a reasonably sized veranda. Inside they are spacious, clean and tidy. The chair and curtain fabric is typically patterned and busy, while beds have bedskirts and plain white linens. All rooms include beach towels, AC, free bottled water, tea, instant coffee, flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, minibars , and private patios . But having the soap, lotion and shampoo in wall-mounted dispensers is not classy. Basic bathrooms have showers, while Superior bungalows have shower/tub combos. Nor is having to pay for each in-room cup of tea or coffee (plus service charge!). The differences between the categories are not critical: the Deluxes are a tiny bit smaller and don't have a bathtub or bidet.
In 2022 the resort introduced a spectacular range of luxurious new Beach Villas, Beach Villas with private whirlpools and Beach Pool Villas with private whirlpools. LEARN MORE
Those seeking a bit more space and style can upgrade to a Water Villa. These rooms feature CD players, hardwood floors, bathtubs, nicer decor, and patios with steps leading into the lagoon. Water villas account for 72 of the rooms and the island also has four overwater Presidential Suites with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and hot tubs. These, as usual, are the premium priced rooms and the interiors are designed to express this. Wood floors and wall panels, a recessed ceiling with cornicing, copper, gold and peach striped textiles, work together to give an aristocratic look. A sizeable sun deck is half stone tiles and half weathered wooden boards, with sun loungers and sun chairs. Steps lead down to the lagoon. None of the rooms have much in the way of snorkeling, however, as the lagoon is uniformly shallow (1 to 2 metres) and without coral.
Like most resorts in the Maldives, Sun Island is surrounded by beautiful beaches and turquoise lagoons. Here the guests have one of the longest uninterrupted beach shorelines of all islands in the South Ari atoll. The south side of the island is lined with a shallow reef that's ideal for self-guided snorkeling. On the island's northern side you'll find a wide white-sand beach and water better suited for children's fun. Guests can take their pick from numerous wooden lounge chairs (some come with thin cushions and some have umbrellas) or hammocks. Beach towels are provided in rooms. Some sections of the beach have underwater rocks and bits of broken coral , so those with sensitive feet may want to wear flip-flops. Less-than-picturesque sandbags are stacked up in some areas to prevent erosion, but beaches are attractive for the most part. The Sunrise Beach Bar serves food and drinks, but, beware, they cost extra, even on the all-inclusive plan.
Facing the ocean, infinity free-form Swimming Pool with a separate children’s pool (size 1800m³) is set near lobby.
Restaurants and Bars
Sadly, the cuisine is one area where the resort seems to have made economies. It is more or less all there on the buffets but it’s uninspiring and the quality is not great. After the resort hired a new executive chef in 2016, positive opinions of food has increased and you'll find the waiters to be really concerned, helpful and kind.
Sun Island Resort has five restaurants and optional meal plans, including all-inclusive packages. However, meal plans are limited to the resort's main Maaniya Restaurant buffet restaurant, which serves up international and local dishes in a casual, open-air environment. Not included in meal plans is the second buffet, Southern Star Restaurant, which has a focus on Indian Maldivian cuisine, nor the three specialty a la carte restaurants. A la carte options are pricey, and include an overwater Thai restaurant, Italian spot with a Japanese corner, and a small seafood barbecue. There's even a small garden on property with ingredients that are used in restaurant dishes and, more prominently, in the salads at Zero Restaurant. Guests on the all-inclusive package who miss their scheduled buffet meals are given a discount to dine at the specialty restaurants. There are also 24-hour snacks in the coffee shop. Expect to wear bracelets for meal plans.
Five bars and a 24-hour coffee shop keep beverages flowing on the island. Most bars close around sunset or late in the evening, but the 24-hour Mekunu Bar makes sure guests can wet their whistle any time of day or night. Crab races and DJs keep the energy up. Over on the beach, the Sunrise Bar slings drinks on the sand, while the Pool Bar offers swim-up service, the Lobby Bar functions as a lounge space, and the Clubhouse Green Bar faces the lawn. Guests can choose to pay for drinks individually, but anyone having more than a couple each day should consider the all-inclusive option. Coffee, water, and tea are available for free in the main dining room during service hours, and not all bars and drinks are included in the all-inclusive plans.
The Dive Oceanus dive shop is PADI-certified and features all things scuba, from lessons to excursions. Diving at Sun Island will undoubtedly spoil you! The largest dive centre in the Maldives, diveOceanus has always something going on! Diving here is a lively and fun experience and a chance to meet other like-minded divers. The PADI dive centre also organises snorkelling trips, such as whale shark or manta excursions.
Sun Island’s priceless location allows divers a very high chance of encountering whale sharks or manta rays at the right time of year as well as a variety of other marine life, big and small. Even along the house reef, where guests can whale sharks and guitar sharks have been spotted. Manta rays are regular visitors along with stingrays and various other shark species. Beautiful soft corals can be seen in this atoll, too.
