10 Best Budget Islands with House Reef Snorkeling in The Maldives

Best Maldives Island for Snorkelling on a Budget

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Updated December, 2023

Want to snorkel with manta rays, whale sharks and sea turtles or maybe above scenic house reef on your next budget trip in the Maldives? The Maldives is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, but besides white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters, some of the islands’ greatest sights lie beneath the ocean. The underwater scenery in Maldives is unmatched, but sadly climate change is endangering the watery wonderland. Coral bleaching is already affected many of the Maldives' house reefs, coral is disappearing across the globe, and some scientists expect it could die out entirely as soon as 2050. Even more of a reason to start planning that budget snorkeling trip you’ve been dreaming about.

We've updated our list of the 10 best budget islands with house reef in the Maldives for underwater adventures. Their house reefs, where multi-colored fish co-exist in the midst of sharks, rays and turtles, are truly exceptional. With over 200 inhabited islands, you are spoiled for choice but nevertheless, after an exciting snorkeling, you will find an affordable comfy accommodation, delicious food and warm hospitality of locals there. To find, discover and experience the best Maldives snorkeling spots on the cheap, grab a mask and snorkel and dive in to the best snorkeling in the world.

1 Ukulhas, North Ari Atoll

Maafushi - South Male Atoll

Best Experience: budget experience holiday, couples, family, beaches, honeymoon, house reef snorkeling, diving, big game fishing

With unique features for the Maldives, Ukulhas is one of the inhabited islands of Alifu-Alifu atoll, that's opened for budget tourism with a range of guest houses and economy-hotels on the island. Known for good ecology, clean environment and high marine biodiversity, today affordable vacation on Ukulhas island is one of the best ways to open the sun, sand and the sea of ​​paradise Maldives without breaking your budget! Staying here allows you to immerse yourself in the local fishing community and get an authentic Maldives experience.

Snorkeling in Ukulhas is one of the best ways to discover Maldives' underwater world. The island boasts a crystal clear lagoon and a house reef with an abundant marine life. To enjoy the underwater beauties around this tiny island, you only need a mask, snorkel and fins, the last gear is highly recommended because of the currents. The best snorkeling spots are on ​​the reef's border or over drop off area Read Full Review...

2  Hangnaameedhoo, North Ari Atoll

Sun Island Resort and Spa

Best Experience:  couples, activities, diving, house reef snorkeling, island hopping

Hangnaameedhoo is one of the inhabited islands of Ari Atoll (Alif Dhaal Atoll) for a great budget holiday in the Maldives. Swimming in crystal clear waters, house reef snorkeling, fun diving and relaxing on the private beach is the stuff that Hangnaameedhoo is made on. Finding just a little more than an hour by speedboat from Male, the idyllic island blessed with its pristine white sandy beaches and vibrant, untouched coral reefs, and thanks to the cheap accommodation, an attentive staff, great food and exciting water adventures you'll get the ultimate Maldives island holiday experience but, happily, without the prices of luxury resorts.

Located in the channel, Haangnamedhoo island has an incredible house reef that's teems with abundant marine life and where you can do the snorkeling at anytime. An easily accessible, the house reef is excellent for snorkeling with a large shallow lagoon with lots of coral fish nurseries. The drop off is not far from the beach and you can spot black and white tipped reef sharks, rays, giant moray eels and turtles every day as well a octopuses, eagle rays, lionfish, barracuda and if you lucky a stonefish and a pelagic species. READ MORE 

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3 Bodufolhudhoo, North Ari Atoll

Bodufolhudhoo - North Ari Atoll aerial

Best Experience: for Couples, guiet and private, beach, mantas, value, house reef snorkeling

A great option for a a fun-filled budget holiday in the Maldives, Bodufolhudhoo is a small island in the North Ari Atol. The beautiful island is well known for its spectacular marine life with a beautiful house reef ideal for snorkeling and is surrounded by a some famous resorts including Nika Island Resort, Velidoo and Gangehi. Today, apart from the guest houses there are 2 local cafes, a large children's playground, and a PADI dive shcool and water sports center on Bodufolhudhoo. The tiny size of the island and the hospitality of the islanders allows you to enjoy a relax and authentic Maldives experience.

