Our time in Maafushi is coming to a close, it has been a fabulous 6 days and I feel thoroughly relaxed (though in quite a lot of pain as I picked a fight with a rock and the rock won!) Here is our advice based on our experiences on the Island:
We stayed in the guesthouse Maafushi View (TripAdvisor link), it has been open about a month and so is still relatively new but you wouldn’t know it, the manager is confident and very helpful indeed, the rooms are clean and the general service is great. You are met off the ferry by a member of staff and rickshaw, from there it is a short 2 minute walk to the guesthouse. In low season (May-August) you are looking at $30 a night with breakfast included, as much tea and coffee as you can drink and air con. The internet is pretty poor, as currently it is simply tethering from a mobile phone as there are only a few guests and wifi on the island costs over $300 a month! During high season however, there is fast 4g internet making use of the 3 telephone masts on the island. The room was not cleaned during our stay, this did not bother us as we have a tendency to live in a volcanic eruption of clothes, but, if you asked the manager when you would like your room cleaned he would happily oblige. The breakfast is brilliant if you opt for a Maldivian breakfast of roshi – a type of flat bread and spicy tuna sambol – canned tuna, coconut, chilli and diced red onion. The continental breakfast offered is quite poor with chicken sausages and sweet American style bread, butter and jam – it is always better to go local in these sorts of places as they have it down to perfection.
We did come across My Boat Island, a floating 150ft barge that is currently sat outside Maafushi, they offer a promotion known as 1€ Maldives, the idea is you put 1€ away every day for a year and by the end of it you can spend a week onboard the boat. It is actually a lovely boat and the staff are the friendliest and most accommodating we have come across, they also serve liquor and have 2 decks for sunbathing in your skivvies. Food and drinks are a little more expensive this time of year as they have to make up costs with the dip in guests but there is always the choice of all inclusive for an extra fee. If the boat is occupied with enough people – say 10 couples then they will sail to a deserted island so guests can have complete privacy and enjoy the most beautiful scenery and not have to worry about Islam constraints – perfect for large groups.
The choice of food on Maafushi is limited, if you aren’t a fan our rice or noodles then you are pretty screwed, especially if you are wanting to do it on the cheap. There are a few restaurants that offer european cuisine at a high price like Discovery (now closed for renovations), My Boat Island do rather good pizzas but they are not cheap, we visited the boat one evening as we had been living very much on the cheap and wanted to splash out. We got a bottle of wine for $30 (the cheapest they had) and caught our own fish off the back of the boat to cook for dinner, bare in mind they charge you $5 per fish for “frying”, we thought this was $5 in total and ended up adding an extra $20 to the final bill. Pizza will set you back $10-14 so really this is a one night thing if you are on a tight budget. I did however have a really fantastic evening even if it was more than we planned to spend.
Maafushi View, our guesthouse was our favourite eatery – an absolute smash with the locals – where you find locals you find good, cheap food. We enjoyed local curry for 25 rufiyaa (£1.25) that was a tuna curry and roshi breads, absolutely delicious and the cheapest thing you will find on the whole island. Their fried rice and noodles happen to be the tastiest of the restaurants we tried and cost from 45-70 rufiyaa depending what you wanted. The head chef used to work in Kaani (a luxury, boutique hotel on the island) and has also worked in the local cafe we mention next, he knows his way around local food for sure!
Another local gem is a cafe with an “illy” sign outside and a “hardrock” sign over the door, it is opposite a local shop which is rather cheap and where we choose to buy water or anything we happened to need that the guesthouse couldn’t provide (water is provided for free at Maafushi View but the shop is closer to bikini beach). This is very much a local hangout and you get very steely stares when walking in, they will offer you a menu that serves the usual rice and noodles but this is still rather expensive, the secret of saving money is in the short eats. The cafe has been running for 15 years and budget tourism was only introduced 5 years ago, but only 4 years ago was the first guesthouse on Maafushi built so the locals aren’t quite comfortable with you in their favourite hang out and many seem to leave as soon as you walk in. You can get takeaway though which is what I’d suggest, this way you can take your short-eats to bikini beach and make the other tourists jealous at your crispy samosas and egg parcels. Most have this crispy, filo-esque pastry filled with tuna, fish, veg and egg (egg is my favourite). They are meant to charge only 2 rufiyaa (10p) per item but try to charge you 3. We have walked away in the past as the guy who served us everyday decided to keep putting the price up – he seemed to forget we were in here only yesterday buying the same items!
Bikini Beach is a fenced off part of the island where tourists are free to sunbathe in the swimsuits without any risk of upsetting the local people. It is located at the end of the island, if you are looking at the jetty then you walk right until you see a grass fence or the restaurant “Hot Bites”, the beach is opposite. It is quite a small beach and I can imagine it gets very crowded in season but it was never over full in the duration of our stay. There are a few sun beds belonging to Stingray Inn, we sat on these with no trouble most days, a Russian woman piped up one day saying we weren’t allowed but having used them for the past 2 days we politely silenced her grumpiness and continued to use them. There is not much shade so grabbing a spot near a palm tree is always a good idea as the sun is very strong. There is actually a horizontal palm tree on this beach which is a photo favourite, and also a man selling fruit for extortionate prices!!
