Cheap Diving in the Maldives – Fuvahmulah
Having relocated to a tropical Maldivian island in 2018, I couldn’t wait to experience diving in the Maldives. I had heard many amazing stories about the best dive sites in the Maldives and I was so excited to explore local islands, instead of diving on a resort island where I live.
My first diving trip was in April of this year to the Southern island of Fuvahmulah (pronounced a bit like Formula with stress on the ‘la’!). I was diving with marine biologists, dive instructors and divemasters, some of whom have over 800+ dives to their name and we all agreed it was the best diving we had ever done! Fuvahmulah is nicknamed the ‘Galapagos of the Maldives” and it is not without reason. In three days of diving, we dived with oceanic manta rays, whale sharks, tiger sharks and thresher sharks, staying in budget accommodation and paying a cheap price for diving the Maldives. It is no surprise that Fuvahmulah and neighbouring island Addu are being considered by the government as future biosphere reserves. Read more about that here.
Fuvahmulah – best island in the Maldives for cheap diving?
Fuvahmulah is an island and its own atoll, located in the South of the Maldives. The population is approximately 15,000 people and it is known as the only atoll to have one island. It is a local island, not a resort island and therefore Maldivian laws and customs are more applicable here than in resort islands. As on all local islands, alcohol is prohibited and you cannot wear bikinis on the local beaches. However, I did feel Fuvahmulah was one of the more relaxed places I have visited and I felt comfortable wearing whatever I wanted and wearing bikinis on the dive boat was not an issue. Fuvahmulah is not a well known tourist destination in the Maldives, although it is becoming increasingly popular for its dive sites and marine life.
Marine Life in the Maldives, particularly in Fuvahmulah
Fuvahmulah is host to a huge range of marine life. In season, you can scuba dive with oceanic manta rays, thresher sharks, tiger sharks and whale sharks. It is also possible to see hammerhead sharks as well as other sharks like oceanic white tips and silver tips at different times of the year and depending how lucky you are! I feel we saw more megafauna in 3 days of diving than most people see in a lifetime!
How to travel to Fuvahmulah from Male, Maldives
Fuvahmulah island is located in the deep South of the Maldives, so you can fly to Fuvahmulah from Male, the capital. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. At the time of writing, two airlines with a few flights a day fly from Male to Fuvahmulah. While the diving can be cheap, the flights aren’t always so compare different airlines to find a better rate, try Maldivian airline and Fly Me. Manta Air are a new airline with more connections likely to come soon.
Where to stay in Fuvahmulah
Because it is not a well developed tourist destination, Fuvahmulah budget accommodation is limited to a few options. We stayed in a fairly cheap guesthouse Calyx Grand (click here to view) that I would definitely recommend. It was lovely – clean and spacious and the staff were helpful. Much better than I had been expecting considering it was one of the cheaper hotel options! We had a work permit discount for hotels in the Maldives but for a tourist rate please check with the individual hotels. We asked our Maldives dive centre for a morning pick up as it was a short truck ride to the harbour. I would also suggest staying near the harbour as a good option so that you can be close to the dive centres and dive boats.
What dive school to choose in Fuvahmulah
There is a well known dive centre called Fuvahmulah Dive School (FDS) who we considering going with as we had many good recommendations. However, we chose Fuvahmulah Tiger Dive as we booked through a friend and got very cheap dives because of this. One thing I recommend is asking if the dive school gets big group bookings. Some of the diving can be with big groups of Chinese or Indian divers and you may be expected to join dives with one of these large groups. We travelled as a group of 6 divers and therefore requested our own dive guide which was perfect for us.
Cost of Diving in Fuvahmulah
Fuvahmulah is one of the cheapest places for budget diving in the Maldives – which makes no sense because the diving is so incredible! Expect to pay upwards from $40 per dive depending on how many dives you are planning to do and if you have your own equipment. As usual with diving packages, the more dives you book, the cheaper the cost of diving. It is also possible to book Maldives diving package deals, with flights, accommodation and diving all organised for you. However, it is cheaper to book flights, accommodation and diving separately. It is also cheap to dive and travel to Fuvahmulah if you have a Maldives work permit as there are big discounts available.
Best Dive Site in the Maldives
We spent most of our 8 dives on the same plateau, a dive site called Farikede, about 15 minutes from the harbour by dive boat. In terms of the marine life, I think it must be one of the top dive sites in the Maldives! We had approximately 30 oceanic manta ray sightings, 26 of which the amazing Manta Trust team managed to ID for us and we added 22 new mantas to their database. Read here for more about Manta Trust and the work they do. We also saw 3 whale sharks, one of whom was new to the Maldives Whaleshark Research Programme and we got to give her a name. On our last day we scuba dived with the biggest whale shark I have ever seen (approx 8-10m) and 2 thresher sharks. The dive site depth ranges down to about 40m and we saw oceanic manta rays near the surface from the moment we jumped from the boat, all the way down to 40m. The marine life here seemed extremely curious and many of these sightings I would deem encounters, as the mantas and whale sharks seemed just as interested in us as we were in them. Many of the mantas and 1 curious whale shark circled us several times, looking and trying to work out who we were. We wonder if we may be the first humans they had ever seen?