If you like snorkeling - Bodufolhudhoo has one of the best house reefs in the Maldives. Safe with plenty to see, the reef is less than 100 meters from the beach - so you will need very little effort to enjoy the beautiful coral and fish life. The current is weak and you can easily swim against it while enjoying a vibrant marine life below. Expect large schools os fish, eagle rays, octopuses, as well as impressive schools of angelfish, parrots and of course pelagics, including whitetip and gray sharks, rays and turtles. Read Full Review...

4 Thinadhoo, Vaavu Atoll

Thinadhoo - Vaavu Atoll

Best Experience: couples, families, beaches, activities, scuba diving, house reef snorkeling, deap sea fishing

Home for Plumeria Maldives, Thinadhoo is one of the populated islands of Vaavu atoll in Maldives. Surrounded by dazzling sandy beaches and turquoise waters with a great house reef snorkeling, Thinadhoo is a perfect place for a holiday to suit all budgets. Today, the island of Thinadhoo it is a favorite place for Big-game fishing, snorkeling and diving. An affordable way to explore the country, we can safely say that in Thinadhoo you will find your own piece of paradise.

House reef is the main attraction of Thinadhoo. Armed with a mask, snoклуд and fins you do not want to pull your head out from under the water. Colorful reef fish and stunning coral architecture lurk right beneath the ocean's surface close to the beach just 20 meters from the shoreline, and at a comfortable depth of about 2-3 meters. In short - do not miss snorkeling! Read Full Review...

5 Omadhoo, North Ari atoll

Maafushi - South Male Atoll

Best Experience: authentic Maldives, beach, house reef snorkeling, couples, famiies, swimming with whale sharks, diving

With love, the well-groomed and hospitable Maldives Island, Omadhoo is a picturesque fishing village in the heart of Ari Atoll. In contrast to the 5-star resorts on Omadhoo you will find idyllic Maldives with a quiet island life and local traditions. The island has a diving center PADI. For newbies there are many world-class dive sites around Omadhoo. With soft white sand and decorated with umbrellas, a bikini-beach is in the southwestern part of this island. Accommodation is limited to a few guest houses, but generally positive reviews, excellent food, and in general you will be pleasantly surprised by such a classy budget vacation!

With two entrances, the house reef surrounding the island is pure and innocent with great live corals and amazing marine life, perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. West beach is the best place for house reef snorkeling. Coral here is patchy, there is lots of sand patches. But sadly most of the corals are dead (bleached) and the colors have disappered into a graveyard-looking white. Read Full Review...

6 Thoddoo, North Ari Atoll

Thoddoo - North Ari Atoll

Best Experience: A fabulous beaches, authentic Maldivian experience holiday, for family, for couples, snorkeling, diving, fishing

Emerald in a setting of golden sand, Thoddoo is one of the inhabited islands of North Ari atoll, in the Maldives. Located 67 km from Male Airport and 20 km north of Thulusdhoo Island, Thoddoo is a great option for a budget barefoot holiday. With more than 20 economy hotels and guest houses, and surrounded by warm turquoise waters and abundant marine life, the beautiful island offers for travelers boundless opportunities for a cheap snorkeling, diving, water sports and island hopping tours, including an amazing sandbanks. Thoddoo island is also a delightful nature, a vibrant underwater world and a large white sandy bikini beach ... of course for tourists.

Thoddoo's house reef boasts a multi-colored palette of bright healthy corals with schools of colorful fish, sea turtles and rays. Local snorkel experts are always ready to help first-timers get an unforgettable taste of marine life in Thoddoo's lagoon before moving to Medhu Muraka house reef. The latter has a great length and you will need good swimming skills to explore its underwater treasures. Read Full Review...

