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I recently joined the crew of Stray to explore the North Island – so here’s how I got on, what I thought about everything, and heaps of useful info to help you decide whether Stray New Zealand is the right option for you!
“heaps of useful info to help you decide whether Stray New Zealand is the right option for you!” Click To Tweet
REVIEW: The Stray New Zealand Bus – What’s It Really Like?
What Is Stray New Zealand?
Luckily it’s pretty simple – it’s a hop on, hop off bus network around New Zealand. Aimed at travellers wanting to discover a range of awesome destinations, they offer a variety of travel passes (more about that later), covering different routes.
Each pass is valid for 12 months of travel and you can hop off the bus for as long as you like at each stop, and then hop back on once you want to head to the next destination.
With that all cleared up – lets answer some of the questions I know you’ll probably have about travelling with Stray New Zealand.
“it’s a hop on, hop off bus network around New Zealand aimed at travellers wanting to discover a… Click To Tweet
What Destinations Does Stray New Zealand Cover?
Stray covers over 35 destinations across the whole of New Zealand – from Stewart Island in the South, to Cape Reinga at the very tip of the North Island.
For anyone wanting to hit up firm backpacker favourites like Queenstown, Franz Josef, Rotorua, and Wellington, you’re totally covered and Stray New Zealand also stops at some lesser known (but equally awesome!) stops along the way too – but more about that later.
Check out the full Stray New Zealand map below for all the stops they cover;
“Stray covers over 35 destinations across the whole of New Zealand” Click To Tweet
Who’s On The Stray New Zealand Bus?
One of the most common questions I get asked when people are trying to figure out how to travel New Zealand, is who travels on Stray New Zealand versus who travels on Kiwi Experience, and which one suits them.
Our Stray Crew
Having travelled on both I can tell you that there is a pretty easy divide between them!
Stray on the other hand was a more diverse crowd – my bus had people from 18 to 71 on it, and it was certainly more chilled than my experience with Kiwi.
Don’t get me wrong, it was far from boring and there was some good partying involved, but it wasn’t as crazy!
Basically if you want to enjoy New Zealand, have a more mature mindset, or want to discover a bit more off the beaten track, then Stray New Zealand is the option for you!
And of course the other main person you’ll meet on the Stray Bus is your driver! I got to meet a few during my trip (including a couple of trainees), and it’s safe to say they all have heaps of stoke about showing you around NZ.
They all have pretty interesting nicknames too – from Seagull (who was my main driver) to Thor, Waka and Romeo – so your challenge is to figure out why that nickname was bestowed upon them!
They’ll keep you entertained en-route with random and interesting facts about the country and destinations, and also help sort your accommodation and activities too.
“it was certainly more chilled than my experience with Kiwi Experience “ Click To Tweet
Which Pass Should You Choose?
I Opted For The Jill Pass + Bay of Islands
Stray New Zealand offer 3 different types of travel pass;
North Island Passes
South Island Passes
As you might have guessed, the differences are pretty self explanatory – North Island covers the North Island only (usually Auckland to Auckland), South Island covers the South Island only (usually Christchurch to Christchurch), and the National Passes cover both islands and can usually be started in either Auckland or Christchurch.
All are hop on, hop off format giving you heaps of flexibility and allowing you up to 12 months of travel time.
Each different pass has a minimum travel time and there are a variety of options to choose from depending on which destinations you want to visit, and of course how much time you have to travel around New Zealand.
In terms of which one to choose, usually time frame and budget are the quickest deciding factors – but these are the most popular options;
Since I was on a short time frame and only covering the North Island, I opted for the Jill Pass with a Bay of Islands add on – which was perfect for my 2 week time scale.
“All of the hop on, hop off format giving you heaps of flexibility and allowing you up to 12 months… Click To Tweet
Since we’re talking about Stray New Zealand already, I thought it would be worth chucking the Stray Journeys option into the mix as well.
These are essentially fixed dated versions of the passes (so your entire itinerary is all set), and also have all your accommodation and some key activities included in the price. This makes it perfect for those who don’t require the flexibility of a normal Stray Pass, or who prefer to pay upfront for the main travel costs (which also saves you some money) – meaning you can just turn up and enjoy the adventure knowing most stuff is already booked and paid!
These actually use the same buses as the normal Stray passes too, so you’ll still get to meet heaps of new travel buddies and have all the same epic bus drivers too!
Again there are a few different pass options for different routes and budget, but the Cook Pass is the most popular option to choose.
“you can just turn up and enjoy the adventure knowing most stuff is already booked and paid!” Click To Tweet
What Makes Stray New Zealand Different?
Blue Duck – an epic “Strayedmark” stop
So apart from all of the flexibility and options, what makes Stray stand out from other ways to travel around New Zealand?
Well the key thing with Stray are their Strayedmark destinations, and having just wrapped up my trip, I can personally say that they were in fact my favourite stops!
On the North Island, Lake Aniwhenua was my personal fave, with its lakeside views (the sunset was incredible!), epic Hangi feast, and Maori culture.
Blue Duck was also a favourite amongst a lot of my Stray buddies too – a remote farm lodge deep in the New Zealand bushland surrounded by amazing scenery, where clay pigeon shooting, kayaking, and beers around the campfire were the order of the day!
“Well the key thing with Stray are their Strayedmark destinations” Click To Tweet
Is Stray New Zealand Value For Money?
The Stray New Zealand bus passes are one of the more pricey ways to travel around NZ (especially in comparison to Kiwi Experience) but I wouldn’t let that deter you – I had a great time and everyone on my bus did as well.
My Advice – Wait For The Sales!
