The stunning local island of Ukulhas in the Maldives has numerous advantages. I can confidently recommend it for your vacation as you will find a magnificent beach, a vibrant house reef with turtles, and encounters with sharks and other marine life. Read on for a detailed and beneficial review of Ukulhas Island.

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Pros and Cons of Ukulhas Island

In reality, there are hardly any cons to Ukulhas Island, but let’s begin with the pros:

  • Relatively easy, inexpensive, and fast to reach from Male.
  • A vast and fantastic bikini beach stretching approximately 1 km. Not many local islands offer such a great beach for tourists.
  • A living house reef, and most importantly, it is close to the shore. You can easily swim to it from the beach without having to travel to a neighboring atoll, 50 km away, to encounter sharks, manta rays, or turtles. All of these are within a radius of 5 km from the island. The turtles even reside in the house reef.
  • The island has excellent infrastructure, with all necessary amenities such as shops, souvenir stores, diving centers, hospitals, cafes and restaurants, and even a gym. The locals have a school, a stadium, a police station, and a mosque. Overall, it is a highly developed village by local standards.
  • The island is quite verdant, with a lot of accommodation options right amidst the palms and jungle. Almost all housing options are on the first line. Although no one has a sea view, it usually takes only 50 meters to reach the beach.
ukulhas bikini beach
Notice the lush greenery, how close the beach is, and the guesthouses for tourists nestled in the midst of the greenery. No matter which way you go, the ocean is only 100 meters away.

The only drawback to Ukulhas is that it is slightly more expensive than other budget and popular local islands. Accommodation and restaurant prices are higher, and excursions are on average $10-20 more expensive. I will discuss prices further in the article to give you a better understanding of the price difference.

Interesting to know:

In my opinion, Ukulhas is more expensive than other local islands because most of the tourists here are from Europe, with many Italians, as well as citizens from Eastern Europe such as Poles, Serbs, and Bulgarians.

For example, on Ukulhas, roughly 80% of tourists are from Europe, while on the neighboring island of Thoddoo, 80% are Russian. Both islands are beautiful, but it’s an interesting observation.

Also, I want to point out that when I say Ukulhas is more expensive, it doesn’t mean it’s expensive. There are local islands where prices are even higher, like the paradise island of Thinadhoo, which is like a private resort. On Ukulhas, prices are about 20% higher than on the most budget-friendly islands, such as Maafushi.

Ukulhas Island: General Information

Here’s some summary information about the island:

  • Ukulhas Island on the map and coordinates, so you understand how far it is from Male: 4.215130, 72.864413
  • The island’s dimensions are 1800 meters by 250 meters, which are the most standard sizes. Most local islands are approximately the same size.
  • The population is 900 people, which is also a standard indicator.
  • The distance from Male and the airport is 69 km.
ukulhas map
Note the neighboring island of Rasdhoo, which will be mentioned several times in this article. Also, remember the small island of Thoddoo, which is higher than Rasdhoo.

Ukulhas Island is located in the North Ari Atoll, also known as Alif Alif Atoll. The central island of this atoll is Rasdhoo (marked on the map above). All state ferries from Male go through Rasdhoo.

  • The island is often called Ukulhas, but the letter “h” is usually not pronounced in the Dhivehi language. Therefore, it’s correct to say “Ukulas”.

Interesting to know:

In official sources or ferry schedules, you may come across the name AA.Ukulhas, don’t be alarmed, it’s its full name. The first letters AA indicate the atoll where the island is located, in this case, Alif Alif. Since there are 24 atolls and almost 1200 islands with many islands having the same name, this method helps avoid confusion.

How to get there: ferry and speedboat

There are two ways to get to Ukulhas today: slowly and inexpensively on the public ferry, or quickly and expensively on a private speedboat.

Let’s start with the ferry and everything you need to know:

  • The ferry departs from Male here: 4.1778933454409435, 73.51715264607135
  • 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 inside ferry terminal.
  • Travel time is about 4-5 hours.
  • For the current schedule of ferry number 303 AA.THODDOO – 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 303.
  • The ferry runs twice a week:
    • Male to Ukulhas: Monday and Thursday. Departure at 9:00 am, arrival at 1:05 pm. If the weather is bad, there may be a delay of up to an hour.
    • Ukulhas to Male: Wednesday and Sunday, departure at 9:45 am and arrival in the capital at 2:10 pm.
  • A useful article about public ferries in the Maldives, how often they are cancelled, what the peculiarities are, how much they rock, where to see the current schedule online, and how to read it :).
male ukulhas ferry schedule
The schedule for ferry number 303 in 2024, which is the one that goes from Male to Ukulhas. If you didn’t understand how to read it, it means you haven’t read the article above. Hint: read Maldivian language from right to left.

