Maldives is an absolutely stunning country in the Indian ocean. It is made up of thousands of tiny coral islands which creates gorgeous sandy beaches and is the main attraction.
I grew up in Sri Lanka (Maldives closest neighbor), but getting to Maldives never crossed my mind. General itinerary with Maldives is that you book an expensive resort, stay for a number of days. But this isn’t why I wanted to get there. I wanted to see the real Maldives. One that doesn’t exist to the outside world.
While researching, I came across a new guesthouse located in a ‘village island’, meaning where the locals live (compared to islands that only consist of a resort) and is located in island of Dhiffushi, north of Male’.
Why stay in a village island?
Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted the ‘authentic’ Maldivian experience, plus I didn’t want to pay big bucks to get away from the capital and see it all in its rustic and natural setting. Price you pay to stay in a village setting is cheap as chips compared to a resort but the experience is unforgettable…
Where is it and how to get there?
Dhiffushi is about 2.5 hours by local ferry and I highly recommend you take this slow but more relaxed mode of transportation to experience how the locals do it, and if you want to save the cost of an expensive speed boat ride which can be pretty taxing.
Local ferry departs from Villingili Ferry terminal on the eastern side of the Male’ island. Ferry cost about 20 rufiya which is great and leaves in the afternoon around 2-2.30pm.
Tip: No one in the main airport ferry terminal knows about the ferry to Dhiffushi so asking them will be a waste of time. I’d recommend get to Villingili ferry terminal early, purchase your ticket and then sit in one of the many chairs available in the reception hall under a fan to cool down.
Happy Life Maldives Guesthouse is not a resort, but a smaller lodge style accommodation located in a picturesque corner of the island. They have direct access to the beach where even the local congregate in the evenings.
Lodge is a short stroll from where the ferry arrives and a staff member was there to pick me up. It is a nice small place and has coral sand in the main restaurant area (lovely). Reception area is quite open so you don’t really feel the heat. Nonetheless the fans will help anyone during the day!
Rooms were impeccable, given that I was the only one to enjoy the very big room which usually accommodates 3 people. It was fun! Bathroom was spotless and I admired the whole room setting. Only downside to the room was the tiny staircase which is quite steep and the lack of views from the 3 windows (yes 3!). Room was air conditioned and is great to avoid the day time heat.
Hapy Life is very close to the beach, although you cannot consider it as a beach-front property. Price I paid included meals and was well worth it. Food prepared by staff was tasty and I certainly did like the authentic and rustic meals. If you need more, you can always head to the numerous local cafes and have some hedhikka like I did (I had more than enough). I even bought some local dried fish and ‘mas mirus’ (a local chillie paste equivalent) to take home. Yum!
Beach nearest to the lodge is excellent with crystal clear waters and you can just lay in the beach and admire the view. It is great for snorkeling too if you can as you can see some small fish around. I was able to see baby shark very close to the beach.
You can also borrow the kayak and go around the Island or close to Meeru Island resort.
Local women usually hang around the beach during the evening and clean it so its always clean.
Once you’re in the island, you have the same rights as a local and are free to walk around this island. You can see people going about their daily routines whether it be fishing or boat repairs or even lazing about doing nothing.
Things to do
Hassan, the local manager at Happy Life is awesome. He was more than happy to arrange anything I wanted to do in the island like fishing, kayaking, snorkelling, etc. Unfortunately I was too scared to go fishing at night so I had to give it a miss which I regret to this day… If I can go back in time, I’d do it in the blink of an eye.
If you prefer to go back to Male’ by a speed boat, ask Hassan about the Sun Island resort speed boat service which would be cheaper. I decided to take this option as leaving around 5am in the morning by local ferry that takes 2.5hours is not worth it. (especially if you did it once!)
Where: Dhiffushi, Maldives
Room Type: Standard Double
When: December, 2012
Booked direct with the hotel