We felt in love with Maldives what a paradise! That’s why we are sharing our best local islands in Maldives where prices are cheaper than luxury resorts. After reading this blog post you will realize that Maldives can fit your budget without going to the luxury resorts.
The islands in Maldives are so beautiful. Remember is same ocean local islands in Maldives than private resorts. Almost all of them can be reach by public boat $2-4 USD (also speed boat/seaplane $25-30 USD). Against $25-200 USD speed boat going to the luxury resorts when there is no other option to get there.
You always make sure when booking a luxury resort in Maldives if the transportation is included. If you want to book places to stay in Maldives, click here to see what works better with your budget and comfort!
At night life in local islands is so quiet atmosphere and local Maldives food can be found for $4-5 USD per meal. Accommodation prices aren’t so cheap as you are getting used to in Southeast Asia. Guesthouses offer $40-60 USD and inlcude breakfast for two people.
They are usually luxury guesthouses and they will treat you really good. Day trips for snorkeling, visiting a sand bank are affordable around $30 USD per person for 2-3 hours day tour.
What’s the Cheapest Sim Card in Maldives?
You can buy the cheapest sim card in Maldives with Ooredoo and Dhiraagu Maldives prepaid sim card for $35 USD and 17 GB and for $50 USD with 100 GB data both of them valid for 30 days. Read here and best Maldives eSim best Maldives eSim
WHERE TO STAY IN MALDIVES
We stayed in a few places luxury resorts and local islands in Maldives. You can read here our thoughts: luxury resorts Vs local islands in Maldives.
There are cheap hotels in Maldives starting from $30-50 USD depending on the season to luxury resorts starting from $200-300 USD. Click here to book your accommodation with Booking
You also need to check how to get there since it can be extra cost for the speed boat or seaplane.Click here to find the best hotel deals in Maldives with Agoda.
BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
You can read Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full Heymondo Travel Insurance Review
You can get Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 days Safetywing for $50 USD per month with kids until 10 years old included
BEST TIME TO VISIT MALDIVES
Maldives might be hot and sunny all year round, but it still consists of two seasons; the dry season and the wet season. December to April is the high season, which encounters the drier northeast monsoon and when most resorts rates rises.
The best time to visit the Maldives is May to November. Although you’ll experience some rain during the southwestern monsoon that occurs at this time, you’ll have the least company and the prices of the resorts are a little cheaper. Read here a full blog post best time to visit Maldives rainy or dry season.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING LOCAL ISLANDS IN MALDIVES
DRESS CODE IN MALDIVES
Maldives is a Muslim country and it will require to dress properly in the islands. For men is easy just wearing a t-shirt and shorts is fine. For women you have to cover your shoulders and if it’s possible wear pants until your knees to walk around the islands.
BIKINI BEACHES FOR SWIMMING
For swimming go to the bikini beaches. There always 2-3 of them in the islands and you can wear your bikini and swimming suit. Make sure you dress properly after your swim to walk around the island.
It’s really important to respect the locals and follow their rules! Everyday local islands are more opened to tourists and they understand better Western culture.
SUPERMARKETS IN THE LOCAL ISLANDS
There are supermarkets in local islands in Maldives with similar prices than Male to buy snacks, sodas, cookies and chocolates. If you have food restrictions. Or you are vegetarian make sure you buy in Male products that maybe you will not be able to find in the local islands. There are a few supermarkets in Male the capital where you can almost find everything.
ATM, VISA AND CURRENCY LOCAL ISLANDS
Maldives is Visa-friendly. You will get 30 days free visa when landing in Maldives. You just get a stamp and you’re good to go! The official currency in the country is the Maldivian Rufiyaa and the exchange rate is around $1=15.4 Rufiyaas. Click here to know the exact exchange rate before you visit.
There are islands with ATM like Maafushi and Thulusdhoo but others like Gulhi, Omadhoo and Dhiffushi have no ATM in the island. Most of the places you can pay with credit card like accommodation and tours. But for small expenses you bring cash. You can withdraw in the airport and many places to do it around Male. We didn’t even see an official place to exchange money in local islands. If you are bringing USD they will accept and they will give your change in local currency. The ATM charges 100 Rufiyaas ($6.5 USD) commission per withdrawal so try to withdraw as much cash as you can in Male to avoid the commission.
