Maldives on a Budget
Maalhos is one of the inhabited islands of Baa Atoll in the Maldives. Home to Madi Finolhu Guest House, Maalhos is located in the only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and it's just a couple of minutes away from the nearby Hanifaru Bay knowns their abundant marine life. The beautiful island is famous for its white sand beaches fringed coconut trees, crystal clear waters and hospitality of local people. If you want to experience authentic Maldives, Maalhos is a place that you should not miss!
Accessible by domestic flights and speed boats from capital of Malé the island is suited for budget trips by tourists that would like to get to know the local culture and way of Maldivian life. An amazing affordable accommodation, great food options, impressive snorkeling with manta rays and whale sharks, diving, fishing, yoga retreats, sparkling white beaches and exciting aqua adventures combine to make your stay here truly unforgettable.
How to Get: Transfers
Maalhos is 115.06 km northwest of the country's capital, Malé. The island can be reached by sea, but we recommend a domestic flight to Dharavandhoo airport followed by a 10 minute speedboat ride to Maalhos. Flights run at least 4 times a day. To travel by ferry takes 2 hours depending on sea conditions.
By Air: Both airlines, Maldivian and Fly Me operate to DharavandhooDomestic airport from Male. Flight time is 20 minutes. Ticket price is $190 (round trip) or $110 one way. Maalhos is a 10-minute boat ride away ($40). Do not rush to book air tickets online on the airliners' websites - contact the staff of the guesthouse or hotel where you are staying, they will book flight tickets for you about twice cheaper.
By Speedboat: Speedboat transfers from Malé city are available only on Saturday, Monday and Thursday via Eydhafushi Island followed next by a 10-minute boat ride to Maalhos. Cost is $50 one way. Travel time is 2.5 hours. Departure time from Male at 12:00; from Maalhos at 07:00.
As for your roaming costs as this can be expensive. You can purchase a pre-paid sim card at the airport just outside of arrivals. If you require fast Wifi having a local sim with 3G data access is the best option.
There is no bank or ATM on Maalhos. However, ATM facility is available in Eydhafushi Island which is a short boat ride away. If you need to exchange currency, it can be arranged, or you could exchange currency at Velana International Airport, Male. Please note that guest houses accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards (Diners Club, Maestro and CUP credit cards not accepted). Good to know that card payments are subject to additional charge of 3.5% for visa, and 5% for Master.
Anyway You can coordinate the traffic schedule and the transfer type in advance with your guest house's staff (recommended).
Maalhos is located in Maalhosmadulu Dhekunuburi (Baa Atoll), in the heart of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. With a population of about 700 people it is a tiny and beautiful local island barely a kilometre in length. B.Maalhos is surrounded by white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. The best beach is on the island's north side. The lush vegetation accentuated with swaying palm trees make this island one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the Maldives. Maalhos is not only rich with amazing greeneries and stunning white beach but also with gorgeous marine life. If you love big sea animals, Hanifaru Bay is a must visit.
There are a few small general stores on the island as well as a few cafes. Also each guest house operates their own restaurant as well. There are a secondary school, a health center, two mosques and a drenched harbor on the island. The charming locals are smile and greet you everywhere. Maalhos is not only a budget holiday but a place of culture. Every now and again you will hear the praying of the local folk which is strangely relaxing. The local community have also taken lead for eco and self sustainability having adopted excellent waste management procedures and their very own water plant.
By historical researches the researchers have found that Buddhism was the main religion of Maalhos. Hassan Ibraahim (aaveli) found a damaged part of a budda head from the old grave yard.
Baa Atoll is one of the most unique Atolls in the world and is declared as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Atoll is known for its rare biodiversity in its coral reefs, birds and marine life. The biggest attraction of the Atoll is its Mantas which can be seen in huge numbers during the season. Baa Atoll is also the home of Hanifaru Bay, the world famous Manta spot. The Atoll plays a significant role in the country's tourism with over 350,000 tourist visits each year.
Maalhos has its own private beach, named bikini beach where you can relax, soak up the sun and enjoy swim the crystal clear waters of Maalhos lagoon. With a stunning ocean views and nice natural shadows, sitting under a coco palms you can enjoy the sea breeze and some down time and reflection. The bikini beach is a designated area on a local island where you are allowed to wear a bikini or somewhat skimpier clothing. You can also find stunning sand banks which can be reached by 5 minutes speedboat ride from Maalhos. We do recommend wearing mosquito repellent and sunscreens.
