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!
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
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Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!