WIFI AND INTERNET CONNECTION IN LOCAL ISLANDS
For our surprise internet was working in paradise! Internet connection was fine in local islands but not high speed and when the weather is rainy can be little but slow the connection. We recommend you to buy a local Sim card in Maldives. So you will enjoy of data connection when wifi is intermittent. A local Sim card costs $30 USD for 14 days with 17 GB and $20 USD for 7 days.
DAILY TRAVEL BUDGET IN LOCAL ISLANDS
The budget for food in local islands is affordable. You can get snacks for 2-3 RFY ($1=15.4 RFY). It´s very common for locals have tea with these snacks. You can have rice with fish curry for 25 RFY where they will give you a kind of chips for free, perfect for sharing the food. Most of the dishes have fish and curry but you can also find chicken here A bottle of water costs 15 RFY while cookies and small snacks go for 5-10 RFY. Foreigners’ meals cost $7-10. It’s mostly just pizza and pasta, though. There is also Chinese food for around $5-6 USD per dish.
Alcohol isn’t allowed in local islands in mainland. There are a few islands that have a floating boar where you can have drinks. Only in the boat you will be able to drink and small boats will bring you there.
If you decide to do activities in local islands will cost you $30 USD per person for snorkeling and visiting the sand bank. If you decide to visit a luxury resort in a day trip with activities and lunch included will cost you $100-150 USD per person. In our opinion much better if you travel as a couple find a great deal and stay in the resort. Click here to find the best hotel deals in Maldives with Agoda.
There are cheap hotels and guesthouses in local islands starting from $40-60 USD depending on the season. Most of them included breakfast so take advantage of that freebie. If you want to book places to stay in Maldives, click here to see what works better with your budget and comfort!
Transportation Around Local Islands
The budget for transportation going to local islands can be as cheap of $2-4 USD if you go with the slow boat from Male. The schedule is usually 1-2 boats per day. It can take 2-4 hours depending on the distance.
If you prefer more comfort the speed boat can take 40 minutes to one hour and a half to reach the local islands. Prices are $25-30 USD per person. There are usually 2-3 daily speed boats going and back from Male to local islands.
For more information read our blog post Speed boat Vs Slow boat in Maldives comparing prices and schedule.
Best Locals Islands in Maldives
Dhiffushi what a paradise in Maldives. Just 40 kilometers Northeast of Male the capital of Maldives. Dhiffushi island is only more than 1 kilometer long and 200 meters wide. The population is only 1000 people in the island and you will not find many tourists around. There is no crime rate and no police in the island.
How to get there
The public boat is leaving Male at 2 30 pm from Villingili Ferry Terminal. To reach the terminal from Velana International Airport by taxi will cost you around $6 USD. And it will take you 15 minutes to get there. If you go by public boat from the airport to Male the ferry will cost you 60 cents of USD. And later you can go walking 20 minutes distance. Or grab a taxi for $3 USD. The price of the ferry is $1.5 USD which is 22 MVR and you don’t have to book in advance. The trip will last 3 hours since is stopping in a few islands.
Local boat is leaving at 6 30 am Dhiffushi Island except Fridays that there is no boat since is holiday in Maldives.
You will have to ride the ferry to Male from the airport. It will cost you 60 cents of USD. Once you are in the port the speedboat leaves at noon and 4 30 pm two times per day except Fridays. The costs is $25 USD one way per person. It will take 45 minutes to reach Dhiffushi Island. If you are coming with more people you can hire a private boat from the airport for $250 USD good enough for 6 people. It will be the fastest way to get there. You ahve to book in advance the speed boat!
Speed boat is leaving Dhiffushi Island 3 times per day except Fridays (only two boats leaving) 7 30 am, 1 30 pm and 5 45 pm. And it takes 40 minutes to reach Male. Prices are going from $25-30 USD.
Read here a full blog post how to get to Dhiffushi Island!
