10 Best Local Islands in the Maldives – Your Guide 2024

local islands in the maldives

There are about 200 local islands spread across 26 atolls in the Maldives. Choosing the right one can be tricky, but know that each island offers a unique experience.

This guide highlights the best 10 local islands in the Maldives, explaining why they’re worth a visit. Plus, there’s a bonus island for budget travelers.

If you have time, don’t miss the chance to island-hop and explore different islands in the Maldives!

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In a rush? 10 best Hotels

Here are the top 10 islands, each with a highly recommended and carefully selected hotel.

  • THODDOO for Green Island & White Beaches – Best Hotel: Karaa Village
  • DHIGURAH for Whale Shark Encounters – Best Hotel: Seaside
  • RASDHOO for Sharks Diving & Sandbanks – Best Hotel: Acqua Blu
  • THULUSDHOO for Surfing – Best Hotel: Eden Blue
  • DHARAVANDHOO for Manta Rays – Best Hotel: Kiha Beach

Maps of the Best Local Islands in the Maldives

Map of Maldives Atolls
Local Islands in the Maldives on map

The Maldives consist of multiple atolls, each comprising a group of islands. It’s easy to travel between islands within the same atoll. However, to travel between different atolls, you’ll need to return to Male.

We suggest maximizing your time by visiting multiple islands within the same atoll before moving to another, as transportation between atolls via Male is time-consuming, especially by local ferry.

We can highly recommend exploring Rasdhoo, Thoddoo, Ukulhas, Mathiveri, and Feridhoo together as they are located in the same atoll, Alif Alif Atoll, connected by a local ferry, resulting in short transfer times.

Here’s an overview of the 5 atolls where the best local islands mentioned in this blog are situated:

  • Alif Alif Atoll: Thoddoo, Rasdhoo, Ukulhas, Mathiveri, Feridhoo 
  • Alif Dhaal Atoll: Dhigurah, Omadhoo 
  • Baa Atoll: Fulhadhoo, Dharavandhoo 
  • Kaafu Atoll: Thulusdhoo, Maafushi 
  • Vaavu Atoll: Fulidhoo

Save our map pins of the best local islands in the Maldives.

10 Best Local Islands in the Maldives

1. Thoddoo: Best for Green Island & White Beaches

Thoddoo Island Aerial View
Footprints on Thoddoo Beach

Thoddoo Island not only boasts some of the whitest sand beaches and clearest waters among the local Maldivian islands we’ve visited, but it also stands out as the greenest, covered by fruit plantations and palm tree forests.

Famous for being the watermelon hub of the Maldives, earning Thoddoo the title of “The Fruit Island”. The picturesque landscapes are ideal for cycling around the island.

Additionally, this island is perfect for snorkeling, with many turtles, sharks, and stingrays just off the beach.

Best Accommodations in Thoddoo 

2. Ukulhas: Best for House Reef Snorkeling

Ukulhas House Reef

Ukulhas is a small, picturesque island with white sand beaches and the best house reef we have ever experienced in the Maldives. It’s the perfect destination for underwater enthusiasts. We spent many hours independently snorkeling just a few meters in front of the bikini beach every day.

You can either bring your own snorkel gear or get it for free or for a small fee from your accommodation. The spectacular coral reefs around Ukulhas are also ideal for divers to explore.

Ukulhas is also known for its commitment to eco-tourism and environmental initiatives. It’s the first local island in the Maldives to ban single-use plastics and offers eco-friendly activities such as coral planting.

Best Accommodations in Ukulhas

3. Dhigurah: Best for Whale Shark Encounters

Dhigurah Island Whale Shark

Located in the heart of the Maldives, Dhigurah is renowned among snorkelers and divers as a hotspot for encountering majestic whale sharks in the surrounding waters, creating unforgettable memories. While sightings of whale sharks are almost guaranteed on most days, the peak time for the best chances is from August to November.

Dhigurah boasts incredibly beautiful beaches, such as the long white sandbank extension at its end, which is accessible by foot. It’s advisable to check the tides for the best experience.

Being more remote from Male than other islands, Dhigurah has limited infrastructure, leading to higher accommodation and food prices. However, the marine life sightings and the pristine beaches make it a worthwhile destination.

Best Accommodations in Dhigurah

4. Rasdhoo: Best for Sharks Diving & Sandbanks

Rasdhoo Sandbank, Maldives

Rasdhoo not only is the gateway for all islands in the Alif Alif Atoll but also offers access to some of the Maldives’ most spectacular dive sites. This island is particularly renowned for shark sightings, including hammerhead sharks.

