Fulidhoo: The Only Tourists on the Island


Fulidhoo

Fulidhoo Island is tiny. At 600 metres in length and 200 in width, travelling there from Maafushi was going to make the latter feel like a metropolis.

I’d fallen in love with Maafushi and, like most places I visit, was devastated to leave. I’d spent a perfect five days shunning my travel blogging tan (non-existent because I spend every day inside working) and splashing around in the ocean. If I hadn’t booked our accommodation in advance, I would have pushed to stay longer.

Or maybe not. I knew nothing about Fulidhoo — I had no expectations. Would it be prettier? Quieter? A party island? Full of trash? Without beaches? As with every internal battle I fight over whether to stay or explore somewhere new, the desire to explore won.

On our final day in Maafushi, I was reminded how rare independent travel currently is in the Maldives when our guesthouse owner was convinced we needed to take the ferry back to Male.

“The ferry to Fulidhoo is at 11:40 am, right?” I asked him.

“No, no. The ferry is at 7 in the morning.”

“Oh, but the official timetable says it’s 11:40?”

“No. You must leave here at 6 O’clock.”

“But, look!” I took my laptop over to him and prodded at the screen. “It says Maafushi to Fulidhoo at 11:40.”

“No, you don’t want Fulidhoo. You want Male!”

“But we’re going to Fulidhoo?”

“You’re going to Fulidhoo?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.”

Ferry to Guraidhoo
Catching the ferry from Maafushi

Obviously travelling by ferry is near-impossible to avoid in the Maldives, which is a shame because they make me sad. I’m so prone to any kind of motion sickness, especially seasickness, that the thought of spending two hours on a ferry in the middle of the ocean had me packing plastic bags like a backpacker leaving a dorm room at 6 in the morning.

As I climbed aboard, I threw double the dose of Dramamine in my mouth and found space on a wooden bench alongside the window. I sat down, closed my eyes and waited for the nausea to hit.

Except it didn’t. The Maldives is 99% ocean so I expected the sea to be rough. It wasn’t. The waves were calm, the sea was flat, and I was fast asleep within minutes. Because Dramamine.

Even more surprising than the lack of vomiting, was the fact that Dave still had a full strength signal on his phone in the middle of the ocean. After we’d been travelling for an hour or so, I couldn’t see land in any direction, and he still had a super-fast data connection. I guess that’s what happens when there are no tall buildings to block the cell towers.

Passing in and out of sleep for much of the two hour long journey, I only fully awoke when Dave let me know we were a few minutes away. I couldn’t wait to catch my first glimpse of Fulidhoo. I crossed my fingers and prayed it wouldn’t be like the smoldering pile of trash that one Maldivian island has turned into.

Fortunately, Fulidhoo looked even more stunning than Maafushi. Look at the colour of that water!

Arriving in Fulidhoo
Arriving in Fulidhoo.

I grabbed my backpack and wobbled off the ferry, where our guesthouse owner was waiting for us. Unlike in Maafushi, where dozens of owners met us from the boat, he was the only one there. Like in Maafushi, however, we were the only foreigners on the boat and he quickly rushed over to take our bags.

“Hello, Lauren!” He said, shaking my hand and then reaching for Dave’s. He carried our bags over to his wheelbarrow and motioned that we follow him down the sandy lanes.

“Welcome to the Maldives!” He announced with an enormous grin on his face. “Let me give you a tour of our beautiful island.”

“Great!” I smiled. “It looks wonderful already.”

“Yes! We are a very small island and tourism is very new for us. Here, we only have two guesthouses on the island! This is the other one.” He pointed at a small building to our left.

“Wow! Really? Only two guesthouses?”

“Yes. In fact, there are just six beds on Fulidhoo for foreigners. I think you are the only ones here right now,” he chuckled.

I exchanged grins with Dave, excited at the thought of having the island to ourselves for sunbathing and snorkeling. I silenced the small voice in my head that was telling me there was a reason why no tourists visit Fulidhoo. My small voice was wrong.

