Hudhuranfushi Things to Do
Take a trip to a local island:...
We spent a week on the resort island of Hudhuranfushi in November 2013. After a couple of days of enjoying the white sand, the incredible snorkelling and the all-inclusive cocktails, we were ready to get out and see some of the "real" Maldives.
Thankfully, the resort offered a half day trip to one of the local islands; the island of Thulusdhoo which just happened to be the capital of the Northern Male atoll.
The half day trip cost USD 50 per person, plus 10% service charge and 8% GST – so effectively USD 60 per person.
The hotel indicated that a minimum of 4 people would be required for the trip to run, but after nobody else booked onto it (it seems that some people want to go to the Maldives just to lay on a beach and look at colourful fish, sheesh!! ;-)) they agreed to run the trip just for Emma and I.
We left Hudhuranfushi on a wooden dhoni at around 1:30pm and arrived at Thulusdhoo about 30 minutes later. We spent about an hour being guided around the island by a local and then went on an impromptu dolphin spotting trip as our guides insisted on showing us some of the local marine life (and earning a nice tip in the process!) on the way back to our resort. We arrived back at Hudhuranfushi at around 4:00pm.
The following account of our guided tour of Thulusdhoo is the result of the notes that I scribbled in my notebook after we were back in Hudhuranfushi. I can't guarantee that it is all factually correct, but it is what we were told by our guide.
Our resort had clearly contacted our guide in advance of our journey as he was standing on the edge of the harbour awaiting our arrival. He was a young man, perhaps in his early twenties, in a brightly coloured t-shirt, shorts and flip flops.
He began by telling us a few facts about the island. It apparently has a population of 1,400, a figure which had swelled several years earlier after residents from a nearby island that had been destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami were re-housed in an "immigration village" on Thulusdhoo. The new arrivals were happy as the government had provided them with better properties than those they had lost, while the local residents of Thulusdhoo were happy as they now had a bigger pool of talent from which to select their island football team!
Our guide explained that while there were 1,400 people living on the island, many of them were working off the island at the time of our visit. Many would be out fishing (there are many fishermen on the island), while others would be working in the capital, Male. There are daily ferry connections (except for Tuesdays) between Thulusdhoo and Male, allowing the islanders to commute to the capital for work.
We passed a small power station and our guide explained that it was the first power station to be built on a local island. As a result, the inhabitants of Thulusdhoo have access to electricity 24 hours a day.
We walked alongside the barren football pitch. Despite its lack of grass, the islanders would play on it every day. Our guide told us that they would be sending a team to Hudhuranfushi the following day to play a match against the resort's staff.
We passed a mosque, a school, the magistrate court (mainly for weddings; there is no crime as everybody knows each other on the island) and a soon-to-be-opened kindergarten (the government had promised that every island would have its own kindergarten and this was to be Thulusdhoo's). As we arrived outside the front gates of the Polytechnic College, our guide explained that it only offered two courses; electric wiring and carpentry. Anybody wanting to undertake further educational studies would have to move to Male.
We had noticed that many of the local homes were painted in bright colours (pink, yellow, red and blue) and had a number between 1 and 4 painted on their walls. Our guide explained that this was the way in which the local residents declared their political allegiance. The Progressive Party of Maldives (pink, #3) had won the national elections just 4 days prior to our visit to Thulusdhoo and the Maldives now had a new president, Abdulla Yameen. This tradition certainly made for some colourful streets! We saw the equally colourful political offices of the Progressive Party of Maldives, their main opposition the Maldivian Democratic Party, and the "Forward with the Nation" coalition party.
Our guide told us that there were no cars on the island; motorcycles, bicycles and the occasional pick up truck plied the sandy streets of this island. It wouldn't take too long to walk anywhere on the island.
There is a small hospital on the island, with doctors and nurses from India and Sri Lanka, and an emergency speedboat which can be up and running in 2-3 minutes to transport patients to more sophisticated medical facilities in Male.
Close to a small beach, we saw a large, covered stage area. Our guide explained that it hosted the occasional music event and had recently played host to visiting "film stars" from the capital, Male. It is also where live football games are shown on a large screen. Our guide explained that he was a Manchester United fan and would be supporting England in the 2014 World Cup. English football is popular in the Maldives, and to prove this we saw a young boy in a Manchester City shirt. There wasn't even a flicker of recognition on our guide's face when I explained that I supported Sheffield Wednesday! Some of the guide's friends supported Barcelona and Real Madrid and would be supporting Spain during the 2014 World Cup.
We asked the guide about the Coca Cola bottling plant that is located on the island. We had read about it prior to our visit and had seen it from the boat as we sailed into the island. He explained that the syrup is transported to the island and desalinated sea water is used to produce the Coca Cola. Unfortunately, we couldn't visit the plant as it was off bounds to visitors.
As in much of the world, mobile phones are now big business even on small Maldivian islands. Our guide explained that there were two telecommunication companies operating on the island and the intense competition between them meant cheap phone calls and endless special offers for the locals. He could make phone calls for as little as 2 Rufiyaa (£0.08).
We arrived at a small cluster of shops. The guide took us into a souvenir shop where we found the usual selection of Maldivian souvenirs (postcards, magnets, wooden ornaments, t-shirts, books and posters of Maldivian fish, jewellery, coasters, seashells...). Some of them were cheaper than the gift shop at our hotel, others were more expensive. We were more interested in visiting the truly local grocery shop across the road; it's shelves were sparsely stocked, but the lady at the till was pleased to see us as we purchased a few handfuls of fruit and coffee flavoured sweets (2 sweets for 1 Rufiyaa / £0.04).
