One of the best local islands in the Maldives for independent travelers is Dhigurah. It has numerous advantages that are not found on other islands. I will tell you where to swim with whale sharks and more, if there is luminous plankton here, how to get there, and what awaits tourists in this paradise.
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Table of Contents
Pros and Cons of vacationing in Dhigurah
Let’s start with the cons, as they do exist, despite the fact that this is a unique and special island, even for the Maldives:
- It is quite far from Male, and transportation are complex and expensive compared to other local islands that are popular with independent travelers.
- Food and accommodation prices are slightly higher (about 20%) than on budget Maafushi or Guraidhoo. However, the vacation experience is incomparable; in Dhigurah, it is 43 times better and cooler.
- I never thought I’d write this about the Maldives, but the beach is quite far away 🙂 especially for those who are used to stay in beachfront accommodation. Although the beach starts right behind the village where you will be staying, it takes 15-20 minutes to get to sunbathing spots, and all the way to the end of the beach takes 40-50 minutes, which is huge distances for the Maldives. For example, in 20 minutes, you can walk the entire capital of Male from edge to edge.
And now, the pros, and believe me, for active travelers, they far outweigh the cons:
- A unique island, 300 meters wide at its widest point, and where the beach and jungle are only 50-70 meters wide and almost 3.5 km long. The feeling of walking across the entire island from the sunrise beach to the sunset beach in just 30 seconds cannot be described in words.
- A bikini beach that is about 4 km long. There is nothing like this in the Maldives. On the popular tourist island of Maafushi, the bikini beach is about 150 meters, on Guraidhoo, it is 200 meters, and on Rasdhoo, it is 400 meters, which is a lot.
- The house reef is the reason to come here. Perhaps this is the benchmark to strive for: it is living, with a lot of fish, turtles, rays, and sharks. And most importantly, the edge of the reef, where you can meet all the most interesting underwater inhabitants very close to the beach, literally 50 meters away. Take your fins and mask, and you can snorkel all day for free.
- Dhigurah Island is very infrastructure-friendly, and everything a tourist needs is here: shops, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants, police, and clinics.
Dhigurah Island: general information
General information that will help you better understand what kind of island it is:
- Dhigurah Island on the map and coordinates: 3.535137707948068, 72.92879069343967
- The island is 300 meters wide and 3,500 meters long.
Interesting fact:In the local language, Dhivehi, “Dhigurah” means “long island” and you can probably guess why. Check out this interesting article about the Maldivian language, which includes essential vocabulary for tourists visiting Dhigurah and highlights the unique features of the language. By the way, we’ll provide the ferry schedule for Dhigurah below, but without this knowledge, you’ll struggle to navigate it.
- Dhigurah Island is home to about 600-700 people. This makes it a quiet, peaceful, and secluded destination.
- The island is 98 kilometers away from Malé airport. Looking at the map above, you can see that most popular islands are closer to Malé, making it easier to reach them.
- Dhigurah Island is located in the Alifu Dhaal atoll, abbreviated as ADH.
Good to know:The island’s official name is ADH.Dhigurah, which you might come across in official mentions, ferry and airplane schedules. The abbreviation for the atoll before the island’s name helps avoid confusion, as there are around 1,200 islands across 24 atolls in the Maldives, many with similar names.
Also, Dhigurah Island should be pronounced without H letters. The letter “h” is hardly ever pronounced in Dhivehi.
Getting to Dhigurah from Malé
This is the most challenging question, but it can be solved inexpensively. First of all, you can always ask your hotel, which you’ve booked, to help you arrange transportation by either plane or private speedboat. But you can also organize it yourself.
- The quickest and most expensive option is a combination of a plane and a private boat, which costs around $150 per person one-way. Here’s what you need to know:
- There’s a small island called Maamigili located 8 km from Dhigurah. It has a private airport and a private airline with two propeller planes that fly to Malé.
- The airline is called Villa Air, and you can find tickets on their official website: https://villaair.aero/#
- The national airline, Maldivian, doesn’t fly to this airport! Learn everything about domestic air travel between islands, prices, schedules, and when flights can be canceled.
- After you arrive at Maamigili, you’ll be transported to Dhigurah by boat, which takes about 15 minutes. Transfers are available directly from the airport.
I don’t like this mode of transportation, and it’s also the least popular because even for two people it costs $300 one way, and it takes at least four hours to get to the airport in Male, then wait for the boat to Dhigurah, which is not faster than a speedboat from Male.
The fastest and most popular way for tourists to get from Male to Dhigurah is by speedboat. Here’s what you need to know:
- The speedboat runs twice a day on this route, even on Fridays.
- Always buy tickets in advance! The carrier for this route is ODiApp, they have their own application in PlayMarket and App Store. Links, prices, and current schedule can be found in the article: transfers in the Maldives by speedboats. Tickets are not available on site, and seats are often not available.
