First of all, everybody knows Maldives is a luxurious destination and peole spend 800 to 1500 USD per night to stay at a private island resort in the middle of Indian Ocean. But if you have read my previous posts, you must have noticed I am a budget traveller. The reasons are
1) I do not earn a lot to behave like a celebrity
2) I do not believe in extravagant life style and trying to be a minimalist.
First of all, you need to know which flight directly goes to Maldives. For us, we booked air asia 6 weeks earlier which fly directly from Bangkok ( Dan Meong airport ) to Maldives ( Male ) .It cost us 300 GBP for each return ticket including luggage fee and inflight meals. Like I said earlier, its difficult to get cheaper as a lot of people cannot go to Maldives.
Secondly, I combed through each and every website for cheap and clean accomodation in Maldives. Maldives have total 26 atolls which are combination of 1192 coral islands and the largest named , Gang island is merely 14 km long . Some of islands are very far from main airport and needs private jets. So if you want to travel with a buget , please do not choose islands which are middle of nowhere and choose the ones which are accessible with public transport.More than that you might not want to be in a boat for many hours to reach your destination island. The islands which are quite near to Male ( capital of Maldives ) can be found below map.
For us, we choose Arena beach resort at Maafushi island. Maafushi island is 1.5 hour boat ride from Male.The island is only 1.27 km long and can finish walking in 20 to 30 minutes from end to end. Its the second destination if you catch public ferry from Male. To make it clear, I will use the description made by the hotel.
If you want public transport ( I assume you do as you are reading my article ), you need to know time tables of ferry from Male to your destination. Usually public ferry have vacancy although you need to book 1 hour earlier. Its not possible to book public ferry via internet. If only cost 2 USD per person . Please see below time table.
Please take note that there are two ferry boats departing from Male’ on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. If 10:00 ferryboat is missed in any of these days, 15:00 ferryboat can still be taken. On other days, only 15:00 ferryboat is available from Male’. There are also two ferryboats departing from Maafushi on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Guests can choose either 7:30 or 12:30 ferryboat in any of these days. On other days, only 7:30 ferryboat is available from Maafushi.
Step-By-Step instructions to reach Arena Beach Hotel & spa Maldives by Ferry Boat
1. All the tourist to Maldives will be arriving to Male’ international airport (Ibrahim Nasir International Airport), so you are too.
2. Catch a ferry to Male’ from the Airport (every 5 minutes there will be a ferry to Male’). It takes just Ten minutes to reach Male’ and will cost USD 1 or MVR 10 per person.
3. Once you arrive to Male’ take a taxi to go “Villingili ferry terminal”. The taxi fare should be about MVR 30 to MVR 40.
4. There will be a scheduled ferry to Maafushi which leaves Male’ at scheduled times (please refer to the above table) on daily basis (except for Friday) from Villingili Ferry Terminal. Guests are required to buy ferryboat ticket from the ticket counter at Villingili Ferry Terminal. Tickets could be bought few minutes before the scheduled time of departure.
5. Guests will enjoy a 1.5 hours Journey with a beautiful scenery of chains of islands and surrounding coral reefs.
Bear in mind, above instruction is intended for people who stay in Maafushi island but your destination might be different. Other instructions are very accurate and helpful. Airport to Male transfer is very efficient and fast. Once you arrive Male, you can go to ferry terminal by getting a taxi. Taxi anywhere cannot be expensive as the islands are very small..Make sure you change USD to MVR at airport to pay for public transport. At our time, we got the rate of 1 USD to 15MVR. Most places accept USD too.
From Male, it took 1 hour for us to get a taxi as they could not understand me. So you might need to show written words Villingilli ferry terminal to them as the taxi drivers can be confused. Eventually the staff from information counter came out and helped us to get a taxi. The taxi driver only charged us usual rate 35MVR and I gave him 50MVR as I like his honesty.
If you like franchise food , Burger King and secrete recipe is at Male. European food is available anywhere although original Maldavian food is similar taste to Indian food. They like dahl and chick peas with some masala for meat.
After we arrive at Villingilli ferry terminal, we got tickets and needed to wait 2 hours for our ferries as our flight arrived at 12 noon and our ferry was at 3 pm. It was Wednesday and there were plenty of vacant seats although Wednesday has only 1 ferry for whole day . There are shops nearby Ferry terminal although their hygiene is questionable. Irritating thing is flies are everywhere due to hot weather. We decided to take only bottled water or drinks .
You might be sort of person who like luxury. But I want to urge every traveller to take public transport for environmental reason. We should do our part while younger generations are trying their best to reduce consumption of energy and resources.More than that, these public ferries are safer. Staff are very considerate and willing to help with big luggages. They do not even expect tips.
When we arrived at Maafushi , we do not need to take further transport as everywhere is reachable on foot. We are lucky that Arena beach resort staff was there waiting for us to help with luggages. Bless them.
If I have not told you, we booked Arena beach resort with sea view and balcony 2 months ago. As we include two meals per day , the price was 100GBP per day with tax and environmental fee , I gave 760 GBP for 7 nights. Ofcos you can say its not cheap but compared to what other people spend 13000GBP for 7 nights, our budget is an achievable goal.
I will always suggest to take hotel with meal plans as restaurants are not cheap in Maldives. Even water bottles are expensive 1USD for 500 ml water bottle. As Maldive is islamic country , alcohol and bikinis are prohibited in most of public islands like Maafushi. But mind you , we also have bikini beach in Maafushi and you just need to know where you can wear your bikini. There is a floating bar which usually come to island to sell alcohol. But they can ne expensive and one can of beer is 6 USD.
Maldives is beautiful everywhere and even if you stay at public beaches, you cam see shark and some beautiful fish. Its sad to see corals are damaged extensively due to building . some of my travel buddies saw sharks near our resort and I hope I can spot them soon. Today is my day two in Maldives.
However if you want to go drop dead gorgeous islands, resort can arrange for you to be there whole day with 150 to 180 USD per day. You can also see dolphins, sharks and turtle day trip with 50USD per person. All these arrangement of watersports such as jet ski, para gliding and canoeing can be arranged everywhere.
Here are some of our photos in day two and I will write part 2 later.
water sports are available anywhere
souvenirs shops are many where you need to haggle
I really like our meal arrangement at beach with live band. It is totally worth it .