When people recommended me to visit Maldives, my first thought would be …”I’m not rich!” But times have changed and making the Maldives in a low-cost budget is a trend, even because it turns the whole experience much more real.
In 2013 the Maldives government gave permission to open the inhabited islands to tourists, having become Maafushi the most visited and developed. The accommodation grows at an amazing pace, as do the daily tours offerings. The people have adapted easily and have accepted well the reduced clothes of the tourists who pass by. There are not too many things reminding us we’re on a Muslim island, but the barrier exists: there is no alcohol on the island; Tourists have to sunbathe and bathe in the bikini beach, in other beaches they have to wear dresses; We can ear the prayers loud and clear from the two mosques of the island (don’t be alarmed if you hear morning prayer at 6 am); The public school with educational messages on the walls, where one of them encourages the study of Islam … But perhaps this is also what makes Maafushi special. The island is a 30 minute speedboat ride from the airport or a 90 minute ferry ride. It’s a little more than 1 kilometer extension, which makes it easy to walk. At one end of the island there is a prison. On the other end, you will find non-stop in-construction buildings, mainly hotels.
There are gift shops, cafes, bakeries, a soccer field, a SPA and even a gym. Maafushi is growing and the low prices are an attraction for those who want to know paradise without spending the savings.
You will find many offers for your accommodation, from 30 to 200 usd. The food is also taken into account, since every night you will find “all-you-can-eat” buffets (even with fresh grilled fish) with prices between 8 and 12 usd. A chair on the beach costs 5 usd, but if you stay on the sand, believe me it’s fine. What felt most needed, was wider variety of fruit (there are coconut, pineapple, papaya and not much more) …
As the island has little to do, it’s a wise choice to try the available daily tours. You can go snorkeling in the morning with dolphins, turtles and countless fish, finished with a lunch on a sandbank in the middle of the sea, and best of all, for only 25 USD. On the other hand, if you want to experience the “wonderful Maldives resort”, you can book one of the daily tours to several luxurious accommodations, with different prices. I bought the trip to the Adaaran Prestige Vadoo, (95 usd) departure from Maafushi at 07:45 am (20 minutes speedboat) and return at 6:30 pm. All inclusive, open bar with alcoholic beverages, buffet lunch (amazing food by the way), tea at 4:00 pm, a dream beach and an amazing snorkelling. The beach towel is also included in the package, as well as the possibility to take a shower and change clothes before returning. At 5:30 pm you can still watch the ritual of feeding the sharks (the day I went there, they were shy and the tunas stole their place).
The day was already wonderful, but it was even better when I met the resort manager (it was his day off) and his family, wonderful people (I will never forget his daughter, the amazing Manali, a special girl). I have still been fortunate enough to visit a water villa (believe me, it is worth it!!!!!). When deciding to do the Maldives on high budget this will be my chosen resort.
Another tour with high demand is the “night-fishing trip”. The wonderful part of it is that you dinner your catch. Imagine if you don’t catch anything…
In addition to these tours, there is a huge offer of water activities, from parasailing, to watercraft, to diving … With Indico Ocean always as background …
The Maldives were already a dream before I went, but after experiencing it, the feeling intensified and I returned home with my heart full. Was it because of the endless blue sea, the smiles of the people, the freedom to swim with fish of different species, the sun that made me jump out of bed at 06 am, the friendships I created for life … I won so much and spent so little…
- Other local islands beginning to win expression are: Guraidhoo and Gulhi, for which there is also connection by ferry. Please note that on Friday there is no ferry. Ferry departs every day from Male at 03pm and costs approximately 2 USD. From Maafushi, leaves at 07:45 am.
Attention, only the speedboats depart from the airport. If you decide to go by ferry you have to catch a boat at the airport to Malé (depart from 15 in 15 minutes, it takes 20 minutes and cost USD 1) and in Malé take a taxi to the port (5 USD taxi ride). Do not mess with it. The airport is not in Male, it is on an island next to it.
- If your option is on speedboat, the one way trip costs 15 USD and the return 10 USD, with several times available. The companies that operate are IcomTours, Shadow Palms (I’ve always done everything with them and recommend it) and Maafushi Tours. To locate them at the airport is easy, just pass the customs and turn left to the information post. The representatives of these agencies will meet you there. They will have a board with the name of the company or your hotel name. You can book everything with them before you arrive, just send a message to arrange and pay on arrival.
- I strongly recommend my hotel, the Kuredhi Beach Inn, a small hotel next to the bikini beach, new, large comfortable rooms, good wifi signal, varied breakfast (this makes the difference, the people I met on the island and who were in other accommodations joined me on breakfast) and a spectacular team, always ready to help. There is no one who does not know the person in charge, Tiger.
- Pay attention when you book the accommodation, there are a lot of charges attached and sometimes the booking sites don’t advertise them. To the room price it will be added 12 % Tax + Environment fee per person per night of 3 USD + 10 % Property service charge.
- The souvenirs, which I always like to bring to the family, I bought them at the Arena gift shop. Fair price and five star service. Buy the candy wrapped in palm leaf (made by the shop owner and her mother), a coconut treat, for only 2 USD. It’s just too delicious not to buy it.
- There is an ATM on the island, which is extremely useful