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  4. Ukulhas island in the Maldives: everything about staying there, guesthouses, food and entertainment

This somewhat unique island is part of the Alif Alif Atoll and is rightly considered a role model in terms of environmental care. What makes Ukulhas Island special is that it has one of the best waste management systems in the Maldives. The local population is sorting garbage. Organic waste is processed into fertilizers and sold to farmers. In addition to waste management programs, the island implements various planting and marine protection programs. In 2014, he was honored with the Government's Green Leaf Award for his contribution to the country's environmental well-being.

Depositphotos
Depositphotos

Characteristics of Ukulhas  Island

  • Population - about 1000 people
  • Length - 1 km
  • Width - 250 m
  • Atoll - Alif-Alif (or North Ari)
  • Other names of the island - Ukulhas, Ukulas
  • Distance from Male - 70 km

Every year on January 1, the island celebrates the "Clean Ukulhas" day. Many people of different ages gather in order to clear the island and lagoon of debris. The event ends with a general feast.

The island is about 1 kilometer long and about 250 meters wide. Its friendly community numbers a little over a thousand inhabitants, a significant part of whom have been fishing for a long time. Until 2014, more than 13 large yellowfin fishing vessels operated on Ukulhas. However, with the development of tourism, many anglers have moved on to work in the tourism sector. At the same time, agriculture is quite developed on the island, which, along with tourism, is one of the main sources of income for local residents. Melons, cucumbers, lettuce and other crops are grown here.

The island has a power plant with generators and desalination plants capable of providing its inhabitants with electricity and drinking water on a permanent basis.

In addition, the island has a school, a health center and a pharmacy, several shops, a range of cafes and restaurants serving a variety of local and international cuisine, a Body Work gym and the beautiful Kudakudhinge Ufa children's park with playgrounds and entertainment facilities.

An interesting fact: until the end of the 80s, there were no bridges or harbors on the island, which significantly complicated the life of local residents, especially anglers who could not moor in turbulent weather.

Depositphotos
Depositphotos

How to get to Ukulhas island

Ukulhas is located at a distance of just over 70 kilometers from Male. From the capital to the island, you can take a public ferry, public speedboat, or book a private transfer.

Travelers with no budget can use Air Taxi (seaplane) services.

Let us take a closer look at each of these options.

The public ferry from MTSS departs from Male at 9 am every Monday and Thursday. The duration of the trip is 4 hours one way with an approximate ticket price of $ 3.5 per person one way. The ferry will stop at Rasdhoo Island, then sail to Ukulhas. Be careful not to miss your stop.

Speedboats run daily. Departures from Male at 10:30 and 16:00 (Saturday to Thursday) and at 9:30 and 16:30 on Friday. Travel time will be about an hour and a half one way at a trip price of $ 50-55 per person. Discounts up to 50% are possible for children under 6 years old. You can book a transfer at your guesthouse.

Important! The schedule of water transport often changes depending on weather conditions and other circumstances, so be sure to contact your guest house before the trip and check the latest information.

Some guesthouses, as well as atolltransfer.com, offer a private speedboat transfer service to tourists. The price of such a trip depends on the guesthouse. For example, the Koimala Beach Inn offers this service for $ 650 per trip. Small boat transfers are available for $ 350 per trip.

The hotel also has such a service as a seaplane transfer, which will take you to the island within 20 minutes at a price of $ 190 per person one way. The cost of the transfer for children is $ 95, and infants under 2 years old can travel free. A round trip will cost a little less - $ 330 and $ 165, respectively.

Speedboat and seaplane transfers must be booked well in advance.

