Rasdhoo Island in Maldives. Full review
Rasdhoo Island is one of the most popular destinations among diving amateurs. The island is located in Alif Alif Atoll 56 kilometers west from Male. Rasdhoo is a rather small island, it’s about 500 m in length and approximately 600 meters in width. The population of Rasdhoo today is 1500 people. Yes, the number of people on such a small piece of land is large, but you don’t really notice it.
I visited the island for the second time during my tour across the islands, which I’ve already mentioned in my post about Thoddoo and Ukulhas. I felt as if I came back home. It’s probably because of the fact that the memories about my previous trip were so deep in my mind that I still remember every detail.
On the dock I was met by – I didn’t believe my eyes – a manager of the hotel I had stayed in last year! This is really a small world. As I was told later, he moved to Sri Lanka with his family. But then he came back to Maldives to continue doing his business. Now he’s working at Ras Beach Inn. I’ve heard a lot of good responses about this guest house. I’ll tell more about this guest house in another post.
This huge fish (its weight is about 1.5-2 kg) was caught before our eyes by a local, who used just a ledger rig and live baits. By the way, it’s said that there you can even try bare hook fishing. The best time for fishing is either early in the morning, or before sunset, when fish come to the surface for feeding.
Throughout the day there are not so many people on the streets.
What to do in Rasdhoo?
The island offers quite a number of activities. Let’s consider the most popular of them.
You can travel to the neighbouring islands either for the half of the day, or for the whole day with barbeque or without it. Read more about these islands in the post Madivaru and Madivaru Finolhu.
Rasdhoo is known for its home reef. It’s located a stone’s throw away from the shore. It’s better to swim there at full sea. There is a strong current on the edge of the reef, so it’s better to swim towards one of the points (it depends on the direction of the current), to lie and not to move – the current will carry you. One square marks the pole sticking out from the water, and another square is in front of the place where the beach ends (near the hotel).
Apart from that you can take a guided tour around the three dive points. Trust me, the points are really cool! Besides, there are manta ray points, where you can observe giant manta rays. That’s breathtaking! You can also see turtles, sharks, and devilfish.
The atoll is really famous for its dive points. These places are considered to be the best in Maldives. The underwater world is really worth exploring. Diving schools offer to take an instruction and to dive together with an instructor. So even beginners can enjoy the magnificent beauty of the underwater world.
To catch fish, you don’t always need a cool fishing rod with expensive bobbin and line. Only a line, a hook and ledger bait will be enough. That’s a simple way how to catch a fish for dinner. Real fishing amateurs can go to Big Game Fishing on a fully-equipped boat.
All in all, the island itself is very neat. The locals clean the area near their houses every day. Something new appears, something old is being improved. I’m glad that Maldives are getting better and better.
In Rasdhoo tourists can find all necessary infrastructure:
– groceries & hardware stores. There you can buy fruit and drinks, and also beach gear. It’s very convenient for those, who left something at home.
– gift shops. There are 5 or 6 gift shops on the island; one of them, as far as I understood, practically does not work. There are lots of various souvenirs, everyone can find something to his liking.
– several cafes. There are 5 cafes on the island, and what’s more, most of them are intended for tourists.
– dive centres. There are 3 constantly functioning dive centres on the island. Moreover, in one of them you can even stay (it’s aimed at not picky divers). In another one, which has changed its location (it’s owned by Rasdhoo Beach Inn), there will also be rooms for divers.
– a bank;
– ATM (gives out only rufiyaas; when taking out cash, the service fee is 100 ryfiyaas, and it does not matter how much money you’re going to take out);
– a branch office of the mobile network operator. Here you can also buy a SIM-card with mobile internet, however there is free Wi-Fi in every guest house.
– a hospital. You can apply there for help in case you have got a minor illness. Otherwise you’ll have to go to Male by speedboat.
– a post office;
– a police station.
In our country it’s sometimes difficult to find all this in towns of a similar size, but here you see that a lot of facilities are available to the tourists and to the locals on such a small island! This island reminds me our regional centre. You can find all these facilities by far not on every island.
Using a drone, you can take the best photos of Maldives.
Here is a top view of the harbor, where the ferry from Male arrives. There you can also take a ferry to the neighbouring Thoddoo or Ukulhas.
There are 2 uninhabited islands nearby – Madivaru and Madivaru Finolhu. These islands are a distinctive feature of Rasdhoo, because by far not every inhabited island has such beautiful picnic islands. To one of them, Madivaru, you can be taken by boat. And from this island you can go to Madivaru Finolhu on foot.
