The popular tourist destination of Dhiffushi Island in the Maldives is a strong middle-of-the-road option among other local islands. It has its pros and cons. It is definitely a better choice for a vacation than the crowded Maafushi Island, but falls short compared to other local islands like Rasdhoo, Thoddoo, Thinadhoo, and Dhigurah. Below is a comprehensive, honest, and useful report on Dhiffushi Island.

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Pros and Cons of Dhiffushi Island

Let’s start with the pros:

  • One of the closest local islands to Male and the international airport, making it an ideal destination for tourists seeking a relaxing vacation.
  • As a result, it’s very easy and affordable to get here from Male any day of the week. Regular daily public transportation is a rarity in the Maldives.
  • Overall, it’s a budget-friendly island with prices lower than most local islands. For example, Ukulhas Island is very popular among tourists, with better beaches and a richer underwater world, but it takes longer to get there, and prices are higher.
  • In general, there are two good bikini beaches, and a reef that is somewhat living. Even if you don’t encounter sharks, turtles, or manta rays at the shore, you’ll definitely see them on nearby excursions. You won’t have to spend the whole day traversing the ocean looking for sharks on expensive tours.
  • Good infrastructure, with everything tourists need: shops, ATMs, hospitals, souvenir shops, cafes, and about 10 restaurants, as well as 3 diving centers.
  • Fewer tourists and more space on the beach compared to overcrowded Maafushi. Yes, I will mention and compare Maafushi multiple times because they are twin islands between which tourists constantly shuttle.
dhiffushi reviews
This is the center of the island, the main crossroad. 🙂

Dhiffushi Island has few cons:

  • The island is quite dirty in places. The beach isn’t always cleaned, especially during monsoon season, when garbage is brought in faster than it can be cleared. This is the case in many places, but on Dhiffushi, it’s more noticeable.
  • While the water color is truly Maldivian and a sight to behold, the home reef for snorkelers isn’t the best here. There are many local islands where it’s better.

Dhiffushi island: general information

Here are some key details and important information about the island:

  • Local island Dhiffushi can be found on the map at coordinates: 4.440183, 73.713227
  • The island measures 1000 meters by 200, making it a very typical local island among hundreds of others. Due to its elongated shape, no matter where you live on the island, you’ll be no more than 50-100m away from the beach and ocean.
  • The official population is slightly over 1000 people, which is also a very standard amount. There are more densely populated islands out there.
  • The distance from Malé and the airport to Dhiffushi is 36 km.
  • The island is located in the Kaafu atoll.
Dhiffushi where is it
Map for convenience to better understand the location of the island

Useful to know:

In some official sources, you may come across the island’s name as K.Dhiffushi – this is its full name. The first letter “K” stands for the atoll in which the island is located, in this case, the Kaafu atoll. Islands are often written like this in ferry schedules when the ferry route covers more than one atoll. It helps avoid confusion.

How to get there: ferry and speedboat schedules and prices

Getting here is easy, fast, and very cheap for the Maldives.

There are two ways: a cheap and slow state ferry and a fast and expensive private speedboat. Tourists use both options. Here’s what you need to know:

State public ferry from Malé to Dhiffushi:

  • For the current schedule of ferry number 308 K.DHIFFUSHI – MALE, check the website: MTCC: Look for the schedule under the phrase “CTN Ferry – All Atolls.” This will open the schedule for all ferries in the Maldives. I don’t provide a direct link because the schedule is regularly updated. Once you open the file, use the ctrl+F combination to find ferry number 308.
  • The ticket price is just under $2 one way. You don’t need to buy it in advance; buy it on-site before departure.
  • The ferry departs from Malé here: 4.17792422339097, 73.51714686450012
  • The ferry runs once a day, every day except Friday. This is very frequent by Maldivian standards. The travel time is just over 2 hours. If the weather is bad, it can take 3 hours.
    • The ferry departs from Dhiffushi at 6:30 am and arrives in Malé at 8:40 am.
    • The same ferry departs from Malé at 2:30 pm and arrives in Dhiffushi at 4:40 pm.
  • You can find the current ferry schedule, information on how often they are canceled, and how rough the ride can be in our article on ferries in the Maldives.
male dhiffushi ferry
The 2024 schedule of the ferry 308 from Malé to Dhiffushi. In the Maldivian language, you read from right to left.

With speedboats, everything is even easier. Every day, multiple times a day, including Fridays.

