Maldives on a Budget

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Book Your All Inclusive Vacation and save 25% in Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, Maldives

August, 2019

Today, a budget holiday in the Maldives is a hot topic and Maafushi Island with its expansive choice of budget accommodation is a popular cheap destination in South Male Atoll and it is the capital of budget tourism in Maldives.

With healthy reefs, fascinating dive sites, white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, luxury resorts and many other attractions, Maafushi is a beautiful island located just 35 minutes by speedboat or 1.5 hours by ferry from Male.

The charming blue lagoons and sandy beaches along with the chic accommodation facilities combined with a great activity options for a wide range of needs make this island an ideal place for those who are looking for fascinating adventures and inexpensive holidays in the Maldives.


How to Get: Transfers

Maafushi is ranked one of, if not the most popular, "guest house" in the Maldives. First of all, you can access the island within 2 hours by a public ferry from Male, the capital of the Maldives. MORE TRANSFER INFO

Maafushi has a working SBM ATM. However, it charges way too much in fees (100 Rufiyaa = approx. $9 AUD). You're better off just taking US$ cash (in small notes, especially for buying things in small local shops), or using your credit card. If you really want to use an ATM, use the Habib Bank one at the airport. It doesn't charge fees.

At Maafushi some guesthouses, shops and restaurants accept major bank cards, such as VISA and MasterCard. At Velana airport there is a currency exchange, but you must keep a bill if you want to change the local currency back to another foreign currency before leaving Maldives. In Male on Marin Drive, the street adjacent to the sea overlooking the island airport you can find ATMs HSBC, Bank of Ceylon, State Bank of India and Bank of Maldives.

From Velana Airport to Male:

First of all, you need to get from Velana airport to Male city. Take a ferry or speedboat to Male from the airport's ferry terminal. The ferry terminal is located close to the inland terminal, in a short walk to the right of the international terminal (if you are facing the sea). Travel time by ferry 10 minutes and ticket price 1 $; the speedboat transfer takes 4 minutes and costs $ 2.

How to find a jetty in Male:

To save yourself from a sweaty walk, after landing in Male take a taxi near the ferry terminal to Jetty 1 or 'Maafushi ferry'! (A taxi ride takes about 10 minutes). A taxi ride to any address in Male costs no more than 25Rf ($ 2), although there is an additional payment of 5Rf for luggage or multiple stops on the way.

From Male City to Maafushi Island:

Between Malé city and Maafushi there is a daily ferry service (except Friday). The ferry leaves from Pier 1 (terminal Vilingili) at 15:00. The ticket costs $ 1.5 one way, and the journey time is 90 minutes with an intermediate stop at Gulhi. On Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from Male there is an additional ferry departure is introduced at 10:00, the price for the trip is $ 3.5 without intermediate stoppings. Public ferries are not equipped with buffets, so stock up on food and fresh water. During a scenic hour and a half journey to the tropical island of Maafushi, you can sit in the shade inside the boat, or climb to the roof with views blown by sea breezes.

To order a private transfer on speedboat, you must contact the staff of your hotel at least 3 days before arrival to the Maldives. Also daily a speed boat iCom Tours runs, leaves from Male at 09:00, 12:00, 13:00, 18.40. The trip price is 25 $ / person. (tel: +960 790 2069) or Kaani Speed Boat Ferry Service (Available Everyday including Friday) 

From Maafushi to Male' or Airport 

08.00 Hours 
12.30 Hours 
18.30 Hours 

From Male or Airport to Maafushi 

10.45 Hours 
16.00 Hours 
22.15 Hours

Ferries to the Islands around Maafushi:

Maafushi is located near two other vibrant islands, known as Guraidhoo and Gulhi, where budget tourism also thrives and there is a cheap lodging. If you want to stay on one of these islands and then visit Maafushi - all 3 islands are connected by public ferry of Male-Maafushi route, or you can also book a private transfer by speedboat.