My advice would be keep an eye out for their monthly sales promotions – you can buy a discounted pass and still have 12 month to start your trip, so you can really nab yourself some epic savings…which leaves more cash for fun stuff once you’re out there!
And with the Everywhere Pass usually selling for $1735NZD (approx £885GBP or $1157USD) it’s definitely worth looking out for the savings!
They have also made some changes to their passes starting in late 2018 which means that Raglan and Waitomo (for the glow worm caves are not on their main route, but on a bolt-on Beach Hopper Pass – so if you’re looking to hit up these spots, then you’ll need to add an extra $275NZD to most passes to include it.
It’s also worth mentioning now, that your driver will be able to hook you up with some awesome discounts on accommodation and tours throughout your journey too. En-route to each stop they’ll chat through all of the activities on offer and the main accommodation they’ll be staying at, you simply chuck you name down and they’ll get it all booked in for you.
These discounts vary from spot to spot, but on stuff like the Waitomo glow worms caves it can be a hefty chunk of cash!
With its close proximity the the international airport, variety of accommodation and a range of day trips on offer it’s pretty easy to see why it’s a convenient option for those wanting to travel the Maldives on a budget.
So if you’re planning a trip to Maafushi here’s my complete guide to where to stay, what to do and most importantly, how much everything will cost!
“Maafushi is easily the most well known and popular local island in the Maldives” Click To Tweet
Maafushi Island – A Complete Guide To The Maldives Local Island
How To Get To Maafushi
Since Maafushi is really close to Male and one of the most popular local island destinations there are plenty of departure times from both the airport and Male City.
Depending on your budget (and time frame) there are 3 main options to get to Maafushi, these run from both Male City and also from the International Airport;
Local Ferry – this is the cheapest but slowest option, taking about 1.5 hours but only costing $3USD
Local Speedboat – the best balance of time and cost, it takes around 35 mins and is $25 per person
Private Speedboat – if you dont want to wait around for the public options or are travelling in a group a private speedboat transfer will take 25mins and is around $150
If you’re opting for the public speedboat or private speedboat options you can easily book them online at iCom Tours – and you can simply pay when you jump on the boat.
“the cheapest way of getting to Maafushi is the local ferry from Male at $3USD” Click To Tweet
Where To Stay On Maafushi
As one of the most popular local island in the Maldives to visit and the fact it’s such a short distance from Male there is a good range of accommodation on Maafushi – from quaint little guesthouses to full blown hotels, so no matter what your budget you’ll be able to find something.
Welcome To Maafushi
Here are some of the best rated options – click on the links to check availability and book your stay;
On my trip to Maafushi I ended up staying at Alaka – mainly due to the fact it was the cheapest option! I was actually really stoked with it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it at all. Good size rooms, solid A/C, plenty of chill out areas and the in house food was really tasty and reasonably priced too.
The staff were super friendly and helpful – and you could sort all your day trips and onwards travel with them too. Plus they had free bike and snorkel hire so you could make the most of the island!
“Maafushi is pretty geared up for a variety of budgets” Click To Tweet
Things To Do On Maafushi
Keep in mind that most of the local islands offer very similar day trips (which I’m sure you’ll figure out if you look through a few of my Maldives local island guides) so if you’re bouncing around a few locations try and spread them out!
Tourist/Bikini Beach – the Maldives is a Muslim country so it’s respectful to cover up (especially shoulders and knees for the ladies), so don’t expect to wander around in just bikini or boardies! However most local islands (Maafushi included) have a dedicated bikini/touristy beach where you’re all good to shed some layers, swim and top up your tan!
Dolphin Watching – there are thousands of dolphins who call the atolls of the Maldives home and one of the easiest ways to see them is a dolphin watching cruise – perfect for those who dont want to get wet either! If you find them the local spinner dolphins always put on a show
Turtle Snorkelling – there are a couple of reefs off the island home to an abundance of turtles, so if you want to chill with these awesome little dudes this is the perfect day trip
Snorkelling Day Trip – these trips go to reefs closer to the island than the other specialised snorkelling trips so are a bit cheaper, prefect if you’re travelling on a budget
Sand Bank Trip – head out to a stunning sandbank for a picnic lunch, an awesome spot to snap heaps of beautiful pictures and enjoy the clear waters
Grab A Cold G&T At The Floating Bar!
Scuba Diving – although I didn’t dive on Maafushi (I headed to Fulidhoo for that) there are plenty of dive centres on the island and it’s relatively cheap to dive there. The South Male Atoll has plenty of dive sites for all levels of diver too.
Resort Day Trip – Maafushi is surrounded by quite a few luxury resort islands and you can head over to them for the day, many of which are all inclusive and you can enjoy a cold beer or cocktail (you can even head to Anantara Dhigu for the day which is where I stayed on one of my previous trips!)
Kitesurfing – up by the bikini beach is a watersports centre which offers kite surfing rental (if you already know what you’re doing!) or if you fancy learning they do lessons as well.
Jetskis – not my cup of tea but hey if you fancy jumping on a jet ski for you fast paced fun they’re available!
Floating Bar – just off of Maafushi there’s a floating hotel by Kaani which has a full bar, so you can bob around in the ocean with a cold beer (or G&T in my case!) and relax with views of the island. There’s a free dingy transfer which runs twice an hour and it’s the perfect spot for some dolphin watching.
For things like kitesurfing, jet skis, kayaks etc there are a couple of big watersports centres on the island where you can easily arrange those activities.
“Keep in mind that most of the local islands offer very similar day trips” Click To Tweet
How Much To Budget For Maafushi
So how much should you budget for your stay on Maafushi and how much is everything going to cost?
