Why You Should Visit Maafushi Island - Maldives Best Local Island
Have you always wanted to visit the Maldives but dismissed it as something too expensive for us commoners? Well, you can’t be more mistaken.
Many years ago, the Maldives might have been an exclusive destination reserved for the elite few. Any visitor to the country would have had to book a full-board package on one of those posh private islands, where a night’s stay could cost you up to USD 5000. These are uninhabited islands that are privately owned by distinguished resort companies.
However, since 2008, the Maldivian government has decided to open up the local (inhabited) islands for tourism, allowing budget-conscious travelers to come and see this beautiful country without blowing their entire life savings.
The most popular of these local islands is called Maafushi. But why is it so popular? Why must you choose Maafushi over the other islands? This article will tell you why.
As an island nation, the Maldives isn’t the easiest country to get around in. The archipelago is made up of 1190 tiny islands, and to get from one island to another, sometimes your only option is by seaplane, which can cost you more than your flight ticket to the country itself.
Maafushi, however, is well connected to the capital island Male. You can get there by speedboat (30 minutes) or local ferry (1.5 hours). The fares are around USD 25 and USD 2 respectively, making it the easiest and cheapest local island to get to from Male.
Check out my Maafushi Travel Guide for more info on how to get there.
2. Maafushi is the Most Tourist-Friendly Local Island
When the government started allowing visitors to visit the local islands in 2008, Maafushi was one of the first to welcome tourists.
Therefore, it now has the most developed tourism infrastructure compared to the other local islands. This includes guesthouses, shops, restaurants, tour operators, and other amenities a tourist may need. There’s even a public gym!
Getting around is also fairly easy, as the guides are knowledgeable and experienced, and most locals speak English.
Since the Maldives is a Muslim country, not many places allow people to wear bikinis in public, but Maafushi has a designated beach specially for tourists to swim and sunbathe in their two-piece bathing suits.
3. Maafushi is the Local Island with the Most Guesthouses
Maafushi holds the record as the local island with the biggest number of guesthouses on it. In 2017, there were reportedly more than 70 guesthouses on Maafushi (although there may be fewer now due to the pandemic).
So, even if you plan a last-minute holiday during the peak season, Maafushi is your best chance of finding vacant rooms.
Plus, if you happen to not like something at one guesthouse, you can easily move to another without having to go to another island!
4. Maafushi is Cheap!
Being a local island already means that it’s 100 times cheaper than the resort islands (not exaggerating).
On top of that, since it has the biggest number of guesthouses, all that competition will also ensure that you’ll get a good price for everything including accommodation, day trips, and food.
The room rates on Maafushi range from USD 30 to USD 80 per night. Taking all other expenses into account, you can travel quite comfortably on Maafushi for as low as USD 50 per day.
5. Maafushi is the Perfect Introduction to Local Islands
One of the greatest appeals of visiting a local island is the opportunity to get to know the locals’ way of life. It would be a shame, in my opinion, to visit another country and leave without learning anything new about the culture.
Maafushi maintains that perfect balance between being modern enough to provide comfort for the average Western traveler, and still retaining its Maldivian charm.
So, if you’d like to get acquainted with Maldivian culture but aren’t quite ready to ditch your creature comforts and conveniences — such as having English-speaking tour guides — Maafushi is the right island for you.
6. Maafushi is Small and Easy to Navigate
Although it is considered one of the biggest inhabited islands in the country, Maafushi is only 1.2 kilometres long and 265 metres wide. It will take you less than an hour to explore the whole island on foot and shorter if you rent a bike.
You don’t have to worry about finding public transports or getting lost. Anything and everything you need is conveniently close to you. Most hotels and guesthouses are located a short walk away from the beach.
7. Maafushi has Beautiful White-Sand Beaches
Despite being one of the country’s largest and most populated local islands, Maafushi still has pristine white-sand beaches with clear blue waters.
Granted, they may not be the best beaches in the country, but they’re beautiful enough that you don’t have to go to another island to enjoy a decent swim.
The best thing is, they’re probably just a stone’s throw away from your hotel; you may even be able to see them from your room window.
8. Maafushi is Perfectly Safe
Maafushi is actually home to the country’s biggest prison, but don’t let this scare you — the island is perfectly safe. According to the locals, most prisoners in there were convicted of minor crimes (so they say).
Whether or not that’s true, my general impression of the locals on Maafushi is that they are gentle, respectful people. You can walk around with a DSLR or a drone without anyone batting an eye.
As two women traveling together, my partner and I never felt unsafe or threatened in any way.
9. Maafushi can be the Base for Island-Hopping Trips
Maafushi is not a remote island – it is located close enough to a bunch of private islands, some of which you can visit on a day trip.
So, if you’re curious to know what it’s really like to be on those luxurious islands, you can experience that without having to fork out a ridiculous sum of money. Some resorts even allow day trippers to come in and access some of their facilities for a fee.
Just ask your hotel reception and they should be able to arrange something for you. Apart from island hopping, you can also do other tours, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, dolphin watching, and many more.
10. You Can Contribute to the Local Economy
Since being opened for international visitors, the local islands have benefited greatly from tourism money. The locals have been given more opportunity to find employment, start their own businesses, and develop their skills in dealing with people from all over the world.
So, instead of funding the big hotel chains on those private islands (some of which don’t even hire locals), consider going to a local island like Maafushi and help contribute to the local community.
Final Thoughts on Maafushi Island
So, there you have it — all the reasons why you should visit Maafushi island if you go to the Maldives, whether it is your first time to the country or if you’re already a frequent visitor.
Maafushi is growing fast to become a major tourist destination in the Maldives, but at present, it’s not over touristy yet, which is all the more reason to visit now, as it may change in several more years!
Have you visited a local island in the Maldives? Which island did you go to and what was your experience like? Share in the comment section below.
Read: The Ultimate Guide to Maafushi Island – Maldives on Budget
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Thank you for this article now I know that the Maldives is not as lavish as some said – we do have options and your article shared it to the minute detail.
C-19, go away so that my friends and I can go vacay!
Hey, that’s a good mantra you’ve got there, Rawlins! I think I’m going to start saying that to get C-19 to go away. The Maldives can be as lavish as you want it to be, but there are affordable options too for those of us who are more budget-centric.
The Maldives is really a beautiful place for a relaxing beach vacation. It’s good that you’ve visited there. Beautiful post and pictures.
Thank you, Fadima. It really is a perfect place for a relaxing beach vacation. 🙂
cantik betul ye island ni. moga ada rezeki nak ke sini, tengok ciptaan Allah. indah sungguh…
Negara Maldives ni terdiri daripada ribuan pulau kecil. Banyak lagi yang cantik2 daripada Maafushi ni. Tapi bagi saya, yang ni pun dah cukup dah. Semoga ada rezeki untuk ke sana nanti. 🙂
Used to be in d list.. But since Covid hit us badly… 😓😓😓
Sedih aaaa.. Rindu airport 😫😫😫
Hahaha i can totally relate to that, Alia. Who would have thought we would miss the airport, right? But here we are. Anyway, I hope you’ll get to cross the Maldives off your bucket list someday. 🙂
Semoga ada rezeki pi sana. Cantik dan teringin sangat nak pi. Tapi apakan daya… tak boleh travel.. Kesian kami
Ya, kesian kita, kan, Khairi. Negara lain ada yang dah boleh travel macam sediakala. Apa boleh buat, tunggu je lah semua selesai divaksinasi.
Ummi! Thank you for this article. Akak ada plan ke sana utk anniversary trip. Cuma, kami tunda sebab COVID-19. Rasa mcm berbunga balik tengok gambar pantai cantik camtu. Lepas dapat vaksin, kes COVID-19 kurang dan airport buka. Boleh plan again ke sini. Tq share. ❤️
You’re welcome, kak Ruby. Maldives sekarang dah dibuka semula untuk tujuan pelancongan, cuma tu la, kita punya border pulak yg belum buka. Haih.. takpe nanti boleh pergi untuk anniversary trip yg akan datang. 😀
Dreams semua orang nak jejak ke Maldives ni kan.. tak kira le mana tempat pun.. yang Umi share ni pun ramai gak yang pergi.. Sis ada satu tu nak pergi sangat kalau ke sana, tapi lupa pulak namanya hahahaha..
Ya, sis, Maldives ni memang banyak pulau, panjang2 pula tu namanya, susah nak ingat. Maafushi ni antara pulau berpenghuni yang paling murah dan mudah untuk dilawati.
Salah satu tempat dala wishlist.. Nak sangat pergi Maldives.. Sangat cantik tempat dia. Baru tau Maldives tempat muslim ya.. Bila la dapat pergi travel.. Hehe
Ya, Nadia. Maldives ni negara Muslim yang agak strict juga la. Takde alkohol, pork, dan tak boleh pakai bikini kecuali di tempat-tempat yang dikhaskan saja.
Wahhh,, until now tak berkesempatan lagi to visit Maldives.. Hopefully soon in near future la.. boleh start with this one kan! Thanks for sharing this informative entry…
You’re welcome, Kitkat. I hope you will. Do check out my Maafushi travel guide as well if you’re planning to go. 🙂
bila org mention maldives..aitomatic i akan ingat tentang pantai yang cantik..kawasan beach yang bersih… tak pernah sampai lagi ke sini.. tapi rasanya ianya banyak private beach kan
Private resort island memang banyak kat Maldives ni, Ayu. Tapi mahal la, satu malam je pun dah beribu-ribu. Kalau nak alternatif yang murah sikit, boleh pergi ke local island macam Maafushi ni. 🙂
Maldives is a huge dream of mine but staying on a private island will break the bank so this guide is great to visit the Maldives on budget.
Exactly, Suvarna. Maafushi is a great island to visit if you want to see the Maldives on a budget. And if you still want to experience the private resort islands, it’s still possible to do so on day trips from Maafushi. 🙂
I’ve wanted to visit the Maldives for years, and I’m always put off with how expensive it seems to be. I’m so glad that one of your reasons to visit Maafushi Island is that it’s cheap. I might be reconsidering a trip here after all.
You definitely should, Becki. The Maldives can be very expensive, but since more than a decade ago, there have been cheaper options available, although they’re still relatively unknown (which is all the more reason to go now, before everyone knows about it). 😉
Maafushi looks great! I’d never heard of it, but it looks more local while still having the pretty beaches.
Exactly, Bliss. I’d expected a local island to not be so pretty, but this one is. And it’s close enough to other private islands in case you get bored. 🙂
I’m all about affordable! Knowing Maafushi is cheap is great insight!
Me too, Rachel. I’m also all about affordable. I hope you will check it out in the future. 🙂
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