  • Always buy tickets in advance!
  • From Male, departures start from 9 AM, with several trips throughout the day at 11 AM, 2 PM, and sometimes at 4 PM. Occasionally, there is an evening trip at 9 PM, but it’s essential to check the schedule.
  • Ticket prices range from $35 to $50 one way, depending on the carrier company. The main carrier is Mee Express Altec. You can find and purchase tickets through the OdiApp application or the provided link. Alternatively, you can contact the guesthouse you’ve booked as they also assist with island transfers.
  • Travel time: 50-60 minutes.
  • All about speedboats, links to all Maldivian carriers, where to buy tickets, tips, and life hacks in the article: transfers between islands by speedboats.

Where to stay and dine

There are no problems here, the island is infrastructural, you won’t be hungry without a roof over your head. But remember, you need to book accommodation in advance, this is not like Thailand or Goa, where you can find accommodation on the spot and cheaper in 5 minutes. In high season, you may end up sleeping on a beach lounger according to this plan. The islands are small, there are only a few dozen options for accommodation, and sometimes the occupancy of all the island’s hotels tends towards 100%.

The most popular option for staying on all local islands in the Maldives is guesthouses. To not go into details, you will have a hotel-type room with a large bed, air conditioning, a refrigerator, and private bathroom. Since the buildings on the islands are mostly one-story, there is often also a small terrace in the garden.

Dhiffushi hotel
This is what the most standard room of any guesthouse looks like on Dhiffushi within $100 per day.

As I said, Dhiffushi is a budget island in terms of accommodation. On average, the most standard price range here is $70-100 per day for a room. This is cheap for the Maldives. Sometimes there are options for $50 on juicy deals, but this is more of an exception.

  • The most comprehensive database of accommodation on Dhiffushi is   on Hotellook, a convenient service for tourists that compares hotel prices among dozens of other platforms.   

As for the island’s dining options, here’s what you need to know:

  • When booking a guesthouse on Dhiffushi, pay attention to breakfast as it’s usually included in the price in 80% of the cases in the Maldives. Having breakfast included is a big advantage, as all dining establishments usually open after lunch.
  • Guesthouses often have their own cafes and restaurants, which are open to anyone.
  • Today, there are about 7-10 budget restaurants for tourists on Dhiffushi. The menus are standard, and you can find detailed information about Maldivian cuisine, what to try, taxes, and tips in the article linked below.
  • A standard dinner for two with a large grilled fish usually costs us around $20-30. You can also eat for less if you wish. For that amount of money, you will not be left hungry.
Dhiffushi restaurants
Our classic dinner with my wife on Dhiffushi includes two salads, two side dishes, grilled fish (usually around 800g, which is small), and two drinks – usually $20-25.

Beach on Dhiffushi: reef, sharks, manta rays, glowing plankton.

There are several interesting things to note here.

Useful to know:

On local islands in the Maldives, you can only swim and sunbathe in bikinis in designated areas, called bikini beaches. On Maafushi, for example, it’s a small crowded piece of land. But on Dhiffushi, there are two bikini beaches, and their total length is about a kilometer – that’s very cool.
Dhiffushi map reef
Satellite image of Dhiffushi: 1. Main bikini beach 2. Bikini beach #2 – this is where you can look for glowing plankton. 3. Meeru Resort Hotel.

I included the satellite image above to make it easier for you to understand what I’ll be talking about next.

  • Where the beaches are not touristy, the locals do a poor job of clearing the garbage, and as a result, the shoreline is dirty.
  • On the south side, at the main beach (No. 1), there is a coral reef right off the shore. Although it is shallow here, overall it is comfortable to snorkel, with plenty of fish and turtles spotted within 100 meters from the shore. Reef sharks are a rare sight but have been seen once.
  • On the north side, where the second beach is located, the water color is out of this world, like in the Maldives :). There is also snorkeling and fish here, BUT as shown in the photo above, it’s important to note that boats and ferries enter the port, and the only shipping channel through the reef passes between two islands and runs close to Bikini Beach No. 2. The top photo in this article gives a good idea of what this looks like in real life. It’s important to understand that:
    • There is active shipping traffic on this beach with many boats coming and going.
    • Waves caused by passing boats are a constant occurrence.
    • The water is deep right off the shore.

Therefore, the main Bikini Beach on the south side will be more comfortable, but tourists also enjoy the beach on the north side, and it comes down to personal preference.

Dhiffushi best beach
This photo shows the second Bikini Beach, and as boats pass through the channel right off the shore, snorkeling here is not convenient, but the beach itself is nice.
  • The number 3 on the satellite image is the famous private resort hotel Meeru, where you can spend a full day with food and alcohol included, but more on that later.

