Maldives & Budget. Doesn’t it sound like an oxymoron? I thought so, until I read an interesting piece in the in-flight magazine of BA last Sunday. (I was on my way back from Istanbul, by the way. I have talked about Istanbul here and there, and here again, but I’ll be writing more! There’s a buzzy neighbourhood called Karakoy which is being transformed from a tired area of commercial offices to a hotspot for all things cool. Very interesting.). Back onto the Maldives, on a budget..
In his article, author Stanley Stewart sheds a light on “a strange and benign apartheid that has developed between the international luxury resorts – gorgeous but just a trifle unreal – and the humble local islands of Maldivian fishermen“. He shares the Maldives not the way we know or hear of them thanks to new rules that passed in the country in 2010, allowing for private guesthouses. They are a great way of visiting this much talked-about little country without breaking the bank. They allow for plenty of reef exploration and sand castles but also give you a glimpse of authentic Maldivian living where friendliness is everything. Here are four guesthouses to bookmark:
Happy Life Maldives: on the island of Dhiffushi, in the North Male atoll. This is a boutique guesthouse that prides itself on a ‘no news, no shoes‘ motto (but free wifi if you really want it!). It has only four spacious rooms which seems ideal for families wanting to share a holiday and book it all. And it’s also a yoga center with retreats throughout the year. The island it seats on is 1,000m long (less than a mile!) by 200m deep (that’s 600 feet!), yet they offer surfing, diving, deserted island excursions, beach barbecques, kitesurfing and windsurfing. In addition to yoga and snorkelling.
Asseyri Inn: this one is on the northern atoll of Haa Dhaalu, on the island of Hanimaadhoo (i have wanderlust just by typing these words!) near one of the Maldives’ few domestic airports, making transfers easier with young children. This island has 1,800 people living on it and a gorgeous beach with plenty of activities. The inn created an eco-village with the local materials at their disposal. Perfect little swing in the shade:
Kuri Inn: On the island of Omadhoo, which is just 3m2 and 60% covered with dense jungle, this inn also has just four rooms and its own house reef. It looks like the most simple of the bunch.
Rip tide vacation inn: this one seems more like a simple hotel than a guest house, and from the photos it has the least charm of the bunch. It’s 45′ by speedboat from the Maldive’s international airport in Male, that’s a plus, in the southern atoll.
Don’t go to those places looking for style and pampering service. Don’t go hoping to seep champagne on the beach either, because alcohol is not permitted in the Maldives. It’s rather about getting away from it all, stunning beaches and reefs, experiencing island living, watching the fishermen go by, and sharing a few stories with the locals. Now, if you can secure some good deals on the flights, it is a corner of paradise within family budget reach.
All the photos are from the respective guesthouses. BozAround has yet to go to the Maldives to take its own photos:)