- From Male, departures are at 10:45 am and 4:00 pm daily.
- From Dhigurah to Male, departures are at 6:30 am and 1:45 pm.
- There are two speedboats on this route: Erwina and Fazas03.
- The one-way ticket price is around $50 per person. There is another carrier for $80, but I won’t write about it. You can find all the websites of all carriers through the link provided earlier.
Interesting fact:Speedboats have different power (number of engines, horsepower, speed, and fuel consumption). If you buy a ticket for Erwina, it is more powerful and costs around $50, with a travel time of just over an hour and a half. If you choose Fazas03, the ticket is $10 cheaper, but the speedboat is slower, taking 2 hours and 20 minutes. But usually, tourists buy tickets for a convenient departure time, not for a specific boat.
And of course, the most romantic and inexpensive transportation option is the state public ferry. Stock up on nausea bags (they give them out for free), motion sickness pills, and it’s better not to eat anything before or during this miracle journey. Here’s what you need to know about the ferry:
- The ferry from Male departs from here: 4.177941818902485, 73.51715702778745
- Tickets can be purchased on site, there is no need to do so in advance, and there is no such technical possibility.
- The ticket price to Dhigurah is around $5 per person, or maybe $6.
- There is no direct ferry from Male to Dhigurah! Only with a transfer: I will explain the route there and provide the schedule, and you can figure out how to get back on your own using the same scheme. If not, just let me know and I will help you 🙂
- The route looks like this: take ferry #305 ADH.MAHIBADHOO – MALE from Male. Departs three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, Saturday at 8:30 am. Arrives at the final destination ADH.Mahibadhoo (remember that ADH is the name of the atoll) at 12:40 pm.
- In Mahibadhoo, transfer to ferry #304, which operates daily except for Fridays, only within this atoll. The ferry schedule from Male is specifically linked to this ferry so that everyone has time to transfer. After all, this is the main transportation option for the local residents.
- Ferry #304 departs from Mahibadhoo at 1:30 pm and with one stop arrives at Dhigurah at 3:05 pm. Congratulations, it’s $5, almost 7 hours of waves, a lot of emotions, and you made it!
Important note:Ferry and speedboat schedules are adjusted twice a year, always check for the latest information. This guide has all the necessary links. If you are still confused, just let me know and we’ll figure it out together :). I have traveled on both ferries and speedboats. Overall, if you have time and are not in a rush, the ferry is an excellent option and a good way to save money. The speedboat, by the way, is even more wavy, but it just gets to the island faster 🙂
Accommodation and dining
Here is a brief overview, as everything is easy and clear. The main type of accommodation on the island is guesthouses. There are already about 30 of them today. These are guest houses that offer rooms for rent with private bathroom, often with a terrace or a small garden. There is no private kitchen available, as such housing does not exist here. Breakfast is almost always included in the room price. The standard price in season is $70-120 per night per room. It’s a bit more expensive than on budget Maafushi, but these are the realities.
- To see the full range of rental properties on Dhigurah, check out Booking: prices, reviews, photos, and the site is convenient for any traveler.
There are no problems with food either. Today, there are about 10 budget restaurants on Dhigurah, all with reasonable prices. Dinner for two with grilled fish is up to $30. If you take classic Indian or Sri Lankan dishes, of which there are many here, it is easy to spend less than $20.
- An interesting and, most importantly, useful article about Maldivian cuisine, what tourists should try, whether to tip, taxes in the price of dishes, and much more.
The island’s beach: a house reef, sharks, turtles, manta rays, and luminous plankton
And now, the most interesting topic of the article. Those who have already read about the Maldives and are preparing for a vacation know that tourists can sunbathe and swim in swimsuits only in special areas on local islands. These areas are called bikini beaches, often fenced off and modestly sized.
Important note:On Dhigurah Island, as soon as the village ends, the bikini beach begins. And this is all there is for most of the island. This is the longest bikini beach in the Maldives. There is white fine sand, an excellent ocean, shade, and free sun loungers.
You can choose to sunbathe right behind the village or take a walk further. There is a path through the jungle along the entire island to the sandy spit on the southern tip. During low tide, you can even walk on foot along this spit to the neighboring resort island.
The entire island is surrounded by an incomparable live coral reef that is very close to the beach on both sides. See the photo below for an explanation.
- Number 1 (red line) is the eastern reef of the island. There are strong currents, winds, and waves on this side, so it’s harder to swim here, but this is where the open ocean meets the island. This is also the side where you are more likely to encounter sharks (reef sharks and nurse sharks come by constantly), and there have even been sightings of whale sharks a few times. Whale sharks don’t come as close to the shore on other islands. Manta rays can also be seen here early in the morning (at 6 am).
