In the past two years, around 40 new Islands were added to the 120 already existing Islands of Maldives. We all know the Maldives as a home to 80 resort islands which is more than any other country in the world and also as an expensive holiday destination. But there are ways to explore the real beauty of the islands of Maldives on budget.
For some years now, Maldives travelers have had an alternative to the chic and expensive resort facilities on small private islands. Tourism is not permitted on every island in the Maldives and only a few islands are accessible to tourists but no matter where you are allowed to go, you will experience turquoise water and wonderful white beaches.
The Island and Culture of Maldives
Most of the Maldives islands are only a few kilometers in length and have only a few inhabited blocks with simple houses. There are no tarred roads, only sandy slopes which feels like walking on sandy beaches. Most people are on foot, by bike or moped and the car is used as a means of luggage transport.
One such Island is Dhigurah island. The cheap accommodation prices from 30 Dollars per night and not only the accommodation is significantly cheaper compared to the resort Islands, but also food, drinks, souvenirs. There is no comparison to the resort islands with their partly exuberant range.
It was just nine years ago since this form of tourism with lavish resorts and world-class facilities and amenities were allowed in the strictly Muslim republic. In the Maldives, it is considered a duty of every resident to minimize the negative consequences of tourism as much as possible and to bring customers close to nature, while at the same time preserving the hospitality, traditions, and culture of the country.
Real life in the Maldives is beyond the resorts
Vacationers on local islands get authenticity as there is no staff with an international curriculum vitae, but people from the respective islands themselves. Young women are also at the front desk, which is like a small revolution in the Muslim Maldives.
You can just walk along the south to a residential area where the locals reside and enjoy the calmness of the place at no cost. Like the rest of the world, insights into the real life of the green southern half of the Dhigurah island includes the construction sites and clouds of dust when a motorcycle rattles past and garbage. There are no cleaners here like on the resort islands, which clear away everything thrown away, blown away, washed up. The locals unanimously report that the cleanliness has gotten much better anyway.
Swimming with manta rays – an unforgettable experience
For manta ray sightings, one has to be lucky to see them swimming in their habitat, anywhere across the world. The tour guides on the resort islands can be of great help here as they know their way around animal watching.
But there is a cheaper way to see them on the Island of Dhigurah itself. Instead of taking the guided tour from one of the resorts to see Manta rays, for around $ 60 per person, the freelancing young men from the southern green half, organize multi-hour trips across many of the 40 diving grounds in Dhigurah, to witness these majestic creatures. There is a high probability of seeing Manta rays with the locals at a cheaper price. Such an excursion costs twice or three times as much on resort islands. It is one of the best ways to witness a fantastic Manta Ballet, an unforgettable spectacle.
Whale sharks: gentle giants
At eight meters tall, the giant fish Fernando is listed in a database of over 300 whale shark individuals is an above-average specimen. Often there are 20 or more boats on the south bank of Dhigurah, to see Fernando. Most of the boats come from the resort islands which results in more hustle and bustle in the water, less visibility, and experience. Since turtles, reef sharks and thousands of colorful fish swim around on the reef edge between the sometimes terrifyingly bleached corals, you can experience a fabulous dive in the water world.
Sunbathing behind a wooden wall
Sunbathing on the almost deserted kilometer-long beach, this is what people from Europe and America come here for. But it is strictly not allowed on the beaches. You can certainly sunbathe here but behind the wooden wall that covers the whole resort, out of respect for the locals. The accommodations are not directly on the beach, but a few meters behind a green belt.
You need to keep yourself covered on the streets despite the enormous heat, especially in front of the small mosque and the school. You will see children in bright school uniforms, people cooking in their courtyards, small cafés, and shops where you need to take off your shoes before entering.
Alcohol and celebration ban
Dhigurah is full of nature, tranquility, and hospitality but what doesn’t exist on Dhigurah is nightlife and alcohol. Alcohol and night parties are banned on the island of Dhigurah like the rest of the Maldives as it is a Muslim country and strict laws against the alcohol are applied here. But, you can enjoy specially created mocktails here. It is just wonderful to have an alcohol-free drink in one hand, a shisha in the other, feet in the sand, soft music in the ear. Also, the Wifi is only available in the Hotel lobby which might give you the much-needed cut-off from the outside world while you relax.