Many people dream of seeing the lovely country of Maldives. Awesome aerial drone shots, perfectly built water villas, clear blue clean seawater, and nature just at its finest is what we usually see in advertisements. Social media has been sharing lots of pictures and videos from the different islands of Maldives.
This is mostly because of the hotel promotions that we're seeing especially on Facebook and Instagram. No one can actually deny that Maldives is indeed beautiful in the photos and videos but is it really the same in actual?
Last September 12, we were lucky enough to be able to visit the country and have stayed in one of their local islands. We stayed there for 6 days before coming back to Dubai and our normal life. We visited their famous tourist island and of course, we had a glimpse of their urban place of Hulhumale.
How did we do it? Read on and learn how we did prepare for our Maldives 6 days trip from Dubai.
This first article will specifically talk about our Dubai to Maldives flight and our first day in the water world of Maldives.
Preparation to Maldives
To be ready for a Maldives trip, it took us almost 6 months of preparation and saving to cover for our expenses and to ready ourselves for the sun, sand and sea.
Like other people, we first thought that Maldives is expensive, mainly because of how it is being advertised by social media and how only a few people we know visit the place. It is mostly famous or rich people who visit this country, which is why we thought that we cannot afford to see the country.
All of these thinking changed when we decided to go travel to a different country, which we aimed to be in September. At the time, it was April month and we were talking about where to go next. Lots of things went to our mind, and we almost ended up booking a trip to Paris, France (a short side story before we go to the Maldives 6 days trip).
It was a dream to see Paris for both of us, which is why we went ahead with this plan. We checked for flight tickets and accommodation and we talked about the possible expenses and where we wanted to go in France.
We were actually ready. We know what we wanted to see in Paris and we know that we save up for this trip. After a week of contemplating and meeting with each other, I began to actually ask myself. Don't get us wrong, Paris and France is definitely a country that will change our mindsets about things and we would have definitely learn a lot about the place if we opted to go there.
But, I began thinking, what do we do after checking these museums and all. My body is craving for nature and adventure and I badly miss the smell of the sea and swimming in it. Sitting by the shore and looking at the horizon without thinking about anything. It sounds a little bit dramatic but I wanted it to be like that for our next vacation.
We again started searching for places to travel to next. It is then that this Maldives flight via IndiGo popped in my Skyscanner screen. So I asked my partner(Ms. FeebleFeet) if she wants to instead of Paris go to Maldives. It was also a dream for us to see beautiful natural places.
After contemplating, she agreed to instead go to Maldives as we would have plenty of chances to see Paris next time. The Maldives via IndiGo flight then was showing AED 1,168.5 which was cheaper than the Paris flight that we were checking at that time.
It was actually a good deal for us. Before we started looking for flight tickets, we wanted to get a ticket price that will almost be the same as our Jordan flight ticket before. Luckily, this Maldives flight showed the same price. We immediately took it. Take note, we booked this ticket last April which was almost 6 months in advance.
If you plan to have a budget trip to Maldives then this is a good first tip. Book early.
The flight itinerary is as follows: Dubai to Maldives via IndiGo - we had two stopovers during our roundtrip flight. One for each flight. On our way to Velana International airport, Maldives we will stop by Kochi, India for 2 hours and get a connecting flight from there. Going back from Male(Velana airport) to Dubai, we will again stop by India but this time it will not be Kochi but Mumbai. It has a long waiting time as well. We had to wait 7 hours for our next flight from Mumbai to Dubai.
It was fine for us as we want to see a glimpse of India as well. We had lots of friends from India and we thought it would be a good experience to see a small piece of their country.
It was all done at the time. We had our tickets already, all that's left to do is plan what we'll do in Maldives. We first checked the water villas of the resorts as this is what Maldives is famous for. To our shock, even though we expected it to be expensive, it was too expensive for us to pursue the water villas. The cheapest we saw is around AED 2,000 per night.
This is where the second very important tip comes. Check the final price of the accommodation that you will book in Maldives. If it's hotel accommodation, booking.com and agoda.com will both provide prices without tax and other fees in it. They will just put the initial per night price. The tax and other fees are what make the accommodation in Maldives expensive. It sometimes doubles the initial room price.
