City escapade: Enjoy a slice of heaven at Maafushi in 8 unique ways
by Adventure 师姐 Shi Jie
Friday, October 28, 2016
Situated on the Kaafu Atoll (also known as South Male Atoll) in the Maldives, Maafushi is a long, narrow island just forty-five minutes away from the Male international airport by speedboat, and packed full of fun, good food, amazing marine fauna and beautiful scenery. Only six years ago, this island was a quiet little spot on the map, filled with local fishermen and their families, but since the introduction of the new Maldivian Tourism Act, the local island has transformed and evolved into a bustling tourist attraction, and it has far since earned its boasting rights.
With a myriad of extremely affordable guest houses dotting the island, tourists are now flocking over to experience the Maldives and its surreal beauty.
The second island with the most number of guest houses in the whole country (Hulhumale, the island the airport is situated on, gets the champion spot for most number of guest house, and, as such, is the biggest tourist attraction), Maafushi is still expanding its guest house industry quickly and seeing more than double the number of guest houses on the island within the next five years. And certainly, to meet tourist demands, it has also many amenities and businesses popping up to fill the growing niches.
Indeed, Maafushi has come a long way from being an isolated and remote local island, to a lively vacation spot ideal for an unforgettable escapade from stressful city life. But since the tourist business there is still developing, knowing how to maximise your stay there would be
a pain in the ass difficult with the limited and sometimes misleading amount of information provided.
So, to help you along with having the most amazing time at Maafushi ever, here are 8 activities you absolutely must try when you visit Maafushi:
1. Plan a personalised, half-day snorkel trip to the best reefs in the South Male atoll
The marine life ecosystem in the Maldives is one of the most abundant and vibrant you will ever find in the whole world. The archipalego, made of more than 99% water, is subject to the wild currents of the Indian Ocean, which allows corals and reefs to thrive and give life. Hundreds of marine life species depend on these corals, which makes the coral reefs of the Maldives home to an innumerable number of marine life.
Many water sports centres at Maafushi offer private trips to a selection of inner reefs within the atoll that you can tailor to your own liking. Some of the best reefs here include Biyadhoo reef, Biyadhoo platform, banana reef, Olhuveli giri (a.k.a Turtle Point) and Sand Dune (a.k.a Manta Point).
Take note, though, that the sea will be very choppy most of the time in June – October. If you want to snorkel in clearer, more peaceful waters, wait for the December – May period, when the sea will mostly be flat.
2. Plan a trip to a sand bank for a picnic
Have a romantic and memorable picnic at a sand bank where you can sun-bathe in your bikini and leave your urban worries behind. Being on a deserted sand bank has that effect – a liberating feeling of ease while you munch on a basket of delicious food.
Of course, there is another practical reason why picnicking on a sand bank is a must also – on local islands, you must dress conservatively at all times. No bikinis or revealing clothing are allowed. However, if you are off the island, the rule does not apply. Even though the people of Maafushi are very liberal now, and you see tourists wandering around in shorts and see-through outwear, it is still advisable not to walk around in your revealing clothes.
3. Visit the bikini beach and sip on fresh, Maldivian kurumba
Since you cannot walk around the local island in your bikini, you can’t sun-bathe around in your bikini as well.
Unless you are at the bikini beach, that is.
The bikini beach is an area open to public, and a designated specially for tourists who wish to sun-bathe with complete freedom. Fenced off by some thatched fence, it separates tourists in swimsuit from the public eye; in this conservative country, bikinis and swimsuits that reveal the arms and legs are prohibited.
Hence, if you would like to soak up some Vitamin D on the soft sands of the beach, head straight down to the bikini beach, where soft, powdery sand and crystal clear waters await you.
While you are there, try also their fresh kurumba, or coconut, that is. Their coconuts are always fresh and sweet, and if you pass the finished coconut to the shop boys at Liz’s Food, one of them will help you cut up the coconut to eat the soft coconut flesh.
4. Visit the floating bar on the Kaani Princess
Alcohol is strictly prohibited on local islands as the Maldives is a Muslim country, but what is a vacation without a bar and some alcohol?
Fret not, the locals have catered to this niche as well by providing liquor on yachts that are anchored away from the local islands, exploiting the “loophole” in the law. The Kaani Princess, which reached by a 5 minute ride on a dingy, features a bar and a restaurant, and it serves an array of (albeit very diluted) cocktails as well as small shot bottles. It also has a karaoke bar.
Most importantly, the seating area at the bow of the yacht grants one a serene view of the ocean.
5. Get a view of the island from a different vantage point with parasailing
Feel the wind rush through your hair while you sail through the air, watching the island of Maafushi recede into an adorable toy-sized model while you click away (or tap away) on your mobile camera. From this eagle-eye angle, you will be able to view the beautiful colour gradients of the lagoon, as it turns from turqoise to deep blue.
6. Go for an amazing dive and experience the marvelous fish “cities” of the Maldives
The Maldives are famous for their clear blue waters and immeasureable number of marine denizens. Majestic manta rays, gigantic whale sharks, elegant eagle rays, adorable reef sharks and many other species of beautiful fish await you in these waters. And with strong currents, mysterious wrecks and magnificent overhangs, there are also a wide array of dive types to choose from here – a perfect underwater paradise for recreational divers from all over the world.
Diving at Wagiri, one of the giris, or shallow reefs, in the Kaafu Atoll
As a rule, one must always dive with a dive guide (who might be a dive instructor or dive master) and they are always highly experienced in the areas they are bringing you for your dives. The same could be said for diving with Maafushi dive centres. So, be it an adrenaline-filled channel dive or a slow drift dive, you will always be in safe hands when you dive in these beautiful sites.
Don’t forget to book a few dives when you’re at Maafushi then; even if you don’t have a certification, you could try out the Discover Scuba Diving mini-course, where you will learn just enough basics that will allow you to get underwater with the equipment. The course is short, and open to everyone who wishes to catch a glimpse of the fantastic marine world.
7. Go for a spa treatment at Kaani Village & Spa
Who doesn’t love a good massage?
At Kaani Village & Spa, you can get affordable spa services. Relax and fall asleep under the expert hands of their spa staff. Alternatively, you can organise a trip to nearby luxury resorts for a spa treatment, if you don’t mind splurging on a massage.
8. Spend the day exploring one of the nearby luxury resorts
Why spend a bomb to stay at a resort, when you can just see everything in one day?
Luxury resorts allow day visitors to take a look around their island and try their services for several hours. Depending on the resort you go to, this might include relaxing spa treatments, having a swim in their pools and, of course, eating at their restaurants.
Maafushi is the ultimate island where you can forget all your worries. Resorts are great and all, but they cost a bomb, and nowhere do they have the amount of freedom or variety in activity that Maafushi can grant you.
In addition to their variety of comfortable guest houses, they also have this wide range of water sports activities that explores the beauty and exhilaration of the ocean, as well as places to rest and rejuvenate from the constant buzz of city lifestyle.
You will definitely feel like a whole new person after a stay at Maafushi.
So what are you waiting for?
Start planning your trip to Maafushi today!
by Adventure 师姐 Shi JieFriday, October 28, 2016
Sherene Tan is an avid adventurer who hopes to inspire people to travel to the Maldives. A marine conservationist by day, she works in a resort but lives on a local island, and has known the place as though it's been forever. She hopes to help people understand more about the Maldives and help them plan their visits with well-informed choices to this beautiful archipalego.Read more at adventureshijie.com