We passed a tailor's shop, a pharmacy and several small cafes where locals can enjoy Lavazza coffee. Our guide told us that the older generations may drink tea, but Italian coffee is the drink of choice amongst the island's young.
As our guide walked us back to our dhoni, he told us that there was a guesthouse on the opposite side of the island which was popular with surfers, mainly from Australia.
Shortly after setting sail from the island, our boat crew spotted a dolphin and we went out on deck to have a look. The crew then gave us a 20-25 minute dolphin spotting trip; we closely followed large pods of dolphins and saw them jumping and pirouetting out of the sea. It was a very enjoyable end to an interesting trip to a "real" Maldivian island.
If you get the chance to escape your Maldivian resort island and see how the locals live – go for it! These day trips offer an interesting insight into the country that exists beyond the luxurious all-inclusive resorts.Add to your Trip Planner
Watch the fishing boats return
There is a nightly fish feeding session on the island of Hudhuranfushi. It takes place each evening at 9:00pm on the main arrival jetty.
It tends to attract a large crowd and you will find yourself jostling with other tourists who are all trying to get the best vantage point for photographing and videoing the show. The lack of light doesn't make for particularly good photographs.
As an alternative to the official fish feeding session, I would recommend walking around the harbour when the wooden fishing boats (dhonis) are returning to the island in an afternoon. On our final day on Hudhuranfushi we were treated to a crowd-free fish feeding session as the crew of one of the boats threw food to an array of stingrays, eels and colourful fish. No jostling for position; we could simply enjoy watching the feeding frenzy and getting some clear photographs.
Unlike the nightly feeding session, we didn't see any reef sharks, but the vast number of colourful fish made up for this.Add to your Trip Planner
Nightly fish feeding session
Evenings in the Maldives tend to be fairly low key and the island of Hudhuranfushi is no exception.
As such, the nightly fish feeding session which takes place each evening at 9:00pm on the main arrival jetty, draws a large crowd of spectators. We went along to watch on a couple of evenings during our week long stay in November 2013.
The feeding session, which lasts for around 20 minutes, attracts a number of black tip reef sharks, stingrays, moray eels and all manner of fish.
A member of staff throws food (mainly blood soaked fish carcasses) from a bucket and the sharks hungrily swallow it up. The smaller fish get whatever morsels they can. Although there is a warning against it, we saw a few tourists feeding the fish with breadrolls that they had brought along from the buffet.
Although the nightly feeding session is worth seeing at least once during your stay, you are likely to get a more interesting show (and certainly better photographs) if you happen to be in the harbour when a fishing boat returns during the day. We watched as the crew threw food to a waiting crowd of stingrays, eels and colourful fish.Add to your Trip Planner
Goalhi No. 3 Majeedhee Baazaaru,
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples
Hudhuranfushi Warnings and Dangers
Avoid sunburn: wear a t-shirt while...
To experienced snorkelers, this will probably sound like obvious advice.
However, if you're new to snorkeling, you may want to take heed of the following advice (from my own painful experience!):
When out snorkeling, wear a t-shirt to prevent suffering from a sunburnt back.
On our first day in the Maldives in November 2013, we covered ourselves in high factor sun cream and headed into the sea for a couple of hours of snorkeling. Neither of us felt ourselves burning, but we both emerged from the water with red backs and very obvious sunburn lines around our swimwear!
We both suffered from the pain of sunburn (and resultant disturbed sleep) for a couple of days and we both made sure that we wore t-shirts while snorkeling for the remainder of our holiday!Add to your Trip Planner
Hudhuranfushi What to Pack
Miscellaneous: Before visiting the Maldives in November 2013, we purchased the 3 main items of snorkeling equipment to take along with us; masks, snorkels and fins.
Had we not done so, we could have purchased them at our resort – but at 2 or 3 times the price that we paid back home!
Alternatively, we could have paid to hire them (either hourly or daily) from the resort, but as we snorkeled for several hours each day, we would likely have paid more to hire them for the week than we did to purchase them.
We flew to the Maldives with Emirates, with a baggage allowance of 30kg per person, so packing the snorkeling equipment in our cases was no problem.
If you plan to snorkel extensively during your visit to the Maldives, it will likely be cost effective to purchase your own snorkeling equipment to take with you.Add to your Trip Planner
Photo Equipment: Before our trip to the Maldives in November 2013, I decided that it would be a good idea to purchase an underwater camera as we would likely be spending a significant part of our trip in and under the water.
This proved to be a good decision; we spent hours each day snorkeling and snapping photos of the amazing variety of coral, colourful fish and other marine life.
I didn't need a particularly sophisticated camera; just one that would allow me to get some clear photos while snorkeling. After reading lots of reviews, and ruling out several cameras where users had reported leaking after a few uses, I opted for the Fuji Finepix XP60. It was more than adequate for my needs; waterproof to a depth of 6m and capable of taking photos with a resolution of up to 16MP.
If you are visiting the Maldives, it is well worth taking an underwater camera with you. If you choose not to, I did notice that they were available to rent on snorkeling excursions operated by our resort (Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi).Add to your Trip Planner
1 Hotels in Hudhuranfushi