And that is how we discovered the budget trips to Maldives. Numerous blogs have been very helpful when we're doing our research. They all have one thing in common, they all opt to not take the water villa and resort accommodation and instead traveled to one of their local islands.
As we research regarding these budget trips, we learned that the most famous place for first time tourists in Maldives is the island of Maafushi. I had lots of choices to choose from when it comes to which island to visit but since we only have 6 days in total in the country, we took a one island trip and planned all the things from there only.
If you have more than 6 days in Maldives then we recommend that you visit the other islands as well as they offer different activities and there is less crowd compared to Maafushi island.
Love to see our video compilation of our first day in Maldives? You can click this link to watch the full 1st day video in Maldives.
Trip To Maafushi Island
If you're still reading up to here, then it means you're interested in our trip and would also want to see how you can get to Maafushi Island. Before all of that, let me continue sharing our experience.
The flight we took which we booked almost 6 months in advance is an 11:00 P.M flight from Dubai to Kochi, India. We arrived at the DXB Terminal 1 airport at around 7:00 P.M and we were lucky to find that the IndiGo check-in counter is already open. I believe they cater to a lot of India flights in one long counter so they will open earlier than expected.
At the counter, we were allowed 30kg of check-in baggage each and 7kg of hand-carry. Read this part carefully. If you plan to carry selfie sticks like us(we have a floater selfie stick, a normal selfie stick and a Joby Gorillapod in our baggage), make sure that you put all this in the check-in baggage. They will not allow it to be hand-carried as this poses a risk for travelers.
Don't push on bringing a small trolley for hand carry as during our waiting time, the small trolleys have been weighed and sent to check-in. Make sure to don't exceed the 7kg limit as well as they're very strict about this.
Filipino residents and Dubai residents get free 30 days visa on arrival in Maldives. The counter agent at that time was not sure and was checking a site to make sure that this is correct, in case the agents ask you, answer firmly that yes, you will be able to get a visa on arrival.
After passing immigration all we can do is wait for our boarding gate to be announced. Dubai airports announce boarding gates at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before boarding so if you're earlier than that said time like us, you will have to wait inside the airport.
Dubai airport has lots of things to offer from lounges to shops and restaurants. It has multiple smoking rooms as well for smokers.
The time has come and we boarded the IndiGo plane to Kochi. The plane is nice, we didn't get food onboard as we booked an economy flight only. You can always buy if you get hungry on the flight. For us, we just tried sleeping and we also brought food so we didn't order anything.
Arrival at Kochi
The IndiGo flight to Kochi went smoothly. We arrived at Kochi airport at the advised time. After arriving and while preparing to alight the plane, the crew advised all passengers that are going to transfer flights from Kochi and is going to Male to leave the plane last.
After everyone went out of the plane, we were left with 8 people who are all transferring to a Male flight. We were accompanied by an IndiGo crew who asked for our passports for immigration control.
It took some time for our passports to pass the immigration and we actually didn't notice the time as we were a bit tired and sleepy from the flight. It definitely took more than an hour as we were supposed to have a 2-hour wait in Kochi but we're not even able to buy food or even take coffee.
Next stop is for our hand-carry luggage to be checked. It took a long time as well as the officer in charge is not there to check our baggage. Once he arrived, we started sending our luggage to the machine but was sent back a couple of times because they require that we remove all the batteries from the bag or any gadgets should be out before proceeding the luggage to the machine again.
It was too strict that the 2 hours waiting did not happen for us. After all the checks were finished we went directly to the boarding gate as they will be boarding passengers in 10 minutes. There was not enough time to us to get coffee or breakfast.
The flight from Kochi to Male(Velana International Airport) went smoothly. So aside from the strict security, we didn't experience anything unusual during our transfer.
Arrival At Velana International Airport
We arrived on time at Velana International Airport. The first objective after arriving was to exchange for some local Maldivian currency, get breakfast and most importantly a sim card.
