Bikini Beach on Maafushi Island

Maafushi Island, Maldives: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need

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Maafushi is a Maldivian island located just 30 minutes south of the capital, Male. This local island is the perfect place to stay to experience all that the Maldives have to offer.

The best part?

You’ll find that everything is much more affordable on Maafushi in comparison to the surrounding resort-centered islands.

If you’re looking to visit the Maldives on a budget while still enjoying the gorgeous beaches and turquoise waters, Maafushi is the island for you.

Maafushi Island Map

Surrounded by beautiful atolls on every side, Maafushi is in the perfect location for water sports, resort day trips, fishing, and more.


How To Get To Maafushi Island

Located just south of Male, Maafushi is one of the easiest islands to reach.

There are 3 ways to get to Maafushi Island. Since this island doesn’t have an airport, you’ll need to venture by sea.

Here are details on how to get to Maafushi:

Ferry

The local ferry is by far the cheapest option to get to Maafushi from the international airport in Male, but it is also the slowest.

At just $3 per person, you can hop aboard the ferry and reach Maafushi in approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.

The local speedboats from Male to Maafushi

Be aware that there is a set schedule for this ferry and limited seating. You will also need to navigate to the pick-up point (not at the airport).

If you choose to use the local ferry, I recommend contacting your hotel. They should be able to offer advice, provide the ferry schedule, and book a ticket for you.

Local Speedboat

We chose to speed up the transportation process and take the local speedboat.

After picking up a few other passengers around Male, it took approximately 30 minutes to reach Maafushi.

For us, this was really easy because we could catch the speedboat right from the airport.

The price wasn’t bad either. We spent approximately $25 per person to take the local speedboat to Maafushi.

Private Hired Speedboat

The final transportation option you have is to hire a private speedboat.

Most travelers don’t choose this option because it isn’t budget-friendly, but the option is available if you choose7.

Pricing for private speedboats to Maafushi island can vary drastically. Expect to pay $200+ to hire your own boat.

Note: Some hotels on the island of Maafushi offer a private transfer from the airport to the hotel. Check with your hotel before making other arrangements.


13 Things To Do On Maafushi Island

As one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, you’ll want to take full advantage of all the incredible excursions and activities on the island.

Here are 13 things you need to do while visiting Maafushi island:

1. Snorkeling

Whether you take a half day snorkeling tour with a local company or you gear up on Bikini Beach, snorkeling should be added to the top of your Maldives itinerary.

Eagle ray spotted while snorkeling in the Maldives

It’s not uncommon to see blacktip reef sharks, sea turtles, and eagle rays while snorkeling near Maafushi, so bring your waterproof camera and explore the underwater world.


2. Fishing

Our favorite excursion while staying on the island of Maafushi was fishing.

We opted to take a night fishing tour and we had so much fun casting in and waiting for the fish to bite.

Laura cleaning fish while night fishing from Maafushi island in the Maldives

Upon returning to the island, our guides barbecued the fish we had caught and we had a big fish feast for dinner.

We highly recommend adding fishing to your itinerary whether you decide to fish during the day or at night.


3. Bikini Beach

On the island of Maafushi, the locals have set up a designated beach for tourists so that local laws aren’t broken. Luckily, it’s the most beautiful beach on the island.

Mike enjoying the sun and hanging on a palm tree at Bikini Beach

Bikini Beach is where you can lounge in the sun, swim in the crystal clear water, and snorkel.

Note: The Maldives is an Islamic nation meaning that men and women are expected to cover up. However, on Bikini Beach, these rules are much laid back. Feel free to wear your bikini here!

Continue reading for more information on what kind of attire is appropriate to wear on the island of Maafushi.


4. Jet Skiing

Hop on a jet ski in Maafushi for an adrenaline rush.

Soar over the turquoise water and keep an eye out for dolphins and whales. Jet skiing is an awesome way to tour the surrounding islands and see more of what the Maldives have to offer.


5. Windsurfing

Ever tried windsurfing?

Yeah, me neither!

But it’s a really popular activity in the Maldives and what better place to give it a go than the most beautiful islands on Earth?

There are plenty of companies on Maafushi that will take you for a windsurfing lesson. Ask your accommodation hosts for recommendations.


6. Resort Day Trip

Here’s the deal… A lot of people stay on the island of Maafushi in order to stay within a reasonable budget.

But what if I told you that you can visit those impressive luxury resorts and enjoy all of their amenities at a fraction of the cost?

