In several key ways Hakuraa is much better now than it used to be; it offers a genuinely good value-for-money holiday. The large, very shallow lagoon, however, remains a drawback.
Having reconstructed all the water bungalows, guests, when they enter for the first time, now let out an involuntary "oh yes" or draw a sharp intake of breath.
The size and style is impressive. The all-wood floor and solid wooden furniture give warmth to the simple modernity of the design. Light floods in from the back wall and the glass panels in the sides and floor. The furnishing is classy, the air conditioning quiet and efficient and the satellite TV and tea and coffee making facility are appreciated. An anteroom at the entrance is useful for the luggage and wardrobe. The bathroom is smallish but smart and the shower is strong (though you stand in the tub).
The view from the veranda is empty and serene, and side fences afford a fair amount of privacy. Steps lead down to the water but only towards high tide are you able to swim away. At other times you can laze around or wade into the distance.
Owing to the size of the lagoon there is no direct access to the reef for snorkelling but the resort puts on two boats a day to take guests, free of charge, from the end of the jetty to the reef inside the atoll. The snorkelling is not spectacular so you may use your free snorkel and mask to go on one of the twice-weekly snorkelling safaris.
The diving in the region is fresh and unaffected as this is one of only 2 resorts and 9 small inhabited islands in the whole atoll. There is one big channel not too far away that provides several fine sites for both novices and experts and an inter-atoll cargo shipwreck for variety, though thilas and giris are the mainstay.
The dive school is at the end of the 500-metre jetty, so regular divers should ask for a room nearer one of the 70 water bungalows or perhaps go for one of the 10 beach rooms. The beach rooms are a little less impressive than the water bungalows but they are private and located just behind the beach.
The beach itself is not of the finest sand but it is broad, open to the sun all day and runs right down one side of the curved island. The water bungalows run down the whole of the other side.
No water sports are included in the package but the big, shallow lagoon is just what beginners need, although the bottom has a lot of coral pieces.
The all-inclusive package covers non-premium brand drinks, wine at meals, soft drinks and tea and coffee. The three themed buffets a day are rightly very well received and so is the daily high tea at 4pm. High tea is taken in the new main bar built over the water at the start of the jetty. It's a fine place that really comes to life in the evenings with drinking, chatter, games and organised entertainments.
Adding greatly to the changes at Chaaya Lagoon Hakuraa Huraa is the top management that has done a great job in making it a fun and friendly place, whilst also being efficient and helpful. Although the geography of the island is not perfect there are precious few complaints from the guests, as overall they recognise that the food, the rooms, the diving, the sunbathing and the atmosphere are all well worth the price.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville