- Topics covered
- Visa for Maldives/ Currency conversions
- Short Itinerary
- Places we covered
- Private Resort Island – Coco bodu Hithi
- Public Island – Maafushi/ Cocoa/ Ghuli
- A day Trip to Ghuli Island
- Things to Note
- Approx cost per person for 6 Nights and 7 days
Introduction & Touchdown
After years of lockdown and travel restrictions, I was dying to venture out of India. When I spoke to my friends about this, they were ready to jump into adventure with me. When we were looking for country to decide and all of us unanimously agreed on Maldives. Even though, Maldives remains a romantic tropical paradise, it also attracts a wide range of tourists from across the globe. Many people think its not ideal place to go with friend because you are confined to one resort on a remote small island and most of the guests will be couples. Yes, it may be true, but its not finality. You can do lot of things along with getting ample amount of sun, exploring water rides & Underwater world in fabulous sea’s along with having a relaxing holiday.
To me, Maldives speaks the language of Love. Candlelit dinners, romantic barefoot strolls along the beach, private islands that house beautiful water villa always showed an ultimate luxurious getaway for honeymooners. Even with all this, we thought we could try out something different with friends. When we saw the direct flight prices as 6500 one way, our plan to visit Maldives was sealed. Its a pretty great choice for a trip away with friends.
To me travelling on a budget and hopping island in the Maldives is far superior to staying in one of the luxury resorts. However, I wanted to experience the luxurious water villa’s and jump into the sea from their balcony. So, we made plan to split our time in both Private and Public Island (detailed itinerary Below). I think, our mix and match Itinerary was awesome. We got see the best of both worlds.
As we were getting closer to our flying dates, we were super exited. Luckily we got a cheaper flight in the morning. I was anticipating for a good Ariel view. When we flew above the Maldives actual experience was breath taking. Ariel view is the best way to understand amazing diversity of shapes and sizes of thousands of Islands that Maldives is made of. On the perfect time of the day, with clear skies, the islands were lying like jewels right in the middle of the Indian Ocean deep blue color with Turquoise blue outlines. None of us are photographers however we took out our camera and tried to capture this splendor the best we could.
Visa for Maldives/ Currency conversions
You do not need a visa for the Maldives if you are travelling for tourism. Nationals of all countries can get a Maldives visa on arrival, free of charge, for stays of up to 30 days. All passengers arriving to and departing from the Maldives are required to complete the Travelers Declaration form within 72 hours of the flight time in the below link.
After submitting this form, you will get a QR Code. Keep that Handy.
Other expected documents to be kept Handy during Immigration (No one checked on this for us except Passport)
- 6 months Valid passport
- Pre-paid accommodation in the Maldives (e.g. a hotel reservation)
- A return-flight ticket to your home country or Visa for next Destination
- Covid Vaccination Certificate
You need to fill the Air Suvidha form while returning back to India. Make sure to complete Air Suvidha form and Covid Vaccination certificate handy
One thing that is very important while travelling to another country is money. Figuring out how best to get foreign currency, or how much cash to carry while going abroad could be a confusing task. In the Maldives, most of the travel expenses are billed in the major currencies like USD, GBP and EUR, though USD remains the most widely accepted currency in the resort islands. USD is accepted in Guest house, hotels, restaurants and giftshops in local Island. Its ok even if you don’t carry Maldivian Rufiyaa.
If you’re staying in a private resort, there is a high possibility that all your expenses are included in final bill (food, drinks, water sports other amenities like Yoga & spa). You can pay that during your checkout time using international Credit or debit card.
In public Island people might ask you for cash to be paid in advance. They tell you mostly in USD. I would suggest you to keep small amount of Maldivian rufiyaa always handy. Check out Budget section at the end of this Post.
1USD = 16 MVR Maldivian Rufiyaa (As of May 2022)
1MVR = 5.5 INR Indian Rupees (As of May 2022)
Day1 – Land in Maldives. Take a speed boat to Coco Bodu Hithi. Check in and walk along those beautiful shores
Day2 – Explore the Resort. Take a dip in those turquoise blue waters. Dip in Jacuzzi/villa pool.
Day 3 – Watching Sunrise & Morning Yoga and walk in beach. Explore Snorkeling. Move to Coco residency. Explore Spa & wellness. Wonderful dip in Infinity pool followed by dinner
Day 4 – Using the lower-level ladder get into the ocean to explore more of water lagoon & house reef. Check-out after Lunch. Back to airport.
