Maldives On a Budget
Updated June, 2020
With unique features for the Maldives, Ukulhas is an inhabited island of Alif Alif Atoll that welcome for budget tourism with a wide choice of guest houses and mini-hotels. Known for good ecology, cleanliness and high marine biodiversity, today, an inexpensive holiday on Ukulhas is one of the best ways to discover the sun, sand and sea of the Maldives without breaking the bank! Staying allows you to dive into the local fishing community and get experience of real Maldives.
Located 72 km from Male airport and located halfway between Rasdhoo and Mathiveri, Ukulhas is a fishing village with white sandy beaches, a great house reef and a beautiful lagoon. Every year, there are programs for cleaning the island and possessing a quality waste management system for outstanding services in protecting and preserving the environment, in 2014 Ukulhas get the green leaf award, and its model is recognized as the benchmark, playing an important role in the ecology of the Maldives.
Almost every resident knows more than one profession, however, fishing is the main occupation of this cohesive community, and the island is known in the Maldives for its yellowfin tuna fishing flotilla. For socialization use the Dhivehi language, but most of the islanders know and speak good English. The people of the island are family oriented and feature marriages of various ethnic groups, including the descendants of African, Arab, Malay and Indonesian seafarers.
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How to Get: Transfers
There are three ways to get to Ulukhas from Male and back: by a public ferry, by speedboat and by seaplane. Public ferries and speedboats run daily (except Friday), according to the schedule, that can change depending on the weather conditions. When booking flight tickets to the Maldives, consider the FRIDAY so as not to lose an extra day in Malé. In most cases, immediately upon arrival at Velana International Airport you will be met a staff to help with the transfer to Ukulhas island, whether it will be a ferry, speedboat or seaplane.
There are no ATMs on Ukulhas, so please stock cash in Malé. You can coordinate the traffic schedule and the transfer type in advance with the administrator of your guest house (recommended), or check here
Public ferry from Malé to Ukulhas (via Rasdhoo):
Ferries to Ukulhas depart from Male (Villingilli terminal) at 09:00, Mondays and Thursays, the journey time is 4 hours 25 minutes, the price for the trip is $ 4, one way. Arrival to Rasdhoo at 12.30. From Rasdhoo departure at 12:35, arrival in Ukulhas 13:30.
Departure from Ukulhas: Sundays and Wednesdays at 10:00, the price for the trip is $ 4, the journey time is 4 hours 10 minutes. Arrival in Rasdhoo at 10:40. From Rasdhoo in Male departure at 11.00, arrival in Male at 14:30. Both routes include a short stop at Rasdhoo. Learn More...
Public ferries Rasdhoo-Ukulhas-Rasdhoo:
Trips daily, except Friday. The journey time is 50 minutes.
Departure from Ukulhas at 09:45 and 14:10.
Departure from Rasdhoo at 08:20 and 13:00.
Public speedboat transfer :
Speedboats Male-Ukuihas on the route operate on a daily basis, except Friday. The journey time is 1 hour, the price for a one way is $ 50 / person.
Departure from Male: at 16:00. Departure from Ukulhas: at 06:30.
Private speedboat transfer:
On request, at any time (private transfer is recommended for groups of 9 or more people); travel time from Malé 1 hour, price $ 525 / boat one way and $ 1050 / boat round-trip. It is always useful to agree with your hotel in advance, in order to "catch" a more convenient transfer for you, since these speedboats often have vacant seats.
Transfer by seaplane, another, not exactly a budget option to get to Ukulhas. Nevertheless, this scenic transportation option can be book through your hotel in Ukulhas at least 4 days before your arrival to the Maldives. Direct flight by seaplane to the nearby Kuramathi resort will give you a lot of positive impressions. Good to know that seaplanes operate only during the daytime from 06:00 to 17:00. If you order a seaplane transfer, local staff will meet you at Malé airport upon arrival, and will escort you to TMA terminal. The flight time is 20 minutes, the price is about $ 350, the children's half of the cost. The authorized baggage is 25 kg + $ 5 / kg for overweight. In Kuramathi you will be board a speedboat to Ukulhas island.
The tiny island is quite easy to explore, both on a bicycle and on foot, to spot all its corners and cracks. The emerald interior is filled with a collection of tropical flora, including huge banyan trees in the center of Ukulhas, and not to mention coconut palms, as if meditating over the azure waters. To see exotic plants, unique sea shells and cultural life - an exciting walk through the island is an ideal way learn the local way of life. On Ukulhas there is a modern hospital, school, football field, Body Work Gym and two mosques, where the Kudamiski'y mosque is the oldest building on the island (since 1656), the remains of which are presented as a popular tourist attraction.
