Maldives on the Cheap: Thulusdhoo Local Island

Local Island Guide: Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo is one of the most beautiful islands in the Maldives. It is one of the best islands to visit if you are on a budget as it is a local island with a lot of cheap hotels. It also has a mid-range hotel with one of the best infinity pools in the Maldives! I also have to say it’s one of my favourite islands so far, along with the best scuba diving island Fuvamulah.

Photo of local island Thulusdhoo
Hanging out on this picturesque jetty in Thulusdhoo
Maldives on a Budget – What to do in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo island has lots of activities like surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving and all are cheap activities for the Maldives makings this the perfect island for an affordable Maldives holiday! I really enjoyed strolling around the island as many islands are too small to have an enjoyable walk. Other activities can include a tour of the Coca Cola factory that is here.

Surfing in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo has some great surf spots and lots of visitors to this island come for the surfing. From what I saw the surfing looks like it is not so beginner friendly (so not for visitors like me!) as I saw huge waves and a lot of really good surfers out there. There are lessons for beginners available too.

Snorkelling in Thulusdhoo

I didn’t snorkel or see many snorkellers around Thulusdhoo so I definitely recommend trying a snorkelling trip to snorkel sites where the snorkelling should be better. That said, from just walking around the island I saw bumphead parrotfish and baby black tip reef sharks cruising around so while the coral may not be decent, there is still a lot of marine life to see.

 

Cheap Scuba Diving in Thulusdhoo

I really enjoyed the scuba diving in Thulusdhoo. We saw some fairly decent coral, white tip reef sharks, two huge schools of bumphead parrotfish and a huge eagle ray. There is also a chance of seeing manta rays on a deep cleaning station. Though for the best place for manta rays in the Maldives, head to Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll, read more about that here. There are package deals for multiple dives and work permit/ Maldivian national discount is $45 per dive.

Maldives on the cheap Thulusdhoo Local Island Maldives
Walking around Thulusdhoo and spotting baby sharks and surfers
Thulusdhoo Island Accommodation: Where to stay in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo has some of the most amazing looking guesthouses in the Maldives. I absolutely loved staying in Seasons Paradise in Thulusdhoo. It has the best infinity pool on a local island, perhaps including resorts as the swimming pool is on the top floor with amazing ocean views. While I was swimming in the pool, I saw spinner dolphins cruising past. The double beds were huge, with TVs in the room and a small balcony outside. The hotel also has a rooftop spa and a gym although I didn’t use either as I was busy enjoying the best rooftop pool in the Maldives. The price is approximately $100 per night with breakfast included on a work permit/ Maldivian National discount so expect to pay a bit more for tourist price. There was also no issue with a foreigner and Maldivian sharing a room. The hotel will also offer Full Board and all inclusive package. I also loved the hotel design of this Thulusdhoo luxury beach guesthouse and it is also directly across from bikini beach.


Booking.com

 

Maldives on the cheap Thulusdhoo Local Island Maldives
The best rooftop infinity pool in the Maldives
Bikini Beach in Thulusdhoo

You can wear a bikini on bikini beach in Thulusdhoo. As it is a popular surf spot in the Maldives. many locals seemed relaxed about tourists needing to be covered up and I felt that I could wear shorter dresses around the island that showed my shoulders as some Maldivian women were doing the same. 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.

Drinking alcohol in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo is a local island and therefore under Maldivian law you cannot drink or buy alcohol on this island. However, nearby there are some floating bars, liveaboard boats with licenses to sell alcohol so for a small fee ($5) 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.

Maldives on the cheap Thulusdhoo Local Island Maldives
Instagram perfect photoshoot around Thulusdhoo
Thulusdhoo Restaurants: Where to Eat

I really enjoyed eating at Santa Rosa restaurant which also looks like a cute guesthouse. Here, we had some of the best kottu roshi in the Maldives! (that I’ve had so far!) and all for very cheap prices. Food costs approximately $5-10 a meal. I also recommend the pizza at Thulusdhoo Surf Camp and the views at Canopus Retreat where we stopped for a coconut on their beds with views of the surfers.

Transport to Thulusdhoo from Male

You can take the speedboat from Male or from the airport to Thulusdhoo. The journey takes around 30 minutes and costs 150 rufiya for work permit holders. There is also an island ferry which takes approximately 45 minutes.

