My Favorite 7 Things to Do in Gan Island, Maldives - Understand
Gan Island (a.k.a., Gan) is part of the southernmost island of the Maldives. It's so far south, you are actually on the southern hemisphere (most of the Maldives are on the northern side). Gan Island stands out because it is now easily reachable through three available flights each week, offered by Oneworld airline alliance member, Sri Lankan Airlines, from Colombo. There are rumors that 'an airline known as South African' will also start weekly flights to the island soon.
Gan Island is comprised of a number of long islands, connected by causeways. By Maldivian standards, all these islands are huge. Only two resorts are built on the atoll and the other islands are distinctively local.
Gan Island is often referred to as the Abu Dhabi of the Maldives, especially since many local entrepreneurs and financers come from the area. You will be surprised by the number of Maserati cars and other supercars that appear on this island that has just eight miles of paved roads.
The islands have the friendliest people I have ever encountered. You will be greeted anywhere you go and there is literally no hassle at all. People say hi, but they'll leave you alone if it is not reciprocated.
Keep in mind that the Maldives is a dry country—no alcohol is served on any local island. When you get to a resort, you'll pay the daily use fee ($50 per person) to get access to a bar!
My Favorite 7 Things to Do in Gan Island, Maldives - Get in and Get around
You can use an AAdvantage account Business Class award to fly all the way from the US straight to Gan Island for 70,000 miles. That's quite an amazing value.
Once in town, there are plenty of taxis (most are brand new Prius cars). There is a fixed price that all drivers adhere to that is about $3 per island hop (so a maximum of $12 for the whole drive to the furthest island).
You can also ask locals to give you a lift if you are in the mood to make some friends.
My Favorite 7 Things to Do in Gan Island, Maldives - Safety
I can't imagine that there are any committed crimes on these islands—bikes are unlocked and so is personal property. Some roads aren't illuminated at night so bring enough of a charge on your phone.
One thing to definitely not forget to bring is some aggressive mosquito protection with DEET. There are huge mosquitoes in the area and they will start biting you in seconds after you sit down.
My Favorite 7 Things to Do in Gan Island, Maldives - Connectivity
The Maldives is well connected and the local ISP provides 100 MB connections to most subscribers. The Internet is typically fast, often extremely fast.
The T-Mobile Simple Choice plan now provides free roaming in the Maldives.
My Favorite 7 Things to Do in Gan Island, Maldives - See and Do
Gan Island Beaches and Snorkeling
As with most of the Maldives, natural beaches are rare. Typically, the island just comes out of the water with a minimal mix of hardened corals and sand. The biggest issue is the shallow water depth—the corals grow right along the island. That makes it hard to just go for a swim because the coral depth is unpredictable. Beaches in the Maldives are typically man-made.
The northeastern end of the islands has a nature preserve that has some pretty good snorkeling and very clear water. However, when I visited the area, it had low tides and the water depth was less than two feet above the corals.
Locals use a 'swimming' pool (i.e., a plastic seawater enclosure) as their preferred swimming option, and there is also a bit of a sandy beach. However, the water can often be murky in this spot.
If you negotiate, you will likely get a boat transfer to the little picnic islands in the middle of the atoll for about $40. It offers clear, calm water.
My Favorite 7 Things to Do in Gan Island, Maldives - Eat and Drink
Like its Male island
location at the Male seaport, SeaHouse Addu delivers solid, local Western and Indian creations
Suvadive Cafe is the "Swiss Army knife" of restaurants and coffee shops because the price tag is much more than you'd expect, but the portions are huge (easily enough for two people), and the food is unexpectedly delicious. We tried several dishes and for $10 per dish, you will have yourself a feast.
Even better, the espresso drinks are really good too.
Local Coconut Bars
All along the waterfront, you will see these makeshift coconut bars that usually serve snacks, fruits, and fresh coconuts. Coconuts grow all over the island and this wonderful treat is just 50 cents.
My Favorite 7 Things to Do in Gan Island, Maldives - Stay
Up until 2008, it was illegal to run a guest house in the Maldives. Now, guest houses are permitted and widely available. However, small-chain hotels have typically stayed away from non-resort developments in the Maldives. There are about 500 non-resort rooms on the islands. We chose the Pebbles Inn
, which was a wonderful pick. The staff was fantastic—the room was at the level of the Hyatt Regency and the hotel breakfast and lunch were superb. The Interent was lightning fast as well. The badly equipped bathroom was our only complaint.