An overview of one of the most popular budget-friendly local islands for tourists, Thoddoo Island in the Maldives. Learn how to get there, where to swim with turtles, where to see the luminous plankton, where to dine, and what activities are available on the island. There will be a lot of useful information that will give you a clear picture in your head.
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Pros and cons of Thoddoo Island for vacation
Perhaps, this is one of those local islands that is almost perfect. Yes, there are some drawbacks, but there are so many pros on Thoddoo Island that it has rightfully become the most popular destination for independent tourists in the Maldives. There are more vacationers here than on any other island.
Pros of vacationing on Thoddoo Island:
- Proximity to Male and convenient access from the airport.
- Very green and large island. Thoddoo is one of the top ten largest islands in the Maldives, which has 1,200 islands. There is plenty of room to stroll around in the evening, and unlike other islands, you won’t explore every corner of Thoddoo on the first day.
- Very cool infrastructure: lots of hotels and guesthouses, a dozen good restaurants, a large store, a bank, a hospital, a pharmacy, and bicycle rentals.
- The lowest prices among all local islands. This applies to everything, from food to excursions and prices in the store.
- A mega cool house reef: turtles lives 50 meters from the bikini beach.
There aren’t too many downsides to the island, and some of them are a stretch, but there is only one real downside:
- During peak season, despite having two large beaches for tourists, there are a lot of vacationers. Finding a spot in the shade can be a problem. And a free sun lounger is out of the question; they fight over them from the evening before.
- Tourists often complain that it is a long and far walk from the village to the beach – on average, 10-15 minutes. In my opinion, this is a plus, but everyone is different, and many apparently want a first-line location where they can step out of their room and onto the beach. That’s for you to go to Thinadhoo, where the entire island is only 180 meters wide. 🙂
- An overview of the mega cool local island, Thinadhoo, which resembles a resort island.
An important fact, namely, a fact:Thoddoo Island is very popular among Russian tourists. They make up over 80% of visitors, so many. This is just dry information, not all Russians even like to vacation at resorts with fellow countrymen, and Europeans are surprised when they come here and ask why there is so much Russian being spoken. On any other local island, the proportion of Russians among vacationers is much lower.
There’s another island called Maafushi, but there are just too many tourists there, not only Russians but also Europeans. While I recommend Thoddoo for relaxation, please avoid Maafushi.
- A comprehensive and honest review of Maafushi Island in the Maldives.
Thoddoo: general information
And now, a detailed review of the island:
- Thoddoo Island on the map and coordinates: 4.4380338412851215, 72.95947019120274
- Island size: 2000 meters by 1200 meters
- Population: slightly less than 2000 people.
- In all parameters, this is a large local island.
- Distance from Male and the international airport is 65 km, which is relatively close.
Interesting to know:The island is located in the middle of two large atolls and is an independent coral formation. However, today it is territorially related to the Alif-Alif atoll. Accordingly, all state public ferries to Thoddoo go through the central island of the Alif atoll – Rasdhoo. Rasdhoo is 20 km away from Thoddoo.
You can often come across the name of the island AA.Thoddoo (the first two A’s indicate its affiliation with the Alif-Alif atoll, also known as Ari-Ari). So, don’t be alarmed when you see AA.Thoddoo – it’s just its full name.
Thoddoo Island is pronounced correctly as “Toddu”. The letter “h” is almost never pronounced in the Dhivehi language. I recommend reading a separate article about the language in the Maldives as there’s a lot of interesting information there. This knowledge will come in handy when studying the ferry schedule from Male.
How to get from Male to Thoddoo
Despite the fact that inter-island transportation is complex, expensive, and not fast in the Maldives, Thoddoo is doing quite well. There are four ways to get from Male and the international airport to Thoddoo:
- Fruit Night Ferry
- And for the strong-willed people, a state ferry.
I won’t talk about the seaplane since nobody uses it. There are no regular routes to Thoddoo; you need to book an individual transfer, which costs around $800-1000 one way. Those who have the money for the transfer have the money for a private hotel-resort, so they don’t stay on Thoddoo.
The fastest, most convenient, and popular way to get to Thoddoo is by speedboat. In terms of price-quality ratio, it’s the best option. It departs directly from the airport, takes only 1 hour, and costs around $35-45 one way. Tickets should be bought in advance as there will be no free seats on the spot.
- Where to find and book speedboat tickets and more about this type of transport in the article: how to get around the Maldives islands on speedboats.
- It runs twice a day except for Fridays. Departure from Male is at 10:30 and 16:00. From Thoddoo to the airport: 6:45 and 13:00. The morning trip is periodically canceled, but the evening flight is almost always available.
The ferry is the cheapest way to get there, and I’ve been on it. Overall, it’s good. There’s nothing to be afraid of as long as the ferry schedule is convenient for your flight. Here’s what you need to know about the state ferry to Thoddoo:
- The ticket costs $4. You don’t need to buy it in advance; you can buy it directly on the ferry or at the ticket office before departure. From 2023, the ferry runs twice a week (previously, it was three times a week)!
