After our wedding, we decided to visit the local island of Maafushi in Maldives for a mini honeymoon. It was an awesome holiday and in this article we have compiled a list of ten fun things to do here.
Maafushi is a local island located at the South Male Atoll. It is a local name that means “Big Island” (Maa means “Big” and fushi means “The island”). We decided to stay on a local island this time round as we had already experienced living in Baros Maldives (a luxury resort island) previously and we wanted to try something different.
Maafushi is an idyllic island destination that provides the ideal balance between convenience and lifestyle. It is an easily accessible location that is just a 45-minute speedboat ride away from Male Airport. The first tourist guesthouse on the local island was only built in 2009, and since then more tourist accommodations have been steadily springing up across the island. However, Maafushi is still not overly commercialized (yet), and staying on the rustic island provided interesting insights into the local culture. At the same time, we had loads of fun as there were plenty of beach/sea activities to keep us occupied.
It is best to visit this island soon to admire its beauty. This is because about 180 metres of the beach have been washed away in the past 15 years, and before long there may not be much beach left on Maafushi.
Maafushi has four main beaches. You can refer to the map of Maafushi above to see where the respective beaches are located.
1. Bikini Beach
2. Public Beach
3. Water Sports Beach
4. Coral Beach
1A. Bikini Beach
Only Bikini Beach allows beach goers to be clad in skimpy swimwear (bikinis for ladies and topless for men). It is located on the northern end of the island, in front of Arena Beach Hotel. This is a beautiful beach with soft white sand, swaying palm trees and turquoise waters under the limitless blue skies. We had loads of fun frolicking in the crystalline shallow waters, and we realized that we could venture very far out from the beach as the water remained shallow for quite a distance and the sand was very soft and easy to walk on. After we got tired, we bought a cold coconut from the beach stall and sipped on the refreshing cold juice while lazing on the sun loungers ($5 rental fee) under the palm trees. This is a great place to just enjoy the beach, the sun, and the beautiful sea. Bikini Beach is a great place, but we discovered that there were two more beaches further north of the island.
1B. Public Beach
These two Public Beaches were much quieter and we did not see any tourists here at all. Instead, there were only a handful of locals frolicking in the waters and playing on the beach. The beach is wider and offered a more paranomic view of the azure sea. I really enjoyed strolling along the public beach to revel in its serenity.
It is directly adjacent to the Bikini Beach, and you can get to it simply by walking past the building with the red roof in the picture below.
The only downside is that there is not much sand on the beach here. But we felt that these two beaches are truly hidden gems, especially for people who dislike crowds.
1C. Water Sports Beach
Beside the harbour is the Water Sports Beach. We strolled along the beach here to enjoy the scenery but didn’t go into the waters as there were many water activities going on. At sunset, tables are set up along the beach for an elegant and romantic dinner setting.
1D. Coral Beach
Towards the southern end of the island, there is another beach named Coral Beach. We guessed that it is so named because there are plenty of dried corals on the beach. The beach doesn’t have much sand, but it offers a scenic view of the sea and we took some pretty photos here.
2. Snorkeling / Diving
For snorkeling, we went for a half-day tour with our hotel, Velana Beach Hotel. We booked the tour one day in advance. It consisted of snorkeling at three reefs (Banana reef, Turtle Reef, and Biyadhoo Reef), a sandbank visit, and a dolphin safari (aka Dolphin watching)! The tour requires a minimum of four people and costs USD70 per person. If there are five persons or more, the price goes down to USD50.
Velana Beach organized the trip very well and we were very grateful for the great experience. We enjoyed snorkeling at the various reefs, and saw a myriad of colourful fishes and corals. There were soft drinks and sandwiches provided on the boat as well.
Other hotels and agencies on the island also provide similar tours, with some having better prices than others. One popular agency is iCom Tours, which is ranked top in TripAdvisor. It is located very near the harbour, facing the sea. You can book the tour one day in advance at their office.
We didn’t try diving, but according to TripAdvisor, Maldives Passions Dive School is the best diving centre on the island. It offers SSI and PADI diving courses. The centre is located very near Arena Beach Hotel; you can click here to see its location. If you are a diver, make sure you experience the myriad of beautiful marine life in Maldives!
The visit to the sandbank did not disappoint too. It was located in the midst of crystalline turquoise waters that blended into the azure blue sea. It felt surreal to sit on the pristine white sand and enjoy the gorgeous sea view.