“Here is our mosque,” he continued, showing us the bright yellow minaret overlooking the beach.

Mosque on Fulidhoo
The mosque on Fulidhoo

“And this is our convenience store,” he pointed at a small building a few steps along. “You can find everything you could ever need there. It’s open all the time.”

We took a turn to the right and we were at the guesthouse and the end of our tour. I usually spend the first day in a new place sleeping off the effects of my motion sickness pills, but I was alert in Fulidhoo. I wanted to rush outside and explore as much as possible.

I dropped my backpack in our room and walked back out onto the street, grabbing Dave by the hand. I quickly dropped it in case shows of affection are offensive in the Maldives.

“I want to go this way,” I pointed through the palm trees outside our garden, where I could see a small beach.

Beach on Fulidhoo Island
Beach on Fulidhoo Island

The tide was rapidly coming in and most of the beach was under water. I couldn’t see more than a few metres to either side because of all the bushes and trees.

“Shall we just walk along here and see where we end up?” I asked Dave, slipping off my flip flops.

“Yeah, if you like. I don’t think we’ll get very far, though.”

I padded along the soft sand, ducking under the leaves of leaning palm trees, and skirting around minature crabs. Judging by the amount of trash on the beach, we were clearly on the wrong side of the island. There wasn’t anyone around, there was nowhere to lie down a towel and relax, and there were–

“OH MY GOD, A HUNDRED GIANT CRABS!” I wailed, throwing my head back and gurgling in horror.

Crabs in Fulidhoo
CRABS. And most of them had scurried away by this point.

We had reached Crab Stump.

“Uh, Dave?”

“Yep.”

“I think we need to turn back.”

I wandered back the way we came, disappointed with my first impressions of Fulidhoo. I wasn’t sure if there was a tourist-only beach on the island yet, and the thought of sunbathing and swimming in a shorts and t-shirt wasn’t all that appealing. Maybe I should have stayed in Maafushi after all.

“Pick a direction, any direction,” I muttered, once we were back outside the guesthouse.

He shrugged. “Left, I guess.”

We walked down the sandy path to the furthest side of the island from the guesthouse. Curious locals stared as we passed, avoiding eye contact if we said hello. After a few minutes, we came across a small wooden barrier, similar to the one that blocked off Bikini Beach on Maafushi.

“Have we found our Bikini Beach?” I asked Dave.

“I think we might have.”

Bikini Beach on Fulidhoo
Bikini Beach on Fulidhoo

And we had. We’d found Bikini Beach and it was so beautiful. To my delight, there was a small shelter on the sand, made out of sticks and palm tree leaves, perfect for relaxing in the shade.

“It’s amazing,” I breathed.

I had found my Maldivian island paradise on Fulidhoo and, just like in Maafushi, didn’t want to leave.

In fact, Fulidhoo would have been my favourite island in the Maldives if it hadn’t been for the lack of food options. Because there are so few tourists passing through, restaurants don’t really exist, which means we were stuck with the limited options that eating at your guesthouse brings. Prices were also higher than anywhere else we visited.

The breakfasts ($5) were incredible, and the lunches and dinners ($10), well, Dave liked them. I’m not a big curry and rice person. Paying $10 to eat a plate of rice and a couple of pieces of chicken felt expensive but that was the only option we were given.

We tried the only restaurant we could find on the island on our second night in an attempt to find something cheaper. There were plenty of locals and nobody could speak more than a few words of English. The guy who worked there blurted out “chicken fried rice” when we entered and we gleefully nodded. An hour later, we were still waiting for our food to turn up because our nods had been misunderstood as us liking it but not actually wanting to eat it.

Our plate of rice finally arrived and we were charged $10. Right. So it seemed that everywhere on the island would charge the same price to the foreigners and there were no options for anything cheaper.

And that’s okay — really, I don’t begrudge having to spend $10 on dinner in normal circumstances. In the Maldives, however, there weren’t any ATMs on any of the islands I’d be visiting, meaning that the $350 I withdrew when I arrived had to last me three weeks. Spending $25 a day on food was leaving me concerned.