Conclusions Dhiffushi Island
Dhiffushi Island was our favorite local island in Maldives. We spent 3 days there. And best that we recommend to do is the sunrise and sunset. Since is quiet at night it will be easy to wake up early to enjoy the sunrise. You can’t miss the sunset in Dhiffushi Island because is so beautiful. You can go walking everywhere but there are also bicycles for rent.
There aren’t many options for local food around the island. Just a couple of local restaurants which were totally fine for us. You can also order food in your accommodation.
The Bikini Beach is so beautiful with a sand bank and clear water. It’s paradise. You can do activities like kayaking, paddling and snorkeling. You can rent all the gear around the bikini beach.
You can also do day trips from Dhiffushi island to Thulusdhoo Island popular for surfing. And of course day trips to a luxury resort. We better recommend you to check deals in Agoda to stay overnight in a luxury resort than just spending the day. A room for two people can start at $250 USD and day trips can be starting $100 USD each.
You can also do activities visiting sand bank, watching dolphins, snorkeling, diving, fishing trips and even swimming with turtles. And inside the island at night you can watch sharks and manta rays. Check the picture above to see the mini sharks in the sea shore in Dhiffushi Island.
Remember prices for these activities starts at $25-30 USD per person.
WHERE TO STAY IN DHIFFUSHI ISLAND
Our choice to stay in Dhiffushi Island was Ranauraa Inn a guesthouse located just one minute walking distance from the port. The place is quiet only 5 rooms close to the beaches (everything is closed in this island ha!).
The staff is friendly, basic breakfast and room big enough for two of us. Prices are going from $40-60 USD depending on the season. Click here to check prices and availability.
If you want to take a look to the other places to stay in Dhiffushi luxury and budget options. Click here to compare prices and check availability!
Read here our Dhiffushi Island Travel guide!
2. Maafushi Island
Maafushi island is the most popular of the local islands in Maldives for traveling on a budget in Maldives.
Maafushi Island is located 26 kilometers far from Male the capital of Maldives. The island is 1.2 kilometers long and only 300 meters width. It’s easy to walk around and you can reach most of the places in 15 minutes walking distance.
Read here the best hotels in Maafushi!
How to get there
Maafushi is close to Male and it will take 2 hours by public boat less than $2 USD and 30 minutes by speed boat $25 USD to reach there. We will explain the different ways to get to Maafushi with details. So you will choose the one adapting to your comfort and budget.
If you want to get by public boat to Maafushi Island. You have to get to Villigili ferry terminal in Male. There are daily boats leaving to Maafushi at 3 pm except Fridays. The ticket costs $1.5 USD. The trip will take you around 2 hours and it’s stopping by Gulhi island first to drop passengers.
There are a few speed boats leaving from Male and the airport to Maafushi Island. It takes 30 minutes to reach there and the prices are $25 USD. The best way to arrange them is thru your guesthouse in Maafushi Island.
Read here a full blog post how to get to Maafushi Island!
Conclusions Maafushi Island
Maafushi island is the busiest of the local islands. Our favorite was waking up early for the sunrise. From all the local islands Maafushi offers the best options for restaurants. There are also a lot of tours during the day and since it’s crowded prices can be the best for the tours comparing with other local islands. You can go walking distance everywhere. It will take 20 minutes to walk everywhere in Maafushi. There are ATM’s and a few supermarkets. Plus the local transportation has better schedule and more options than other islands.
Visiting the bikini Beach during the day, swimming and walking around the island. You can do snorkeling and water sports. You can rent everything around the Bikini Beach for water sports or hiring tours. At night you can go to the floating bar boats. It’s only 5 minutes boat ride from the port. A few companies offer a free ride just ask around the port or in your guesthouse. Prices for a beer in the floating bar $8-10 USD make sure you go before sunset sometimes there are happy hours!
You can also do activities visiting sand bank, watching dolphins, snorkeling, diving, fishing trips and even swimming with turtles.
WHERE TO STAY IN MAAFUSHI ISLAND
There are prices for all the budgets starting from $40-60 USD and more luxury $100 USD. We stayed in a local guesthouse by Airbnb and everything was great wifi, breakfast and the staff was so friendly.
If you want to take a look to the other places to stay in Maafushi luxury and budget options. Click here to compare prices and check availability!
