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Dhigurah Maldives: The Ultimate 2022 Visitor’s Guide

The exotic, tropical islands of the Maldives, a place we’ve been thinking about for years without ever quite making it down here. Visions of idyllic tropical islands full of swaying palm trees in behind white sand beaches and the clear, aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean. You know the ones. And fabulous Dhigurah, our chosen island, definitely fit those classic criteria, throwing in a 2-kilometre-long treeless sandbank as well, just for good measure.

Tropical beach with Palm tree and blue water

Of course, the Maldives’ main claim to fame is the iconic “over the water bungalow” – rows of cute little huts perched directly over the sea. Even though this past summer we briefly convinced ourselves to splurge on one of these classic huts, in the end we never found any that seemed quite worth the extravagant price tag.

Which is how we ended up on Dhigurah, one of just a handful of islands in the Maldives open to independent tourism (most Maldivian resorts occupy private islands). Located in the South Ari Atoll (Alif Dhaal), one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks and giant manta rays (just to name a couple), the reefs and “thilas” (underwater pinnacles) around Dhigurah offer some of the most exciting scuba diving on the planet.

The island itself is long by Maldivian standards – around 4 km – and skinny – by anyone’s standards (a few hundred metres). Not surprisingly, the name itself means “Long Island” although, in reality, all the houses, hotels and restaurants are basically squeezed into the first kilometre or so.

The last few kilometres consist mainly of thick mangroves slowly giving way to Long Beach, one of the most dramatic stretches of sand you’ll ever see. In fact, Flight Network even included it on their list of the Top 50 Beaches in the World in 2017.

Narrow white sand beach with turquoise water on both sides
Long Beach

Dhigurah island is located about 100 kilometres from Male, the capital and, realistically, the one real city in the Maldives (apologies to Fuvahmulah but, no, you’re not quite there yet). There are only around 600 permanent residents but with a good (and growing) selection of hotels, fantastic beaches, turquoise water and unbelievable diving and snorkelling, Dhigurah offers an outstanding combination of exotic beauty and affordability.

You can watch the sunrise and sunset a few hundred metres apart and spend hours walking along the beach in two directions. The snorkelling and diving are exceptional and you can rent kayaks, paddleboards and even jet-skis. One thing you CAN’T do, however, is get tropically loaded. The Maldives is a Muslim country and no alcohol is allowed on public islands.

Woman walking on a dirt road in Dhigurah

You can drink at some of the private resorts but Dhigurah is certainly not that. Apparently, if you’re really jonesing to knock a few back you can hire a boat to take you to one of the nearby private islands. We didn’t, however, opting instead to go dry and spend every sunset muttering about how it would be nice to have a beer right now, and then quietly wondering, hey, is it possible we have a problem?

There are also strict clothing rules in the Maldives, especially on the smaller islands. No revealing clothing, especially on women, t-shirts and knee-length shorts on men. For women, Laynni followed the rule of thumb – no shoulders and no knees. Certainly no bathing suits in public (except on the one designated beach on the island).

Dhigurah Facilities

The small village on Dhigurah is mostly concentrated around the harbour and slightly south, and includes a school, medical centre, a few small grocery stores and a pharmacy. And even one very literally named “Tourist Shop” selling mostly sunscreen and animal-themed floaties. There is also a Bank of Maldives ATM right in front of the harbour.

$US are used almost interchangeably with Maldivian rufiyaa and most hotels and dive shops will accept credit cards (although potentially with a small added fee).

Tourist Shop in Dhigurah

The locals keep small gardens but there is no real agriculture on Dhigurah. Over the years it has mainly relied on fishing, boat building and woodworking, although tourism is rapidly moving up the list.

Grocery store aisle

To its credit, Dhigurah is known for having very eco-friendly policies. Trash is picked up and sorted daily, with recycling and compost sent (or sold) to other islands, and it is a member of the Parley Initiative. This is a plan that involves plastic collected from beaches being sent to Adidas to be made into shoes (which you can then pay $150 for relatively guilt-free).

Dhigurah Map

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Things to Do in Dhigurah

While scuba diving is one of the big activities around Dhigurah and the main reason for our visit, my stories and descriptions about our dives ended up getting quite long so I moved that part to the end. In the meantime, here are all the other things you can do on Dhigurah and once you’ve made it through that you can get the blow-by-blow account of some of the best dives we’ve ever done.

