11th January 2015 – Maafushi, Maldives
Maldives called with its blueish beaches, and I answered. But what the brochures sell you on the glossy airline travel magazine, Is not for the faint of heart, or in other words, the backpacker. Hence a secretive public island, with bikinis flashed and beaches clean.
Maldives is not a cheap country to travel in, as I understood yesterday. But then, it doesn’t have to be as expensive as expected.
The trick here, is to ignore all the travel brochures that you will see about Maldives. So, not only is Maldives the lowest-lying country on the planet, it is also made up entirely atolls. Hence, it is not surprising that the word atoll itself derives from the word ‘atholhu’, which means ‘administrative division’ in the local Dhivehi language.
And almost all the islands in this atoll are made of white, powdery coral sand, and is immensely beautiful. All the smaller islands have resorts, with the over-water bungalows and shebang that you have seen on TV. And yes, you would need to sell one or both of your kidneys when you decide to head there.
So, you can go to the public islands. Public islands, most famous being Maafushi, are islands where the public is allowed to build guesthouses following a recent government initiative to open up the hospitality industry a little bit. Why Maafushi, when there are other public islands? Well, say hello to the bikini beach!
Maldives is an islamic country – and a pretty religious one at that – with the local law infusing a little bit of the sharia into the legislation, and strict bans on alcohol, pornography and pork. As such, indecent exposure is forbidden in the public beaches. And bikini, is definitely considered indecent.
There are only 2 exceptions. One are the island resorts, which have their own private beaches. The other, are what you would call, a bikini beach. These are public beaches, with a screen made from coconut leaves, to prevent outsiders from seeing what is going on inside the beach or what people are wearing inside. And because Maafushi has a bikini beach, this makes it one of the most popular island for backpackers in the Maldives.
And the differences in prices – thanks to the guesthouses and other options on Airbnb – is tremendous. A mid-range island resort like Anantara can cost you 300 USD for a night. But me and Victoria rented a beach-side cabana in Maafushi, and it cost 300 USD for 5 days and all taxes inclusive. It is definitely not as cheap as Nepal or Thailand, but it is much cheaper compared to the island-resorts of Maldives.