6 Maalhos, Baa Atoll

Maalhos, Baa Atoll

Best Experience: Snorkeling with Mantas, house reef, diving, fishing

Maalhos is one of the inhabited islands of Baa Atoll in the Maldives. Home to Madi Finolhu Guest House, Maalhos is located in the only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and it's just a couple of minutes away from the nearby Hanifaru Bay knowns their abundant marine life. The beautiful island is famous for its white sand beaches fringed coconut trees, crystal clear waters and hospitality of local people. If you want to experience authentic Maldives, Maalhos is a place that you should not miss!

Being located in a channel, the island is surrounded by a spectacular house reef with rich sea flora and fauna. The house reef is a short swim from the shore, and there are several places where you can access a drop off easily. There is a great chance to see some pelagic animals as well as the regular reef residents. Reef sharks, moray eels, rays and turtles are often found on the house reef. Read Full Review...

8 Dharavandhoo, Baa Atoll

SeaLaVie Inn - Ukulhas

Best Experience:  cheap, family, couples, snorkeling with Mantas, diving

The affordable beach experience in Dharavandhoo Island will surpass all your expectations; the main theme in this part of the Maldives is not to miss the spectacular water adventures, where each excursion will be filled with new vivid impressions. Result? An unforgettable journey and memories that will remain with you forever. Easily accessible by domestic flight from Malé Airport, the beautiful Dharavandhoo is located in the heart of UNESCO's only marine biosphere reserve in the Maldives and is ideal for everything that Maldives has to offer.

Dharavandhoo's house reef can't boast superb underwater scenery, but the main highlight - Snorkeling with Manta Rays - lies 5 minutes by boat away from the island. Despite the small size, Hanifaru Bay has become one of the best places for snorkeling with manta rays and whale sharks in the world, and regularly draws professionals underwater photos and videos.. In the season, you can count up to 200 giant animals hovering over coral reefs, as well as many whale sharks here. Guest houses in Dharavandhoo organize snorkeling exursions to Hanifaru Bay, that is the world's largest feeding station for Mantas. Prices: from $ 60 / person. Snorkling tours to other sites $ 60 / per boat. (full day)  Read Full Review...

9 Maamigili, South Ari Atoll

Maamigili, South Ari Atoll

Best Experience:  cheap, family, couples, snorkeling with Mantas, diving

Maamigili, also known as 'Whale Shark Island' is an inhabited island and the only airport in South Ari (Alif Dhaal) Atoll. There are a few guesthouses, and it's a popular base for divers, who especially love staying here for the easy access to Dhidhdhoo Beyru with its whale sharks. Maamigili is also the perfect choice for the traveler who wants something more than a resort, a genuine connection with the culture and a budget friendly experience of the otherwise pretty expensive Maldives.

Maamigili is located at the most famous area for Whale Shark explorations. The island is just 20 minutes away by boat to these famous adventure. Whale sharks is the biggest fish of the ocean and the south of Ari Atoll is a great place to dive and snorkel with this breathtaking creatures. READ MORE

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10 Dhigurah, South Ari Atoll

Dhigurah, South Ari Atoll

Best Experience:  budget accommodation, family, couples, beaches, snorkeling with whale shark, diving

The famous whale shark area in South Ari Atoll, Dhigurah is a long Maldivian island with stretch of white sandy beaches. Heaven for fans of underwater adventures, Dhigurah island is 20-minutes by domestic flight or 1.5 hour speed-boat ride from Malé airport. The island is a popular destination not only for fans of beach vacation, but also for divers and snorkelers who seek contact with whale sharks, manta rays and world-class corals that make this destination one of the best diving in the Maldives.

Free snorklling in Dhigurah is available in different spots, but the house reef lies in the lagoon on the inside of the atoll. If you are an experienced swimmer, expect a hypnotic marine life, beautiful corals (spots) and lots of colorful fish. Paid snorkeling excursions offered by Island Divers are divided into several areas: snorkeling on coral reefs, whale shark safaris, Coral Garden Snorkeling, snorkeling with manta rays, and a night snorkelling also.  READ MORE

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