An overview of the quiet and not very popular local island of Guraidhoo in the Maldives. I’ll share the pros and cons of staying on the island, including the manta rays and sharks in the harbor, how to get there, where to stay and dine, about snorkeling, diving, and excursions to resorts. You will discover the unique features of the island that are not widely written about and decide if it’s suitable for your vacation or if you should choose another island.
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Maldives without these websites
Table of Contents
Pros and Cons of Guraidhoo Island
Since Guraidhoo is a quite popular local island and receives a relatively large number of tourists, I’ll highlight its main pros and cons.
Pros of Guraidhoo Island:
- Very close to Male and the airport, about 30 km. There are not many local islands suitable for tourists in such proximity. I know of two more, neighboring islands of Maafushi and Gulhi in the same atoll. You can even see Maafushi from the Guraidhoo beach.
- Excellent transport links with Male. There is a daily state ferry for $2! A daily ferry service is a huge luxury for the Maldives.
- Relatively fewer tourists. A quiet and peaceful island.
- All necessary infrastructure is available, as far as applicable to the Maldives. Shops, souvenir shops, diving centers, no banks, but ATMs, cafes, and restaurants.
- Kitesurfers come here as this atoll has good wind that blows evenly in the right direction.
- Manta rays and sharks can be seen in the harbor daily.
- Reasonably priced food and accommodation. Lower than neighboring local islands.
Cons of staying on Guraidhoo local island:
- Very weak bikini beach. It’s new, and there have been significant changes in the past year. It may be a treat in five years, but more about that in the beach section.
- Very weak house reef. Snorkeling near the shore is practically nowhere to be found, with only a couple of spots available. Underwater diversity is much poorer here than on other local islands in neighboring atolls.
- The country’s main psychiatric hospital is located on the island. It doesn’t affect the vacation, and there are no psychos running around the streets, it’s just a fact :).
Guraidhoo: general information about the island
Now, for some general points:
- The coordinates of the island and a map can be found via this link: 3.9018855290522545, 73.46821312172278
- The population of the island is approximately 1700 people.
- The size of the island is 500 by 700 meters. This is the most standard island in terms of size and population. Most local islands are around the same size.
Good to know:People often ask me if nearly 2000 people is a lot for such a small piece of land. In reality, you won’t even feel the presence of people, as they are hardly visible. The streets are empty, and there are no crowds.
- The island is located in the North Male Atoll, also known as Kaafu. This is very important to know.
Good to know:Officially, the name of this island is K.Guraidhoo (see the photo above), because there is another island in the Maldives with the name Guraidhoo, and the letter K denotes the name of the atoll where the island is located, in this case, Kaafu.
It is very difficult to confuse and sail to the other Guraidhoo, and it is practically impossible for tourists to do so, as the second island with the same name, while also local, is located very far away, there is no direct transport from Male, and it is not tourist-friendly.
Therefore, when a tourist asks locals about Guraidhoo, everyone understands that they are talking about the Kaafu Atoll. You may also come across this name with the letter K in ferry schedules or elsewhere, so don’t be surprised, as this is what you need.
- Guraidhoo Island should be pronounced in as “Guraido”. The letter “h” is rarely pronounced in the Maldivian language.
How to get to Guraidhoo from Male
In fact, the proximity to Male and the possibility of getting here quickly and inexpensively is probably the biggest advantage of the island. Because in terms of all other parameters – beach, palm trees, reef – Guraidhoo falls behind other local islands.
Getting to the island is very easy. There are two options: a cheap state public ferry and a private speedboat.
- The Male-Guraidhoo ferry departs daily except on Fridays (Friday is a public holiday) once a day. The one-way ticket price is about $2. You don’t need to buy a ticket in advance, and there is no such option, buy it on the spot at the ticket office or on the ferry.
- Ferry No. 409. Route: Male – K.Guraidhoo (but these are two final stations). The ferry also stops at local islands along the route: Maafushi and Gulhi, stopping at each for 5 minutes.
- Departure place in Male: 4.17792085002913, 73.517155120912
- Travel time: 2 hours. If the weather is bad, then 2 hours 30 minutes. From the starting stations, it always departs strictly on schedule, and then it goes as it goes.
- Daily at 7:00 am from Guraidhoo. Arrives in Male at 9:05.
- Daily at 3:00 pm back from Male. Arrives in Guraidhoo at 5:05 pm.
- Everything about ferries, where to see the current schedule online, and how to read the schedule is in the article: Ferry Service in the Maldives. If you think it’s easy to read, figure it out in the picture below without reading its caption 🙂
Read about the Maldivian language – Dhivehi, and the vocabulary for tourists in the article: Maldivian Language – Reading from Right to Left.
With speedboats, everything is much simpler. That’s why it’s private transport. Here are the general points:
- The speedboat runs twice a day. Once a day on Fridays. Usually, it departs from Male at 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, but you always need to check, there is no clear schedule.
- Travel time is 1 hour.
- The ticket price is $25-30 one way.
- You always need to book a ticket in advance. The easiest way to do this is through your hotel or guesthouse where you will be staying. Just write to them, and they will reserve a place for you at a convenient time. Read everything about speedboats and the main carriers at the link.
Accommodation and dining on Guraidhoo
This is a simple topic, so I’ll keep it short. The main accommodation for tourists on the island are guesthouses, which are small hotels with 3-4-5 rooms. There are already about 40 of these on Guraidhoo. You will have your own spacious room with air conditioning and a private bathroom, and sometimes a refrigerator. The standard prices for accommodation range from $40 to $100 per day.
It’s essential to book your accommodation in advance, as you won’t find it on site. This isn’t like Thailand or Bali. You can book wherever you want, usually the tourists use Booking.
Dining is also not a problem. Today, there are probably a dozen restaurants. There is a large concentration near the port, but they are also available around the entire island. There are no expensive establishments here. They are all cheap. You can easily have dinner for two for $10-20.
Beach on Guraidhoo: sharks, house reef, features
There is a vast amount of reviews about Guraidhoo on the internet, but it seems like someone was there 15 years ago, wrote a report, and everyone else has been reprinting it ever since. This difference between reports and reality prompted me to write this article. I will now explain how things stand with the beach and activities on the island today.
Important:In 2022, a global government program for land reclamation was carried out on Guraidhoo, increasing the island’s area by 30%. They made a new, or rather the first official bikini beach for tourists. In 2023, the beach was opened for tourists, and there were many questions, but it was a titanic effort, and in five years, the island will be a fairy tale, but that’s not certain 🙂
For those who have studied both photos, I have tried to show everything as clearly as possible, here’s what you need to know:
- The bridge to the small uninhabited island of Lhosfushi (No. 2), where tourists used to sunbathe, no longer exists. You can walk to the island without a bridge; it’s not difficult, especially during low tide.
- The garbage dump (No. 3) is still the same. There is absolutely nothing to do on Lhosfushi Island; it is impossible to swim there, there is a lot of garbage, and the water is shallow – it is definitely not a tourist spot.
- The sandy spit-beach between Guraidoo and the resort island (shown in the photo under number 1) is still there. You can swim there, but it is not a bikini beach, and the ocean here is just average. It is not allowed to change into swimsuits. Also, a football field has been made from this spit today, with goals set up and children playing football there. You cannot walk to the resort as security is present.
- A new bikini beach exclusively for tourists was opened on the newly washed-up area (number 7). This is where tourists can sunbathe and swim in bikinis, swimsuits, and so on.
The pros: Guraidoo finally has its official bikini beach. The water here is incredibly beautiful; swings have been set up in the water, just like in the Maldives.
But there are currently many cons: there is no house reef for snorkeling, only small shark babies swim near the shore, but they swim around the entire island and even near Lhosfushi. The biggest problem is greenery.
Six adult palm trees were brought and planted on the bikini beach, and it is an expensive and challenging procedure, and not all of them survived. The rest of the area was planted with palm seedlings; it will be amazing when they grow. But it will take at least 5-10 years.
Excursions and activities on the island
Everything here is like on any local island. There are no discos, bars, clubs, or nightlife on Guraidhoo. The island already sleeps by 11 PM. All activities on the island are somehow connected to the ocean.
Important note:All excursions, activities, fishing, diving, jet-skiing, kayaking are available at the diving centers. They have everything you need! There are three diving centers on the island, but the largest is in the port.
