Hangnaameedhoo Island Guide
On Ari Atoll or Alif Dhaal Atoll, you’ll find a small, inhabited island called Hangnaameedhoo. Part of the Maldives dream vacation destination, it has built a reputation of being a great budget holiday location. Besides, it is exactly like you pictured, clear water reflecting the bright blue sunny sky. The island is a getaway for fun diving, reef snorkeling, or simply relaxing on the beach.
The island is unspoiled by urbanization, the coral reefs and sandy-white beaches offer soothing relaxation. It is pretty easy to reach the Hangnaameedhoo island too, and you can hop on a speedboat from Malé and reach the place in an hour. Of course, there is accommodation on the island for tourists that’s affordable, offering great food and fun water adventures.
This Hangnaameedhoo serenity is a break from the typical luxury tropical hideaways. Here, you take part in the local community. Keep reading to know more about this magical Maldivian island.
Ways to reach Hangnaameedhoo
Once you reach Malé, you will have to board a Dhoni you can find at the Villingili Ferry Terminal. In case you didn’t know, a Dhoni is a traditional sailing boat used popularly in the Maldives. It is the primary public transportation channel in the area, and your journey may include stopovers. Your other option is to take a private speedboat that is normally arranged for by your hotel.
Option 1: The local Dhoni ferry. Price MVR USD5 per way.
Dhonis headed towards the Hangnaameedhoo island follow a route that includes one stop at Mahibadhoo. On your arrival at Mahibadhoo, you will be transferred to another Hangnaameedhoo-bound boat. This second boat might stop at Omadhoo to collect or drop some passengers before you reach Hangnaameedhoo.
Overall, the ferry travel and switching should take you about 5 hours till you reach the Hangnaameedhoo Ferry Terminal. This terminal is characterized by colorful houses, coral-lined, sandy streets. It’s a fairly small-sized island, taking less than an hour to discover by foot.
Option 2: Private speed boat. Price USD 30 per way
Hangnaameedhoo lies in South Ari Atoll, it is the closest inhabited island to Velana International Airport and Malé. Based on the resort you’ve booked; you could expect a hotel staff member to greet you when you touch down at the airport. This person could ensure that you get on the right speed boat arranged by them.
The speedboat transfers are a little fast than the ferry-switch route, taking a little more than an hour to move from Malé to Hangnaameedhoo. To reserve your speed boat ahead of time, you have to contact your hotel for details and payments.
The speedboat transfer from Malé to Hangnaameedhoo Island normally takes 1hr 15mins and costs 30USD per person one way. For speedboat reservations, please contact your Guesthouse for further details. On your request, your Guesthouse should be able to plan a one-way private speed boat from Velana international airport to Hangnaameedhoo.
Hangnaameedhoo Lifestyle and Economy
You need to be prepared with lots of cash as there is no digital wallet system or ATM in Hangnaameedhoo. You can withdraw cash at the airport or anywhere in Malé. Hotels do accept cards and digital wallets but place a service fee on the amount chargeable to you.
How the locals live on the island
The first thing you see as you embark on the Hangnaameedhoo Ferry Terminal is colorful houses. Meandering around these houses are sandy paved streets that very clean and lined with trees, some of the walls bear political messages and logos.
You get the idea that life here is simple but happy. The people here speak Maldivian that the locals refer to as Divehin. They follow Islam, and the government backs Islamic Law. Since you’re a guest here, you should refrain from consuming or asking for pork dishes and alcohol.
Self-sustaining economy built around tourism
Most men work in the tourism industry or are fishermen – the two biggest trades in the area. Most women take care of the home and kids. Since Hangnaameedhoo is a holiday destination, the tourism sector rakes in high revenues for the island. Based on data collected in January 2020, Hangnaameedhoo has 12 guest houses.
Local residents build, operate, and invest in these guest houses. It’s these guest houses provide a source of direct employment and a host of other indirect economic advantages. For example, a guest house ties up with local service providers or residents to provide tourist attractions like island snorkeling, scuba diving, marine life watching, picnic island/sandbank visiting.
