On the first day of the year, I was in Maldives and the trip was such a thrilling ride, that its stories will stay on for many years. Sometimes I get goosebumps thinking how did we even pull off the whole trip, so last moment. I am sure nobody books their tickets on 26th December to be in Maldives on 27th December but we did it. Had it not been my hubby’s friends who were there for an official project, we would have never planned it at the most expensive time of the year. The private resort islands were not only full but over-booked. One of the most amazing part of my 10 days holidays in Maldives was my stay at Hulhumale Island on the Kaafu Atoll. This was my chance to explore the local islands as I was not very keen on restricting myself to just one island. I wanted to experience Maldives, beyond the resorts. With atolls being located far away and islands being scattered all around, it becomes very difficult to do everything in Maldives but you can always do a few. We did manage a couple of local islands.
A decade ago, it was only about the resort islands. Thanks to the budget hotels and local islands like Hulhumale, Maafushi, Gulhi that Maldives is a dream that most of us can make true, now.
Hulhumale – the artificial, reclaimed Island!
You must have heard about Male, the capital and how over-crowded and densely populated it is often called. In fact, not many people bother to make it a part of their itinerary as it is starkly different from the other spacious and gorgeous islands. In fact, Hulhumale is the island to look out for. It is the closest one from the Male airport and makes for a great stay if you plan to do a budget trip or an offbeat trip. It is small, very pretty and spacious. It has all the breathing space that Male lacks. This land mass has been created to solve the overgrowing commercial and housing needs of Male. I felt this one is a systematic extension to the capital. The government has been inviting the youth to shift there. This artificial, reclaimed island has actually been created to ease the congestion in the capital and it is being developed in a every planned way. There are parks, hospital, mosque, schools, shops, open-air gyms and ambitious urban housing projects with beautiful colourful houses.
First Impression of Hulhumale
I wouldn’t say it is the best way to explore Maldives, nor I would say that you must make a special effort to come and see it, but if you are planning to live in Maldives for more than 10-15 days, you can always make it as your base. Unlike Male, it has an endless white sand beach and you can rest there on the easier days, else head out to check out new islands everyday. It is in the developing phase but it is coming up well. It is modern and different in its approach. The plus is that is accessible by the airport. The ferry from Hulhulmale to Male is not pricey and quite pretty during dusk time. You will easily find snorkeling and dive center here as well and do a lot of activities. There are some cool cafes around the beach and gradually, more are coming up in the residential areas too. In the evening, you may buy some local snacks, made by the local ladies. They are very cheap and super yum. One can walk to the mosque, also enjoy the park. And don’t forget to look for some wall art as well as road art. The road art was one of the best that I have seen lately.
There isn’t much to see but it exudes cool and laid-back vibes about it. There are tiny-tiny houses and properties facing the beach. You can have pretty home-stays for yourself, you can sleep to the sound of the waves. I liked the fact that it is very quiet. The beach is very less crowded but not as beautiful as others in Maldives. Its fun to explore the harbor area, the park and the residential. One may spot garbage here and there because a lot construction is going on but I see that Hulhumale has great future. Right now, the big advantage here is that the prices for hotels are much lower than they are on the resort islands. All the needful shops are available, so you may buy things that you want.
I would often go a stroll in the evening and enjoy my fresh coconut drink and local snacks. It was nice to see the local style of Maldivians. The women mostly wore abayas and could be seen with their husbands and kids, buying groceries. The kids made the best use the beach. I was lucky to find some local art too. I would definitely recommend the restaurant,“Bread Matters Green”. It is just next to the cinema hall of the island. Me and my friends also booked tickets for “Simba” movie at Schwack Cinema Hulhumale‘. Overall, I had a very unique trip in Maldives and Hulhumale will always .