One of the best ethical animal experiences you can have with marine life in Thailand is to go whale watching. Wild Encounter Thailand run amazing boat trips to experience whales just an hour from Bangkok. This makes it one of the top day trips to do from Bangkok and a must do for anyone who loves the ocean and seeing marine life in Thailand.
Information about seeing whales in Asia – Thailand
Where to see whales in Thailand?
You can see Bryde whales in the Upper Gulf of Thailand. The boat leaves from Samut Sakorn province, approximately one hour from Bangkok, making this one of the best day trips from Bangkok to experience.
When to see whales in Thailand?
The best time of year to go whale watching is between the months of August-October when the whales are feeding regularly in the Gulf of Thailand. They come here for the anchovies and mackerel.
What kind of whales can I see in Thailand?
Bryde whales are some of the biggest marine mammals in Thailand and can be seen here every year. Bryde (pronounced Bru-da) whales can reach up to 16metres long and live up to 60-70 years old. They are generally solitary animals but may come together for mass feeding events. Mothers and calves are seen together fairly often.
Why are they called Bryde whales?
They are named after a Norwegian man who used to hunt them. No comment on why he gets a whole species named after him.
What are the whales doing so near Bangkok?
The Bryde whales are often feeding, which is an awesome sight to see. You can also see these Thai whales swimming and on both my trips I was lucky enough to experience mothers and calves.
Where is the pick up spot?
Pre-covid Wild Encounter Thailand would run minivans from Bangkok to Samut Sakorn but during covid times we took a taxi there independently.
Who runs the trip?
Khun Jirayu with Wild Encounter Thailand. He is extremely knowledgeable about the whales and many other animals and birds too. I am looking forward to my next trip after December to see Irawaddy dolphins!
Practical Questions about Whale Watching in Thailand
What is the boat like?
At the time of writing, Wild Encounter Thailand use a medium size boat. It has an air conditioned cabin in the middle with seats and coffee and water facilities. Two toilets at the back of the boat and viewing areas from the front and on the upper deck in front of the captain’s cabin.
What are the timings of the trip?
Our day trip to see the Bryde whales started from 8am in the morning and we arrived back at the pier at 3.30pm approximately. This did not include getting from Bangkok to the pier in Samut Sakorn.
The whale watching day trip includes lunch on the boat, we were offered various choices a few days before our trip, including vegetarian and vegan options.
Is the whale watching in Thailand child friendly?
Yes, there were families on our boat.
Are life jackets provided during the boat trip?
Yes we were informed during the boat briefing where life jackets were stored, including for children.
Can I swim with whales in Thailand?
Short answer, no. The whales are some distance from the boat and the visibility in the water is extremely poor so there would be no point in swimming with the whales as you would not see them!
Might I get seasick on the boat?
While I personally did not feel seasick, one of my friends did when it was a little choppy. The water generally is calm but if you are prone to seasickness then this could affect you. The boat often stops to observe the whales so can rock during this time. Seasick pills were provided on board.
How much does whale watching cost?
At the time of writing we paid 2500 baht per person with a discount for being vaccinated. We also took an antigen covid test before boarding which was 200 baht. It was a DIY kit and we had the option to do before arriving if we wished to source our own test.
What to wear to go whale watching?
The boat is comfortable and does have AC if needed. I would wear appropriate clothes for hot, tropical weather and take a light jumper as it can get windy. It can also be very sunny and hot so I recommend a cap and suncream.
I think whale watching is the best activity to do in Thailand and encourage others to experience the whales too!
Thinking about visiting this paradise destination? Here is everything you need to know before you go on your Maldives holiday. I have included a Maldives island guide with all the islands I have visited with island reviews and suggestions. I have written down all the information and facts I know about travel in the Maldives after a year and a half of working there.
Here is everything you need to know about your Maldives holiday whether it’s a luxury resort or a budget Maldives trip to experience local islands in the Maldives.
How many islands are there in the Maldives?