If you want to check more places to stay in Maafushi, click here to see what works better with your budget and comfort.
Read here our Maafushi Travel Guide!
3. Gulhi Island
Gulhi Island is located 20 kilometers South Male on the way to the popular Maafushi island. Gulhi island is a paradise to discover and we really loved our time in this tiny island. Gulhi island has only 900 people and it’s so quiet. Only 500 meters island and you can reach everywhere in 5 minutes walking distance. Amazing sunrises and sunsets with blue water and white sand in the bikini beach became in our favorite local island in Maldives.
How to get there
If you want to get by public boat to Gulhi Island. You have to get to Villigili ferry terminal in Male and there are daily boats leaving to Gulhi and Maafushi at 3 pm except Fridays. The ticket costs $1.5 USD. The trip will take 1 hour and 30 minutes and the boat will continue to Maafushi Island.
There are a few speed boats leaving from Male and the airpot to Maafushi Island, they will stop in Gulhi Island. It takes 30 minutes to reach there and the prices are $25 USD. The best way to arrange the speed boat is with your guesthouse.
Read here how to get to Gulhi Island!
Conclusions Gulhi Island
We have to say that Gulhi Island has the clearest water ever for us! So beautiful place and quiet! If you want to disconnect this is the paradise for sure! Less than 10 minutes walking distance you can find most of the things. We loved it the sunset in South Beach and the sunrise in bikini beach. We enjoyed mostly swimming, snorkeling and flying the drone.
In the other hand in this paradise there are not many options for food comparing with Maafushi Island. You can still find supermarkets and restaurants. You can also do day trip to Maafushi Island and organize activities with your accommodation.
You can also do activities visiting sand bank, watching dolphins, snorkeling, diving, fishing trips and even swimming with turtles.
WHERE TO STAY IN GULHI ISLAND
Well this is the best part of our trip to Gulhi Island. We stayed at Sandy Heaven Maldives. Since the first moment you will feel like at home with an amazing set up romantic in the room and snacks and juice for your enjoyment. They make you feel special and it was our favorite guesthouse in Maldives.
The breakfast was amazing bread, croissants, cereals, sausages, egg, juice and coffee there is no way you finish all the food is too much and so delicious!
Our last day we left early morning in the public boat to Male 8 am and they packed our breakfast and took our luggage to the port. We realized that 9.8 in Booking it’s not easy to reach but our staying was amazing!
Read here our Gulhi Travel Guide!
4. Thulsudhoo Island
Thulusdhoo island is a popular destination in Maldives because of surfing. Thulusdhoo Island is located 30 kilometers North from Velana International airport in Male. And you can reach Thulusdhoo by public boat and speed boat. Thulusdhoo island is popular for travelers on a budget in Maldives.
How to get there
If you want to get to Thulusdhoo from Male there are two ways by speed boat faster 30 minutes and $30 USD and more expensive and by public boat cheaper $1.5 USD and 2 hours.
There are public boats leaving Villigili ferry terminal in Male everyday 2 30 pm except Fridays (remeber Fridays is holiday in a Muslim country and public boats aren’t leaving in that day).
The public boat will take 2 hours and it costs 22 Rufiyas per person which is only $1.5 USD. The boat will do a few stops on the way to Thulusdhoo like Huraa, Himaffushi and the final stop will be Dhiffushi Island.
There are speed boats from the airport and from Male going to Thulusdhoo. You can also get a speed boat in the jetty port in Male. The price is $30 USD per person. And it will take 30 minutes to reach Thulusdhoo Island. The best way to arrange the speed boat going to Thulusdhoo is organizing with your guesthouse, they will book your seat for you.
Read here full blog post how to get to Thulusdhoo!
Conclusions Thulusdhoo Island
Obviously you can do surfing since Thulusdhoo is popular because of this activity. I would say Thulusdhoo is the second most popular local island in Maldives after Maafushi. There are many options in this island during the day apart from surfing.
You can walk around the island or rent a bicycle and spend the day in the Bikini Beach. You can also practice water sports and going for a sand bank trip will be an amazing experience. The sand bank is close to Dhiffushi island and it’s a great place for snorkeling too. Be ready with your snorkeling gear.
