There are about 1200 islands in the Maldives and only 300 of them are inhabited, either by locals or by resorts. So chances to find a real desert island here are quite good. Mind you, I am still very excited when I arrive at beautiful Maafushivaru and am told that I get to spend a night on my very own, very deserted island.


My first trip to the Maldives and I am like a kid in the candy store. Humidity greets me at the airport and the surrounding water is the most turquoise I have ever seen. And that is just the airport! The excitement doesn’t stop here because the first item on my Maldives itinerary is a flight with a seaplane.

I can hardly contain myself and seem more excited than the kids that are on the same plane with me. The crew wears flip flops and aviator sunglasses, looking appropriately cool and the Maldives, well, they also look like they are supposed to and I cannot stop taking pictures from the air.

We arrive at Centara where my transfer boat to Maafushivaru awaits. I get the best arrival with several baby reef sharks already circling around the jetty and I realize quickly that shoes are strictly optional: even in the lobby and the bar, the floor is covered with sand.

My room has its own porch with a cozy day bed and is only a few meters from those little sharks. And no surprise – the water is even clearer here. I decide to celebrate my arrival with a snorkel followed by an outdoor shower and a nap before I explore the rest of the resort.

While the rooms and the common areas are spacious and comfortable, Maafushivaru’s main appeal lies in its location and the water-related activities they offer. As if baby reef sharks aren’t great enough I get to go on a whale shark safari the next day.

Educating their guests about marine life is important to the resort and so they don’t offer things like stingray feeding. For our safari, we have our personal marine biologist on board and get a detailed briefing beforehand. Touching or flash photography is strictly forbidden when snorkeling with whale sharks!


Unfortunately, we aren’t lucky and the whale sharks are hiding. But we still get to snorkel and within a minute I see a turtle, unicorn fish, and many other amazing creatures – I think the Maldives and I will get along just fine, whale shark or no whale shark!

When I return to Maafushivaru it is time to pack my overnight bag. Or in my case my backpack, my snorkel equipment, and my camera bag – desert island essentials of a travel blogger!

The dhoni takes me to Lobuno, a tiny island a few minutes away from the resort. A lone heron is waiting for me on the jetty and that’s it for company. After Larissa, the lovely front desk manager has shown me my cottage, she leaves a cell phone with me with the resort’s number and takes off. I am all on my own on a desert island in the middle of the ocean.

What does one do on a desert island when finding food and shelter isn’t necessary? I set off to explore and circle the island which takes a little over five minutes. Enough time to almost get attacked by a nesting bird and so vow to cut inland next time and rather play with the bats that are soaring over my head (I love bats and wish I could have a pet bat!!).

I decide to go snorkeling but get completely spooked by a triggerfish. After having my fin bitten once I try to avoid them whenever I can and so I cut my snorkeling session short and decide that it is time to take some selfies. A chance to indulge in such a rather silly looking pastime is rare and I go all out. Pretend meditation on the beach while I actually think about what’s for dinner? Of course! Lounging in the sand pretending that it is comfortable? Coming right up!

After sunset, I realize that I am not alone anymore. My 3-man dinner team has arrived to create a lavish BBQ feast for me. By the time I have had a shower and returned to the beach they have set up a romantic table, torches and a buffet. The size of the buffet makes me ask them if they know that I will be dining on my own. They do and don’t mind, I feast on prawns and steak surrounded by some crabs that look happy to have escaped tonight’s menu.

After dinner, the chefs bid me good night and I am all alone again. It starts to rain and I do the one & only thing one can do when stuck in the rain on a deserted island: I do naked handstands on the beach under the watchful eye of the heron which has returned. It feels oddly liberating and all of a sudden I can appreciate the saying ‘dance like no one is watching’.

I decide it is time to go to bed and indulge in some good old Netflix (thank god for the local SIM card that has me connected even in the middle of nowhere!), after all, I need to get up early for my deserted island sunrise.
Once I am in bed I am starting to feel a bit alone… The generator is humming and reminds me of Lost and I realize that I am literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by water and all by myself. A slightly unnerving thought – and I am happy to know that there are some friendly bats circling the sky above the island.

To be honest, I am not sad when morning dawns. I quickly get up and make my way to the beach to film the sunrise. Luckily east is not where the mean nesting bird lives. After I have done all of my shots I retire to the swinging couch to read and have coffee.

Breakfast arrives again by boat which unfortunately means that my omelet is cold by the time I get to eat it. And while I was a bit lonely on my own during the night with breakfast visitors arrive. Maafushivaru offers excursions to Lobuno for all their guests and my so my little island paradise is anything but deserted after a couple of hours.

I decide that I don’t want to share and head back to Maafushivaru. Here I am greeted by the group of baby reef sharks and no triggerfish. I spend my last day snorkeling in their company.

While it was definitely a great thing to tick a night on a deserted island off my bucket list, I prefer to have some company. Even as an innate solo traveler it is just nice to have at least a few little sharks around.

Stranded? Things to do on Lobuno (or any other deserted island for that matter):

  • Play Robinson and talk to something you usually wouldn’t talk to. A bird, a bat, a coconut – anything will do.
  • Swim naked. And then run around naked to dry off.
  • Do cartwheels or handstands on the beach in the rain even if you suck at them.
  • Have a romantic dinner on the beach whether you are alone or have company.
  • Get up early to watch the sunrise even if you are a night owl.
  • Take silly selfies – come on, nobody is watching!
  • Reenact scenes from Lost. Are you team Jack or team Sawyer?
  • Look at the stars and the ocean. You don’t have to meditate but it is nice once in a while to sit very still and appreciate the beauty of this world.

Keen to spend a night on a deserted island? Maafushivaru can organize a night on Lobuno for honeymooners or curious solo travelers. Just ask them when you make your booking.

Thank you to Maafushivaru for this amazing experience and for all the baby sharks!

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!