Words by Daniel Bosley; Pictures by Aishath Naj
Pebbles Inn is situated on the main link road in the capital island of the Maldives’ second city. But this is no normal road, and Addu is no normal second city (no offence, Birmingham, Gothenberg, etc).
You arrive at the impressive building having travelled the full length of the atoll’s link road, crossing causeways, bordering beaches, and passing palm trees. The journey takes you north, curving round the lagoon and terminating just before the road itself runs out of reef.
Opened this year, Pebbles has 14 new rooms – all en suite with wifi, air-conditioning, and enough room to swing a coconut (or three..hey, it’s your holiday). The guesthouse has its own restaurant, laundry service, and experienced local staff who can’t wait to show you why the atoll is know as the heart of the Maldives. ‘Addu anatomy 101’ will start on the roof.
Up here, Seenu seems sedate in the evenings. Come morning, however, the pulse will be racing and Pebbles’ spectacular balcony provides a front row seat. The rhythm picks up early, with the sun rising on the opposite side of the lagoon, skipping past the islands of Hulhumeedhoo and Kandihera in the East.
Nearby to the left, the horizon is crowded with iconic palm silhouettes stirred into life as the sea breeze stirs on the islets of Maahera and Koahera. The call to prayer soon begins to circulate, drawing your attention inland to reveal the privileged overview of the skyline; beneath which the sweeping ladies are busy keeping Hithadhoo’s sandy arteries pristine.
Three floors below, the first fishermen are flowing back from the far side of the reef, and opening up shop on the opposite side of the street to refuel the community, as they have for centuries.
Now that you’ve examined the island in a way that only Pebbles’ guests can fully appreciate, you’re really ready to learn the secrets of this southern isle. Staff are more than happy to arrange itineraries for you and, with one coral-fringed reef, five inhabited islands, at least as many uninhabited, and 2000 years of history, you might need their help.
Addu is an atoll with extraordinary variety, and classic Maldivian experiences such as diving, fishing, snorkelling and dolphin cruises are joined by trips that take in the islands’ unique culture and history.
Just past the end of the link road lies the famous Koattey nature reserve, where countless bird species can be found, and where the island’s long history hides just off every path. Back at the start of the link road, the airport island’s former identity as a British RAF base can be explored, while your hosts can also share clues to the atolls’ wartime role as the secretive ‘Port T’ base.
Trips can also be arranged to the separate islands of Huludhu and Meedhoo across the lagoon, home to the archipelago’s oldest cemetery and one of the best places to spot the elusive fairy tern – known locally as dhondheeni – a exclusive inhabitant and a southern symbol.
Alternatively, bicycles are available, upon which you can explore Hithadhoo’s 30km² at your leisure before another balmy evening conversing with the coconuts on Pebble’s balcony.
How to get there?: Gan International Airport can be reached from Velana International Airport (Male’) on national carrier Maldivian Airlines (1hr 35mins). International flights on Sri Lankan airlines direct from Sri Lanka began last year.
From Gan, staff from Pebbles will arrange a car to take you the 15 minute (15km) scenic drive up to Hithadhoo.
How to book?: Guests can contact Pebbles directly through their website or Facebook page as well as on major hotel booking sites. Reduced fare flights from Velana International Airport can be arranged by the guesthouse.
2k Isles’ Tip: After taking in the sights and sounds from Pebbles’ lofty perch, our recommendation as the perfect way to start the day would be a swim at the floating track, just a short bike ride away from the inn, next to the main harbour.
Here, you can hang out with butterflyfish between lengths, if you’re not too distracted by the regular showers of tiny baitfish that leap from the water at regular intervals. On the way back, stop at Suvadive Cafe for some of the best coffee on the island alongside a wall of memories from the island’s recent past.
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