My room at Asseyri Inn, Hanimaadhoo.
My room at Asseyri Inn, Hanimaadhoo.

My guesthouse in Maldives

  Maldives - February 2014

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

The Maldives for not (too) expensive ? Possibly. There is an alternative to the luxury hotel islands: the guesthouses of the inhabited islands.

New tourism in the Maldivian archipelago

I discovered the Maldives in February 2014. A new destination on Bubbles Underwater & Beyond ! 😎

CLARIFICATIONS: in April 2014, I interrupted my series of articles on the Maldives, finding it difficult to continue to brag about the beauties of this archipelago of the Indian Ocean (and thus to encourage people to visit the Maldives) while the regime had hardened its application of sharia, after my stay in February 2014. Not respecting human rights, the Maldives had to leave the Commonwealth of Nations in 2016. But in september 2018, things have changed, with the surprise defeat in the autocratic president's elections Abdulla Yameen supported by Islamists and now prosecuted for corruption, beaten by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, an ally of the democratic camp. Then in april 2019, the party of Mohamed Nasheed, former president of the Maldives (2008-2012), several times imprisoned by the regime and main figure of the opposition, won the first legislative elections since Yameen left. The Maldives return to the path of democracythat's great news !

In the South of India, this immense archipelago at the water's edge is known for its luxury island hotels and resorts, overpriced, cut off from the local population, frequented by very wealthy tourists and honeymoon couples.

Island-hotel in the Maldives. February 2014.
Island-hotel in the Maldives. February 2014.

The Maldives has long opted for luxury tourism, taking care to limit contact between foreign visitors and the local population. But this is changing. Recently, locals have been allowed to open "guesthouses", ranging from boarding houses to small tourist hotels.

These guesthouses have multiplied in recent years, and there is now a choice, from north to south of the archipelago, for independent travelers. You can stay in the villages of the inhabited islands and discover the real lives of "real people".

This is the option I chose for the first week of my Maldivian trip! Before giving myself a second week more chic on a cruise-diving boat... ????

So I first spent a few days north of the archipelago, on the island ofHanimaadhoo, at the very cool Asseyri Inn guesthouse. I chose an island very far from Male (about 280km, or an hour's flight), to avoid the most frequented corners. I hesitated with Gan, in the south, but it will be for another time…

Update - January 2017 : the guesthouse Asseyri Inn as I knew it no longer seems to exist. The website now refers to another hotel, much more chic, located on another island ...

The sandy street, in front of the guesthouse Asseyri Inn. Hanimaadhoo, Maldives, February 2014.
The sandy street, in front of the guesthouse Asseyri Inn. Hanimaadhoo, Maldives, February 2014.

It was the rave reviews on TripAdvisor that made me decide to contact Asseyri Inn. Their "solo traveler" package with activities for each day suited me, they were available on my dates and in addition there is a small diving center. Perfect to immerse myself in the atmosphere of the country and to acclimatize myself smoothly!

Guesthouses and small hotels

Some of the guesthouses in the Maldives are very modest, others are downright chic. The cheapest are around 30-40€ per night, the most expensive are between 100-150€. There are many of them in Male (the capital island), Hulumalé (the artificial residential island near the airport) and on two islands quite close to Male, Maafushi (the prison island) and Guraidhoo. But it seems that accommodation has opened in almost all the atolls of the archipelago. There are cheap ferries from one island to the other and more expensive air links with Maldivian Aero to reach the farthest

You will find a lot of information via a Google search with the words "Maldives + guesthouses" or "Maldives + backpacker".

The best known and most popular are listed on TripAdvisor in the section " bed and breakfast " and many of these accommodations use the sites or to rent their rooms (very convenient to book yourself on the internet, or to get an idea of the rates). Some other links in bulk, found during my research before I left:
Guesthouses in Maldives a selection of guesthouses in several different atolls
Maldives Guesthouses & BB : small selection by Lonely Planet
Maafushi Maldives choice of guesthouses on several islands, not just Maafushi

Good to know: you have to check if the taxes are included or not, otherwise you have to add +10% and +8% (it was the amount when I was there, but it can change). It is also necessary to look at the services included in the tariff, it has sometimes very interesting packages :
→ just the night (with or without transfer)
→ overnight stay + breakfast or half-board
→ the night + all meals + activities for the day ...

Set course for Hanimaadhoo!

Hanimaadhoo has the advantage of having an airport, now "international", with connections from Sri Lanka and soon to India, perhaps. It is a peaceful island, stretched all the way, which has less than 1,500 souls, inhabited only on a small portion to the north.

The arrival to Hanimaadhoo. Maldives, February 2014.
The arrival to Hanimaadhoo. Maldives, February 2014.