Activities & Sports
Guests have their pick of land and water activities here, and lessons are available for many activities, usually at an additional cost. On the east side of the island, the water-sports center rents out snorkels, kayaks, catamarans, kneeboards, and more. This is also the spot to go wakeboarding, ride Jet Skis, go tubing, or try parasailing. The watersports centre has the whole gamut of equipment, both motor- and wind-powered, all in excellent condition. This is just typical of the island (and Villa resorts in general). You will also find an excellent gym, quality floodlit tennis courts, indoor squash and badminton courts and perfect snooker tables. A set weekly deal will cover these facilities and more, as will the all-inclusive holiday. This is recommended because the individual hire charges are not insignificant (there's even a charge to play darts). And if you are not all-inclusive you will need to pay another charge for the satellite TV channels.
Alongside the usual island visits, there is an early morning dolphin trip and 3 types of fishing - big game, sunrise line trawling and sunset. Most people do the sunset line-over-the-side fishing and the resort then cooks up the catch for an excellent barbecue that same evening.
Quiet times can be had with private dinners, strolling around the shopping arcade and supping in the golf bar. The putting golf course is up and running well, with good-looking artificial turf. And here is the Maldives’ only video games parlour.
Sun Island Resort and Spa has a huge freeform pool that measures over 19,000 square feet and overlooks the lagoon. Wide wooden-slatted sunbeds are scattered around the edges, and a small lagoon-style children's pool lies off to the side. The pool area has wear and tear and is visibly aged, but remains a popular and fun place to spend the day.
The resort's beautiful Araamu Spa has gorgeous views and a selection of traditional and Ayurvedic spa treatments, including flower baths, facials, and couples' treatments. Spa facilities consist of locker rooms, a sauna, steam room, and whirlpool. This is also where the medical clinic is located.
Less active competition can be found at the snooker and ping-pong tables, in the gym, or in one of the resort's group exercise classes. Excursion packages and tours can be booked through the hotel and including dolphin safaris, swimming with whale sharks, snorkeling trips, fishing trips, and visits to local islands. The resort's nightly shark and stingray feeding is a highlight for most guests.
In addition to a dedicated children's pool, the resort also has a kids' club, play area, and babysitting service (fee). Sun Island can also host corporate events and weddings for up to 200 guests. The resort has a ballroom and breakout rooms. Free Wi-Fi is accessible and reliable across the property. Transportation is available for free, but it's at the whim and schedule for guests with mobility issues and those who are checking in and checking out.
Other resort features include several shops, departure flight info displayed on TV screens, a business center, and a photo studio.
Generally the Sun Island Resort & Spa gets favorable reviews, although more mixed than most other resorts in the Maldives. Considering this is the largest and perhaps cheapest of the private-island resorts in the area, the reviews are quite good, but it's important not to compare it to one of the 4- or 5-star resorts, as it doesn't match up. With that said, many do praise the beach and the views, stating that the beauty is incomparable. Overall most guests are very happy with the wide range of restaurants, bars and activities available, and the resort seems ideal for large groups and families, but probably not ideal for honeymooners unless they are on the tightest of budgets but still want an overwater bungalow in the Maldives.
...Excellent location, A little piece of Heaven, Fantastic honeymoon start in this magnificent resort, Price/quality is amazing, Highly highly recommend this resort, Great resort, amazing time, Overall nice experience and we enjoyed it very well, Great spot for solo travelers! Friendly staff, The location of hotel was perfect. The sea and atmosphere of island is incredible. Foods were great, Excellent place for a honeymoon, We loved every minute of our holiday at Sun Island, Very relaxing and charming resort, Amazing place to stay! I’d say the best for this budget...
Pros: Why to Stay Here
- Great location only 20 minutes flight from Male airport
- A beautiful and charming island
- The staff is helpful and very friendly.
- 24h in-villa dining
- Value for money
- 2 swimming pools
- Tons of activity on offer
- Snorkelling with Whale Shark
- All Inclusive meal plan
- Extensive lagoon with an array of multi-colored fish. Snorkelling gear is free of charge
- Bottles with surprises (ice cream, pizza, pareo, massage, coffee, a bottle of wine).
- Massage in four hands in an elegant spa
- Extensive child and teen facilities, including kids club
- Nightlife, great bars and good music
- Seven restaurants and six bars where there is plenty to choose from
- Symbolic wedding and renewal of vows ceremonies
- Daily programs are displayed for adults and children. Guests are entertained by local artists and themed evenings.
What You Need to Know
- The resort is located on a private island in South Ari Atoll in 20-minutes by domestic flight from Male airport + short boat ride. To reach Sun Island Resort & Spa on the same day, guests must arrive at Male International Airport before 22:00 hours local Male time.
- Check-in from 13:00, Check-out before 12:00
- All children are welcome.
- Rooms are dated and simple
- Island is big and the buggy service is not reliable
- Rental bikes are old and worn (fee)
- A la carte food can be pricey
- Meal packages can only be used at one buffet restaurant
- In 2016 Sun Island Resort & SPA has received the Leading eco resort in the Maldives award .
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