Luxury Resort Day Trip From Maafushi

Many luxury resorts situated on the islands surrounding Maafushi allow day-trip visitors to enter for a fee.

Most of the time, this fee includes boat transfer and all-inclusive access to the resort (including food and drinks).

A few of the luxury resorts you can visit are Anantara, Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma, and Adaaran.

Note: Most of these day-trips hover around $100-200 for the entire day. This is a steal considering most of these resorts cost over $1000 per night.


7. Private Island

If you aren’t keen on sharing your Maldives experience with other tourists, book a day trip to a private island.

Private Island Maafushi

You’ll have the entire mini-island to yourself, so you can enjoy the vacant sandbar, swim in the ocean, and even nibble on some lunch.

Book your private island tour directly with a tour company on the island of Maafushi. This is where you’ll find the best prices.


8. Diving

No vacation is complete without exploring the underwater world and boy does the Maldives like to show off!

Diving in the Maldives

Under the perfectly turquoise water, you’ll find some of the most vibrant sea life in the world.

Note: I recommend getting your PADI certification before arriving in the Maldives to save yourself some money. Getting certified in the Maldives is NOT cheap.


9. Floating Bar

As an Islamic nation, alcohol is forbidden on local islands (you can drink on resort islands because they are being rented out by a company).

But having a cocktail while enjoying the sunset is a MUST in Maafushi. Hop aboard a free boat for a 2-minute ride out to the floating bar, the Kaani Princess.

Sunset on Maafushi Island

Located 1 kilometer from shore, you are legally allowed to drink alcohol here and it just so happens to be in the perfect location to watch the sunset.


10. Whale Sharks

Swimming with gentle giants is a bucket list item when visiting the Maldives.

Whale sharks can be spotted around the islands of the Maldives year-round and it would be a shame to miss them.

Whale sharks in the Maldives

There are tons of tours on the island of Maafushi that will take you to find and swim with these magnificent creatures. Be sure to bring your underwater camera for this excursion!


11. Paddleboard

Imagine paddleboarding in the middle of the Indian Ocean, seeing the bottom of the sea, and feeling the warm breeze whip past your face.

Paddleboarding is a relaxing and fun activity to do while staying on Maafushi island and it’s affordable.


12. Kayak

Another water sport you should add to your itinerary is kayaking.

Kayaking in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives

I’ve kayaked in many places in the world but none were quite as exciting as kayaking in the Maldives.

Rent your kayak at Bikini Beach or near the port and spend your day paddling around the island. Be sure to wear sunscreen!


13. Midday Hedhikaa

Don’t go to Maafushi without trying the local cuisine.

Eating hedhikaa on Maafushi island

Hedhikaa, which means small snacks or short eats, is a must-try when in the Maldives.

When ordering hedhikaa, you’ll be served several different bite-sized snacks each with their own unique taste.

This is the best way to spend an afternoon and fill up your belly while you wait for dinner.


What Is There To Do In Maafushi At Night?

Since alcohol is illegal on local islands in the Maldives, you will not find late-night bars or clubs on Maafushi.

Our favorite thing to do at night on Maafushi was fishing. We took a night-time fishing tour, which later turned into a barbeque dinner.

I also recommend staying in a hotel that has a pool. That way you can spend your evenings swimming and looking at the stars.


What To Expect On Maafushi Island

Maafushi is not like the typical resort islands you might find in the Maldives. This is a local island and things are a bit different here.

Here are 5 things you can expect during your trip to Maafushi island:

Is There WiFI Access?

You can expect WiFi access at any hotel you stay at on Maafushi island, but beware that the connection might not be comparable to the speeds you are used to at home.

We had no trouble using the internet, connecting with family, and checking our email while staying on the island.

Can I Wear A Swimsuit On Maafushi Island?

As an Islamic nation, it is necessary to dress appropriately on local islands.

With that being said, you can absolutely wear a swimsuit to the designated tourist beach, Bikini Beach (the most beautiful beach on the island).

Bikini Beach on the island of Maafushi

As far as daily attire, you’ll be just fine wearing shorts, dresses, and tank tops as long as they are relatively modest (ie. I wouldn’t flaunt a mid-drift or cleavage, but that’s just me!).

Do They Serve Alcohol On The Island of Maafushi?

The Maldives is a predominantly Islamic nation, meaning that drinking is forbidden on local islands, including Maafushi.

Although this is the law, the Maldivian people have come up with an easy solution.

Alcoholic beverages can be enjoyed aboard the floating bar, Kaani Princess, located 1 kilometer off the shore of Maafushi. Take a free 2-minute boat transfer to this floating bar and enjoy happy hour cocktails.