My guesthouse is in the heart of the village, close to the port where the fishermen arrive in dhoni, the traditional boat, with the fish of the day, and of the school. We see boys and girls cycling in their uniforms at the end of the lessons.

Daily fishing at Hanimaadhoo port. Maldives, February 2014.
Daily fishing at Hanimaadhoo port. (Maldives, February 2014)
I think this schoolboy stole his sister's bike ... Hanimaadhoo, Maldives, February 2014.
I think this schoolboy stole his sister's bike ... (Hanimaadhoo, Maldives, February 2014)

As a reminder, Islam is the state religion in the Maldives. Hanimaadhoo is one of the few inhabited islands where the wearing of the bikini is allowed to foreign tourists, on a delimited beach. Permission is required and Asseyri Inn has recently obtained it. The guesthouse plans to build a new building in front of the beach and move there, in front of turquoise water and white sand.

The tourist beach, where the bikini is allowed, in Hanimaadhoo. Maldives, February 2014.
The end of the beach where the bikini is allowed, in Hanimaadhoo. (Maldives, February 2014)
On the public beach of Hulumale, the residential island near Malé airport, it is forbidden to wear a bikini. Maldives, February 2014.
On the public beach of Hulumale, the residential island near Malé airport, it is forbidden to wear a bikini. (Maldives, February 2014)

Another thing to know: alcohol is also forbidden on the so-called "local" islands. To drink a beer (possibly in a bikini), it is only in the tourists' hotel islands, on the cruise ships and at the hotel located next to Male airport. For those who are in need, it is always possible to organize, for a fee, a short stay of a day or half-day in a nearby resort, in order to momentarily taste the pleasures reserved for luxury tourists.

But that's obviously not what I came to Hanimaadhoo for... The quiet and authentic Muslim village atmosphere, overwhelmed by intense light, suits me well, as a first Maldivian cultural immersion. The people are more reserved than in Indonesia, but very welcoming. More in the next post!


  Maldives - February 2014

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  1. From the Hautes-Alpes, we look at the national weather forecast for the weekend, and if we announce bad weather on Brittany, we say to ourselves "great, we're going to have a new article from "Petites bulles d'ailleurs" ! It's almost never missing, it's convenient 🙄
    Congratulations for your always interesting work, and your photos always on top.
    Signed a non-diver!

    1. @ Gaëlle: 😆 That's not wrong... Besides, I'm running out of time these days, to update the blog, I admit. But I'll try to resume a more regular rhythm. Thank you for this nice little word! 🙂

  2. I like these pages very practical, Corinne and at least, it smells the passion ... that dies to share!

    1. @Sarah: I have not yet taken the time to respond to comments, including yours, on the previous articles ... But as you see, I alternated two ways to travel to the Maldives: first part of the stay in a guesthouse on an inhabited island, second part of the stay on a more chic boat for a diving cruise. I liked to combine the two.
      I still avoid giving too much in the "practice-practice", because I'm not a travel guide either and this kind of information is outdated very quickly. In addition, after a post like that I am flooded with emails asking me even more information (for information generally easy to find on the websites of accommodation). People do not like to look for themselves or take control ... Sometimes even, it's very funny, I get straight for the hotelier and they send me requests for res ... (sic!)

      But the existence of affordable guesthouses in the Maldives is really something that few travelers know, because it's very recent. It was worth mentioning it, and, without necessarily detailing everything, to give price ranges!

    2. Yes, I know, that's why I had refrained from asking for details about this destination that interests me so much. However, I note that some did not hesitate to do so and take careful note of what you wanted to "deliver" as information. I think for my part, that the blog is halfway dives and travels, maybe that's why he calls all kinds of questions ... Anyway, thanks again for the answers and stay " zen!

  3. Hi, activity level apart from diving what to do? It is necessary to count how much grosso modo if one is in mode backpacker? And are the prices of the dives affordable?

    Thank you in advance !

    1. @Mat: Well, let's say there is "nothing" special to do. The Maldives is a huge archipelago made up of tiny coral islands, where the activities are those that can offer this kind of islands, lost in the Indian Ocean:
      - visits to small villages in the surrounding inhabited islands and meetings with locals
      - sea trips to meet dolphins
      - fishing with the locals, or big game fishing on equipped boats
      - picnic on white sandbanks in the middle of the sea
      - Snorkeling (palm-mask-snorkel) or scuba diving
      - other nautical activities according to the places: kayak, surf, windsurf, etc.

      I do not know how much to count "grosso-modo" in backpacker mode. As I said earlier in the article, the cheapest nights are around 30-40 €. Ferry prices are ridiculous (1-3USD for short crossings, a little longer for long). Dive rates also vary, depending on whether the center is affiliated with a luxury resort or not. I would have to find my bill at Asseyri Inn for the dives I made at home, but it did not seem particularly exorbitant.