There are 1192 islands of which approximately 200 are inhabited. It is the smallest country in Asia! The islands are grouped into 26 atolls.
Where is the Maldives?
The Maldives is in the Indian Ocean and a short flight from both Southern India and Sri Lanka.
How to get to the Maldives?
The main airport that you can fly into is Velana International Airport near the capital city and island of Male (pronounced Maa-ley). Visiting the Maldives from India or Sri Lanka is cheap way to find budget flights to the Maldives. Flying from other countries in Asia like Thailand or Malaysia is also a budget option to visit the Maldives.
Do you need a visa for the Maldives?
The Maldives offer a one month free visa on arrival to almost every nationality. Check with your government website to make sure.
What’s the weather like in the Maldives?
The Maldives is a tropical country in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It therefore has hot, humid weather and experiences monsoon seasons.
What temperature is it in the Maldives?
It is usually around 30 degrees Celsius in the Maldives and it rarely changes much over the year.
When is the best time of year to visit the Maldives?
It depends which islands and atolls you are planning to visit on your Maldives holiday. For most atolls the rainy season is between May to October. However, this definitely doesn’t mean that it will rain every day and the weather is extremely unpredictable. Rainy season also brings ocean adventures and is the best time to see manta rays in Hanifaru bay.
What is a resort island?
A resort island refers to an island which is owned by a hotel. Resort Islands in the Maldives range from luxury travel destinations to cheaper, affordable resorts like Kihaa and Bandos Maldives. Resort islands can serve alcohol, guests can wear any clothing and the whole island is the resort and staff usually live on the same island in staff accommodation.
What is a local island in the Maldives?
A local island is where Maldivians live and work and local islands are different to resort islands.
What is the difference between local islands and resort islands?
You cannot legally drink alcohol on a local island and you will not be able to buy alcohol on local islands in the Maldives. There are no bars or places to drink on local islands. Another main difference is that you are expected to respect the local customs and culture when visiting local islands in the Maldives, whereas resort islands are merely a holiday destination and guests are rarely expected to adhere to local customs and laws.
Can I stay on a local island?
Yes! I strongly recommend experiencing and staying on a local island in the Maldives. I love visiting local islands and I think it is a great way to experience the real Maldives. Read all about local islands on this post.
If I stay at a resort can I visit a local island?
Yes. Many Maldives resorts will offer local island tours where you are given a tour around a nearby local island.
What religion is the Maldives?
Many people are surprised that the Maldives’ only religion is Islam. Maldivians must be muslim by law.
Is the Maldives only a honeymoon destination?
Absolutely not. During the 1.5 years I spent living and working in the Maldives, I travelled with friends, family and lovers. If you are a diver or love being in the water then the Maldives is a perfect holiday destination for you because of all the things you can do in the Maldives.
Can I travel solo in the Maldives?
I am a huge fan of solo travel around Asia, particularly travelling as a solo female. However, the Maldives has certain challenges when travelling solo, mainly the cost of rooms and there are limited ways to meet other travellers.
Can I backpack solo in the Maldives?
There are no hostels and therefore you cannot find budget accommodation like in India and Sri Lanka. The cheapest guesthouses have double rooms starting at $40 per night.
Can I travel solo and stay in luxury resorts?
Yes, you definitely can if you can afford the expensive resorts in the Maldives. Generally speaking, the cheapest resort is around $300 US dollars per night so travelling with someone and sharing the cost of a luxury resort makes it more affordable.
Can I travel solo in the Maldives and stay in a guesthouse on a local island?
Yes. Guesthouses start from around $40 per night so staying on local islands is a much more affordable option for solo travel than staying in a luxury Maldives resort. If you are a diver or join other trips such as dolphin watching or snorkelling trips, then you are likely to find other like-minded travellers as well.
What is the cheapest time to go to the Maldives?
For staying in luxury resorts the cheapest time will be rainy season so between the months of May- October. The most expensive season is over Christmas and New Year and many resorts experience full occupancy.
How many days do you need in the Maldives?