The main street is Bodu magu - the best place for shopping in Ukulhas, where most of the local shops are located. Here you can buy a wide range of products from food and beverages to clothing, cosmetics and local souvenirs. On Bodu magu you can also find a sim card for your iPhone or top up your phone's account.
Bodu-beru in Ukulhas is one of the most popular forms of traditional music and dances. Folklore ceremony is performed by about 15 people dressed in sarongs and white shirts, including four drummers and a vocalist. Rahgudaa is the most famous folklore attraction on Ukulhas, also part of the top 10 best bod-take bands in the Maldives. Rahguda often gives free performances in Ukulhas within the framework of festivals, subbotniks, wedding ceremonies and other events.
Worthy 5-stars, beautiful beach is on Ukulhas' west side with a sunset view. A long strip of sugar-white-soft sand with a fringe of low vegetation borders with crystal clear turquoise waters, ideal for swimming. The tourist beach is a true paradise where you can swim and sunbathe in bikinis, play in the sand or go snorkeling. Just opposite Gunbaru Inn (recommended) there is a narrow channel in the corals to get to the house reef. During the high season a wide range of water sports is offered here. The beach has enough sun beds and umbrellas and in the near future the beach area for tourists is going to expand, which will also include new cafes and restaurants.
Another sandy place to swim and sunbathe is on the southern tip of Ukulhas, opposite Paguro Beach Inn, a brand new hotel with very nice rooms. Day time do not skimp on sunscreen, especially children, and at sunset do not forget use mosquito repellent!
House Reef Snorkeling
Snorkeling in Ukulhas is one of the best ways to discover Maldives' underwater world. The island boasts a crystal clear lagoon and a house reef with an abundant marine life. To enjoy the underwater beauties around this tiny island, you only need a mask, snorkel and fins, the last gear is highly recommended because of the currents. Snorkelling equipment can be found in almost every hotel. The best snorkeling spots are on the reef's border or over drop off area. Expect to see great schools of fish and unique forms of marine life, including macro species, among other curious creatures. Perch, sharks, octopus, turtles, shells, moray eels, manta rays, eagle rays, sea anemones, jellyfish, lobsters, shrimps, squid, giant mollusks, starfish, fish-surgeon, Butterfly fish, parrotfish are common inhabitants of coral reef.
Every day there is a snorkeling safari to nearby spots around Ukulhas, including swimming with Manta Rays, and the most up to date information you can get at your hotel. Excursion package includes transfer, equipment rental, and drinks.
Try diving on Ukulhas! On the island so far (2018) there is the only diving center PADI "Dive plus Ukulhas" housed in Gunbaru Inn, and that offers a really budget fun diving. One dive on the house reef costs $30, and three dives on the best dive sites Ari Atoll costs $130. The school offers initial courses from Discovery Scuba to Padi Advanced Open Water, including Bubblemaker course for children. Ari Atoll provides a full range of underwater adventures, and many divers consider these waters to be the finest in the Maldives. Expect to see carpets of colorful coral, manta rays, turtles, sharks, including whale sharks and other pelagics.
Fishing is must do on Ukulhas! Fishing is one of the key activities in the Maldives and during the day Big Game Fishing almost always brings success. Ukulhas is famous for fishing for yellowfin tuna, although some fishermen like to sit on a reef or hunt for Black Marlin. Fishing large fish in Maldives can be an unforgettable adventure for experienced anglers and beginners. A sailfish, tuna, wahoo, barracuda and giant trevally (GT) will literally shake you. Fishing tours can be arranged all day long, or if you like night fishing, the trip starts at 17:30. In all cases, after fishing you will find a luxurious barbecue. If fishing is your main hobby, we recommend staying at Anglers Stay, a great guest house run by professional fishermen.
Surface trolling is an amazing way to catch small fish like mackerel, especially for those who are afraid to go on a fishing boat to the open sea. Thanks to the abundance of fish, it is possible to fish everywhere in Ukulhas around the island. The lagoon and reef are the best places for your bait, plus a great opportunity to fish while enjoying the views of the sandy beaches.
Big fun under the twinkling stars, night fishing with dhony boat on the nearby reef. Once the anchor has hooked the bottom, unwind the line, catch the bait and enjoy fishing. Your fishing trophies can be: emperors, sea bass, squirrel fish, snappers and other fish. It's a great, fantastic time ... unless of course it bites.