First, we went to the currency exchange located inside the arrival area of the airport. We opt to change USD 100 only as I read in blogs that Maldivians also accept dollars in payment and that they usually charge you more if you pay in their local currency.
We still want to have at least a few local currencies with us for any transaction that might not accept dollars. It will be up to you how much you want to change. We got MVR 1500. MVR means Maldivian Rupee.
Tip number three. Get a sim card. This is not that important but it will help in a lot of ways. First off, it will be easier for you to contact your hotel and any tours you want to take if you have a local number.
Another helpful thing about sim cards is that you will have wifi connection all around the island as the range of these sims is wide and you won't need to wait for you to get back to your hotel if you want to get updated with your social media and emails.
The package we took is a 17gb sim that costs around USD 20 or MVR 308 but they're charging us MVR 320 if we pay by their local currency. There is a cheaper data package that you can choose from depending on your needs. We believe that the 17gb is the right amount for us so that is what we bought.
|Maldivian Sim Card Price|
The sim is really good as we get a connection anywhere in Maldives. The tour has a somewhat long travel time to the snorkeling area so the internet was really helpful to relieve boredom.
There are two providers of local sims in Maldives. These are Dhiraagu and Ooredoo. You can easily find both sim shops after exiting the airport. It is up to you which provider to get but we took Ooredoo just because the Dhiraagu shop doesn't look like its open when we arrived.
Good things for us, both our cellular phones are dual sim, meaning we can put two sim cards at the same time.
After buying our sim, we took breakfast. This is what I actually like with Velana Airport. Although we didn't expect it to have lots of places where they will have fast-food chains, the airport has Burger King in it and other coffee shops that are familiar to people like me. It was not that hard to choose where to eat.
Boat Ride with Kaani Grand Seaview
After getting our sim cards, we first took photos around the place as it is simply mesmerizing. Just outside the arrival area of the airport, you can see all blue as it is surrounded by the sea.
Here is where we met a lovely french couple who we didn't realize was together with us on our flight from Dubai to Male. We talked a little bit and the reason they approached us is that they are also going to Maafushi Island but also have no idea how to get there.
We have the same dilemma, so we decided to look for it together. Before our flight to Male, I sent an email to the hotel coordinator on how we can reach the said place in Maafushi.
I learned from different blogs that there is a public ferry that goes to Maafushi every day from Male. This cost around USD 2 and departs Male Viligili Ferry Terminal every day except Friday at 03:00 P.M. This will take you 1 hour and almost 45 minutes before you arrive in Maafushi. You also have to make your way to Male as the public ferry doesn't stop by the airport which is in Hulhumale.
If you're into the budget trip this is the best cost-friendly trip to Maafushi. There are two other options to choose from
The 2nd choice is to go by Private Speed Boat. This will cost USD 150 for 8 passengers, USD 250 for 28 passengers and USD 550 for 50 Passengers max. The price mentioned is per way and not per person. This should also be booked in advance as they will not be able to accommodate you if you plan to take it on the same day.
|Private Speed Boat (8 Pax)|
|Private Speed Boat (28 Pax)|
|Private Speed Boat (50 Pax)|
If you're going to Maafushi with a group, this is a possible option for you as you can divide the cost with each passenger.
The third option, which is the option we chose is provided by our hotel accommodation Kaani Grand Seaview. It is also a speed boat transfer that costs USD 20 per passenger per ride and will take 35 minutes of travel time only much like the private speed boat. This will save you time and energy compared to the public ferry. Also, Ms. FeebleFeet always gets seasick so a long journey by boat is a big NO for her.
This will also go directly from the airport and will have morning travel time. No need for you to travel to Male (although the travel time to Male is not that significant as it will also take 10 minutes to get there) to catch your boat transfer.
|Kaani Grand Speedboat Transfer|
If you plan to book your accommodation with Kaani Grand Seaview then you can send them an email and inform them of your arrival date so that they can include you in their lists of passengers. I believe you can make arrangements as well with your accommodation with regard to the same transfer.
