Magnificent Maldives

Maldives is an Islamic country, located in the southern part of Asia. This country consists of many atoll (islands), which explains why it has so many beautiful islands along with the underwater creatures and beaches. There are many cheap flights from Jakarta to Male International Airports with overlay in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Return ticket price can be from 3.000.000 to 4.500.00 IDR per person. This type of flight does not include baggage. I, myself bought the ticket from London and I spent around 7.000.000 IDR for a return ticket.

Maldives is known for it's fancy and expensive resorts. As the tsunami stroke this country circa 2004, many hotels and guest houses are open to increase their income. When arriving in Male (Velana International Airport), you will not be asked for a visa, as this is a free-visa country. You will only need to show some proof like hotel booking, return ticket, and passport for entering Maldives. This airport has free wi-fi, but it only works well on the arrival and food court area. You can buy a sim card with data in the airport (going right when you leave the arrival), with many options such as 7 days or 14 days data with different prices for each quota. Some say that the best provider for sim card is Dhiraagu. There are also ATM and money changer when you're going left after arrival. If you're quite a backpacker, you will need a lot of Maldivian Rufeeya (MVR) but if you stay in the resort, you can use USD currency.

Maldivian Traditional Hammock
Since I have a limited budget, I will only explain the prominent things as a backpacker in Maldives. I brought my daughter to this trip, so I did not want to rush everything and planned to have longer rest than playing with the waves. So here is my itinerary:
Day 1
after arriving in Male airport at night, we then take a bus to Hulhumale. Instead of staying in Male, I prefer Hulhumale as Male is super crowded and not a friendly place for children. The bus cost to Hulhumale is 20 MVR per person from the airport. We stayed at UI hotel for one night.
Playground in Maafushi
Day 2
We had a breakfast in the hotel, then continued our journey. We took the same bus to airport as we needed to catch a ferry to Male, then Maafushi. Actually there is also a ferry from Hulhumale straight to Male, but the bus to the ferry terminal does not allow baggage to be carried. The ferry from Airport to Male is available every 30 mins and it takes about 3 USD for 3 persons. From Male, we need to take a cab to the ferry terminal that will bring us to Maafushi (Villingili Terminal). The cab price is a fixed price, 35 MVR with luggage and 30 MVR with no luggage. The ferry schedule from and to Maafushi is only available 1 - 2 times a day.
Ferry Schedule

You should be aware that any activities including transportation is not operating on Friday in Maldives. You need to manage your itinerary well if you don't wanna waste your time there. We arrived in Maafushi on at 16.30, welcomed by the hotel staff. They will bring some kind of cart to carry your luggage to the hotel. We took a rest that day, and had a dinner in Harbour Cafe, near the port. Compared to any other restaurants, this place offers more affordable price. Most restaurants take both USD and MVR but in Maafushi, they mostly take MVR. If you wanna have some excursion the next day, you can book at iCom tour. They provide many excursion from Sand Bank tour, snorkeling, Resort tour, and many more. That night we booked a sand bank tour for 3 people. All tours will be a lot cheaper if you have more people joining.

Sand Bank

Day 3
We departed from the port at 8 am and took a speedboat to the sand bank location for 10 mins. Sand bank is a bunch of sands where if the tide is high, the sands will also drown. Sand bank is a must visit excursion if you plan to visit Maldives. iCom also offers many snorkeling tour but I chose not to because I bring a child and to be honest, I already get bored with the activity :P
We got back to Maafushi and had lunch in the hotel. Each hotel in Maafushi normally provides food, where the price range is not too far, except the fancy ones. We stayed at Royal Pearl Inn, a very recommended place if you're on a budget. We booked a resort tour that night at iCom to Kandooma Resort. That was the most expensive resort tour, but we thought that we have come this far to Maldives and stayed as backpackers in Maafushi so we would like to get the best of experience here.

Harbour Cafe Menu
Day 4
We departed from Maafushi at 8.30 and finished the tour at 17.00 in Kandooma Resort. When we arrived there, we were so much welcomed by the staff there. The place has so many good facilities from infinite pool for adult and kids, waterpark for kids, bungalow resort, and off course beautiful beach along the island. The lunch was nice, and it's already included on the package (150 USD per person).

Kandooma Resort

Day 5
The last day in Maafushi we just would like to stay in this island all day. We visited the Bikini beach, whilst in any public beach it's not allowed to wear a short clothes as this is a strict moslem country. Bikini beach in Maafushi is so beautiful, just like any typical beach you'll see in Maldives. My daughter swam on the beach for the last three days until she got tanned very severely lol. You can also purchase souvenir near the bikini beach as it is cheaper compared to other places in Maldives (2-4 USD per fridge magnet).

Bikini Beach 
Day 6
We left Maafushi at noon, as per ferry schedule. The hotel staff helped us bringing again our luggage to the port. People in Maafushi are so nice and humble. It took us 2 hours to arrive in Male. After arriving in Male, we stayed there for a night to give our body a bit rest as this trip was arranged to be very relaxing to avoid any sickness. Male is a very crowded city as we intended to leave as soon as possible lol.

Even the water at the ferry terminal is so gorgeous

Day 7
The next day we were going back to Hulhumale from Male by ferry and bus. We stayed another day as the place is more comfort and closer to the airport. We stayed at the same hotel, but this time we got better room. Surprisingly, the beach behind our hotel is beautiful. We spent our last day in Maldives by the beach once again.

Beach in Hulhumale

Day 8
We checked out and leaving Hulhumale by bus. If you're not on budget, you will be directly picked up by helicopter or speedboat to the resort. As we had plenty of time here, it was not too exhausting taking this backpacking trip.

Velana International Airport
We had so much fun in Maldives. It took a bit effort as it was difficult to arrange the itinerary with minimum information. Here I share my itinerary to give insight if you plan to visit Maldives. Trust me, this is way more affordable than staying at the resort. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on the comment section. 


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