Maafushi island 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.
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
In Maafushi island, 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!
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What to eat in Maafushi, Maldives
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, Maldives
A half day tour to go snorkel and visit a sand bank begins at USD35/SGD51. Beginner , 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!
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:
Maafushi's Bikini Beach
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.
Bikini girls, ahoy!
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!
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, Maldives
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. Read my review of it here.
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.
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
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.
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Special thanks to Scoot 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. ????