Falling in Love With Maafushi


Maafushi beach, Maldives

It had to be okay.

I eyed the crowd of locals waiting to get on the ferry. Surely all of these people wouldn’t be travelling to a leprosy-infected island?

It had to be okay.

I shifted the weight of my backpack from one leg to the other, frustrated with the wait. It was 35 degrees in Male and, not yet sure what attire was safe for the Maldives, I was in jeans and a hoodie, with a shawl wrapped around my shoulders. It was sweltering and I was drenched in sweat.

I was still convinced I had made a big mistake in coming here. I’d booked four nights on Maafushi Island and we had just discovered that it had the nickname Leprosy Island. The crowd started to move, clambering over the chain of three ferries that we had to walk across to reach ours.

It had to be okay.

I took a deep breath and shuffled over the wobbling boats to my seat, releasing it when I made it without falling overboard. As Dave sat down beside me, I glanced around at the passengers. All locals — we were the only foreigners making the trip.

Why were no foreigners going? There were guesthouses on Maafushi — several dozen of them. In fact, Maafushi had the most amount of guesthouses in the Maldives, so I had expected more people than, well, us. Was independent travel in the Maldives really so rare?

Hundreds of desks for resorts at Male airport
Hundreds of desks for resorts at Male airport

Our two hour ferry journey cost $2 each — a big difference from the $200 speedboats you’d have to take to the resorts. To my delight, I didn’t get seasick, either. If you’ve read Never Ending Footsteps for any amount of time, you’ll know that pretty much every type of movement is likely to leave me nauseated, but not this ferry. Despite a large percentage of the Maldives being open ocean, it was surprisingly calm. No waves, no rocking, no vomiting. I was happy.

I turned to Dave. “Now, in theory, the owner of the guesthouse should be meeting us off the ferry to show us to the guesthouse.”

“Right.”

“But, I kind of forgot to confirm with him that we were going to be on this ferry.”

“Lauren…”

“But there’s only one ferry a day, right? So, he’ll be there! And, if not, it’s a small island. I’m sure we can find it.”

“You’re an idiot,” he said, rolling his eyes. “And our cab driver told us there was a privately-run ferry later on today. So there’s two ferries.”

“Well, I, erm, didn’t know that.”

Maafushi Island
Maafushi Island

We arrived in Maafushi and the ground was hard and stony. I’d had a vision of pulling up to a tropical island paradise, all white sands and sparkling turquoise water. I hadn’t been able to find photos of Maafushi Island before arriving so, of course, this was all guesswork. Clearly, bad guesswork.

Was this why nobody travelled independently in the Maldives? Was every local island without beaches? I wobbled off the ferry and onto the wooden pier.

“Juliff! Juliff! Juliff!”

“Uh, yeah?” I looked up.

“Welcome to the Maldives!” Our guesthouse owner was picking us up from the pier! I shot Dave a smug look and basked in the warm glow of self-appreciation.

“Thank you!” We chorused. Following the owner down the pier, he motioned to a nearby wheelbarrow. “You can put your bags in here.” I grinned as we did so. We were in the Maldives!

The streets of Maafushi
The streets of Maafushi

We followed as he wheeled our bags to the guesthouse. Like on the ferry, the streets were void of foreigners, and we attracted more than a few curious stares as we traipsed through the maze of unpaved paths.

I was nervous when we were shown to our room — it had seemed decent enough on the photos we saw online but I wasn’t quite sure how accurate those photos were. Fortunately, with independent tourism being only four years old, it was like walking into a brand new room. And it was great value for money — something that I wasn’t expecting, given that it was, you know, the Maldives.

For $60 a night, we had super fast Wi-Fi (most important aspect!), a huge, hot water shower, a comfortable bed, air conditioning, daily room cleaning and free breakfasts. Maafushi was making a great first impression.

Now, to explore!

We left the guesthouse and wandered over to the north side of the island. Just like at the ferry terminal, the ground was rocky and there were no beaches to be seen. Trash and plastic was strewn all over the ground and the waterfront. Maafushi was, erm… it was, uh… It was ugly. There were no beaches, there were no palm trees, and it was covered in trash.

Maafushi streets
Maafushi streets

“Dave,” I whispered, stopping dead.

“What?”

I motioned ahead of us. There, was a huge chain-link fence, several metres high. It seemed to enclose a huge area — I’d guess around a quarter of the island. There a large concrete building, and an outdoor area in front of it. Barriers were everywhere.