As with anywhere in the world the biggest outgoing you’ll have wherever you travel in the Maldives is going to be your accommodation (rooms on Maafushi sort from around $40 per night including taxes) so where you choose to stay will have a big impact on your overall budget.
Aside from that here are some of the main costs you’ll need to take into account for a trip to Maafushi;
Local ferry from Male – $2
Speed boat from Male – $25
Guest house – $40 per night (inc taxes)
Mid range hotel – $70 per night (inc taxes)
Local style meal – $5
Western style meal/dinner buffet– $10-15
Scuba diving (certified, 2 tank dive) – from $30
Scuba diving (introductory scuba dive) – $75
Dolphin watching trip – $30
Manta snorkel trip – $30
Turtle snorkel trip – $35
Snorkelling day trip – $20
Sandbank Trip – $35
Fishing trip – $35
Resort day trip – from $70 (all inclusive)
When To Go To Maafushi And How Long To Stay
As with the rest of the Maldives Maafushi follows the standard high/dry season and low/wet season pattern;
High/Dry Season = Dec > March
Low/Wet Season = May > Oct
Peak Weather Season = Nov > April
Sunny Days – Even In Low Season!
Peak season obviously offers the best option in terms of weather, however if you’re really wanting too travel the Maldives on a budget shoulder and low season aren’t something you should rule out. Less demand for rooms means lower prices, epic last minute deals and also cheaper activities too.
In terms of how long you should stay on Maafushi it really depends on your reasons for visiting and what you’re looking to experience.
Personally I’d say if you want to add in Maafushi, a 3 night package is long enough to relax on the island and pencil in a couple of day trips, but as I’ve already mentioned you’re going to want to spread those across all the places you’re visiting.
However if you’re only exploring the Maldives for a short period of time (say less than a week) and dont want to travel too far it’s a good spot to head to as it’s close to the airport, has plenty of boat services to/from the island and there’s enough on offer to keep you busy.
My Final Thoughts On Maafushi
For me Maafushi reminded me less of a Maldivian Island and more of a European style holiday destination – the array of hotels and building going on did take away from the vibe you might be expecting by visiting the Maldives.
Maafushi isn’t going to be for everyone but if you’re looking to link a few islands together in your trip or want somewhere in close proximity from the airport with plenty of things to do then it’s a good addition to your itinerary.
Travelling to the Maldives soon? Check out these other posts;
Learning to scuba dive has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I love snorkelling and the ocean completely boggles my mind; it only seemed logical that the next step should be to try diving.
Time to learn to dive!
I have to admit though, I was kind of nervous about it and not in that much of a hurry to tick it off my list! That was, until I booked a trip to the Maldives.
The country, made up of 1,200 islands, is more water than it is land and is well known as one of the best scuba diving locations in the world. Crystal clear warm waters, stunning coral reefs, and an abundance of marine life make it a paradise for divers.
“I knew it was probably the best opportunity I was ever going to get to learn to scuba dive” Click To Tweet
REVIEW: Learn to Scuba Dive in the Maldives with Fulidhoo Dive
Why Did I Learn To Dive On Fulidhoo?
There is no shortage of options when it comes to dive locations in the Maldives and even more dive operators to choose from. Travelling the Maldives on a budget, I wanted to make sure that the experience wasn’t going to blow a massive hole in my bank balance.
I chose the local island of Fulidhoo, located about 57km from Malé in the Vaavu Atoll, for its combination of reasonably priced accommodation, how easy it is to get to (it’s only an hour from Malé by speedboat), and the quality and number of dive sites that surround it. The fact that Fulidhoo turned out to be the most beautiful local island I visited, was a massive bonus.
“Fulidhoo turned out to be the most beautiful local island I visited” Click To Tweet
The PADI Open Water Dive Course
The world’s most popular course for learning to scuba dive, the PADI Open Water Dive course teaches you the fundamental skills to become a certified diver. Depending on how quickly you progress, it can be done in about three days. The course is made up of theory, five confined water dives, and four open water dives.
Wish you were here?!
Before I could get in the water, I had to learn some theory. There are five sections of information in the PADI Open Water Diver manual covering everything you need to know, from safety, to equipment, to the skills you’ll need to master as a diver. At the end of each section is a multiple choice knowledge review to test your understanding.
Fulidhoo Dive set me up with a PADI eLearning login which meant that I could read through the manual online, or offline on my tablet before I arrived, giving me more time to enjoy the Maldives rather than studying. Top marks for that!
You can also learn the theory by watching a video that relates to each section, so if learning by reading isn’t your thing, the videos really help.
“I could read through the manual online, or offline on my tablet before I arrived, giving me more… Click To Tweet
Confined Water Diving
Each section of theory in the manual corresponds to the skills you need to practice in the five confined water dives to become a competent diver.
Mastering skills in confined
On my first morning, Ali, my instructor, showed me how to put all of my equipment together, then took me out to the warm, shallow lagoon to practice some essential skills like hand signals, breathing from and clearing the regulator, descending and ascending using the BCD, and clearing a partially flooded mask.
Taking my first breaths underwater was amazing and nowhere near as scary as I’d built it up in my mind to be. As a surfer, I’m not particularly afraid of the water, but I had conjured up all kinds of anxieties about scuba diving; what if I didn’t like it, what if my ears wouldn’t equalise, what if I got lost underwater (seriously!).
Ali explained everything clearly and was so calm and encouraging that I quickly forgot my doubts. He demonstrated the skills that I needed to practice, then I repeated them.
That afternoon we went through the remaining confined water sessions, practicing skills like buoyancy and using an alternate air source. Some of the drills aren’t fun, like swimming without a mask, but I just tried not to overthink them and go through the steps as Ali showed me.
