Many tourists ask me if there is a beach near airport that they could enjoy. People on business trips usually do not have time to go other islands. After fishing their business meetings they get few hours in the afternoon and they want to experience what Maldives is all about.
Ibrahim Nasir Internatinal Airport is the main gateway to Maldives that serves to over 99% of tourists. Addu International Airport in south serves to two resorts and some guesthouses. If you are arriving via Colombo you may get better airfares to Addu than the main airport. Hanimaadhoo International Airport is on the north of the country and sometimes operate direct flights between India. On this post I am going to assume are visiting the main airport and you want the options to enjoy.
Maldives is luxury tourist destination. At least it was so for many years, until the recently developed guesthouse industry that serves to budget clients. All guests visiting Maldives will get beach experience and time in the sea if you want. Why am I mentioned of something that is so obvious? There is no other country in the world that has same geological features as Maldives. Hence, tourists visiting those countries for beaches and islands may not necessarily get that unless they booked a specific location which offers those attractions. For example, Fiji has beautiful islands similar to Maldives (but not exactly like Maldives) and if you visit the capital island you would not see beach or sea. It is a big land mass. If you visit Maldives capital, there are two public beaches and some islands you could escape to easily. Hulhumale’ is a newly developed part of the capital city which is separate island, it takes just 20 minute ferry to go there. Public ferry are operated throughout the day time till very late at night. It does not cost a dollar and waiting time is usually 10 minutes in the terminal. Capital Male’ itself is very small, you could walk to sea side from any point within 10 minutes, not only Male’ but any island as well. Another island that is considered a town of Male’ is Vilingili island, it takes only 15 minutes by regularly operated ferry. Vilingili is a very tiny island, motor vehicles very few as everyone could walk to any place within 10 minutes. There are few nice beaches and in weekended the local residents from Male’ often go there to enjoy. Hulhumale’ is one of the largest islands in Maldives, recently expanded to second phase of development for which the land is reclaimed but it currently remains empty. Public beach of Hulhumale’ is over a mile long, there is a special area of the beach if you want to wear bikini and do sun bathing. Maldives is a Muslim country and being modestly covered while in public areas is important, tourists and public co-exist peacefully and functions smoothly.
There are Dive Centres, Watersports Centres, many cafes and restaurants in Male’, Hulhumale’ and Vilingili. Do not get confused, there are few islands named Vilingili in Maldives. The island near capital Male’ is sometimes referred as Vilimale’ while others still use the actual island name Vilingili.
If you have couple of days to stay in the Maldives there are other local islands and resorts you could visit, even though it is just 1 night or two. The island of Gulhi is very close by, ferry is there at least once daily. Maafushi has more tourism than any other island near airport. It fact, most of the time there are more guests in Maafushi than locals.
Maafushi is a budget island with nice beaches and tropical vegetation. Watersports and diving is also provided by multiple parties. There is a sandbank called Sexy Beach which is about 10 minutes by speedboat. Prices vary from hotel to hotel, also based on season. You could expect to get a double room for US$70 – $130 a night, tax inclusive. Some are relatively big hotels with few dozens of rooms but majority of hotels are small ones with less than 10 rooms.
Guraidhoo is near Maafushi, compared to Maafushi it does not have that many tourists but the chances are you being the only tourists is zero. Guesthouse market is big as many people living in capital cities of the world could afford it. Guraidhoo is very close to Holiday Inn Kandooma resort, if you want to spend most of your stay in guesthouse and escape to resort for one night it is very convenient here. You could actually swim to the resort, it is that close.
Maafushi is the most popular guesthouse island in the Maldives, may be because it is close to airport. Dhigurah, Thoddoo and other islands in South Aril Atoll and North Ari are other popular choices among budget travelers.
Huraa is another island in Male’ atoll that is very close to airport. It takes about 15 minutes to visit Huraa by speedboat. If you want to save, you could use the public ferry. If you contact any guesthouse in Huraa they could offer a speedboat ferry too, at very low prices. Speedboat ferries are operated from Male’ to many islands, guesthouses could help you book and you can pay to guesthouse. Timing is important to note, to most islands there is only 1 ferry a day. If you are arriving by international flight you need to keep time to proceed through the terminal. From airport to Male’ the ferry takes 10 minutes and mostly waiting time is 5 minutes. Once you arrive you may walk to the location of ferry. Guesthouses usually arrange a local guide to meet you and escort you to the ferry location.
If you are communicating guesthouse over internet you could buy a sim card with mobile 4G internet that the airport. Just ask someone as soon as you exist and you could see two shops side by side. Both carriers offer 4G internet in all local islands and resorts. When you have internet you can continue communicating with the Airport Representative who may go there to receive you. Most guesthouses user Viber or Whatsapp for convenience. If you do not see Airport Representative and have no internet you can approach to information counter to and they call guesthouse.
Other than islands and public beaches in Male’ there are few sandbanks too. most popular is Sexy Beach near Maafushi, considering you want to stay near airport. Other sandbank is near Grand Park Kodhipparu. Snorkeling is very good near Kodhiparru sandbank. You may hire a private escape or join a schedule trip through guesthouses in Hulhumale’.