Consider the Maldives. A stunning dawn over the ocean, beaches with only pure white sand, crystal blue waters filled with marine life, and a sunset to die for. That sounds just right, doesn’t it? Contrary to popular belief, the Maldives is an expensive destination for travel.
Let me explain how you can visit the Maldives on a budget!
Essential information to know before you go:
In the middle of the Indian Ocean sits a group of islands known as the Maldives. Sri Lanka is the nation that is closest to us (about 600 km).
Only around five of the more than 100 resort islands provide independent housing.
The Maldives’ official religion is Islam. It means that alcohol is not allowed and cannot be bought on the adjacent islands (the resorts-island offer alcohol). Women should also cover their shoulders and legs. A “bikini zone,” which is normally defined by a fence and allows people to sunbathe, does exist on some surrounding islands. If in doubt, respect local customs by asking. Then, if you’re going to Picnic Island or snorkeling, you can put on a bikini.
How to get to the Maldives on a budget
Traveling to the Maldives on a tight budget can be difficult. The possibility is that finding the cheapest flights can be done online, so forget your chosen airline and travel agency.
The most convenient connections to Colombo, Sri Lanka (Sri Lankan Airlines), or Dubai are often found in Male, the capital of the Maldives (Emirates Airlines). Skyscanner and Expedia are helpful websites for finding flights.
You can look at a whole week’s worth or a month’s worth of flights to compare prices. If you’re coming from anywhere in Asia, Australia, or New Zealand, your cheapest options would be AirAsia to Sri Lanka, then a connecting flight to Male.
But the cheapest alternative to travel to the Maldives on a tight budget is the AirAsia direct flight, which costs as little as US $80 one way from Kuala Lumpur to Male! They started its first flight in April 2022.
You must reserve a flight that lands in Male early in the day in order to board a ferry that will take you to your island.
How to get around in the Maldives on a budget
The Maldives is an island nation made up of 26 atolls. The majority of tourists that value luxury arrive at Male, the main island, either private seaplane or speedboat ($$). On a tight budget, it is possible to travel the islands, though.
First, take a 20-minute ferry ride to the main island Male for $1 every 15 minutes from the airport.
You may walk there in 15-20 minutes or take a taxi ($5) to the main port on the other side of the island. From there, you can take a ferry ($2-$4 per person) to your island. For instance, the 90-minute ferry ride to Mafusshi island departs twice daily.
Where to stay in the Maldives on a budget
Since the Maldives government changed the limitations in 2009, people have been permitted to construct independent hotels and guesthouses on a few islands. Therefore, if you want to stay in the Maldives on a tight budget, stay away from the resort islands and book a hotel or guesthouse on a local island.
You can learn more about the Maldivian culture and people by choosing to stay on one of the surrounding islands.
Would you rather stay in a five-star all-inclusive resort while on vacation rather than going outside to explore the neighborhood, the locals, the people, and the culture? Most definitely not, therefore this is also a chance to experience the real Maldives.
Hotels & Guesthouses start from just $30 per night
On a few islands, you can get a twin or double room in a budget-friendly guesthouse or motel for as little as $30 a night.
Although the less expensive rooms might not be as “good,” most come with a TV, air conditioning, and hot water. Maybe, depending on your priorities.
The greatest locations to hunt for a cheap hotel or guesthouse in the Maldives are on Agoda (one of the best hotel search engines in Asia) and Booking.com.
Both provide a wide range of possibilities and can help you select the “ideal” island.
If you want to live like a local, Airbnb is a great option because they specialize in homestay lodgings or private flats.
I have stayed in Maafushi, an island close by with a population of roughly 2000. The area features a small supermarket, a few restaurants, and a diving shop in addition to a few hotels and guesthouses.
We slept at the White Shell Beach Inn, which was incredibly pleasant and featured both a restaurant and its own own “private bikini beach.” Amazing island that seems to meet all of our needs.
Sunrise Beach, another lovely resort, has gotten rave reviews. Given the price, this hotel appears like a fantastic choice for our upcoming trip to Maafushi island.
Where to eat in the Maldives on a budget
Most hotels and inns provide a hearty breakfast that will fill you up until the afternoon. Excursions like snorkeling or visits to picnic islands may include lunch. Either the few inexpensive eateries on the island, which are frequently open, or one of the hotel restaurants are options for dining.
Fish is regularly included in meals like fried fish, fish that has been grilled with rice, and fish curries. It often costs $5 to $10. Since the Maldives are known for their coconuts as well, you might be lucky to find them in some dishes.
Things to do in the Maldives on a budget
Given that they are home to some of the most diverse marine species in the world, the Maldives are a must-visit location. Most hotels and inns can plan excursions like these:
The majority of snorkeling adventures begin with a quick boat ride to the reef, where you can go snorkeling. There are lots of fish, rays, coral walls, and young sharks that you can see. Since the water is warm, wetsuits are not required. Prices start at $20 and come with snorkeling gear.
Trip to Picnic Island: Exploring a desert island without any inhabitants is a wonderful experience. We’ll spend a few hours on a clean island with stunning white sands and clear waters. Throughout the excursion, lunch is frequently served and brought aboard the boat. The perfect opportunity has presented itself to shoot those breathtaking photos you’ve been admiring while wondering about the Maldives.
A fantastic BBQ meal, the boat ride to the island, and some snorkeling time are all included in the starting price of $25 per person.
Going on a fishing tour could be one of the highlights of your stay since fishing is the primary industry in the Maldives. The main fish would be tuna, barracuda, and sailfish. Some hotels also provide night fishing if you’re feeling very brave.
Depending on the number of individuals, fishing trips go from $25 to $40.
Visit to a resort island – If you’re truly curious about how people from different cultures live, you can pay a visit to a resort island. Prices could range from $25 to $150 depending on the package. As you can see, even if you go to the Maldives on a shoestring budget, you may still feel like a VIP.
The most expensive option includes a day’s worth of meals and drinks at the resort with an all-inclusive pass; the least expensive option only includes access to the resort island.
Dolphin trips and scuba diving are further choices. Please be aware that excursions offered on surrounding islands usually have far lower prices than the packages offered by resort islands. Thus, you are once again saving!