“Leprosy Island,” I whimpered, my voice rising in pitch. “Leprosy Island, Dave.”

We inched our way forward, searching for disfigured bodies strewn across the ground. We paused, staring through the fench and into the grounds. After a long silence, Dave shrugged. “It just looks like a prison or something.”

“Or a leper colony.”

“I doubt it.”

“Or, it’s a leper colony?”

“Or not?”

“You heard what the taxi driver said! It’s Leprosy Island! We’re on Leprosy Island!”

“Lauren — I’m sure it’s fine. Let’s keep walking.”

We walked in stony silence on the stony ground, and I sneaked occasional glances inside. There was no sign of life. Maybe Dave was right and there was nothing to worry about. Maybe there used to a leper colony here but now it’s abandoned.

It had to be okay.

“Psssssst!” The sound came from a few metres ahead of us. I looked up and into the widened eyes of a uniformed local guy. He hissed once more and began shooing us away from the enclosure.

“We can’t go down here?” asked Dave. The man shook his head and shooed us once more. That was all I needed.

I squeaked and tore off back down the path and as far away from the leprosy as I could get. “I can’t believe we’re on Leprosy Island,” I mumbled to myself. “Oh god, my mum’s going to be so angry when I tell her I’ve got leprosy.”

A football game taking place on the opposite side of the island
A football game taking place on the opposite side of the island

We reached safer ground and my bottom lip started to tremble. “I’m sorry, Dave,” I whimpered. “I told you that we could go to the local islands and that it’d all be great. So far we’ve had to walk around Male all day with our backpacks and now we’re going to catch leprosy and it’s all my fault.”

He said nothing.

And there aren’t even any beaches.” I sniffed.

We walked back the way we came, over the non-existent beaches and back towards the ferry terminal. Upon reaching the south side of the island, we came across a large wooden barrier. It was a couple of metres high, with a small gap in the panels. I frowned when Dave wandered up to take a look. It was like he had a death wish or something.

“Hey, come look at this,” he said, motioning me over.

I shuffled up behind him and peered between the gap. I gasped, greeted with one the sight of the prettiest beaches I’d ever seen.

Maafushi Island palm trees
Favourite palm tree.

“Wow,” I whispered. “It’s so beautiful.”

“It is.”

The Maldives. I was in the Maldives. I was actually in the Maldives. I was in the Maldives and it didn’t suck.

Lauren in the Maldives
Maafushi doesn’t suck

From that point on, Maafushi got better and better. A chat with a few locals let us know that the island is no longer the home of a leper colony, and instead houses a jail. Our beautiful beach we discovered was the island’s tourist beach — explaining the large wooden barriers — which meant I could sunbathe in a bikini. The Maldivian breakfasts at our guesthouse were delicious and kept us full until dinnertime, when we’d venture down to the water to grab dinner — usually delicious curried fish of some variety.

Travelling to the local islands was the right decision.

We were spending less than $70 a day to be in paradise, and I’d never been happier.

Leprosy everywhere
Maafushi

And all we did on Maafushi was relax. There’s nothing to do on the island itself as it’s only around 1.2 km in length, and a lot of that is taken up by the jail. There are dozens of excursions available — snorkeling, diving, fishing, island hopping — but we were content to save our money and stay on Maafushi. We could hardly complain about the beach there.

We soon settled into a routine that didn’t involve our laptops and answering emails. Shredded fish, coconut and lime for breakfast, beach time with my Kindle until the afternoon, naps, fish for dinner, and back to the room to watch TV. After working so hard for so long, and then struggling with mono and close-to-zero energy levels for the past six months, it was exactly what I needed to recover.

I loved Maafushi.

We were visiting Maafushi at the end of the low season, so prices still remained cheap. There was barely anyone on the island — at restaurants there’d be only one other couple eating with us, and on the beach, there’d be maybe 10 other people, most of whom were happy to lie on the sand and not venture into the water.

It’ll be different next month, though. We discovered that our guesthouse on Maafushi is booked out for all of October and November, and booked pretty solidly from then until the end of the high season. We were the only people staying there in early September. Prices will be almost doubling, too. Given that the tourist beach is the only real beach on the island, I can imagine it getting pretty crowded. It’s only 50 metres or so in length.

