Everything You Need To Know About Maafushi

Bikini Beach Maafushi.jpg

Maafushi is one of the more popular local tourist island. It measures 1km by 290m – a pretty small island for one that houses 51 properties! This includes both hotel and guesthouses operating in Maafushi.

It’s a great island if you want to witness the turquoise waters that the Maldives is so famous for, behave like a tourist and still get affordable prices. Better yet, you don’t miss out on learning a little about the local life.

Is the Maldives expensive?

It doesn’t have to be! Visit local islands like Maafushi, and you’ll be blown by how affordable the hotels in the Maldives and the tours they offer can actually be.

Read: Maldives on a Budget; I Spent Less Than $1000 on my 5D5N Maldives Holiday!

How to get to Maafushi from Male

There is only one way to get to Maafushi when you land, and that is from the Villingili ferry terminal at Male city.

A local ferry is 22rfy (USD1.40/ SGD2). This is a 1.5-hour ride. Alight at the second stop.
Departure timings are 3pm (Saturday to Thursday) and 10am (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday only).
*Do note that public ferries do not operate on Fridays.

Speedboat prices vary from USD75 to USD20, depending on the number of people. The more they are ferrying, the cheaper it gets. This is a 30-minute ride.

How to get from Maafushi to Male

The local ferry’s departure timing is at 7:30am (Saturday to Thursday), and 12:55pm (Monday, Wednesday and Saturday only).

Where to stay in Maafushi

Maldives Maafushi sunrise

In Maafushi, we stayed at Kaani Village and Spa, one of the few hotels in Maafushi to have a pool, for SGD93 per night. We liked how our room faces the small stretch of pool, that when you open your room door, you can dive right into the pool!

Velana Hotel is another hotel we’d recommend in Maafushi. It faces the opposite end of the more touristy beach, but on the plus side you get to stay away from the crowd. They recently celebrated their 1st anniversary, so their rooms are still very newly furnished.

We particularly liked that they have indoor, outdoor garden and outdoor beach dining options. We were recommended by a local to try their dinner menu out, and we were impressed not just by the plating, but also the taste of the food!

If you’re at Velana Hotel, say hello to the friendly black little cat for me!

Search these hotels on Agoda or Booking.com.

What to eat in Maafushi

Even at Maafushi, a decent international buffet dinner goes at USD13/SGD19. We recommend having it at Arena Beach Hotel. It is one of the most patronized dining option at Maafushi, and was one of the few dining options which offered more varied dishes.

Alcohol is prohibited in local islands, and that means in Male and Maafushi. However, Maafushi has a permanent boat, Kaani Princess, stationed offshore where you can get your alcohol fix. Complimentary boat transfer can be arranged by your hotel to the boat. Beers start at USD6/SGD9, and there are only 2 varieties of beer – Tiger and Raffles.

If you’re looking for something more affordable and local, try Harbour Cafe out. It’s near the Maafushi Jetty. Instead of turning left towards the hotels, it is on the right. Walk 2 minutes and you will get there. It’s not easy to locate, it being situated facing the jetty.

Restaurants impose a 10% GST and 6% service charge on food served in the Maldives. These taxes vary depending on the restaurant. Tipping is not common practice in the Maldives.

Tours in Maafushi

A half day tour to go snorkel and visit a sand bank begins at USD35/SGD51.
Beginner diving, which I went for, costs USD70/SGD102. If you are a certified diver, each trip would cost lesser.
Resort visits for 2 pax range from USD25-USD100/SGD36-SGD145. This usually includes lunch.
There are also other water sports options, like jet ski, stand up paddleboard and kayak.
Snorkelling is free – you only have to ask for the equipment from your hotel.

Do note that tours operate only with a minimum of 6 pax. Even after booking with them, they may cancel on you if they don’t meet the minimum quota. If you encounter this, try your luck booking the tours at other hotels. All hotels in Maafushi offer similar tour packages, so you should be able to hop on one of the tours!

Maldives Maafushi diving

If you’re in the Maldives, don’t leave without checking out the marine life! The waters are so clear, and the marine life so varied, it’s impossible to miss this opportunity! There are many marine biologists working in-house in different resorts just learning and protecting these marine creatures.

How much does it cost to do a water activities in Maafushi?

Here’s an excursion price guide by Noovilu Suites, a private guesthouse in a local island of Mahibadhoo.

The prices charged by our hotel, Kaani Village, in Maafushi is as follow:

prices day tours water sports maafushi hotel

prices day tours water sports maafushi hotel

Maafushi’s Bikini Beach

Bikini Beach Maafushi.jpg

Despite having one of the most hotels on an island, this is still a local island, complete with a mosque, school and residential houses. As such, walking on the street requires you to be dressed in clothes, though it’s not necessary to be conservative.

