How to Do Maldives on budget?
When you think about Maldives, you might picture yourself chilling outside an overwater bungalow while looking out over crystal blue water and hotel staff serving a Pina Colada.
It’s the epitome of romantic luxury.
And it costs hell lots of money. Resorts are too expensive and moreover there is no cheap transportation to resorts.
For so many people, this country is an unreachable dream.
But what if we tell you that you can easily experience Maldives for less than the price of a night at a luxury resort?
Yes! It wasn’t until we booked a flight to Maldives and started researching on options to do it cheap. We at low cost travellers take it as a challenge to do super expensive countries on a budget 🙂
While Maldives is known for their luxury resorts, it is very much possible to enjoy an affordable trip to this paradise.
Need budget tips for other expensive country. Read our guide here “Iceland on Budget“
We spent 450 USD for our 4 days trip to Maldives (all inclusive – Activities, Food, Accommodation, Transportation).
Cost break down:
- Accommodation: 90 USD (3 nights @ 30 USD PP per night)
- Experiencing Lavish Resort (full board): 130 USD
- Activities (diving, snorkeling, banana boat, sailing, fishing): 100 USD
- Food: 90 USD
- Local Transportation / Ferry Rides: 40 USD
Here is how we did it.
1) Accommodation: Go Local
Staying on a local-inhabited island instead of a lavish resort is perhaps the best advice we can give to those who want to experience Maldives without doing too much damage to their wallet.
It’s not only cheap to stay in the local main islands but also you will experience true Maldivian culture here as compared to when staying in a resort. Also, when staying in a resort, you will be stuck to one resort as each island is one resort and you will be restricted with your travel options.
There are two main islands of Hulhumale & Male where you can find cheap accommodation. This is where you will set foot in Maldives for the first time, as practically all visitors arrive at Male International Airport.
We stayed in Hulhumale @ 30 USD per person per night (including breakfast) in a guest house on a double room occupancy.
We would say it was a very good stay for the price we paid. Beach was just 2 min walk from our place, many local food options to choose from and our guest house staff would cook for us customized meals as per our desire for a very reasonable price.
2) Experience a Lavish Resort
Maldives is known for 2 things: its crystal clear blue water and its resorts. So if you come to Maldives and don’t visit a resort, you might not do justice to your trip.
There are 2 options to do it cheap.
Option 1. Book a night in any nearby resort from the airport. This will help you to avoid expensive ferry or inter-island flight cost. There are many options available at a reasonable cost (for as low as 80 USD for 2 people) even in lavish resorts. Of course, don’t expect a water bungalow at this price.
Some resort options to stay at cheap price are Ayaana Lodge, Coral Retreat Maldives.
Option 2. Booking a day trip to a resort. Many tour operators in Male or Hulhumale will offer you a day trip to nearby lavish resorts (all inclusive).
We booked a day trip to Club Med Kani for 130 USD including everything: ferry, three 5 course meal, unlimited drinks etc.
Additionally, you also get to experience all the free activities that are offered by the resort to its guests such as snorkeling, sailing, banana boat ride etc.
It was more than worth the money we paid for.
Staying in the main islands comes with other benefits such as booking activities for a reasonable price. You can do activities for half the price what you would pay in a resort.
We booked scuba diving with Ocean Junkies for 45 USD/dive (including guide, full gear, transport, snacks). You can’t get a better deal than this in Maldives. We would highly recommend this company. Their staff/owner treats you like their own family.
Other activities such as snorkeling, sailing, banana boat ride, you can do for free as mentioned above by choosing an all-inclusive day trip to a nearby resort.
You will find very cheap food option in the main islands of Male and Hulhumale. You can get a 3 course meal in the main islands for the price of a water bottle in a resort! Yeh, it’s that much cheaper. For 10 USD you can have a 4 course dinner by the beach. And of course the true Maldivian delicacies can be found in local islands more easily than in resorts. Another reason to stay in the main islands over a resort. High five 😎
5) Local Transportation
Let me start by quoting some of the rates you would pay if booking yourself in a resort. 280 USD PP for a 45-minute speed boat ride 2 ways, 500 USD for a 20-minute sea planes. Yes, cheap transportation to a Maldives resort is a myth. Instead, if you want to do island hopping without paying a bomb, we would say, stick to local ferries.
They run on a somewhat infrequent schedule but still wouldn’t cost you more than $2-$5 for a three hours ride. Ferry from Male Airport to Male costs $0.6, from Male to Maafushi $3, from Maafushi to Fulidhoo $4, from Maafushi to Guraidhoo $2. Even taxis in the main islands are fairly cheap.
Hope we have convinced you now to visit Maldives. No more excuses that it isn’t a budget friendly destination 🙂 . If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to us.
If you need more inspiration read our fellow bloggers tips to do Maldives on Budget