Transfer to public Island Maafushi. Check in – at Maafushi. Sunset in Bikini Beach & walk along the shores and streets of Maafushi in night (Check out Make my trip for booking)
Day 5 – Complete water sport exploration day. Snorkelling, Dolphin Point, Move to Sand Beach of Cocoa Island, Lunch and more snorkeling. House reefs of Biyadhoo & Fulidhoo Island. You could explore on Scuba, Para sailing & other water activities like kayak, Banana ride etc.
Day 6 – Island hop. Explore Ghuli Island. Dip in Bikini beach of Ghuli.
Day 7 – Back in Maafushi. Shopping. Transfer to Airport and Bangalore.
Places we covered
Private Island – Coco Bodu Hithi
- Transfers and check in
- Restaurant and Bar
- Activates ( Watersports/Yoga/Spa & Wellness/Badminton court)
Once we started our planning, we had an informal discussion about where everyone wants to go and what each one wants from the trip. We discussed on financial capacity of all and to accommodate every one’s need. I wasn’t that keen on Private resort island, but I definitely wanted to explore water villa. I kept on looking at “Make my trip website” for budget stay with all-inclusive plan for a day or two. All my friends were open for any resort as long as it fit our bill. When we researched more on stay one of my friend stumbled upon “Coco Budu Hithi”. She then put her heart and Soul in visiting “Coco Budu Hithi.” She negotiated the terms of our stay. We agreed because it fit our bill.
Coco Budu Hithi is one of the luxurious five-star resorts. It provides a chic island escape while staying true to the Maldivian charm and its natural island surroundings. It is relatively small island on the western stretch of the North Malé Atoll.
The Transfer & Check-in
We arrived at Velana International Airport in noon and our immigration was smooth. Once we came out, we saw a person holding Coco Bodu Hithi wooden name plaque. He took us, along with few others guests towards resort counter. His reassuring smile made our doubts melt away. The ease of transfer from the departure lounge to the luxury boat transfer was a dream. I noticed then that all resorts have a counter in airport. We need to find your hotel counter and they will help and guide you for transfers.
I loved my first view of ocean outside the airport. Our resort representative guided us to speed boat. With in 15mins we were in boat. Boat ride was bumpy due to weather. I enjoyed the cool breeze, the sunny/cloudy mix skies, beautiful blue waters, roaring Jet sound, wave crashing and somersault in my stomach. Our smiles didn’t vanish from our face entire ride. It was easy, fun filled 45 mins of roller coaster.
I was mesmerized by my first view of Coco Bodu Hithi. Clear white sand those amazing looking water villas I was just in Awe. Resort host took us to reception and our Host Daria gave us a quick overview after our welcome drink and showed us to our Beach villa.
We stayed 2 nights in beach villa and 1 night in Coco Residency water villa. We had booked escape water villa, but due to renovation we got upgraded to residency water villa. We were lucky to get that upgrade. We loved both the views.
Island Villas are hidden within green vegetation and offer true privacy and seclusion. The accommodation was tropically dreamy with beautiful open design just Infront of water edge where we were greeted with crystal blue water and the finest white sand, we have stepped foot on.
Villa’s indoor space features a massive pool, a huge daybed, an outdoor shower and a seating area. We loved to take a dip in the pool and enjoy the sun on the lounge bed. It has a sunken living area with a large, comfortable sofa and large king size bed. The heart of the villa is the open Jacuzzi in the middle of the living area. It features a huge freestanding bathtub for two, an indoor shower and two sinks and mirrors.
The spacious outdoor deck offers a lounge area, a seating area, sunbeds and direct beach access. Unfortunately, we barely had a beach section in front of our villa. The beach access had to be secured by tree and View point.
The Coco Residences are a secluded cluster of spacious villas located at the northern tip of the island. Each villa has living room, bedroom, separate dressing area, massive bathroom with marble tub along with indoor and outdoor showers. The décor is luxurious with high ceilings, exposed beams and local art.
The best feature of the room which has 3 sliding doors to all rooms & most loved is the massive spacious balcony with private pool. This spacious deck had an amazing infinity pool, a four-poster daybed and two loungers to relax in the sun, as well as a seating area. Using the lower-level ladder, we could quickly get into the ocean, which was perfect for a quick swim or snorkeling in the lagoon. I spent majority of my stay in balcony either overlooking the view or in infinity pool or in lagoons. I just couldn’t get enough of that.