A tree in the hospital courtyard. There are such trees on practically every island, and their age comes to hundreds of years. Its size is really impressive!
For example, if you want to open a guest house on the island, you will definitely need a partner, who is a citizen of Maldives, and it is obligatory for setting up the business. But if you want to open a hotel (the difference between a hotel and a guest house is in the number of rooms), you don’t need to have a Maldivian partner.
One of the shops is owned by a man from Bangladesh. By the way, there are a lot of Bangladeshis in Maldives. They are usually engaged in donkey work, which is not done by the Maldivians. Their number is constantly growing (according to some reports, there are approximately 100 thousand of them, and the total population today is about 450 thousand).
They are actively getting integrated into the society, take their families here, establish new families (with Maldivian citizens), but so far they lead a quiet life. Well, we’ll see what will be in future. Their English is not fluent, though they learn Dhivehi (the Maldivian language). They are quite hard-working guys, though you need to explain everything at the elementary level. Some difficulties arise, but that’s life.
Local laws and customs
On Fridays many Maldivians attend mosque. Remember that ferries are not available on Fridays. I would not say that the Maldivians are very religious (in comparison with, for example, Saudi Arabia). Yes, women go completely covered up, but their faces are open. When a muezzin begins to call to prayer, the music and TV volume are turned down.
On this island (as well as on any inhabited island) it is forbidden to appear in a bathing suit in public. This restriction does NOT apply to the beaches and areas near the guest houses. Nobody will beat you or say something bad, if you suddenly decide to go outside in a bathing suit. Yet it’s necessary to respect the local laws.
Such hammocks (the locals call it ‘a joli’, like Angelina Jolie, easy to remember) are ideal for relaxation. A nice thing, I’d say.
So far I’ve seen it only on Rasdhoo, how women smoke a local Maldivian hookah. Last time I did not have the heart to try it, so I decided to do it now. The peculiarity of this hookah lies in the fact that tobacco leaves are put into the bowl, and then coconut hookah coals are added above. It’s difficult to describe the taste of it, it’s not so sweet as in the hookah familiar to us. The effect is stronger, and you can already feel it just after few drags. The men were surprised that I decided to smoke it, because in their country hookah smoking is popular only among women.
The most popular place among the locals is a stadium. And it should be noticed that all the games there are held according to a strict schedule:
– early in the morning (till 9.00am) – cricket;
– from 16.00pm till 19.00pm – Junior Football League;
– from 19.00pm till 22.00pm – Adult Football League.
Changes on the island
Just one year passed after my last visit to this wonderful island. What changes can be seen here?
The island has obviously become cleaner, than it was a year ago. And it’s all thanks to the special program on wastes collecting, sorting and disposal, which was organized by the local authorities. Today every citizen cleans up the area near their houses. But, what’s more important, every week special voluntary clean-ups are organized. A separate area on the island is chosen, and everyone cleans it.
There used to be a landfill site near Ras Beach Inn guest house. Now they have practically got rid of it. Till the end of 2016 this place will be used as another tourist beach. It’s great that the citizens understand the importance of keeping the island clean.
The beach has not been extended so far, but it got deeper and bigger, now you can easily have a rest under trees and escape from scorching sunshine. They also promise that this year (2016) the beach will be extended. So by the beginning of the next season the beaches on the island will have been as good as those on Thoddoo and Ukulhas.
Snorkeling here is as great as always!
3-4 new guest houses were opened on the island. By the end of the year there will be more of them. I would not say that it’s good (though I’m only for effective competition). But it significantly affects prices, they are getting lower, the service is not being improved, and the image of the island is getting worse. The problem is that when one Maldivian opens a guest house and starts making money, other Maldivians see it and begin to do the same. And by doing it, they don’t understand that the more guest houses appear, the more difficult it is to do business. It is not applied to everyone, but still…
A dive center was closed on the island, and another one appeared at once. Now there are 4 dive centres. Some of them in one way or another are associated with particular guest houses. But it does not mean that you are to go only there. It’s your choice.
A new café opposite to Rasdhoo Inn was also opened. Unfortunately, I had no time to visit it, but it looks really nice, and it’s intended for tourists. In my favorite Café Ole there were few changes. When being there, pleasant memories swept over me. It was a pleasure to come back there again.
Update. December 2016
After so many months of planning we finally managed to dive on one of the most popular and beautiful Atolls on the Maldives – Rasdhoo. For now there are 3 speedboats per day to Rasdhoo and back. But we went on a Friday morning when there are only two boats. The whole journey took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes. For the most part the boat was very shaking even despite the nice weather.