Our guide entertained us by digging up crabs from the various ghost crab holes on the sandbank. It was simultaneously amazing and hilarious to see him reaching his hand deep into the sand holes and pulling out the struggling crabs. He then released the helpless crabs, and I had fun chasing them until they escaped into another hole.
Even though we saw some wild sea vegetation and a few small piles of rubbish scattered around, on the whole the sandbank was definitely a beautiful spot that we did not regret visiting.
4. Dolphin Safari
We might not have been lucky enough to spot turtles at the Turtles Reef, but we did manage to see an entire school of magnificent dolphins! I was daydreaming on the boat when I suddenly heard gasps of excitement from other people on the speedboat. I looked up and realized that we were cruising right beside dozens of dolphins! They didn’t all surface at the same time, but based on my observation the pod probably consisted of about 50 dolphins.
The sight was breathtaking, to say the least.
The dolphins were all around us, swimming in front of the boat as well as alongside. I moved to the bow to get a closer look and the dolphins in front were so close that it felt like I could almost touch them! A few playful ones that were further away even leaped out of the water to perform elegant flips.
We had been informed by the guide beforehand that the chance of spotting the dolphins were 50-50, and therefore I was not harboring high hopes. And so when the dolphins appeared I was ecstatic. It was truly a surreal experience and definitely the highlight of our trip!
5. Stay at Velana Beach Hotel
During our holiday in Maafushi, we had many activities every day and so we were usually completely spent by the end of the day. Therefore, we were grateful that we were able to return to our super comfortable room at Velana Beach Hotel every night. This is a premier boutique hotel in Maafushi that charges a slight premium over other hotels. However, it was worth every single cent as the room was extremely well-furnished. It had a modern chic decor with a king-sized bed that was super comfy. Water was replenished every day too. It felt great to return to such a pleasant room at the end of a tiring day!
Velana Beach is located in a tranquil location facing the sea, offering us serenity at night when we were resting. At the same time, the hotel is a short five-minute walk away from the bustling Bikini Beach, which ensured that we were never too far away from the action.
The hotel also offers sumptuous breakfast and fine dining at its signature Kaalama Restaurant. We enjoyed our meals here very much!
Read our full review: Velana Beach Hotel – The Best Hotel in Maafushi Island!
6. Luxury Resort Excursion
We booked a one-day resort excursion to Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa Maldives through iCom Tours. We paid USD 120 each which covered the entrance fee, transport fee, and even included a sumptuous buffet lunch as well as unlimited drinks (including alcohol). The tour was booked one day in advance.
This is a luxury resort island, and it is the typical image that comes to mind when people think of Maldives. It was indeed beautiful, and we spent some time taking photos with the overwater villas perched over the crystalline waters. Afterwards, we went to the pool bar to get our free cocktail and beer before lazing on the beach chairs facing the sea.
For lunch, we had buffet at the resort’s Oceans Restaurant. The restaurant had a dreamy interior decor with pretty lights and stylish furnishings. We enjoyed the buffet which had a decent spread and all the food tasted delicious.
For the rest of the day, we spent our time between lazing in the pool and lying on the beach chairs, enjoying the unlimited drinks. Service was a little inconsistent, with one staff constantly trying to sell us food and champagne, and making sarcastic remarks when we declined. But on the whole, we had a very pleasant day here and left at about 6pm.
7. Explore Maafushi and Experience the Local Culture
We spent about one hour exploring Maafushi. Even though it is a small island with a slow pace of life, there were still many interesting attractions. The best attraction is of course the beautiful beaches, which we have described in point 1 above.
It was interesting to walk through the main street (see map above) and experience the local culture. We saw various local convenience stores, hair salons, a football pitch, a police station, a clinic, a bank, a city council building, bistros and local homes. This was definitely a self-sufficient island.
There was even a small gym that was quite decently equipped. This was great for gym-goers like me since none of the hotels on Maafushi have gyms.
There were many locals going about their daily activities. We realized that many of them liked to laze on chairs outside their homes. This was definitely a refreshing sight, especially for city-dwellers like us who have hectic lifestyles. We also saw a group of teenagers playing football, a highly popular sport in Maldives.