The open water dives are where the fun really begins. You still need to demonstrate some skills on each dive (much to my sadness, I wasn’t done with flooded masks yet), but it’s a lot less intense and you get to really appreciate the amazing underwater world around you. On my first dive I felt like I was swimming inside an aquarium; I’ve never seen so many fish. I was hooked right from the off.
On the remaining three open water dives I was lucky enough to see some incredible marine life, like the beautiful spotted eagle ray, reef sharks, turtles, a leopard moray eel, and sooooo many different kinds of fish.
It got me even more excited to complete my course and dive some more.
When you’ve completed all of your theory, confined, and open water dives, there’s a final exam which is multiple choice and not as scary as it sounds. If you made it through all of the knowledge reviews without any trouble, you’ll be fine.
You also need to swim 200 meters and be able to tread water for ten minutes. The calm, warm lagoon makes this as easy as it can be.
Diving As A Newly Certified Diver
Chilling with a friendly nurse shark
If you’d told me six months ago that not only would I be able to scuba dive, but that I’d be doing it at night surrounded by sharks, I’d have thought you were a lunatic. But that’s exactly what happened.
For my first dive as a certified diver, we headed out to Alimatha, one of the most famous dive sites in the Vaavu Atoll.
Alimatha is well-known as an evening hangout for nurse sharks and there can be up to a hundred of them at any one time. Probably the biggest compliment I can give to Ali, is that after completing my open water course, I felt confident enough to do this dive.
Diving with so many sharks turned out to be not only the highlight of my trip, but one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far.
The fact that Fulidhoo has access to so many amazing dive sites like this one, is a great reason to learn to dive here.
Would I Recommend Learning To Dive In The Maldives With Fulidhoo Dive?
Such an incredible experience!
Without any hesitation, yes!
I loved my experience of learning to dive in the Maldives with Fulidhoo Dive. As a PADI Five Star Dive Center, they offer the complete range of dive courses from intro dives to dive master training, and have a full selection of high quality, well maintained equipment, as well as being able to help with your entire trip to the islands – from accommodation (I stayed at Seena Inn) to boat transfers.
With the open water dive course costing $575USD (click here for more info and to book) it’s not the cheapest experience you’ll ever do on your travels but lets face it – you’re then diving the Maldives!
Ali is an amazing instructor who not only communicated everything clearly through each part of the learning process (not easy when you’re underwater!), but most importantly, always made me feel comfortable and at ease.
He has left me with a lifelong love of scuba diving and I can’t wait to do and see more. I’m already planning to do my PADI Deep Diver Speciality course and then move on to my Advanced Open Water certificate. If you’re thinking about learning to scuba dive, do it! It’s one of the best things I have ever done.
“I loved my experience of learning to dive in the Maldives with Fulidhoo Dive” Click To Tweet
Scuba Diving Fulidhoo Island In The Maldives | Backpacker Banter - YouTube
Where did you complete your open water dive course?
REVIEW: Learn to Scuba Dive in the Maldives with Fulidhoo Dive
The Good Bits
Amazing range of dive sites
Incredible dive instructors
It's the Maldives!
The Bad Bits
Not the cheapest spot for open water (but worth it!)
After a bit of research I headed over to Himmafushi Island, just north of Male and the International airport and home of the famed surf spot Jailbreaks with the crew of Jailbreak Surf Inn to explore the island and check out their surf camp…
REVIEW: Jailbreak Surf Inn, Himmafushi – Surfing Maldives On A Budet
Welcome To Himmafushi
Jailbreak Surf Inn is situated on Himmafushi Island, a local Maldivian Island just 20mins by speedboat from Male City and the international airport – making it super easy and quick to get to, which means less travel hassle and more time surfing Maldives perfection!
The guys at the camp can easily arrange transfer for you as part of your stay and depending on your budget you can choose from the local ferry ($2 one way), public speedboat ($10 one way) or a private transfer ($100 one way).
The camp itself is a pretty chilled and intimate affair – with just 6 twin A/C rooms, inside lounge area and a half undercover al fresco dining area and board storage spot.
Food wise personally I’d recommend at least the half board option as the food is on point (even for veggies like myself!) and Himmafushi itself doesn’t have a huge variety of places to eat out.
Jailbreak Surf Inn
Plus the last thing you want to do post surf is figure out where to you’re going to be eating and going full/half board means you can have you food ready for your return, ideal!
The room themselves are clean, tidy and all have en suite (cold showers only though!) and you can grab the free wifi in all of them – it’s not the strongest connection though so if you need access to the net whilst you’re there grab a SIM at the airport!
Spacious and clean room, walking distance to the waves, daily surf transfers, A/C and epic food – it has everything you need to make the most of the surf on offer!
“it has everything you need to make the most of the surf on offer!” Click To Tweet
Surfing Maldives – Spots & Seasons
Sultans Serving Up The Goods!
Jailbreak Surf Inn provides daily boat transfers to the following breaks in the area – saving you a paddle out and allowing you to score the best waves for the conditions;
Jailbreaks – right off of Himmafushi, just a 10 min still amongst the palm trees from Jailbreak Surf Inn. This reeling right hand point/reef break offer up some epic rides and barrel sections. The paddle out can be a bit trick negotiating the rocks and reef so make sure you pack your reef booties!
Sultans – just across the channel is Sultans another epic right hander. This serves up some big barrel sections and is slightly more protected from the wind than Jailbreaks. On smaller swell it’s suitable for high end beginners and low end intermediates but when it’s pumping its experienced surfers only!
