Nilandhoo Island is the largest of the five inhabited islands that make up the Faafu Atoll. In addition to being the largest in term of area, it is also the largest in terms of population (around 1,500 with the total population of the Faafu Atoll only being 2,000) and the capital of the Faafu Atoll.
Located at the southern tip of the atoll, 140 km from the capital of Malé, Nilandhoo is a site of great historical importance.
Thor Heyerdahl, a noteworthy archeologist, excavated a site on the island of Nilandhoo which revealed that at one point, prior to the conversion to Islam, the island was a centre of Hindu worship.
During this time, there were approximately seven Hindu temples on the small island.
More important for the modern day Maldivian is the 800 year old mosque, Aasaari Miskiiy in the centre of the island. The mosque was built by Sultan Mohamed Ibn Abdhulla, who was the man responsible for converting the Maldives to Islam, using stones from the old Hindu temples.
The inside of the mosque is covered with beautiful Arabic scripture. It is the second oldest mosque in all of the Maldives.
Nilandhoo Island has not been commercially developed to the same degree as other islands in the Maldives. Visitors to Nilandhoo Island will be treated to an authentic look at local Maldivian life.
There will be few other tourists, providing ample opportunity to test the local cuisine, and chat with the friendly locals. Many of the people native to the island still live in coral houses, or have thatch roofs.
Visiting Nilandhoo really is a fascinating look into a whole new world. The inn is located right next to the beach, providing all guest with easy access to the sea and all of its possibilities. Finally, the StarFish will organize transfers for all guests from Male as long as they have at least three days notice.
Nilandhoo Island: Accommodation
One of the primary accommodations on Nilandhoo is the StarFish Inn. The inn offers two different types of rooms, a single room, or a double room. Each room comes similarly equipped, the sole difference being the single room only has a single bed while the double has a double bed.
All rooms come with air-conditioning, a garden view, a flatscreen TV, and WiFi. The lobby also has a number of different movies in different languages for guest to enjoy after a long day exploring the island. There is also a pleasantly landscaped communal garden that all guests to the StarFish Inn have access to during their stay.
Nilandhoo Island: What to Do
Obviously, when traveling to an island as unique as Nilandhoo, pretty much everything you do will be different and an interesting experience. Visitors should certainly spend some time just walking around, exploring the island.
Get a taste of what Maldivian life is all about, try the local fare, speak with the locals and soak in the un-commercialized, authentic experience. Additionally, visitors should take a visit to some of the historical sites on the island.
Visit Heyerdahl’s excavation site and learn about Nilandhoo’s and the Maldives’ Hindu past. Take a trip to the Aasaari Miskiiy and admire the beautiful architecture of the structure.
On top of all the historical and cultural attractions on the island, don’t forget that you are still in the Maldives, on a beautiful island in a tropical setting. Head to the beautiful sandy beach and enjoy the waters of the Indian Ocean. There is an area of the beach specifically reserved for guests to the island, where women can sun-bath in bikinis and men can be shirtless (remember as a Muslim nation the Maldives has more conservative dress traditions than most western tourists are accustomed to).
The water around the island is filled with all sorts of colorful sea life, including a number of different varieties of fish, mantas, turtles, and dolphins that guests can observe and even swim right along with. All that sea life makes for great fishing.
The majority of the island lives off of fishing, and visitors can learn to fish in the traditional Maldivian style and catch an number of fish, including large tuna, red snapper, jack fish, sweet lips, and parrot fish. Nilandhoo also offers a number of watersport options, including windsurfing, kite boarding, or wake boarding.
If you ever do run out of things to do on Nilandhoo, you can go island hopping. With so many islands in such a small space, there are many other islands nearby that you can travel to for the day to explore.
Or, if you want a luxury break, there are multiple islands near Nilandhoo that have been developed into luxury resorts, where visitors can go for the day to enjoy the spa, the pools, or any of the other amenities.
Nilandhoo Island: How to Get There
There is a local night ferry every Tuesday and Wednesday fro the North Harbour, which takes seven hours. There is also a speed boat every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday at 13:00 that takes 2.5 hours.