With over 1,190 islands, Maldives is an island country located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of India and Sri Lanka.
With its white beaches and turquoise waters, a wealth of marine life, and exotic bungalows perched above the ocean, this is a must visit for luxury honeymooners, and is home to some of the most incredible 5 star hotels in the world.
Maldives can be an incredibly expensive vacation, though things have been improving for budget travelers since 2011, and you can definitely keep costs down if you know how.
Traveling to the Maldives on a budget? Use these tips for staying within your budget.
Budget Friendly Maldives: How to Keep Costs Down in The Maldives
Travel in the Off-Season
The Maldives is a magnet for travelers between November to April, which is considered high season, and when prices are at their most expensive. Though the islands are hot and sunny all year round, with temperatures 23 – 31 degrees celcius.
Off season between May to October can be ideal for budget-conscious travellers as costs are less; you’ll find great deals on flights, hotels, and there are many package options too, typically the most budget friendly are booking a Maldives Package from India.
Keeping in mind that off season sees the arrival of the monsoon, many resorts and airlines offer massive discounts of up to 40% during this time. It does mean you’ll have to deal with more rain, though it tends to pour heavily and clear up quickly.
There are perks to off season that go beyond the prices, including fewer tourists at the beaches and more intimate numbers for experiences like scuba diving trips you may book.
In June, whale sharks that come to feed on the plankton in the water, July sees huge waves which are great for surfers, and these are both great transitional months to visit, before the wettest months in August, September, and October.
Staying on a Local Island
A stay on a local island is the best option to explore the Maldives on a tight budget.
There are approximately 200 islands that are inhabited in the Maldives archipelago, and ninety of them are built as privately-owned tourist resorts that are extremely expensive.
Since 2009 the Maldivian government has permitted locals to establish guest houses on islands to serve as an alternative to expensive resorts. Maafushi was the first island in the Maldives to offer guesthouses and is an excellent location for those looking to save money.
Booking a guesthouse or hotel on a local island means you won’t receive luxurious resort amenities, however you will get to experience Maldivian tradition, food, and culture and access local ferry services and public transportation for exploring the area.
Thulusdhoo, Maafushi, Dhiffushi, Huraa, Himmafushi, and Hulhumale and Thulusdhoo are the best places to go in the Maldives for the cheapest lodging. And you can still take advantage of water sports like parasailing, Jet Ski, or diving.
Group Travel is another excellent way to travel around the Maldives within your budget since you can split the expenses. Obviously, the more people you travel with, the cheaper it will become for things like transport, hotels, and food.
Make sure to arrange excursions with your group and that transportation costs are shared among the group instead of being imposed on the individual on a per person basis (ie ask for a group cost).
You can also opt to stay in private homes, where you could find a great deal on the entire house when you travel with groups.
Plan a Day Trip to a Resort Island
Luxury hotels in the Maldives can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars for a night. But you can still visit some of the islands for a day trip even when you stay on a local island.
This allows you to experience the life of the rich and famous for a day, and even grab some of those Insta-famous Maldives shots from famous resort islands.
At a fraction of the cost of a stayover, you can enjoy all-day access to some of the Maldives most luxurious resorts as well as free-flow drinks, breakfast, buffet meals and all-inclusive excursions like snorkeling, swimming, and paddle-boarding.
Many private resorts offer tours that range from $100-$150 US depending on the duration.
Opt for Local Transport
Your transport will be one of the most expensive parts of a holiday in the Maldives, and transfers from your accommodation to Male are expensive when booked by your resort or hotel.
However, if you’re not in a rush, taking local ferry services or shared speed boats could help you save thousands of dollars.
Speed boats and public ferries typically only operate once per every day, on alternate days; however they’ll not cost more than $5 each way.
There aren’t any ferry services on Fridays that connect Male to the other islands, apart from Hulhumale, as it’s the day of rest. However, you can go online to find the various ferry schedules as they usually depart at multiple times based on the island you’d like to visit.
There’s also the option of using either a seaplane or speedboat. If you decide to go with the speedboat option, you’ll be charged $25-35 one-way, whereas flying with a hydroplane costs between $200 and $500 per person.
Spend Money Wisely on Activities
A Maldives Trip isn’t complete without experiencing some type of water sports such as surfing, sea diving, or snorkelling.
Many resorts offer non-motorized water activities for free; however, they do charge for special actions like scuba diving. If you’re staying in guest houses within the local area, local operators offer these activities at reasonable costs.
Every snorkelling excursion costs about $30, and an open-water diving class will cost about $500, depending on the location you stay in.
Because each Maldivian island has an in-house reef, you can hire snorkelling equipment and dive into the underwater world without joining a specific excursion.
If you’re serious about surfing or diving, make sure to stay in a hotel with an in-house surfing or diving centre.
Enjoy Food Like a Local
In addition to the expensive Maldivian hotels and resorts, there are cheap restaurants and cafes on every island that serve delicious meals, heavily influenced by a mixture of Arabic, Indian, Sri Lankan, and Oriental flavors.
Coconut and fish are the most popular ingredients in Maldivian food. Most guesthouses in Maldivian have a restaurant that serves classic Maldivian food at less than 10 dollars.
In larger islands such as Maafushi, several local eateries aren’t as expensive as the guesthouse but have more options.
Book All-inclusive Package Deals
The Maldives is among the most beautiful islands in the world, and because it’s in such high demand, there are many options for all inclusive package deals. These often include your flights, hotels, food, and activities for fairly competitive prices.
For instance, Maldives Packages by Thrillophilia include all-inclusive services like airport transfers and local sightseeing, accommodation and meals, drinks, and all of this can save you money on additional costs.