I think this depends on what activities you are planning to do on your Maldives vacation. For honeymooners staying at expensive resorts, many stay for around 4-5 days to experience a luxury resort. For me personally, I could easily spend a month island hopping around different islands.
How to travel around the Maldives?
Boats and airplanes. If you are staying at a resort then the resort will usually arrange a speedboat transfer or a seaplane or a domestic flight for you at an additional cost. If you are staying on local islands then you can take a speedboat transfer from the airport or from Male. Ferries are the cheapest way to travel around the Maldives as domestic flights can still be expensive (around $200 return).
What are the cheapest resorts in the Maldives?
The cheapest resorts will be resorts that are near to Male and near to the airport because you will not have to pay for expensive seaplane transfers or domestic flights. Kihaa Resort is one of the best budget resorts although it is not near Male, it is in Baa atoll.
What are the cheapest local islands in the Maldives?
The best budget Maldives trip will be to local islands. I’ve written blog posts about all the different local Maldivian islands I have visited here for you to choose which island to visit and what activities you can do on each island. On this blog post I have suggested a perfect Maldives itinerary.
What to bring to the Maldives?
I have written a separate blog post about what items to bring to the Maldives and an important packing guide for your Maldives trip.
What to wear in the Maldives?
This depends if you are intending to visit local islands. In resort islands anything goes and you are welcome to wear whatever you like, including bikinis. Most local islands that welcome tourists now have bikini beaches so you can wear a bikini and swimsuit on these beaches on local islands but should cover up when walking around the rest of the island.
Can unmarried couples visit the Maldives?
Yes definitely. Both resorts and local island guesthouses welcome unmarried couples and this is no problem at all. Guesthouses can refuse to accept an unmarried couple where one of the members is Maldivian and I have heard of this happening to friends. However, I have never personally experienced this and all guesthouses and hotels that I recommend I was able to stay at in a mixed nationality couple.
Is it safe to visit the Maldives?
I have always felt safe travelling in the Maldives and staying on different islands.
How much does it cost to go to the Maldives?
This definitely depends on how much you are willing to spend! Resorts start from $300 per night and can rise to $40,000 per night for private islands. Guesthouses on local islands usually range from $40-100 per night.
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With over a 1000 islands, it can be difficult to decide which Maldives island to visit so when planning where to stay in the Maldives, consider a visit to the beautiful Maldives island of Thoddoo. Thoddoo is the best local island to visit if you like a Maldives island with long beautiful white sand beaches, snorkelling with turtles and if you want to visit the authentic Maldives and not just stay in a luxury resort. You can read here about the differences between local islands (or Maldives public islands as some people call them) and resort islands in the Maldives.
Thoddoo: Local Island Guide- Island Overview
Thoddoo is in North Ari Atoll and is a speedboat ride away from the main international airport in the Maldives near Male. It is an island with lots of agriculture meaning it is very green and full of plantations. It is well-known for its watermelons as there are huge fields growing watermelons specifically for Ramadan in the Maldives. They also grow papaya and coconuts. It is the best island to snorkel with turtles in the Maldives (I saw turtles every time I went in the water!) and Thoddoo has some of the most affordable hotels in the Maldives.
Top things to do in the Maldives: What to do in Thoddoo
What are the best things to do in Thoddoo? I spent 4 days there and it’s very hard to say which was my favourite activity to do in Thoddoo. Snorkelling with the turtles, walking along the beautiful Maldivian beaches, cycling around the island, taking photos with the palm trees and eating delicious local Maldivian food and sipping fresh coconuts were all high on my list of what to do in Thoddoo.
Snorkelling in Thoddoo
My favourite Maldives activity is snorkelling. Thoddoo is a great place to snorkel in the Maldives mainly because you can snorkel with turtles right off bikini beach. The marine life in the Maldives is absolutely amazing and one of the reasons why I love living there. In Thoddoo, you can see hawksbill turtles feeding on algae growing on some boulders near the beach. They were so relaxed, not bothered by humans and continued swimming and feeding as if we weren’t even there! Out of all of the local islands I have visited so far, Thoddoo is the best island to see turtles in my humble opinion. Every time I went into the water, I saw turtles and you can even see them coming up to breathe when walking along the beaches.
