Discover the 10 best things to do in Maafushi, one of the Maldive’s most popular local islands.
While the Maldives may be known for its extravagant overwater bungalows and 5-star resorts, Maafushi Island offers a unique and cost-effective alternative, making it perfect for enjoying the Maldives without spending thousands of dollars.
I spent 3 weeks exploring the Maldives and seeing what the local side of the island is like and was amazed! By visiting local islands I was able to experience the same clear blue waters, tall palm trees, and underwater world as the luxury travelers – but in a more authentic and budget-friendly way.
Let’s delve into the 10 best things to do in Maafushi.
💡 INSIDER TIP: I honestly didn’t LOVE Maafushi. It wasn’t exactly what I imagined when visiting the Madlives as the beach was small and it felt a little too touristy for me.
However, it was a good base for day trips to other local islands and close proximity to the airport. The local island I love most is Thulusdhoo – check out my post on Thulusdhoo here!
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In This Post
How to get to Maafushi
Maafushi is located just 30 minutes from the Male airport and accessible in 3 ways:
- Speed boat ⭐️ BEST OPTION ⭐️ : Take a 30 minute speed boat ride for $25 USD speedboat ride. You can book your speedboat ride on 12GO or ask your hotel to arrange it for you!
- Private Transfer: Take a 30-minute private transfer for $150 – 300 USD.
- Public Ferry: Take a 1 hour and 30 minute public ferry ride for $2 USD.
10 Best Things to Do in Maafushi, Maldives
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Spend a Day on Bikini Beach
One of the top things to do in Maafushi is spend a day at Bikini Beach, a soft, sandy stretch of shoreline located on the island’s southern side. Located near the Maafushi Harbor, this tourist beach offers the perfect place to relax in the sun and spend some time swimming.
With its white sands and crystal-clear waters, Bikini Beach provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and water activities.
💡 Did you know the Madlives is a Muslim country? This means there are special rules on the local islands you must adhere to according to their religious norms. One of these rules is having special beaches for tourists in Bikinis.
Bikini Beach is the ONLY place tourists can freely wear swimwear. It is essential to respect local customs and limit wearing your bikini to these specified zones.
This beach is quite small and crowded. I didn’t LOVE it but found it a nice place to lay on the beach for a few hours. Sunbeds cost $5 USD each.
Swim with Nurse Sharks
One of the most thrilling things to do in Maafushi is swimming with nurse sharks! This is an exhilarating experience that brings you up close and personal with these typically gentle creatures.
For safety reasons, the only way you should do this is with a guided tour. These are priced at around USD $60 per person – depending on the tour company you choose.
During the tour, I joined there were approximately 30 other people which I found undermined the authenticity of the experience. With 30 people surrounding the sharks and hoping for a look it was a little much and even though Nurse Sharks are “harmless” they are still animals and quite daunting. One person in our group got bitten by a shark because we weren’t listening to the rules the guides gave.
The tour I joined, and most others, provide free GoPro footage which is super cool. You can also pay extra for drone footage, which I didn’t do. The drone footage required waiting and maneuvering for optimal shots, which I didn’t like.
While the group setting had its drawbacks, the unforgettable experience of swimming with nurse sharks remains a highlight, leaving participants with lasting memories of this unique marine encounter.
Enjoy Island Hopping
Escape Maafushi and go island hopping, discovering the authentic charm of nearby local islands. A short boat ride away is Gulhi Island known for its relaxed ambiance and more local feel. This is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the genuine Maldivian culture.
Guraidhoo, another gem nearby, is ideal for those who want to see an even more local and authentic island in the Madlives. This was my favorite island to visit to experience a different Madlvian island where tourism is less prevalent and has a more local feel.
Dive into the amazing underwater world surrounding Maafushi by going on an unforgettable snorkeling adventure. The clear blue waters are full of coral reefs and an abundance of marine life. In most places, the coral is bleached but the amazing experience still remains.
Place your stuff on Bikini Beach, grab your gear, and head out into the ocean and see what you can find. The waters around the island are full of life and are great to explore if you are on a budget.
If you prefer a guided experience, local operators offer snorkeling excursions as well. Lose yourself in the crystal-clear waters and fall in love with the captivating marine life that makes Maafushi a snorkeler’s paradise.