If you want to be in a bikini, Bikini Beach is the place for you! In Maafushi, this is the only designated beach area where you can freely roam in your bikini.

jellyfish sting diving in maldives
Jellyfish sting!

When we went to Maafushi on 7 and 8 January 2017, we were met with unfriendly jellyfishes. WL’s half day trip to see turtles and manta rays were disrupted because of a swarm of jellyfish that started stinging swimmers. When I was at the bikini beach, I was also stung by a purple jellyfish! The locals were bewildered by this phenomenon too. Apparently this is quite a rare occurrence. Is this their spawning period? No one can say for sure.

Don’t let this little incident deter you from the waters though. The marine fishes in the Maldives are full of colour!

Also don’t miss…

Exploring the local side of Maafushi, on the East!

Maafushi hand painted souvenirs

Catch a sunrise there, stroll along the beach on the quieter side of Maafushi, and watch the children as they make their way to school in the mornings.

Recommended duration in Maafushi

4 days.

If you catch the local ferry, you would arrive Maafushi in the evening. Give yourself at least 2 full days to enjoy the water activities and sunbathe by the beach, and you can leave at 7:30am by local ferry back to Male.


Since I’ve received quite a bit of interest about the Maldives since my previous post, here are more general information and frequently asked questions about the Maldives.

Weather in the Maldives

While sunny weather in the Maldives happens from December to January and monsoon season falls from April to September, being a tropical country, there would still be occasional rains every couple of days even in January. We were lucky that there was passing showers only on 1 day out of the 5 when we were in the Maldives.

Sunrise in January is at 6:15am on average, and sunset is at 6:15pm.

We caught this sunset at COMO Cocoa Island. More on this luxurious resort in the coming post!

Electricity in the Maldives

Three-pin plugs are used in the Maldives, the same you would use in Singapore.

The Maldivian culture

1) Maldivians are one of the kindest, politest people ever. Shop sellers don’t hard sell their products. Walking past the tour operators in Maafushi, they would say hi and genuinely want to get to know us. My local Airbnb host in Male city brought us around their scooters for a midnight ride around the city, introducing every landmark and regaling the history of Male to us. Local resort staff that we met would go over and beyond their work to give you the most comfortable experience.

Once, I enlisted the water sports centre at COMO Cocoa Island to wash Coco, my unicorn float. Not only did they do that, they also helped me to deflate her and pack her nicely.

Maldives COMO Hotel Cocoa Island friendly maldivians
This COMO staff insisted on taking pictures for WL and I after seeing us take photos with Coco, my unicorn float. He introduced himself, and was full of pride telling us that he is in charge of this beach area and if we needed anything, we could come to him.

The staff at Outrigger Konotta would very comfortably fall into a conversation with us about where they come from, and stories about their hometown. All staff will greet you whenever we pass them by.

2) Also, they are punctual. Most buses and ferries leave on the dot. You can count on private resort boats to be on time! Nothing is worse than your limited time being stalled because people don’t respect time.

3) The Maldivians are pretty modern. I admit I had the misconception that the Maldives is somewhat technologically backward, and I don’t know why I thought so.. Perhaps due to their conservative culture? Which was why I was surprised that some of them have the latest iPhones, and have their hairs dyed in electric blue.

4) Smoking is pretty common everywhere around the country.

5) Locals don’t wear shoes inside homes and sometimes in shops too. It pays to be aware to see if the shopkeeper is wearing any before stepping in, or be polite and ask before entering!

The Maldives’ Nightlife

There is a lack of nightlife in local islands and resorts alike. Coffee shops provide the hubs for social gatherings. You can see groups of locals even at 11pm in these shops. On that note, most shops in the local islands close at 10pm, while F&B can open up til 12 mn.

Having BBQs is also fairly common among local families and friends. Even at 10pm, you can still smell wafts of barbecue smoke on the beaches in Male, and find them gathering around the BBQ pits in the semi-darkness.

The Maldives’ Dress Code

Maldives
No waters like the Maldives’!

In local islands such as Male, the locals have their shoulders and knees covered. Most females have their hijab on. While it is not compulsory for foreigners to follow suit, it is mandatory if you are thinking of visiting mosques.


Maldives budget maafushi cheap

Still have a burning question? Ask in the comments below!


Special thanks to Tigerair for making this trip possible and Changi Recommends for helping us stay connected with you on-the-go! I also want to show my appreciation to WL for the hard work behind some of these pretty pictures. 🙂

 

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29 Comment

  1. To be honest, Maafushi wasn’t really on our Maldives radar. But my lord, look at those beaches! The sand is unbelievable! This was an eye opener!