Is there a bikini beach in Thoddoo?
Yes! Thoddoo has a beautiful, large bikini beach which when I went in February was not particularly busy. The rest of the beaches around the island were completely deserted and a great place to stroll around and swim. On other beaches around Thoddoo, it is not permitted to wear a bikini or swimsuit, so take a rash vest and shorts or water leggings to experience these beautiful quiet Maldives beaches away from the other tourists. For advice on what to pack in the Maldives, read my ideal Maldives packing list here.
Scuba Diving in Thoddoo Local Island
During my time in Thoddoo, I unfortunately did not scuba dive but enjoyed the snorkelling the island has to offer. I have heard that the diving here is great as is nearby Rasdhoo (also on my list to visit) and staff in my guesthouse saw dolphins and a whale shark while on a fishing trip at the time I was staying in their guesthouse.
Where to stay in the Maldives: Thoddoo
As one of the best budget local islands in the Maldives, Thoddoo island is perfect if you are looking for a cheap stay in the Maldives and affordable accommodation for the best Maldives holiday. We stayed at this awesome guesthouse which included a yummy vegetarian friendly breakfast every morning of orange juice, pancakes and watermelon. There were many affordable guesthouses in Thoddoo and I am very glad that I selected the one we stayed in. The rooms were big, clean and the staff were very friendly, letting us use bicycles and a motorbike for free to explore the island. They had tea and coffee available at any time of the day and a cute courtyard where we ate breakfast. The room rate was very cheap and we received a discount as a local/work permit holder rate.
Restaurants in Thoddoo: Where to eat
Thoddoo has various restaurants where you can eat yummy local Maldivian food and one Russian owned restaurant called the Black Anchor which serves more international food. I recommend enjoying kottu roshi, my favourite Maldivian dish that can be made vegetarian.
Transport: Getting to Thoddoo local island
Getting to Thoddoo from Male or the airport. The best way to travel to Thoddoo is by speedboat. It takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes from the airport to Thoddoo island. The speedboats are safe, will provide life jackets but as it is quite far don’t expect an entirely unbumpy ride! There is a toilet on board.
The speedboat goes from the airport & Male to Thoddo every day at 11:00 AM and 16:00 PM every day. Return time is 7am and 1pm from Thoddoo back to Male/airport.
Cost is $35.00 per person per one way for tourist price. For locals and work permit holders we paid 250 rufiya one way.
Thoddoo Island Location
Thoddoo island is in North Ari atoll and about an hour and 20 minutes from Male and from the airport. To get to Thoddoo island you can take a speedboat from the airport. You can ask your guesthouse in Thoddoo to arrange this for you as they may even offer you a discount!
For more about the best islands to visit in the Maldives, check out my local island guide with all you need to know about staying on and visiting Maldives islands.
Dhiffushi is probably one of the smallest local islands that I have visited in the Maldives so far. A walk, all around it, only took approximately 20 minutes. For such a tiny island it has some budget accommodation, boutique hotels and a white sand stretch of beach around most of the island. It is also the first local island that I have been to so far that had seagrass growing in the shallows which means good snorkelling and chance of green turtles who feed on seagrass.
Cheap Maldives vacation: What to do in Maldives, Dhiffushi
Although Dhiffushi is a tiny island, it offered all the usual water activities that you would expect in the Maldives like kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, kite surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, banana boats, wakeboarding are just a few of the activities I saw both tourists and locals doing while I was there.
Snorkelling in Dhiffushi
While the visibility was not great during my snorkelling afternoon in Dhiffushi, the seagrass growing there, along with some patches of coral off of the bikini beach mean that there is a decent area for snorkelling.