Colourful boats and palm trees in Dhigurah Harbour

Dhigurah Snorkelling

Surrounded by lovely reef and beautiful coral, Dhigurah is a snorkelling paradise. Whether you check out the lagoon on the south side or stick to the calm waters of the house reef on the north side, you’re sure to see plenty of fascinating stuff.

For something a bit more adventurous, you can join one of the whale shark excursions offered by each of the hotels (in coordination with the dive shops). Sightings are not guaranteed but you have a pretty good chance – of the 4 trips we took to the most likely whale shark area (in early November), snorkellers saw a whale shark on three of them. Which is pretty impressive considering they don’t feed the sharks here (like they do in the Philippines and other places) or in any other way entice them (such as with 50%-off Black Friday codes).

Credit: @shakyl_diveart

The other great spot is Manta Garden. I describe it in greater detail below in the scuba diving in Dhigurah section but the short version is – you’ll see a LOT of manta rays. I don’t know many dive guides who will use the word “guaranteed” but in this case I’m pretty sure I heard it mentioned.

Long Beach Dhigurah

Man walking on Long Beach Dhigurah

One of the most visually dramatic beaches you’ll ever see, this impossibly long, narrow sliver of sand leads all the way from Dhigurah to LUX Resort to the southwest (walkable at low tide). At the start of Long Beach is Bodu Funagas, a comfortable picnic area with chairs, tables, a volleyball net and possibly some whale shark sand carvings.

Narrow beach leading to LUX Resort in the Maldives
LUX Resort Maldives

In my opinion, everyone should walk the length of this impressive sandbank at least once. But don’t underestimate it – from the closest hotel it will still take close to an hour to reach the end, then another hour back, most of it without a speck of shade.

Sand carving of a whale shark

But, wow, the white sand, turquoise water, green palms and, in our case, dark, ominous sky all combine for quite the sight.

Dhigurah Bikini Beach

Woman walking on a tropical beach

Everywhere else on Dhigurah you need to cover up and be respectful of local customs and religions. But local authorities have generously made an exception for Northwest Beach, better known as “Bikini Beach”, the one place on the island where it is okay to bare as much skin as you normally would on a western beach (although nudity may be a bridge too far – at least we didn’t see anyone daring it).

Laynni finds the term “bikini beach” very annoying, suggesting “tourist beach” would be more accurate since their name makes it seem like it’s only the women who need to be regulated. And not, for example, some Australian surf bros who make it their mission to never be seen in anything more than a tight pair of Quiksilvers for the extent of their holiday.

Tropical beach

Whatever you call it, though, the sand is a bit rough on first part closest to the hotels, mostly broken coral and rough rocky entrances to the water. Farther south, however, you’ll find some nice, soft sand and calm swimming areas.

There are only about a dozen old, mostly broken plastic loungers scattered along the way but the trees provide plenty of shade and the beach is long enough that it is easy to find some privacy if you want.

Beach puddle reflecting palm trees at sunset

The beach is also full of crabs, both those super-quick, twitchy ones that you always see scurrying across in front of you, and slow, plodding hermit crabs, creeping along until you are almost on top of them, at which point they suddenly drop under their shell in a panic.

Woman taking a video of a hermit crab
Come out and play, little hermit!

Every beach walk (and there were lots of them) took about twice as long as it should have because of Laynni’s developing obsession with hermit crabs. Specifically with recording them slowly emerging from beneath their latest shell-home to tentatively set out for wherever the hell it is that hermit crabs go.

Water sports

Man knee-boarding behind a jet-ski

Most hotels rent out or provide snorkelling gear, kayaks and paddleboards. You can also rent all of this stuff next to the beach just across from Dhiguveli hotel. You can even take it a step further and rent a jet-ski or pay for some wakeboarding, knee-boarding, water skiing or even a suggestive banana ride.

Water sports equipment for rent

Fishing

The Maldives has always relied heavily on fishing and it remains a huge part of the culture on Dhigurah. All the hotels can arrange fishing trips tailored for all types, from beginners to die-hard anglers. Most of the time you’ll also be able to cook and eat your own catch.

Dolphin Spotting

Both Spinner and Bottlenose dolphins can be seen around the South Ari Atoll and depending on the season you might be able to join a dolphin spotting boat trip. They claim that they don’t do any of the harmful chasing and harassing that plagues dolphin trips in some other parts of the world but if you’re lucky you could still end up seeing a pod of up to 15 dolphins.

