Uncover the ultimate Maldives itinerary for 5 amazing days exploring the local islands in this iconic country.
The Local Islands of the Maldives offer a unique and authentic experience, very different from the luxury resorts. This itinerary explores the culture, natural beauty, and tranquil beaches of these islands. It’s perfect for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in local life, enjoy affordable stays, and discover the Maldives’ hidden gems.
I recently visited the Madlives on a local island holiday and was pleasantly surprised. I had always imagined the Maldives was only for luxury honeymoons but then discovered the local islands. With these islands, you can enjoy the beauty of the Maldives without breaking the bank.
This itinerary can be made for 5 or more days and completely customized. You can spend more time on certain islands to stretch it any way you prefer.
Discover the ultimate local island Maldives itinerary for 5 amazing days
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In This Post
5 Day Local Island Maldives Itinerary
➡️ Day 1: Land in Male and Ferry to Thulusdhoo
➡️ Day 2: Thulusdhoo
➡️ Day 3: Thulusdhoo and Travel to Dhigurah
➡️ Day 4: Dhigurah and Snorkeling
➡️ Day 5: Dhigurah and Depart
Honestly this is a VERY packed itinerary but if you want to see as much of the Maldives as possible in 5 short days you have to do what you have to do! If you don’t want to spend too much time on boats going between islands I suggest spending the entire 5 days in Thulusdhoo and basing yourself here.
Maldives Itinerary Day One: Land in Male and Ferry to Thulusdhoo
Morning and Afternoon: Land in Malé & Ferry to Thulusdhoo
How to Get to Thulusdhoo
🛩️ Land at Velana International Airport in Malé: This is the main international airport and is well-equipped with facilities like currency exchange, cafes, and transportation services.
🛥️ Getting to Thulusdhoo: The best way to reach Thulusdhoo is via speed boat. I booked mine through my accommodation and it took 30 minutes and cost $25USD. You can also take a local ferry which costs $2-$5 per person and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours (this is a great option for visiting the Maldives on a budget).
Afternoon/Evening: Getting Settled in Thulusdhoo
Why Visit Thulusdhoo
Thulusdhoo is the PERFECT first stop in the Maldives. This is actually my favourite local island in the Maldives and the number one place I recommend people visit.
The island has the most postcard-perfect beach, a charming village, and tons of amazing excursion options. Thulusdhoo is also a popular spot for surfers, with some of the best surf breaks in the country.
Being relatively close to Malé (30 minutes by speed boat) allows for easy access into the tranquil island life of the Maldives.
If you are visiting the Maldives for under 5 days I highly recommend just staying in Thulusdhoo for your entire stay. It is such a beautiful island and you will have plenty to do and see.
➡️ Read More: Things to do in Thulusdhoo
Where to Stay in Thulusdhoo
Thulusdhoo offers a range of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to more upscale beachfront hotels. My top recommendation (where I stayed and loved) is Canopus Retreat Thulusdhoo.
➡️ Book your stay at Canopus Retreat Thulusdhoo here!
Maldives Itinerary Day Two: Thulusdhoo and Sandbanks
Morning: Sandbank Trip
A trip to a nearby sandbank is a must-do in the Maldives. These secluded tiny islands of pure white sand surrounded by crystal clear waters are perfect for experiencing one of the most amazing natural wonders in the Maldives.
There are many local tour companies in Thulusdhoo that offer sandbank trips. These typically include a boat ride, time for swimming and sunbathing, and sometimes a picnic lunch. The experience of being on a seemingly untouched sandbank in the middle of the ocean is truly a surreal Maldivian experience.
The cost of a sandbank trip varies depending on the group size and the inclusiveness of the package but generally ranges from $20 to $50 per person. It’s advisable to book in advance through your guesthouse or a local tour operator.
💡 I just walked up to a local tour stand and asked what they were doing today and they told me a 2 hour trip to a sandbank so I joined very spontaneously!
These trips are usually half-day excursions, giving you enough time to relax on the sandbank and return to Thulusdhoo for the afternoon/evening.