Maldives is an Islamic country, and we could definitely see strong Muslim influences everywhere. Even though Maafushi has a population of less than 3000, it still has two large Mosques. When we walked past the Maafushi School, we saw several cartoons painted on the school walls advocating good values, and one of the values was “Practising Islam”.
At the end of the main street on the far south side of the island, we found the daunting Maafushi Prison. It looked pretty imposing and is surrounded by a metal fence with menacing jagged edges. If I were a prisoner, I would definitely think twice before attempting to climb the fence.
8. Water Sports
Active Watersports Maafushi is an agency on the island that offers plenty of activities for water sports lovers. You can book the activities on the day itself at the booth. It is located near the harbour facing the sea.
We walked past the booth one day and was approached by Kefu, a really friendly staff who explained the list of activities to us patiently. There are loads of water activities available, such as jet-skiing, windsurfing, parasailing, sailing, knee boarding, banana boat, fishing, canoeing, and even flyboarding! We checked the prices of a few activities and it was USD10 for canoeing / stand-up paddle surfing, USD75 for flyboarding, and USD130 for parasailing (two person). We originally wanted to try parasailing but the price was out of our budget. But it would definitely be a good idea to canoe in the beautiful waters.
Active Watersports Maafushi
Phone: +960 7770514 / +960 7765202 / +960 7765449
9. Night Fishing
We also tried our hands at Night Line Fishing, which was a fun experience. The trip was booked through our hotel, Velana Beach Hotel, and cost just USD 20. We went out to sea at around 5pm on a spacious fishing boat. The boat crew provided us with long fishing lines that were coiled up. At the end of the fishing line was a hook with a sizeable chunk of sliced fish serving as our bait. Following the crew’s instructions, I released the fishing line down about 20 metres into the sea. This was my first attempt at fishing and I was pretty excited. Within minutes, I felt a subtle tug on my line, which eventually became a strong pull and I had to hold on tight to the fishing line.
I had caught the first fish of my life!
I pull up the fishing line enthusiastically and rapidly, ready to admire my catch and to show off my trophy catch to every one on the boat. After a few minutes of pulling, I finally managed to pull up the entire fishing line! But something was wrong.
There was no fish on the hook, but my bait was gone.
Suffice to say, I was disappointed and Raevian had a good time laughing at me. My earlier enthusiasm and gloating (because I had caught a fish faster than her) certainly did not help the case too. I guessed that the fish escaped because of the way I had pull up the line.
Therefore, I learnt my lesson and whenever I felt a tug on my fishing line later, I would ask the fishing crew to help with pulling up the fish. True enough, they were experts and managed to help me catch quite a few fishes! Even though it was the crew who helped me to pull up and unhook the fish, I liked to think that it was me who had managed to bait them in the first place using my superior fishing technique.
On the whole it was a fun experience fishing amidst the orange glow of the setting sun, and eventually under a black sky full of twinkling stars. The crew helped us to catch many more fishes, and later at night the restaurant cooked the fishes for the seven of us who had gone for the fishing trip. It was done Maldivian style with spices and curry, and tasted awesome. It felt nice to sit in Velana Beach Hotel’s airy garden and dine with the rest of the guests under the starry night.
10. Floating Bar and Safari
Last but definitely not least, Maafushi also offers a Floating Bar and Safari that is located about three minutes away from the shore by boat. It offers Italian and fusion food, but the main reason that people come here is because it is the only place in Maafushi that serves alcohol. Islamic law prohibits consumption of alcohol on local islands, therefore the restaurant managed to work around this prohibition by offering alcohol on an offshore boat.
We went to the Floating Bar at night, and the boat was lighted up with colorful neon lights. We went to the second floor of the boat which was lighted in a similar psychedelic fashion. There were several comfortable lounge chairs around too. I ordered a Tiger Beer (USD 6) and we sat on the boat chatting and relaxing.
I walked around the boat and found a cool entertainment room on the first floor equipped with a large television, a karoke system and a comfy sofa. There were also several DVDs for people to enjoy movies. Using our drone, we found out that there is even a lounge area at the front of the boat! I can imagine how awesome it must be to chill out there with a glass of champagne in hand.
To get to the floating bar, we asked our hotel to help arrange a small dinghy to bring us over. You can ask your hotel to arrange too, or you can call the Floating Bar’s number which is listed as +960 763 0899 on TripAdvisor.