The Maldives has always had the reputation of a luxury, island paradise reserved for the wealthy and couples on honeymoon, spending about $1000 per/night. Not anymore! Here’s our Budget Trip to Maldives.
With changes to the law allowing locals to open guesthouses on private islands, there are now plenty of options for the budget backpacker. It’s possible to spend $100 to $200 a day per couple including; a deluxe room; full board meals; snorkeling and other excursions. Obviously, that’s a lot compared to SE Asia, but the term ‘budget’ is relative depending on where you’re traveling! (PS We went to the Maldives before we became Travel bloggers!)
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Here’s our Budget Trip to Maldives!
Jon and I stayed in the Maldives for six days with a budget of $1500 including our flights, a luxurious day in a 5-star resort, a private boat, and water sports such as catamaran sailing, kayaking, and snorkeling. You can have at least a $500 budget per couple if you plan to do a three days/ two nights trip, but read the article to guide you!
Here’s how we did it:
Check the map
The Maldives is made up of 1,192 islands, of which 192 are inhabited by a population of just 328,536. Many of these islands have been developed by the 4 and 5-star resorts for which the country is most famous.
However, local residential islands like Hulhumale and Thulusdoo are seeing an increase in guesthouses offering deals for between $100 to $200 a night. We chose Thulusdoo island – it’s only 1 hour and 30 mins from the Capital (Male) by ferry and is home to two of the most famous surfing spots in the whole Maldives – Cokes Surf Point and Chicken Surf Point. The island is a perfect base camp for snorkeling, fishing, diving, and of course surfing
Book a cheap ticket
Jon and I were already in India, so we looked for the cheapest airport to fly to and from the Maldives. We found a $220 roundtrip ticket from Trivandrum International Airport-which is the Southern-most city in India. It depends on where you’re flying from, but there are always deals to be found if you’re flexible with your travel dates. If you’re coming from South East Asia, then wait for the deals from Air Asia as they started flying directly to the Maldives. However, from Europe, there are increasing direct flights from Germany and UK.
If you can’t find a cheap direct flight then maybe you can book a flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka which is the nearest to the Maldives and the cheapest to fly from.
Book your guesthouse, inn or lodge in advance
There are lots of new guesthouses popping up all over the Maldives which cater to budget travelers. Since Jon was planning on surfing, we chose Thulusdoo Island, which has two famous surf spots – Cokes and Chickens. We found this guesthouse, Askani Thulusdoo, which was newly built a month (February 2014) before our arrival.
We got a great deal with $600 for two people for five nights, including a Deluxe Air-conditioned room; full-board meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner); free Wifi (yes, some guesthouses will ask you to pay!).
There was only one other couple staying there for our first two days, so we had the place to ourselves for much of the trip! Good news! Askani Thulusdoo is now offering meals from their very own selective menu!
Traveling to the Island
If you’re staying in one of the expensive resorts, then you need to travel from the airport by private speed boat or a seaplane, and you don’t want to know how much that costs!
When choosing a guesthouse, check that they have a public ferry used by the residents. We paid just $2 each way from Male to Thulusdoo. Also, check the timings of the ferries as some only go once a day like 3 PM from Male and at 8 AM from Thulusdoo to Male. If you’re not careful with your flight times, you could accidentally lose a day of your trip!
While the Maldives is famous for diving, snorkeling, sailing, and other water sports, Thulusdoo Island is famous for its’ surfing. You can rent a surfboard there, or you can bring your own. (Be aware though, that these are reef breaks and may not be suitable for beginners!)
For snorkeling, as long as you have your mask and snorkel, then you can just walk 5 minutes to the beach where you can see plenty of fish and corals. You can also rent a boat to take you to a snorkeling spot which is worth it for $30- $40 per trip with a maximum of four pax (so if you’re a group of 4 then you only pay $10 per person).
You can also scuba dive, go on a day trip to a virgin island or go sunset fishing. Although it’s highly suggested that you arrange these trips beforehand with the guesthouse, so you don’t have to bargain the price of separate activities when you arrive.
Go on a day trip to any resort – Experience the luxury of a 4/5* resort, without paying $700-$2000 a night!
Jon and I decided to make a day trip to one of the resorts near our island, ClubMed. Instead of paying at least $700/night to stay at the resort, we chose to pay the day trip fee of $120 per person to enjoy the all-inclusive facilities and services, including a snorkeling tour, kayaking, catamaran sailing, and as much food and drink as we could manage! You can check other luxury hotels in Maldives here.
Where to Stay in Maldives
Best Budget Hotel – UI Inn
Best Mid Range Hotel – Holiday Island Resort
Best Luxury Hotel – Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort Gulhi
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