Thulusdhoo Speedboats from Male and the Airport
Thulusdhoo Speedboats from Male and the Airport
Thulusdhoo Location

Thulusdhoo is one of the best islands to visit as it is close to Male and therefore close to the main international airport in the Maldives. It is very easy to travel to islands in Kaafu Atoll because Male has such good speedboat and ferry transport options.

More Travel Blog Posts about visiting the Maldives

For further information about visiting Maldives local islands, read my post of FAQs here

For the cheapest island to visit in the Maldives, check out Maafushi for cheap diving and water sports.

Dhiffushi island is near Thulusdhoo and worth a visit if you fancy a quiet island with some seagrass snorkelling

For 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!)

For the best budget scuba diving in the Maldives (and some of the top diving of my life) find out about Fuvahmulah island.

Planning a Maldives trip? Read my Maldives packing list here

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Cheap Maldives Holiday: Gulhi, Local Island Maldives

Local Island Guide: Gulhi

Gulhi is one of the best quiet islands in the Maldives. It has one of the best beaches in the Maldives, a bikini beach which is a huge, white sand beach with clear, turquoise water. It is genuinely one of the most stunning beaches I have seen and this tiny island is definitely worth a visit, even if it’s just for the beach alone. It is also an authentic traditional island to experience local Maldivian life.

Picture of Gulhi island wings
Gulhi has some great Instagram spots
Maldives on a Budget – What to do in Gulhi

Like many small, local islands in the Maldives, there are a range of water activities to do and not much else!

Surfing in Gulhi

Gulhi has a certain amount of good breaks for surfing and looks more beginner friendly than other islands such as Thulusdhoo which have much larger waves. I didn’t manage to surf here but the locals are very keen surfers and welcoming!

Water Sports in the Maldives – Gulhi

At the entrance to bikini beach, there are lots of different water sports on offer. Jetskiing, paddle boarding, banana boats and other inflatable fun.

Snorkelling in Gulhi

The coral reef off bikini beach has some decent snorkelling and I was able to see a range of reef fish although the snorkelling trip to other sites was much better. The snorkelling excursion was very enjoyable, it cost around $20 per person as we joined another family on a small boat. We visited three different snorkelling sites and a sandbank as part of our cheap snorkelling trip.

Picture of Cheap Snorkelling Trips in Gulhi
My mum and I snorkelling near Gulhi
Cheap Scuba Diving in the Maldives: Gulhi

Gulhi has some great scuba diving nearby. There is a wreck dive which I really enjoyed and the coral is healthy – not like in some other dive sites in the Maldives. We saw several hawksbill turtles, white tip reef sharks and a lot of different marine fish.

Maldives Budget Accommodation: Where to stay in Gulhi

We stayed in basic but clean rooms at Ilaa Beach. The staff were lovely and very helpful. The cost of this Maldives hotel was approximately $50 per night per double room. The views from breakfast were great and ask for a room on the top floor for the best seaviews. As it is a local island, things take time to organise so don’t expect fast customer service but do expect friendly people who will try their best to help! My friend also recently stayed at Tropic Tree which is just next door and had a great time. For more luxury accommodation on Gulhi, you could consider Sandy Heaven.

Bikini Beach in Gulhi

Gulhi has the best bikini beach in the Maldives (in my opinion!) with a cute swing for photos in the middle of it. The sunbeds were free of charge to use and we ate several times at the nearby restaurant, Premier Beach Restaurant which had delicious local Maldivian food like curries, kottu roshi and fish soups. It also had some lovely looking rooms to stay in.

Photo of Gulhi Swing on bikini beach
My sister and I posing on the swings in Gulhi on bikini beach
Gulhi Restaurants: Where to Eat

Gulhi has a lot of great restaurants for where to eat local Maldivian food. Western food is not generally as good on local islands as they can lack proper ingredients to make it. I strongly recommend trying kottu roshi as this is the best Maldivian food. I enjoyed eating in Tropic Tree and the beach restaurant but my favourite was Noovilla Coffeshop because of their friendly staff (Joey!) and yummy food, especially vegetarian kottu roshi!

