How to Visit the Maldives on a Budget
The Maldives, a paradise in the Indian ocean. Thought of as a dream destination by many and associated with the rich/wealthy. What if we told you, you could visit this beautiful country or add it to a backpacking itinerary without breaking the bank?
Lauren Sheppard and her boyfriend went traveling in Asia and found several ways to visit the Maldives on the cheap. Check our Lauren’s guide to visiting the Maldives on a budget with some top tips and advice how you can keep your costs down.
Best Ways to Get to the Maldives
Direct flights into the Maldives from worldwide destinations are expensive. But if you break the journey up you will be able to visit the Maldives for a fraction of the price of a normal flight ticket. When we were leaving Sri Lanka, we had planned to head straight to India. But after looking at flights and realising it would cost £100 each to fly To Kerala, India or £100 each to fly to Male, Maldives and then £50 each from Male to Kerala, we decided to spend a week in the Maldives! Arriving from Sri Lanka or India will save you a lot of money! I recommend using the Skyscanner flight search which generally has the best deals.
Transport & Getting Around
Arriving at Male airport, we had to make our way to the other side of the island to get to the ferry port. Every day there is a ferry at 5pm which will take you from Male to an inhabited island called Maafushi. This ferry only costs 50p because a lot of the locals in Maafushi work in Male and therefore the ferry needs to be affordable for them. This is a lot cheaper than booking private transfers.
Cheap Places to Stay in the Maldives
You might think finding low cost accommodation in the Maldives is impossible, but think again.
Maafushi Island is one of the best places to experience the spectacular Maldives without breaking the bank. Maafushi is a stunning little island which has locals living there, you will get a really authentic local experience and will not spend a fortune staying here. You can also walk around the island in just half an hour!
Remember although accommodation in the Maldives is generally more expensive than the rest of Asia, it's still cheaper than anywhere in Europe!
There are no big hotels on Maafushi island but also a number of guesthouses. Our guesthouse cost £38 per night with breakfast, split that between two = paradise on the cheap!
- To compare prices and reviews, check: Booking.com
Food & Drink
There are supermarkets and restaurants available on Male and Maafushi island which are cheap as the locals need to be able to afford to eat. You can get dinner in a restaurant for less than £5 or even prepared your own ready made food from the supermarkets. The Maldives is a strict Muslim country but in most hotels and resorts they serve alcohol but in Maafushi there is no alcohol allowed.
You need to respect the culture and dress appropriately. However there is a tourist beach where bikinis are allowed. Everyone on this beach will be in their swimwear so you will not get any awkward looks.
I should probably mention that there is a prison on this island but please do not let this put you off visiting. You do not need to walk past it, and in fact when we walked past the prisoners were extremely friendly and would say hello. They honestly are in there for crimes like drinking alcohol, or looking at pornography. They are not harmful in any way.
Maafushi Island has lots of activities available a lot of which are totally free, here are some of my top recommendations:
Snorkelling & Scuba Diving
So Maafushi..... The sand is like white powder, and the sea crystal clear. You can also walk out 50m and there is a reef with stunning marine life. Get yourself a snorkel kit, because honestly, snorkelling in the Maldives is nothing like snorkelling anywhere else in this world. This picture is just a little reef off the beach and you will see hundreds of different marine fish. On diving trips in the Maldives, you are guaranteed to see everything they tell you you'll see when advertising the trip.
We also had two days during the week where a pod of around 70 dolphins swam straight past us. You can see them very clearly from the beach, they seem to put on a show for tourists, jumping out of the water doing tricks. If you are lucky enough to be in the water at the time (like we were once) they will only be about 5m away from you. There are also volunteer opportunities in the Maldives where you can help dolphins and other rewarding programs.
Tours & Island Hopping
If you are still not convinced... there is also a tour company on the island that will offer you the chance to see how the other half live. That's right, you can have a look at the resorts they offer and they will take you by speedboat to your chosen island. These range in prices, we chose to go to an island called vaadhoo, which cost £30 each with free lunch. Oh my, it is stunning!!
What are You Waiting For?
So with flights costing next to nothing if you're already nearby. With guesthouses costing half the price a dorm cost me in Croatia with breakfast included. With restaurants costing around £5 per meal. Free snorkelling. And day trips to islands where people are spending £1000 plus per night costing you just £30 for the day. Why not treat yourself to a trip to paradise?!
By Lauren Sheppard
Looking to book a trip to the Maldives? The following websites are recommended: