Maafushi Island Maldives

9 Reasons to Visit Maafushi Island Maldives

Maafushi Island was the first local island to be developed for tourism in this small island nation of 1,192 islands.  And that’s probably why it’s the most popular to visit.  Maafushi has the biggest and most developed infrastructure for tourists out of all the local islands.  It’s easy to get to, and you have the biggest choice of accommodation here out of all the islands.  It was the first island that we visited on our Maldives trip and we had plenty of reasons to visit Maafushi Island, Maldives – so here you go, our guide to Maafushi Island, Maldives.

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There are 187 of those 1,192 Maldivian Islands that are inhabited.  We picked the most developed of the local tourist islands to visit as the first stop on our Maldives itinerary.  After Maafushi we headed to Fulidhoo Island and then we returned here, to Maafushi again.

BEST THING TO DO

Maldives Marine Life

Dive or Snorkel from Maafushi

Whether you choose to snorkel, or dive getting underwater and exploring the marine life of Maafushi and the Maldives is absolutely the top thing to do in Maafushi.

Our thoughts were that we’d start with the most developed, and then see what the difference was between the various islands.

Arriving at Maafushi
Arriving at Maafushi

Where is Maafushi Island, Maldives?

Maafushi is in the Kaafu Atoll, just 21 kilometers (14 miles) from the Maldives capital of Malé.  There’s a population of around 3,000 here and it’s the most popular of the local islands for tourists.  It was the first local island to start development for tourism purposes and is the most developed in this respect.

It takes just 90 minutes to get here from Malé on the public ferry, or a much quicker 40 minutes by speedboat. We arrived here on Maafushi on our first trip on a speedboat from Malé.  We returned here on the public ferry later in our trip.  There’s more on how to get to Maafushi from Malé in our guide here.

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As well as tourism one of the biggest sources of employment on the island is the prison.  One of three prisons in the Maldives, this is the largest of them.  It takes over one entire end of the island and you’ll only notice it if you try to walk around the island.  Otherwise, you’ll be oblivious to it.

9 Top Reasons to Visit Maafushi Island, Maldives

If you’re coming to the Maldives then Maafushi is a great option for visiting one of the local islands that has a great infrastructure for visitors.  It was the first local island to start welcoming tourists and things have come a long way since those first visitors came in 2009.  And as Maafushi got a head start on the other islands it tends to have the best prices for taking trips away from the island, and most of those trips tend to focus on visiting the underwater Maldives.

The Maldives is 99% water and more than 80% of the islands are less than one meter (3.3 feet) above sea level.  It is WELL worth your time making for the water here.

1.     Go Diving from Maafushi Island

While snorkeling in the Maldives is a great way to see Marine life, there’s no better way to really experience the underwater magic of the Maldives than by going deeper.  And for that, you’ll need to dive (well actually from Malé you can go on a submarine, but let’s stick to Maafushi for how).

The great thing about diving from Maafushi is that you don’t need to be certified.  You can get underwater with a Discover Scuba experience, which means that you’ll get a fully certified professional guiding you through the water, down to 12 meters (39 feet). 

These experiences are in small groups, so you get personalized attention.  And you’ll get to cover the theory of diving, learn about using the equipment, and see the magic of underwater Maafushi.

2.     Snorkel with Nurse Sharks on Maafushi Island

Each area of the Maldives seems to attract different types of marine life, so there are local islands to go to specifically see rays (we saw LOADS of them from Fulidhoo Island), there are great places to go to see Whale Sharks, and here on Maafushi, it’s a good place to come and see nurse sharks.

Much of this, of course, depends on the time of year that you’re visiting, so you may luck out and see all of the above, right here from Maafushi.  Whenever you visit, it’s a great time to get on the water – all the trips and tours that you’ll take from Maafushi include all your snorkeling gear (and it’s good stuff).

And guides also use underwater cameras so you get a photographic record of your trip, and all the magnificent marine life that you’ll spot.  Here’s more about snorkeling from Maafushi.