- Ferry No. 303 AA.THODDOO – MALE. Departs from Hulhumale ferry terminal: 4.177893664176008, 73.51715296553608
- Male – Thoddoo: Monday and Thursday
- Thoddoo – Male: Wednesday and Sunday
- The biggest downside is that this is not a direct ferry; there is no direct ferry. It has a route: Male – Rasdhoo – Ukulhas – Rasdhoo – and only then goes to Thoddoo. The ferry leaves Male at 9:00 am and arrives in Thoddoo at 4:20 pm. More than 7 hours on the road! But it’s only for $4.
Night fruit ferry to Thoddoo
This option is suitable for those who arrive in Male in the evening, after 4 pm. There are many nuances and pitfalls, but if everything goes well for you, you will save a lot of money and precious vacation days. And if not, then it’s not meant to be 🙂
Let me explain why the fruit ferry (also called fruit boat) may be interesting if you arrive in Male in the evening:
- Transport between the islands does not run at night. You will have to look for accommodation in Male, which averages $100 per night for any room.
- In the morning, you will have to take a speedboat for $40 – that’s another $80 for a couple. So, if you have a late flight, the additional expenses for a couple can be over $180.
- You can save money and take the morning ferry after spending the night in Male, but then you will only reach Thoddoo around 5 pm, which means you lose an entire vacation day.
Important note:Therefore, the fruit ferry, no matter what people say, is a very cool option that solves a lot of problems and saves both time and money.
Since Thoddoo Island is a fruit plantation and over 50% of the island’s territory is covered with palm trees with papayas and passion fruit, as well as watermelons and different vegetables, the fruit ferry only operates on this island. It transports fruits to the market in Male every day. Here’s what you need to know about the night fruit ferry from Male to Thoddoo:
- It departs daily except for Friday (Friday is a day off).
- It departs from the pier near the market: 4.180081833040129, 73.51006593002947 (look along the entire pier).
- Usually, the ferry arrives for loading at 8 pm. It departs from Male as it gets loaded, typically from 10 pm to 1 am.
- It goes straight to Thoddoo and arrives around 6-7 am in the morning.
- The ticket price is $10 per person. Only cash and dollars are accepted.
- People are loaded on the second floor and given mats to sleep on the floor.
- Sleeping passenger neighbors are usually labor migrants from India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka :). Sometimes there are other tourists like you. By the way, this way of transportation is completely safe for tourists. If the conditions suit you, then go ahead and take the ferry.
Now, here are the potential pitfalls you need to be prepared for, and there are many of them:
- This is a private cargo ferry that carries fruits from Thoddoo, building materials, and other cargo from Malé. There’s no schedule, no one owes you anything. There’s nowhere to inquire whether the ferry will be running today. You could wait at the pier until 10 p.m. and it may not come.
- It’s important to always have a backup plan and a hotel reservation where you can check in if needed, but make sure there’s free cancellation if the ferry does show up.
- There’s no clear time schedule. It may leave at 10 p.m. or 2 a.m.
- There may be few people on the upper deck, or it may be packed, and you may end up sleeping closely with Pakistanis.
We had a total of four attempts to catch this ferry, only two of which were successful. So the chances of getting on it are 50-50 :). The actual sailing is generally fine, everyone sleeps, and in the morning you’ll be there. Take motion sickness pills, as it can get rough, but it’s the same on any transport, even speedboats. There’s a toilet on board.
Restaurants and hotels: where to stay and dine
In this regard, Thoddoo is excellent. The island has a huge number of guesthouses and dining options. There are more choices than on any other local island, and prices are lower.
- A standard room in any guesthouse with air conditioning, a refrigerator, and a private bathroom costs from $50-80 per night for a couple, and more expensive. It’s hard to find something cheaper. Almost everywhere, a good breakfast is included in this price.
- A large database of villas, guesthouses, and hotels in Thoddoo is available on Booking, a convenient service for tourists.
Important note:All accommodation in the Maldives needs to be booked in advance. You can’t arrive and find something on the spot like in Thailand.
There are plenty of dining options for tourists on the island. Already dozens of them. Prices are not expensive. On average, you’ll pay $20-30 for dinner for two, but it can be cheaper. Popular places among tourists that are always packed during dinner practice pre-ordering: you go in during the day, book a table for a specific time, and order a hot meal.
Here’s a list of some really good restaurants, all of which offer grilled fish, Maldivian cuisine, and burgers with French fries:
- Black Anchor
- Seli Poeli
- Food land
- Fine BBQ Hut (a small, simple restaurant run by a family of fishermen who cook what they catch on the grill) – pre-order required. The food is very tasty, inexpensive, and the service is very slow, but that’s common in many places on Thoddoo.
Beaches, turtles, sharks, manta rays, bioluminescent plankton
If you’ve already researched the Maldives, you know that on local islands, you can only sunbathe in swimwear on bikini beaches. The country is Muslim and follows certain laws.