Marine Life Maldives: Dhiffushi
I saw a variety of reef fish while snorkelling and a couple of stingrays came close to the beach in the evening , right into the shallows. I also suspect that this is a good area to spot turtles because of the seagrass growing in the shallows of the beach. Because of the nearby resort (which is almost close enough to swim to) there is quite a lot of boat traffic.
Cheap Scuba Diving in the Maldives: Dhiffushi
I didn’t dive in Dhiffushi but I saw divers going for a shore dive which means that costs would be kept cheap by not paying for a speedboat.
Dhiffushi Island Accommodation: Where to stay in Dhiffushi
I loved the guesthouse that we stayed in, Infinity Dhiffushi . The ownder was really friendly, the rooms were clean and well equipped and we enjoyed the upstairs restaurant with sea views. Breakfast was included and was pancakes with maple syrup and apple slices with tea or coffee and an orange juice. I paid a work permit rate of approximately $50 per room per night which is great budget accommodation in the Maldives. They also arranged our boat transfer and let us extend by an extra day when we decided to stay longer. There was no problem for a Maldivian national to stay with a foreigner.
Bikini Beach in Dhiffushi
You can wear a bikini on the two bikini beaches in Dhiffushi. You can wear a bikini while on the beach, however it is not considered respectful to walk around in a bikini or bikini top so take a cover up. Our guesthouse said there was no need to cover shoulders and knees and shorts were fine to wear around the island. Men should also not walk around topless.
Drinking alcohol in the Maldives: Dhiffushi
Dhiffushi is a local island and therefore under Maldivian law you cannot drink or buy alcohol on this island. However, as it is not too far from Thulusdhoo island there is a floating bar next to this island which I am sure a speedboat would take you to for a small fee. Floating bars in the Maldives are actually liveaboard boats with licenses to sell alcohol so you can take a short speedboat to these safari boats to have a drink or enjoy a party boat evening. Drinks are not expensive, a rum and coke was approximately $5. I was recently told that one of Thulusdhoo’s floating bar boats is only open on Thursday so check with your guesthouse or places advertising trips.
Dhiffushi Restaurants: Where to Eat
Cozy cafe near the harbour was great for local Maldivian food although it took some explaining to get a vegetarian meal there! Eventually I got a vegetable kottu roshi which I enjoyed. The Kettle also has a cute beach front to enjoy the sea view while eating and I enjoyed the food and fruit smoothies at the upstairs restaurant near the water sports.
Transport to Dhiffushi from Male
You can take the speedboat from Male or from the airport to Dhiffushi. The journey takes around 30 minutes and costs 175 rufiya for work permit holders/Maldivian Nationals.
Dhiffushi is one of the local islands close to the airport and to Male. It is very easy to travel to islands in Kaafu Atoll (Male atoll) because Male has such good speedboat and ferry transport options. This means it is a cheap option because the speedboat isn’t too expensive.
More Travel Advice for Visiting the Maldives on my Travel Blog:
For the cheapest island to visit in the Maldives, check out Maafushi for cheap diving and water sports.
This is the quietest island in the Maldives where you can avoid the crowds, check out Gulhi island. It also has the best beach in the Maldives (that I’ve seen so far!) Thoddoo also has one of the best bikini beaches in the Maldives that is also full of turtles!
For the best budget scuba diving in the Maldives (and some of the top diving of my life) find out about Fuvahmulah island.
Many people’s idea of things to do in the Maldives involves lying on a beautiful white sand beach sipping cocktails. However, there are so manymore activities to do in the Maldives, especially if you loive an active holiday like I do. In the Maldives there are so many water activities and marine adventures to be had! Here is my list of the best activities to do in the Maldives followed by some favourite experiences of tourists visiting these paradise islands.
Snorkel with turtles (Thoddoo is the best island for this!)
