Maldives On A Budget: A Thrifty Guide

When one thinks of the Maldives, one will probably think of its extravagant beautiful beaches. White powdery soft sands rolling into an azure clear blue sea. Following such beauty comes a heavy price tag as well, right? Well, not necessarily true. The cost depends on your goal. For this reason, in 2012, I decided to live out my dream to visit Maldives whilst keeping on a tight budget. Maldives uses Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) as the local currency but accepts the U.S. Dollar (USD) as it is a tourist haven. Be it diving or a getaway with that special someone, there is always a budget that is workable. We could splurge over USD 2,500 for a trip or even go on a budget of about USD 750. Undoubtedly, both are within the realms of possibility according to one’s expectations.

Water walkway leading to the water bungalows situated above clear blue waters
Maldives is well-known for its clear blue waters and beautiful ocean views but did you know that there are over 5,000 water villas in the world and approximately two-thirds of them are found in the Maldives? With over 80 different three-star to five-star-plus private-island resorts, Maldives is the perfect getaway for even the casual tourists.
Image by Fonthip Ward from Pixabay

Splurging In Maldives Is Not An Issue

A luxury trip to the archipelago of Maldives usually encompasses an all-in package. From your flight to transit from the island’s main international airport, Velana International Airport, to a five-star hotel. On the whole Maldives is made up of thousands of islands, each hosting its own private hotels boasting marvellous views, with friendly staff taking care of your needs with a smile. These luxurious trips can cost above USD 2,500 per person or per package for a four-day-three-night stay. However, packages like these include everything, from lodging to food and entertainment. Just get there and enjoy.

There are also leisure scuba diving trips available. Certainly, for those who enjoy the deep blue sea, taking a dive and exploring the underwater world. Just book a trip for a week or two on a liveaboard ship and you’re set. Hence all you need to do is pack your clothes, camera and equipment (if you do own them) and you’re all set. These packages start from USD 2,000. If you’re interested, you can browse through Maldives Holiday Collections for more details.

Keeping To A Smaller Budget

When splurging is not an option, going on a budget is your only choice to live out your dream. You can go to Maldives for as low as USD 750. Therefore, “Don’t let your dreams be dreams”, a famous quote from a meme by Shia Labeouf.

However, unlike the luxurious option, this requires a little more work to get to your destination. Upon arrival at Velana International Airport, take a 15-minute public ferry ride to the Maldives’ capital city, Malé. Depending on your arrival time, you can catch a public ferry at Jetty Number Three in Malé to a few islands along its route such as Maafushi or Gulhi. Imagine public ferry as public buses in a city, but on water. Each way costs about USD 1 – 2. From there, you can head to Maafushi, one of the bigger islands in the archipelago.

Entrance to the small town of Maafushi in Maldives
The Author posing in front of the arch leading to the entrance of Maafushi coupled with statues of manta rays. As of 6th June 2014 the Maldivian government declared all rays, including mantas are listed under the protected species in Maldives.
Image by Author

Prison Island In The South Of Maldives

Yes, you read that right. Maafushi, located some 26 km south of Malé is a prison island. A third of the island is a prison. Additionally, two-thirds of the island is home to a small town with inns and restaurants catering mostly to tourists. Thus, by browsing through Agoda, you’ll come across cheap inns like these for budget stays with easy on the pocket prices. A bed and breakfast at places like Rehendhi Inn costs around USD 40 a night whilst a meal averages about USD 10. Although it’s not a five-star hotel resort on a private island, the island itself is naturally beautiful.

Apart from spending time on the beach taking photos and sun bathing, you can swim in the sea and enjoy its all-year-round warm waters. So what next? What else is there to do on the island? Obviously there are daily trips to the five-star resorts nearby the island. Costs for these trips depend on the resorts and prices are quoted in USD. Additionally these quotations are usable as credit to spend on food, massages and other facilities at the respective resorts and prices may vary between USD 100 and USD 250.

Rehendi Inn reception decorated with seashells and a straw hat on the counter
Seashells are plenty on the island paradise. So much so they provide a beautiful decoration for the reception at Rehendhi Inn but it has now been converted into a restaurant.
Image by Author

Maldives Is Every Diver’s Diving Haven

Maldives is famous for beautiful scuba diving spots and clear blue waters. Instead of burning a hole in your wallet, you can work around this by going on this budget route. Each dive costs around USD 60 inclusive of boat ride, a guide and equipment. Additionally, you can do between one to four dives per day including a night dive. There are plenty of dive centres scattered across the islands to pick from. I would recommend picking one that is closest to the resort you’re staying in to conserve energy for your dives. There was one located close to Rehendhi Inn where I stayed called Maldives Passions Dive Centre. They don’t only arrange dive trips but also conduct diving courses for those interested to get their license.

Coconut trees swaying in the breeze in Rehendi Inn, Maldives
The island is graced with coconut trees all around the island. One can shy away from the scorching sun whilst enjoying the soft salty breeze. This relaxation area is located approximately 100 metres north of Rehendhi Inn.
Image by Author

Be mindful of the two seasons in Maldives. Mid of the year is the monsoon season in the south hence creatures such as whale sharks and manta rays migrate to the north. Therefore, depending on the island location and timing, there creatures are abundant in the seas of Maldives. But towards the end of the year, they can be found in the southern part of Maldives. So, always remember to check the seasons if you want to catch a glimpse of these marvellous creatures.

Don’t Let Your Dreams Remain Dreams

Where there is a will, there is a way. Visiting Maldives while keeping on a strict budget is possible. You just have to keep your possibilities open. A flight to Malé from Kuala Lumpur takes about four hours and costs about USD 320. In summary, you’ll have to scour for decently priced inns or hotels in Agoda to book your perfect getaway.

View of the sea overlooking the beach off Maafushi, Maldives
Some 150 metres from Rehendhi Inn, on the north end of Maafushi Island, lies this postcard-worthy beach, right beside White Shell Beach Inn. It overlooks the expansive Arabian Sea.
Image by Author

The total cost for a four-day-three-night diving trip is approximately USD 750 as shown in the table below :-

FlightUSD 320
Accommodation (divide by two pax)USD 55
Scuba Diving (five dives)USD 300
Public FerryUSD 4
FoodUSD 75
TotalUSD 754
Costing summary for a scuba diving trip to Maldives.

If you've been to Maldives or you're planning to make a trip there, what is your top priority when on a budget?
3 votes

About Shawn KHIK

Wanderlust and gamer, Shawn spent a good portion of his life travelling the world. Enjoys soaking up foreign cultures, gastronomic adventures, and sharing the tales of his travels. Gifted with green fingers, he also ventures into the gardening and nursery business too.

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