Resort Day Trip

Maldives atolls from the air

There are several private resorts within easy access of Dhigurah. Most hotels can arrange a day trip that includes a boat transfer, entrance fee, lunch and use of all the facilities such as the spa, pools and hot tubs. You might even suddenly find yourself with a beer in your hand.

Some of the resorts that are possibilities include:

Vilamendhoo Island

Amaya Resort

Centara Grand Island

Vakarufalhi Island

Conrad Maldives

Plus, you can literally walk across to LUX Resort, although be sure to contact them in advance to make sure you’ll be welcome that particular day.

Visit Other Local Islands

Dhigurah is not the only local island in the area and if you would like to get more of a feel for the different islands and their cultures, you can hire a private boat to take you to any of Maamigili, Fenfushi, Mahibadhoo or Dhangethi. Or the public ferry stops at them all but it moves very slow and might make the logistics difficult.

Some people even choose to divide their time between Dhigurah and a hotel on one of these other islands.

Scuba Diving in Dhigurah

Warning: Reader Discretion Advised. May include long breathless stories and giddy rambling.

Couple in scuba gear about to jump in the water

Although Long Island has become quite Insta-famous, it is still the scuba diving and snorkelling that bring most visitors to Dhigurah. With one of the only permanent whale shark populations in the world and a long list of other underwater highlights, the South Ari Atoll is a standard bucket list destination for scuba divers around the world.

We had previously snorkelled with a whale shark in Donsol in the Philippines but I’d always dreamed of diving with one – so, off to the Maldives!

Sea Life in Dhigurah

Dhigurah is part of the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA) and over 350 individual whale sharks have been recorded in the region (and there are likely many more than that). Featuring perfect water temperature and loads of phytoplankton (like candy for whale sharks), it is possible (but not guaranteed!) to see these magnificent creatures any time of year.

Tropical island with blue water and blue sky

Also, the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) is a non-profit that focuses on whale shark research and conservation around Dhigurah that offers volunteering opportunities for people looking to get more involved.

Of course, the waters around Dhigurah boast far more than just whale sharks. They are also a haven for giant manta rays and many other types of sharks and large pelagics (deep sea fish and whales). And beyond the big stuff, there is some outstanding coral reef and you can also potentially encounter dolphins, sea turtles, octopi, moray eels and over a thousand species of fish including giant napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, clownfish, needlefish and huge schools of snappers.

Dives Sites Near Dhigurah

There is a good mix of dive sites around Dhigurah to fit every level of diver. The calm lagoon on the west side is a good starter area where you can see coral, lots of small fish, sea turtles and even the occasional manta ray.

The house reef on the east side is slightly more advanced but still a relatively easy wall dive with generally gentle current and the chance of seeing anything, big or small.

Two Maldivian dhoni dive boats

Further afield, you can visit some of the 15 thilas (pinnacles) found in the area, each with its own unique topography and marine life. All told, there are as many as 40 dive sites within an hour by boat, including Manta Garden and even some wreck dives.

Unfortunately, we did not have an underwater camera or GoPro, deciding it wasn’t worth buying and carrying for three months for just a few days of use. Thankfully, however, helpful Sakeel, our Go Divers guide, was generous enough to share some of his videos with us so we have some documentation of the incredible stuff we saw.

Dhigurah Arches

After an easy refresher dive in the Dhigurah lagoon we did our second dive at Dhigurah Arches, a very picturesque dive site not far from the island with several small arches, caves, swim-throughs and good coral. Saw an octopus, a sea turtle and a few moray eels, one of which was even swimming. You almost always just see their head poking out from some hole as they try to ambush passing fish. Which is just as well because it’s hard to describe how creepy they are out swimming, like a cross between a snake and a leech, except 2 metres long and with a head big enough to comfortably wear one of my hats.

Kudarah Thila

Superb Kudarah Thila is less than 15 minutes away from Dhigurah and claims the title of our personal favourite Dhigurah dive site (potentially best ever, according to Laynni). One of the most famous dive sites in the Maldives, Kudarah Thila has been protected since 1995 and is highlighted by massive schools of bluestripe snappers (which are actually mostly yellow but nobody ever mentions that part).