But enough with the complaining! If it hadn’t been for the food, Fulidhoo would have been perfect.

Here’s another beautiful photo:

Bikini Beach, Fulidhoo
Watching a heron fish on Bikini Beach

I loved how many herons there were in the Maldives, and I saw them everywhere I went. In Fulidhoo, I even got to watch them fish. See that dark patch on the right hand side of the photo above? That was a swarm of fish, and every so often I’d watch the heron creep forwards, wait patiently for several minutes, and then dive into the water, emerging with a fish flapping in its beak. Badass.

When I wasn’t watching herons, I was reading my Kindle and sunbathing on the beach. I couldn’t believe we had it all to ourselves.

Bikini Beach, Fulidhoo
Bikini Beach

And then there were the fish.

On our final day, we borrowed some snorkeling gear from our guesthouse and set off to Bikini Beach for some underwater fun. I got to see live coral for the first time. I freaked out about seeing all the colourful tropical fish — so colourful! And I ended my time in the water with a panic that there could be jellyfish, awkwardly paddling back to the beach in terror.

My most exciting fish-based adventure on Fulidhoo was yet to come, however. Upon emerging from the water, jellyfish-free, I paced up and down the beach while Dave continued snorkeling. I frowned when I came across a giant stretch of seaweed, stretching for 100 metres down the beach

Or was it seaweed?

Was it an oil patch?

No. After creeping closer, I realised it was hundreds of thousands of tiny fish all in an enormous cluster along the shore. I’d never seen anything like it!

Fish swarm of doom
Fish swarm of doom

To cap off a wonderful stay on Fulidhoo, I spent a morning sitting on the pier, watching for manta rays. One of the staff at the guesthouse told us he’d seen one from there recently and I was determined to see them for myself.

Sadly, my hunt was unsuccessful, but look how beautiful the water is! So many shades of blue.

Bikini Beach, Fulidhoo
Bikini Beach, Fulidhoo
Bikini Beach, Fulidhoo
Bikini Beach, Fulidhoo

So Fulidhoo wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough. It’s not often that you can find a perfect beach with nobody else on it, but it’s possible in the Maldives. Prepare yourself for limited food options and you won’t be disappointed.

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50 Comments

  1. October 23, 2014
    Reply

    Wow ! That looks AMAZING ! And the beach to yourself, what a dream… Knowing that nothing will happen to you or your stuffs… It does look close to the image of Paradise Island so many people have in mind !

    • November 13, 2015
      Reply

      It’s going to be hard to top it in the future, that’s for sure!

  2. October 23, 2014
    Reply

    I can’t even imagine having that much beauty to myself! Must have been incredible.

  3. October 23, 2014
    Reply

    Oh. My. God. I am *so* heading to the Maldives next year. This looks like absolute paradise! Quick question: for the time that you were in the Maldives, was the $350 cash enough?

  4. Love that beach! We just snorkelled with mantas a couple of weeks ago in Fiji, it was incredible. If you guys do end up having a base in NZ, Fiji is pretty close and I highly recommend the Yasawa Islands :)

    • November 19, 2014
      Reply

      Ah, amazing! I will totally be taking advantage of New Zealand’s location and flying around the South Pacific when we’re there :-)

  5. Mihu
    October 24, 2014
    Reply

    I’m really happy to know you had an amazing time there. Fulidhoo had always been ny favorite place since childhood and everytime I visit it’s never a bore! Since my moms from Fulidhoo I get to go there almost every weekend and I love it. Also I think you’d be glad to know that we’re constructing restaurants soon and I’ll talk to them about having a cheaper price, also I’ll check to see if we could get an atm anytime soon. And the manta’s mosty come to the dock at night I hope you’ll come back for more exciting adventures once again! Glad you enjoyed the stay (: and thank you for this beautiful review, denfinitely made my day!

    • November 13, 2015
      Reply

      Ah, amazing! You’re very lucky to get to visit so frequently :-) I’d love to return next year!

