Local or Resort: How to Choose your Perfect Maldivian Island

This is the last of the posts about the Maldives. Our trip was short but sweet: we visited a couple of local islands and visited a luxurious one, enjoyed delicious food (and fell in love with the Maldivian breakfast mas huni), saw sharks and mantas (among other underwater animals), and met some amazing people. If you were to ask me which we enjoyed better and what I would recommend for future tourists and travelers, here are some of the things you should consider when choosing between a local or resort island:

sunset in dhangethi
Sunset in the local island of Dhangethi

1. It’s all about the money
How much are you willing to spend for a night’s stay? In comparison, our accommodation in the local islands cost about 85 USD a night while a night at the resort cost us 512 USDย  for a night’s stay (116 USD more if we paid for the upgrade to an ocean villa). Some travel sites offer packages for long staying guests and is considerably cheaper than getting the published daily rates. Aside from the accommodation, also consider that not all activities in the resorts are free and rates for massages, food (also see point 5 below), island hopping, and diving cost two to three times more than in the local islands.

One of the hotels in Thulusdhoo
No frills resort/ guesthouse in Thulusdhoo




Ocean Villas of Centara
Over the ocean villas of Centara
Diving with the Ariston team
Diving with the Ariston team: lots of fun and cheaper than resort ratesย 

2. What else can I do?
Local island stays are meant to be budget accommodations, so expect little to no added amenities apart from your room, a restaurant, and free wifi (but at times it can be unreliable). Only a few local island stays have swimming pools (but who really needs one if you are in the Maldives) and may not even have sports equipment for kayaking or snorkeling or facilities for water activities like dive centers for diving. If you intend to stay in a local island hotel, check that they will have the amenities you are looking for to avoid being disappointed.

We had our own loungers in our own sun deck over the ocean
poolside early morning-01
Pool and pool bar at Centara Ras
Relax at Centara’s onsite spa
inside oceans restaurant
Eat what you want in a buffet at Centara’s Oceans Restaurant
simple life in Dhangethi
Doing nothing in Dhangethi island
local life Thulusdhoo
Simple local life at Thulusdhooย 
Jeremy trying to fish like the locals
Le hubby trying to fish like a local

3. If you like pina coladas…
As a Muslim country, bringing alcohol into the Maldives is prohibited. Local islands don’t sell alcohol (even in the hotels). If drinking alcohol is a big deal for you, better stay in a resort island where the sale and consumption of it is allowed.

non-alcoholic fizzy drinks
Non-alcoholic fizzy drinks in Thulusdhoo
Sunset cocktails in Centara
Sunset champagne and cocktails at Centara’s Viu Bar

4. Life’s better in a bikini
As with alcohol, the Maldives does not allow the wearing bikinis in public because they are Muslim. There are designated bikini beaches though and, contrary to previous blogs I have read, the wearing shorts and short dresses are allowed if ever you decided to roam around the town. However, wearing bikinis all day and everywhere are allowed in the resort islands, except for some restaurants that require a minimal dress code (as our experience in the Centara).

Bikini beach_Dhangethi
Bikinis in the local island are only allowed in the bikini beach (the black net behind me serves as the fence for the beach)
Walking around in a bikini
You can pretty much walk around in a bikini everywhere in a resort island


Clothes needed-01
The locals told us wearing of shorts in the island was allowed

5. And lastly, where and what do you intend to eat?
Hotels and resorts actually offer full board meals, but we did not take them. I think it was better to be able to choose the food we were getting versus eating whatever they had for the day, even at the Centara which had buffet lunches and dinners. However, just remember that a local island will have minimal offerings but will give you the experience of eating like the locals do (in Dhangethi) or giving you the options to eat what you want (in our case, we had yummy pizzas at a local Thulusdoo pizzeria). A resort island will not give you these options, however, I believe they will still have more food offerings than what a local island will. Consider this when you are booking your trip, too.

chickens island picnic
Picnic at Chickens Island care of our Thulusdhoo guest house
Try this yummy dessert at Contagious Pizza in Thulusdhoo island


Food Saver
Restaurant Food Saver in Dhangethi
Mas huni
Another photo of mas huni (just because)


Centara Breakfast

Drinks at Al Khaimah

Pre-dinner aperitif at Al Khaimah

Viu Bar at night
Cocktails at Viu Bar
Drinks are on me
Casually sipping wine over the Indian Ocean (literally!)

In the end, every island is still different: remember, we enjoyed our trips in both Dhangethi and the Centara Ras but were disappointed at how our trip to Thulusdhoo turned out. It’s all about making the most out of the experience, wherever you may be. But I do hope your trip to the Maldives turns out to be as unforgettable as ours!

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