Credit: @shakyl_diveart

These huge, mesmerizing clouds of fish are incredible to swim around and through, as they effortlessly part for you even when they seem to be an impenetrable bank of yellow. Sometimes a school of blue/black wrasse (I think?) would also appear to penetrate the snappers, briefly intermingling, although never quite disturbing their tight formations. Hypnotic.

Credit: @shakyl_diveart

There are also a lot of fascinating rocks, caves, overhangs, coral and a nice swim-through area. We did this dive twice and both times saw several white-tip reef sharks (or maybe the same shark several times), plenty of eels, loads of other fish and even a lone manta ray (which was apparently quite unusual).

On our second visit to Kudarah Thila we spent 15-20 minutes at the final scenic point of the dive site just lingering among the schools of snapper, eventually dragging Laynni away kicking and screaming (based on her eyes only – you can’t hear anything down there).

Mahibadoo Cleaning Station (Manta Garden)

A simple yet exhilarating dive – really more a float, actually. This raised reef in the middle of the blue is where huge, graceful manta rays (3-4 metres across) come to get cleaned up (i.e. let a bunch of little fish nibble at their nethers). Snorkellers can watch the mantas from above on the reef, while divers drop down to 15 metres and, if there is current, use reef hooks to hold in place.

Several manta rays swimming in the ocean
Credit: @shakyl_diveart

Picture a dozen rubber-clad divers bobbing around at the end of a metre-long strap like birthday balloons plotting their escape. And that’s it, then you just wait for the manta rays to come to you. Which they did almost immediately.

Gliding down off the reef, up from the deep blue, smoothly sliding along the wall. Over, under and past, it was a phenomenal show. I was stationed on the outside of our group and a couple mantas passed by so close I could have reached out and touched them (if I was the creepy, touching type, not just the creepy, staring type).

We stayed down for around 45 minutes and must have seen about 20 manta rays, possibly with a few repeat visitors who found a spot they missed and went back for another go round. A really amazing experience.

Dhidoo Beyru

This is the main reef south of Dhigurah where you have the best chance of spotting whale sharks. The reef is very long and most excursions will go as far west as Maamigili depending on the conditions – wherever they think a whale shark spotting is likeliest. So you may also hear it called Maamigili Beyru or even LUX Beyru (the section just across from LUX Resort).

Man climbing ladder out of water in scuba gear

The gently sloping wall is beautiful, with colourful coral and just enough current to push you slowly along (in our case, anyway). Up top, the reef is just 3-10 metres deep and this is generally where snorkellers explore. Despite all this, though, the big draw of Dhidoo Beyru is, of course, the whale shark.

We did this dive three times, each time in a slightly different spot, without having any luck seeing the big guys (although we didn’t have anyone up on the roof specifically trying to spot them the first time).

Four men standing on top of a boat watching for whale sharks
The boys on the lookout for whale shark

The first time, no sightings, but we did see a black-tip reef shark and lots of eels. The second time the guys spotted one from their perch on the roof of the traditional dhoni (fishing boat) but by the time we got into the water and descended it was gone, with the German couple who went out the other side of the boat catching just a quick glimpse before it went too deep for us.

At least we did see another dozen or so blacktips, a big stingray that came gliding down over the reef and a rude sea turtle who couldn’t be bothered to pull his head out of the anemone he was feasting on long enough for us to enjoy a proper gawk.

The third time’s the charm, so they say, although apparently not for us. With a rather full boat of both divers and snorkellers we cruised the reef for about an hour to no avail, finally giving up and heading into the water for our dive. We enjoyed the wall, with Laynni spending an inordinate amount of time floating motionless, arms and legs akimbo, staring intently at the coral from a foot away like someone who’s spent far too much time breathing from a metal tube, saw a couple more reef sharks, another octopus and a sea turtle actually swimming this time (that’s more like it).

Then, as we surfaced, determined to accept our fate and appreciate the positives of yet another lovely Maldivian dive, we learned that soon after we submerged they spotted a whale shark from the boat and managed to get the snorkellers into the water with it for a few thrilling minutes. The nerve.

Which made us literally the only people on the boat that did not see a whale shark that day. When we got back to the hotel and told Lana, another Go Diver instructor, that we didn’t spot one she simply grimaced sympathetically and said “Yes, I heard”. It seemed word of our grim luck had begun to spread.