  6. October 24, 2014
    Reply

    Once again this place sounds amazing! I do sometimes that all the off the beaten track places are no longer really off the beaten track, but it’s grewat to know there are still places you can go in the world and be the only tourist!

    • November 19, 2014
      Reply

      I also think that most off the beaten track places are off the beaten track for a reason: Nobody wants to go there! :-) But Fulidhoo is very different, and so easy to get to! :-)

  7. Marg Greenwood
    October 24, 2014
    Reply

    Just one question ??? How did you leave that amazing place ? But I suppose you have to move on. More places to visit.Just enjoy , but I guess you dont need to be told that,!!

    • October 26, 2014
      Reply

      Yep! I struggle to leave pretty much everywhere I visit.

  8. October 24, 2014
    Reply

    This place looks amazing! I would love to spend a few days on a beach relaxing… Thanks so much for sharing your adventures and photos!

    • November 13, 2015
      Reply

      You’re welcome! I highly recommend visiting :-)

  9. October 26, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Rebecca,

    Yep, they were included in last month’s summary: https://www.neverendingfootsteps.com/2014/09/26/month-38-travel-summary-statistics/

  10. October 27, 2014
    Reply

    So gorgeous, Lauren! You’re definitely pushing the Maldives higher up on my list with all these photos. I think I’d feel a little awkward being the ONLY tourists but there is an appeal to that kind of solitude as well.

    • October 28, 2014
      Reply

      I think I would have been pretty bored if I was travelling solo, but it’s pretty wonderful if you’re travelling with someone else :-)

  11. October 27, 2014
    Reply

    Wow, I thought I lived in a place with gorgeous beaches! These are incredible!! And how amazing to be the only foreigners on the island… that is so rare these days.

    • November 19, 2014
      Reply

      I really didn’t think it was possible to find somewhere this void of tourists without travelling for days!

  12. October 30, 2014
    Reply

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been having a rough few weeks, feeling horribly anxious, depressed and stressed out… and this post is one of the few things that has genuinely made me feel calm and lighter. Those blues are incredible and so soothing. I can only imagine how relaxing it was to be there in person!

    • November 19, 2014
      Reply

      Awww, thank you so much, Steph! I’m so happy to hear that, although sorry to hear you’ve been struggling :-(

  13. miguel@projectmagellan.net
    November 5, 2014
    Reply

    Different shades of blue! :)

  14. November 8, 2014
    Reply

    Isn’t Maldives just the most unique country in the world? I’m so glad in 2008 the President decided to let foreigners visit the country’s local islands. When I did, I was in for a real treat–what an absorbing history and culture.
    And as a complete water baby I find extreme happiness in finding a beach all to myself–which is becoming increasingly rare these days. But you’re right, it is indeed possible in the Maldives, and I hope in spite of the relaxation of the tourism restrictions, this heaven on earth does not get exploited.

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      It definitely is, and I’m very glad, too! So much fun exploring islands so few people have visited :-)

  15. November 8, 2014
    Reply

    Wow, and I just received your newsletter about travelling the Maldives on a budget. Congrats on the viral spread (sounds terrible but good on you!). :P

  16. March 23, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    The photos of Fulidhoo look amazing and I am happy that you got to enjoy it. After my recent experience in a private B&B beach resort at Redang island, Malaysia, I came to appreciate its secluded chill vibe and I was longing for another place like it. When I stumbled upon your blog, it got me thinking about seriously travelling to Maldives, specially to islands like Maafushi and Fulidhoo. I would love to gain an insight into the local culture so I was hoping to stay at a few guest houses on some of the Maldivian islands. The information that you presented in this blog has definitely given me a rough idea in terms of planning the trip. Most likely, I will try to get there in July this year with friends after we finish our university overseas placements in Cambodia. Fingers crossed, I hope everything works out. Thanks for sharing your experience of travelling in Maldives and I wish you all the best with you future travels!!!

    Adam

    • March 23, 2015
      Reply

      Great! I’m so pleased to hear my posts could inspire you to visit the Maldives :-)

  17. Delphine
    January 27, 2016
    Reply

    Waouh ! Amazing !