Drinking alcohol in the Maldives: Gulhi

While Gulhi is a local island and drinking alcohol is forbidden on all non-resort islands in the Maldives, it is possible to spend an evening at a “floating bar”. These are safari or liveaboard boats which people can drink alcohol on as they are not subject to the same Maldivian alcohol laws as local islands. We arranged a speedboat from another hotel as it was cheaper and paid $10 each for the speedboat transfer as these floating bars are in Maafushi island which is about 10 minutes by boat.

Photo of the most beautiful beach in the Maldives
Endless blue views from the best beach in the Maldives – Gulhi’s bikini beach!
Gulhi Location

Gulhi is one of the top islands to visit in the Maldives because it is so close to Male and the airport. If you have a couple of days at the end of your Maldives itinerary then I definitely recommend visiting Gulhi.

Transport to Gulhi from Male

To get from the airport to Gulhi you can arrange for a speedboat transfer. It costs around $20 tourist price and 100 rufiya for work permit holders or Maldivian Nationals. The same speedboat then goes from the airport to Male and from Male to Gulhi if you are exploring Male first. Call this number for the boat to Gulhi +9607949797. Sometimes there are changes to schedules or boats so always ask on the phone for another number if it is not correct. There are slow ferries that also travel to Gulhi but I recommend the speedboat as it is much faster and easier to find information about! Bear in mind your flight times as if you have an early flight you may need to pay for a private speedboat transfer which could cost around $150.

For general information about visiting Maldives local islands read my blog post here to answer all your questions about which Maldives island to visit and where to stay in the Maldives and the best islands to visit.

The best island for scuba diving in the Maldives is Fuvahmulah. If you are a diver read this post here for the best diving in the Maldives that is also really cheap diving for the Maldives.

For the best island for surfing in the Maldives, and one of the most picturesque islands, check out Thulusdhoo

Booked your Maldives vacation? Read my Maldives packing guide here

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my Maldives travel blog!

Budget Maldives: Maafushi Island

Maafushi Maldives Review
Maafushi island is well known for being a fun local island in the Maldives and is one of the best islands to visit for a cheap Maldives holiday. Maafushi offers lots of cheap water sports and water activities and you can find decent budget accommodation here. It is a local island close to Male and only takes about 20-25 minutes by speedboat from Male or the airport.
Maafushi welcome to the island sign
Maldives on a Budget – What to do in Maafushi
Maafushi Water Sports

Maafushi is one of the best Maldives islands for water sports. Water sports such as jet skiing, SUP, kayaking, banana boats and parasailing are very popular activities to do here. The cost of water sports is cheap in Maafushi, especially in comparison with water sport prices on other islands in the Maldives. For example jetskiing can be as cheap as $30 for half an hour.

Snorkelling in Maafushi
Snorkelling was disappointing off of bikini beach but snorkelling trips will take you to better snorkel sites. However the marine life in Maafushi was still great as we saw two turtles while jetskiing (and I was very wary of hitting them) and we saw spinner dolphins from the beach on several occasions.
Cheap Scuba Diving in Maafushi
Maafushi has some great dive spots nearby and very cheap rates for scuba diving. The cost of diving is approximately $40 per scuba dive including equipment. I really enjoyed the marine life diving near Maafushi and the coral was some of the best coral I have seen in the Maldives so far. On a nearby dive site we spotted white tip reef sharks, turtles, eels, a peacock mantis shrimp and also did a great wreck dive.
Maldives Budget Accommodation: Where to stay in Maafushi
You can find some very cheap hotels in Maafushi and it is a great island to stay on if you are on a budget Maldives trip. I usually compare prices on booking.com. The cost of hotels in Maafushi usually start from $30 per night up.



