The Maldives can be a lovely place if you’re young and single or even traveling with friends.
It can also burn a hole in your travel budget very quickly, especially if you’re backpacking and trying to ration money before you hit, or are coming from, the expensive European states. At the same time, if you love scuba diving or even just a tropical paradise it is hard to pass up the chance to visit the Maldives. So, can you travel Maldives on a budget?
Our advice is to make your trip to the Maldives short and sweet.
To justify the plane ticket, you need to depart from someplace close. Sri Lanka is the perfect staging point for a Maldives on a budget trip and an excellent place to spend a few weeks before or after. The flight takes just 1 ½ hours from Colombo to Male (the capital of the Maldives) and Sri Lanka offers a great mix of culture, mountains, beaches and jungle safaris for incredibly cheap prices. In fact, you could probably spend two weeks in Sri Lanka and spend the same amount you would in the Maldives over three days at a resort.
So, how to travel Maldives on a budget?
Here are our top tips on how to experience the best of Maldives on a budget.
1) Make the trip short
3 days and 2 nights will give you enough time to soak in the beautiful sun and sand an allow you to go scuba diving on day two. Just remember to plan enough time between your dives and your flight out (between 12-18 hours). Make sure to check out a flight compare website to get the cheapest flight.
2) Stay in Male
The capital of the Maldives is anything but an exciting party destination. However, if you are low on cash and time it may be your best option. There is no alcohol allowed in the Maldives, except on resorts and only for tourists, so you won’t find a club scene on Male. What you will find is accommodation for under 100 USD a night and a number of dive centers offering daily dive trips. The boats are a great place to meet new people, and since everyone is in the same situation as you on Male most people are eager to meet for dinner afterwards. If you are craving a beer, you can always take the 5-minute ferry over to the airport island and drink at its hotel.
3) Book a stay at these accommodation spots in Male under US $100 per night
Lonuveli is carefully situated on the beachfront in Hulhumale, which is a surprisingly short distance from Eastern/ Hulhumale beach. Better yet, it is also 1 km from Ferry Terminal Park. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, and an on-site snack bar!
At the guest house, all rooms have a terrace. The rooms include a private bathroom with bathrobes, while some rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also feature sea views. All rooms at Lonuveli have air conditioning and a safety deposit box.
- Malahini Kuda Bandos Resort
- Offering an incredibly luxurious day spa and a private beach area, Malahini Kuda Bandos Resort is located in Male City and a definite piece of paradise. The resort also has an exclusive hot tub and water sports facilities, cycling areas and a tennis court. Guests can also enjoy a meal at the restaurant. This accommodation offer has also been rated as a top couple’s destination, having a 8.9 rating for a two-person trip.
- The White Harp Beach Hotel
- Situated in Hulhumale, The White Harp Beach Hotel offers beachfront accommodation 200 m from Eastern/ Hulhumale beach and features various facilities, such as a restaurant, a shared lounge and a garden. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace.
- Ripple Beach Inn
- This modern accommodation is known for only being a 15 minutes’ drive from Male International Airport. Guests can enjoy BBQ facilities and a variety of on-site water sports. An array of activities can be enjoyed on site or in the surroundings, including fishing, diving and windsurfing. The property offers free parking.
Situated in Male City this budget-friendly accommodation is perfectly placed as it is nearby many of the local parks! Better yet, this location has an on-site restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. There is also evening entertainment and a shared lounge.
Often referred to as “Your first stop in Maldives” this accommodation offers amazing, air-conditioned rooms and a garden. At the guest house, all rooms also come with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen and towels.
4) Day trip to a resort
If you want to experience a Maldivian resort you can always take the short ferry ride to Bandos Island (15-20 mins). It is usually filled with a mix of singles and travelers on short trips from Sri Lanka. It is also one of the cheaper resorts in the Maldives so you could even splurge for a night or two if you want. Don’t forget to grab a well-deserved, if overpriced, mojito.
5) Travel like a local
It goes without saying that transport in the Maldives isn’t cheap – much like most of the island. If you’re looking to explore more of the area, we highly suggest taking one of the local, state-owned ferries. Not only is it incredibly efficient and a quick way to get around but it’s more affordable than any other of the transport options that are available to you. The tickets basically cost nothing, and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the delightful sunshine and the playful dolphins that often swim alongside the ferries!
6) Get a local Maldives number
A hefty expense that most travellers forget is the fact that internet roaming costs are crippling. From the moment you use the internet on your phone outside of Wi-Fi hotspots you are doomed to pay hundreds – all in a matter of minutes! Become a savvy traveller and go and pick yourself up a local pay-as-you-go SIM card at the airport once you land! The best part is that they are super affordable and normally include plenty of data, in fact it’s generally more than enough to last you for a couple of weeks. In the event that you run out of data you can easily top up in the atolls that can be found throughout the Maldives.
6) Dining in Maldives on a budget
With all of the adventures and sightseeing you will most likely wrack up quote the appetite. Now, it’s important to note that many dining experiences in the Maldives can be surprisingly expensive if you’re not careful. Your best bet in this case is to opt for accommodation where you can take advantage of their in-house dining options. Many budget-friendly places offer all-inclusive options for a little bit more money but it’s so worth it in the end! This way, you don’t need to worry about finding places to eat outside of where you are staying!
That being said, if you’re looking to venture around to different islands in order to fully immerse yourself in the Maldivian culture, then you are in luck as Male has many delightful, well priced restaurants. You will generally notice quite a few inexpensive fish-based dishes on local menus because fish is usually caught by the local fishermen that morning.
We also highly recommend feasting on the national dish of the Maldives! It is called Gulha, and it is a flavourful deep-fried pastry ball filled with smoked fish. It is often served with desiccated coconut and onions.
Keep in mind that the Maldives is a Muslim country. This means that if you’re hoping to indulge in either alcohol or pork, you will be fresh out of luck.
Going to the Maldives on a budget is totally possible and this blog is all the proof that you need. Simply save this blog and use it as a guide when you book your adventure to the Maldives!