Which left us resigned to accept our fate (no whale sharks for us) and determined to simply appreciate all the amazing Maldivian dives we’d already enjoyed. Well, that lasted a few hours, anyway, until I decided we needed to try at least one more time on our final day in Dhigurah.

Laynni wasn’t so sure but when the ever accommodating Sakeel (our Go Divers dive guide) agreed to tack on a second visit to Kudarah Thila, we were able to entice her into another day in the blue (she has a serious weakness for big schools of snapper, apparently).

On our fourth try we were once again joined on the boat by a group of snorkellers and only minutes in we heard a yelp from the roof – whale shark! As we started to shimmy into our BCDs, Sakeel came and stopped us, no time for that, just grab a snorkel and jump in. Which we did, rather frantically – yet still gracefully I’m certain – and within moments there it was, gliding past a few metres below us, completely unconcerned by the ungainly thrashings of the snorkellers above.

Credit: @shakyl_diveart

By then several other boats had arrived and the snorkelling numbers quickly swelled to around 40-50, if I had to guess. The Go Diver guys waved us back to the boat with plans to get out in front and hopefully get another encounter farther down the reef. Well, their plan proved fruitful as just 10-15 minutes later we spotted it (or another, not completely sure), this time on our own.

We dropped the snorkellers off as we geared up and then drove a bit farther yet, where Laynni, myself and our guide, Wisham, jumped in and descended as quickly as possible. It couldn’t have been more than a minute or so before Wisham was tapping on his tank to draw our attention and their it was a massive whale shark heading directly toward us about 10 metres below the surface.

We just hovered in awe as it approached, its gaping, toothless mouth opening and closing slowly like a caricature of an animated goldfish. We slid aside as it glided past us, then turned to follow, finning at close to our max speed just to keep up, even though it only briefly swept its enormous tail once every couple minutes. It is staggering to imagine how fast it could swim if it ever had reason to.

Whale shark swimming
Credit: @shakyl_diveart

Nonetheless, there we were, just the three of us, spending the next 7 minutes swimming peacefully alongside to this gigantic animal (not fish),  gradually descending to around 27 metres. By my very rough calculations based on the measuring devices I had at my disposal at the time, the whale shark was approximately 3 Laynni’s long, plus a bit. So around 6 metres, we’d guess.

Altogether, exactly the best-case scenario I’d always envisioned when lobbying to visit a place where we could actually dive (instead of snorkel) with whale sharks.

Then, finally, it made a sudden turn, surprisingly in toward the reef, seemingly to start another pass back along the reef but then changed its mind and went out toward the deep, heading down so smoothly and quickly it was like it had never been there.

Leaving us to spend the next 40 minutes trying to pay attention to the reef and coral and little fish and eels and such, but really just in a haze of afterglow (except much less distasteful to describe in a blog). There was a reef shark, I think, and then it was raining on the surface. Or something. I’m not sure. Did I mention we dove with a whale shark?

Couple in scuba gear smiling with thumbs-up
Whale shark!

Other Dhigurah Dive Sites:

Some of the many other great dives in the area that we didn’t do personally but had described to us include:

Broken Rock, a relatively famous site known mainly for its unique structure – a 50m-long fissure running down the middle of the reef

Reethi Thila (Five Rocks), featuring five separate rocky sections divided by canyons

Seventh Heaven, the best dive site around Dhigurah to see soft coral

Kudhimaa Wreck, a purposely-sunk 50m-long cargo ship sitting on a sandy bottom 30 metres down

Dive Shops

We went with Go Divers, as they are affiliated with our hotel (Dhiguveli Maldives), and we can’t speak highly enough of their professionalism, expertise and helpfulness. Their dhoni (traditional boat) is beautiful, the equipment was excellent and the entire experience was completely full-service (meaning I never did get a chance to re-learn how to hook up my regulator and BCD myself).

Men inside a traditional dhoni dive boat

They did their best to accommodate our diving goals and went above and beyond to make sure we didn’t leave Dhigurah without seeing a whale shark (not that it can ever be guaranteed). As you can tell, we highly recommend them.

However, we also heard good things about most of the dive shops on Dhigurah and I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. There are 6 other dive shops on the island:

Oceanholic Dive Center

Island Divers

Dhigurah Divers

Dive Blue

Plus, Athiri Beach Maldives and Boutique Beach are all-inclusive diving hotels that offer complete dive/accommodation/food packages.