Jialbreaks Is Just A Short Walk Away
Honkeys –one of the main left handers in the area, this is right next to Sultans. Not quite as consistent as the rights but when it works it’s a goofy footer favourite!
And if you want to venture further afield to other famous waves in the area like Ninjas, Cokes and Chickens the crew can organised a boat trip for you. This can either be done as a private trip or split with other surfers at the camp (up to 8 per boat) with Ninjas at $40 a trip and Cokes/Chickens at $80.
Season wise the main swell season for surfing Maldives at its best runs from May > October. This is technically low season in terms of weather and pricing in the rest of the Maldives but you’ll have to make that sacrifice if you’re wanting pumping surf!
For those who want the best of both the shoulder seasons are the way to go, but you wont get the best of the swell.
“the main Maldives surf season runs from May > October” Click To Tweet
Well Jailbreak Surf Inn is certainly the most budget friendly surf camp I’ve found in the Maldives – by quite a big margin too!
The nightly rate (B&B) with daily surf transfer is just $65USD…for the room! That means if you’re splitting it between two you’re only paying $32.50 – which is about the same price as a 10 bed dorm in Australia!
Not the price tag you’d expect for a Maldives surf trip hey!?
If you want to upgrade to full or half board you’re looking at an extra $7 per meal for an absolutely solid feed. This can be pre booked or you can simply pick and choose once you’re at the camp too.
Plus if you book a 7 night package at Jailbreak Surf Inn you only pay for 6 nights AND they’ll throw in a day trip to Cokes/Chickens as well!
A week surfing Maldives perfection doesnt have to cost you as much as your think!
Flying into the Maldives is getting super easy and cheap now too with plenty of major carriers (like Emirates) offering connections from Europe), joining together a surf trip from Sri Lanka or even jumping on a low cost carrier like Scoot or Air Asia from elsewhere in Asia like Bangok or Singapore.
In fact I flew Bali to Maldives with Scoot for just $225USD and then onwards from Maldives to Gold Coast, Australia for $250USD!
Himmafushi Island is home to one of the best surf spots in the Maldives – Jailbreaks. This famed right hander sits just a short speedboat ride North of Male airport and is also the best budget Maldives surf spot I’ve discovered on my travels around the Maldives.
So if you want to score some incredible waves, in clear warm waters and surrounded by the tropical islands of the Maldives here’s everything you need to know about Himmafushi – from how to get there and where to stay to the best surf spots on offer and most importantly how much everything costs!
Himmafushi Island – A Complete Guide
How To Get To Himmafushi
Himmafushi Island is one of the closest Maldives local island to the airport and Male city, meaning it’s quick, easy and pretty cheap to get to.
Depending on your budget (and time frame) there are 3 main options to get to Himmasfushi;
Local Ferry – this is the cheapest but slowest option, taking about 30 mins but only costing $1USD
Local Speedboat – the best balance of time and cost, it takes around 20 mins and is $10 per person
Private Speedboat – if you dont want to wait around for the public options or are travelling in a group a private speedboat transfer will take 20mins and is $100
“the cheapest way of getting to Himmasfushi is the local ferry from Male” Click To Tweet
Where To Stay On Himmafushi
Welcome To Himmafushi
With it’s proximity to Male Himmafushi has a good range of accommodation options to choose from – including guest-houses, small hotels and of course a good handful of surf camps too, so there’s something for every style and more importantly budget.
Here are some of the best rated options – click on the links to check availability and book your stay;
As my trip to Himmafushi was purely for the surf I joined the team of Jailbreak Surf Inn as they offered the best budget surf package I’ve found in the Maldives, which I highly recommend! Even if you’re not surfing they’re great value for money and the in-house food is on point.
“Himmafushi has a good range of accommodation options to choose from” Click To Tweet
Surfing Maldives – Surf Breaks Around Himmafushi
Did you think the Maldives was all tranquil waters and lagoons – well it also has some absolutely pumping surf spots and this is the main reason I actually headed to Himmafushi!
Sultans Serving Up The Goods
Jailbreaks – this is the main break of the island, named after the fact it’s right in front of a jail and until recently it was actually illegal to surf there (as the entrance was on private property), but now it’s no worries! the reeling right hand point/reef break offers some long rides and fast barrel sections. If you’re getting to the break from the land make sure you pack your reef booties.
Sultans – across the channel from Jails this spot is for those who want something a bit bigger and challenging this is the spot and it’s certainly not one for beginners or low end intermediates unless the swell is small! Handling some solid size get prepared for some awesome tube rides.
Breaking anywhere from 4 foot up it really starts to come into its own at 8 foot plus, however with this sizeable perfection often come the crowds and it’s a favourite with surf charter boats in the area too.
Honkeys – next to Sultans is Honkeys, a left hander. Although not as consistent or as long a ride as Jails or Sultans if you’re goofy footed you’ll want to give this a bash too!
Jailbreaks – A Perfect Right On Your Doorstep!
And further field there are some other epic waves you might want to check out too, although if you want to spend some serious time on these waves I’d suggest basing yourself on Thulusdhoo instead.
Ninjas – a slightly more mellow break (also referred to as Piddlies) Ninjas is one of the more beginner friendly and longboard friendly waves in the area and is best surfed at 4 foot and under and breaks much slower than most of the waves in the area. Perfect for learning and cruising!
Cokes – one of the most famous surf breaks in the Maldives this right hander is very similar to Jailbreaks actually, although slightly faster on the right swell. Well worth checking either as a day trip from Himmasfushi (it’s about $80 on a private trip) or if you want to spend some more time on this wave you can also stay on Thulusdhoo.