The Maldives on the Cheap? Paradise Unpacked for Everyone

Since 2010, Maafushi Island has attracted more and more foreign tourists after the Maldivian government was allowed to open guest houses (mini-hotels) in populated islands, and Maafushi was the first to provide investment in the hospitality. Until then, travelers only stayed at private island resorts that limited budget tourism within the country. Today, everything has changed and some of the local islands in the Maldives are already beginning to thrive and it was a win-win situation for both the guests and the local residents. Tourists enjoy the taste of authentic Maldives culture, and local residents receive additional income from tourism.

As of 2018, Maafushi has more than 50 economy hotels, and this is the only inhabited island with the largest number of guesthouses and guest houses in the country. The tourism industry provides islanders with new jobs, and many families indirectly or are busily engaged in business. Most of the hotels are funded by direct investments from local residents, but recently there have been large investments by entrepreneurs from Male and other regions of Asia.

The Island

The size is approximately 1.2 km long and 350 meters wide, the island can be inspected in half an hour. From the first step on the island you will be amazed by the hospitality of the locals, quietly roaming the sandy roads. While the environment offers you a relaxing and laid-back atmosphere, the quiet and tranquility of the streets gives a sense of safety and protection anywhere in the island.

Maafushi is a small island and it is very easy to navigate here. If you stayed at one end of the island, and can not delight the sunset view from your balcony, in five minutes walk you can easily find a more advantageous point. You will not have to find for restaurants and souvenir shops on Maafushi for a long time. The traffic is barely noticeable, so this is a good place for families with children, where you can just walk from your hotel to the beach and back without any excitement.

Severely damaged by tsunami 2004, the island has been successfully rehabilitated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and now the hard-working community is thriving in fisheries and tourism.

With a population of about 2,600 souls, Maafushi is traditionally known as a fishing village where one-third of the islanders are engaged in fishing. Shortly before sunrise, local fishermen prepare for fishing from catching baits on nearby coral reefs and in lagoons. After that fishing boats hurry to the deep ocean in search of fish. Long rods with a strong fishing line - the most popular method to hook on a tuna. Closer to sunset boats come back home. At this time, the island's shores are crowded with people waiting for the fishermen to buy some fresh fish.

For Information: The local Maldivian government law prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol in tourist places and hotels built on inhabited islands. Nevertheless, alongside the islands a floating bar drifts regularly where you can buy beer and liqueurs. Good news - transfer to the bar is free; but the prices there bite: a small beer - $ 5, a bottle of alcohol - from $ 100.

The Beach

Maafushi is a magnificent little island, with wide alleyways and a lack of transport, with the exception of a few motorbikes. The island has two beaches, a public beach and Bikini Beach. The latter is fenced, located in the northern edge and is designed for foreigners, only here you can sunbathe and swim in a bikini and the place was completely renovated in 2017. In the rest of the island forget about swimsuits and you can swim, but only in clothes covering the legs and shoulders! The dress code outside the tourist resorts is mandatory, as a sign of respect for the local Muslim community.

Bikini beach is small, sunbeds under a canopy is better to borrow up to 8-9 am, then you need to look for a place under palm trees, although you can always sunbathe on a beach towel! On the beach there are a handful cafes sell snacks, freshies, fresh fruits (papaya $ 2 bucks, pineapple $ 3, mango $ 5). The ocean is shallow, you can wander among the corals watching the fish and othe sea creators, not bad for snorkeling. The beach is ideal for families with children.

The ocean around Maafushi is simply fantastic - very clean, crystalline and refreshing water, and there are a some snorkeling spots.

In the island's southern end there is the only prison in the Maldives. Near the jetty, in the heart of the island you will find a school, administration, stadium and the main mosque.


When you want to travel on a budget to the Maldives, Maafushi is definitely the best place to stay. Maafushi is a laid-back, barefoot island surrounded by a rich eco-system of coral reefs, where the clear warm waters are ideal for water sports, snorkeling and scuba diving. You can book a wide range of excursions at most hotels and guest houses on Maafushi Island, that varies from night fishing trips, snorkelling and diving, a picnic on a sandbank in the middle of the ocean, trip to a nearby luxury resort, sunset trips, submarine trips, manta ray or whale shark spotting ( depending on season ) to name a few. Do not hesitate to check prices in other hotels - they can offer an excursion much cheaper than the guest house where you stayed.