Overall, there is snorkeling here, and there are definitely plenty of fish. The house reef is not particularly living, and compared to the Maldives, it is more dead, but if this is your first island experience, you will enjoy it.

There are chances of snorkeling with sharks and turtles near the island’s beaches, but you will most likely need to buy a separate excursion for this. For example, there is no permanent turtle colony here like on Thoddoo.

Important note:

Sea of stars (glowing plankton) has been observed on Dhiffushi, but not in the same quantity as on Rasdhoo or Vaadhoo. However, on Maafushi, it is generally not present. Bioluminescent plankton almost always comes to the Maldives from the northeast current, and on Dhiffushi, this is Bikini Beach No. 2. The brightness of the luminescence depends heavily on the season and weather. But if you’re lucky, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Come to the beach between 8 pm and 1 am.
Dhiffushi sea of stars
This photo was taken at Dhiffushi, specifically from the second bikini beach, around 10 PM at the end of January. Prior to that, either there was no bioluminescence or the glow was very weak. Let’s say it was lucky, although at the same time, the bioluminescence at Vaadhoo Island was ten times stronger.

A comprehensive article on glowing plankton in the Maldives: when the season is, how to look for it, and how to increase your chances.

Excursions and activities on Dhiffushi Island

It is important to understand that there are no land-based entertainment or nightlife activities on local islands in the Maldives. You will not find any bars, nightclubs, or clubs here, and by midnight, the entire island is asleep. All activities are in some way related to the ocean.

Important note:

Whether you want a shark watching excursion, fishing, diving, or to visit the neighboring resort Meeru, you must go to the diving center. Diving centers oversee all activities in the Maldives, in general, and on Dhiffushi Island, in particular.

There are already three diving centers on Dhiffushi Island today. Check them all out, see what they offer, and then buy the excursion that interests you. Everyone offers a standard package, but each adds some interesting features to their programs.

dhiffushi snorkeling
Just a few kilometers from the island, there is a spot where you can swim with manta rays, but you need to buy an excursion because you can’t reach it on your own.

Prices for excursions and activities on Dhiffushi Island:

  • Kayak or stand-up paddleboard rental: $10 per hour.
  • Jet ski – $50 for 30 minutes.
  • Regular snorkeling at a nearby reef for 2 hours, where you can almost always meet turtles – from $25.
  • Snorkeling with mantas or sharks at special spots: from $50 to $100.
  • Diving – from $50 per dive.
  • There are tours for snorkeling with whale sharks, and it’s just incredible. However, whale sharks are only found on the neighboring atoll, which is far away. It is a full day tour with meals, and costs around $120 per person.
  • You can also take a day trip to neighboring resorts, the most popular being Meeru because it’s nearby. There are many options, always check the details: the most popular package includes food and unlimited alcohol, usually priced around $100. For $50, you can find packages without alcohol. The price includes the use of all resort facilities: beaches, sun loungers, pool, and transfer.
    • Review of the Meeru resort.
Dhiffushi bikini beach
This is Bikini Beach #2, the one in the north, and in the background you can see Meeru Resort Island. You can swim across, but there is security there who will send you back 🙂

Travel tips

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, Dhiffushi is a solid middle-of-the-road option among the local islands. I can help you decide on which island to choose, as I am often asked this question: which is better, Maafushi or Dhiffushi?

  • If we compare only these two islands, then Dhiffushi is definitely cooler. At the very least, the beach is bigger, there are more fish, fewer people, and there is bioluminescent plankton. Getting there is just as easy as getting to Maafushi.
  • And if you want to relax on the real Maldives islands, meet sharks and turtles at the shore, snorkel with whale sharks, and have a better chance of seeing bioluminescent plankton, it’s better to look at these islands:

In conclusion, Dhiffushi Island is an excellent and budget-friendly option for your first visit to the Maldives. After Dhiffushi, you will definitely want more, but you can think about that on your next trip. It’s a great place to come with kids – a long beach, white sand, warm ocean, what else do you need?

If you enjoyed the article and the content in this guide, you can buy me a coffee ^_^

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives

  • Flight tickets and the best deals
  • Tour packages (from budget to luxury): Expedia
  • Hotels and guesthouses on any island:
    • Hotellook compares prices among a dozen other services and platforms and offers to choose the best one.
    • Booking – the most popular service for booking accommodation.
    • Agoda – the main competitor of Booking.
  • 12go is the largest Asian transfer service. It gathers all Maldivian carriers, even the small ones that operate between local islands.
  • Tours and excursions: Viator – a limited selection of excursions, but convenient and reliable.
  • Comprehensive insurance: EKTA
  • eSIM at the same price as in telecom office in Male.