A comprehensive review of one of the most popular local islands in the Maldives – Rasdhoo Island. I’ll tell you about its unique features, where to spot sharks, where to find a beach with luminous plankton, how to get there cheaply and quickly. There will be plenty of useful information to make your stay in Rasdhoo unforgettable.
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Table of Contents
Pros and cons of staying on Rasdhoo
As I have already mentioned, Rasdhoo Island is a very popular island among independent tourists today. Among hundreds of local islands, it is definitely one of the top ten. Let’s figure out why:
Pros of Rasdhoo Island in the Maldives:
- It is close to Male, only 60 km away. This means that you can get here quickly and cheaply.
- It is the central island of the atoll. This means that there is good infrastructure here. There are shops, banks, a police station (I don’t know why there is police in the Maldives, it is absolutely safe here), a school, a hospital, catering establishments for tourists, and so on.
- Cheap accommodation and low prices in restaurants, even compared to neighboring local islands.
- A good house reef for snorkeling. You can easily find sharks and turtles right off the beach. Mantas are harder to find, but they also swim here. There is also glowing plankton on Rasdhoo.
- This is a clean, green island that has completely reoriented itself to tourism today. And every local resident who is not engaged in fishing works in the tourism industry on the island. It is a tourist infrastructure island, there is everything you need for a vacation.
The only downside of Rasdhoo, actually, is its beach. It is relatively small, but there is enough space for everyone. The situation quickly improves, though. But more on that in the section about the beach.
Island of Rasdhoo: general information
And now for some general information:
- Coordinates of the island of Rasdhoo on the map: 4.263101500301823, 72.99179080582519
- Size: 600 meters by 500 meters. This is a standard size for a Maldivian island, but some islands can be much smaller 🙂
- Population: 1400 people. When you’re there, it feels like there are very few people around.
- The island is the administrative center of the Ari Atoll or Alif Alif Atoll. It can be referred to by either name.
- Rasdhoo is pronounced as Rasdu. The letter “h” is never pronounced in Maldivian language.
Good to know:Ferries from Male often only go to the administrative centers of the atolls, and then you need to transfer to get to other islands in the atoll. In this case, it’s very convenient: there’s a direct public ferry from Male to Rasdhoo, and only after that it continues on to the other islands in the atoll: Thoddoo and Ukulhas.
How to get there: ferry and speedboat
There’s also a seaplane, but I’ve never seen anyone use it, even locals. A sane adult who can afford a $400 seaplane ride would go to a resort island for $5000 instead of the local Rasdhoo. The only time a seaplane has landed here in the past year was when the Prime Minister of the Maldives visited for business.
So, there are really two ways to get to Rasdhoo from Male and back:
- State public ferry. The travel time is 3-4 hours, depending on the weather. The ferry number is 303, and the route is Male – Thoddoo. The ticket price is $3.5. Buy the ticket at the ticket office in Male before departure. Rasdhoo is a pretty popular island, and ferry service is well-established between Male and the island:
- Male – Rasdhoo: departs twice a week on Thursdays and Mondays at 9 a.m.
- Rasdhoo – Male: also departs twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays at 11 a.m.
- By Maldivian standards, twice a week is pretty good!
A highly useful article about inter-island ferries, which is a must-read! You’ll find out where to check the current schedule, what to expect from the ferry, how rough the ride is (spoiler alert: very), how often the ferries are cancelled, and how to read the schedule correctly :).
Very important:Everywhere it says that the ferry to Rasdhoo departs from the new Villingili Ferry Terminal, but that was before 2022. It has been incorrect information for over a year now. In 2023, Ferry No. 303 departs from the same terminal as the airport ferries – Hulhumale Ferry Terminal. Coordinates and map: 4.177919379417996, 73.51716451880544
The second way, which 90% of tourists use, is by speedboat.
- It operates twice a day, even on Fridays, but sometimes only once a day on Fridays.
- Departures are daily at 8:30 and 14:00.
- The ticket price is around $35 one way.
- Travel time is just over 1 hour, as it is a speedboat.
- Always book your ticket in advance, and they will tell you where the departure is from, but almost always tourists are picked up from the airport.
In the article about speedboats, you will learn all the intricacies of this mode of transportation, as well as the websites and apps of the carriers where you can book your ticket. Specifically for the Male – Rasdhoo route, this is ODIAPP.
Accommodation and dining on Rasdhoo
In this regard, there are no problems at all. In short, because everything is simple and clear:
- The main type of accommodation on the island is guesthouses. Read about what they are in the article: where and how to book accommodation on local islands.
- In one sentence: a guesthouse is a good hotel room with a large bed, air conditioning, a fridge, and a private bathroom. Breakfast is almost always included in the price.
- There are already about 30 guesthouses on Rasdhoo today.
- The price of one night on the island ranges from $40 to $100 per room. There are also more expensive options. It’s hard to find something cheaper. In the high season, prices usually start from $50.
- You can search on any service, here’s one of the convenient options: Booking.
Important:Always check the location of your accommodation on a map before booking. Large booking websites often list options on neighboring islands and claim they are only 1 km away from the center of Rasdhoo. While that might be normal in a classic city. In the Maldives, 1 km can already mean a completely different island 🙂
In this case, the private island resort Kuramathi is located 1 km away from Rasdhoo, where a night’s stay starts from $500 without food. However, you can still visit for a whole day without staying overnight, with a package including food and alcohol for only $110 per person from Rasdhoo. You’ll be brought there by speedboat in the morning and picked up in the evening, and you’ll have access to all the facilities of the resort. Check out our review of Kuramathi Resort.