  2. I don’t know much about the Maldives and hadn’t heard of Maafushi, but it sounds about perfect. Affordable and gorgeous. Love the picture of you hanging off the palm tree at the top! Not so much the jellyfish sting. 🙁 I’d still want to take a day trip out on the water, though, just wait until the spawn? is over! Such a beautiful spot, thanks for all the tips.

  3. The name Maafushi sounds so quaint so I just looked it up. Believe it or not, it means prison!! What a place for a prison!!

  4. Oh man, I haven’t heard of this place because I’ve always just put the Maldives in the “when I’m loaded one day” bucketlist. But to hear that it’s actually quite affordable is a huge surprise! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Such a small and beautiful island. I had never heard of Maafushi. When I go to Male, I will visit here as well. Thanks for the detailed cost breakups. Will really help in estimating the cost of travel and making the choices

  6. We are very much fascinated by the azure waters of Maldives and its glistening beaches. Maafushi looks like a must visit too when in maldives. Loved this post for all the detailed information it has on costings and what to expect when in Maldives. If we had to visit we would definitely not come back without a tour of the underwater marine life. Thanks for this awesome post!

  7. I wasn’t aware about the clothing aspect in Maldives since my parents had visited the resorts and there weren’t any there. But then we all have to be respectable towards local cultures. Maafushi might be small but it’s full of so many things to do. The waters look amazing and I’ve never been on to a sand island/bank so that’s something to look forward to. With global warming I’ve read that Maldives is one of the places that will be affected first so we have to make most of this beautiful nation.

  8. gokulr27 says: Reply

    The jellyfish sting does look nasty…..I just met my friend who stayed in Male for a month sponsored by a resort. I am planning to pitch to the same resort after a few months. That place is a real paradise. I hope I will get to Mafushi as well.

    1. Haha just me being down on my luck. Good luck with pitching! They are pretty receptive if you choose to travel on off-peak periods. And wow, one month?! Your friend must generate quite some clout. 😉

  9. Holly says: Reply

    I would love to visit the Maldives. Bucketlist place. Great to learn about another part of it. Love the unicorn floaty.

  10. Jean says: Reply

    Oh I always assumed that the Maldives was honeymoon only kinda $$$. Now I’m going to have reconsider. Only if I can take my own inflatable whale!

    1. Oh you have a whale too, that’s cute! I’m surprised that the Maldives is popular for family travel too. Even solo travellers visit the Maldives, so don’t let stereotype stop you from visiting this paradise!

  11. One of my top places I want to visit! Thank you for these great advices!

  12. I am dying to visit the Maldives. I know that you said it doesn’t have to be expensive but when I go I want the full overwater super swish experience so I’m going to have to save my pennies a bit longer. That sting looks painful!

    1. I know what you mean – I have friends that tell me they want the overwater experience too. Be prepared to spend $1000 and upwards per night for each overwater villa you stay at!

  13. Maldives is beautiful place and thankfully the myth about its expense is broken by this post. Maafushi sound really exotic and out of the World. Hope to get to this fairyland some day.

  14. Chris says: Reply

    Like everywhere I’ve never been, the Maldives is still on my “To Do” list.

    Thanks for showing me a side to the place I’ve not seen before!

    1. You are most welcome Chris. Plan a visit there soon!

  15. looks like an amazing destination. The maldives is one of those places that evertyone wants to vsiit with its white sand sand blue waters. Your trip just confirms whta i had thought thath it would be a great experience

    1. You are right, seems as though Maldives is on everyone’s bucket list. I hope you get to visit it one day! 🙂

  16. Maafushi sounds like a fun name. I had not even heard of this destination. Maldives is so close to India. I hope I see Maafushi for myself someday too.

    1. I hope you do too! It’s a lovely beach destination!

  17. Sounds like a nice non-touristy island of Maldives. Thanks for all the tips – you have covered everything from food to stay to places to see….Well done

  18. Chi Le says: Reply

    I don’t know much about the Maldives and Maafushi, but it sounds great! Thanks for all the tips. The photos are so stunning and I feel like I want to get there right now haha

  19. neha says: Reply

    Maafushi definitely seems to be quiet economical from maldives standard. Thanks for the detailed price breakup. Would have loved to see some pictures of your accommodation. did you have one?

  20. Maldives is a dream destination for me. Reading this post only further fueled that desire! Like you, I also like to visit lesser known islands where it is not as touristy and you can enjoy the beauty of the islands as it is!

  21. Paul says: Reply

    Wow! I like to visit COMO Cocoa Island. Maldives. Thank-you for all the tips.
    stanfordtuition.com

  22. […] out Bel Around The World for more tips on visiting Maldives on a budget and Maafushi […]

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