Luxury Resort Excursions

Maafushi Island is surrounded by 16 operational upmarket luxury resorts with a whole heap of activities, dining options and much more. and you can dream of some of them on the horizon every day, strolling around the island or sunbathing on Maafushi's main beach. What is surprising - the sea, the sun and sand on these islands is not much different from Maafushi, but much more expensive. Full day trip or 1-2 nights "all inclusive" offers you the opportunity to visit several islands and appreciate their unique fabulous and luxury facilities, especially if you stay in a water villa.

These excursions are daily, taking about 20 minutes by speedboat and for each tour selected an individual resort. The tour program usually includes a transfer, an island tour, meals and a spa. Prices for excursions vary from $ 30 - $ 120 depending on the resort and a tour's program.

Popular tours include visits to: Fihaalhohi Island, Kandooma, Biyaadhoo, Anantara Dhigu, Fun island, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo, Adaaran Club Rannalhi, Centara Rasfushi, Cocoa island resort and Rihiveli Beach.

Dolphing/Suset Cruise

The spinner dolphin is the most common species in the Maldives and they found around Maafushi in large flocks. It is famous for its acrobatic displays in which it spins along its longitudinal axis as it leaps through the air. Regularly adhering to a certain daily routine, dolphins in search of food hunt at night away from the islands, entering the atolls early in the morning and leaving again to the open ocean after dinner.

This proven schedule makes it very easy to spot dolphins daily around Maafushi at a specific time. A spectacular wildlife sight is absolutely guaranteed and you will never have a better chance to watch wild dolphins playing in their natural environment than right here on Maafushi.

Sunset cruises are among the most romantic activities pursuable while holidaying in the Maldives. Visitors can choose a cruise around the Indian ocean with a loved one on the ship's deck as they watch the sun go down.

Sandbank Trips

Furafathi or commonly known as Sexy Beach is a tiny islet with sugar-white soft sand without a single patch of vegetation, not to mention the shady trees, which will certainly please fans of sun tanning. A deserted sandbank in a 10-minute boat ride from Maafushi is surrounded by a beautiful reef and shallow lagoon, where you can also enjoy snorkeling. Excursion price is 25 $.

If you have never been on a desert island, along with your loved one - this is a unique chance for a romantic getaway in accordance with the program you have chosen. An elegant picnic for two to enjoy a delicious lunch, a cocktail, or a dinner at sunset - the choice is yours. Only with a few curious birds against the background of the "sapphire" of the ocean, you will be left alone to enjoy each other amidst the crystal clear waters. Do not forget to bring a sunscreen, a hat and any accessories you need. Have in the form of only one small detail: you definitely will not need shoes.

Picnic Island Tour

Many hotels on Maafushi, upon your request can arrange a day trip with beach barbecue to the uninhabited island of Maadhoo Finolhu that is notably marked with a shady trails and lots of greenery. With dimensions of 1 km in length and 150 m in width, this island with a picturesque beach bar is an ideal place for romantic picnics. Here you will find beautiful sandy beaches and an emerald lagoon perfect for safe swimming in crystal clear water. The tour's rate varies depending on the volume of services provided and duration.

Other islands for romantic picnics around Maafushi: Villivaru island with beautiful corals and white beaches, and Vaagali island, more remote, with a magnificent beach and a fantastic house reef snorkelling.


Fishing is in the blood of every Maldivian. Fishing is so closely interwoven with life on the islands that there are many festivals in honor of the main food product. Maldivian fishermen get up before the first cocks, catch bait on reefs and go to deep sea for a whole day, using simple traditional fishing tackle - fishing rod, fishing line and hook.

Maafushi offers Big-Game fishing, but to get real fun from fishing and catch fish for barbecue, night fishing is the best way. Boat dhoni with fishermen leaves the island before sunset to find a good place near the reef.