You’ll be able to book any and all of these trips and tours with your Maldives guest house or hotel.  However, they’ll want you to pay cash (preferably in US dollars), or there will be a (usually 3.5%) card charge.  Luckily there is an ATM on Maafushi!

3.     Go to a Resort Island for the Day from Maafushi Island

All of the magical photos that you see of overwater bungalows and pure white sand beaches are usually of private resort islands.  And many of those islands cost thousands of dollars a night to stay.  Even if you’re not opting for the all-inclusive option.  If you don’t have the time or the budget for that, then you can make the best of it and take a day trip to a resort island from Maafushi.  It’s a great option.

Resort islands in the Maldives, like the Adaaran Club Rannalhi Resort, are stunning.  And visits are all-inclusive.  Yes, that’s right you’ll get snacks, a fabulous buffet lunch, and unlimited drinks, including alcohol, which in this primarily dry country, is a bonus.  If you’re minded to do more than simply enjoy the food, drink, and beach, then there’s also kayaking, snorkeling, and windsurfing available here too, check out a resort island day here.

4.     Snorkel the House Reef on Maafushi Island

You can snorkel the house reef at Maafushi for free.  Don’t forget to bring your own snorkel gear, or stay at a hotel or guesthouse that provides equipment for free and all you’ll need to do is cover up (the house reef is NOT on bikini beach) and walk into the water.

Beach at Maafushi House Reef
Beach at Maafushi House Reef

The current can be pretty strong here, so be sure you’re confident in the water before you go in.  There are also some boats that use this area of the beach to land, so keep your wits about you while you’re exploring underwater. 

Snorkeling on Maafushi House Reef
Snorkeling on Maafushi House Reef

We spent quite a few hours here snorkeling the house reef. Our hotel, the Sun Shine View, provided excellent snorkeling gear.  Whenever we were in the water we both wore rashguards (the sun is REALLY strong here and I burn really quickly) Nigel wore shorts and I wore leggings to snorkel in. 

We found friendly fish, and there was a ray at a distance.  The coral was in reasonable shape once you got out there.  Depending on the state of the tide you might need to walk a short way out before swimming, as it’s pretty shallow close to the beach.

5.      Go Kayaking or Rent a Boat on Maafushi

As you walk around the island there are numerous watersports rental companies, so you can rent kayaks or SUPs and head out.  Maafushi is a little different from the other islands that we visited.  On this island you can rent a fancy “car boat” and head out and explore.

Maafushi Water Sports
Maafushi Water Sports

6.     Walk a circuit of Maafushi

You can’t quite walk around the entire island, as one end of it is taken over by the prison that I mentioned, but you can walk around the rest of the island easily.  The roads and pathways are all sand, which doesn’t drain too well if it’s been raining.  You’ll get to see the power plant, the desalination plant, and where the locals live too. 

Maafushi is known for its sculptures around the island too.  There used to be a blue drop of water inside these closed hands, but it was long gone when we arrived.

Sculptures on Maafushi
Sculptures on Maafushi

7.     Head to Bikini Beach on Maafushi Island

If you want to wear a bikini, shorts, or a swimsuit, then this is where you’ll need to come on Maafushi.  It’s really a rather nice bikini beach here.  There’s decent swimming, but if you want to snorkel and see coral and fish you should go to the house reef. 

Bikini Beach Maafushi
Bikini Beach Maafushi

There are sunbeds and chairs available here.  Your hotel will usually provide a beach towel separate from the regular towels, just ask if they don’t.  The Bikini Beach on Maafushi is well-shaded from the rest of the island with greenery and there are also sunshades (unlike on our visit to Bikini Beach on Fulidhoo Island where there was no shade at all).  There are café and restaurants very close by so you make a day of it here.

8.     Check out the Sunset from Maafushi Island

While the prison blocks out the best views of the sunset (depending on the time of year that you visit), you can get a reasonable sunset view from the house reef) and the reflection of the setting sun on the water is rather glorious.

