Vodi, your left at the Niyama Resort in the Maldives. Photo: @erickproost @niyamasurf
What's It Cost To Rent This Island?
Maldivian oasis is currently on sale. Who's got $5 on it?
You can go to the Maldives right now.
Have some extra money from that Tesla play? Stay at the Niyama Resort and surf a private wave. Have a lot of extra money from selling that cute lil software company your friends teased you about? Book the place out. Invite the friends that didn’t heckle you.
To learn what it takes to reopen a property in unprecedented times, and what guests can expect upon arrival, we chatted with Nathan Kemp, the Surf Development Director at Niyama Private Islands Maldives.
Note: Stab was not paid for this piece. I did not stay there for free. Rather, this is part of an ongoing effort to help Stab readers know their travel options during uncertain times. Don’t have the scratch to go 5-stars? Niyama ain’t the only bed in town.
STAB: What’s been the quarantine experience in the Maldives?
Nathan Kemp: Much has remained the same because Covid never reached our island. We could still go outside, spend time with one another, eat together, surf. However, for the hotel, we closed our doors on April 3 when the last guest left. The people still here have been maintaining the island and property and mostly working on how we will reopen safely with new Covid guidelines. It’s been strange to watch the world from this bubble.
Go ahead and make us jealous. You been scoring?
I almost feel terrible saying this because I know so many people couldn’t surf around the world, but yeah, I scored and am still scoring. It’s been a dream surfing Vodi alone, along with some of the other places we go to by boat. It’s been too lonely though [laughs].
How do you think surf tourism will change in response to Covid?
All tourism is changing very rapidly. We are implementing Covid guidelines that will change our entire operation to keep staff and guests safe. This includes our plan to test all of our guests in some capacity before arriving on the island. Altering activities and services to be in line with physical distancing and more strict hygiene protocols. The experience will in every way still be a 5-star experience, but will be different than our normal operations. For example, buffets are no longer, the gym will be bookable and cleaned after each use, and of course, all staff will be wearing the proper PPE at all times.
For surf specifically, for those looking to travel sooner as opposed to later, waves will be more empty than in previous years. Luckily our sport desires physical distancing and low numbers, so that should be easy to implement. For surfers, Niyama is never crowded and Vodi is a “managed wave,” meaning only our guests can surf it, so the numbers are always low.
When will Niyama reopen?
We will open October 1, and are offering extremely flexible booking terms to guests as a response to these wild times. We have chosen to wait until October 1 because it seems that more countries will be able to travel then, despite the country having opened up July 15. However, we do have some offers out there for those that would like to come to the island for their exclusive use.
Yes. We open October 1 for normal business, but for those looking to come and have a private island experience, we have two offers: A partial buyout is 30 villas for up to 65 people, full board meal plan for $40,000 USD / night. A full buyout gets you 134 villas and two islands (Chill and Play) to yourself for $130,000 USD / night. I really hope some buddies are reading this and will get together and have the most epic surf holiday of their lives.
This is a lot of money, no doubt, but for getting your own fully serviced island with only the people you want on it, it’s a pretty good deal. It’d normally be 60-80% more.
Easy. I’m sure Stab will pick up the tab. So, do you have to quarantine when you get to the Maldives? Covid test? Temp check? What should visitors expect?
For guests, there is no quarantine period. The Maldivian authorities will be checking temperatures, testing those that are symptomatic, and doing random testing daily on those arriving into the country. However, to come to Niyama, we are looking at giving PCR tests in Male to all of our guests before arriving. If finalized, guests will arrive to Niyama, be taken to their villas, and then wait there for a short period of time until the results are given. Then they will be free to enjoy their holiday.
Say we show up. What waves are we surfing?
You are definitely surfing Vodi, a left that breaks directly off one of our islands (Play Island) and has a rum bar + taco and burger food truck on the beach. It works on all tides, and it is never crowded because it is a managed wave where only guests of the hotel can surf it. There's a surf camera of Vodi connected to the room tv’s so you can check if it’s good from bed.
Vodi is an advanced wave when big and also lets intermediates surf when smaller. When it’s really small people can learn there too. It has a few barrel sections, and is great for turns, a defined lip and steep wave. A big benefit is not needing to take a boat to surf, which many other places in the Maldives require. Vodi runs for about 200m and the blue water and setting is pretty unreal, as the Maldives is generally known for.
There are a couple other rights around 5-10 minutes away. One is a super rippable right, about 300m, great for turns and offers some fun little barrels on the end section too. Another right is a really fun shorter barrel we call “Sierras” after Sierra Kerr, who loved and dominated it, and another one which I won’t talk about.
There are some other waves further afield which we can go to upon request depending on how much time people are willing to be in a boat. And for those with the most luxurious service in mind, we can fly a seaplane to other breaks around the Maldives.
Our surf guides are always monitoring the swell, sending reports to your phone every morning, and arranging trips to other waves based on the conditions. Overall, it’s a very personalized service.