  18. Judy
    June 14, 2016
    Reply

    Great site.. I just wonder, is there any chance, I can drink cocktails on Fulidhoo or Maafush? Thankyou. Smiley face

    • June 14, 2016
      Reply

      I don’t think so. From memory, I think all alcohol is banned on the local islands.

  19. jason jarvis
    June 29, 2016
    Reply

    Hello Lauren,

    My wife and I are considering FULIDHOO and beyond for our upcoming trip to the Maldives.

    Can you help us as we read conflicting info regarding the acceptable clothing in the maldives.

    If we were to swim at a local beach, would board shorts and a rashie be acceptable?

    Also when walking around the local islands, what is the acceptable length of shorts tops and what should be covered?

    • June 30, 2016
      Reply

      There’s a bikini beach on Fulidhoo where you can wear whatever you want. If there isn’t a bikini beach on any of the islands you visit, then board shorts and a rashie would be fine!

      When walking around, make sure you both cover your chest and shoulders. But T-shirt and shorts are fine. As long as they aren’t like, hot pants.

  20. Ruchira
    July 19, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    First of all I want to thank you a lot…. it was your blog which created a beautiful image of Fulidhoo…. and gave me the inspiration to visit that particular island…. My husband and I went to Fulidhoo this june… and it was wonderful…. as you have written in you blog, we prepared ourselves for the food problem…. so we did’nt face any problem at all..the blue water and the white sand is the perfect combination that can ever happen… even after returning home i feel like going back to that place….Thank you so much…..

    • July 19, 2016
      Reply

      I totally get that — I miss it a lot, too! Glad to hear you have a lovely stay on the island :-)

  21. jennifer
    October 19, 2016
    Reply

    hi lauren,
    may i know the exact location of the bikini beach in fulidhoo because my family and i are going to maldives soon.
    it would be so much more convenient for us.
    btw, yr post was very helpful.
    thanks

    • October 19, 2016
      Reply

      The island is tiny — you can walk the entire length of it in about one minute! — so you won’t struggle to find it. It’s just at one of the ends of the main path on the island.

  22. Anna
    December 13, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren thank you for sharing your experience and helpful information. We are planning to visit Malvides and Fulidhoo seems the best option for us so far. I have a question about food. It really makes me wonder, wasn’t there any fish or seafood options in such an island?!
    Your quick reply would be very much appreciated.
    Thanks in advance

    • December 15, 2016
      Reply

      Yep, you’ll be able to get seafood for every meal.

  23. Ankit
    February 7, 2017
    Reply

    Fulidhoo looks awesome! We are going to visit Maldives in upcoming March. I hope Fulidhoo doesn’t get “over-developed” by then!

    By the way, Can you help me with a confusion? We are going to spend 3 to 4 days in Maldives. Should we spend all days on Fulidhoo only? Or should we spend it in various islands? Seeing the lack of proper connectivity, may be the transportation would be a hack, right?

    Besides, I am dying to see the BLUE SPARKLES on the beach at night. But I am not able to find any information about that! Can you tell me where can we see that?

  24. Shubham
    July 29, 2017
    Reply

    Does ferry runs on everyday from maafushi to fulidhoo?

    • July 30, 2017
      Reply

      Nope! Look at the timetable online for days and times.

  25. Stephanie
    July 31, 2017
    Reply

    HI Lauren, I am planning a one week trip to Maldives in April next year. Do you think this is enough time? Tuesday- Saturday Maafushi then on the saturday transfer to Fulidhoo until Monday when I will return to Male and fly back to Sri Lanka. Is that enough time in each Island? Or is there a better way I could plan those day? Flight arriving early morning Tuesday and flight leaves 3pm Monday. Thank you in advance! Your blog has inspired me so much I can’t wait to go!

    • July 31, 2017
      Reply

      Yep, definitely enough time! :-) The islands are tiny, so you can see them in half an hour or so. The rest of your time will be spent on the beach or taking excursions.

  26. Lilac
    July 11, 2018
    Reply

    Your blog is awesome! :)

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