Sunset from Maafushi House Reef
Sunset from Maafushi House Reef

It’s best to be out of the water by dusk, as boats will still be moving around, and you’ll also possibly find mosquitoes at that time of the day.  Read my article on mosquitoes in the Maldives here.

9.     Dine on the Beach at Maafushi Island

There are heaps of places to eat on Maafushi Island, but one of the spectacular things to do is have a romantic meal on the beach.  One restaurant, connected to the Triton Prestige Hotel is known for its special beach meals.   There’s a set three-course meal, which will set you back from US$90 per couple, which for a romantic beachfront meal isn’t bad at all.

Romantic Dinner on the Beach Maafushi
Romantic Dinner on the Beach Maafushi

You can dine just behind these beachfront tables at the more budget (but excellent Sun Beach Café).  I’ve marked that on the map too.

What is Maafushi Island Known for?

Maafushi is known for the decent infrastructure it has for tourism, being the first local island to be developed.  It’s known as one of the cheapest Maldives Islands to visit if you wish to undertake any watersports – and here in the Maldives much of the attraction is actually on or under the water, so it’s well worth planning this into your schedule.

If you’re coming to the Maldives on a budget, then Maafushi should be on your list of local islands to visit.  Many people make it the ONLY island that they visit.  We visited the capital city of Malé, various local islands, and also the rather lovely Malahini Kuda Bandos, the resort island on which we stayed for 2 nights all-inclusive.  You can read about our visit to Malahini Kuda Bandos here or you too can book a stay at Malahini Kuda Bandos.

Where to Eat on Maafushi Island

If you want to eat directly on the beach, then head to the Triton Prestige Hotel for romantic dinners (or group dinners, if there are more of you). These candlelight tables were full most nights.

Right behind the Triton Prestige Beach tables is the Sun Beach café which has a great friendly team good prices and excellent food, which includes Sri Lankan short eats, noodles, rice, and great dhal curry.  Their fruit juices were excellent.

You can pay with a card in virtually every café and restaurant on Maafushi, with no additional charges.  There’s a huge variety (for the Maldives) of places to eat.  I’d also recommend Semili’s restaurant and the Tandoori Flames gets great reviews for Indian food too.

There’s no alcohol served on the island, for that you’ll need to either take a day trip to a resort island or check with your host to see if the “booze boat” is still moored offshore.  It tends to be a seasonal thing and it will cost you around US$10 for a transfer to and from it, and beers are likely to cost around U$7 each when you get there.

Where to Stay on Maafushi Island

There’s a lot of choice (for the Maldives) of places to stay on Maafushi Island.   You’ll have the choice of staying beachfront, near bikini beach, near the pier, or in the interior of the island.  But let’s face it, Maafushi is just 1270 meters by 265 meters (4166 feet by 869 feet), and so none of this is far away from each other.

If you want to be right at Bikini Beach, then head to the Kaani Palm, there are rooms with fantastic balconies and views down onto Bikini Beach.  There’s also a stunning rooftop infinity pool here, which is glorious.  Best to book your dates early as this is popular.

The Island Ambience is the highest-rated rated place on Maafushi to stay, has a fabulous family team, and books out quickly in high season.

We stayed on one of the inner lanes of the island at the lovely Sun Shine View. It’s a smaller operation, just four rooms, run by the local school teacher and his family.  They have an excellent selection of snorkeling gear that you can borrow.

Room at the Sun Shine Villa Maafushi
Room at the Sun Shine Villa Maafushi

All the accommodation available has Wi-Fi and most places also serve an included breakfast, they will also all meet you at the pier, to make sure that you and your luggage get to the right place.  All the roads here are sandy, so they’ll either carry your bags for you or transport them on a bike or auto-rickshaw.

While the accommodation might provide WiFi, its not necessarily the best connection. For a much faster and better connection get yourself an eSIM for the Maldives (this is the best option).

If your phone doesn’t take eSIMs, then I wrote about the other SIM cards available here.