The Restaurants & Bars
None of are extreme foodies nor have an exotic taste for alcoholic beverages. Its feast for foodies and boozers. It has four restaurants, a wine loft and two bars.
Air restaurant is the main poolside restaurant which servers buffet-style breakfast, themed lunch and dinner along with Live cooking. I didn’t taste many items as I was vegetarian and I stick mostly to Indian counter. Dinner options were exotic. I had exceptional & exhilarating experience.
We didn’t taste food in any other restaurant apart from Air as I was vegetarian. Aqua (seafood), Tsuki (Japanese) and Stars (Fusion kitchen of Mediterranean and contemporary Asian flavors) all these contained mostly non vegetarian food. They serve dinner or lunch à la carte. If you crave a hookah, cocktail, mocktail or any other drink star bar or wine loft is perfect option.
Coco Bodu Hithi offers limited sports and recreation activities. Our Package included non – motor sports and all equipment free. However due to weather we couldn’t do Kayak. There is also a multi-purpose court and a recreation center on-site. It offers morning and evening Yoga classes for $ 28 an hour. It also has Spa & wellness. The Coco Spa is located close to the Coco Residences and has its own overwater area, connecting to the resort’s gym and a yoga pavilion. We experienced a cold plunge pool, a sauna, a steam room. After several dip in beach water, it was definitely required for our sore tanned muscles.
Other activities that are offered at Coco Bodu Hithi include but are not limited to a sunset cruise, a dolphin cruise, a sandbank escape and snorkelling trips. I suggest doing it in Public Island as I felt it was way expensive.
Snorkeling – House reef
Me and Veni took a house Reef Snorkeling. Its one of the best snorkeling experiences we had. House reef is gigantic and easily accessible from water villa or island. The house reef provides a habitat to beautiful fish, corals, and marine life that you will be delighted to swim with. We experienced the most exquisite species of marine beings. We saw a diverse array of small reef fish as well as large pelagic species including grey reef sharks, Turtle, turtle feeding and Tuna.
The best and lovely part of resort is its sustainable practices to retain its lush island and reduce its carbon footprint. From comb, brush, earbud, eco-friendly mug, signboards, Dustbin everything was eco-friendly. There is not even a single thing which I didn’t love. To conclude I would say Coco budu Hithi is a luxurious Maldives vacation in a beautiful tropical setting designed and feature everything you need for a relaxing vacation. It’s a perfect unforgettable Maldives vacation full of memorable experiences.
Starting Location: Bangalore, India
Vacation Duration: 3 Nights & 4 Days
Package Cost: INR 45000 (Note -We paid half the price quoted in Website. New different story for paying less. Not for everyone)
Stay Details :1 nights at the Coco Residency water villa with infinity pool and 2 nights at the island villa with pool
Package Inclusions: Stay, speed boat transfer, breakfast, lunch, and dinner (regular in Air restaurant) along with complimentary fruit basket and Champagne bottle
Package Exclusions: Flight tickets, island activities, other meals not included in the above inclusions
Public Island – Maafushi/ Ghuli
We checked out from Coco Bodu Hithi after Lunch. Our Coco Host connected with White shell – Maafushi resort and helped us in arranging a ferry to match our timing. I was struggling to find our contact and found him with the help of information center Guy. We met the White shell person in Airport information counter. He told to wait for few mins so that other passengers can arrive. Post that he helped us to get into the speed boat which was going to Maafushi.
Our situation changed abruptly. From being spoon fed in Coco to bringing groceries, cooking our own food and managing to eat ourselves. Yet, I was excited to meet locals and see how things are in public Island. My stay in Maafushi changed my whole view on Maldives. Till I left Coco I thought Maldives is impressive honeymoon destination only accessible to someone with deep pockets. Maafushi made me realize that there are lot of off-the-beaten-path and has several things to offer while going easy on your wallet.
The most popular of the public islands, Maafushi, is also one of the budget friendly island in the Maldives. It’s a small island occupying over 2 kms. It is easy to orient yourself when on the island. Since it is a conservative Muslim country, the local islands are very particular about swimwear. Anyhow, a designated area in all public island has bikini beach which allows beachgoers to clad in skimpy swimwear.
Our hotel guy picked us up from ferry point to hotel and helped in check-in. Once we checked- in he gave us the details of the island. We roamed around the island to get a feel of it and have relaxing Evening.
