Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Maafushi: A Glimpse of the Island Life (Maldives Diaries)

Maafushi. It's the biggest island in the remote South Male Atoll (one of the country's 26 atolls) with a population of barely 1,200. It is also a "local island", governed by traditional local laws and Muslim discipline. This is why wearing bikinis isn't allowed in much of the island except at the designated "Bikini Beach". I like taking leisurely walks at the town center, far from the beach-front promenade where most hotels and guest houses are.

But the next several years will change the "face" of the island. During my walk, I saw 4 two-story hotels/guest houses being constructed. There's a football field - called Football Grand - in the center of town, as well as a mosque. The map shows another mosque at the northern end of the island near the prison which is the biggest in the country. At night, the center of town takes in the "noise" from the power plant. Otherwise, the island sleeps early. There are 2-3 convenience stores easily accessible from most hotels. Internet or wifi signal is mostly good, except at the Kaani (which has 3 branches). There's a hospital just across the football field. Water has good pressure, but is believed to be non-potable. Where do they get their water? I asked and was told, "the sea". They have a desalinating plant. I've never seen an internet cafe so far.

Maafushi doesn't have public motorized vehicles although several hotels have vans. Otherwise, most arriving guests from the jetty simply walk to their hotels alongside their official welcome party. Near the hotels are a number of souvenir shops which peddle local products rather inexpensively. You wouldn't believe how cheap they are compared to the shops in Male. A mask, for example, would cost $80 to $200 in the capital. the same product would cost $15-30 in Maafushi. the same is true in other local islands. It is thus important to remember this when you're thinking of buying lots of souvenirs for family and friends. I was, of course, too late to realize this, but "gifts" are never about prices, right?

This is the Eye in the Sky!  

Entrance of the more central mosque.

Iuma is a convenience store which opens until 9 PM.

A local restaurant with relatively affordable food. I'd get my rice meals here for my dinner. I've never seen a foreigner dine here - so when you enter, people gaze at you. They're very friendly.

Inside the souvenir shop has so many local products on display.

The "dark and scary old man" is a traditional figure commonly seen around the Maldives (check the bigger version from the first photo above).

Sampaguita in Maafushi. If it looks and smells like one, it must be one. :)

Football Grand

Manta rays in the center of town

Kilometer Zero. The green fence (left) leads to the hospital.

I've never seen canals in Maafushi. Thus when it rains, there are milky puddles everywhere.

Island Map of Maafushi - This is quite a rare find and probably the first to be posted online. I saw this pasted on a souvenir shop's wall and is quite messy, I had to clean it up a bit.


Ramakrishnan said...

Seems a nice quiet place-calm serene and unpolluted !Good place to buy masks.

eye in the sky said...

Yes, its a great place to buy masks. Very cheap and there's good variety too. :)