Previously, tourists visiting the Maldives could only access resort islands away from Malé by speedboat or seaplane. These options are still available and more convenient but they are also much, much more expensive than taking a ferry.
The good news is it’s now convenient to book your flight to Malé and then take a cheap ferry to your resort/guesthouse.
During our recent trip to the Maldives we utilized the public ferry network to travel throughout the country.
And we highly recommend it!
This is especially true if you are trying to reach local guest house islands that are now open for tourism.
Since we spent a considerable amount of time staying on Maafushi Island, we really felt it was necessary to secure a seat from Malé to Maafushi to avoid expensive speedboat transfer costs. This required quite a bit of online research. The last thing we wanted was to be scrambling around trying to find a seaplane or a speedboat to rush us back to Malé or the airport for our next flight connection.
The ferries depart from the south west corner of Malé
This is a step-by-step guide on how to get from Malé to Maafushi Island in the Maldives.
1. The first thing you have to do is book your flight to Male International Airport (a.k.a Velana International Airport). Then you have to take a ferry from the airport to Male. Once you have arrived in Malé and you have become familiarized with the city, head to the ferry terminal which is located at the south west corner of the island. Don’t confuse this terminal for the one that services the airport and Hulehumalé.
2. Once you are at Malé’s ferry terminal proceed to the ticket booking window which faces the water. Here some of the ferry times will be outlined, but they weren’t overly clear when we were there. We suggest that you double check the time your ferry departs with the attendant inside even if you have seen the schedule online before. As of the time of writing these were the ferry times from Malé to Maafushi and from Maafushi back to Malé with corresponding prices:
Ferries from Malé to Maafushi
10:00 am (depart Malé) – 11:30 am (arrive at Maafushi)
(Cost of trip = 53 MVR ~ ($3.50 USD))
Weekdays (with the exception of Friday)
15:00 (depart Malé) — (short stop at Gulhi) — 16:45 (arrive at Maafushi)
(Cost of trip = 22 MVR ~ ($1.50 USD))
Ferries from Maafushi to Malé
12:55 (depart Maafushi) – 14:25 (arrive at Malé)
(Cost of trip = 53 MVR~ ($3.50 USD))
Weekdays (with the exception of Friday)
7:30 am (depart Maafushi) — (short stop at Gulhi) — 9:15 am (arrive at Malé)
(Cost of trip = 22 MVR ~ ($1.50 USD)
The ticket price to Maafushi Island from Malé at the time of travel
Important Reminder: The schedule posted above can change. Please take note that since this is a public ferry, you cannot purchase the ticket in advance (as far as we know).
The main priority for this ferry system is the locals. In fact, this transfer method is not well-advertised to tourists as I suspect it is not encouraged. If you want to buy a ticket, go there fairly early (we went an hour early). Seats are limited and it’s on a first-come first-save basis. Please be low-key about buying tickets. Don’t show up in a big group and be loud. This behavior can potentially annoy the locals.
3. If you are planning on going to Maafushi Island the same day that you arrive at Malé’s ferry terminal, then it’s a good idea to purchase your ticket well in advance to avoid disappointment. If you are staying for a night in Male first you can find your hotel here.
4. Try to arrive at Malé’s ferry terminal about 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. When it’s time to board the ferry be sure to ask one of the workers if it is the correct ferry servicing Maafushi Island as it isn’t overly clear.
5. The trip should take between 1.5 and 2 hours depending on the weather, delays, etc.
6. Maafushi Island may not be the first stop on the journey (it wasn’t during our visit to Maafushi as we first stopped (briefly) at Gulhi Island), therefore ask while you are on the ferry whether it is indeed Maafushi before you disembark.
First stop at Gulhi en-route to Maafushi Island, Maldives
7. Once you arrive at Maafushi you will be most likely met at the ferry by one of the workers at your hotel/guesthouse.
We were met during our visit to Maafushi and the worker transported our luggage to our room. If this isn’t the case for you just simply ask one of the locals for directions to your hotel. Maafushi is small and convenient, so this shouldn’t be an issue.
The guesthouse and hotel staff on Maafushi greeting tourists at the ferry upon arrival