Asad Photo Maldives
Asad Photo Maldives

Hotels and guesthouses on Ukulhas Island

Official tourism started on Ukulhas in the fall of 2012, when the first guesthouse was opened on the island. Today, according to the Ministry of Tourism of the Maldives, there are about two dozen guesthouses and hotels, offering tourists a quality vacation. Among them:

  • Ukulhas Beach Inn is a beachfront hotel with a restaurant and a private beach area. There is an opportunity to work out in the fitness center and go on an excursion (from $ 60 with breakfast).
  • Ostrov Hotel is a beachfront boutique hotel with beautiful rooms and modern amenities, a restaurant and a playground (about $ 60 with breakfast or from $ 80 with breakfast and dinner).
  • Paguro Beach Inn is a full-service beach hotel with 16 cozy rooms. There is a restaurant, a shared lounge, the possibility of ordering excursions (from $ 80 with breakfast).
  • SeaLaVie Inn is a pleasant guesthouse with 6 rooms located on a sandy white beach. There is a good cafe and many excursions (from $ 100 without meals or from $ 165 with all-inclusive meals).
  • Gunbaru Inn is a family-run hotel with a well-kept area, located next to the bikini beach. There are excursions and a la carte restaurant (about $ 90 with breakfast).
  • Situated a few steps from the beach, Sea View Villa offers free snorkeling equipment and bicycles, parasol and sun loungers, shared lounge, restaurant with sea and garden views, sightseeing trips (about $ 240 with breakfast).
  • Beach Villa Ukulhas - cozy accommodation a minute walk from the beach. There is a restaurant, small garden, playground and free bike rental (about $ 100 with breakfast).
  • New Moon Village is a guest house with friendly service. Located next to the beach, a wide range of excursions are available ($ 100 with breakfast).
  • Koimala Beach Inn is another good hotel near the beach. There is food, free bike rentals, excursions and a currency exchange ($ 250 with breakfast).
  • Holiday Haven Ukulhas is a small hotel next to a tourist beach. Entertainment includes free karaoke and a good selection of excursions.

Nutrition

The number of shops and cafes on the island was very limited until 2012, however, with the advent of guest houses and the development of tourism, their number began to grow. Today in local restaurants and cafes you can taste Western, Asian, Indian, Thai, Continental and authentic Maldivian cuisine, but the basis of the menu, as it should be in an island state, is made up of tuna and seafood dishes.

Popular local dishes include hedhika snacks, kulhi boakiba fish pie, gulha fish balls, small fish-filled pancakes called masroshi, and mas huni - the hallmark of the culinary Maldives. This typical Maldivian breakfast is a mix of tuna, onions, coconut and chili.

One of the most popular and expensive restaurants on the island is Retro Royal, which has many seafood dishes on its menu.

Celeste is a three-story Maldivian restaurant serving leisurely service, serving local, Indian, European, Thai and Chinese cuisine at reasonable prices.

Enjoy authentic Italian cuisine in the Maldives at the newly opened Sapore Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria. The restaurant is owned by Italians and uses quality local ingredients as well as imported Italian ingredients.

The menu includes:

  • several types of pasta - $ 10-12;
  • classic and vegetarian lasagna - $ 11-12;
  • pizza - $ 12-16;
  • desserts - $ 7-9;
  • tea and coffee - $ 2-5;
  • water and refreshments - $ 1-7.

Alcoholic drinks on the local islands are prohibited by law, however, they are available on the neighboring island resorts, which can be visited from Ukulhas.

Read more about the dishes to try in the Maldives here.

Depositphotos
Depositphotos

Things to do

The island offers most of the services and entertainment presented at the upscale Maldivian resorts:

  • snorkeling safari (including Manta Ray Safari) - $ 65-70;
  • picnics on the islands and walks on sandbanks - $ 65-90;
  • meetings with dolphins and whale sharks - $ 90-95;
  • various types of fishing - $ 50-70;
  • barbecue and dinners with local residents - from $ 70;
  • romantic dinners on the beach - $ 50-70;
  • travel to local islands and resorts;
  • diying.

You can have a pleasant time by going to Fushi - a tiny uninhabited island with white sand, which is located two kilometers from Ukulhas. The area is well suited for snorkeling, fishing and a short secluded getaway. Do not forget to bring sunscreen and hats.