Being located in a channel, the island is surrounded by a spectacular house reef with rich sea flora and fauna. The house reef is a short swim from the shore, and there are several places where you can access a drop off easily. There is a great chance to see some pelagic animals as well as the regular reef residents. Reef sharks, moray eels, rays and turtles are often found on the house reef. There are times when a current is running, so it is best to check the tide charts before going in as well as coordinating entry and exit points. The local guides are there to help you.
The Maldives is perhaps the most famous diving destination in the world. The unique beauty of the underwater world is doubly valued by divers around the world due to high underwater visibility, countless species of exotic marine life and warm waters all year round. Diving in the Maldives is a year-round activity except for some stormy periods. The marine life varies with the season. For best visibility, January to March is the best. For Manta Rays, April to November is the best.
Baa Atoll is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, justifiably famous for its incredible gatherings of manta rays and whale sharks at Hanifaru Bay. Also the area is famous for its geographical features, pelagics, an abundant marine life and also its large number of dive sites. These add up to a unique combination for a great dive experience. With over 60 dive sites, most spots are fully reachable in depth of 15 to 30 meters. Baa Atoll also has high numbers of thilas and house reefs. Stronger ocean currents are also rare as dives are done in the inner atoll waters. Christmas Tree Rock, Hanifaru Lagoon, Dhigali Giri, Dhonfanu Thila and Nelivaru Haa are the sites must dive!
Diving in the waters off Maalhos house reef can bring you face to face with everything from surgeon fish, tuna, and parrot fish, to eagle rays, turtles and whale sharks. The richness and variety is astonishing; dazzling coral walls, magnificent caves and schools of brightly coloured tropical fish await you when you get down to the reef.
Snorkeling with manta rays and whale sharks is one of the atoll’s popular activities, but it may feel like a piranha frenzy. Snorkelers must keep a minimum distance from any whale sharks, touching is prohibited and whilst cameras are allowed, no flashes can be used.
There are two dive shops on Maalhos: Maalhos Divers and Maldivers Diving Centre. Based at Thundi Village guest house, Maalhos Divers is PADI certified Dive School that's offers dive courses and daily dive excursions to dive sites in the Biosphere reserve. Maldivers is affiliated to Scuba Schools International (SSI) and offers a range of SSI dive courses including Try Diving, Open Water Diver course, different Specialties and professional level courses. They have regular house reef dives and boat nights, night diving and night snorkelling, photography services (upon request) and much more.
The closest decompression chamber to Maalhos is located in Kuredhu Island which takes about an hour to reach by speedboat.
Things to Do
Maalhos is the ideal budget option to get the taste of authentic Maldives ... the best holiday ever! Apart from beach life, diving and snorkeling, activities on the island include visiting sand banks, yoga classes, sunset cruises, dolphin watching, cooking classes, spa treatments, island hopping, bodu beru music, exursions to nearby over-water luxury resorts and much more. Maalhos Divers also arrange snorkeling trips to the world famous Manta spot 'Hanifaru Bay'. Other excursions that combine a number of interests include half day snorkeling trips to turtle beaches and Robinson Crusoe picnics to deserted islands. The great idea to head an adventure out in the sea for Big Game Fishing. Try the sunset fishing trip. All excursions are reasonably priced.
As for watersports take your pick from adrenalin filled power sports to slide over the ocean. On offers: surfing, kayaking, tubing, wakeboarding, waterski and jetski.
With a spectacular ocean view, the roof top spa at Thundi Village offers an extensive range of international treatments for revitalizing your mind, body and soul. You ca choose from an hands & feet massages, body treatments, manicure & pedicure and hair treatments facials.
Island Spa Retreats offers the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation, yoga practice and beach naps. Suitable for everyone, regardless of your yoga experience this retreat is about expressing gratitude for our bodies and minds, honouring our past and taking the initiative to enter a new chapter with a positive resolve. Island Spa Retreats offer you the opportunity to take control over your health and well-being while being fully immersed in nature.
Maldives Promotion House – Baa Atoll is an administrative division of the Maldives consisting of three separate natural atolls, namely southern Maalhosmadulu Atoll, the Fasdūtherē Atoll and the smaller natural atoll known as Goifulhafehendhu Atoll.
