Why Maafushi Island Should Be Your Next Maldives Vacation Spot

by Jackie
A Maafushi sign with white block letters and whale shark and manta ray sculptures

If you’re eyeing a stay at a local Maldivian island instead of a resort for your next vacation, consider visiting Maafushi. 

It’s a popular island ideal for travelers who want to relax on the beaches, stay at local guesthouses, do water excursions, and experience a casual ambiance. Maafushi is also south of Male Island and the airport, so you don’t need to travel far or take a seaplane. 

We didn’t know much about Maafushi since our friends went the resort route for their Maldives trip. After spending 3 days in Maafushi, we absolutely loved our experience and wouldn’t hesitate to return. 

So, if you’re interested in visiting Maafushi, we’ll go through the top reasons why Maafushi is the perfect getaway in the Maldives. 

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Maafushi is a cheaper Maldivian island.

During your research, you may have been shocked by the prices at Maldivian resorts. They can easily be $500 to $1000 USD per night for a room and food. It’s definitely on the pricier side if you’re willing to spend the money.

But, Maafushi is the complete opposite of resort life and much more affordable. It’s suitable for our travel style.

Accommodations are reasonably priced. The local guesthouses can be under $90 per night depending on the time of visit and day of the week. The stay may also include a free breakfast! The hotels can be $120+ per night, especially with the ocean view. 

Check out accommodations on Maafushi here on Booking.com.

We stayed at Island Ambience’s Deluxe Family Room and loved it. It was a HUGE room for the two of us. The room was very clean and had new amenities (sink, toilet, fan, and AC unit). We loved how the hotel was eco-friendly and gave us drinking water in a glass bottle. We could ask for a refill at any time.

A bed and a small table with chairs at Island Ambience hotel on Maafushi, Maldives

We stayed at Island Ambience for a few days

Click here to check out pricing for Island Ambience on Booking.com. 

Check out pricing and reviews on Agoda here.  

As with the food prices, it can vary depending on the type of restaurant chosen. We ate at local places for $5-$8 per person and more upscale beachfront restaurants for $20 per person. 

You can use either cash or credit card at many places.

Maldivian rufiyaa and U.S. dollars are accepted as cash currency at Maafushi. 

It’s recommended to have cash on hand in case the credit card machine doesn’t work. This happened to us when we wanted to pay for our dinner with a credit card. Unfortunately, there was a thunderstorm and the WiFi for the credit card machine was very spotty so we had to use cash. 

There is an ATM at the Bank of Maldives, so you can withdraw money if needed. 

A white building with a red and white sign of Bank of Maldives, located on Maafushi

Maafushi’s Bank of Maldives has an ATM

Or, you can use a credit card for your purchases. Some places charge an additional 4% fee for using a credit card, so I would ask if there is a charge. 

If you’re from the U.S., consider signing up for the Chase Preferred Reserve credit card. You do not get charged an international transaction fee. Also, you earn extra points for travel and restaurant purchases. This travel credit card is what I’ve been using for years! Learn more here. 

It’s very easy to get to Maafushi by public ferry from Male City.

As briefly mentioned in the introduction, Maafushi is in the same Kafuu Atoll as Male and the airport. So, you can take the public ferry from Male to Maafushi, and vice versa. 

The public ferry departs from Male’s Henveiru Terminal to Maafushi and will take 1.5 hours one-way. The cost is 53 Maldivian Ruffiya ($3.50) per person, so it’s an affordable option. 

There are two departure times – 10:00am and 3:00pm, depending on the day of the week. Check out the public ferry schedule here. 

We took the public ferry from Male to Maafushi and Fulidhoo to Maafushi to Male, and it was a very comfortable ride. It goes at a slow, calm pace, so chances of getting seasick are low. I napped through most of the ride since it was so comfy. 

Note: If you’re short on time, you can also take a speedboat from the Airport to Male to Maafushi with iCom Tours. It’s a well-known tour company from Maafushi that provides speedboat rides and daily tours. 

It’s only 30 to 40 minutes by speedboat and costs around $25 per person. Book your speedboat ride on the iCom Tours website

This small island is very walkable. 

It’ll take about 15 to 20 minutes to walk around the perimeter of the island, it’s not too large. The walking path is pancake flat.  

If you decide to walk, you’ll pass by the Maafushi Jail, local mosque, football field, Folding Hands Sculpture, Maafushi sign, and more. 