There are plenty of places that you can stay in. Booking a room for your visit can easily be done online before you reach for convenience. If you haven’t made a booking and find that the Guesthouse, you’re in is full, try these older, more popular options:
- Detour Beach View
- Asia Inn Villa Retreat
- By the Shade
- Ocean Beach Inn
- Sunny Lodge
- Two Star Meedhoo
- Local Island Inn
- Beach House
These places are very well known and surprisingly affordable, with rooms big enough to accommodate families.
Dine in and Dine out
No dream vacation is complete without savoring the local cuisine. On the Hangnaameedhoo you can arrange for meals at the resort you are staying in. The island also offers several places where you can eat out.
Most guest houses and hotels here throw in a complimentary meal- you could have fried eggs with toast and jam and exquisite lunches. They offer pizza, pasta, French fries, fried meats, rice, and vegetables, but the seafood and grilled fish stand out.
Always insist on the local foods like Mas Huni Roshi – roses stuffed with onions, coconut, and tuna. The chef at your resort will happily grill the fish you catch while sunset fishing. Resort operators arrange for buffets, breakfasts and late-night barbeque on the sea shore.
When dining out, you need to wait for a very long time in the true sense of the word. The rule of thumb here is to place your order for food an hour in advance and then go about exploring the island. Your meal is ready for you when you reach your hotel room.
You can step out of the hotel to savor local cuisine, but be prepared to spend as gourmet cuisine isn’t cheap here. Some of the other Hangnaameedhoo restaurants and dining options include names like Green Leaf Garden Restaurant, the Food Place, Cafe El Clasico, and the Pilot Whale Café. In these places, you can get fried rice, chili fish, soups, grilled fish, curries, Italian, and full breakfasts. Chicken dishes will cost you more as they are imported to the island!
Activities and amenities
On the island, you will find a small collection of attractions like the traditional mosque, the Shrine of King Ibrahim Kalaafaanu. You can see a local football ground where kids play a match in the evenings. The Joali is a coir hammock unique to Hangnaameedhoo.
The beaches and the sea offer the most activities providing spectacular views of the sunset. You need to dress modestly on public beaches. You can only wear swimsuits, bikinis on the private beaches.
There are lots of activities you can perform while staying Hangnaamedhoo. Given below are some of the fun things you could do!
- Sandbank visiting: Book a timeslot to the sandbanks to enjoy the shores or go snorkeling in shallow waters.
- Picnic island trip: These are empty islands further away from local isles known for their natural beauty and a lengthy reef.
- Safari Snorkeling: There are so many exciting areas suited for snorkeling. You need to rent snorkel equipment that includes the fin, jacket, and mask from your guesthouse. Again, it’s the guesthouse operators that conveniently arrange for scuba trips. You’re in shallow waters where you take your time to explore the blue waters, the sandy bed, corals, and smaller fish.
- Dolphin Cruise: You need to travel to spot locations where dolphin species swim, play, and do all kinds of acrobatics! This involves booking a Dhoni cruise to take you further into the Indian Ocean, from the shore where you have the bigger fish.
- Sunset fishing: A lazy evening activity where the chef will be delighted to prepare your catch. However, it is a two-hour Dhoni journey.
- Live BBQ: Some of the Guesthouses plan out live BBQs for their guests, who can all join in for some grilled seafood. The food grills slowly on a charcoal pit overseen by the chef. Other times, you could book a private BBQ party for family and friends.
- Manta Watching: The Maldives and manta rays go hand in hand. To see these magnificent creatures in their glory, you need to move closer to the southwest part in the Indian Ocean. The water is deeper here, suited for skilled scuba swimmers. The ideal time to see the manta rays is May through December.
- Whale shark watching: Head to the Sun Island reef to watch whale sharks. The ideal time is in November, May, and December.
- Sunset cruise: Make time for booking a Dhoni to sail off. This gives you the best views of the sunset, along with a bottle of complimentary drinks and small snacks that are served on board.