As for food, there are no problems at all. There are already 5-6 restaurants on the island of Rasdhoo, where a dinner for two won’t cost you more than $20-30. Prices here are very reasonable – a large grilled fish with a side for two costs less than $20. We particularly like Lemon Drop restaurant: 4.264487855623657, 72.99138047224153
About the beach, mantas, sharks, and bioluminescent plankton
Back in 2015, Rasdhoo was just an ordinary local island with no tourists. However, the designation of a bikini beach quickly changed the situation.
Important to know:The Maldives is a Muslim country, and tourists are only allowed to sunbathe in swimwear on designated beaches called “bikini beaches,” not anywhere else. These beaches can vary in size and cleanliness, and some islands have clean ones.
Today, in 2023, there are municipality employees who monitor the cleanliness of the beach on Rasdhoo and clean it regularly. The beach itself is not very big, only about 200 meters long, but there is enough space for everyone on its fine white sand.
There is a great volleyball court with a net and ball, plenty of shade, a dozen or so free sun loungers, and it’s first come, first served. There’s also a toilet (without a door). Overall, while the bikini beach may not be large, it has been significantly improved over the past year.
However, the biggest downside of Bikini Beach is the shallow water area where everyone swims. It’s shallow and filled with dead corals (no sea urchins though). During low tide, which isn’t significant in the Maldives, it becomes even shallower. It’s not very comfortable to just wade into the water and swim, but anyway it should be great for kids. Check out everything you need to know about vacationing with kids in the Maldives.
Nonetheless, there’s an excellent house reef right at Bikini Beach. Just swim 50-100 meters out and you can already encounter sharks, turtles, and even manta rays. The outer reef and drop off where there are many underwater creatures, is very close by.
Here are the necessary coordinates and points on the map:
- Bikini Beach: 4.260472990139405, 72.99158421290706
- Reef sharks spot (where I usually encounter reef sharks): 4.260520171101461, 72.99427126121223
- You can encounter turtles along the entire reef line.
- Beach with bioluminescent plankton on Rasdhoo: 4.264670186787254, 72.99325354300291 (always on the northeast side of the island). Read all about this phenomenon, when it occurs, and what time to visit in the article: Maldives at Night.
Excursions and activities on the island
In terms of entertainment, Rasdhoo is a typical local island, just like all the others. Here’s what you need to know:
- Alcohol is prohibited here, and you won’t be able to buy it anywhere.
- There are no nightclubs or entertainment venues. By 11 pm, the entire island is asleep.
Here are the activities and entertainment options waiting for you:
- There are 6 or even 7 diving centers on the island (and new ones are opening). Any excursion, snorkeling with sharks, mantas, picnicking on an uninhabited island, diving, or a full-day trip to Kuramathi Resort can be found in these diving centers.
- On the beach, there are water activities for rent, such as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. The price is typically around $30-40 for half a day. You can rent a kayak for half a day and paddle to the nearby uninhabited island (Picnic Island) and to the sandbank 1 km from Rasdhoo. Or you can circle the island, but that takes a maximum of 40 minutes, so it’s better to head to the uninhabited island 🙂
- Shark snorkeling costs about $20-30.
- Diving costs $50 per dive.
- Snorkeling with manta rays at dawn costs around $20. It’s the most difficult to see manta rays because they are deep-sea creatures and only come up to the surface and to the island in the early morning (at 6-7 am).
- There are excursions to the uninhabited island, which I mentioned earlier, where you can paddle by kayak, but you can also be taken there by motorboat. The price is around $15 per person.
Interesting fact:Every day at sunset, nurse sharks and reef sharks swim to the port at Rasdhoo. They are waiting for the fishermen to bring them fish. Be sure to come to the port 30 minutes before sunset and stroll along the promenade, you should meet them.
Here’s the exact location on the map where they (the sharks, not the fishermen) are most often found: 4.26372017431482, 72.98969278176152 (in the far corner of the pier, turn on satellite view on the map).
Like all local islands, staying in one place for two weeks can be quite boring. Rasdhoo is a very small island, and you can walk around it all in one day. Within three days, you can also sail around the entire reef near the bikini beach. You might even encounter sharks in the harbor and on the reef. If you’re lucky with the weather, you may see the bioluminescent plankton.
Main tip:My main advice is that local islands in the Maldives are very different from each other. Don’t stay in one place for more than 4-6 days; there is nothing to do on any one island for that long. On the same atoll as Rasdhoo, there are other cool tourist local islands that are easily accessible by ferry in just an hour.
- For example, neighboring island Thoddoo has a colony of turtles living on the house reef just 50 meters from the beach.
- Ukulhas Island has a much bigger and cooler bikini beach than Rasdhoo, and you can take the same 303 ferry there.
In conclusion, Rasdhoo Island in the Maldives is an excellent place to relax for 5-6 days. It’s the perfect place to see all the underwater creatures you’ve only seen on TV before. The island is also suitable for families with children. Rasdhoo is definitely included in my rating of local islands that I would recommend for vacation.
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