Depending on your accommodation location, you can walk to the Bikini Beach and restaurants within 5 to 10 minutes. 

An empty Arena Beach, one of the Bikini Beaches on Maafushi Island, Maldives

Arena Beach is a popular Bikini Beach area

It’s not too crowded yet.

We’ve been to Bali a few times and have noticed an increase in crowds, especially in the beach areas of Kuta, Seminyak, and Uluwatu, and popular attractions. It’s not fun getting stuck in traffic or waiting in line for hours to take a photo at a temple or gate (we’re looking at you – Lempuyang Temple!)

Yet, Maafushi is a great alternative to Bali or any other island as it has just enough people. 

We suggest visiting Maafushi as soon as possible as the island is rapidly expanding with new hotels and guesthouses along the oceanside. Who knows how the crowds will be in the next year or two?!

Beautiful local and bikini beaches

Maafushi has some of the finest, white sandy beaches and the most turquoise waters. 

The local beaches (“No Bikini Beaches”) are on the island’s east side, while the Bikini Beaches are on the north and west sides. 

The local beaches are less traveled so the sand is much cleaner than the Bikini Beaches. 

While there aren’t any umbrellas for rent, you can place your stuff on the sand or one of the benches and swim in the water. It’s safe and no one will take your stuff. 

No Bikini sign on the local beach of Maafushi, Maldives

Please respect the rules on the “No Bikini Beaches”

Note: When visiting the local beaches, please follow the local customs and cover the body. Showing off a bikini and swimming trunks is not allowed. But, you can cover up and wear a T-shirt and shorts.

Experience a different water excursion every day!

For adventure travelers, Maafushi offers daily snorkeling excursions to see marine life (nurse sharks, whale sharks, fish), visit a sandbank or sunken ship, diving excursions and getting PADI certified, fishing at sunset, 

The easiest way to find excursions is to walk along the main road from Maafushi Pier and check out the offerings. 

There are many agencies, so you can inquire with them to see what is offered for the following day or two. We took two tours – a Whale Shark Excursion and a Shipwreck Excursion

Justin Huynh, Life Of Doing, swims next to the Vaanu shipwreck and sees coral on the shipwreck

Photo credit: iCom Tours

TIP: No need to book tours in advance as the water conditions vary every day so tours can get canceled. 

The pricing is the same for all agencies, so there isn’t any need to negotiate. The snorkeling excursions include a boxed lunch, a life vest, water, fins, and snorkel gear. 

As with the diving excursions, we don’t know too much about that. It’s best to inquire directly with the agency. 

What if you don’t want to leave the island? You can still do outdoor activities such as riding a parasailing, a banana boat, or a jet-ski. 

Two people on a parasail in Maafushi, Maldives

Parasailing is one of the fun things to do on Maafushi

It’s easy to take a day trip to nearby islands or resorts.

There isn’t any need to have “island fever” and feel trapped. 

You can visit a nearby island such as Gulhi and take the public ferry to get there. It’s only a 20-minute ferry ride from Maafushi to Gulhi. The ferry departs Maafushi every day except Friday at 7:25am and picks up from Gulhi at 4:15pm.

Check out the ferry schedule here and change the departure island to Maafushi.

Another option is to go with a tour agency and visit a resort as a day trip. The cost starts at $105+ per person. There is a minimum number of people required before the tour departs. 

When we stopped by iCom Tours, they went to Centara Rasfushi, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo, Sun Siyam Olhuveli, and Fihalhohi Resort. 

The good thing about this day trip is that you can fully enjoy the resort life with the pools, unlimited alcoholic drinks, and buffet lunch, and still say you’ve visited a Maldivian resort!

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to do either as we opted to go on snorkeling excursions. 

Lots of restaurants to choose from.

Considering that Maafushi isn’t that large of an island, there are many places to eat and are open for most of the day. So, if you want to avoid the lunchtime crowd, you can still enjoy a meal somewhere during the off hours. 

Here are our recommendations for places to eat on Maafushi. We ate at mostly local Maldivian restaurants, yet there were Western food options available. 

Final Thoughts

We highly recommend that you visit Maafushi on your next Maldives trip. It’s worth trying a local island to experience the culture and save money with food, accommodations, and water excursions. You’ll still have a memorable island getaway on Maafushi!

Like this post? Save it to your Maldives Travel Board on Pinterest.

A Maafushi sign with manta rays and whale shark sculptures on Maafushi Island, Maldives

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