Maalhosmadulu Atoll is famed for its rich biodiversity that includes large mangroves and a unique diversity of fauna. Furthermore, the ring-shaped reef forms are a reef structure which is unique to the Maldives.
Hanifaru Bay is considered one the few places in the world where whale sharks congregate in to mate. The bay is however home to some of the largest gatherings of Manta rays worldwide with up to one hundred individuals in the small inlet when the tide pushes plankton into the bay.
Recently six areas of Baa atoll were declared protected under law, while the already protected two areas were extended. The Environment Ministry and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) issued the declaration to mark the World Environment Day.
Mendhu, one of the uninhabited islands of the atoll and its house reef are among the protected areas. Several other uninhabited islands surrounding the area were also declared as protected, making up a total of 200 meter.
The other protected areas include, the marshy swamp in Goidhoo, Dhorukandu, Maahuruvalhi Faru including its surrounding area, Mathifaruhura Isand including house reef, Bathalaahura Island including house reef, Gaaganduhura Isand including house reef and Vinanehfaruhura Island including house reef.
The surrounding area of the shipwreck of “Kobin,” the ship that ran aground on Fulhadhoo in 1602 is also included in the list of protected areas. The extended areas are Dhigalihaa area, protected since 1998, and the area around Hanifaru Island, protected since 2009. Dhigaligiri and Hanifaru were the extensions to the protected areas.
There are not many options for food and drinks, but what is available is fully satisfy your tastes and appetites. Madi Finolhu Guest House has the onsite restaurant and the other dining place facing the beach. The chef is a superb cook. With a fresh fish and seafood (day catch) the food is fantastic. A real sample of Maldivian cuisine. European options are also on menu. The lunch and dinner offers you at least 7 courses- fish( tunna, red snapper etc), pasta, rice, noodles, beef or chicken with different souces, a lot of vegetables. At every meal you are offered fresh juice-every day a new taste, coffe, tea, water. The nightly buffets on the beach are brilliant with a good variety of delicious food. Food is mixed and very tasty. Mainly grilled fish, stewed fish, salads, delicious rice cakes, fruit, juices. Food can be safely attributed to healthy food, although you can also ask for chips. The most of travellers prefer a full board plan and do not regret it for a second.
Madigaa is the restaurant at Thundi guest house. Facing the beach, the restaurant serves buffet and an la carte menu full of mouth watering dishes. Their talented and experienced chef is always at hand to cook you up a feast. The menu has a local and international cuisines, romantic candle lit dinners, deserted island picnics with meals beach BBQs and Juice bar.
There is no bar or shops that sell alcohol on the island due to the local regulations. The Guest Houses can take you to visit the bar in a nearby luxury resort if you wish.
Where to Stay
Today there are five budget accommodation options on the island. With world-class service and a seaview rooms, Madi Finolhu Guesthouse offers free Wi-Fi, excellent restaurant and peaceful white sandy beaches. All rooms are with AC, comfortable beds, luxurious cotton sheets and private en-suite bathrooms. Every guest bedroom has a desk workstation and an outdoor seating area to relax. The rooms have a patio with sitting area, beach towels, free wifi, a TV and an en suite bathroom with a rain shower. The accommodation options are on private room and double room basis. Daily buffet meals are served at the beachfront. There are 2 blocks for rooms. One block ( the older one) is right behind the onsite restaurant which is right on the beach! The other block (newly built) is about 135 steps away from the restaurant and the beach.The guest love the fact that the hotel is so close to the beach. The beach right in front of the guest house is public beach so the travellers cant wear bikini, although there is a bikini beach on the sothern side.
Thundi Village Maldives is another great place to stay on Maalhos island. Thу hotels offers 3 type of rooms: Ocean View Room, Village View Room and Garden View Room over two floors with king size and twin beds. All rooms are serviced twice daily and additional toiletries and amenities are provided on request. All rooms on the upper floor are also equipped with balconys.
With a very clean and comfortable rooms, superb professional, friendly, ready to reply at all uor request hosts, Maclura Residence has only positive reviews. An other guest houses: Canopy Cove, Dhonfulhafi Beach View & Spa.
Facing the sunrise and with a private bikini beach, the new Dhonfulhafi Beach View & Sap has 14 rooms expanded on 2 floors with seaview, set to open a spa and launch a small pool soon.
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