Since the government changed the laws and opened up the local islands for tourism in 2008, the whole concept of Maldives which was only for the rich has changed.
Instead of paying 3000 USD a night on a luxury resort, you can now book for 50 USD a night for two people including breakfast. We choose a hotel with half board – Kaani Beach Hotel in Maafushi Island and we paid 100 USD a night for two people.Maafushi Island is one of the biggest islands in Maldives. It’s surely the most popular local island in Maldives. It is located in Kaafu Atoll just 27 km away from Male. The size is 1270 x 265 m.
Getting to Maafushi
The good thing about Maafushi is that it’s easy to get to from the airport.
There’s a public ferry which takes 1.5 hours from Male at 3pm for like 2 USD or you can get a shared speedboat during the day for 25 USD or if you prefer and have more cash, your own private speedboat.
We got the 22:15 shared speedboat from the airport directly to Maafushi. We arrived after 30 minutes and we were picked up by the hotel with their big wheel barrow to carry our heavy bags.
Sunday: 10:00, 15:00;
Tuesday: 10:00, 15:00;
Thursday: 10:00, 15:00;
Friday: not available.
Saturday: 07:30, 12:45;
Monday: 07:30, 12:45;
Wedesday: 07:30, 12:45;
Friday: not available.
Speedboat is available every day, the cost is 25 USD, departs at 9:15, 13:30, 19:00, 22:00 from Male.
It departs from Maafushi at 8:00, 12:00, 17:00, 21:00 and runs to the airport.
About the island
It is quite easy to walk the island. The island is pretty small and you can walk around from side to side in about 20 minutes. The southern part of the island is a tourist zone; bikini beach, guest houses and hotels, gift shops, and restaurants are located there. In the northern part of the island there is the only prison in Maldives. In the center, a school, the administrative office, a stadium, and a central mosque are situated. The eastern part of the island is mainly uninhabited; a noisy electric power plant is constantly in action there. That’s why you’d better stay in the south of the island, although guest houses are ‘scattered’ around the whole island.
The first guest house on Maafushi was opened in 2010 , and since then the number of guest houses has increased together with the population of the island. There are more than 60 guest houses of different price categories.
The island is under heavy construction. New hotels are going to appear. Today 3-4 large hotels are being built there. It’s hard to imagine how the island will look like in a few years in peak season.
Maldives is a very strict Muslim country whereby sunbathing in a bikini is not allowed unless you sit on the bikini beach or a resort island.
Maafushi has four main beaches:
2. Public Beach
3. Water Sports Beach
4. Coral Beach
There are only two small Bikini Beaches where you can wear your swimsuits. Elsewhere it is illegal to expose your skin in public.The beach is located on the northern end of the island. This is a beautiful beach with soft white sand, swaying palm trees and turquoise waters under the limitless blue skies.
But in the same time the beach area is very small in size and overcrowded. So you can forget about any privacy and romanticism. I was amazed to see how many people were crammed into such a small beach that it made you wonder if you were actually staying in Maldives, until you could see a resort in the distance with the outline of the floating water villas.
In recent years quite a lot of cafes and restaurants for tourists have appeared on the island. Some guest houses’ staff bring chairs and tables on the coast for the tourists to enjoy a open air dinner. The prices there are quite reasonable.
If you wish, in your guest house you can order a private dinner on the coast or a barbeque on one of the neighboring islands.
Alcohol is forbidden here, as well as on other islands. But near the island a floating bar runs, where you can buy alcoholic beverages. You can get there by the following way: you board a boat (no charge) and are taken to a ship (no charge for admission). But the prices there are really high: a can of beer (0,33 liters) is 5 USD, a bottle of vodka is 130 USD (the prices may be different now). And then you’re taken back.
Things to do in Maafushi
There are a lot of trips you can take from Maafushi and also it’s a great island to be on to experience many things.
Local diving centers together with guest houses or hotels organize snorkeling trips to various snorkeling points near Maafushi. Among them there are Maavelaathu, Banana Reef, Vilivaru Corner, Maafushi Corner and many others. Flippers and a mask with a snork can be hired in the centre for free. Remember, that the equipment is far from being new.
Everyone who is lucky to visit Maldives has to try scuba diving at least once. It will be an unforgettable experience! In the neighborhood, apart from coral gardens, there are lots of underwater cages and real valleys near Maafushi. There are 3 diving centers on Maafushi; the prices there are practically the same. It is not that expensive in comparison to the cost of diving on other islands. There the specialists have PADI certificates.
Among all other things, you can hire a jetski, try to catch a wave or to fill the sails, enjoy parasailing, or set out for a fascinating kayak trip!
Night & Day fishing
It’ll be interesting for fishing amateurs to know that guest houses organize fishing not only in the daytime, but also at night. The fish you catch can be cooked in a restaurant for free. But it’s better to inform them in advance, especially what concerns the way it’s cooked, because it can be served with rice, fresh vegetables, etc, and you’ll have to pay for that.
Swimming with wonderful graceful dolphins will certainly give you an unforgettable experience and is unlikely to leave anybody uninterested! Sometimes dolphins get really close to the coast.
That’s right, you can go and experience a resort for the day for a fraction of the cost of staying at one. There are quite a lot of island resorts near Maafushi, and guided tours there are always organized. They usually include transfer by boat, visiting the island, meals and spa treatment. The ticket cost varies from 25 USD to 145 USD per person.
Each resort has its own unique beauty. But there are also some similarities.
6 km away from Maafushi another two local islands (Guraidhoo and Gulhi) are located, where you can be taken by local ferry running from Maafushi.
In conclusion, Maafushi is a “party” island with a lot of tourists. That’s why if you want to enjoy peace and quiet, you’d better stay on other islands.