Maldives Diving Boat
We scuba dived from a slow traditional boat, Maldivians call a ‘Dhoni’. We were very happy with this as I don’t enjoy diving from speedboats. The boat returned to the harbour after every dive so you can have breaks on land in between dives. Personally we preferred staying on the boat as long as possible and requested to do so after we had ordered snacks from the local cafe near the harbour. Not paying for a liveaboard or an expensive speedboat also kept the diving cheap. Click here for my recommendations of what to take on a dive boat.
The best time to dive the Maldives – when to dive in Fuvahmulah
Diving is possible year round in Fuvahmulah. However, most people agree that diving between November and April is the best season for diving because of the chances of oceanic manta rays, whale sharks, thresher sharks and hammerheads. In rainy season, from June onwards the sea gets rough but the chance of hammerheads increases. The tiger shark dive is available year round because they are fed. More on that to come.
Restaurants and Places to eat in Fuvahmulah
We loved Real Breez restaurant because of the large balcony and good food. Everyone enjoyed the local food and also the Indian cuisine. The cafe by the harbour we also ate at and it serves good local food. We all got obsessed with Kottu Roshi – I definitely recommend trying this Maldivian twist on the traditional Sri Lankan dish. If you’re vegetarian make sure you say so and make it very clear that being vegetarian includes no meat and no fish as vegetarians are still a relatively new concept to the fish-heavy Maldivian diet.
Maldives Local Island Travel Tip: Be prepared to wait a LONG time for food. This is not a resort island and we often had to wait over an hour (occasionally 2 hours!) for our food to appear. I recommend adapting to the slower pace of island life and also don’t wait until you are hungry to find a restaurant!
Things to Do in Fuvahmulah
- Visit Thondee – a large pebble beach on the island which includes a nearby restaurant
- Visit the lakes – Fuvahmulah is unusual because it has freshwater lakes. You can visit and kayak or pedalo one of the lakes as part of Fuvahmulah Nature Park.
- Go to Addu – take the boat to Addu – somewhere I would like to go in the future as we didn’t have time.
- Hot Spring with Mud Baths – near one of the lakes
Maldives Liveaboard Diving
It is possible to dive on a liveaboard around Fuvahmulah. As I haven’t dived on a liveaboard I cannot comment on the experience. I will say that we loved being on the island and as the dive sites are all located near the shoreline, it was not necessary to pay for a luxury liveaboard when we could stay in a cheap guesthouse and do budget dives.
Night Diving in the Maldives
Most dive centres do not offer night diving for safety reasons. The currents can be strong and I’d rather not meet a tiger shark at night time!
Have you visited Fuvahmulah yet? How was your experience? Have you found any other islands for cheap diving in the Maldives? I welcome any recommendations for future affordable dives here in the Maldives!
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Having been scuba diving in various countries around Asia, I am often asked where is the best place to scuba dive in South East Asia. Taking into account countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, here are my top scuba dive sites and the marine life you can spot during the dives such as sharks, manta rays, whale sharks and turtles. The following places are the best dive sites in my personal experience and I can’t wait to add more to the list. Consider these top diving destinations when booking your next scuba diving trip for some impressive underwater adventures.
Best Diving in South East Asia: Indonesia – Scuba Diving in Komodo National Park
To this date, Komodo remains the most exciting and awesome place to scuba dive that I have been so far. Healthy, brightly coloured corals and a whole range of marine life from manta rays, to sharks to turtles and macro life, Komodo has such an incredible underwater world. After a holiday trip here, I decided to do my divemaster course here and enjoyed every dive. There are strong currents so it’s a great place to improve your skills. You will be expected to pay extra national park fees whenever you enter Komodo National Park whether it’s for scuba diving or snorkelling trips. The most impressive dive sites are probably Batu Balong which is always a clear favourite, and you will see why once you jump in the water, but also the North of Komodo for crazy currents and lots of sharks.
Best Diving in South East Asia – Best place to dive with Manta Rays in Nusa Lembongan
Indonesia is one of the best countries to scuba dive in, both for learning to dive, like doing the Open Water course and also for the diversity of marine life you can see there. Nusa Lembongan boasts manta rays all year round and you would be extremely unlucky not to experience a dive or even a snorkel with a manta ray there. It also has some enjoyable drift dives and some dive sites with fairly healthy coral and a lot of frogfish!