Booking.com

Bikini Beach in Maafushi
Maafushi has a small bikini beach found at the end of the island between two rocky areas. There are some nice swings for photos at the beach but the sea and beach was quite crowded when I visited. It also has large hotel buildings overlooking the beach so the view is definitely not as beautiful as other islands which have more natural backgrounds to the beach.
life is better at the beach sign
Maafushi Budget Hotel: Kaani Village and Spa Review
I stayed at this great accommodation when visiting Maafushi. The rooms were basic but clean and I liked the bathrooms. The swimming pool was the best feature of the hotel and we had some great photos taken here with the greenery in the background. The hotel were very helpful and even lent snorkelling equipment to us free of charge. If you work in the Maldives or are a Maldivian National, ask for a work permit discount. There was also no issue with mixed nationality couples (Maldivian + Foreigner) staying together.
Photo of me by a swimming pool in Maafushi
One of the few hotels with a swimming pool in Maafushi with reasonable rates
Drinking alcohol in Maafushi
While it is not possible to drink or purchase alcohol on local islands in the Maldives, Maafushi has access to liveaboard safari boats which means you can drink alcohol at these floating bars in Maafushi. These bars are party boats with a small dancefloor, disco lights and DJs. Alcohol is not expensive considering what they could charge ($5 a beer or $8 spirit and a mixer). Don’t expect any fancy cocktails even though they are listed on the menu! These floating bars cannot be found on many local islands so this makes Maafushi a top Maldives destination and  one of the best party islands in the Maldives.
Transport to Maafushi from Male
The best way of getting to Maafushi from Male is by speedboat. You can book onto a speedboat by calling this number and these are the timings. Additional boats go at different times so ask about other speedboat companies too. Bear in mind that if you have an early flight which is outside of these timings then you may need to pay for a private boat which is expensive. The speedboat to Maafushi costs approximately $20 per person for tourist rate and work permit/Maldivian National rate is 100 rufiya.
Budget Maldives cheap travel top Maafushi
Regular Speedboats to Maafushi
Maafushi Location
Maafushi is located in Kaafu Atoll, not far from the capital Male and the Maldives main international airport Velana. This means that Maafushi is very easy to travel to as you can access the island via speedboat and there is no need for expensive domestic flights to get there.
Maafushi Restaurants: Where to Eat
I enjoyed the local food in Maafushi as always but no one restaurant in particular stood out. Many restaurants connected with hotels offered buffet options but will also offer a la carte if you ask for a menu. Make sure you ask for ‘no straws’ when ordering drinks as Maafushi is still using plastic straws.
For a quieter alternative island to Maafushi, consider staying in Gulhi, a nearby island which has the best beach in the Maldives!
Visit an alternative local island where you can also drink at floating bars, and another really beautiful island is Thulusdhoo local island.
For more overviews and frequently asked questions about local islands read this post.
For the best scuba diving in the Maldives – read my blog post about cheap diving in Fuvahmulah island
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Budget Maldives: Maldives Local Islands