Explore The Island
One of the top things to do in Maafushi is explore the island COMPLETELY! Maafushi Island is relatively small, and it typically takes around 20 to 30 minutes to walk around the entire island. Some of the top things to look for during your exploration are:
⭐️ Old Mosque: Visit the historic Old Mosque, a symbol of Maafushi’s Islamic heritage.
⭐️ Maafushi Prison: Explore the unique aspect of the island with a visit to Maafushi Prison.
⭐️ Bikini Beach: Unwind on the sandy shores of Bikini Beach.
⭐️ Local Markets: Immerse yourself in the island’s daily life at local markets, where you can sample Maldivian delicacies and purchase handmade crafts.
⭐️ Maafushi Harbor: Experience the picturesque charm of Maafushi Harbor.
⭐️ Street Art: Admire vibrant street art that fills the town.
⭐️ Sandy Streets: Navigate the sandy streets, but be cautious of potholes, especially during the rainy season, when large puddles can form.
Join in Water Sports
One of the most popular things to do in Maafushi is to enjoy one of the many water sports activities available on the island. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a water enthusiast, Maafushi offers the perfect mix of activities to suit every taste. Some of the most popular water activities in Maafushi are:
Go Dolphin Watching
Going dolphin watering is one of the most amazing things to do in Maafushi and a personal favorite of mine. The dolphin-watching tour I went on was not only just watching the dolphins but also swimming with them! It was seriously one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had while traveling and something I recommend to all.
Sailing in the Indian Ocean and witnessing dolphins in their natural habitat is amazing. The sight of these graceful creatures is unbelievable!
Visit a Sandbank
Embark on an unforgettable journey by visiting a sandbank near Maafushi, an experience that is the epitome of Maldives beauty. Accessible by a short boat ride, the sandbanks near Maafushi emerge as stretches of untouched sand surrounded by crystal-clear waters.
Eat Local Foods
Try the local foods of the Maldives and indulge in the flavors of the island. Experience traditional Maldivian cuisine that reflects the vibrant culture and coastal heritage.
💡 INSIDER TIP: One thing that shocked me a lot when visiting the Maldives was the lack of fresh food. There were a few fruit stands in Maafushi but more restaurants served pizza, pasta, and heavy imported foods.
Watch the Sunset
One of the best things to do in Maafushi is to watch the sunset from the beach in the sun’s spectacular display of colors. Find a spot along the coastline, where the sky transforms into a show of pinks and oranges.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Maafushi known for?
Maafushi is known for being a local island in the Maldives that offers a more affordable and authentic experience compared to the exclusive resort islands. It has gained popularity among budget travelers for its reasonably priced accommodations, allowing visitors to experience the Maldives without the hefty price tag.
The island’s proximity to Male, the capital, and its accessibility to various water activities, such as snorkeling, diving, and dolphin watching, make it a favored destination for those seeking a more genuine and diverse Maldivian experience.
How many days are enough for Maafushi?
The ideal duration for a stay in Maafushi can vary based on individual preferences, travel goals, and the activities planned. For a well-rounded experience that includes exploring the island, enjoying water activities, and taking in the local culture, I’d say 3 to 5 days is best.
💡 INSIDER TIP: I stayed in Maafushi for 4 days and thought it was more than enough. I did a day trip 3 of the days with only one day spent fully on Maafushi. After one day on Maafushi, you will get bored (if you are a traveler like this!)
Can you drink alcohol in Maafushi?
Maldives is a Muslim-majority country, and the sale and consumption of alcohol are prohibited in local residential islands, including Maafushi. However, this does not apply to resorts and private islands, where alcohol is typically available for tourists.
If you’re staying in a guesthouse on a local island like Maafushi, you must refrain from bringing or consuming alcohol on the island itself.
How much does a meal cost in Maafushi?
The cost of meals in Maafushi can vary depending on where you choose to eat and your dining preferences.
- Local Cafes/Restaurants: In local cafes and restaurants, you might find meals ranging from $5 to $15 USD per person. Local Maldivian dishes tend to be more affordable, while international cuisine may be on the higher end of the range.
- Guesthouse Restaurants: If you’re dining at the restaurant of a guesthouse, meals may range from $10 to $30 USD per person, depending on the type of cuisine and the establishment.
- Resort Restaurants: Resorts on nearby islands often offer more upscale dining experiences, and prices for meals can vary widely. Expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $100 USD or more per person in resort restaurants.
Where to Stay in Maafushi
In Maafushi, you can find a range of accommodations, including guesthouses, hotels, and boutique resorts.
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