There are 2 types of islands you can visit when in Maldives. One is a Resort Island, and is probably the most known of the two... but, there's another island you can visit that will make your stay much cheaper. Since about 10 years ago, the Maldivian government has allowed local islands to have guest houses so tourists can come to stay there, so that now gives us a budget friendly option for staying in Maldives.
Resort islands are very different from local islands in Maldives in many ways. If you’re picturing overwater bungalows, all inclusive, and pristine beaches, you’ll definitely want to stay on a resort island. If you’re looking for culture, local life, and budget friendly accommodations, then a local island is probably calling your name. That’s right, a trip to Maldives can be cheap!! (After you get there of course...flights can be quite crazy!)
Thank you to Season Paradise and Feenaa Dive for hosting us!
B and I were off on our Around the World trip, and had 2 free weeks to decide what to do between the beginning and end of our trip. I was too afraid that 2 weeks in Maldives was going to be way over our budget...until I discovered local islands! We seriously spent 6 days in Maldives for less than $600 for 2 people! And that included our accommodations, food, excursions, transports, and souvenirs! I mean, come on!! We loved the local island vibe so much that we decided to check out another one, and ended up on Thulusdhoo island.
Where to Stay in Thulusdhoo, Maldives
We found a very reasonably priced hotel with full board at Season Paradise. They’re right on the beach, and their rooftop infinity pool helped seal the deal. Season Paradise is a smaller hotel (although, the biggest on the island, I believe.), but it had everything we needed for our stay.
We arranged transport through Season Paradise that would take us from the airport on a 30ish minute fast boat to the island. We were told to meet at their booth at a specific time. They walked us to the boat, and we were off to Thulusdhoo. When we arrived, we were met with a large 3-4 row golf cart to take us to the hotel. We all loaded up (tight squeeze with all of us going) on the golf cart, and it just happened to break down right then. They quickly hopped out, and grabbed another one from the garage, which was actually bigger, so a bit more comfortable, and we were on our way. We were met with a welcome drink in the lobby, and filled out a little paperwork before heading up to our room.
We were in the ocean view rooms at the top (3rd floor) and had a beautiful view from our balcony. We had a comfy bed, a coffee/tea station, and a couple chairs outside, where we liked to spend a little time each day.
The rooftop has a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the ocean. And you can’t beat their gym view! I was almost tempted to work out in there...almost! 😉
We opted for the full board, so we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the restaurant downstairs. It was nice being right there for our meal times and they always had a decent selection to choose from...with lots of desserts! The omelette station was our favorite every morning.
Activities in Thulusdhoo, Maldives
Each day, you can sign up for activities for the next day. We got in a bit late, so we had dinner and headed to bed.
The next morning, we had booked a sandbank snorkel tour with them. We grabbed our gear, hopped on the golf cart, and headed for the boat. We pulled up to this beautiful sandbank with crystal clear waters. I could not wait to jump in the water.
The guides set each of us up with an umbrella to relax under, and I was so thankful they did. That sun is for real! If you’re in the water, it’s great...but if you’re on land, you definitely want to be in the shade. They also gave each of us a water bottle too. We took some photos, and enjoyed the edges of the sandbank, then headed out snorkeling for a bit. There were lots of fish and an awesome reef right off the coast. We stayed there for about 2 hours before heading back. And the best part?! This trip was only $35! Such an awesome deal.
After we headed back, we grabbed lunch at Season Paradise, then decided to explore the island a little. We found a row of shops, and walked around for a bit.
The next day, we decided to take out the see-through kayaks. It was way cooler than I expected. When I first heard of see through kayaks, I had imagined a normal kayak with a plastic bottom window or something. But nope... the entire kayak was clear! So we could see everything! We enjoyed watching the fish swim below us, and even saw some moray eels and rays swimming around.
Thulusdhoo also has an awesome coral project going on, where they are saving corals around the island and making their own coral garden. It was so cool learning all about the process and meeting with the lead marine biologist, Cecile Richard. We got to see those corals in the see through kayak as well. If you want to learn more about this awesome project, check out the Muraka Bageecha Facebook page.
We spent the rest of the day hanging around the grounds and checking out the pool on the roof.
Scuba Diving with Feenaa Dive
Our last full day there, we had a scuba dive trip booked with Feenaa Dive. Neither of us are certified, but they offer a beginner dive, so we were stoked to be able to scuba in Maldives. We booked our trip, and met them in the morning at the dive center. Our guide went over all the basics with us, and tested us on three skills when we got in the water. As soon as we passed, we were off on our dive. It was beautiful swimming next to the reef and seeing all the colorful fish around. If you’ve ever wanted to try out scuba diving, and you aren’t certified, Feenaa Dive is the place to go. They took great care of us, and even took us out for an extra snorkel trip after our dive.
This turned out to be the best part of the day because....we got to swim with dolphins!! In the wild! We were just coming up to get back on the boat, when all of a sudden 20-30 dolphins started swimming towards us. I was beyond excited and couldn’t believe what was happening. I rushed straight for them as we watched them jumping out of the water, and doing a dance spinning around each other in the water. One of the most incredible experiences of our entire trip. You could hear them “talking” under water too. I tried to catch it on GoPro, but it’s always way better in person of course. Such a once in a lifetime thing. Beyond amazing!
The guides at Feenaa Dive really made our trip. They were hilarious, and very nice. We also learned so much from them, as they explained all the famous surf breaks, how the islands are named, and other fun facts about Maldives. We actually ended up hanging out with them later that night to experience some local culture. I highly recommend a tour with Feenaa Dive!
Thulusdhoo is a great island to check out.
You do have to remember that you are on a developing local island, so won’t have perfectly raked white sand beaches and all inclusive places. But if you’re looking for culture, world famous surf breaks, or awesome coral saving projects, it’s a great stop to make in Maldives. Just a quick 30ish min boat ride from Male for around $35. Thulusdhoo is very budget friendly!