What surprised me most about Maafushi is that it’s the busiest island for indepedent tourism. It has the most amount of guesthouses of any other island — around 30 — but it still felt incredibly quiet. There was barely anyone there! It was quiet and peaceful, and we had the beach mostly to ourselves. If this was the busiest island in the Maldives then what were the others going to be like?

It was time to find out.

Ferry to Guraidhoo
The local ferry

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Water Breeze Guesthouse on Maafushi. It was great value for money, as I mentioned above. We paid around $60 a night and were surprised with what we received in return. The owner was super friendly and helpful, the rooms were cleaned every day, the air conditioning and hot shower were great, and the free breakfasts were delicious! We were huge fans, and it was my favourite guesthouse from our time in the Maldives. Recommended!

Find out why I fell in love with the beautiful local island of Maafushi.

Previous Month 38: Travel Summary and Statistics
Next The Cost of Travel in Laos: A Detailed Budget Breakdown

84 Comments

  1. Cecilia - cycling around the world
    October 1, 2014
    Reply

    You’re such a great storyteller, I loved this! Now I really want to travel to the Maldives. What do you think of females traveling alone there, should be fine or?

    • Lauren
      October 1, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Cecilia! :-) I didn’t get to do any real solo travel, aside from a few random wanderings around the island but I’d definitely return as a solo traveller. I found that when I was wandering alone, the Maldivian women would approach me to say hello and talk to me, or even offer me some chocolate as a present! When I was walking with Dave we were mostly ignored by the locals, so there are some definite benefits to being a solo female. I felt incredibly safe on the islands, too.

      Also, the local islands were not really lovely-dovey-romantic-honeymoon-celebrate-our-love like the fancy resorts, so I don’t think you’d feel out of place by not being part of a couple in that respect :-)

  2. Oneika the Traveller
    October 1, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren! I’ll be in Maafushi on Saturday for 3 days! Will you still be around? Would love to meet you!

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      Ah, boo! I’ve already left Maafushi, sadface. But I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! How long are you in the Maldives for?

  3. Katie @ The World on my Necklace
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    That beach! Makes me want to pack my bags and fly to the Maldives right now. It reminds me of the beaches and villages of the San Blas Islands in Panama. Dusty streets that are quite built up with no greenery in sight but stunning beaches and friendly locals

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      Not being able to spend time in the San Blas Islands was one of my biggest regrets from my time in Central America. Would love to get there one day — the beaches look incredible :-)

  4. Anxious Traveler
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    Ahaha. I love this because it’s so (unintentionally?) hilarious that you were so worried about the leprosy colony yet seem so unfazed by the prison! Surely a prison is even worse? Well, not as bad as a prison for lepers, I suppose!

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      Ha! I thought about that when I was writing the post. I think my hypochondria was in overdrive at the thought of contracting leprosy, so a prison seemed better. For some reason. I know :-)

  5. Thomas
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    What an experience Lauren
    I am already planning my holiday to the Maldives…thanks for the insight B-)

    • Lauren
      October 2, 2014
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Thomas! :-)

  6. Ava
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    Wow, what a great story! To be honest, going to an old leprosy island would probably be a draw for me…I love creepy abandoned places.

    – Ava

    • Lauren
      October 2, 2014
      Reply

      I do, too. I loved my tour I took of Chernobyl! But the hypochondriac in me panicked about leprosy :-)

  7. Alex
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    That beach looks incredible! Glad you ended up enjoying your trip there in the end. Did you go before the high season purposely or was that by total chance?

    • Lauren
      October 2, 2014
      Reply

      Total chance! Just happened to be in Sri Lanka at that time and flights were cheap. Turned out to be the best time of year to visit!

  8. Katie
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    At least that last beach made up for it all… sounds like a trip or two I’ve taken, covered in doubt until you realize it will all definitely be ok (and it always is). Also, glad you’re not a leper! ;)

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      It took a long time for me to learn to stop panicking and believe that everything will work out — but it always does. So far, anyway :-)

  9. Stephanie
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    You’re a very compelling story-teller. I laughed out loud at the leper colony conversation – that’s pretty much exactly how the conversation would have gone between me and my husband.

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Stephanie — such a compliment! :-) Dave and I seem to have similar conversations every day :-)

  10. Danielle
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    Ahh, the Maldives. I want to visit there so bad. One day I’ll make it over to swim in those beautiful, crystal clear waters!