Relaxing beach activities on Ukulhas include swimming in clear ocean water and good snorkeling, fishing directly from the beach and observing various types of crabs, watching the sunrises and admiring the sunsets, walking in the village and chatting with the locals. Also, the island periodically hosts performances of artists Boduberu.

As for ocean entertainment, there is not such a wide range of water sports on Ukulhas as on some other local islands popular among tourists. However, travelers will definitely not be bored here.

So, for active tourists there are:

  • jet ski - $ 40 for 20 minutes;
  • banana rides - $ 20 for 15 minutes;
  • kayaking - $ 10 for 30 minutes;
  • windsurfing - $ 30 for 45 minutes;
  • wakeboarding - $ 40 for 20 minutes;
  • kitesurfing - from $ 100 per day.

Take a walk around the island and see its modest but extremely important attractions for the local population, including:

  • shipyard and pier;
  • Fishermen's Park is a wonderful place for walking, including with children;
  • Masjid Al Furugan - the largest mosque on the island;
  • Maamiskiy 'or Kuda Miskiy - a miniature, old Friday mosque, built in 1656 from coral stone, which is considered the oldest monument on the island;
  • Ukulhas shark viewpoint is a place on the pier where you can take part in shark feeding and watch them.

While walking, pay attention to the large banyan tree, which is a symbol and one of the main attractions of Ukulhas. The tree is believed to be over 300 years old and is 25 meters high, making it the oldest and largest tree on the island.

Depositphotos
Depositphotos

Bikini Beach

For tourists who like to swim and sunbathe, Ukulhas provides a large and clean beach that stretches along the western part of the island. Sunset Beach (or, as the locals call it, Olhumathi Beach) is especially appreciated by romantics and photography lovers, as you can easily see and capture the beautiful Maldivian sunset from almost any point on it. Beach amenities and activities include parasols with sun loungers, beach volleyball, and water sports (usually during high season).

Interestingly, on Ukulhas there is such a phenomenon as a "moving beach", that is, depending on the direction of the wind within the beach area, the sand moves throughout the year, which creates a changing picture of the island.

Depositphotos
Depositphotos

Diving and snorkeling

The reefs surrounding Ukulhas are well known for their variety of fish and corals. And you don't have to be a professional diver to get to know the inhabitants of the underwater world.

In the vicinity of Ukulhas, you can see colorful soft and hard corals, anemones with many reef fish, surgeon fish, tuna, fusiliers, moray eels, sea bass, turtles, octopuses, lobsters and shrimps, reef sharks, whitetip sharks, manta rays and eagle rays.

Island dive centers Murakabay Maldives and Atoll Dives offer trips to popular dive sites located within 20-45 minutes by boat from the island.

Among the most visited dive sites:

  • Maaya Thila, famous for its magnificent coral reef;
  • Hafsa Thila is renowned for its extremely rich marine life;
  • Fish Head is one of the most beautiful diving spots in Ari Atoll;
  • Fesdu wreck - the remains of a 30-meter fishing trawler inhabited by fish and corals;
  • Maalhos Thila - location with caves, which makes this place especially interesting for diving;
  • Orimas Thila, home to many large fish including leopard sharks, guitar sharks and gray reef sharks.

The approximate cost of diving is:

  • house reef dive for certified divers - $ 45;
  • Bubble Maker dive for children aged 8 and over - $ 70;
  • Discovery Dive beginner dive - $ 85;
  • Discover Scuba Diving course - $ 140;
  • PADI Scuba Diver course - $ 350;
  • PADI Open Water Diver course - $ 450.
Diving in the Maldives will delight not only adults but also young travelers. Read about the features of diving for adults and children on our website.

Depositphotos
Depositphotos

Island trips

While on holiday on the island Ukulhas can go on a day trip to the island resorts such as Nika Island and Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon or visit nearby local islands Rasdhii and Thoddoo. If you can make a trip to the local islands on your own on a public ferry, then the participation of your guesthouse is necessary in organizing trips to the resorts.

Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon
Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon

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