The Maldives has always been an upscale travel destination for having a dream vacation in the Maldives or having an ultra-luxury honeymoon in this beautiful island country. Just say “Maldives” and you can’t help but picture over-water bungalows, pristine waters, and perfectly pure sand. To many people, traveling to the Maldives is an unreachable dream.
What if you could travel to the Maldives without having to stay in high-priced resorts or eating overpriced food?
The good news is that the tourism industry is rapidly changing in the Maldives as the government has recently relaxed its tourism rules which were restricting all tourism to resorts on uninhabited islands.
Abolishing this rule has sparked the growth of guest house tourism. Now, guesthouses are popping up on most of the local islands, offering budget travelers an affordable way to explore the country. Plus more travelers are turning up to the Maldives in search of paradise on a budget.
How much does it cost to travel to the Maldives on a budget? Only about $50 per day! You are likely to spend $30 on your guesthouse accommodation, $10 on food, and another $10 on the activities or island hopping.
In this post, we’ll talk about how to travel to the Maldives on a budget, whether you’re a backpacker who has the Maldives on their travel bucket list or would like to enjoy a luxury Maldivian resort without breaking the bank.
Flying to the Maldives for Cheap
From North America
There is no direct flight from North American cities to Malé, Maldives, So, your best bet would be having a stop in another city on other continents which has direct flights to the Maldives to make your Maldives dream vacation as short as possible. If you live on the West Coast (especially Los Angeles), it’s good to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and then to Malé, Maldives. But if you live on the East Coast (especially New York or Toronto), it’s better to fly to either London or Dubai (depending on which one has a better deal at the time) and then to Malé, Maldives.
There are direct flights to the Maldives from London, Moscow, and Istanbul. If you live in one of these cities, then you’re in luck, otherwise, it’s only a matter of a short cheap flight to London, Moscow, or Istanbul, and then to Malé, Maldives.
From the Middle East
There are direct flights from Dubai and Doha to Malé, Maldives. Depending on which one is nearer to you, you are in for a treat as you’ll find a lot of amazing flight deals to the Maldives from Dubai and Doha.
There are no direct flights from Australia, New Zealand, or other Oceanic countries to the Maldives (you guys have Fiji and Micronesia, just saying!!). The best stops are Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, or Colombo which all have great deals on direct flights to the Maldives.
Best time to visit the Maldives
There are pros and cons to visiting each season.
The island nation is warm and sunny year-round but consists of a dry season and a wet, rainy season.
The best time to visit the Maldives is from November to April for the dry season but it’s also the peak time which means the ticket prices and accommodation would be much more than usual, especially during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The low season is from May to October, and you can often find cheaper deals then – though it’s also the monsoon/wet season. If you’re wanting to do the Maldives on the cheap, consider visiting outside peak season for much better deals.
How to find cheap accommodation in the Maldives
If you’re coming to the Maldives, try staying at both resorts and guesthouses. If you’re on a budget, stay at guesthouses or cheaper island hotels and then splurge on one night if you can somewhere fancy getting a taste for the famous Maldives luxury.
If one night is still too much, you can look for a daily pass to a resort near your guest house which is usually around $50-200 and includes transportation as well. This way, you’d still get a taste of the ironic luxury Maldives.
Booking affordable guesthouse in the Maldives
The Maldives is made up of public islands which are inhabited by locals and private islands which cater to the luxury resorts that not everyone can afford.
As mentioned above, in 2009, the Maldives started allowing locals to start their own guesthouses.
This opened the door for several affordable and locally-owned establishments to welcome guests on the islands. Not only it brought down prices of accommodation all over the island nation but created a valuable source of income for locals. Not only is staying in a local guesthouse cheaper, but it’s also a more responsible travel choice.
If you’re looking to experience the real Maldives, get familiar with the local culture, and save money at the same time, staying at one of these small guesthouses is the way to go.
But keep in mind that these guesthouses aren’t like the $5 per night that you can find in Southeast Asian countries. For $30-60 a night, you’ll receive a clean, modern, and spacious room with air conditioning, a hot shower, free breakfasts, fast Wi-Fi (which is always reliable for remote working) a snorkeling gear, and a bottle of water each day.
Depending on the island, it’s also possible that you may even just find yourself to be one of just a handful of tourists staying there. But be warned, you might never want to leave!!
Some travelers like lying on the beach with a coconut in hand, whilst others like to be a little more adventurous and try the likes of parasailing, surfing, or diving. Each local island in the Maldives is very different. Do a little research to find the island and guesthouse that best suits your Maldives holiday needs.