Afternoon: Swimming and Surfing
Surrounded by turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, Thulusdhoo is one of the best places for swimming and surfing in the Maldives. The island’s “Bikini Beach” is long and spacious with plenty of space to lay out and enjoy the sun, tall palms, and ocean views.
Bikini Beach = the beach where you can wear bikinis on the island.
Beyond swimming, the island is also a fantastic location for snorkeling, where you can explore coral reefs full of diverse marine life.
For those seeking a more adrenaline-filled water activity, Thulusdhoo is renowned as a surfing destination. The island has two famous surf spots: ‘Cokes’ and ‘Chickens’, each offering unique surfing experiences.
‘Cokes’, named after the Coca-Cola factory on the island, is a challenging reef break known for its consistent, large, and hollow waves, ideal for intermediate to advanced surfers. ‘Chickens’ is a fast and long left-hander, providing exhilarating rides for surfers.
The best time to surf in Thulusdhoo is from April to October, during the Southwest Monsoon season. With several local surf shops, board rentals, and surf instructors available, Thulusdhoo caters well to the surfing community, ensuring a surfing experience for everyone!
Evening: Sunset and Dinner
In the evening spend some time walking around Thulusdhoo to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle. Walking through the village, you’ll witness the laid-back island life, with locals gathering for evening chats and children playing.
This is the perfect time to sit on the beach and watch the sunset. The sun sets in Thulusdhoo on the other side of the island opposite Bikini Beach, however, the changing colors of the sky reflecting on the ocean are still stunning from Bikini Beach.
After sunset, head to Indulge for dinner. This is my favourite restaurant in Thulusdhoo with fresh and delicious food.
Maldives Itinerary Day Three: Thulusdhoo and Travel to Dhigurah
Morning: Breakfast & Boat to Malé
Start your last day in Thulusdhoo with breakfast from your hotel and prepare to leave. Today will be a longer travel day where you will have to travel from Thulusdhoo > Malé > Dhigurah on 2 different speed boat transfers.
Book your transfer from Thulusdhoo to Malé in advance and plan to go on the first or second speed boat ($ 25 USD to Malé) in order to get there in advance.
Afternoon: Boat to Dhigurah
Take your speed boat from Malé to Dhigurah. It’s best to book this transfer in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. You can usually arrange them through your accommodation in Dhigurah or via local travel agencies in Malé.
The journey by shared speed boat from Malé to Dhigurah typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. The exact duration can vary based on weather conditions and the specific route taken.
The cost for a shared speed boat transfer from Malé to Dhigurah is usually more affordable compared to private transfers or seaplane flights. Prices can range from approximately $30 to $60 per person, one way. This price variation depends on the service provider and any additional services included, like hotel transfers on either end.
Evening: Settle in Dhigurah
Spend the evening getting settled into your accommodation in Dhigurah. Go for a walk around the island, have a meal and relax. This is also when you should go to a local tour stand to book a snorkeling or whale shark tour for tomorrow!
➡️ Book this hotel in Dhigurah: Bliss Dhigurah
Maldives Itinerary Day Four: Dhigurah and Snorkeling
Morning: Snorkeling or Whale Sharks Tour
Spend the morning preparing and embarking on your snoring or whale shark tour! This is one of the best things to do in Dhigurah and a Maldives experience you do not want to miss. Both offer quite different experiences but are must-dos!
🐠 Explore Marine Life: The clear, warm waters are home to a diverse range of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, sea turtles, and more.
🐠 Guided Experience: This ensures a safe and informative experience. Guides will lead you to the best spots and share knowledge about the local marine ecosystem.
🐠 Equipment and Duration: Snorkeling gear is typically provided. Tours usually last a few hours, giving you ample time to enjoy the water and the marine sights.
Whale Shark Tour:
🦈 Unique Encounter: Dhigurah is one of the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea. These gentle giants are a magnificent sight and swimming with them is an extraordinary experience.
🦈 Best Time for Sighting: While whale shark sightings are never guaranteed, your chances are good in the Maldives. Tours are conducted with respect for the wildlife, ensuring a responsible and ethical encounter.