Is Maafushi Island Safe?

During our time on Maafushi island, we felt very safe.

Palm trees on the island of Maafushi

This small island is home to 2,000 Maldivian locals and everyone seemed friendly and willing to help if needed. We were constantly greeted with smiles everywhere we went.

Note: There is a prison on the island, but it is secure and only holds petty criminals.

How Much To Budget For Maafushi Island

You’ll find that prices on Maafushi are much more reasonable than the nearby resort islands.

Since this is a local island, you can find fresh produce and discounted excursions throughout town.

We didn’t spend more than $100 per day, including activities and food. However, you could easily spend far more or far less than $100 per day depending on where you eat and which excursions you choose to participate in.

Note: If you’re looking to stay on a budget, there are plenty of cheap or free things to do on the island.


What To Eat On Maafushi Island

As we arrived in the Maldives, we were eager to try the local cuisine. Here are 3 things you must eat when visiting Maafushi:

Hedhikaa

As I mentioned before, hedhikaa means short eats or small snacks. These are the best snacks to try in the morning or for a midday meal.

Most restaurants will serve hedhikaa and we also found that some bakeries serve hedhikaa as takeaway.

Fish & Seafood

Situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I bet you could guess that fish and seafood are among the top foods served in the Maldives.

Mike was a bit hesitant to try the fish on the island of Maafushi because he doesn’t typically like eating fish.

Eating local cuisine in the Maldives

However, he was pleasantly surprised because the cooks on Maafushi really know how to prepare and season the fish to perfection.

Note: Book a fishing excursion so that you can catch your own fish and barbeque them after!

Curry

Being so close to India has its MAJOR perks, including cultural influences, in particular, food.

Mike eating curry on Maafushi Island

Try a variety of different curries while staying on Maafushi to find which kind you like the best.


Best Accommodation Options On Maafushi Island

As a local island, Maafushi doesn’t have the 5-star resorts that you would find on the tourist islands, but they do have some incredible options.

Here are the 3 best places to stay while visiting Maafushi:

Triton Beach – $99/night

By far the best accommodation experience on the island of Maafushi is Triton Beach.

Bikini Beach on Maafushi Island

This hotel offers an outdoor pool, free WiFi throughout the property, free bikes, a fitness center, and it’s smack dab on the beach.

For $99, you can stay in a standard double room, or you can upgrade your stay to a king suite with a whirlpool.

For approximately $50 more per day ($153/night), you’ll have an all-inclusive style stay including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Arena Beach Hotel – $61/night

Another great place to stay on the island of Maafushi and my personal favorite is Arena Beach Hotel.

This 4-stay hotel starts at just $61 per night. Amenities include the most gorgeous outdoor pool that looks out over the ocean, clean and modern rooms, and excellent food.

Alaka At Maafushi – $40/night

During our stay on Maafushi, we stayed at Alaka At Maafushi and thoroughly enjoyed our time.

For just $40 per night, Alaka At Maafushi was a great budget option and included massive rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

The streets of Maafushi

They also have really friendly staff that helped us book excursions and picked us up from the port.

Note: We booked Alaka At Maafushi through Airbnb. If you haven’t used Airbnb yet, use our link and get $40 off your first booking (that’s a free night at Alaka!).


Do I Need Transportation Around Maafushi Island?

Maafushi is such a small island that it’s easily accessible on foot.

During our stay on the island, we never rode in a car or on a bike. We simply walked to Bikini Beach and the port, which is where we were picked up for many excursions.

The port near Bikini Beach

You’ll likely stay in close proximity to Bikini Beach since this is where most hotels are located. If that’s the case, you won’t need any form of transportation.

Note: If you are staying further away from the beach and you don’t care to walk, you can rent a bike or pay for a taxi.


Overwater Bungalow On A Budget?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any overwater bungalows on the island of Maafushi.

Truth be told, experiencing an overwater bungalow is a MUST on your trip to the Maldives.

If you want to stay in an overwater bungalow without breaking the bank, check out our post: Maldives On A Budget.

We share the best tips on how to stay in an overwater bungalow for free (yes, we seriously stayed in an overwater bungalow for free!).


Watch Our Maafushi Video On Youtube


The Wrap-Up: Maafushi Island

If you’re looking to experience the Maldives on a budget, Maafushi island is the place for you. Don’t sacrifice visiting this beautiful multi-island nation simply because it is expensive.

Use this guide to build your itinerary and plan your dream trip to the Maldives.


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