Chickens –goofy footers rejoice, there’s also an epic left hander in the Maldives too!haha! This wave is more forgiving than Cokes and Jailbreaks, but dont be fooled, it can still handle some serious size and has some great barrel sections. Situated on the opposite side of the channel from Cokes.
Things To Do On Himmasfushi (That Aren’t Surfing!)
I know not everyone is looking to go surfing in the Maldives and that exploring the local islands is the best way to travel the Maldives on a budget, so here are a few options for non surfing activities you can fill your time will.
To be honest most local islands offer a similar set of things to see and do – so if you’re island hopping between a few spots in the Maldives make sure you spread them out!
Tourist Beach – the islands tourist beach is the perfect place to top up your tan and the only bit of sand where you can get away with bikinis and boardies only. It’s something the local Maldivian Islands have implemented to appease both the religious aspect of the country, but also the demands of tourism.
Why Not Enjoy Some Luxury For The Day?!
Dolphin Watching –the ocean all over the Maldives are home to heaps of dolphins and the local spinner dolphins are always keen for an awesome show of aerial acrobatics! Although not guaranteed to see them it’s still a fun day cruising around the islands and perfect for those who don’t wang to get wet.
Snorkelling Day Trip –discover more of what lies beneath the waves on a snorkel day trip to one of the local reefs where you chill with turtles, schools of fish and even find Nemo!
Sand Bank Trip – perfect on a sunny, flat day you’ll enjoy lunch non a sand bank in the middle of the ocean, perfect for some tropical Maldives holiday snaps.
Scuba Diving – although the scuba diving around Himmafushi isn’t as great as the diving on Fulidhoo there are still plenty of dive sites to explore in the area and the island has a couple of well established dive centres (such as Feena Dive) who will show you the underwater world.
Resort Day Trip – in actual fact one of the main resorts they use for these days trips is Cinnamon Dhonveli, which I stayed at on a previous surf trip to the Maldives and is perfect for a cold cocktail over looking the famous Pasta Point surf break!
Honestly though if you’re not looking at surfing and want a local island experience I would recommend Thulusdhoo or Fulidhoo or even Maafushi over Himmafushi as they are definitely more tropical in appearance and also have a better range of accommodation options (including sea front options). Out of the three Fulidhoo would definitely be my top pick as it’s much smaller and laid back.
“most local islands offer a similar set of things to see and do” Click To Tweet
How Much To Budget For Himmasfushi
So how much should you budget for your stay on Himmasfushi?
Your accommodation is going to be your biggest cost (which is pretty much the case anywhere in the world!) so where you end up staying will have huge impact on how much Himmafushi costs you.
So aside from that here are some of the main costs you’ll need to take into account for Himmasfushi;
Local ferry from Male – $2
Speed boat from Male – $10
Budget guest house – $50
Mid range hotel – $70
Surfing Maldives Budget Surf Camp – from $870 (7 night package with surf transfers)
Local style meal – $5
Western style meal – $10
Scuba diving (certified, 1 tank dive, boat trip) – $65
Incase you hadn’t realised Australia is a pretty freaking big place to travel around and figuring out the best places to visit in Australia can be a bit of a nightmare because there’s simply so much to see and do!Luckily though Oz has heaps of amazing destination to visit no matter what your passion or style of travel.So to help get you started I asked some awesome travel bloggers for their personal recommendations on the best places to visit in Australia – so whether you want to go shark cage diving in Port Lincoln or relax with some wine tasting in Adelaide here are some awesome suggestion to add into your Australia travel plans…
40 Of The Best Places To Visit In Australia And What To Do There
1) Melbourne – Street Art and the Best Damn Cup of Coffee
As recommended by Where In The World Is Nina
Melbourne is quite possibly my favorite city—in the entire world. That’s saying a lot for someone who has been traveling for 6+ years! With how easy it is to get around and the plethora of everything you can think of in a 10 mile radius, it’s not a surprise it’s been voted the world’s most livable city – 7 years in a row!
Although it sounds so simple and plain, one of my favorite (and free) things to do in Melbourne was get lost in all the alley ways that were covered from top to bottom in trippy street art! I’m not talking about just regular gang tags here and there either, some of these are works of art! Total masterpieces.
While Hosier Lane is Melbourne’s most popular street, you’ll find plenty of alley ways covered with magical and vibrantly colored splashes of street art. Some of my favorites require you to get lost in the Carlton and Fitzroy area, where I used to live.
Be sure to stop at one of Melbourne’s coffee shops to rest your feet and have some of the best coffee you’ve ever had in your life. And that’s no joke!
Pro tip: Don’t you dare ask for a “coffee.” Get specific and tell them what coffee you want, there’s NO regular drip coffee in Melbourne(or Australia)—looking at you America—so save yourself from getting eye balled and ask for a long black, cappuccino, latte or the like. Aunty Pegs and Black Cat are a couple of my favs!
2) The Red Centre
As recommended by Full Suitcase
We have travelled to many places in Australia and while each region is beautiful in its own way, there is just something about the Red Centre that makes it more special than the rest. Endless deserts of red sand, spectacular sceneries, indigenous Aboriginal culture, and a variety of wildlife you would rather see from the safety of your seat in front of TV than meet in person…
If you go to Australia, you really should visit the Outback – it’s a unique place, the heart of Australia.When you arrive in Alice Springs by plane, you are left breathless by the vastness of this read desert underneath. And when you step outside and feel the heat of the desert, it’s really difficult to imagine that any life is possible here.
Most people travel to the Red Centre in order to see the famous Uluru (formerly known as the Ayers Rock). It’s an incredible place, well worth a visit, but you would be missing so much if you only go there. There are so many spectacular places and hidden gems in the area,- I recommend to spend at least a few days here.
