We arrived at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport around 9am after an overnight at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka the night before. We got off the plane onto the runway and walked to the airport. For some reason, I always like getting to a new country like this instead of walking right into the airport.
We were issued a free tourist visa-on-arrival and customs was a breeze. We exchanged a small sum of money to make it to Maafushi and were planning on using a mix of USD and Maldivian rufiyaa in the Maldives. The exchange rate is 15 rufiyaa to 1 USD for all bills over $5. A $5 will get you 14 rufiyaa and a $1 is valued at 10 rufiyaa.
The airport is located on its own island, Hulhule, right next to Male so you have to take a ferry to get to the “mainland.” The ferry costs 10 rufiyaa. The ferry will drop you off at the upper right hand corner of the map below at the Hulhumale Ferry Terminal. We read online that the Maafushi ferry left from Jetty #1 near the Fish Market so we decided to hoof it there since it wasn’t too far. However, when we got there, we were informed that the Maafushi ferry left from the other side of the island. It’s located at the Villingili Ferry Terminal in the lower left hand corner of the map. It’s over a mile so we tried to hail a taxi with no luck. A small truck saw us and told us to hop in and we made the journey for 40 rufiyaa. We read online that any taxi ride on the island should cost 25 rufiyaa + 5 rufiyaa for each bag so we didn’t try to haggle on the price.
We got to the ferry terminal and there was a big yellow boat with Maafushi Tours Ferry written on it so we hopped aboard and asked a guy working how to buy a ticket. He told us the ferry was sold out already and we had to get a shared speedboat for $20 per person. I didn’t believe him so I told him no thank you and got off the boat. I went looking around the area until I located the ticket counter. I hesitantly asked if there was a ferry to Maafushi. She nodded her head yes. I asked if there were any seats left. She responded positively. I asked how many and she said, “ohhh, sooo many” and flipped through a ticket booklet. I bought our tickets for 55 rufiyaa/person or $3.67. We just saved ourselves $50 between the three of us by avoiding the scam/liar at Maafushi Tours Ferry. We did have about 4 hours to kill now though.
We found a nice little beach area to sit at just down the road and stayed somewhat dry under a palm leaf structure as it had started to rain quite hard. We were later told that the ferry to the nearby island of Villingili, which the ferry terminal is named after, runs every 10 minutes. Had we known this, we probably would’ve tried to explore the small island during our four hours. Oh well though, next time.
The ferry took 1.5 hours with a stop at Gulhi before continuing to Maafushi. The seas were very choppy this afternoon. There were a number of locals puking into plastic bags, which made for some decent entertainment. I thought it was odd that the locals were struggling, but most of the tourists seemed fine.
Moral of the story. Don’t believe the guy at Maafushi Tours Ferry.