How to travel to Maldives on a budget | 10 tips

Travel to the maldives for cheap

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Maldives is renowned to be an expensive destination! There is a part of that saying that is true. The most expensive resort charge 15 000$ US/night for some luxury hut on the water. The cheapest resort we found was 200$ US/night which was still out of our budget.

Cam and I spent 10 days in the Maldives and as you know, we are definitely not rich. We managed to pay around 630USD each. That being said, traveling on a budget to the Maldives is certainly possible. You need careful planning and consideration of various cost-saving strategies. Here are some tips to help you plan a budget-friendly trip to the Maldives:

Cost per person overview for 10 days in USD:

  • Accommodations: 250$ (average of 50$/night for both of us, breakfast included)
  • Restaurant/food: 120$ (5$/meal)
  • Activities: 200$
  • Ferries: 60$

TOTAL: 630$ / person for 10 days (without the flight)

1. Travel During the Off-Peak Season:

Choose to visit during the off-peak season (typically May to October) when accommodation prices tend to be lower. However, be aware that this period also coincides with the wet season, so be prepared for occasional rain showers. We talked with a local who said that the weather is actually pretty good all year. This could be an option to considerably reduce the cost of your trip but that would not be my first option.

2. Stay on Local Islands:

Visit the local Island ! What does that means? Well, listen carefully because that is the most important point for a budget-friendly trip to the Maldives. Opt to stay on local inhabited islands rather than exclusive resort islands. This is where the Maldivian local population live. You will find plenty of beautiful guesthouses, budget accommodations, local restaurants and cute coffee shops. They are way more affordable than the resorts. Cam and I paid an average of 50$ USD/per night, breakfast included for some luxury rooms with A/C a few minutes away from the beach. Most Maldives resorts, except for a few, usually occupy one whole island.

Local islands allow you to immerse yourself in the Maldivian culture, interact with the friendly locals, and gain insights into their daily lives and traditions. It also provides easy access to a variety of local activities, such as island hopping, snorkeling, diving, and water sports. We heard that activities offered are a lot cheaper on a local island than the ones offered on the resorts because there’s usually just one company offering activities on every resorts vs many companies on local islands. You might not be in those fancy water bungalows but this is the same beauty, the same water color, the same wildlife for more than half the price. For me, that is a good trade!

The lovely streets of Thulusdhoo (local island)

3. Local Transportation:

Use public ferries (1-5$ USD) to move between islands. This is a cost-effective alternative to speedboats or seaplanes, which are commonly used for transfers to different islands. Speedboats are around 25$ USD one way, depending where you’re going. Keep an eye on the pubic ferry schedule because they do not operate on Friday and Monday. Try to move around any other days of the week to save money.

4. Budget Airlines:

Look for budget airlines that operate flights to the Maldives. Sometimes, you can find discounted rates on flights, especially if you book well in advance. The best time to book a flight would be on a Tuesday around 6 months in advance.

5. Guesthouses and Budget Accommodations:

Like we talked earlier, you should consider staying in guesthouses or budget accommodations on local islands. These options are more affordable than luxury resorts and still offer comfortable stays. It is also a good options to meet other travelers.

6. Eat Local:

Choose local restaurant and street food stalls for meals (Approx. 5 USD per person) . This is often more budget-friendly than dining at resort restaurants. Maldivian cuisine, including fish curry and local specialties, can be enjoyed at reasonable prices. The further you go from the touristy places the cheaper it is. Ask the locals, they’ll tell you where to go!

7. Snorkeling and Free Activities:

Enjoy the natural beauty of the Maldives without breaking the bank. Snorkeling is often free or comes at a minimal cost (10$ US for renting one kit for the day). The best thing would be to squeeze one in your bag from home! Many local islands have beautiful beaches and reefs where you can explore the underwater world from the shore. By the shore of Thulusdhoo, we saw black tip sharks, rays and lots of colorful fish.

Some islands offers beautiful and consistent surf. Especially Thulusdhoo (our favorite island) and Himmafushi. Renting a surfboard is just 15$ USD/per day. Full day activities like snorkeling with sharks and rays or diving cost around 70-100$ US per activity. Every singly one of them looks amazing, choose carefully which ones to do otherwise it’s gonna cost you a lot.

8. Local Experiences:

Participate in local experiences and activities. This might include island tours, cultural events, soccer games, volleyball games and interactions with the local community, providing an authentic experience at a lower cost.

9. Squeeze this destination in a central Asia trip

Just like we did! We were in India and Sri Lanka just before flying to Maldives. Those are cheap destinations to travel and are worth visiting. Once you are in this part of the world it is really accessible to book a flight to Male and travel to the magnificent Maldives. We booked our flight from Colombo (Sri Lanka) to Male 3 months in advance and it cost us 100USD each. For North-American like us, it is a long trip and an expensive flight to go to straight to Maldives, so better make the most of it and travel to another country before!

10. Split the price!

It is an easy thing to say but it is obvious that if you travel to the Maldives with a partner, you cut a lot of expenses in half. Like accommodations, most activities offers discount if you are more then 1 person participating, food, etc. Go find your travel buddy and plan your next trip to the paradise archipelago!

By combining these strategies and tailoring your trip to your budget, you can experience the beauty of the Maldives without overspending. Remember to research and plan thoroughly, and consider the trade-offs between cost and the experiences you wish to have during your stay.

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