With pristine beaches, reef-ringed atolls, and beautiful crystal blue water, the Maldives is the definition of an island paradise. This small island nation is located southwest of Sri Lanka and India in the Indian Ocean. It’s important to be aware that it is a Muslim country and so most islands (other than resort islands) have a specific bikini beach for tourists. Women are expected and required to cover their shoulders and knees while in public. We flew to the capital (Malé) from Singapore and it was a quick and relatively cheap ($100USD) flight. In this guide to the Maldives, you’ll find some insight into our lodging, where to eat, things to do in the area and where to volunteer!
Most people think of the luxurious villas over the water when it comes to the Maldives. However, we elected to stay on the three local islands of Maafushi, Dhangethi and Rasdhoo given our style and (more importantly) our budget. Tourism for local islands only became a reality in 2010, when the government allowed the opening of guest houses on local islands. To get to each island, you need to book speedboats from Malé for $20-$35USD per person each way.
Our first local island while in the Maldives was the increasingly popular island of Maafushi. It’s only 35 minutes from the capital Male by speed boat. Maafushi was the first local island to secure the ability to provide guest houses and the first guest house was opened in January 2010.
Lodging – We stayed at Alaka at Maafushi and really enjoyed our time there. The owners and all of the staff were really nice guys and the room was nice, big and clean. The AC, WiFi and shower all worked well and the free breakfast buffet was a nice way to start each day.
Activities – We booked a day trip through Alaka, which was a fun speedboat excursion. We looked for and found both mantas and dolphins, swam with nurse sharks, had lunch on a sand bank and visited another local island. The bikini beach is nice to hang out as well. Dan also did 10 fun dives with Eco Dive Club and all of the guys from the dive shop were awesome. The diving was amazing and Kandooma Thila is a CAN’T MISS dive site for those who dive!
Eats – Overall, we weren’t overly impressed by the food we had in the Maldives. However, for a local island, Maafushi has a decent amount of restaurants to choose from. We ate at Suzy’s Cafe, Kaani Resort, Arena Beach resort and we also enjoyed the baked goods from Fine Bake by Suzy.
Our second destination was the local island of Dhangethi. We weren’t very lucky with the weather while we were here. Given the changing of the monsoon seasons, we experienced much more rain than we would have liked. The island is a two hour speedboat from Malé and popular for spotting whale sharks.
Lodging – We enjoyed our stay at Island Scuba Inn during our time here. The owner is a really friendly, relaxed guy and a great Dive Master to scuba dive with. The property is newly built and modern and will continue to improve as he continues to work on and enhance it. The room was nice and spacious, the bed was comfortable and the AC worked very well. The staff are also very nice and friendly and the breakfast is a nice way to start each day. We also had a fried fish dinner one night and it was delicious!
Activities – Most people go to Dhangethi to try and see whalesharks. Dan did 4 fun dives during our time here and enjoyed the dives. Unfortunately, he didn’t see any whalesharks. There isn’t much else to do on the island besides relax on the bikini beach, which was nothing special.
Eats – The island of Dhangethi doesn’t have many restaurant options to say the least. We ended up at Blue Moon Cafe for most of our meals as it was reasonable prices and a 5 minute walk from our guesthouse. It’s also a nice place to watch the sunset or go relax and have dinner or a cup of (instant) coffee.
Our final local island while in the Maldives was Rasdhoo. We very much enjoyed our time on this tiny island and it probably had the the nicest bikini beach of the islands that we stayed on.
Lodging – We very much enjoyed our time at Rasdhoo Stay. The room and property are nice and very well kept. The owner and all of the staff were extremely nice and friendly. We had dinner at the property twice and it was very good (buffet with spaghetti and chicken/fish). The free breakfast was also a nice way to start the day. The bed was very big and comfortable and the AC and WiFi both worked great!
Activities – Similar to the other islands we visited, they island is very relaxed and not overly developed. Dan did 5 fun dives with Rasdhoo Dive and Water Sports and had some great dives. The owners Jerry and his wife are very nice and great to dive with.
Eats – Rasdhoo has a decent amount of places to eat for such a small island. For the most part, we ate breakfast and dinner at our guesthouse. However, we very much enjoyed eating at Coffee Ole. We ate lunch here twice and also once for dinner and enjoyed it. Pretty sure we got the chicken fried rice or noodles every time! The restaurant has a cool and relaxed island vibe with good music.
Unfortunately, we don’t know of any volunteer opportunities in the Maldives. If you do, we would love to feature it on our page. Reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram (@jetsetforgood).
That’s our guide to some local islands in the Maldives but like always, all opinions are entirely our own. Above all, enjoy Maldives!
Disclaimer: We have no financial incentive to promote lodging or any other services. This recommendation comes solely from personal experience.
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