Many guesthouses in the Maldives have the titles of ‘Ocean View,’ ‘Ocean Front’ or ‘Seaside,’ but be sure to check their real location on Google Maps since some of them are in the middle of the island, not even close to the water!
Some of the best guest house islands in the Maldives are listed below.
Top 5 Best Guesthouse islands in the Maldives
- Thoddoo – Being only 67 km (41 miles) away from Male, Thoddoo is not too far to get to, and there are some incredibly beautiful bikini beaches (what locals refer to the foreigners’ beaches) here and great spots to stay. It’s also one of the only agricultural islands where they grow food for the other islands. Thoddoo Beach View is a recommended guest house in Thoddoo.
- Dhigurah –100 km (62 miles) from Male, Dhigurah is part of the Alif Dhaal Atoll with a local population of around 610. You can still travel there by speedboat. The bonus part of visiting Dhigurah is that it is home to whale sharks all year round. Ufa Escape is a good option to choose as your guesthouse.
- Thulusdhoo – With a population of around 1900 people, Thulusdhoo just north of Male and is considered to be one of the best-surfing islands in the Maldives. Surf Deck is a great place to stay while in Thulusdhoo and surfing.
- Maafushi – Maafushi is the local island with the most guesthouses in the Maldives. Even the first guesthouse in the Maldives opened there, and it’s a popular local island to visit, and there are dozens of guesthouses and even dive centers to choose from. SunShine View is the best affordable guesthouse to book in Maafushi island.
- Guraidhoo – On the beautiful island of Guraidhoo, you have the perfect combination of an authentic experience plus a nice holiday. Close to Malé, you can get there by speedboat or local ferry, and it has its own separate bikini island. Ocean Retreat & Spa is the best affordable guesthouse to book in Guraidhoo.
Booking an affordable luxury hotel in the Maldives
Although most resorts in the Maldives are pretty much pricey, there are still a few affordable resorts that won’t cost an arm and a leg. The main benefit that guesthouses brought was probably making the accommodation rates more competitive in the Maldives.
Reethi Faru Resort Reethi Faru, a stunning, tropical island paradise, where the glistening, crystal clear waters of our house reef meet the lush, tropical foliage of the coconut grove. The best point of this resort is that booking Reethi Faru resort won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Cinnamon Dhonveli Tucked away in the middle of the Indian Ocean are hundreds of breathtakingly beautiful coral islands collectively known as the Maldives. Incredible blues contrast with powdery white sand, creating the perfect setting for a quiet, dreamy stroll. Travelers looking for excitement, romance, or just a break from all the hustle and bustle of their daily lives will not be disappointed. This amazing resort usually has some affordable deals which make this resort a great bang for your buck.
Cheapest ways of transporting in the Maldives
Since the Maldives is made up of 1190 islands and nothing is accessible without taking a ferry or a domestic flight. Avoid the seaplanes if you’re traveling on a budget as they will usually cost around $500 in return for a 20-minute journey.
Local ferries run on a somewhat infrequent schedule but shouldn’t cost more than $2-4 for a three-hour journey. Except for prayer times (which occur five times per day), the ferries to other islands are always operating and leave when full. Be sure to check the timetables as the ferries don’t run every day of the week.
If you want to visit a resort, you’ll have to pay for a speedboat, as the local ferries don’t stop at the resort islands. These speedboats are very expensive thou. To reduce the price, try taking local ferries to the nearest local island, and ask around to see if a local fisherman will take you across on his boat. Island hopping in the Maldives is glamorous, so you would enjoy doing it. However we recommend choosing no more than 3 islands that best cater for your tropical holiday needs, otherwise, the transfers can be really long and boring.
How to dine in the Maldives on Budget
When you’re not booking an all-inclusive hotel, food in the Maldives does not have to be too expensive. Authentic Maldivian cuisine involves a breakfast of sweet and thick milk tea, canned tuna mixed with onion and lime juice, and delicious flatbread called roshi, (similar to Indian roti). Lunches and dinners consisted mainly of fresh fish, mouthwatering curries, more roshi, and buttered rice.
On many islands, you cannot find a lot of restaurant choices, and for that reason, most guesthouses include meals at their nightly rate or at least breakfast. If your guesthouse only offers breakfasts for free, stock up as much as you can to skip lunch and only pay for dinner.
You can also mingle with the locals at daily fish markets where each morning fishermen dock and sell their catch for reasonable prices, and then throw it on the grill at your guesthouse.
If that is still expensive and your guesthouse rate doesn’t include breakfast, bring snacks and protein bars from home. Eat a protein bar for breakfast, skip lunch or have another protein bar, and then only pay for dinner.