Water Activities Day
I feel the thriving water sports culture in the Maldives is hardly ever talked about amidst the hyped over water villas of Maldives. There is no deficiency of water-related activities in the serene islands. Snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, Scuba diving, parasailing, speed jet, banana ride and lot more. We have an entire lane of stalls in Maafushi which offer us several water sports activities. When we were wondering on what to choose our hotel offered a wonderful half day combo. We had our breakfast in the morning and we were all set for our water activities day.
Highlights of this half day tour
Inclusions – Speed boat for snorkelling point, Snorkelling equipment’s, Photo’s & video, snorkelling for 2 hours, Dolphin Point, Sand Beach, Upper shark point (if you are good at Snorkelling) & Lunch
Cost – $30
Timing – 8.00 To 2 PM
It was an amazing experience. We started our boat ride with intentions of starting the ride with snorkeling, however our guide got a info on the dolphins. In the Biyadhoo lagoons we saw 100’s of Dolphins spinning, cruising, jumping or playing in the bow wave of the Ocean. My all-time best memory of the Young Dolphins somersaulting. Dolphins are amiable and have a great sense of humor too. Our Sea boat driver drove followed those Dolphins for more than 20 mins and allowed us to have our full.
I experienced one of the best marine biodiversity. You need not know swimming to do snorkeling. It’s a honeypot for those who want to go underwater and explore the extraordinary world that lies beneath. I was fascinated with the coral reef and marine Flour and Fauna. Variety of sea species I found are too big to list here. Yet I can’t get my mind out of those beautiful reefs, Rays, Reef Fishes, sharks, Turtles, Jelly’s & Tuna’s. Whether you are an expert on marine life or not, you can still appreciate the colorful array of creatures you will be able to observe. All I can say is Dive and check out for yourselves.
When we had enough of Snorkeling we went to the sand banks of Cocoa Resort. I loved that white sand banks. We were hungry and exhausted after our long snorkeling trip. Sand banks were just so enticing, I couldn’t resist taking and another dip. We had our packed lunch here. We took lots of photos, swam, strolled around and swung in the hammock. Time will definitely fly by while you’re enjoying this experience, so make sure you make the most of it by just being there and relaxing.
We came back to hotel in late noon. we took a clean water bath and set out for the sunset in VELENA Beach. We experienced a wonderful sunset in those serene beaches.
Where to stay
There has been plenty of hotels and guest houses cropping up all over Maafushi. There is no dearth of hotels in Maafushi to choose from. Most are close to beach. Some high range one’s we saw are Triton, Khani and Arena. We stayed in a budget friendly Hotel which offered a complimentary breakfast. We stayed in whiteshell Island. We booked this through “Make my Trip”
Vacation Duration: 3 Nights & 4 Days
Stay Cost: 5000 INR
Room Type : Normal Deluxe room with AC
Stay Inclusions: Room, Welcome drink, 2 half liter water bottle per day & Breakfast
Transfers – Speed boat transfer (To and Fro from Airport) arranged by Hotel at $20 one way per person
Where to Eat
Given that its and Island its expected to have most food items as fresh sea food and lot of other non – vegetarian options. It is easy to walk in on any restaurant. While we were checking for vegetarian food options for dinner our Hotel guy suggested us to go to “Ocean Vista- You and Me” restaurant. It had several Indian food options. Cook there was Odian and he accommodated our vegetarian Option.
Note – Veg Food is difficult to find.
Men/ boys in Maafushi have a trend of having fantastic whipped up, breezy, curly long hair framing their faces.
Girls- Do you think long, Voluminous, curly, wild, gypsy, unruly ringlets as sexy?
A day Trip to Ghuli Island
With lot of islands to choose from it became difficult and confusing for us. We took the advise of our hotel guy and decided to visit Gulhi. Our hotel guy specifically told that the sand banks and beaches are lot cleaner and better to play in Gulhi. By then we were in Water for 6 days and it started to feel like all Island are more or less same. But all our prejudice were just knocked down by Gulhi.
Our hotel person arranged for the private speed boat pick and drop at the cost of $15 per person. Gulhi is one of the best quiet islands in the Maldives. It has one of the best beaches in the Maldives, a bikini beach which is a huge, white sand beach with clear, turquoise water. It is genuinely one of the most stunning beaches I have seen and definitely worth a visit. At the entrance to bikini beach, there are lots of different water sports on offer. Water sports depends on climate. If its sunny then its your day. Gulhi has the one of the best bikini beaches with a cute swing for photos in the middle of it.