Kaani Grand Seaview has a booth in the airport where you can wait for their representative to arrive. You can go directly to counter number 20. Mohamed Xan, the reservation manager usually responds in a day for any inquiries. You can reach him out on his contact details below.
We didn't have a hard time talking to Mr. Xan and he made sure that our boat transfer will go smoothly and as planned.
Speed Boat Transfer to Maafushi
As informed by Mr. Xan, we were greeted by one of their representatives who assisted and helped us get to the arranged boat transfer. After reaching the boat and putting our luggage inside their cabin, our boat went to Male to pick up some more passengers at that time.
It did take around the estimated travel time of 35 minutes for us to reach Maafushi.
Maafushi looks like your local island with a long dock for speed boats and ferries. It can be compared to the boat ride from Caticlan to Boracay island if you've been to the said place in the Philippines except for the travel time.
The local island of Maafushi is so serene and peaceful as people walk around the island doing their daily routines. As our boat arrives at the dock of Maafushi we saw representatives of different hotel accommodations waiting while holding a sign with their hotel names in it. We were again greeted by the hotel staff as we alight the boat. They took all our belongings and put in on their huge luggage cart.
The whole island is very small, the blogs that you will read about Maafushi will always describe the island as small that you can even see the whole island in one hour. Kaani Grand Seaview will be a 5 to 10-minute walk from the docks.
While walking, we notice that you can even see the other side of the island from docks, meaning it is truly small. We heard birds chirping and even saw some flying by the shore. One of the nicest things about Maafushi is the bountiful fish that you can see from the docks.
Docks or boat terminals usually will be busy with ferries and will somewhat be polluted with garbage. This is not the case with Maafushi. The water of Maafushi is so clear that you can even see the school of fish swimming underneath. The sea is brimming with different fish sizes and colors that it will leave you speechless with how beautiful clear seawater is.
The air is also fresh around the island. When we arrived, the sky was a bit dim which according to the hotel staff that we talked to, is because of the drizzles which happened the previous night. It was not a hot day when we arrived, the weather is just perfect and it definitely complimented the beauty of the island.
Checking-In At Kaani Grand Seaview
We arrived around 10 minutes before 10:00 A.M. which is a bit too early from our check-in time of 02:00 P.M but nevertheless, the staff of Kaani Grand Seaview still accommodated us upon arrival.
They asked us to sit and wait as one of their staff will talk to us with regards to our room arrangement. We were offered hot towels to freshen us up after a long journey and offered us cold teas to quench our thirst.
After a few minutes, one of their staff who introduced himself as Khaosar, gave us an introduction of the tours that we can avail while we're waiting for our room. He provided us with detailed information about the tours to take, what is included in it, how much it is per person and the best time to do all the things we wanted to do.
The staffs of Kaani Grand were really helpful and polite. They made us comfortable while we were waiting for the room to be assigned. One staff also offered to buy a lighter for me as my own lighter was taken from Kochi airport and the cost of 1 lighter in Velana airport is USD 6 so it is quite expensive to buy one.
They assisted us in every query we have about the place, like where can we eat good food and where are the grocery stores or money exchange around the place.
The only downside with our experience, while we were checking in, is that we were too early. They cannot give us the room as it was fully booked at the time and we were specifically requesting for a room with a sea view balcony. We did roam around the island first and left our luggage behind the reception of the hotel and found one good cafe to eat but we badly need a shower at the time so the long waiting time definitely did tire us more.
One good tip that we can give you is that on your travel date make sure to wear comfortable clothing as to give you more freedom to roam around the island without feeling the need to get a shower.
The good thing about the hotel is that they did their best to provide us a room even before the 02:00 P.M check-in time as they know we were tired. So, instead of the room we were about to get, they transferred our room to a different one with which we can go already.
We paid USD 479.46 for 5 days and four nights in a single queen bed size room with a balcony overlooking the bikini beach view of the hotel.
|Kaani Grand Seaview|
Parasailing At Water Sports Beach
After taking a good shower and admiring the beauty and view of our sea view room with balcony, we went down to start our activities on the island. We wanted to maximize our stay on the island and chose to rest in the evening only. We talked again with Khaosar (one of the hotel staff) on what we can do around the island as it is already late for tours.