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      And you won’t have to spend $1000 a night to experience it! The tourist beaches on the local islands were just as pretty as the ones on resorts :-)

  11. Catherine
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    I’m so glad for you that the leper colony is no longer there! And so happy that you managed to find such a beautiful looking beach :) Sounds like you had a great time, can see why you fell in love with the place.

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      It was just what I needed — relaxation and one of the prettiest beaches I’ve seen! And, no leper colony! :-)

  12. Shirley Hollick
    October 2, 2014
    Reply

    A great article Lauren! Maafushi is now on our list. The astonishing beach reminds me of Tonga. Have you been?

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Shirley! I haven’t been to Tonga, but it’s on my list! I’m hoping to explore lots of the South Pacific islands when I move to New Zealand in a year or so :-)

      • Shirley
        October 4, 2014
        Reply

        Oh, I spent 6 months in NZ – an absolutely fantastic country! Temperate climate, friendly people, and beaches, mountains, forests and rolling green hills, all minutes apart… perfect really.

        • Lauren
          November 26, 2015
          Reply

          Fully agree! If it was only a bit cheaper, I’d be thinking about living there! :-)

  13. Amanda
    October 3, 2014
    Reply

    That beach looks like a DREAM! Awesome to hear that it did not, in fact, turn out to be filled with lepers. ;)

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2014
      Reply

      I’d put it in my top five beaches, easily :-)

  14. Andrea Anastasiou
    October 5, 2014
    Reply

    Oh my…that looks absolutely incredible. I do love a quiet beach! No screaming kids ruining sunbathing time :-)

    • Lauren
      October 22, 2014
      Reply

      Exactly!

  15. Miriam of Adventurous Miriam
    October 5, 2014
    Reply

    I get why you panicked about the leprosy and I’m glad that gorgeous beach wasn’t filled with it :) Amazing storytelling as always!

    • Lauren
      October 22, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Miriam! You’re too kind :-)

  16. Kendra Granniss
    October 6, 2014
    Reply

    Everything you write is hilarious. My coworkers are beginning to wonder what I’m always laughing about. That beach is gorgeous! I wish I was there right now instead of in this cubicle!

    • Lauren
      October 13, 2014
      Reply

      Haha, thank you, Kendra! Pleased I could make you laugh!

  17. NancyWanderlust
    October 11, 2014
    Reply

    You’re hilarious! I am a Maldivian and I came to know of your page when your article on how to travel the Maldives on a budget went somewhat viral within our social networks. And it has since become our number one go to resource to share with our foreign friends who want have the same travel experience as you did. I think you have a lot of Maldivian followers now :)
    PS- Longing for a new post!!

    • Lauren
      October 13, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you, Nancy! I’m so pleased to hear that everyone’s found my article so helpful. I couldn’t believe it when I had over 100,000 people visit my post over just a few days — it’s my first viral post! :-)

      New post coming this week!

  18. GL
    October 15, 2014
    Reply

    Just curious as how do the “large wooden barriers” in the tourist beach waters work?

    • Lauren
      October 15, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, they’re not in the water, they’re surrounding the beach to keep the bikini-wearing tourists out of eyesight of the locals.

  19. Marcia @ CuracaoVacationAccomodation
    October 16, 2014
    Reply

    Your palm tree looks pretty nice and I am glad that you haven’t found any leprosy out there because that would be a very scary thing.

    • Lauren
      October 19, 2014
      Reply

      Yeah, no signs of leprosy now! :-)

  20. GL
    October 18, 2014
    Reply

    Oh, then what’s that long thing with triangular tips sticking out of the water in your photo of the beach and the horizontally-leaning palm tree? It looks like some kind of barrier.

    • Lauren
      October 19, 2014
      Reply

      Ah, yeah, it was a barrier, but that’s not on the main part of Bikini Beach. No barriers on the bit where people swim and sunbathe.

  21. jennifer
    October 30, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren!
    Which island did u get an overwater bungalow and how far from airport?

    • Lauren
      October 31, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Jennifer, we stayed on Olhuveli Island.

  22. shane charles
    December 9, 2014
    Reply

    Hi great story were going there in feb 15. can you tell me any more about the ‘other’ ferry .
    thanks shane & penny

  23. Cecilia
    January 22, 2015
    Reply

    Hello!
    Planning a trip to the island in oct/nov. Can you please tell me where you found this beautiful beach!!! I thought the best beaches were in the north of the island?!
    Kind regards Cecilia

    • Lauren
      January 23, 2015
      Reply

      It’s the tourist beach, and basically the only beach on the island.

