November 2015: Enroute to Southern India, my wife and I stopped in the Maldives to spend a couple of days. We didn’t want to stay in an expensive resort, which most travelers stay. Instead, we wanted to experience local culture and visit the Maldives without breaking the bank. There were few islands that offered budget guesthouses, but I did find one, Thoddoo island, an island with no resorts and only a few cheap guesthouses and a village where Maldives citizens live and not foreigners. The island was also just as beautiful as any other in the Maldives, with white sand beaches, agricultural fields and pristine coral reefs. This was the kind of place we wanted to see, and I booked a stay at Thoddoo Island for us.

Where is Thoddoo Island

Thoddoo Island

To get to Thoddoo Island, Paula and I booked a public ferry ticket at the ferry station on Male Island. We arrived late at night into Male from Kunming, China and immediately transferred to the ferry. The ferry ride was approx. 6 hours long. We slept on the floor with other locals in a cargo bin, crossing wind chopped open seas while lightning and thunder flashed in the near distance and the sound of the thunder dulled by the loud constant hum of the big diesel engine on the boat. We finally arrived at Thoddoo island early in the morning as the sun rose, and we checked into our hotel.

Our public ferry

Sleeping on the ferry

Paula on the ferry trying not to breathe diesel fumes

After sleeping for a few hours in our guesthouse room, Paula and I hired a fisherman to take us out to the reef to snorkel and saw some beautiful reef and sea turtles. There was an uninhabited island near the outer atoll, and I asked the fisherman if it was possible to be dropped off there for the night to camp and he said it was forbidden to camp on island by yourself. Our hotel manager also confirmed this later. 

Thoddoo Island from distance

Streets of village on Thoddoo Island

Streets of village on Thoddoo Island

Paula and I spent all day walking the beaches and trails around the small island exploring the coconut plantations, observing the fluing foxes libing in the palm trees and swimming in the pristine beaches with no one on them We never did see one single foreigner on the island, and we encountered locals going about their daily activities and most were oblivious to us. 

Villager Working a Coconut Plantation on the Island

One of the Flying Fox Bats on the Island, the only wild mammal that lives in the islands

Paula and I exploring

A lonely beach


Beautiful Beaches 



Paula at sunset

Locals at the beach

Paula and I having seafood in the village

Paula and I returned to male at night via the public ferry arriving in male early in the morning and departed to South India. it was amazing how urbanized the island of Male is compared to the rest of the Maldives.

Although we didn’t get to camp on an uninhabited island like I had hoped, we did get to visit a beautiful rural island-Thoddoo Island, which met our expectations of an idyllic island in the Maldives.

Most urbanized island in the Maldives-Male as viewed from the plane

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