Some of our favourites are the stunning gorges of the West MacDonnell ranges, the impressive Kings Canyon, and also the rock formations of Kata Tjuta that change color and shape depending on the light and the angle from where you look at them…
3) Bingil Bay (near Mission beach) in Queensland
As recommended by Travel Monkey
There is no doubt, Australia is amazing all around, but there are just certain places that touch you all the way to your soul. I’ve been road tripping Australian East coast for over a month and have seen many beautiful spots, but Bingil Bay, Queensland left a lasting impression on me. Maybe because it was the first wild beach on our trip down to Melbourne or maybe because of its tropical beauty.
From the first sight this place is nothing more than just a long yellow-sand beach, but when you stay longer, you understand that this is a beach JUST FOR YOU. Why? Because there are almost no other people here which makes it for such a wonderful experience. Especially if you are staying at Bingil Bay campground where you can sleep in your car or a tent.
This campsite is literally right on the beach! Just imagine waking up to amazing sunrise views right in front of your station wagon every morning, having a breakfast overlooking the seaside while having your toes in the sand. There are no shops or cafes nearby (you have to drive about 15 minutes to the closest shop), which gives you an amazing chance to really reconnect with nature.
Bingil Bay is the place to really chill out and let go of all the worries. The only pity is that, as in many other places in Australia, swimming in the sea could be dangerous as some crocs and stingers are found in the area.
4) Margaret River – Wine Tasting
As recommended by Mum On The Move
Margaret River in Western Australia is one of the best wine regions in Australia for wine tasting. Although the region produces just 3% of Australia’s wine, that results in 20% of its premium wine production, meaning you know you are looking at a lot of high quality wine here.
With a similar climate to the Bordeaux region of France, Australia’s Margaret River wineries particularly focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and of course its famous Chardonnays. There are over 200 wineries here and although it is particularly notable for its small boutique wineries, some of the more famous ones you may have heard of include Cape Mentelle, Voyager, Vasse Felix and Leeuwin Estate.
Most of the Margaret River wineries have friendly cellar doors open to the public for tastings and many of them also have amazing restaurants for lunch too. A great way to explore the wineries, without having to worry about having a designated driver, is to join a wine tour.
There are several wine tour companies in Margaret River, but our favourite for a fun, laidback, yet informative tour is Wine for Dudes. The tour guides at Wine for Dudes really know their stuff and will take you to some of the smaller boutique wineries you may otherwise not have heard of. They even throw in visits to some of Margaret River’s gourmet food producers and a brewery too.
Although Margaret River has made its name through its wine, beyond the wineries, the area is beautiful. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, plus a network of show caves to explore.
Take an easy day trip from Queensland’s capital of Brisbane to Moreton Island, a large sand island just over an hour away from the mainland via a scenic ferry ride across Moreton Bay.
Moreton is a sunlovers paradise with pristine beaches to lie on, shipwrecks to snorkel or for the more adventurous huge sand dunes that visitors are welcomed to surf down.
Day-trippers make the short pilgrimage over for one thing and that is is the nightly natural occurrence where resident Moreton Bay bottlenose and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins come into the sheltered cove by the jetty for a opportune feed. They have been hand fed for generations and each family cohort teach their young that a quick snack can be had, like clockwork by eager admirers on Moreton Island.
Qualified marine staff at Tangalooma Resort manages the nightly dolphin feeding to protect the wild dolphins from too much attention and interaction from humans. It’s one of the only places in Australia where you can hand feed wild dolphins and I’d argue the easiest to get to.
For those wanting to linger a little long on the island gem, Tangalooma Resort offers a range of affordable accommodation options and a plethora of resort activities from fish feeding, helicopter joy rides, organised island tours, snorkelling and segway tours combined with fab facilities including a private beach, jetty, swimming pools and tennis courts on a rambling resort
6) The Great Ocean Road
As recommended by The Travelling Tom
The Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly one of the best road trips you can do in Australia! Located in Victoria, not far from Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is a 243km stretch of road between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford.
There are a number of beautiful sights to see along the way that make it a must-do road trip in Australia. The primary attraction is the Twelve Apostles. They are giant stacks that stand out from the cliffs off the shore of Port Campbell National Park.
As well as the Twelve Apostles, there are a number of sights along nearby. London Bridge is named for its similarity to it’s namesake, although part of it collapsed in 1990. There is also The Grotto, which is a sinkhole formed by erosion. You can walk down to The Grotto and wander about and explore the area, admiring the beauty all around you as you do!
The start of the road near Torquay is an ideal place for surfers. One of the most famous beaches in Australia, Bell’s Beach, is not far away. It’s legendary for it’s great surf, and is worth checking out even if you’re not a fan of surfing!
The Great Ocean Road is full of beautiful sights, and great places to visit. It should definitely be included on your Australian itinerary!
7) Fraser Island
As recommended by The Barefoot Nomad
One of our more memorable activities in Australia was spending four days on Fraser Island. Fraser Island is just off the coast of Hervey Bay, is the largest sand island in the world and includes 120 kilometers (76 miles) of beautiful beach.
But there’s one piece of advice I haven’t really dedicated a whole post to.
The best piece of travel advice I can give you…travel for yourself.
“The best piece of travel advice I can give you…travel for yourself.” Click To Tweet
The Best Piece Of Travel Advice I Can Give You
Yup it’s that simple – when you travel, travel for yourself, on your terms.
Travel How You Want, Where You Want
You see, over the last few years it has become more and more apparent that people are relying too much on the opinions or advice of other people when it comes to where to travel next.