Local Island Tourism – the Maldives
What can you expect when visiting local islands in the Maldives? So far I have loved visiting local islands. They are cheap, authentic and some of the best places to visit in the Maldives. Resorts have many advantages but they are not the real Maldives.  Local islands are full of life, families, cats, beautiful beaches, greenery and great Maldivian food. They are also the best way to visit the Maldives on a budget as you can find affordable guesthouses (costing around 50$ per night), cheap scuba diving and cheap snorkelling trips and dolphin cruises.
gulhi bikini beach
The beautiful bikini beach on Gulhi, Maldives – a Local Island near Male
Local People in the Maldives
In my experience, the locals are friendly, honest and very welcoming to tourists. I believe many Maldivians are happy to meet tourists who are interested in their culture and visiting the authentic Maldives, rather than just staying at an expensive resort. The local language is Dhivehi, which has a beautiful and unusual script, but most Maldivians speak excellent English, particularly the younger generation so it’s very easy to travel around and to find people who will help you.
Religion in the Maldives
The local population is Muslim (by law) and therefore tourists, male and female, are expected to respect Islamic customs like covering shoulders and knees, even when swimming. Following Islamic law, all local islands are dry and you will not be able to purchase or drink alcohol.
Alcohol in the Maldives
Tourists are only able to drink and purchase alcohol at resort islands. Alcohol is forbidden in all local islands in the Maldives. It is also not permitted to bring any alcohol into the country.
Drink coconuts instead of alcohol on local island - Gulhi
Drink coconuts instead of alcohol on local island – Gulhi
Dress Code in the Maldives – Local Islands
My first question when moving to the Maldives was what to wear when visiting local islands. In order to respect local customs, it is best for men and women to cover shoulders and knees when visiting or staying on local islands. In my experience, lots of local islands seem very relaxed about this rule and I have felt comfortable showing my shoulders in islands like Fuvahmulah where locals also have the freedom to bare some skin.
What to wear in the Maldives
Wearing beach wear in Maafushi Local Island
Can I wear a bikini on local islands?
Many local islands have recently opened up “bikini beach” areas which means that you can wear bikinis or swimsuits on the beach. It is only for this specific area on the island though so pack cover ups for walking to and from the beach. Some more touristy islands like Maafushi local island don’t mind people wearing shorts to the beach.
What are the differences between staying in a resort and staying on a local island?
The number one difference, in my opinion, is that in a resort you can drink alcohol and wear bikinis whereas local islands are dry and bikinis are only acceptable in designated areas such as “bikini beaches”. Local islands will have a slower pace of island life and a relaxed attitude to customer service. Spending your Maldives trip on local islands is the best budget stay in the Maldives. Visiting local islands are by far the cheapest alternative to staying in an expensive resort. Resorts can cost anywhere from $300 a night up to $18,000 a night! Local islands have the same natural beauty of the Maldives like white sand beaches and clear, turquoise waters. The benefits are also more choice of places to stay, budget Maldives accommodation, choice of restaurants, shops and dive centres meaning there is more competition and prices are extremely cheap.
Drinking alcohol on local islands
Alcohol is forbidden by law on local islands and therefore you will only be able to find non-alcoholic beer sold on these islands. If you are looking for a party island in the Maldives, then I recommend staying in a resort island where alcohol is allowed and there are bars. Alternatively, you could stay on a local island and consider spending an evening at a resort to enjoy a sunset cocktail. Many resorts will offer day passes or you can hire a boat to take you there for an evening dinner and drinks. You are not allowed to bring alcohol into the Maldives or bring from resort islands to local islands. However, some islands have liveaboard safari boats that have bars where you can drink and they dock near local islands. Read about Maafushi and its party boats on this blog post.
Snorkelling trips on local islands
Snorkelling trips on local islands are much more reasonably priced than on resort islands. We paid around $20 per person for a half day of snorkelling which included three different snorkelling sites and a sandbank stop. The cost of excursions like dolphin spotting will also be much cheaper on a local island than at a resort. Recently, I saw the cost of a dolphin cruise as advertised at $10 per person. Read here for more information about snorkelling with mantas in the Maldives. 
underwater photo of snorkelling with a manta
Snorkel trips to see manta rays in the Maldives
Affordable Maldives Holiday: Local Island Prices
Guesthouses on local islands are the best place to stay in the Maldives when on a budget. This can help keep the cost of your Maldives trip cheap. Guesthouses can start from $50 a night per room upwards and when eating in local restaurants, dinner can cost as little as $5 per meal. Consider staying in a guesthouse and book via booking.com to compare guesthouse prices and facilities.