Gulhi has decent number of restaurants to eat from. Gulhi Island is not very big, therefore, it is easy to get to know the island within an hour, and it takes very little effort to find shops and restaurants and you can try local sea food if you are foodie( Not for me, I m a vegetarian).
Medium budget travelers like me have the opportunity to experience the Maldives without spending hundreds in the resort room every night, as accommodations in Gulhi mainly consist of boutique hotels and affordable guest houses.
I was so reluctant to come out of Gulhi waters in the end. The soothing weather, Calming waters, super less crowed beach just sucked me in. Personally, i prefer Gulhi island much better than Maafushi island. I would suggest you to keep Gulhi in your itinerary. Have a joyful relaxing and peaceful time.
Thing to Note
- Wifi –— Airport, hotels, restaurants and bar’s have free internet available with a decent speed. I don’t suggest buying sim card.
- Veg Food Options – it is pretty hard for vegetarians to find the vegetarian food in restaurants. Limited Options.
- Private Island vs Public Island – All private islands are resort island. They charge you exorbitant amount. You get the luxury, but you will be stick to one island. Public Island are Budget friendly (easily 5 times cheaper than Private) and has options to Hop island.
- If you are booking Private Island resort, make sure to check Transfer costs. In several cases transfer costs is higher than room cost. I suggest taking all inclusive package. Even water bottle is chargeable. Some private resort islands may compel you to stay for minimum 3 nights. Not sure on this, cross verify this with resort before booking.
- Island Hop – We had several questions regarding this. We were worried about immigration and visa Issues in island hopping case. Luckily no one questioned us on this and we hopped Island’s easily. Don’t stick to one island. Hop and see more.
- Best part of Maldives is underwater world. Don’t hesitate to try snorkeling even if you don’t know swimming. Enquire with different vendors on rate before finalizing.
- Climate/ season — Season places an extremely important role in your Maldives visit. December to April is the best season as sea will be calm and it won’t be that hot. Unfortunately, it’s also Peak tourist season which means crowd. We went during season change period so we were lucky to experience all kind of weather from cloudy, breezy, rainy, Windy, stormy and super sunny. Other advantage of going Off season is Price. From Air fare to Hotel fare, there will be a dip.
- Safe for solo & women travelers – Yes, it is one of the safest destinations for solo and women travelers. Wonderful options for Girls trip as well.
- Alcohol forbidden in non- resort island. That means alcohol will not be found anywhere and is not sold in supermarkets, grocery stores. We still found them in lot of restaurants and bar in public Island.
- Number of days to stay – If you are sticking to one Island then not more than 3 days. All islands are small and you will exhaust all options soon.
- You will confined to one island. Each island is small and travel inside that island is only by walk. If you want to venture out of island then its only by ferry. In public Island Hotel guys can arrange ferry for you to Hop islands. Ferry cost varies based on distance. For smaller distance it is $15 to $25 both ways.
- Public Speed boat Transfers cost from Airport to Maafushi is $20 one way per person. Public Ferry will cost you $2. Time taken in public ferry is 2 Hours however in public speed boat its 30 mins.
- Island hop in Private resorts are expensive are they wont encourage you.
Approx cost per person for 6 Nights and 7 days
|Flight (To and fro from Bangalore)||INR 16000|
|Coco Bodu Hithi – All Inclusive per person – (Amount quoted here is less than Website cost. We have our own story for this amount 😊) — 3 nights 4 days — Twin Sharing room – For 2 – its double||INR 45000|
|White Shell Hotel Maafushi Cost — 3 nights 4 days( + $6 Green tax- included in below line) Twin Sharing room(For 2 – its double)||INR 5000|
|Lunch, Dinner, Greentax, Watersports, Speedboat transfers( Maafushi, Ghuli) + Souvenir Shopping||$ 150 — INR 12000|
|Public Island Entire cost (Including Flight Charges)||INR 33000|
In short, our trip was a paradise with insanely beautiful views, a snow-white beach and the azure ocean. I would suggest you just have to rally together the girls and decide when!
So, when are you heading to the Maldives? If you have been to the Maldives already, what has your experience been like? Were you able to do the Maldives on a budget or was it luxurious or was it a club of both like us.?