We learned that tours start early in the morning as it will need some time to travel to the mentioned places included in the tour. Khaosar suggested that we go for the night fishing and that it will really be fun as we'll be eating the fish that will catch on the trip. We politely declined the suggestion but we again asked for other activities that we can do.
He brought us to this one water sports company just outside the Kaani Grand Seaview. I believe the name of the watersports company is Arriba. He brought us there because we told him that we wanted to try parasailing and if he knows any company that gives good prices for this.
We know that locals will be polite with us as we are a tourist and they will need us to take their services but the level of friendliness and politeness of the locals in Maafushi is simply top-notch.
The guy manning their booth was really friendly and was joyously talking to us. Note: Almost all the tour groups and companies in Maafushi have staff that understand the English language so it will never be hard to ask or talk to people around Maafushi. The guy who we forgot the name, showed us the price for the parasailing and other water sports activities like Kayaking, Jet Ski and Fun-Tubing (I will tell you later what this is).
It was quite pricey even for us as the price of just parasailing is USD 75 per person and the price range of other activities was from USD 35 to USD 75. We were actually pushing for the parasailing and will forego the other activities so we asked for a discount. He then offered the same price of USD 75 each for us on the parasailing but added other activities which made it look like a watersport activity package.
He included Jet Ski for 20 minutes, Fun Tube and Kayaking for 1 hour. We were shocked as we were not expecting this. This might be their marketing plan or maybe it is the off-peak season that he gave this deal to us but we were more than happy to take the deal.
|Watersports Package( Per pax)|
We actually didn't expect much change to the price if ever we haggle for it but after offering us this deal. We now have a watersport activity for at least 4 days. He told us that we can take the activities anytime we want while we were staying on the island. The price is actually pretty cheap for all the things that they offered us as I remember back in the Philippines, Parasailing also costs around PHP 2,500 per person.
We started with the Parasailing activity so the same guy brought us to a boat near the docks which was ready to go when we arrived. The boat crew consists of 3 people and they brought us in the middle of the sea nearby Maafushi island to start the activity.
It felt like we rented the boat privately as we were the only guest doing the parasailing.
One of the crew members briefed us with the do's and don'ts, the sign language for every action that we want to do. and the things to remember while we were flying in the air with a parachute.
After that, they helped us securely put the vests that will be attached to the parachute and helped us make our way at the end of the boat where the parachute is currently being prepared for flying.
After a few minutes of preparation, we found ourselves in the air feeling the light breeze of the afternoon weather overlooking Maafushi island and the nearby resorts. Maldives as a whole is simply stunning. The actual view of the place is a bit better than what is shown in the pictures. It really is a paradise island.
We were flying for approximately 15 minutes before we decided to tell the crew that we wanted to go down and finish the experience. The experience while going down is a bit better as the wind gets stronger near the boat and we're a bit speeding up so we can feel more wind coming our way.
After that, they sent us back to the docks of Maafushi sending us off with a smile.
2nd Water Activity - Jet Ski
After the Parasailing activity, we felt that it was still a bit early. We started going out of the room around 03:00 P.M. and we still have time before the watersports beach closes.
Since we still have the energy as well, we went directly back to the Arriba booth and ask for the Jet Ski activity which they politely obliged to assist. They brought us to a free Jet Ski near the shore of the watersport beach and again gave us a brief of the activity do's and don'ts. The guy then asked us if we'll be both driving the single Jet Ski. I told him that I will be the only one driving as Ms. FeebleFeet is a bit scared of the open sea.
He asked me to hop on the Jet Ski and told me to drive with him first outside the open sea. This is for him to show which area of the beach we'll be allowed to drive the Jet Ski and which part is shallow waters that might damage the vehicle.
I forgot to mention that before we went to the location of the Jet Ski, the guy in the booth made us sign a waiver indicating that if we capsized the boat we would need to pay USD 50 for the repairs and all other damages.
After showing me the areas that I can we drive to, we started to make our way to the open sea. Again, the experience was beautiful simply because of the clear bluish water of the island. We went pass by a ship anchored in the middle of the ocean with people doing their usual routine inside and outside the ship.