🦈 Tour Details: These tours also last a few hours and include boat travel to known whale shark spots. Guides help spot the sharks and ensure a respectful distance is maintained during the swim.
Afternoon: Island Time
After your snorkeling adventure, spend the afternoon relaxing on Dhigurah’s Bikini Beach. Relax on the sandy beaches, swim in the calm waters, and take a moment to soak in the sights of the morning tour.
This is a great time to also take a walk through the island to explore its natural beauty. Walk through the town, and explore the other shores and hidden gems.
Evening: Sunset and Dinner
End your day with an evening by the beach. Dhigurah’s relatively undeveloped coastline offers a peaceful setting, perfect for watching the sunset. For dinner, consider a beachside barbecue if available, which is a delightful way to enjoy fresh seafood under the starlit sky.
Maldives Itinerary Day Five: Dhigurah and Depart
Option 1: Spend the Day in Dhigurah
If your flight schedule allows, take advantage of your last day in Dhigurah to soak up the serene island atmosphere. You can:
🐠 Relax on the Beach: Spend some time lounging on Dhigurah’s pristine beaches, perhaps with a book or just taking in the tranquil surroundings.
🐠 Explore the Island: Take a leisurely walk or bike ride around the island to explore local shops, cafes, and the natural beauty of Dhigurah.
🐠 Water Activities: Engage in water sports like kayaking or paddleboarding if you haven’t already, offering a relaxing way to enjoy the ocean.
Option 2: Head to Malé Airport via Speed Boat
If your flight departs on day five, you’ll need to plan your departure from Dhigurah to Malé accordingly:
🛥️ Speed Boat Transfer: Arrange for a speed boat transfer back to Malé. The journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. It’s crucial to align this with your flight schedule, considering additional time for airport check-in and security.
🛥️ Cost and Booking: The cost for a shared speed boat transfer can range from $30 to $60 per person. Private transfers are more expensive. Ensure this is booked in advance, either through your accommodation or a local operator.
IMPORTANT: If your flight is very early the next morning, or if the boat schedules don’t align with your flight, consider spending your last night in Malé or Hulhumalé, which is closer to the airport. This ensures you won’t miss your flight due to unforeseen delays.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days are enough for the Maldives?
A trip of 5 to 7 days is enough for most people to enjoy a fulfilling experience while accommodating travel time to and from the islands.
Short Stay (3-4 Days):
➡️ Suitable for a quick getaway or if you’re mainly interested in relaxation and minimal activities.
➡️ Focus on a single island or resort to maximize relaxation and minimize travel time.
Standard Stay (5-7 Days):
➡️ Ideal for experiencing a balance of relaxation, water sports, local culture, and island hopping.
➡️ Enough time to unwind, explore one or two islands, and participate in activities like snorkeling, diving, and day trips.
Extended Stay (8-14 Days):
➡️ Recommended if you wish to explore multiple islands, experience local culture more deeply, or indulge in extended relaxation and activities.
➡️Suitable for island hopping, visiting local islands, and enjoying various resorts or guesthouses.
Is 7 days enough for the Maldives?
Yes, 7 days is definitely enough for a visit to the Maldives. This duration allows for enough time to relax on the stunning beaches, and participate in water activities like snorkeling and diving, exploration of local culture on inhabited islands, and even some island hopping.
How much does a 1-week trip to Maldives cost?
The cost of a 1-week trip to the Maldives, focusing on local islands, will be about $820 to $1110 (for a very budget-friendly trip). Here’s a breakdown:
➡️ Accommodation: Budget guesthouses can range from $50 to $100 per night. Mid-range hotels might cost $100 to $200 per night. So, for a week, accommodation can cost between $350 to $1400.
➡️ Food: Dining on local islands is relatively affordable. Expect to spend around $10 to $30 per day per person for meals. For a week, this could total $70 to $210.
➡️ Activities: Snorkeling, diving, and island-hopping tours vary in cost. A single snorkeling or diving trip can range from $30 to $100. Allocating $200 to $400 for a week’s worth of activities is reasonable.
➡️ Transportation: Speedboat transfers between islands can cost between $20 to $50 per trip. Budget around $100 to $200 for inter-island transportation.
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