When we talk about the Maldives, the first thing that comes to mind is the sheer extravaganza and luxury that the island can offer. And it is so true! The Maldives is home to a string of luxurious hotels and resorts that exemplify the ultimate tropical paradise getaway. 

That being said, a budget traveller often wonders if they can ever experience that luxury firsthand, right? So, we are here to tell you that yes.

In 2009 with the permission to operate guesthouses on the local islands, it brought a revolution in the tourism industry of Maldives.  

Thanks to these best local islands in Maldives, budget-travelling this dream destination is now possible for everyone. You can find all the beauty at a fraction of the exorbitant prices at these 5 best local islands in the Maldives. Keep reading.  

These best local islands offer a great insight into the authentic Maldivian life: the culture, the traditions and the food by meeting the locals.


We have curated a list of the 5 best local islands in the Maldives for your budget island-hopping adventures!


1. Maafushi, Kaafu Atoll

Maafushi - Local island in maldives

Image Credit: Trip Advisor

Probably the most popular local island amongst most travellers and the birthplace of the guesthouse industry in Maldives, the Maafushi island has emerged as the backpacker’s haven. 

 It is often full of tourists and is a rather lively island. The number of guesthouses and hotels are increasing, with each passing day to make your travel plans even easier. 

From strolling around the bikini beach for a gorgeous tan, to experiencing a wide variety of water sports like scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing trips, and sandbank tours to taking the dolphin, manta rays and whale shark safari cruises, there is no dearth of activities for you to indulge in. 

While alcohol is restricted in the country, there might be a way out for you to enjoy a few drinks with friends while on the Maafushi island. The Floating Bar & Safari organizes evening tours where they serve a range of alcohol and food, so you can enjoy your wine with a view while floating on water. Plus, you can also book yourself a room on the cruise to spend the night! This is the only place in Maafushi that serves alcohol. 

How to Get There: 

Take a public ferry or South Kaafu Atoll Ferry from Villingili Ferry Terminal in Malé.

Places to Stay: 

You can check out these budget-friendly guesthouses in Maafushi:

1.  Ocean Vista Maafushi Maldives (USD 55 onwards)

2.  Summer Villa Guest House (USD 35 onwards)

3.  Stingray Beach Inn (USD 55 onwards)

Where to Eat: 

Here are some of the best restaurants in Maafushi you can check out: 

1. Kalaama Restaurant

2. Arena Beach Restaurant

3. Stingray Beach Restaurant.

2. Himmafushi, Kaafu Atoll 

Himmafushi island - local island in maldives

image credit: Islandii

If you’d like a glimpse into the traditional Maldivian life, then you need to make Himmafushi island your next holiday destination. 

It is a highly vibrant and lively island that is world-famous for its immaculate diving and surfing sites. The best time to visit would be January to October, with peak season being June to August.

The most famous surfing spot is the Jail Break that offers faster barrel sections for advanced level surfers. When it comes to diving, you can explore Lankan Manta Point that is situated just 15 minutes away from Himmafushi Island. Surfing here should cost you somewhere between USD 7 and USD 13 while scuba diving comes around USD 65 to USD 78 and snorkelling should be USD19 to USD 23.

Furthermore, the ocean is home to a wide number of dolphins, so you can definitely opt for dolphin-watching safaris, that are priced anywhere between USD 29 to USD 32. Here, you can also just chill on the beach with a family picnic or go for a sandbank trip at about USD 19 to USD 23.

How to Get There: 

Take a local ferry from Malé that’ll cost you only about USD 1 or a local speedboat that charges USD 10 per person. 

Places to Stay: 

You can check out these budget-friendly guesthouses in Himmafushi  

1.  JailBreak Surf Inn (USD 65 onwards)

2. Eyotwave (USD 40 onwards)

3.  Hulhangu Lodge Maldives (USD 55 onwards)

4. Raalhu Lodge (USD 40 onwards)

Where to Eat: 

Here are some of the best restaurants in Himmafushi you can check out: 

1. Hiyala Mariyaad Cafe’

2. Harbour Cafe

3. Pizza & Pasta Mamma Mia.

3. Hithadhoo Island, Addu Atoll

Hithadoo island - maldives

image credit: dreamstime

Do you want to spend your time away from the hustle and bustle? Then, the Hithadhoo Island in the Addu Atoll is your answer. 

You can spend your free time just laying beside the palm trees on the calming beach taking in picturesque views. While you can visit this place at any time of the year, however the best time to visit would be between December to March.