  24. Chermel
    February 2, 2015
    Reply

    Hello, thank you for your post! I am planning a trip to Maldives and your posts have been extremely helpful and interesting to read! May I ask, if we’re just walking around the town in Maafushi (not at Bikini Beach) would it be okay for females to be in singlets and shorts? Or do we have to be covered up as well? Thank you again!!

    • Lauren
      February 3, 2015
      Reply

      Nope, you need to cover up from your neck to your wrists to your ankles when you’re not on the tourist beach.

  25. sherbear
    April 20, 2015
    Reply

    I spent a week in Maafushi December 2013 and I fell in love with the people there. I went back again this past November 2014 for 10 days.

    One of the sweet ladies I became friends with still keeps in touch with me and we e-mail each other about once a week. :0) Best of buds!

    The water and sand is incredible. Snorkeling was a blast. The sun.. intense.

    When I return next time, which I hope is soon… I’ve talked to my friend who lives there and she is going to help me organize a”Maafushi Clean Up” event (picking up plastic water bottles, etc. and taking them over to the trash yard) The locals are excited about doing it and said after the 3rd day, we’ll hold some sort of beach cookout. :D

    I’m not really sure why no one has organized something like this before, but that’s fine by me… we’re excited about having our (like a 3 day) event. I’m bringing large heavy-duty clean up bags that were meant for these types of events. Lots of them! Such a gorgeous place needs to stay that way!

    I dunno…. I think I’m like Lauren when it comes to loving the place. :0)

    Although.. I spent quite a bit of time with some locals walking around every bit of Maafushi… doesn’t take long (10 or 15 min) but I was even invited into local homes several times..

    Honestly, they could care less if tourist (FEMALES) walk around in sun dresses (short-sleaved is fine) with flip flops. It would be disrespectful to ignore their traditions and walk off the beach in a bikini (even though some do), not to mention the signs that clearly state “no bikinis off beach”.

    I’ve been twice and have NEVER worn sleeves of any type. I bring a long sleeve shirt in case it rains heavily, or something.. but so far, I haven’t needed it. I don’t bring risqué dresses or clothing, just cool, comfortable sun dresses, t-shirts (that cover my tummy), tank tops and shorts.

    On my second trip, I saw two girls from Paris wearing their bikini’s just about every day to the ice cream shop, and even ran into then at the bike shop. While it’s really not appropriate, I never see locals asking them to cover themselves.

    For me – – shorts, t-shirts, sun dresses & flip flops, sunglasses, sunscreen – and you’re good to go! :0)

    I HIGHLY recommend bringing water-shoes because the coral in the water can get sharp as you’re walking out there.

    p.s. Lauren.. that French Polynesia idea sounds pretty good too! ;0)

  26. mette elgaard
    May 10, 2015
    Reply

    Dear Lauren
    Thanks for your informative and exiting blog
    I have plans comming with my husband and 3 girls to Mafushi this february – travel on a budget. I do not know if it safe to bring along blonde young girls on the island.
    Best regards Mette

    • Lauren
      May 11, 2015
      Reply

      Yes, it’s safe. Why wouldn’t it be?

  27. Asiya
    July 7, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    This is a great post! I was actually wondering if you had a chance to see the “non-bikini” beaches and what they looked like? I usually go to the beach covered up, and don’t mind trying the local beaches, and wanted to know if you had seen what they look like on maafushi.
    Thanks!

    • Lauren
      July 8, 2015
      Reply

      There aren’t many. I remember seeing one on the other side of the island and it was covered in trash.

  28. hashim
    July 14, 2015
    Reply

    hi Lauren,

    Great information in your all posts. Really helpful

    Im planning to visit maldives Mid of october , is it a good time from weather perspectiver?

    regards,

    • Lauren
      July 15, 2015
      Reply

      I was there in early September and had good weather. I think October is meant to be pretty good, but I wasn’t there at that time.

