Mathiveri is one of the westernmost islands in the Maldives; it’s another inhabited island located in Alif Alif Atoll. The island is 84 km away from Male, the capital of Maldives.
The population is rather small; about 900 people live there. The island itself is also not so large; it’s about 480×300 m. The entire island is a village. Bodufolhudhoo is another inhabited island, which is located nearby. It’s a tiny island, where you can find a few guest houses. You can get there by local ferry.
A small resort of Nika Island is situated between these two islands. To the north of Mathiveri (about 4 km away from it), Gangehi resort can be found.
This island was my last destination during my 6-day trip across Alif Alif Atoll. I’ll tell you about it later, but now I can say that Mathiveri turned out to be a welcome surprise for me.
Strictly speaking, there are 3 beaches on Mathiveri:
– Stingray beach
– Local beach
– Tourist beach, or bikini beach
The beach got its name from stingrays that can be seen here all day. But they are easier to be noticed early in the morning, when they touch closer upon the shore. And at that time you’d better not step into the water.
These stingrays are dangerous for people, they can sting you! It usually happens because you step on them. They tend to hide in the sand, so they are not easy to find. But in reality they are fearful. Apart from stingrays, baby sharks can be seen here.
A so-called ‘picnic island’ is located near the beach. You can get there by swimming. But be careful! Well on the way to the island there is a strong tidal current that shifts every 15-20 minutes.
The strongest current is in the afternoon; it’s getting lower in the morning and in the evening. Some time ago this part of the beach was bigger, but because of the activity of some people the shores began to get washed away, and the sand was washed into the channel. Today the locals are worried, looking for the ways to settle this problem.
All in all, the sand is white there; there are not so many corals. They are simply washed away into the channel. In the evening you can swim there and enjoy the sunset.
It has already been announced officially that there will be a bikini beach on the island (literally by May 2016). Actually it existed before, but it was not official. But thanks to the efforts of the guest houses’ owners, the situation has changed.
You can occupy one of the sun loungers that are located along the beach area. The sun loungers are ‘owned’ by guest houses. The beach is clean, and you can easily see it walking along the whole coastal line. A part of the beach belongs to Casa Mia guest house, but it can be visited by any tourist, because the beach is not private owned.
In Mathiveri, as well as on any other local island, the same rules concerning wearing bikinis are applied. Women are allowed to wear bikinis only on the tourist beach, and it is not recommended to wear bikinis while walking around the village. Remember that Maldives is a Muslim country, so try to follow and respect their rules and customs.
The beach is almost as good as other beaches that I’ve already visited. To tell the truth, it’s very difficult to compare, what beach is better – in Thodhoo, Rasdhoo, Ukulhas or Mathiveri. It’s up to you to decide.
Activities in Mathiveri
I can’t say that Mathiveri and its surroundings can offer you something really exclusive and unique, however this place has some specific features.
As I’ve already mentioned, the picnic island is located nearby, across the channel. Actually I had thought it’s smaller in size before I visited it. But in fact it’s quite big (about 250-300 m). To tell the truth, it’s not well-cleaned. But there are still some litter bins on the island.
One of the ways how to make the island cleaner is to encourage tourists to clean up after themselves. I agree, the tourists don’t want to do it during their holidays, but by doing this everyone can contribute to the development of local islands in Maldives.
The main snorkeling points are located not far from Casa Mia and near to the picnic island. It’s better to snorkel at full sea, because the water level falls and you can hurt yourself by a coral.
Near Mathiveri there are several points to observe manta rays. They are very curious and fearful creatures. Don’t panic, and they’ll touch you with their fins. An unforgettable feeling!
But still don’t try to touch them yourselves, because manta rays feel it and can just get away. It’s important to keep calm while snorkeling with these giants.
Mathiveri, as well as other respected islands in Maldives, is rich in reef fishes. The main way of fishing is legering. You can catch fish weighing up to 2 kg. But things are not that simple. After the fish catches the leger rig, it can swim to the corals, and it’s very difficult to get it from there; the fishing line tears and you’re left with nothing. The variant with the thicker fishing line doesn’t work for the same reason. But if you’re lucky, the fish you’ve caught can be cooked in your guest house for free!
If you’re eager to visit a resort, you can be offered a guided tour to the neighbouring resorts. For example, a guided tour to Nika resort costs $65 per person ($25 for entry and $40 for transfer by speedboat). So it’s up to you to decide whether to go there or not. Anyway I’d recommend you to visit some islands (local islands or resorts), because they’re located nearby and each of them has its own unique and special features.
In present moment, July 2016, there are a couple of problems with visiting nearby resorts.
Even on such a tiny island you can find a hospital, a school, a police station and 2 football pitches. The construction of the second pitch was sponsored by one of the largest funds Villa Foundation. This fund also bought the equipment for the local hospital.
Out of kindness, you may think. Not in the least. The thing is that the head of the fund was running for parliament, and by doing so he was trying to get support of the locals. But they didn’t buy into it and refused to support him. It shows that even the residents of remote islands are not easy to make a fool of.
There are 6 guest houses on the island. As compared to the other islands I’ve visited before, there are not so many tourists here. I was surprised that there are a lot of “empty spaces”, I mean there are no buildings. In some of them people started to do farming and to sell the products to the locals. There are not so many buildings on the islands as compared to Rasdhoo.
But it should be noticed that each area, each tree is owned by someone. There are a lot of incomplete constructions.
Unfortunately, you won’t be impressed with food services on Mathiveri. There is only one restaurant, where you can eat apart from your guest house. It’s Pizza Palace restaurant. In addition, there are 2 local cafes, where only the locals tend to go. New cafes are not planned to be built. There also not many guest houses, however in peak season a number of tourists visit the island.
There is also only one diving center on the island, so the prices on diving are rather high.
Several local shops are also available for you. There are no gift shops on the island; there used to be one gift shop, but it was closed because it was not profitable to maintain it.
The main tourist season lasts from October to March. According to a representative of Mathiveri Inn Guest House, not so many Russian-speaking tourists come there. There are no banks and ATMs, so you should get the cash in advance. However, there are special devices in the shops, with the help of which you can take out money from your credit cards, but only in local currency.
Here you can watch some videos about Mathiveri, which were filmed by Mathiveri Inn Guest House staff.
Transfer to Mathiveri
To get to Mathiveri, you can use the following trasfer:
Cost is 4$ one way, per person; 9.00, Vilingili Terminal (it takes about 6 hours).
Departure from Male: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday at 9:00.
Departure from Mathiveri: Saturday, Monday, Wednesday at 8:40.
Male-Mathiveri at 11:00 and at 15:00-16.00, on Friday at 9:30, cost – $60, duration is 2,5 hours. Departure point depends on your boat. Contact guest house for more details.
Mathiveri-Male at 6:30 and at 15:30, on Friday only in the morning, cost – $60, duration is 2,5 hours.
A trip from the airport to Mathiveri on a private speedboat takes 1.5 hours. The transfer is organized every day upon request. The transfer cost is $878 one way (per boat, not per person).
A seaplane flight to Mathiveri takes 15 minutes and costs approximately $262 one way per person. Seaplane transfer is to be booked in advance (5 days before arrival). Seaplanes fly only during daylight hours from 06:00 till 16:00.
Ferries between Mathiveri, Bodufolhudhoo, and Ukulhas are available every day.