Before the trip I was asked to take some pictures of the beach. I would say that the beach on Rasdhoo is not worse than on the other popular islands. Yes it’s smaller than on Thoddoo or Ukulhas, but it is clean and well-maintained, almost without dead corrals. There’s also a shade where you can comfortably rest. When entering the ocean you may be embarrassed by the seaweed but it is totally safe and don’t cause any discomfort.
After the dinner we went to the uninhabited islands of Madivaru and Madivaru Finolhu. Since my last visit to those islands something has changed. On arrival we went to the sand bank which is only 100 meters away from the first island.
It was a low tide so I could take some perfect photos! Later on we walked to the island of Madivaru Finolhu.
We were surprised by absence of dust.! And what is more, they equipped the beach with sunshades and benches. But what really impressed us was a dog. Yes that was a real dog, but as it turned out later, it was the scarecrow. But imagine how astonishing it was to see a dog on an uninhabited island in Maldives!
There is small but very beautiful reef with plenty of fish nearby. When we swam towards them, nobody was there, but afterwards, from somewhere a huge amount of fish were appeared.
Among them there are such small green fishes which are striving to bite a piece off you, but you shouldn’t be afraid. They eat only dead skin. This is such a “peeling” procedure.
It’s probably because of the noon time or the current has been changed so water was not really clear.
Also by the water (it’s recommended to do it at the time of a low tide) you can walk to another sandbank, which is located just near the lagoon.
While we snorkeled the island had filled with the locals (we were the only tourists), along with children. I would not say that was a problem, but it was quite noisy. Therefore it is better to go to these islands in the morning.
The water near these islands is striking by its unnatural color. I’ve been to so many places on the Maldives, but never have I seen such a color anywhere else. So beautiful are the transitions from one shade of blue to another.
Diving in Rasdhoo
And yet our main goal of this Rasdhoo trip was diving. So we came in the evening to Rasdhoo Dive Center and agreed on our trip. There I saw all the same faces as last year. But in this time a young guy Kyle mostly talked to us. He described everything in detail, what and how we do tomorrow, picked up the equipment for us and put them in a plastic box not to waste time the next morning.
During our trip we were joined by a couple from the Czech Republic who thanks to my previous posts in the blog decided to go to Rasdhoo. And they were very happy!
About 8:30 next day, we had already been on our way to our first point – manta point. The depth is around 12 meters, the current is weak. This is the only place on Rasdhoo Atoll where you can see these sea devils. We were lucky, and we had seen four manta rays. But these were more fearful than those I saw near the Paradise Island Resort.
As the point is situated on the northern part of Atoll, we floated near the same uninhabited islands. Thanks to the cloudy weather, the color of the water near them was simply fantastic! You can see it perfectly in the photo (no filters were added).
Our next point is just near Madivaru and it is called Madivaru Corner. It is truly included in the TOP 10 of the most beautiful dive points on the Maldives. Besides a lot of corals and fish we managed to see about two dozen sharks. Was it scary? No! Interesting? Definitely yes! In addition, we saw eagle rays, which usually swim in small groups.
The greatest advantage of Rasdhoo is the availability of diving points for beginners. Even plunging for only 8 meters you can see the beauty of this wonderful Atoll! So do not be afraid then you will have something to remember.
Transfer to Rasdhoo
The ferry runs from the airport to the capital every 15-20 minutes. The ticket price is $3. There is a taxi service in Male, the taxi fares are fixed – $2.5, or 40 rufiyaas at any place. Actually, here are all the possible means of transport from and to the island:
Male – Rasdhoo. Duration is 3 hours, $4 per person, available on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00am from Villingili Terminal (southwest of Male).
Rasdhoo – Male. Duration is 3 hours, $4 per person, available on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday at 11.00am to Villingili Terminal (southwest of Male).
Runs daily, there are 3 speedboats right now. Departure point from Male depends on boat. Contact your guest house. Duration is 1 hour 20 minutes, $35 per person.
Male-Rasdhoo at 10:30 and 15.30 – 16.00, on Friday at 9:30
Rasdhoo – Male at 7:30 and 13:30, on Friday only at 7:30.
Transfer upon request
Private speed boat: the travelling time is about 1 hour 20 minutes, the cost is $550-650.
Seaplane: the travelling time is about 15 minutes, the return ticket is $348.
Full ferry schedule can be found here.