  29. Leesha Haneef
    August 9, 2015
    Reply

    I loved the blog post. I am happy that you finally changed your mind regarding Maldives ;-), But as a local Maldivian specialised in Tourism Consultancy, Maafushi is one of the ugliest Islands in Maldives. the Maafushi project was a Brillian Pilot program to launch Budget tourism and since Maafushi became a huge success, it means any local Island in the Maldives could be sold for a Budget of 70-100++ a night. Next time you are here try out something further exotic like Laamu Atoll, Baa Atoll, Alif Atoll, Vaavu or the magical Gaaf Alif….and for those of you who are planning to come look a bit beyond Maafushi to discover the Paradise Beaches.

    Try Islands Like;
    Vaavu Felidhoo
    Vaavu Thinadhoo
    Alif Ukulhas
    Laamu Gan

    xoxo

    • Lauren
      November 22, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you so much for the information, Leesha! I’ve added them all to my list and will hopefully get a chance to visit some next year :-)

  30. sherbear
    August 26, 2015
    Reply

    Like Lauren, I’m wondering why Mette asked if it would be a problem with bringing her “blonde daughters”. There are people visiting there from all over the planet.. blond, brunette, redheads, you name it. No one cares what color you hair is. :0/

    Leesha~ I sure wouldn’t call Maafushi ugly, but like I posted back in April, it seriously needs a major clean-up as far as the garbage that has drifted and needs to be cleaned up. It boggles my mind why people there aren’t bothered by it. Then again, when you look at the island, they really have a lousy set-up as far as the dump goes. If only there was a plot of land inland somewhere they could move that dump to. And if it’s just not possible to ever move the dump, they need a better system of getting rid of the garbage that piles up there.

    It’s also kind of amazing that it’s been over 11 years since the massive 2004 Tsunami that hit Thailand so hard and that also devastated parts of the Maldives, but there are still so many remnants of it that you can see. If you walk around with some of the residents, they’ll glad show you areas still destroyed back in ’04.

    As more and more tourism keeps moving in though, I have a feeling a major clean-up of the garbaged-out areas is just going to happen. It’s crazy how much building is going on there!

    Those other places you listed look interesting Leesha. I think what I like about Maafushi though is that (so far) it’s not a hoity-toity resort area.

    I see some videos on Youtube of people who go to some atolls or islands in the Maldives, and they stay at 5-star resorts. It’s nuts, but at a lot of them, the employees of the hotel aren’t even from the Maldives! I suppose it’s all in what people want though? For me.. I like Maafushi because I’m right there among the residents. I like getting to know them and listening to them tell me about their lives there. :0)

    I know Maafushi has some areas that need major improvement… But (to me) it has more upsides than downsides.

    • Lauren
      November 13, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Sherry! Agree with everything you’ve said here :-) When I visited a luxury resort in the Maldives, there wasn’t much chance at all to get to know the locals and their way of life, so I was glad to have a mix of local and resort islands in my trip.

  31. Brian
    October 7, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, were the prices you were speaking of in American currency or the local?

    Cheers

    • Lauren
      October 17, 2015
      Reply

      USD.

  32. rebecca
    November 3, 2015
    Reply

    Loved this story! awesome read. Brings me right back to the unplanned travel days where you are sure you have ruined a trip and will have a good time. I will certainly keep this place in mind.

    • Lauren
      November 11, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks, Rebecca! It’s so rare to find a place with so little information online.

  33. Kim
    January 8, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! I’ve loved reading your blogs about the Maldives… You seem like a good person to ask for advice (as we worry about similar things!)… I’m really keen to go to the Maldives and the guesthouse option is far more appealing as my boyfriend and I like meeting locals and feeling more like we’re getting an experience than a pre-packaged holiday. Just wondering what life is like outside of the guesthouse? Are there other eating places in town or do you have to eat there? Also, do you think a non-fish eater would survive? Thanks in advance for any advice!

    • Lauren
      January 8, 2016
      Reply

      On Maafushi, there are a dozen or so restaurants you can eat at, and they all had things like pizzas and sandwiches as well as fish curries, so you should be fine! :-)

  34. lisa
    January 9, 2016
    Reply

    Hey Lauren! love your blog, I’m thinking of doing the same myself for my rtw trip! I’m off to maafushi for my first destination and was wondering should I take only USD or would it be a good idea to use local currency?

    • Lauren
      January 29, 2016
      Reply

      I took a mix of both. I think the locals preferred USD.

  35. Geraldine
    February 14, 2016
    Reply

    hi,
    i’ve been following you on FB for sometime and bookmarked your blog as I know i would read it and use it as my source when it’s time to visit the Maldives. planning a trip this May and your blog is very helpful and what a delight to read. Thank you so much.

