It was not the perfect weather to be sailing for eight hours to one of the farther atolls in Maldives, but we really have no choice. With only eight days—now seven—on our itinerary at this beach paradise of a country, we made do with what we have. So, without hesitation, we left our lodging in Hulhumale, boarded a bus, then a ferry to Male, took a quick cab to the port and set our bags on another ferry. We’re bound for paradise.
|NOT REALLY THE MALDIVES I WAS HOPING FOR|
There are two types of islands in the Maldives, local islands and resort islands. The former is where Maldivian people actually live and the latter is where tourists frolic—yes, those expensive resorts with water bungalows you usually see on postcards. Our destination is a local island located at the South Ari Atoll, Maamigili.
|A RANDOM SANDBAR WE PASSED BY EN ROUTE FROM MALE TO MAAMIGILI|
The good thing about staying on a local island is that lodging prices are way more affordable compared to a full blown island resort. Compared to the hundred plus US dollars a night, our actual lodging only costs USD150.00 for four days, inclusive of transfers to and from Male, breakfasts, and daily tours—good for two persons. A real steal. Another thing is that during your stay, you get to see the real Maldives, a place where people actually live their daily lives.
|OUR EIGHT-HOUR, THREE-DOLLAR, RIDE FROM MALE TO MAAMIGILI|
The downside, of course, is that you don’t get that full Maldives beach vibe that you actually came for. It was just our luck that there are two resort islands that are literally just a swim away from Maamigili. Two birds with one stone!
|MAAMIGILI PORT ON BETTER WEATHER|
And so, after eight full hours of gazing into nothing but the frothing sea aboard the wooden MTCC public ferry, we finally arrived at Maamigili. We actually have the option of taking a local flight, but it costs a hundred American dollars more than the ferry, which was just at USD3.50, so eight hours it is. It was almost dusk and it was drizzling when our feet touched land, and there was really nothing much we could do then than head straight to our inn, unpack, and order a hot dinner.
|THE STREETS OF MAAMIGILI ARE PAVED WITH FINE WHITE SAND|
With a population of just a little over 2,000 people, Maamigili Island is quite small. Being a provincial atoll, the roads are unpaved. But that isn’t really a bad thing, the whole island is carpeted with white sand and the streets are literally paved with it too!
|A TYPICAL STREET IN MAAMIGILI ISLAND|
The Whale Shark Inn is located on one of these sandy streets, an unassuming bungalow fenced inside a yellow wall. A garden of white sand set with recliners greeted us as we entered its gate. It was like we’re right on the beach!
|WHALE SHARK INN LOBBY WITH OLD AND NEW FRIENDS|
The structure itself looks like a regular house converted into an inn. There’s a living room—that’s now a common room—and adjacent to it are the sleeping quarters, now made to house guests. The atmosphere is cozy, like you’re gonna spend a night at your friend’s house.
|OUR ROOM HAS A VERY HOMEY FEEL|
|EN SUITE TOILET AND BATH|
Our room [CHECK ROOM RATES & AVAILABILITY] is spacious, has a flatscreen cable television and more importantly, an en suite toilet and bath. Linens and toiletries are all provided for. The inn has Internet wi-fi too, thank goodness, and we can connect even within the confines of our room. You can just imagine how glued everyone was on their phones after eight hours of no connection while navigating the Maldivian sea.
|A TYPICAL MALDIVIAN BREAKFAST OF MASHUMI, ROSHI AND FRIED EGG ~ FREE FOR GUESTS|
Whale Shark Inn provides free breakfast for guests, but since it’s way past breakfast, we asked if we can also order dinner. And, surprisingly, even though they don’t have an in-house restaurant, they do allow guests to order food via their partner restaurants within the island.
|MEE GORENG DINNER FOR ME! ~ MVR80.00 (USD5.20)|
Their menu offers mostly Maldivian food with a few familiar dishes. We eventually settled on chicken fried rice with egg, nasi goreng and mee goreng. These arrived about an hour later with a bowl of crunchy papadam, a kropek-like side dish typical in Maldives. And as with all local islands, pork is also prohibited in Maamigili, the food is quite good, nonetheless.
|LOCAL SCENES THAT YOU WON’T REALLY SEE ON RESORT ISLANDS|
Part of our packaged stay at the Whale Shark Inn are the daily Maamigili tours. We went out island hopping, hunting for whalesharks, snorkeling, having picnics on almost deserted islets, sunset fishing, and we even had a walking tour of Maamigili itself—which we found to have its own bikini beach. Since the Maldives is a devout Muslim country, walking around in bikinis at local islands—including Male and Hulhumale—is not allowed. But they do allow it on places within these so called bikini beaches.
|MAAMIGILI’S BIKINI BEACH. NOT THAT PRETTY AT THE MOMENT DUE TO THE WEATHER|
Our host, Ahmed, was also kind enough to connect us to the nearby Holiday Island Resort and its sister resort, Sun Island. The former for an overnight affair and the latter as a day trip destination. The nice thing about it was that we didn’t have to pay for expensive transfer fees, which are usually set at around a hundred dollars, since it is literally close enough to swim from Maamigili Island!
|BARBECUE NIGHT AT THE WHALE SHARK INN|
|OUR CATCH, OUR DINNER|
|ZERO ALCOHOL BEER AT THE WHALE SHARK INN|
On our last day at Maamigili, we went out to sea for an afternoon of fishing. And those same fishes we caught, we brought home with us for an evening barbecue party at the Whale Shark Inn’s garden. It was like a house party sans the beer—although our host did provide us with a non-alcohol alternative, lol. It was quite a way to end our Maldivian vacation—and without breaking the bank too!
~ WHALE SHARK INN HOSTED OUR PACKAGED STAY IN MAAMIGILI ISLAND. ALL VIEWS & OPINIONS ARE MINE.
Whale Shark Inn
Address: Neelufaru Magu Street, Maamigili Island,
South Ari Atoll, Maldives
Contact Numer: (+960) 779-6188
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GPS Coordinates Map: 3.478282, 72.836724
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