This island is the most popular for its exotic diving sites and the local food, both being reasonably priced. You can also take up budget-friendly snorkelling sessions while on your vacation. All you need is to contact the local agencies and they’ll provide you with the necessary pieces of equipment for both snorkelling and diving.

How to Get There: 

Take an international flight to the Gan International Airport and a local bus or taxi to Hithadoo Island.

Places to Stay: 

You can check out these budget-friendly places to stay on Hithadhoo Island:

1. Rekidhiye Inn (USD 49 onwards)

2. Charming Holiday Lodge (USD 60 onwards) 

Where to Eat: 

Here are some of the best restaurants in Hithadhoo you can check out:

1. Suvadive Café

2. Milano Food Court

3. Cress Garden

4. Food House.

4. Thulusdhoo, Kaafu Atoll

Thulusdhoo is the capital of Kaafu Atoll, located about 28 km north of Male.

Thulusdhoo- local island in Maldives

image credit: Akiri Surf retreat

If you are a surfing enthusiast, then look no further than Thulusdhoo in the Kaafu Atoll, for it is home to some of the best surfing spots in the Maldives. From Cokes, Chickens to Ninjas and Sultans, there are surf breaks available for all levels of surfers in this paradise. 

Surfing here usually costs in the range of USD 120-USD 130. The best season to go budget surfing is March to October, whereas the peak season is June to August.

But, that’s not all.  

Go for dolphin watching trips at about USD 25, sandbank trips at USD 35 or just top up your tan at the tourist beach. If you are a fitness freak or wish to explore baby sharks in deep waters, then you can go for a stand-up paddleboarding adventure on flatter oceans. In fact, there’s also the option to spend your time on a snorkelling day trip that should cost about USD 20- USD 30.  

How to Get There: 

Take a local ferry from Malé that costs USD 3 and takes about 85 minutes to reach. You can also take one of the USD 30 speedboats that run multiple times every day to reach Thulusdhoo in 25 minutes.

Places to Stay: 

You can check out these budget-friendly guesthouses in Thulusdhoo:  

1. Kayla Inn (USD 46 onwards)

2. Akiri Surf Retreat (USD 56 onwards)

3. Golha View Inn By TES (USD 54 onwards)

4. Midsummer (USD 65 onwards)

Where to Eat: 

Here are some of the best restaurants in Thulusdhoo you can check out: 

1. AQUA Beans

2. RSR

3. Santa Rosa Restaurant

5. Dhigurah, South Ari Atoll

This one is for the fans of underwater adventures and picturesque views of crystal clear turquoise waters. The Dhigurah (meaning long island) is a Maldivian Island that is located in the South Ari Atoll and consists of a wide stretch of sandy beaches. 

Dhugurah Maldives

Image credit: booking.com

The Dhigurah Island is a quiet place to enjoy your time in solitude while also immersing yourself in the beauty of the Maldivian culture. 

There are a bunch of spots that offer both free and paid snorkelling excursions with a whale shark, coral reef, manta ray safaris in Dhigurah. You can also expect to sight eagle rays, huge schools of colourful fish, and turtles and an entire vibrant marine life. The paid ones usually cost about USD 30- USD 65 including the transfer, refreshments, water, and snorkelling gear. 

The best time to go snorkelling here would be April-May and August-October. 

Other activities include morning-night fishing trips for approx USD 40, dolphins watching trip for about USD 30 or a sunset cruise with food and drinks for about USD 50. If you are ready to shell out a few bucks, you can enjoy the scuba diving excursions as well.

How to Get There: 

Take a 20-minute domestic flight from the Malé International Airport followed by a 30-minute speedboat ride to Dhigurah that’ll cost you USD 50 per person. 

You can also opt for the MTCC Dhoni Ferry that departs from Malé (timetable) at USD 3.5 or the Sun Dhoni Ferry that departs Malé on Monday and Thursday at USD 25 per person.

Places to Stay: 

You can check out these budget-friendly stays in Dhigurah: 

1. Dhigurah Beach Inn (USD 84 onwards)

2. TME Retreats Dhigurah (USD 90 onwards)

3. Itah Dhigurah (USD 70 onwards)

Where to Eat: 

Here are some of the best restaurants in Dhigurah you can check out

1. Hermit’s

2. Shell Restaurant and Cafe

3. TME Retreats Dhigurah

That’s all from us, folks! These are some of our favourite and best local islands of Maldives that you can check out on your next trip. 

Do you have any other favourite local islands in the Maldives? Please feel free to comment below and let me know. Happy travelling! 

Read how to visit the Maldives on a budget 

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