      Otherwise, I think there is a way to try "couchsurfing" for a discovery in true mode backpacker (I saw that there were a lot of Maldivians registered on the site Couchsurfing).

      Finally, as I said earlier in the article, to find more info and testimonials about independent travel and backpacking in the Maldives, do a Google search with the following words:
      -> guesthouse + Maldives
      -> guesthouse + backpacker
      You will find through this a lot of pages, including stories of travelers on blogs.

  4. thank you for the info, but ... how much for the transfer by plane? I remember abandoning the idea of a cheap hotel on an island far from Malé because of seaplane to $ 500 ...

    1. @Robin: yes, it is also for this kind of consideration that I opted for Hanimaadhoo (and that Gan, in Addu Atoll, in the south, tempted me too): there is an airport!

      The transfer by plane is therefore with the local company Maldivian Aero and not with a seaplane (surely very nice but overpriced) ... Rates and bookings on the website:

      The prices of Maldivian Aero are not those of Air Asia, of course, but it is much more affordable than seaplanes ... For my part, I did not take care of anything, because my package with Asseyri Inn included the A / R Male-Hanimaadhoo by plane (they are the ones who booked me). You can go to the airline's website to get an idea of the prices.

      Otherwise, the other option is to have time in front of you, and to take ferries from island to island, from atoll to atoll, which are not expensive at all ...

  5. Very interested in your article, I would like to make a resa...How to do? Thank you for your help! 😆 Well, obviously, you got it, it's a joke! I understand your annoyance! Well, more seriously, I didn't know about the existence of guest houses in the Maldives...A bit late for me unfortunately 😥 Who knows, maybe one day, I'll come back there for some snorkeling, if there are some interesting spots obviously...

    1. @Didier: 😆 😆 😆 I'm laughing, but I swear it's true, I'm really getting emails like that

      I am sometimes amazed, but it is also linked to the fact that many French people do not speak English or speak it poorly. As a result, they don't understand much of the information on the hosting websites, and feel even less comfortable sending an email. And so, they take the side of writing to me, thinking that maybe I can do the relay or give them the information they are looking for... I try not to get annoyed, all the same. In general, I answer nicely... 😀

      I think there are places with mantas and whale sharks, where snorkeling is worthwhile in season ... In any case, living in a Maldivian village is an experience to live, really different from what it is. you can collect when you are on a dive boat or in an exclusive resort for tourists.

      The phenomenon of guesthouses is very recent. I've been eyeing the Maldives for a long time, discouraged by the fares and the only option for resorts or cruises-dives ... A few years ago, guesthouses did not exist and I would not have had the right to so go on a local island, as an independent traveler.

    2. @Corinne: That's right, I did not give up the idea of seeing "fish", but obviously, differently. Whale sharks, dolphins, etc. can be seen through snorkeling. Associated with visits or other activities, this can become interesting! 8)
      I am currently doing research to try to find a good compromise. Then we will see if the Maldives can meet my needs. In any case, if one day you get a good tip on this, anywhere in the world, don't forget me ! I sold everything except PMT!! 😉

  6. I would never have thought of the Guesthouse for this kind of destination. It considerably reduces the rating but the price of the plane ticket remains quite high!

  7. For me this opening of Maldivian tourism is what could happen better in this country. It is finally the end of this golden bubble and also the best solution for Maldivians finally benefit directly from the benefits of tourism.

    Waiting for my life in the Maldives remains one of my worst experiences abroad ... but I would go back, for the fantastic dives!

  8. Hello Corinne.
    I enjoy your blog for many years and I often say that we will end up crossing on a dive trip: we have many destinations in common!
    For the Maldives, it was for me one of my first exotic destinations: In island hotel for tourists ...
    I was delighted to read your posts telling us the possibility of Guesthousse on uncut islands of the local population.

    However, I recently saw a TV report that showed that the Maldives' political regime tended to get tougher and that individual freedoms were being challenged, with a tendency towards religious extremism.
    I wanted to bring this info to your readers so that the Maldivian people will not be forgotten.
    and good bubbles everywhere!

  9. So, it's really a discovery. thank you!
    Me, I have a magical memory of the Maldives 30 years ago - ugh... it doesn't make me any younger - where I had the chance to go with my parents for my 18th birthday 🙄
    And there was not yet this outbid of luxury resorts, it was super good kid and rather very cool ... it's even where I made my first bubbles, uh ... not framed at all so, like we want take a bottle and we go ... accompanied anyway, but ...
    So, thanks, I'm going to go and have a look around, it aroused my curiosity... Well, for now, let's focus on Easter and Indonesia, eh? 😀