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Local Island Guide: Gulhi island
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 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.
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 Island
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 keen surfers and very welcoming.
Gulhi Maldives : Water Sports
At the entrance to bikini beach, there are lots of different water sports on offer. Jetskiing, paddle boarding, banana boats and other inflatable fun. That said, the beach didn’t feel too noisy and it still felt like a calm quiet beach.
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.
Gulhi Scuba Diving
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 Ilhaa 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.
Gulhi Beach : Bikini Beach
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.
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.
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
Thoddoo island also has a stunning bikini beach and a great place to snorkel with turtles!
Booked your Maldives vacation? Read my Maldives packing guide here