With guesthouses now open on the Maldives’ inhabited islands, it’s not all about resorts
I want to... explore
I’ve been to many exotic destinations, but often felt that they’d been over-hyped. The Maldives, however, is as good as in the brochures.
Known as the King’s Island, because it was the seat of the dynasties that ruled here for centuries, few tourists spend time in Male, the capital, and yet this tiny city, with its lively fish market, National Museum and stunning Friday mosque, is well worth a visit.
Although tourists began to visit the Maldives in 1973, travellers were only allowed to stay on the resort islands. Islanders are now allowed to open guesthouses, so avid explorers should visit these lesser-known islands.
Maafushi in the Kaafu Atol is the birthplace of Al Sultan Ghazi Mohammad Bodu Thakurufaanu, the sea captain who liberated the Maldives from the Portuguese in 1573. His house is now a museum. A two-hour ferry ride away, Fulidhoo in the Vaavu Atoll has powder-white, near-deserted beaches and a cafes serving Hedhikaa or ‘short eats’, delicious local snacks. Thinadoo, capital of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and the next stop on the ferry, is a busy, happy island with mosques, schools and pristine beaches.
Guesthouses-in-maldives.net has 12 guesthouses on several islands. Happy Life Maldives, on Dhiffushi in the North Male Atoll has rooms from Dh220 for two per night.
MAKE THE MOST OF IT
Emirates flies to Male; for maximum beach time, book the direct flight, not the ones that go via Colombo.