Where to Stay: Dhigurah Hotels

There are now over a dozen hotels on Dhigurah and more seem to be popping up all the time. The island is small enough that none of them are more than a 10-minute walk to the beach or harbour and most are very good value.

We really enjoyed our stay at Dhiguveli Maldives. The staff was friendly, courteous and professional and our room was comfortable and modern. The breakfast buffet was outstanding, not surprising since their Malaveli Restaurant is one of the best on the island.

Hotel room with a balcony
Dhiguveli

They arranged our transfers to and from Male (at a discount), coordinated all of our dive trips through Go Divers and provided rides to and from the harbour.

Check prices and availability at Dhiguveli Maldives

Bliss Dhigurah boasts Hermit’s Café, one of the more popular restaurants on the island (not to mention a comfy set of beanbag chairs). They offer plenty of facilities and water sports as well as a sun terrace and hot tub.

Hotel lobby with swinging chairs
Bliss Dhigurah

Check prices and availability at Bliss Dhigurah

TME Retreats opened around a decade ago as the very first hotel on Dhigurah. It is found just a block inland from the beach and features large modern rooms, a spa and an on-site restaurant. They also rent out bikes and arrange scuba diving courses.

Hotel lobby
TME Resorts

Check prices and availability at TME Retreats

Located just across the small dirt road from the main beach, Dhigurah Beach Inn is known for its outstanding service and pretty little garden area.

Hotel with marine life art
Dhigurah Beach Inn

Check prices and availability at Dhigurah Beach Inn

Boutique Beach (also right next to the beach) is a great choice if you want everything included. You can choose packages that include meals and a daily excursion or even opt to have scuba diving included.

Hotel in Dhigurah
Boutique Beach

Check prices and availability at Boutique Beach

Where to Eat: Dhigurah Restaurants

There are actually quite a few restaurants on the island but it may not seem that way as most of them are part of hotels. But there is enough variety to keep you interested even on a longer stay.

There are also a few shops where you can pick up supplies such as water and snacks but since Dhigurah mostly has hotel rooms (rather than apartments) you won’t be doing much of your own cooking.

Malaveli Restaurant

The restaurant in Dhiguveli, where we were staying, was excellent. The menu is large, the food good, the service friendly and attentive and there are two rooftop terraces so you can eat while enjoying the view (except there are no umbrellas so rain or midday sun kinds of limits your options).

Restaurant balcony at sunset
Malaveli

Since we ate our first several meals there and had nothing to compare it to it wasn’t until a few days in that we tried some other restaurants and realized just how good Malaveli is. Despite being one of the most professional settings and having outstanding food, the prices were lower than any of the others we tried. Definitely the best value of all the places we ate.

Hermit’s Café

This popular place in Bliss Dhigurah has an indoor part, outdoor terrace and lounging area in the trees (with beanbag chairs!). The menu is fairly limited but the food was good and the service excellent.

Absolute Thai

Woman eating Pad Thai at Absolute Thai on Dhigurah
Absolute Thai

Fantastic Pad Thai, reasonable prices and good service, although relatively small portions (I’m generally not a big eater but even I walked away a bit hungry). Nice spot near the harbour.

Bonthi

Part of Dhigurah Beach Inn, they have a nice roof terrace overlooking the beach (through the trees, of course), a pretty interesting menu and very good butter chicken.

UFA Escape

We didn’t actually eat here but heard about it plenty – it seems to be the main social gathering place on the island. They have occasional live music and the odd karaoke party.

When to Go: Dhigurah Weather

The Maldives is a tropical country that is literally spread out over the equator, meaning the temperature doesn’t vary that much throughout the year (highs/lows around 30/25C). The northeast monsoon comes through Dhigurah from Jan-Apr but despite the way that sounds, it actually brings clear skies, calm seas and high underwater visibility. This is considered high season in Dhigurah (which is also partially due to frigid weather in Europe and North America).

Woman lying on top of a dhoni

The southwest monsoon takes place from late May to November, bringing more rain and cloud but not so much that it should stop you from coming. Late summer and fall are considered very good times to see whale sharks, although it is still possible all year-round.

In fact, from what we gathered, different weather patterns affect the currents and sea life but doesn’t really change what you can see in Dhigurah, just where you go to see it.