Here are the packages, excursions, and activities available:
- Diving – from $50 per dive
- Snorkeling on nearby islands – from $20
- Fishing on the reef and barbecue party where you can grill your catch – around $25 per person
- There are full-day snorkeling excursions with whale sharks and mantas on nearby atolls. Prices start at $100 per person.
- Visiting neighboring resort islands. This activity is popular on all local islands. Each local island has its own list of nearby resorts. They take you to the resort in the morning, including food and alcohol, and you can use all the resort’s infrastructure all day: beaches, pools, and so on. And in the evening, they take you back. Usually, such a activity costs $80-150 per person for the whole day.
If you have your own fins and mask, you can snorkel near the shore for free. There are still a few pieces of live reef and beautiful fish here. Here are the coordinates of one of the locations: 3.9041510512460773, 73.46705719375586 (very close to the bikini beach, photo of the place below)
Interesting fact:In the shallow waters around the island, small baby sharks, about 30-50cm in size, can often be seen. They usually swim in at sunset when the sun is no longer hot. They even swim on the bikini beach. And if you come to the harbor at sunset, walk along the waterfront and look closely at the bottom, you’ll see large sharks and rays swimming around, waiting for fishermen to throw away the remains of their catch.
- When all the activities on Guraidhoo have been explored, here’s another cool plan for you: take a ferry at 7am and spend the whole day on Maafushi Island. Walk around, sunbathe on the bikini beach, snorkel on the local reef, and return on the same ferry at 5pm. You can also visit Gulhi Island in the same atoll route from Male to Guraidhoo.
- And of course, if you don’t have time to explore Male on the day of departure, you can visit Male on any other day. Take the ferry at 9am from Guraidhoo to Male, and it returns at 3pm. You’ll have 6 hours to explore the city, buy souvenirs, visit the local market, see Sultan Park, and visit the museum. In 6 hours, you’ll see the entire city, which is only 2 by 3 km.
By the way, there are no telecom stores on the island, so solve the internet and local SIM card issue in Male. More details on this can be found in the article: internet in the Maldives.
I won’t give any advice here, I’ll try to convey my vision of a vacation on the island, and you can make your own decisions:
Interesting to know:In 2023, the island received a powerful boost to tourism development, but it’s only the beginning. Perhaps in five years, when the palm trees grow and the bikini beach is improved, it will be a mega-cool island for vacation. But not today.
Of all the major attributes of the Maldives and the reason why tourists come here, there is only the incredibly beautiful water on the bikini beach. The photos above confirm this. But the beach itself is still in its infancy, there are few mature palm trees, and most importantly, there’s no snorkeling spots right off the shore, as on other islands. You won’t find turtles, mantas, or whale sharks here, but you can easily find them on other islands. There’s no bioluminescent plankton here either. These are the Maldives on a minimalistic level.
I recommend choosing neighboring atolls for your vacation, as they have many more advantages. Take a look at the islands: Toddoo, Rasdhoo, Ukulhas, Dhigurah (there are reviews of all the islands on the pages of this guidebook). These are local islands where the vacation will be much cooler. You can see bioluminescent plankton on all these islands. Just look up what it is to understand why they are cooler than Guraidhoo. Everything about the Maldives at night.
Maafushi, Gulhi, and Guraidhoo are not quite up to par with them yet. But if you’ve already chosen Guraidhoo, don’t worry, there is still plenty to do here, and it has its own charm and allure. However, I don’t recommend staying here for more than 3 days. If you do plan on staying here for more days, plan a visit to neighboring islands and Male for a full day.
Request to readers:Since I don’t live on Guraidhoo and visit the island quite rarely, and it changes quickly, if they have already started building hotels on the new part of the island during your visit, write about it in the comments. It will be useful to all readers. Or maybe they planted new large palm trees on the bikini beach?
In conclusion, the local island of Guraidhoo is not among the top best islands in the Maldives. There are many questions about the beach and the house reef. But it still attracts its share of tourists. The island has recently received a huge boost in tourism development, and we will see what happens in 10 years, maybe a new paradise?
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives
- Flight tickets and the best deals
- Hotels and guesthouses on any island: Booking
- Tour packages (from budget to luxury): Expedia
- Comprehensive insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual SIM card with internet package at the same price as in telecom store in Male