    • Lauren
      February 18, 2016
      Reply

      I’m so delighted to hear that, Geraldine! Thank you! Let me know if I can help out with anything :-)

  36. Jaune
    May 31, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    Read your blog and got totally inspired going to the Maldives next week! I just would like to know your recommendations on the ferry departures since our flight arrives at 15:00 only to find out that the ferry leaves the same time. Any suggestions?

    • Lauren
      June 8, 2016
      Reply

      Ah, sorry, Jaune, I think my reply might be too late for you. Your only option is to spend the night in Male, though. You could try to hire a speedboat to whichever island you’re visiting, but that could end up being $200+ for each person. I’d spent the night in Male and then get a ferry out the following morning.

  37. Vicki
    October 8, 2016
    Reply

    Very good info, I’m going to Maldives in November fo 5 nights by myself, n will catc h up with hubby in KL after. Would u still go to Maafushi over outer Islands on a budget?

    • Lauren
      October 8, 2016
      Reply

      I’d actually now recommend choosing anywhere that isn’t Maafushi now! I’ve heard from friends that have visited recently that it’s covered in trash, the beach has been dug up, and it’s swarming with so many Chinese tourists that even the signs and menus are in Chinese!

  38. phil locky
    December 22, 2016
    Reply

    Lauren
    October 8, 2016 at 11:22 am — Reply
    I’d actually now recommend choosing anywhere that isn’t Maafushi now! I’ve heard from friends that have visited recently that it’s covered in trash, the beach has been dug up, and it’s swarming with so many Chinese tourists that even the signs and menus are in Chinese

    Hello Lauren, shame your news/comment fields are not date specific…im going to Maafushi in jan 2017 and would of appreciated any local knowledge….I assume that this work on the beach is to save the beach itself, due to erosion??????…..im planning lots of trips ..so I’m hoping it will still be a fab time,,…love your blog and I would also love to visit New Zealand….

    • Lauren
      December 30, 2016
      Reply

      All of the comments have the date they were left though? The comment of mine that you copied and pasted says the 8th October on it!

      Anyway, I’m not too sure about about the reasons behind digging up the beach, as I haven’t been able to return yet. Hopefully it’ll be temporary work that’ll be finished by the time you get there. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

  39. Apaar Gupta
    December 30, 2016
    Reply

    Hi, Lauren! What a vivid description you’ve sketched, I am truly stunned!
    There’s a little query of mine and I believe no other than you can clear it out better: I’ll be probably visiting Maldives at the end of March and plan to stay at Maafushi. Could you just elaborate a bit how CLEAN the beaches of Maafushi are (will I actually see the pristine-white sand beaches, the blue skies and SPARKLING, clear turquoise water there)?
    Can’t thank you enough, Lauren… that’ll be a great help!

    • Lauren
      December 31, 2016
      Reply

      Well, I last visited back in 2014 and based on the comments on this post, it sounds as though Maafushi has been changing rapidly. When I was there, Bikini Beach was pristine, but every other beach on the island was full of trash, although the water was clean and clear everywhere. It looked, well, as my photos in this post show.

      As for how it is now, I really don’t know. Some of the commenters on this post, and some friends of mine, have said even bikini beach was full of trash and was being dug up, but I don’t know how accurate that is. If you’re nervous about it, you could visit Fulidhoo as well as Maafushi, as that isn’t likely to have changed much.

  40. Paula
    February 17, 2017
    Reply

    Instead of been proud of your ignorance and speak about it juggling… you should read.
    Shame on you!!!! Leprosy ISN’T CONTAGIOUS!!!!
    And people with it had suffered many centuries of discrimination and bullying…
    SHAME ON YOU

    • Lauren
      February 17, 2017
      Reply

      Overreaction, much? It’s just a blog post. And actually it is contagious. It might not be very contagious at all, but it is transmitted from human to human through respiratory droplets. Maybe you should read, too ;-)

  41. Traveller
    June 27, 2018
    Reply

    I just found your blog post on the Maldives and it’s inspired me to plan a trip there!

    When is the best time to visit? I may only have a short time there and want to make the most of it :)

    Glad the Maldives can be done on a budget too..

    • Lauren
      June 28, 2018
      Reply

      I liked being there in September

  42. Jake
    June 12, 2020
    Reply

    What’s Maafushi like in 2020? Is it crowded?

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