The waves were not that strong so our drive was smooth and we didn't encounter any problems while roaming the sea near the island. The French couple we were with earlier on our way to Maafushi did the same Jet Ski activity the next day and was able to encounter some dolphins. We were not that lucky though.
After a few turns within the area of Maafushi Island we decided to end our Jet Ski even if we're not yet called by the staff of Arriba. It was really fun as there's not much tourist playing in the watersports beach so it feels like we rented the area.
Spending the First Night In Maafushi Island
Jet Ski was so much fun that we were so tired after the activity. We chose to spend and watch the sunset while soaking and playing in the bikini beach. At around 05:30 P.M. we went back to our room to take a shower and prepare for dinner.
We went down to search for a cafe that was suggested to us by the shop that we went too earlier that day. He said that the lobster being sold at the said place will cost cheaper than other places.
We became interested in this place and since we don't really have any idea of where to eat we decided to check out the said cafe. We ate lobster and tuna in the said place. I will talk a bit more regarding this food place on our food blog. You can check out our reviews of the places we went to eat good food.
The first day was really exhausting but at the same time very fun. We felt that we maximized our time on that first day and we were able to enjoy our first day of vacation. The island is simply relaxing.
No pollution and you can feel the freshness in the air. It was something that we usually experience when we visit our provinces as urban/city places will not have the same effect and vibe.
Day 1 itinerary
September 11, 2019
07:00 P.M - 11:10 P.M > Check-In, immigration, waiting for boarding, and flight to Kochi.
September 12, 2019
04:00 A.M > Arrival at Kochi International Airport
04:00 A.M - 06:00 A.M > Layover, immigration check, boarding, and flight to Male.
07:10 A.M > Arrival at Velana International Airport, Maldives
07:30 A.M - 09:00 A.M > Picture taking outside the airport, bought sim cards(Ooredoo), ate breakfast at the airport, waited for the speed boat transfer to be ready.
09:00 A.M - 09:50 A.M > Travel time to Maafushi island. Travel time is only 35 to 40 minutes. The additional time was from the short stopover in Male city and the passenger boarding.
10:00 A.M - 12:30 P.M > Registration at Kaani Grand Seaview, hotel payment, and tour introduction. We went out a little bit to check the island and ate lunch. By the time we finished eating, the room still not ready so we waited at the hotel lounge.
12:30 P.M - 03:00 P.M > Shower, rest, free time.
03:00 P.M - 05;30 P.M > Parasailing, Jet Ski and bikini beach swimming.
06:30 P.M - 8:30 P.M > Dinner
08:30 P.M - 10:00 P.M > Free time
10:00 P.M > Sleep Time
We went to bed a little early than our usual sleeping time of 12 midnight as we were planning to catch the early real break tour which will start at around 8 the following morning.
We badly want to eat breakfast first before the tour so we chose to rest a little early.
Day 1 Expense (Per Pax)
|Maldivian Sim Card Price|
|Kaani Grand Speedboat Transfer|
|Kaani Grand Seaview(for 2 pax)|
These were the major things that we paid before and on the first day of our Maldives trip. If you're on a budget you can save money on the meals. Meal will vary from USD 5 to USD 40 per person. It will depend on how you want to use your money. We paid USD 70 for the lobster dinner and USD 20 for the breakfast, USD 30 for lunch.
Assuming the hotel charge is by per day basis divided by 2, it will cost around USD 48 per person.
Total expense on our 1st day in Maldives >
|Total Expense - Day 1 (Per person)|
It looks costly at first glance but you have to remember that we paid our ticket in advance (6 months). It will definitely depend on where you will stay on the island and how you plan to reach Maafushi. It can be done on a budget. You just need to cut on the expenses.
That's it for our first-day experience, itinerary and expenses. Watch out for our day 2! We'll definitely provide you detailed blogs of our daily experience in the wondrous island of Maafushi in Maldives.
Watch out for our day 2 video in youtube to give you a visual idea of what we did! Click link here.