The Maldives is known as an elite destination where tourists go to an island resort and spend almost all their time in this resort, even taking day trips to admire the beautiful backdrops of the islands. Sometimes excursions also include a visit to a fishing village. So the experience with the locals and the local culture is reduced to the relationships with the hotel staff and little more.
AN ALTERNATIVE STAY
A different way to visit the Maldives is undoubtedly to stay in a small guest house or pension run by the local inhabitants. Since the government of the Maldives opened the possibility of pensions in inhabited islands, removing the ban that limited tourism only to resorts on uninhabited islands, many structures have sprung up suitable for less wealthy and low cost tourism. Most of these structures are located in the Malé region, but some are present in other of the inhabited islands.
SOME BASIC RULES
If you decide to try this type of structures there are obviously pros and cons. You will have the opportunity to live your experience in close contact with the local population. Learn about their customs and traditions or take part in their daily activities. Observe the children as they play and interact with the inhabitants. But you will also have to adapt to respect their traditions. Being a Muslim country this translates into attention to the customs and traditions of the local community. The absence of alcohol and pork, as well as the attention paid to dressing properly by women, are probably the main things you will have to give up.
This type of structure is very varied, you can find small guest houses similar to boutique hotels, such as basic structures or bed and breakfast. However, many allow you to do almost the same activities offered by luxury resorts such as excursions to nearby islands, snorkeling, diving and water sports.
These structures allow the visit of the Maldives even to those traveling on a budget, with a backpack on their shoulder. The prices are in fact considerably lower than in the resorts. But a stay in these types of structures can also be interesting for those who want, on a trip, to look for the cultural aspect and get to know the people who live in the visited country. In recent years, the Maldives Tourist Board seems to be focusing heavily on promoting local tourism and pensions. This is with a view to diversifying the country’s economy and promoting tourism in the Maldives in an alternative way.
WHERE ARE GUEST HOUSES FOUND?
According to the Ministry of Tourism, there are currently 600 guest houses open throughout the Maldives.
The guest houses currently in operation are as follows:
138 guest houses in 9 islands of Kaafu Atoll
71 guest houses in 7 islands of the Alif Alif atoll
37 guesthouses in 8 islands of the Alif Dhaal atoll
24 guesthouses in 4 islands of the Vaavu Atoll
12 guesthouses in 5 islands of the Baa Atol
6 guesthouses in 2 islands of the Haa Alif atoll
9 guesthouses in 1 island of Gnaviyani atoll
6 guest houses in 3 islands of the Seenu Atoll
2 guesthouses in 1 island of Haa Dhaal Atoll
1 guesthouse in Shaviyani atoll
2 guest houses in 1 island of Laamu atoll
1 guesthouse in Noonu Atoll
1 guesthouse in the Faafu atoll
1 guesthouse in Thaa atoll
2 guest houses in 2 islands of Gaaf Dhaal Atoll