Well, the good news is that it IS possible to get around parts of the Addu atoll by public transportation.
My flight to the Maldives was to Gan Island airport, so this will focus on taking the bus around islands that connect by road to Gan Island.
Here are ideas for 4 days in the Maldives, with day 2 as a bus ride!
It won’t take you all day to travel through the Addu atoll by bus, but a Maldives trip is all about taking it easy so this is the main activity of the day! 😉
The most important things to know about taking the bus around the Addu atoll?!
You need time.
You need patience.
If you’ve got both, then taking the bus in Addu will (mostly) be NO PROBLEM! 😉
A few more things that might be helpful to know about taking this bus in the Maldives!
1. You can get from Gan Island airport to Hithadhoo by bus
On one end, the bus starts/ends on Gan Island, which is the international airport island.
On the other end, it goes to Hithadhoo.
This means that of the islands in the Addu atoll that connect by road, you can go from the far south/east island (Gan Island) to the far north/west island (Hithadhoo) by bus!
Zoom out on the map below (partner website) for the visual of the connecting islands of the Addu atoll!
2. The bus generally comes once an hour
The bus timings are not the most frequent, but at least the public transportation exists!
For exact timings, it is best to verify this once on the ground in the Maldives with the accommodation that you’re staying at.
3. The bus doesn’t run in the mornings on Fridays
I took the bus from Gan Island on a Friday and was told the earliest bus was at 2pm.
4. The bus stop probably won’t be obvious
In most cases, it seems that there’s no obvious sign in the location of the bus stop.
But then there might be some random bus stops that ARE labeled…
During a bike ride across the atoll, I saw a “bus stop” sign seemingly in quite a random place, and then a few feet away there were people standing around.
So I guess it must have been a real bus stop!
But the place I got on the bus and the place I got off the bus both had no real indication that it was a bus stop.
When you see the bus coming, be sure to wave down the bus in an obvious way to make sure the driver sees that you want to get on!
Once again, it will be best to ask your accommodation (or someone else local) once you’re on the ground in the Maldives about exact bus stop locations.
5. The cost of a bus ride is around 10-20 rufiyaa
I got and the bus and told the bus ticket person the area I wanted to go.
My bus ride from Gan Island (near Equator Village resort) to Hithadhoo cost me 20 rufiyaa (around US$1).
I saw other people getting on the bus and paying 10 rufiyaa.
There is an ATM right outside the Gan Island airport, so it’s best to get the local currency there. You’ll also find a number of banks with ATMs in town.
If you’re traveling with cash you want to exchange into rufiyaa, you can do so at the airport too.
6. Pay attention to Google Maps with GPS
First, know a landmark near your destination before you get on the bus.
You can look at Google Maps to find something that looks like something most people would know.
This will be helpful to tell the bus ticket person where it is you want to go.
Then, when you’re on the bus, follow along on Google Maps with your GPS so you will know when to get off.
The GPS locator on your phone will work even if you don’t have data. (It does on mine, anyway.)
I told the bus ticket person that I wanted to go to Addu High School.
I was staying at an airbnb in a neighborhood near there.
7. It’s a pretty comfortable bus!
8. It includes a scenic coastal ride!
Consider it a cheap “around the atoll” tour!
9. The bus will have different operating hours during Ramadan
But there will still be some form of bus service. It will just be more limited.
Exact dates of Ramadan vary by year.
In 2019, it seems to be May 5 to June 4.
In 2020, it seems to be April 23 to May 23.
10. All of this subject to change!
This was my experience and my understanding.
Your experience may vary, and things might change!
HAPPY MALDIVES BUS RIDE AROUND ADDU ATOLL!