Bloggers, Instagrammers and “influencers” all pushing the next big destination (ok ok ok I know I fall into those categories from time to time…so don’t come at me with too much hate!)telling you that Thailand is overrated, that this place isn’t as good as it was a few years ago, or that this other spot is the next big thing.
Every article you read online is biased.
Yup, that also includes mine!
The joys of being human is that everyone has their own personality, opinions, tastes and passion, but the downside of the internet is that everyone is shouting so freaking loudly across the interwebs to push their own opinion that sometimes people forget that they need to form their own.
So you know what?
“Every article you read online is bias. Yup, that also includes mine!” Click To Tweet
You Do You!
My Happy Place!
Do what makes you happy and don’t be afraid of how other people view your travels.
I hate cities, seriously I hate them. I absolutely loathed being in San Francisco, so when people ask me about it I’m not going to sugar coat it and say the Golden Gate Bridge was magical to see in real life…nope I’ll straight up tell them I didn’t enjoy my stay and I couldn’t get back to Australia fast enough!
Now some people don’t like that kinda of honesty. But you know what, that’s more their problem than mine.
And the same for you guys too – don’t be afraid to not like a place and want to leave or simply not go there in the first place because you just don’t want to!
I’ve met so many people who head to somewhere like Asia and then do the standard Thailand > Laos > Cambodia > Vietnam route simply because its what everyone else is doing. But when you speak to them they have no interest in a lot of the places!
Figure out what you REALLY want to be doing and just go do it!
“Do what makes you happy and don’t be afraid of how other people view your travels.” Click To Tweet
Be Unashamed About Indulging Your Passion
Waves Waves & More Waves
For me that’s surfing.
This year all I’m really doing is surfing.
It’s what makes me the happiest and it’s all I really want to do!
I started off the year with a week long trip to Morocco. Honestly I should’ve taken my own advice and stayed longer but for some reason or another I came home, only to book another flight out there 3 days later.
Then I booked a flight to Australia to go surf with my bro and buddies in Byron Bay.
Now I’m back in Indonesia again, surfboard firmly in tow.
…and I’ll probably stay around here until the surf season ends towards the later part of the year.
And you know what – people have been saying “oh you’ve been to Australia heaps, try somewhere new” or “why are you going to Bali, it’s so overrated”
Well…it’s my money and my life so if I want to sit in Bali for a month and find some waves, that’s what I’m going to do!
And this year if someone tries to drag me off to do something cultural or visit somewhere new and the surf is pumping somewhere else…I’m just not going to go with them unless I REALLY want to!
…and I urge you to do the same, stick to your guns!
“Well…it’s my money and my life so if I want to sit in Bali for a month and find some waves… Click To Tweet
So Should You Trust Travel Bloggers For Travel Advice?!
Find Bloggers That Reflect Your Interest – Like Jules & Christine From Don’t Forget To Move
Admittedly there’s a whole side to this post which might well come across as a “don’t trust travel bloggers” post, which is obviously pretty ironic given that that’s what I do as a job!
But what I’m saying here is take travel blogs with a pinch of salt when it comes to figuring our where you want to go, or more importantly deciding that you don’t want to go somewhere.
Find a blogger who reflects your interests, not necessarily the one who ranks the highest in a Google search.
Think as taking advice off a blogger like taking advice of a person in real life – there might be a table full of people who have travelled Thailand, some may have lived there for long periods of time or claim to be an expert.
But one of those people is a friend of yours.
…Or Stephen From A Backpackers Tale
You’re going to trust the opinions of your buddy more than the randomer who just happens to know a lot about Thailand right?
Because you have similar interests and generally speaking you know what they like is probably something you’ll like too.
I might love staying in Byron Bay in Australia, enjoying the beaches and surfing, but if you hate the beach and like the hustle and bustle of a city, then the chances are you wont enjoy Byron at all!
Do the same with blogs. Follow the people you most relate to and ask their advice (yes some bloggers do actually reply to their readers!) and take it from there.
The bottom line on this though is make an informed decision and then go see for yourself!
“make an informed decision and then go see for yourself!” Click To Tweet
Don’t Just Do It For The ‘Gram!
Another big thing people are falling into the trap of, is doing stuff just to chuck a pic of it on Instagram.
Honestly if you have no interest in going to see the temple, don’t just go there to take a picture for your Instagram.
Doing a working holiday visa in Australia was one of the biggest and best decisions I’ve ever made – that year in Oz was packed full of adventures, epic new travel buddies, pumping surf and it ultimately led me to where I am now.
Not only will we be packing in heaps of cool experiences (and yes that does include surfing!) but the Welcome To Travel crew will also help you take care of the boring but essential bits about starting your working holiday visa in Australia – such as bank account setup, tax file numbers, SIM card and help finding work in Australia too.
Basically we get to sit back and enjoy all the fun stuff Melbourne has to offer whilst they do all the stressful but necessary bits! ;)
Check out their epic promo video for an overview of all the cool stuff we’ll be getting up to together!
Welcome To Travel: Melbourne | The Perfect Start To Travelling Australia - YouTube
Wildlife experiences (yup this does include kangaroos and also penguins!)
Bank and Tax File Number setup (boring I know, but trust me you’ll be glad its sorted!)
Some awesome group meals
Ongoing support in Australia – from both myself and the Welcome To Travel crew
And of course you get some bonus Backpacker Banter extras as well!
1 hour pre trip Skype chat where we can discuss anything you want about planning your trip
Travel talk about my top destinations and activities in Australia
Exclusive onward travel deals
I’ll also be putting together a video edit of the whole week too – so you’ll have an awesome reminder of your first week in Australia and something to send home to all your family and friends dot make them heaps jealous!