MIRIHI ISLAND, MALDIVES | Swap smartphones for sunshine and starlight and switch off completely in the South Ari Atoll. Nowhere exemplifies barefoot luxury better than this private island in the Indian Ocean—and if you're looking for a good reason to tune out of your digital life entirely this is where to do it. The moment you step foot onto Mirihi Island your feet sink into soft white sand—and as you walk through this open-air traditional island retreat, the feeling of sand underfoot continues through the lobby, into the lounge and even throughout the restaurant. Nature is the headline act, and not contemporary design or architecture, letting its true Maldivian character shine through.
Swim straight from the 37 stilted wooden villas off this tiny island, into the pristine house reef and spy the full roll call of marine life—puffer fish, scorpion fish, tiny harmless reef sharks, starfish. Who needs wifi to be entertained? Night time is also the right time to snorkel and scuba dive and under moonlight the clear ocean water is more dramatic than anything you could be watching on your laptop or mobile phone. No one ever forgets seeing glow-in-the-dark bioluminescent plankton in person—this marine phenomenon twinkles like millions of tiny blue stars.
Since the Maldivian sky is so dazzling, the hotel also invites guests to make use of its high-strength telescope. (If you want to whip out your smartphones now though, they can be rigged up to take astonishing pictures of the planets, too.)
Nightly rates from $650 (£510) per villa, on a half-board basis, based on two sharing. A 30-minute seaplane flight from Malé.
At Bouteco, we always ask hotels for their sustainability policy, obviously, and this is Mirihi Island's:
—We do not offer fishing except from deep sea.
—We do not feed fish and other sea creatures.
—We do not sell or use for decoration, corals and shells dead or alive.
—We have opened two channels from the house reef for snorkelers to cross the reef in low tide to prevent anyone from stepping on corals even by accident.
We don't allow divers to wear gloves so that they don't touch corals.
—By using our own water collected from the sea around the island desalinated and purified to drink and bottled in 60% recycled glass bottles, we manage to stop disposing 10,000 plastic bottles a month.
—We clean our house reef once every month.
—We use an in-house sewage treatment plant to treat every drop of wastewater and sewage from the entire island. The treatment is a biological process to remove dissolved organic matter by cultivating microorganisms in the wastewater tank which absorbs organic matter from sewage as their food supply. The clarified water is disinfected and used for irrigation. Hot water for shower is heated using recycled energy from air conditioners. (more info, go to www.ecogen.com.my).
—In order to preserve the trees on the island, we do not use palm leaves, coconuts or any other products harvested from the trees on the island. We purchase all palm products from palm groves in neighboring islands. 99% of all lights bulbs used on the island are LED.
—We use non-toxic environment friendly pesticides for pest controlling. Our in-house incinerator is used to burn all waste papers, cardboard boxes, dry leaves and other natural waste. Glass bottles are crushed into powder using a crushing machine and sent to purpose built island for recycling. Other waste such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans are compacted into bundles and sent to the same island.