Finally, don’t forget your power adapter for the Maldives – here’s what you’ll need.

How to Get to Maafushi Island

It’s just 30 minutes on the speedboat from Malé to Maafushi.  We took a speedboat direct from the airport (you can book it here), or read about our trip and the different options for getting to Maafushi in our guide here.

On the Speedboat to Maafushi
On the Speedboat to Maafushi

The public ferry takes around 2 hours and doesn’t run on Fridays (the primary reason we took a speedboat, was that our flight from Jeddah arrived on a Friday).  We took the public ferry back to Malé after we finished visiting Maafushi.

We used the public ferries extensively during our visit to the Maldives – you can see our 2 week itinerary here.

If you’re taking the public ferry to Maafushi, then you’ll need to buy the tickets from the ferry terminal in Malé, on the day is fine.  All boats, ferries, and speedboats, arrive at the same place in Maafushi, it’s the main public pier.  I’ve marked it on the map below, as they are building a new one, but it’s been beset by political and financial delays and isn’t ready yet.

What infrastructure is there on Maafushi?

As the most developed of the local islands there’s quite a lot of infrastructure here on Maafushi, with 3,000 permanent residents, there’s pretty much everything that they need for daily life, so it’s likely more than enough for your vacation too!

Boat Pier on Maafushi Island

As I mentioned there’s one boat pier here.  It’s where you’ll arrive on either the public ferry or speedboat.  And while it does look like a bit of a muddle when you arrive, (and even more so when you depart), it’s all rather organized, and no matter where you stay, your host will make sure you get on the right boat!

ATM on Maafushi Island

There is an ATM on Maafushi Island, and it takes foreign cards, so if you find yourself needing cash, then it’s easy to find, I’ve marked it on the map below. 

ATM on Maafushi
ATM on Maafushi

If you book a speedboat with your hotel then you will 99% likely have to pay cash for it, but you’ll be able to pay for your accommodation with a card, although it will likely attract a 3.5% card fee.

Our guide to ATMs in the Maldives here, covers where you can find Maldives ATMs and what the charges are.

If you’re paying cash, then US dollars are generally accepted in all places and here on Maafushi, you’ll see a lot of prices just in dollars.  That doesn’t mean you can’t pay in Maldivian Rufiyaa, but just that it’s likely easier for you to calculate your home currency cost if they display it in US dollars.

Shopping and Stores on Maafushi

There are quite a lot of shops on Maafushi, from small supermarkets with everything from bottled water (your hotel will provide filtered water for you each day) to pot noodles, and even Lavazza coffee (Hurray!).  It’s more expensive on Maafushi than it is in Malé, but less expensive than in Fulidhoo, which is further away from Malé.

You can buy clothes here, snorkeling gear, sun cream and mosquito repellent.  Because yes.  There are mosquitoes here – you should read about them in our guide to mosquitoes and the Maldives.

Mosquitoes on Maafushi

We fund mosquitoes on all of the local islands that we visited, usually under the tables at dinner, which is a great reason to wear longer clothing on your lower half.  DEET-based repellent works, but you should remember to wash it off before going into the ocean or going to bed.   When we arrived on Maafushi there’d been an extended storm and rain shower, and there was standing water everywhere, it took several days to drain.  And while many of the resort islands use methods like removing standing water, and fogging to get rid of mosquitoes it’s not the case here on Maafushi, so take precautions.

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Map of Things to Do in Maafushi Island, Maldives

You can also see full map for Maafushi here.

Map of Things to Do on Maafushi

Tips for Traveling the Maldives

Final Words on our 9 Reasons to Visit Maafushi Island, Maldives

We deliberately selected the most developed island of the Maldives local islands to visit first.  And it was a good choice.  There’s a great infrastructure here, with stores, Wi-Fi, an ATM and the best options when it comes to taking tours and trips to explore underwater Maldives.  There are great options of places to eat here, the biggest selection of the local islands of where to stay.  Come to Maafushi, this is a great local island to visit.

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