Best diving in the Philippines – Thresher Sharks in Malapascua, Cebu
If, like me, you are a shark addict then definitely head to Malapascua, Cebu in the Philippines to dive with the thresher sharks. There’s an extremely high chance of seeing these 3 metre long sharks at around 25 metres so this is aimed for Advanced divers or those who have completed a deep dive speciality. The tails are so impressive and I’ll never forget the early morning experience of kneeling in the sand at the bottom of the sea being circled by these amazing thresher sharks.
Best place to see whale sharks in Thailand – Richelieu Rock and Koh Bon, Thailand
Scuba diving Richelieu Rock is arguably one of the best places to dive in Thailand. Not far from the Similan Islands or Koh Similan off the west coast of Thailand, it has lovely purple corals and a fairly good chance of whale sharks when in season. You can only visit during dry season, approximately October to May as this area and the Similan Islands are closed over the monsoon period.
Best diving in the Gili Islands, Indonesia – “Turtle city”
For those seeking turtles, head to the Gili islands off of Bali and the dive site they nickname ‘turtle city’. I was told by my dive instructor that if I only saw 10 that was considered unlucky!
Scuba diving in Tulamben, Bali – World War 2 Wreck Dive – The Liberty Bell
One of the best wreck dives that I did in Bali is the Liberty Bell in Tulumben, close to Amed and the jumping off point to the Gili Islands. The wreck is a shore dive so I strongly recommend diving at sunrise as there were no other divers around when I did and these huge bumphead/humphead parrotfish circle around the wreck in a school.
Next up, I’m exploring the Maldives so read more here about the best diving in the Maldives/EVER!
Mosquitos in Thailand
Eating Street Food in Thailand
Having Ice in your Drinks in Thailand
Drinking Buckets in Thailand
Drinking Tap Water in Thailand
The tap water in Thailand is not drinkable. You can buy plastic bottles from 7/11 and refill them at drinking water stations for 1 baht. You can often find these on streets and in residential areas. That said, I always use the tap water to brush my teeth in Thailand and elsewhere and have never had any problems because of this. I’m probably wrong but I feel maybe it builds up some immunity??
Travel Sick in Thailand
Colds in Thailand
Vaccinations for Thailand
Animals in Thailand
Pharmacies in Thailand
Hospitals and Healthcare in Thailand
Thinking about solo female travel in Thailand? I lived in Thailand for 3.5 years, I moved to Thailand alone and I often travel solo around Thailand. Is it safe to travel Thailand alone? I think it’s a fantastic place for solo travel, particularly as a woman. I think South East Asia generally feels safe as a solo traveller and I felt much safer travelling alone in South East Asia than other countries like Sri Lanka and India.
People’s initial shock of finding out that I love travelling alone is often replaced with either a look of awe, confusion or pity. I feel that travelling alone as a female should warrant none of these reactions, but there we are. Maybe, slowly, we are changing these norms. So read on for my solo travel tips, particularly geared towards single travellers coming to Thailand and/or South East Asia.
Is Thailand good for solo travel?
Yes, absolutely. If it’s your first solo trip, then Thailand is a great place for first time solo travellers. I think Thailand is one of the best destinations for solo female travel, especially for first timers going it alone. Thailand welcomes millions of travellers every year and so things are well set up for travelling around that it feels very easy and convenient. I did my first solo trip to Koh Chang in Thailand 3 years ago and since then I have visited many Thailand destinations and other places in Asia solo as well, such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.
Is it safe for single female travellers in Thailand?
I cannot speak for everyone but I have always felt confident enough travelling solo here. Thai people are extremely helpful, crime is not common and there are so many backpackers around that it is easy to meet people. I have had unpleasant incidents here, all of which could have happened and have happened in other countries as well. I feel the main concerns that we worry about when travelling solo are crime, scams, feeling lost or not in control, sexual harassment, assault and rape. While these incidents occur everywhere, I feel that there are some steps we can take to feel safe in Thailand.
Is Thailand Safe for Single Female Travellers – Where to stay when travelling solo in Thailand
For me this is one of the most important factors of making sure I feel safe when travelling solo particularly as I always do independent travel in Thailand rather than a package tour. When in a group or with a partner, I have been very relaxed about accommodation and not always booked in advance. I love the feeling of just showing up somewhere, negotiating a price, and finding a place to sleep for that night. However, when I travel alone, I always book in advance. I always choose accommodation that is in the main area/street so that I won’t be walking alone at night time. I prefer staying in hostels as it’s so easy to meet people but have also booked beach bungalows for myself before and made sure that these are along the main beach area. I book using Agoda or Booking and read reviews to see people’s comments about location and how convenient it is for other places. I always take a card from the hotel so that I can show it to people or taxis to help me get home.
