The centre of Maldives' independent travel scene, the island of Maafushi has undergone seismic change since the first guesthouses opened here in 2010, and it now has over 50 hotels and guesthouses. It is easily Maldives' most cosmopolitan and progressive inhabited island, and there's a bikini beach and a very competitive diving and excursions market to boot. You can even leave the island to drink alcohol on floating bars just outside the harbour, or take a day trip to one of the many nearby resorts that welcome day guests in search of alcohol, pork and a more relaxed attitude to semi-clad sunbathers.

Maafushi may not be the most attractive island, with only a few good beaches that tend to get crowded, but it's well located for dozens of day trips and, quite frankly, the sheer amount of guesthouse competition keeps prices affordable. Welcome to Maldives for backpackers.