Fulidhoo is an amazing option for the budget traveler wishing to dive the Maldives. Past the typical white sand beaches and endless palm trees there is a welcoming sweetness to the island that epitome of ~IsLaNd vIbEs~ After getting off the ferry, I did not put my shoes back on until it was time to head home as the sandy streets were too inviting for bare feet.
450 people are registered as living on Fulidhoo, however it only hosts about 150 at a time as many of the inhabitants go to Male for education or Resort Islands for work. Motorized vehicles are mainly prohibited on the island though you will see rechargeable bikes. There is an ambulance, however they haven’t used it yet.
“We just carried them to the hospital,” Ateif, the tour guide from Kinan Guest House told us when we asked about coconuts falling on people (it’s happened twice). “The island is quite small you see.”
In fact, the island is only 675 by 200 meters.
There are also no police on the island as they have not needed to use them yet. Plans have been made to bring one or two from a neighboring island as tourism increases. I never felt anything but completely safe in Fulidhoo however, even when we accidentally forgot keys in the door when we left.
Additionally, Fulidhoo is a wonderful example of a pristine island learning that waste could be massively detrimental to their ecosystem and tourism. The garbage center is consistently sorted for metal, glass, etc and the people look out for things they can reuse or recycle. Next door a stack of wood cut down to build houses piles up,free for the taking as long as people ask first. The store fronts have posters urging customers to ‘Ban the Bag’, and the island has began collecting plastic for programs like PARLEY.
There is a small Bikini Beach, with plans for a snack hut and a scattering of chairs. One of the snorkel sites is here as well. Unfortunately it was massively bleached in 2016, however there are still some surviving colonies. We even spotted an Eagle Ray.
The bad news is the constant and slow construction. Fulidhoo, seems to be on the brink of exploding with 100 room guest house on the horizon. The question seems to be if it will keep it’s idyllic nature, or if it will succumb to a tourist trap. My suggestion is to get there soon, before the island is overrun.
We did two amazing dives with Fulidhoo Dive that have been some of my favorite so far in the Maldives. Surface intervals hosted dolphins and even a Manta Sighting! Their gear was brand new and both Ali and Adele were a treat to meet!
Hunting grey reef sharks, a school of barracuda, the occasional cruising whitetip and even a shy but beautiful devil ray. This channel was full of curious animals that weren’t too shy to get close and explore. A major highlight as well was the colorful soft corals lining the caves at the end. Nearly impossible for me to get a decent picture of, these corals reminding me of a candy store with their pastel cotton candy colors.
Alimatha House Reef-
Previously the local nurse sharks were fed leftover fish and now this area is absolutely teaming with them. Ali, our guide, was wise enough to suggest we enter the water before sunset so there was light for pictures. This was a wonderful suggestion as we didn’t have to share the site with other divers until about 5 minutes before our dive was over as it get dark. This dive was unlike anything I’ve ever done and an amazing experience for shark lovers.
I’ve always been they type of traveler who arrives to the airport 2 hours early, no matter how remote of corner of the world. I’m a bit stressed for about 12 hours before that I’ll miss my flight. So, when we found out Diederiks flight did not land until 8:15 and the ferry we needed to catch, -which was a customs visit, bag collection, ferry, hailing of a cab and crossing the capital during rush hour away- left at 10, I was a bit antsy.
Luckily he had incredible timing. His bag was the second on the belt and a breeze through customs so he arrived to the terminal with time to order and eat breakfast. Typically however, this type of journey would require about a minimum of an hour and a half.
All portions of the journey are quite cheap: the first ferry from Airport Island to Male costing about a dollar, followed by a two dollar cab ride across Male. The three hour ferry to Fulidhoo only costs about 2 dollars, however if you wish to save about 2 hours speedboats are also available for about $50 a seat.
The ferry terminal at Viligili is quite basic. There is a restroom, a shop around the corner with drinks and snacks. Across the street was a nice cafe with yummy a la carte breakfasts and a $7 buffet with typical Maldivian breakfast foods (tuna, hardboiled eggs, pancakes).
The ferry to Fulidhoo is a large traditional Dhoni that moves quite slow They have snacks and water for sale on board. While there isn’t usually much space to stretch out downstairs you can always make your way to the roof, make sure you take your shoes off so that you can get extra grip. Our day wasn’t rough and no one got sea sick, but i definitely suggest getting tablets ahead of time if your prone to it (remember to take them 30 minutes prior to the trip). There is one stop, Maafushi, before you reach the final destination. Maafushi seems to be an even more popular guest house island.
The Guest House – Kinan Retreat
We were greeted at the terminal by a small sign stating “Kinan Retreat” and our new friend Ateif. The Guest House is beachfront facing the jetty, and you couldn’t ask for a better location, especially if you’ll be diving as the dive shop is located right next door.
After a welcoming tropical fruit juice and some short paperwork we headed up to the room where we were informed we had received a complimentary upgrade, a pristine ocean view and a balcony awaited us. There was no TV, but come on, do you really go all the way to the Maldives to sit in your room at watch television?!
The hotel offered complimentary breakfast and additional meals were available for $10 a piece. Breakfast was toast, cereal, hotdogs, tortillas and tuna. Dinners were quite good- a variety of local dishes- fish, curry, noodles, rice and salad wth extra plates always appearing if things ran low. Desserts were always brought out right as we said ‘now, we just need something sweet.’ One night the hotel even arranged for a surprise Boda Bura, a traditional Maldivian music and dance, for us after we ate.
Like I’ve said, Fulidhoo in many ways seems like it’s about to explode with guest houses, but I can’t imagine that there will be any that can really top Kinan.