Surfing in the clear, warm waters of the Maldives is an experience very few would want to miss. A veritable source of enjoyment for novices and professional surfers alike, surfing in Maldives attracts surfers from all around the world.

Water Sports

In a country with over 99% water and less than 1% land, the possibilities for fun-filled activities in the water are almost inexhaustible. Maafushi and its water sports centers are well equipped for all kinds of water activities. You can try to catch a wave, practice windsurfing and wakeboarding, ride a water bike, go on a kayak or fly over water on inflatable entertainment, including a donut, a banana or a fan-trouble, and also go on a sailing cruise by catamaran. The best moment of Maafushi's beach experience is that the sands are not crowded. It's just a beautiful white sandy beach, with coconut palms, bathed in the sun and with turquoise waters.

Malé City Tours

Male' City, the capital of the Maldive Islands is a thriving metropolis of about 100,000 people. Selecting a Male city tour is an excellent way to acquire an understanding of the significance of each monument as you will be accompanied by one of our experienced tour guide.

Snorkeling Tours

Free snorkelling is available on Maafushi's house reef. Do not hesitate to ask for a free mask and snorkel in your guesthouse, as well as safety information. There are many good snorkeling spots around Maafushi and to any of them you can organize a tour duration from one hour. The most popular spots are: Maavilai, Banana reef, Coral Garden, Shark point, Turtle Reef and others. Prices for snorkeling excursions start from $ 12. Expect to see almost all Maldives' marine life including sharks, rays and turtles. 


Scuba Diving

Fun diving in the Maldives is a must activity for many travelers. On Maafushi there are 3 dive schools and South Male atoll is known for its world-class dive sites with an abundant and vibrant marine life. Depending on the season, you can see sea turtles, manta rays, sharks (including a whale shark), except countless sea creatures of coral reef.

If you are not diver yet, local schools offer a range of standard PADI courses, from Discover scuba Diving (for non-certified divers) to PADI dive master. Shark Diving School and Maafushi Diving also offer children's diving (for children from 8 years old). READ MORE


Maafushi has a large choice of hotels and guest houses where almost every place has a cafe or restaurant. A day time local restaurants mainly offer a menu with a selection of popular western dishes, including hearty breakfasts and a rich selection of seafood for dinner. Some of the options may seem a little expensive, but given the fact that Maafushi is remotely located in the heart of the Indian Ocean - these prices are not high.

Many restaurants in Maafushi offer cuisine for every taste from Western concoction, Chinese noodles to Indian curries and fresh salads and sandwiches and burgers. Also, for a truly Maldivian experience, why not try some of the local fare such as: delicious fish curry, sweet and sour fish soup, patties and rolls with fish, fried fish with pepper, traditional breakfast 'mas-huni-roshi' or some afternoon snacks cooked deep-fried, known as 'khedika'. For dessert, try "foni-boaquiba" - rice pudding on coconut milk. Despite the appetizing choice of food, you, however, always have a choice: either to eat in a relaxed settinh of local cafes with sandy floors or dine at a guest house or hotel with more fine food.

There is also a wide selection of local cafes scattered all over the island, including on the beach where you can watch the sunset with a chilled drink in your hand, listen to live music or even watch local 'bodu take' - a traditional drumming game with dances. See the list of Top 10 Best Restaurants in Maafushi

Where to Stay

The first guest house on the island was the WhiteShell Beach Inn, in January 2010. The hotel was a seller's market among budget travelers and had many positive reviews. Following it to Maafushi, other mini-hotels and guesthouses star to grow like mushrooms after the rain, and today the island boasts a list of accommodation from more than 55 hotels, many of which should not break your budget, given the excellent service. These cozy places to stay have comfortable, spacious and clean rooms (much more than the usual rooms in guesthouses of Southeast Asia) packed with modern amenities such as air conditioning, satellite TV, wifi, a great views, mini bar and hot shower; and there are options with breakfasts, swimming pools and a spa. See our list of Top 10 Best Hotels in Maafushi

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