At night time you can always visiting the floating boat where you can have a drink. There are boats going there and coming back every time. There are a few local restaurants and many hotels if you prefer Western food. There is an ATM if you have to withdraw money. Also there is a Coca Cola company in the island. You can take a look during the day if you are interested. The sunset and sunrise are also amazing but we weren’t so lucky with the weather during those days.
You can also do activities visiting sand bank, watching dolphins, snorkeling, diving, fishing trips and even swimming with turtles. Ask in your accommodation or around the bikini beach and you will be able to join a group. Or they will organize for you as you prefer.
WHERE TO STAY IN THULUSDHOO ISLAND
Akiri Surf Retreat was our choice in Thulusdhoo Island. And we can totally recommend this place for you. Firu the owner treated us amazing! From welcoming us from the public boat to our last minute in the island, showing us around and recommending day tours to do.
They offer local and Western breakfast. For us it was the first time having a local breakfast in Maldives mashuni with roshi. It’s made of coconut, tuna, onions, pumpkin and you eat with roti. And the coffe was great!
The place has just a few rooms and it’s one of the cheapest options with the highest rate in Booking. Click here to check availability and prices.
Read here our Thulusdhoo travel guide!
5. Omadhoo Island
Omadhoo Island is located 70 kilometers far from Male. The island is only one kilometer long and there are less than 1000 people living in Omadhoo Island. Located in Ari (Alif Dhaal) Atoll, the beautiful island with white sandy beaches and abundant marine life. In Omadhoo Island you will find a real Maldivian fishing village life experience. The life in Omadhoo island is quiet, peaceful with just a few people going around.
How to get there
Speed boat costs $25 per person per way and takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach. It’s leaving Male 4 pm everyday from the ferry port except Fridays. The schedule can be changing and the best way is contacting you guesthouse in Omadhoo Island and they will organize for you.
We took the speed boat from Omadhoo Island to Male ferry port. It was leaving at 7 am and 10 am. There is wifi in the boat. But at the time that we rode the speed boat it was raining and windy and the trip was little bit hard.
Public ferry costs less than $4 per person 53 Rufiyaas per way and takes 5 hours to reach Omadhoo Island from Male. Public ferry leaves from Male to Omadhoo at 9 am on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday.
And the public ferry leaves from Omadhoo to Male at 9 10 am on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Read here full blog post how to get to Omadhoo Island!
Conclusions Omadhoo Island
The best plans to do around Omadhoo Island is going to the bikini beach where you can swim and practice snorkeling in the reef. You can also do water sports and water activities inside the island. We only saw one supermarket and local restaurant around the island.
Omadhoo island is a fishermen island. Most of the locals work around fishing, local business or luxury resorts around. The snorkeling in the reef at the bikini beach is great. So be ready with your snorkeling gear!
Best plans to do in Omadhoo island are the activities visiting sand bank, watching dolphins, snorkeling, diving, fishing trips and even swimming with turtles. Your accommodation will book activities for you.
WHERE TO STAY IN OMADHOO ISLAND
Our choice was Nemo Inn running for Moosa and his brothers. The yare really nice and they took care of us. They organize day trips, they cook Western and local food. Also they will help you with your next destination booking your speed boat and letting you know the schedule.
The place is small 4-5 rooms with nice views from the balcony where you will have your meals. And it’s located close to the port and just 5 minutes walking distance of the bikini beach.
Read here Omadhoo Island travel guide!
Hope you enjoyed our travel guide of the best local islands in Maldives. Which one is your favorite one? Let us know in the comments below!
Feel free to use our links for discounts. Using our links will help us to continue with the maintenance of the website and it will not cost you anything. Thanks for the love guys.
About the Author: Ruben, co-founder of Gamintraveler.com since 2014, is a seasoned traveler from Spain who has explored over 100 countries since 2009. Known for his extensive travel adventures across South America, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, Ruben combines his passion for adventurous yet sustainable living with his love for cycling, highlighted by his remarkable 5-month bicycle journey from Spain to Norway. He currently resides in Spain, where he continues to share his travel experiences alongside his partner, Rachel, and their son, Han.