Speedboats are much easier, which is why they are the most convenient and popular transport between Male and Ukulhas. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Four daily round trips are available every day. On Fridays, there might be only one trip as it is a day-off.
  • Male to Ukulhas: Departs at 8 AM, 10 AM, 2 PM, and 4 PM, depending on the day of the week and the carrier.
  • Ticket price: $50-60 one way. Always buy tickets in advance, there may not be any available on site, and the carrier needs to know that you need to be picked up.
  • Travel time: 90 minutes.
  • The main carrier on this route is the OdiApp service. Links on where to look for and buy tickets can be found in the article: speedboat transfers between islands.

Accommodation and Dining: Features

It’s quite simple. The main type of accommodation on all the local islands are guesthouses. On Ukulhas, there are already about 20 of them. To put it simply, they are just like regular hotel rooms with a large bed, air conditioning, refrigerator, and a separate bathroom. There may or may not be a shared kitchen, but there are no private kitchens anywhere in the Maldives.

ukulhas best hotels
This is what a standard room in any guesthouse looks like for $70 per night. It even comes with its own small terrace in the garden.

The unique feature of any accommodation on Ukulhas is that it is very close to the beach. Since the island is very elongated, the bikini beach is over a kilometer long, and almost all tourist accommodations are located in this part of the island. So, no matter where you stay, you’re only 50-150 meters away from the beach at most. There are many places to stay where the beach starts right on the guesthouse’s property.

  • The largest selection of guesthouses and hotels on Ukulhas can be found on Hotellook, a convenient service for tourists that compares hotel prices among dozens of other platforms
  • When I mentioned prices earlier, this is what I meant. On budget local islands, the average price for accommodation ranges from $50 to $100 per night. Accommodation on Ukulhas is a little more expensive. Prices usually start at $70 per night.
  • Keep in mind that breakfast is usually included in the price almost everywhere.
ukulhas restaurants
My usual dinner on Ukulhas is a side dish, salad, and a large grilled fish weighing around 800 grams. All of this costs about $15-$20. But to be honest, one fish can be enough for two people, so the entire dinner for a couple would be less than $25.

There are no problems with dining either. Firstly, almost every hotel or guesthouse has a cafe/restaurant. Secondly, there are already over 10 local restaurants on the island. You won’t go hungry. There are no expensive restaurants here, and prices are standard: dinner for two with a large grilled fish can easily be less than $30.

The article in the link covers everything about Maldivian cuisine, payment methods, taxes on the receipt, tips, and of course, what to try for tourists.

The beach of Ukulhas island: sharks, turtles, manta rays, bioluminescent plankton


For those who have read about the Maldives, it’s known that tourists can only swim in open swimwear in special designated areas called “bikini beaches” on local islands. More general facts about the Maldives can be found here.

There are many islands where the bikini beaches are very small and overcrowded, but the beach on Ukulhas is just amazing with its fine white sand stretching over a kilometer long, free loungers, and plenty of shade. There is enough space for everyone.

During low tide, you can walk along the water’s edge on this beach. During high tide, the water rises up to the greenery, and in some places, it may not be possible to pass. There is a magnificent sandy spit near the southern part of the island.

ukulhas bikini beach
1. A mega-cool sand bank on the bikini beach. 2. Turtles are often seen here. 3. Come here after 5 pm, and you’ll see nurse sharks. 4. Local residents release their pet macaws for flying here.

In the photo above, you can see the end of the reef very close to the bikini beach and the sand bank (1). The best snorkeling is always near the drop off where the reef ends and the ocean begins. At Ukulhas, it only takes 1-2 minutes to swim to this boundary.

A few more comments on the photo above:

  • 2 – there are turtles living here, and you can often see 2 or 3 in one place. Take your mask, fins, and go snorkeling. If you swim directly at the boundary of the reef and the ocean, you may even encounter reef sharks. They are not dangerous, and there is no need to fear them. At dawn, around 6 am, manta rays swim here, but they are deep-water creatures, and it’s lucky to see them in shallow water. Usually, a separate excursion is required to see mantas.
  • 3 – a point in the port at the corner of the pier, where you should come every evening at sunset. Nurse sharks come here, and local fishermen feed them fish heads. Come here right after 5 pm.
ukulhas sharks
This is how the sharks swim right up to the pier in the port almost every evening before sunset. If they are not in the exact spot on the map, just walk along the edge of the pier in the harbor and keep an eye out for them. The water is crystal clear and visibility is excellent.

Many locals keep huge macaws as pets, and in the evening they sometimes gather in the area around number 4 to let these beauties fly and socialize with each other.

Of course, all these activities – turtles, snorkeling, feeding sharks in the harbor, and macaws – are free.

ukulhas manta ray tour
The personal photo was taken at 6:20 am in the shallow waters at Bikini Beach, on the reef border.

Everything about snorkeling in the Maldives: what to wear, why the rescue buoy is important, who you might meet, and much more in the article linked below.

It is important to remember that

this is all a living reef and wild nature, not a zoo. No one should be touched, let alone fed bread from the restaurant. Mantas and turtles can get seriously ill from it. Swim nearby and admire.