There is some fab snorkelling around Maafushi, just off Bikini Beach you can see giant stingrays and octopus as well as a rainbow spectrum of fish, my favourite are the ones with the long nose as to me, they are hilarious looking. The reef quickly drops off the ledge leading into open water, you are able to snorkel all around this area, if you don’t have your own gear you are able to hire some, we also recommend wearing a tshirt if you plan on spending a few hours in the water as you will soon burn.
The weird and wonderful quirk in nature that makes the stars shine from within the black depths of the ocean itself, these are located at stingray point on the opposite side of Maafushi. You have to venture to the darkest areas of the sea and rub the algae and sand as the plankton only glows when agitated. There you will see small glowing specks hidden in the sand and ocean, some islands have huge blooms and are clear to see however, the plankton is present on most islands in a less dramatic way.
Maafushi is home to one of three prisons in the Maldives, it is also the highest security prison and takes up a third of the Island – it is worth mentioning that the ex-president of the Maldives is currently serving time here (falsely accused we have been told).
You can do many things on Maafushi from diving, snorkelling, visiting sand banks, sexy beach and picnic islands to waterskiing, jet-skiing, wake-boarding, dolphin cruises, whale shark adventures, resort visits and a few more. For more about these and a list of prices we have compiled have a look at our upcoming post – “Budget Maldives – Maafushi – Excursions”
We have already mentioned My Boat Island but there are a few boats sitting just off shore from Maafushi that offer similar services, we can’t go into much detail about them as we have not visited them ourselves but if you see yourself as a man or woman of the sea you could visit a different boat each evening.
As we all know, we live in a connected world and some of us may even break into cold sweats at the idea of no internet so here are the best wifi zones on the Island:
1) Arena Beach – located past Bikini Beach they have the fastest wifi we have found, however, they are bloody expensive with the smallest coffee you have seen in your life costing $3!
2) Dhonveli View – located opposite the jetty, you will see this cafe as you disembark the ferry, they do a black coffee for 6 rufiyaa (30p) or a milk coffee for 12 rufiyaa (60p) – this is where I am sat now to write this post.
3) Hot Bites – opposite Bikini Beach, their prices are a little more expensive than (2) and if there are a lot of people in the restaurant the internet seems to be very slow indeed, if there isn’t it works perfectly well.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post I picked a fight with a rock and lost, there are areas of the island that are very dark at night, it is in one of these areas that I walked straight into a rock ripping my skin from the nail – I recommend lifting your feet high off the floor when stepping in these areas or wearing shoes that cover your toes. As all things in the tropics it got horrendously infected and the pain travelled all the way to my hip, so, after 4 days I decided to bite the bullet and head to the doctors.
A nurse will dress a wound for 30 rufiyaa, if you have a more complicated issue and need to see a doctor that will cost an extra 100 rufiyaa, if it is decided you need a prescription the medicine can cost up to 300 rufiyaa. My experience cost me 370 rufiyaa (£18.50) but hopefully this will mean I can dive before we leave!
When the British think of Monsoon they think rain, all day, every day. This idea is completely wrong, yes it does rain and it may rain everyday but in the 6 days we have been here the rain has lasted for no longer than an hour, in some cases it has only lasted 20 minutes before the sun is back out and shining. Travelling in monsoon season guarantees you a cheaper journey, you will still have plenty of time to sunbathe, snorkel and you are still able to see all the wildlife available in peak season, you just have to travel to specific areas like Ari Atoll. A rainy day is not a ruined day, just a different kind of day!
So $1 is 15 rufiyaa
£1 – 23 rufiyaa
We are British so work in pounds, the easiest way I have found for converting rufiyaa to pounds is to firstly convert it into Sri Lankan rupees by adding a 0 – 40 rufiyaa = 400 rupees
Then divide by 200, 400 rupees = £2
You could obviously make this simpler by dividing the rufiyaa by 20 and cutting out the rupees but as we have lived in Sri Lanka so long we instantly know the value of rupees so this works best for us.
Yes this is an Islamic state and so women should not have bare shoulders or knees in public, however, Maafushi is getting used to tourism and is one of the few islands with a Bikini Beach so you can get away with wearing shorts or showing your shoulders – I would recommend one or the other (trousers with a strappy top or shorts with a normal tshirt) out of respect and to feel more comfortable – the less you wear the more attention you will receive and not for the right reasons.
The Maldives does not really have any dangerous creatures on land, the naughty buggers tend to live in the sea, we would highly recommend reading up on the different types of fish around the Maldives, especially if you are a keen snorkeller. One day we saw a rather evil looking starfish that Sherard wanted to poke with some coral, on doing some research later that evening we found it was called the “Crown of Thorns” starfish and was deadly and could even bite releasing venom. There are also some very grumpy fish near bikini beach called trigger fish, they are not poisonous but will go for you and can bite.
So there is our comprehensive guide to Maafushi island, excursions and rates are coming soon. We felt there wasn’t any information available really and so we hope this has helped inform and inspire you to travel to this beautiful island 🙂
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