How to Get to Dhigurah

Arriving in Male

Almost everyone flies into and out of Velana International Airport in Male, the capital, and that is definitely the best choice when going to Dhigurah. As soon as you come out you’ll see two ATMs and an information booth.

If you head to your right coming out of Arrivals (north toward the domestic terminal) you’ll see offices for two cell phone companies where you can buy a Maldivian SIM card with calling, texting and, most importantly, data. The wifi at Dhiguveli was pretty good but we find it is always useful to have data on our phones as a backup. We bought a 30-day Dhiraagu card for $35 with 17GB of data, 150 calling minutes and 150 texts. There were also cheaper plans for shorter durations.

If you have time to kill and want to go explore the city there is a left luggage office that charges $6 per bag. Ferries to Male run every 15 minutes, take only 10 minutes and cost just 15mvr ($1).

Public ferry in Male Maldives
Male airport ferry

There is a large, non-air-conditioned waiting area with free wifi (you have to sign in with Google or Facebook) and a few outlets for charging. There is also a Thai Express, Burger King, café and Dairy Queen (desserts only). A better choice, however, is to walk a couple minutes north to the domestic terminal. Directly across from it and upstairs is an air-conditioned food court with a Pizza Hut, KFC and a couple local restaurants.

From Male to Dhigurah

Dhigurah is around 100 km from Male and there are three ways to get there:

Public Ferry to Dhigurah

This is by far the cheapest option ($5-30 per person depending on destination) and also by far the slowest. Good if you have lots of time and are travelling on a tight budget, otherwise we would suggest the speedboat.

The public ferry also only goes a few times per week, involves a change in Mahibadhoo (from 305 to 304) and takes around 6-7 hours to get to Dhigurah. You’ll definitely want to check the latest public ferry schedule and confirm with someone on the boat before you go.

Speedboat to Dhigurah

For most people this is the best choice. There are typically two departures per day (morning and afternoon) and it takes around 2 hours (including a quick stop in Dhangethi). You can book it independently on 12Go Asia for $80 per person each way but you should also check with your hotel as most can arrange it for less. Dhiguveli arranged ours for $60 each way.

People sitting inside a Maldivian speedboat

Full disclosure, even on a decent day the ride can be rough so if you are prone to seasickness you may want to consider flying (we had a couple people vomiting on our boat in both directions). At the very least, try to sit near the front where the ride is a bit smoother. And if the sea is particularly wild, they will simply cancel and you’ll have to take a plane.

Domestic Flight to Maamigili

As usual, flying is both faster and more expensive. FlyMe has several flights per day to Maamigili Airport. The flight takes around 20 minutes and usually costs around $250 each way.

From there you take a taxi to the pier (5 min) and then a short speedboat ride to Dhigurah (20 min). If you’re considering this option you should definitely talk to your hotel about arranging a package deal.

How to Get Around on Dhigurah

Walking, for the most part. As we’ve discussed, Dhigurah is not a big place. And most of its 4 km length consists of beach where you couldn’t drive anyway.

Woman walking on a dirt road in Dhigurah

However, there are some little “truck-tuks”, as I call them, where you can ride in the back if you want a ride to the start of Long Beach or want to save a 10-15-minute walk across town in the heat of the day (or rain). Every hotel also has one of these or a van to shuttle people with their luggage (or to the harbour for diving and snorkelling).

Man riding in a truck-tuk in Dhigurah Maldives

There is also a small collection of raggedy bikes near Bikini Beach that you can rent for a very reasonable price.

Collection of old crappy bikes

Dhigurah Summary

Dhigurah currently occupies that wonderful sweet spot where it has just enough in the way of hotels and facilities to be an easy and comfortable place to visit but not so much that it feels touristy or overrun. Time will tell if it can maintain that balance but for now the locals seem determined to preserve the features that make Dhigurah such a fabulous destination – gorgeous Long Beach and exceptional scuba diving and snorkelling.

Woman sitting in the water next to a white sand beach

Also, considering the Maldives has traditionally been a high-end, luxury tourist destination, travelling independently on Dhigurah is surprisingly affordable, with good value hotels and reasonably priced diving. So, if you love to do most of your sightseeing underwater and are a sucker for phenomenally unique beaches, Dhigurah is the perfect choice for your next hot holiday.

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