Solo Travel in Thailand: Bangkok
Bangkok has been my home for 3.5 years and I can say it is one of the safest cities that I have visited. It’s a city that never sleeps so even if I come home at 4am from clubbing and enjoying Bangkok’s nightlife, there are always people around, streets are busy and the bustle of city life continues. The exception to this is down quiet “sois” or alleys in Bangkok. I therefore recommend staying in accommodation on main roads in Khao San backpacker area, or Sukhumvit road near crossroads where there are always people around.
The Best Places for Solo Travel in Thailand
The the best solo travel destinations in Thailand (particularly for solo female travel) are Bangkok and Chiang Mai for city lovers. The best islands for solo travel are Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket and Krabi – Ao Nang because these are the main tourist destinations. They will always be busy with backpackers and tourists on holiday, they are easy to get to with multiple ways of travel. If you visit quiet islands, or smaller towns there will be less people around, they can be harder to get to and not so easy to find accommodation. I recommend meeting people in hostels and travelling with them to the quieter islands or smaller towns.
Is Thailand Safe for Female Travellers: Transport – Trains
Night trains were one of my big concerns when travelling alone as you hear horror stories and I wanted night train travel in Thailand to be a good experience and not feel too worried or scared to sleep. Luckily, I always feel really safe on night trains in Thailand. Book a top bunk as I feel these are harder to access and always go second class, that way you are in a compartment with lots of other people – not just 3 people in your own cabin. I always feel there is safety in numbers. I normally chat to the people near me and get to know them and I sleep with my little backpack with my valuables near my head. I love ones about this size and think they are great for travel, you check them out on Amazon.
Is Thailand safe for female tourists: Transport – Taxis
Unfortunately Thailand has a terrible record for road safety, but not much we can do about that. If you’re lucky, your taxi will have a seatbelt. If there is nothing to plug the seatbelt in to then just loop it around your body. My top tips for taking taxis in Bangkok would be to always ensure they go on the meter. It’s illegal for them not to but they will try anyway. Always sit in the back seat, never in the front. If you’re travelling alone in Bangkok then taxis can be very convenient but keep your guard up. I’ve been harassed by two taxis drivers in three years here and when I told people everyone asked me if I was sitting in the front. I wasn’t but apparently if I had I would have been asking for it. People’s attitudes suck and so do some taxi drivers but don’t let that stop you from living your life or enjoying your holiday. In Bangkok, many taxi drivers don’t always know where they are going so keep your phone out to check where they are going via GPS. Sometimes they are trying to scam you, but more often than not, I find they just don’t know the quickest route. Have your money ready so you can get out the moment the taxis pulls up. Some people feel safer using Uber but I have my doubts of whether that is really safer given recent news articles.
Travelling Thailand Solo Advice: Don’t be too polite. If you feel like a guy is being over-friendly, close down the conversation, avoid looking at him and get out of the taxi at the nearest busiest place. 7/11 convenient stores can be good as there are many of them and they are open 24 hours a day.
Is Thailand safe for tourists: Transport – Night Buses
Super cheap and super cold, night buses are a very useful way of backpacking around Thailand. I frequently take them alone and have rarely encountered any problems. I keep my valuables nearby and try and get a seat downstairs. Large backpacks will often be stowed under the bus so keep all your valuables with you. I often loop an arm or a leg through my small backpack so that I might wake up if someone tried to steal it. Night buses can arrive in the early hours of the morning to random destinations so make sure you get off at your stop (the conductor can tell you) and know where you’re going if you are off the beaten track a little bit. You can book buses here for discounts. These buses are the tourist ones which depart from Khao San Road.
Solo Travel to Thailand: Transport – Boats and Ferries
Generally speaking, Thailand has a good reputation for sea safety and I have rarely felt scared. That said, some ferries depart early in the morning which has left me with needing to be at a pier at 4am when it’s still dark. In these situations I try to make sure I’m staying near the pier so I can get there easily.
How safe is Thailand for tourists: Walking
Walking around at night time in Thailand I have rarely felt afraid. I think there are often many people around, even late at night and I live on a main road in Bangkok. I always use a crossbody bag with a zip like this one from Amazon to make it harder for someone to grab it. I feel that walking confidently can give you the appearance of knowing where you are going (even if you don’t) and can make you less of an easy target (just a personal feeling).
How to stay safe in Thailand: Money & Documents
Thailand is a developing country and the minimum wage here is 300 baht a day. I have found Thai people to be extremely honest and I have friends who have even had expensive smart phones returned to them. However, I still think it wise to not flash around a lot of cash. I keep cash in various different places when I’m travelling and separate it into different purses or bags. You should always carry a copy of your passport with you in Thailand. Many people don’t, but if you ever had a run in with the police then this is useful to have on you.
Safety in Thailand Information:
Emergency Police Number 191
Tourist Police (eg for scams) 1155
For my advice about your health in Thailand, read more here.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!