Today on Thoddoo, there are two great bikini beaches, with white sand, palm trees, lots of shade, and free sun loungers – although there are very few of them. There are also swings, photo zones, and everything you need to blow up your Instagram feed.
I’ll explain the photo above:
- 1. Main bikini beach. A beautiful road from the village through palm groves. There’s more space, more shade, and this is the best beach for children. The sand is fine and clean without sharp corals. This bikini beach is known for its sunsets.
- 2. This is the second bikini beach, it’s smaller but cozier. It’s a sunrise beach, where you can come to watch the sunrises.
- 3. The place where sea turtles lives. There are more than 10 of them. Grab a mask and snorkel and start looking. It’s just 50 meters from the shore, even children can swim there.
Important note:Wild nature is not a petting zoo. Don’t feed or touch the turtles as they may get sick. Just watch and admire them. You can swim close by, they don’t react to humans and don’t swim away. This is where I saw two grown men with obvious mental disabilities catch a turtle and drag it onto the beach to show their young children. Never do this. If you think it’s okay, it’s better to return your tickets and stay at home.
- 4. This is the area where you can encounter manta rays and sharks. Mantas are only around in the early morning, while reef sharks can be spotted throughout the day. By the way, they’re not dangerous to humans.
It’s important to understand that the most interesting marine creatures are more likely to be found at the edge of the reef, where it ends and the ocean begins. Notice how far the edge of the reef is from bikini beach number 1. Sharks don’t swim up that far on the reef, and neither do mantas, so you won’t find anyone near the first bikini beach, only fish and turtles. But at the second beach, the edge of the reef is very close to the shore.
Just keep in mind that there are currents, so it’s better to have fins and a rescue buoy. In general, read the comprehensive article at the link to learn everything about snorkeling, what to wear, what to bring, and who you might encounter.
There is bioluminescent plankton on Thoddoo:This unique natural phenomenon can also be found at Thoddoo. Bioluminescent plankton can only be seen at beach 2, which is the sunrise beach. Come there daily between 7 pm and 10 pm, and if the season, weather, and lunar phase are in your favor, you’ll never forget it and you can take photos like these.
Here are two interesting articles about this phenomenon:
- Maldives at Night or Everything About Bioluminescent Plankton: season, weather, where to look for it
- Local Island Vaadhoo – capital of bioluminescent phytoplankton!
Excursions and Activities
The Maldives is not about sightseeing, noisy parties, and nightclubs. There’s none of that here. Every island is already asleep by midnight. There are no discos or entertainment venues on Thoddoo, only a safari boat that occasionally docks at the reef. All activities or excursions are somehow related to the ocean.
It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, whether it’s banana boating, snorkeling with sharks, swimming with mantas at sunrise, or diving – there’s only one place to go. All of these services are offered at diving centers. There are 5 or 6 diving centers on Thoddoo today. Just go into any one, and they’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Here are the standard activities and prices:
- Kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding – $10/hour
- Snorkeling with mantas at sunrise – from $15
- Snorkeling with sharks on neighboring islands – from $30
- Diving – from $50 per dive. You can also take a course and get an international PADI certification – from $300
- Fishing for beginners and barbecuing – from $30
- Bike rental costs $8 per day. Thoddoo is the only local island where it is popular. It is convenient to ride a bike to the beach, especially with children. Child seats are provided.
Over the past 3-4 years, Thoddoo Island has gained wild popularity among independent travelers. On the one hand, it’s great – the island’s infrastructure has grown exponentially: dozens of restaurants, shops, and diving centers. But on the other hand, there are already quite a few tourists. It’s not like a beach in Rimini, of course, but compared to other local islands, Thoddoo is quite crowded.
Thoddoo is a cool island that has all the advantages of the Maldives in one place:
- A good bikini beach.
- A very cool house reef: sharks, manta rays, turtles, moray eels, and luminous plankton. You can see all of this without expensive all-day excursions 50km away from the island. It’s all swimming right on the edge of the house reef.
- Very low prices for food, excursions, and accommodation. On most local islands in the Maldives, these expenses will be higher.
My advice is simple: if you have more than a week of vacation and you’re choosing a local island, then Thoddoo is an perfect choice that won’t disappoint you. But you can plan your trip so that you can spend 4-5 days on Thoddoo and another 4-5 days on one of the neighboring local islands in the same atoll.
The main criteria in this case are:
- That the island is not worse in all parameters: beach, underwater world, beauty.
- It is easy and fast to get to the island from Thoddoo.
In this case, the islands in the same atoll are perfect, and there’s a daily ferry between them that takes 1-2 hours to get to:
- The luxurious local Rasdhoo island with a school of sharks in the harbor that sail here every day.
- Ukulhas – a local island with a mega-cool bikini beach.
It is through these two islands that the state public ferry from Male No. 303 goes, as mentioned in the beginning of the article.
In conclusion, Thoddoo rightfully enters the top 10 best local islands for vacation in the Maldives. It has a huge number of advantages. It’s great for families with children as well as for active travelers.
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