Additionally, Rasdhoo Island is the perfect destination to explore some breathtaking sandbanks nearby by kayak or boat.

Rasdhoo Island is the perfect first stop before continuing to Thoddoo and Ukulhas on the perfect 2-week itinerary in the Maldives.

Best Accommodations in Rasdhoo

5. Omadhoo: Best for Laid-Back Vibe

Omadhoo is another Maldivian island with beautiful beaches and a lively house reef. The best thing about this island is that it is away from crowds, offering a laid-back island escape.

This tranquil island paradise is perfect for those seeking to slow down and relax amidst stunning natural beauty. It is also the perfect addition to your Dhigurah Island visit.

Best Accommodations in Omadhoo

6. Thulusdhoo: Best For Surfing

Maldives Local Island Surfing

Thulusdhoo is known for its world-class surf breaks, attracting surf enthusiasts from around the globe. This island paradise promises thrilling experiences for surfers of all levels.

The surfing season runs from March to the end of October, with the largest swells occurring from June to August.

Apart from surfing, visitors can enjoy beautiful beaches, and affordable water sports, explore the island’s vibrant art scene, visit the Coca-Cola Factory of Maldives, and savor freshly caught seafood at seaside restaurants.

Best Accommodations in Thulusdhoo

7. Feridhoo: Best for Peaceful Nature

Thoddoo Island Beach Boat

Feridhoo is a haven for nature lovers, with its lush vegetation, beautiful beaches, and diverse wildlife. The island is still very wild, with untouched nature occupying 2/3 of the island. Travelers can explore the island’s tropical forests with exotic bird species and the white sandy beaches with their crystal-clear waters.

Snorkeling enthusiasts will also find plenty to discover in the surrounding extremely lively coral reefs. The locals on Feridhoo are known for their hospitality and warmth.

Best Accommodations in Feridhoo

8. Dharavandhoo: Best for Manta Rays

Dharavandhoo Island Manta Ray

Dharavandhoo Island is famous for its proximity to Hanifaru Bay, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve renowned for its gathering of manta rays and whale sharks. You can take guided boat tours to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

The peak season for mantas in the Hanifaru Bay area is generally from June to November, with July and August being the best months for sightings due to optimal conditions.

Best Accommodations in Dharavandhoo

9. Fulhadhoo: Best for Paradise & Romance

Romantic Dinner, Maldives Beach

Fulhadhoo is a secluded and romantic paradise, offering travelers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its untouched beaches and crystal-clear lagoon, the island is perfect for romantic getaways and an intimate beach retreat, ideal for couples.

This island is also a great place for snorkeling, diving, and visiting nearby sandbanks.

Best Accommodations in Fulhadhoo

10. Mathiveri: Best for Sandbank & Fishing

Local Island Sandbank, Maldives

Mathiveri is an ideal destination for adventure seekers. The island offers a range of activities, including snorkeling, diving, fishing, kayaking, and island hopping.

Immerse yourself in the local way of life with an authentic fishing excursion and visit Mathiveri Finholu, a beautiful sandbank located only 100m away, by swimming or kayaking.

Best Accommodations in Mathiveri

Bonus island: Maafushi for Budgeting

Maafushi Island, Maldives

Maafushi is the place where the local tourism and guesthouse industry in the Maldives started. That’s why it’s a developed and busy island with a wide range of facilities, activities, tours, and providers with more affordable prices and shared options.

While we didn’t appreciate Maafushi in terms of beauty, it is the best island for low-budget tours and excursions in the Maldives. While you may not experience the same exclusivity as on other local islands, where you pay 100 USD for a private 2-hour boat trip to one spot, you will be able to visit 4 spots on a full-day shared boat tour with 10-20 other tourists, including lunch, for around 50 USD

For example, we went on a 50 USD tour with Shadowpalm to snorkel with sharks, swim with dolphins, observe stingrays, and explore a sandbank.

Sharks & Manta, Maldives
Swimming with Dolphins, Maldives

Being located near the Male airport, it was for us the perfect end to a longer trip in the Maldives, but we would not recommend staying here longer than necessary.

If you can afford the more expensive private tours on the more remote local islands, we recommend skipping this island. You won’t miss anything. Mafushi is a highly recommended place for budget-conscious people looking for budget-friendly tours.

If you’re seeking an isolated, beautiful island near Maafushi, we recommend Fulidhoo, which boasts beautiful beaches, crystal-clear water, and opportunities to spot amazing marine life, such as the stingray observation point.

Best Accommodations in Maafushi

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