Big-Game fishing by the Maldives method is an amazing experience for catching large fish. Early in the morning, fishermen go out to sea to dhoni for catching fry. As a living bait go small mackerels, mackerel, sardines, etc. After catching baits, the boats go to shallow water 40 or 50 miles from Ukulhas in search of schools of yellowfin tuna. When the tuna is discovered, the speed of the boat is reduced and the crews start throwing handfuls of baits overboard to lure the fish closer to the boat. Others at this time throw fishing gear and begin to catch tuna, which is then dragged on board with a long crimson.
A romantic sunset cruise on a traditional dhoni offers a luxurious way to enjoy the beautiful scenery, indulging in snacks and drinks on board and admiring the evening symphony of colors. This is also a great chance to make an unforgettable selfie of a tropical sunset.
A barbecue on the beach of Ukulhas is an apetitic pleasure and a new experience of feasting on white sandy beaches under flickering stars.
Seeing playing dolphins in the wild is an unforgettable experience, and the Maldives are home to a some species of dolphins, including spinner dolphin and grinda. This is one of the most fun activities to Ukulhas, and is especially popular among families. Exursions for watching dolphins are on request, early in the morning, or before sunset.
Ukulhas holiday will be incomplete without picnic on Fushi - a desert island with a beautiful white sandy beach, clear crystal waters, and crowned with a hat of three trees in the heart of the island. Snacks, barbecue and drinks at your request.
Water sports in Ukulhas: surfing (June-July), jet ski, water skiing, sailing, banana rides, kayaks, windsurfing and others.
Things to Do
In the shape of a tuna, stretched from north-west to southeast, Ukulhas Island is 1025X225 meters in size sits on a flat coral sandy reef and is home to approximately 1,000 souls enjoying round-the-clock electricity. The distance from Male is 72 km, and the island's area is 17 hectares. Despite its modest size, Ukulhas for travelers has a lot to do and see! Check our list 10 Best Things to Do in Ukulhas
Given the abundance of tuna and seafood, you can of course expect daily fish on your table but cafes and restaurants of Ukulhas also offer a food variety with dishes of Western, Asian, Indian, Thai, Continental and of course local, Maldivian cuisine in several eateries. Almost every hotel has its own restaurant, often with breakfast. Like other parts of the Maldives, Ukulhas offers spicy food, although restaurants are always ready to satisfy your tastes by decreasing the chili's degree. Sweet, sour, and spicy - on the menu of most culinary Ukulhas' restaurants. Check our list Best Places to Eat in Ukulhas
Popular fingers food "hedika", includes smoked fish, lime juice, onion and Chile, you can try in many restaurants and cafes. Other local fare: bajiya (fish pies), kuli-boakiba (fish pie), Keemia (fish rolls), gula (fish meatballs), and mash-roshi (small pancake stuffed with fish). Sweets are made from flour, sugar and essences. Popular desserts: misuri-boakiba (rice pudding), githeyo boakiba (sweet jelly from flour, onion and butter), and huni-hakur-foli (deep-fried cakes from grated coconut, sugar and flour). Wash food with a cup of black tea (kalu-sai), fruit fresh or juices. In the high season, cafes and restaurants are open every day from early morning until late at night.
The traditional dinner of islanders consists of rice, fish soup (soups) and side dishes from chili, lemon and onions. Also widely distributed are curry and festive fish pâté, known as rihakuru.
Today, the menu of Ukulhas is added with Western dishes, sandwiches, and pastas. The traditional breakfast recipe consists of roshi (chapati), masghuni, curry (from fish or vegetables + egg). For lunch, expect rice with a variety of curry (for example: curry from seafood and fish, vegetables, chicken, dhal, potatoes, eggs, etc.), salads, soups, fried fish or chicken, grilled fish, raw vegetables and much more. Coconut and orange juice are the most popular drinks.
The islanders enjoy the dry law, and the lack of pork in the diet. Nevertheless, if you wanted a beer or something stronger - near the island the floating bar drifts daily (transfer is free).
Where to Stay
Today, Ukulhas has more than 30 guest houses and the opening of new hotels and resorts is expected in the near future, so you will have a place to stay in Ukulhas. All these places offer spacious, comfortable accommodation, clean rooms, attentive service and often good deals. The rooms are packed with modern amenities, including air conditioning, TV, wifi, mini bar and hot shower, almost every house has restaurants ... and some are located a stone's throw from the beach. Recommended options: Paguro Beach Inn, Anglers Stay, Gunbaru Inn, Coral Reef View Inn Check our Top 10 Best Ukulhas Hotels list
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