Booking.com

Island Hopping in the Maldives
Local islands are well connected with public ferries, speedboats and private speedboats all which mean it is very easy to travel between local islands and to travel cheaply. Staying in a resort means you rely upon resort speedboats to take you there which is often a significant additional cost.
Budget Maldives: Where to stay in the Maldives?
Local islands that welcome tourism have a range of budget guesthouses and it completely depends on how developed the island is for tourism. Some islands may only offer rooms for rent, while others have hotels and guesthouses. I usually compare prices on booking.com and/or consider contacting the guesthouse. Calling hotels is usually more effective than emailing in my experience.
What currency can I use on local islands?
Both US dollars and Maldivian Rufiya are accepted on local islands. Bear in mind if you use US dollars in local shops then you are likely to receive Maldivian Rufiya as change.
Cash or Credit Cards
For local islands it is definitely better to have cash to pay for things. Card machines are not always reliable and most guesthouses will have to charge an extra credit/debit card fee because of the bank (even when paying with a Maldivian card). Smaller shops in Male or on local islands may also only accept Maldivian Rufiya so I recommend having some small change
Budget Maldives: Local Island Day Trips
Even when staying in a resort, you can visit a local island as a day trip. Some resorts offer guided tours to nearby local islands. Tourists could also consider splitting the trip between a resort and a local island to experience both sides of the Maldives.
Electrical Plugs
Most places in the Maldives use the English three pin plug. Resorts often provide adapters whereas local island guesthouses may not.
Visas for the Maldives
Most nationalities will be granted a 30 day on arrival tourist visa. Check on your government website to confirm this.
What to not bring into the Maldives
Bringing alcohol into the Maldives is forbidden as is bringing in pork products and pornography.
Marine Life in the Maldives
The underwater world in the Maldives is incredible making it one of the best countries for snorkelling and scuba diving. (Read this post for my favourite island for diving and the best diving in the Maldives!). You can see manta rays, whale sharks, tiger sharks, turtles and much more marine life when visiting the Maldives. For specific information about snorkelling with manta rays, see here.
Cheap Diving in the Maldives on Local Islands
Diving on local islands is the best budget scuba diving in the Maldives. Resort dive centres can cost from $100+ for one dive whereas local island prices are approximately $40 a dive. From an appearance perspective, local dive centres may not look as swish as the resort dive centres and the equipment may not be as brand new. However, I have always felt safe when diving with local centres and I have found the locals to be extremely knowledgeable and professional dive guides.
cheap diving Maldives - photo of oceanic manta photobombing me and friends while scuba diving
Photobombed by an oceanic manta on local island Fuvahmulah- dive goals
Local Island Wildlife
While staying in local island be aware that there will be more mosquitoes than at resort islands as resorts fog regularly and local islands do not. Take insect repellent. Harmless snakes, geckos, mice, rats and lizards may also be seen on local islands but can also be found in resorts. Resorts will have a team of pest controllers to deal with any unwanted insects or wildlife whereas on local islands do not expect people to run around after you because of a gecko on the wall!
Mosquitoes in the Maldives
Mosquitoes are abundant on local islands and I therefore recommend purchasing insect repellent (I use DEET 50% which you can buy from Amazon here) as the insect spray available from local shops in the Maldives is not particularly strong (only about 5% DEET). The Maldives is not malarial, however there are cases of dengue fever and therefore I recommend covering your shoulders and legs in the evening and use insect spray, particularly on local islands.
Unmarried Couples in the Maldives
So far on local islands I have not experienced any problems with staying as an unmarried couple. This is never a problem if both guests are foreigners. However one Maldivian and one foreigner of the opposite sex can cause problems as technically this is frowned upon and one hotel that I am aware of forced a mixed nationality (Maldivian and foreigner) couple to pay for two rooms even though they shared one room. This seems to be very rare and most places I have stayed and heard of respect the freedom of their guests.
Local Food in the Maldives
Most Maldivian food consists of tuna and other fish like reef fish. These are often mixed with rice and/or chappatis. My personal favourite is a Maldivian take on a Sri Lankan dish called Kottu Roshi. Local restaurants can have a very relaxed attitude to customer service and I have waited up to two hours for dinner before! (restaurants in Fuvahmulah!) Therefore when visiting local restaurants, bring along patience and a sense of humour and also consider going to a restaurant before you get too hungry! Vegetarian food is not very common, however most restaurants will still cook vegetarian dishes on request. Make it clear that vegetarian means no fish and no meat when ordering (and this may need to be repeated several times to make sure!). Many local restaurants still use plastic straws (resorts tend to be more eco-friendly) so to travel responsibly make sure you say “no straw” when ordering drinks. Many drinks like Coca-cola are sold on local islands in plastic bottles instead of cans so I always make sure to ask before ordering to reduce my plastic consumption. I always take a refillable water bottle to fill up from like these metal ones from Amazon.
Best Local Islands to Visit in the Maldives on a Budget:

(that I have visited so far) include:

Fuvahmulah – read here for the best diving in the Maldives
Gulhi – most beautiful beach on a local island
Maafushi – read my blog post for the best party island and the cheapest water sports in the Maldives
Thulusdhoo – read my blog post now for party, surfing, hotel destination with the best rooftop pool in the Maldives
Dhiffushi – read my Maldives blog post for a tiny island near Male
and for what to bring to the Maldives – read this blog post for packing lists
For the best budget resort read my honest review about Kihaa resort in Baa Atoll


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Manta Rays in the Maldives

Where to see manta rays in Asia – Indonesia and the Maldives

Manta rays are on every divers and snorkellers’ bucket list to see. They are incredible, curious, gentle giants of the ocean and I have experienced scuba diving and snorkelling with manta rays in Indonesia – Komodo National Park and Nusa Lembongan off of Bali. Scuba diving with mantas here was an amazing experience and nothing beats the first time you see the sheer size of a manta underwater! Since relocating to the Maldives in 2018, I have been swimming with manta rays in Baa Atoll and scuba diving with mantas in Fuvahmulah island.