There is also a rare phenomenon of luminous plankton observed on Ukulhas. Unfortunately, the island is not very fortunate in this regard, as the plankton is usually carried by currents from the northeast, where there is a port and a dump. Therefore, there is not a lot of glowing plankton on the island, but it does exist and we have seen it personally. There is much more of it on neighboring Rasdhoo and Thoddoo. Here are two tips for you:

  • When you check-in at your guesthouse, ask where you can find luminous plankton. They will know for sure, as it depends heavily on the season, weather, moon, and so on. Say the magic words “Luminous plankton” – it’s not a spell from Harry Potter books, it’s just how the locals refer to this natural wonder.
  • Also, don’t stay at home; walk along the beach every day between 8 pm and 10 pm. This is the best time when the plankton shines the brightest. This phenomenon is quite rare, and even during high season, it may not be visible every day.
  • Check out this comprehensive and informative article on when and where to find bioluminescent plankton in the Maldives.
sea of stars maldives
Usually, the glowing plankton on Ukulhas is dimmer. But if all the stars align and you find yourself in the right place at the right time, what you see will be etched in your memory forever. This photo was taken on Ukulhas at 4.214645603247003, 72.86588335974737 in early February during peak plankton season.

Excursions and activities

If you didn’t encounter anyone on the reef, don’t worry – all of these inhabitants can be found at spots within a radius of 5-10km from Ukulhas. You can easily join any tour or activity with them. Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you’re looking for a tour or any activity in the Maldives, you need to go to a diving center. They are the main organizers of your water-based entertainment.
  • Today, there are already three or even four diving centers on Ukulhas. Walk around – there are four streets on the island – and find out what each one offers. While the basic set of tours is the same, each center has its own perks and peculiarities.
ukulhas diving center
Basic set of tours at any diving center on Ukulhas

Overall, you can count on great activities and tours on Ukulhas:

  • Snorkeling safari. There are plenty of reefs around Ukulhas, and each diving center takes you to its own. The program usually lasts for two hours, and prices start from $20. You can guarantee meeting turtles, and some options include food (at a higher price).
  • Sand Bank – this is what they call the sandbar or uninhabited island of Fushifaru, which is 2km from Ukulhas. You can take a picnic and get some great photos there. Prices start from $30.
  • Manta Ray – snorkeling with manta rays. There is a manta point just 5km from Ukulhas, and if you’re lucky, you can meet 20-30 individuals. The tour usually takes place early in the morning, as the mantas go deep during the day. Prices start from $30.
  • Whale Shark – snorkeling with whale sharks starts from $50, but such excursions usually cost around $100. At the house reef and in the port at sunset, you can only meet reef sharks and nurse sharks. Snorkeling with whale sharks on wild reefs is a whole different level – highly recommended!
  • Fishing. You can find options for beginners starting at $20-30 to catch small tuna on a line with a weight. For professionals, there are deep-sea fishing options for marlin at $1000 for the whole day.
  • There’s also diving, starting from $50 per dive.
  • Visiting neighboring resort islands with food and drinks for the whole day also costs around $100 per person. You’ll feel like a millionaire vacationing with other millionaires 🙂
ukulhas snorkeling
Here’s a photo of my wife and me snorkeling at our house reef, indicated by the number 2 on the map above.

Travel tips

You will definitely love Ukulhas Island. It is an island without any obvious downsides. The only advice is this:

  • Two weeks on any local island is a lot, even on such a cool one as Ukulhas. You will know every corner of the island after a day and have explored the entire reef in three days. If you can lie on the beach all day without moving, then there are no issues. But if you are an active traveler, you need a plan!

I always advise my friends not to be afraid of changing islands. During a two-week vacation, you can easily spend 4-5 days on three different local islands. You will have many more emotions and impressions. Ukulhas is lucky to be surrounded by an atoll with many cool local islands where you can have an equally amazing vacation.

  • A neighboring island, Rasdhoo (Alif Alif Atoll), is just a 50-minute ferry ride away.
  • There is the unique Thoddoo Island (Alif Alif Atoll), where you can see the brightest glowing plankton on the atoll, and there are also many turtles living on the house reef. It’s just a two-hour ferry ride through Rasdhoo.
  • And then there’s the cherry on top, the island of Dhigurah, which you can only reach by boat from Male, although it’s closer in a straight line. It can take a day or at least the entire daylight hours to get there. It’s a mythical place where whale sharks live.
ukulhas of dhigurah
When you get bored on Ukulhas, think about coming here. This is Dhigurah Island, another branch of paradise on earth.

In conclusion, Ukulhas Island is definitely one of the top ten local islands in the Maldives. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive than the other budget islands, but only because of the European tourists. Your stay on Ukulhas will be unforgettable, and it’s a great place for both active travelers and families with children. This is where you will experience the real Maldives with its rich underwater world and diverse excursions.

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.