- Number 2 (white line) is the lagoon where there is less wind, waves, and currents, but there are still plenty of fish, including turtles. Sharks also swim here, but in fewer numbers. You will mostly see small baby sharks.
I recommend wearing coral shoes and a buoy when snorkeling on the east side (red line). For more information on what to wear when snorkeling, who you might encounter, and what to watch out for, please see the article: Snorkeling in the Maldives.
My own experience:My wife and I usually snorkel for 2-3 hours a day, and during that time, we see 2-3-4 sharks, several stingrays, and a dozen turtles. We always swim strictly along the border where the reef ends and the ocean begins, as there are more fish and other inhabitants there.
- Every evening, reef sharks gather near the port before sunset. Fishermen often feed them with fish remains. Come after 5 pm but before dark. Coordinates: 3.538140874223666, 72.93219154381354
On the island of Dhigurah, you can also witness a rare natural phenomenon – bioluminescent plankton. However, it is even rarer to see it here than to spot sharks. This plankton is brought by the current from the northeast, where the brightest glow is always found. Unfortunately, the northeast of Dhigurah Island is a port with breakwaters, and nothing can be seen there.
A small amount of bioluminescent plankton can be seen on the entire eastern coast below the port, in favorable weather conditions. Usually, from 8 pm until midnight. Just take a stroll on the beach during this time and wait for a miracle.
- For more information on this phenomenon, also known as sea of stars, including what affects it, which local islands you can find bioluminescent plankton on, when the season is, and other useful information, check out the Maldives at Night article.
It is important to understand thatsince the beach is very large and the world’s ocean is heavily polluted, garbage is constantly washed up on the shore, and it is not always promptly cleaned up. Especially during the monsoon season, the beach can be quite dirty.
Activities and Excursions on Dhigurah
If you haven’t seen any sharks or turtles while snorkeling near the beach, don’t worry, you can easily spot these guys on an excursion. Although I don’t know how you could miss the turtles, as they swim around the house reef all day long. Sharks, being solitary animals, are rarer to encounter. But the main principle here is the longer you swim, the higher your chances.
Meeting a manta ray is the hardest part; they only swim close to the shore at dawn. Manta rays are deep-sea creatures and spend most of their day far below the surface.
So, no matter what activity you need, whether it’s kayaking or shark diving, you can find it at diving centers. There are currently three diving centers on Dhigurah Island, and another one will open soon. Visit them all, see what they offer, check their prices, and then decide.
The main and most popular activities are available at every diving center, and prices are almost the same. For a general idea:
- Renting a kayak or paddleboard costs $10 per hour.
- The simplest snorkeling excursion for two hours to the neighboring reef, where you’re guaranteed to meet turtles, costs from $25.
- Snorkeling with whale sharks costs from $50.
- Diving costs from $50 for a dive.
- Snorkeling with mantas at dawn. There are programs starting from $20 on a reef that’s nearby. There is also snorkeling with giant mantas, where you’ll need to sail for another half hour, and prices start from $50.
- Fishing varies here, from catching small fish to grill for $20 for beginners to deep-sea fishing for marlin for the whole day, which can cost around $1000 for professionals.
- Day pass to visit neighboring resorts with an all-inclusive package of “food + alcohol”. Prices are around $70-100 per person.
For a general understanding:Whale sharks are only available in this location in the Maldives. On other popular islands, this excursion costs from $120 and higher, takes the whole day, and takes everyone on speedboats to the area near Dhigurah Island. On Dhigurah Island, these excursions are 2.5 times cheaper, as it takes only 20-30 minutes to sail to the best spots. And, with some luck, you may swim with mantas and whale sharks for free on the house reef.
I highly recommend Dhigurah Island to everyone, including families with children and active travelers. The most common question I get asked is to help choose an island for someone’s first visit to the Maldives.
- If you don’t like/can’t swim and the thought of swimming with sharks, turtles, and manta rays doesn’t excite you, then the local islands are just as good as Dhigurah, and easier and faster to get to. I recommend:
- They are all located close together, so you can even visit and relax on each one during your vacation. There are nurse sharks, turtles, and manta rays everywhere. And most importantly, the sea of stars (luminous plankton) appears more frequently and brightly on these islands than on Dhigurah.
- If all you want to do is lie on the beach, swing in the ocean on a “Maldives” sign, and enjoy the Maldivian turquoise waters, you don’t have to sail far from Male. For example, Guraidhoo Island is suitable.
In conclusion, Dhigurah Island is definitely in the top 5 best local islands in the Maldives. If it were closer to Male, it would be the top choice. This is the island where you have a chance to see all the flora and fauna of the Maldives in a week, which is what tourists come here for. And if the stars align, you’ll even see the bioluminescent plankton.
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