Manta Facts

There are two types of mantas that you can see in the Maldives, reef mantas and oceanic mantas. Reef mantas are found near coral reefs and are often around 3-5 metres in length. Oceanic mantas we do not know as much about but they can reach a length of 7 metres!

Reef Mantas in Baa Atoll

In Baa Atoll, you can swim and snorkel with manta rays in Hanifaru Bay during manta ray season. You can experience swimming with reef mantas and you have a high chance of seeing mantas as this is a very popular area for mantas feeding. The Maldives boasts the highest population of reef mantas that we know about which makes it one of the top manta viewing countries in the world.

Oceanic Mantas in Fuvahmulah Island

I have also scuba dived with oceanic mantas in the South of the Maldives. For more information about diving with oceanic mantas in Fuvahmulah read my post here.

Where is the best place to see manta rays in the Maldives?

Hanifaru Bay is the best site in the Maldives, possibly one of the best places in the world to see mantas. The mantas come to this area in manta ray season to feed on the plankton that becomes trapped in the bay. Researchers have recorded up to 200 mantas in the bay at any one time making this one of the best places to visit in the Maldives for manta ray snorkelling.

Gopro picture of snorkel with mantas in the Maldives
Snorkelling with mantas in Hanifaru Bay
Where can I snorkel with mantas in the Maldives?

Hanifaru Bay is a marine protected area and there are strict rules about how many boats can enter the bay at any one time. To snorkel with the mantas, tourists are permitted 45 minutes of snorkelling time inside the bay.

When is the best time to see mantas in the Maldives?

In Baa Atoll, manta season is between May-November. July, August and September are the best months to visit the Maldives in order to view mantas and whale sharks in Hanifaru Bay.

Are mantas dangerous?

No. They do not have sharp teeth and nor are they sting rays so they have no sting or barb in their tail. They are completely harmless and therefore it is safe to snorkel and swim with them.

Manta belly snorkelling in the Maldives
Showing off her spot pattern in Hanifaru Bay – this is how the Manta Trust team ID each manta – using their spots!
Manta Trust – NGO protecting the mantas

Manta Trust are a UK non-profit organisation founded by Guy Stevens, which works to protect the mantas, research their behaviour and educate others about these animals. Their motto is research, education and collaboration. In Baa Atoll, they have a base in Four Seasons resort Landaa Giraavaru and they also have staff in various other resorts across the Maldives. They collect manta IDs for their database by taking photos of the underside of the manta, they can ID each manta individually. So far there are over 4700 mantas in the Manta Trust database. If you take a photo of a manta’s spot pattern you can send it in to Manta Trust for IDing. If it is a new manta to the database then you are given the privilege of naming the manta! For more information about the amazing work that Manta Trust do in the Maldives, check out their website.

Where to stay to see mantas in the Maldives – Baa Atoll
For luxury accommodation near Hanifaru Bay

You should consider Four Seasons. Manta Trust in Baa Atoll has a base within Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru and therefore you will have a manta marine biologist with you during your manta trip.

For affordable resorts in Baa Atoll to view the mantas

You could consider Kihaa or Reethi beach resort. Both are resorts I have visited and/or stayed at. They are near Hanifaru Bay and are a much more reasonable price. Work permit discounts are available for those who work in the Maldives for both these resorts. Look at prices and availability for Reethi beach resort here.

For guesthouses on local islands to see the mantas

You could consider Dharavandhoo island. This island has a domestic airport which means when you fly here from Male you will save on the cost of a speedboat. Compare prices here for budget accommodation in Dharavandhoo for manta viewing.



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How to get to Hanifaru Bay from Male

The cheapest way to get to Hanifaru Bay from Male is to fly from Male to Dharavandhoo airport. There are a few airlines that do this such as Manta Air, Maldivian airlines and FlyMe.

 

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Travel Blog about Thailand, South East Asia & the Maldives