Go fishing (all fishing is done in a sustainable way in the Maldives)
Stroll or cycle around the whole island
Smoke sheisha on the beach
Do Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Fly a drone and take amazing photos
Cal from Mar Pages loved his manta ray experience
Soneva Fushi is known to be one of the top barefoot luxe hotels in the Maldives. Situated on the mostly untouched and jungle-esque Kunfunadhoo island, it’s a locally owned hotel chain with a focus on exploring the uniqueness of the area – over any glitz and glam. After flying in the Maldivian seaplane, you’re welcomed to a world of luxury among the foliage. Water-based experiences are second-to-none at Soneva Fushi, as it’s based in the UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve Baa Atoll, which is in close proximity to some of the country’s most epic dive sites. It also has one of the most popular manta areas, where you can jump in the water and swim with the soaring creatures in season. As Soneva has its own dive centre with freediving lessons, you’re almost guaranteed a perfect experience. Personally, it was sensational to be surrounded by these gentle giants who seemed to want to get closer and closer. I had to make sure not to stretch out my legs and arms to avoid touching them and really enjoyed seeing them dance around in the ocean. Even if you’re not a swimmer, there are tons of dry water-based activities at Soneva Fushi. The most extravagant is hopping aboard the Soneva in Aqua Luxury Chartered Yacht which includes a glass-bottomed spa bath. There are day experiences or even surfaris available to Goidhoo, one of the country’s most premium breaks.
Suzanna from Meandering Wild loved Wreck Diving in Addu Atoll
When you think about diving in the Maldives, wreck diving is not the first thing to come to mind. However, in Addu Atoll it is possible to dive on a fairly intact shipwreck. In the Second World War, Addu Atoll was a secret British naval base. It is the most southerly of the Maldivian Atolls and is over 500 miles from Malé. The British Loyalty was an oil tanker that was hit by a torpedo in 1944 and spent the rest of the war in the atoll. In 1946 when the British Navy withdrew they scuttled her (intentionally made holes to make her sink). She sank on her starboard side into 33 metres of water just offshore inside Addu Atoll.
The dive is gentle and if you are not qualified to dive to 33metres the port side is a beautiful coral garden at 16metres. Dropping over the edge of the port side you can find the hole where the torpedo struck which allows you into the hold and engine rooms to explore. It is also possible to find the stern section with the propeller still in place, covered in black coral and surrounded by elegant batfish.
To dive the British Loyalty you will need to book onto a dive boat. The easiest to use is Aquaventure based out of Maradhoo. They are not linked to a resort and can provide all the kit and training you need.
One of the most unique things to do in the Maldives is visiting a sand bank. These can be found scattered in the archipelago, there are various of different dimensions, and they are nothing more than just a line of incredibly white sand surrounded by the clearest waters you can imagine. Close to the sand bank you will also find a coral reef, which is perfect for snorkeling.
In order to reach a sand bank you need to hire a boat – most islands (local or privately owned by luxury resorts) will be able to provide this service and a captain that knows where to find the closest sand bank.
As the sand is bright white and there is absolutely no shade, you will need to apply a lot of sun block and preferably wear a t-shirt for the duration of your stay. Most boats will provide umbrellas or other forms of shelter from the sun. Some boats are too big to be able to get directly on the sand bank, so you may have to walk in the water to make your way there.
Jacs from Flashpacking Family loved seeing turtles
Our family holiday to the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa in the Maldives is, hands down, one of the best holidays we’ve ever had. Not ones for sitting around on a beach all day, particularly our adventurous boys, we were slightly concerned about whether we would get bored, but as it turned out, those fears were completely unfounded.
On arrival, we were given a run-through of all the activities on offer and suddenly realised that we may not have enough time to do all of them. We decided that we absolutely had to go on a snorkelling trip and try some diving as the Maldives is one of the best destinations in the world to do this. If you have never been diving before, the Centara Grand offers dive courses ranging from introductory to full PADI courses.
Thankfully, the resort had the best kids’ club which the kids loved going to, so we were able to take a few trips. Although the corals are mostly bleached, we saw so much marine life, but a turtle gliding by within a metre of us was a big tick on our bucket list. They are the most graceful and ancient creatures and to have one swim by us of its own choice and in its own home, was mesmerising.
For more about the Maldives read my other blog posts to discover more about this amazing country!