Who has not been dreaming about traveling to Maldives? Those Instagram photos showing luxury resorts and ideal beaches make you think that you can’t afford it. But in this blog post, we will tell you how to visit Maldives on a budget.
Maldives is a very beautiful country and it’s such a perfect honeymoon and/or travel destination. Since we both haven’t visited Maldives before, we decided that for this beautiful country and in this blog post, we will give our tips – where to go, where to sleep to in a budget, and more.
After reading this post, we hope that you will be ready enough to visit Maldives on a budget and finally you can tick this country off your bucket list. An additional information why I haven’t visited this trip before during my old backpacker years.. It’s because I skipped a few times because it was little bit outside of my budget.
The first thing that we need to say is you should forget about Southeast Asian prices when visiting Maldives. You will not find $5 hammock or bed in a dorm or even $10 for a room. The prices depend on the season and it can be $30-$40 for a guesthouse. It’s a good thing if you travel as a couple like us ’cause you will be able to split the expenses.
How to get to Maldives
Male International Airport is connected with Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Bangkok. If you are traveling around Southeast Asia, it is easy to find good deals. We flew with Air Asia and a one-way ticket from Bangkok to Male cost us $120 each.
Maldives is Visa-friendly. On arrival, it cost us $40 each and the process only took us 2 minutes to have it for a month.
The official currency is Maldivian Rufiyaa and the exchange rate is around 1$= 15.4 Rufiyaas.
The peak season is from December to April, when it is dry season. The rainy season starts from April to November and prices go down considerably.
Accommodation to visit Maldives on a Budget
There are guesthouses starting from $30-$50 depending on the season. Most of them included breakfast. You can also use AirBnb or an even better choice for your budget, Couchsurfing, to sleep for free with locals and have an amazing experience in Maldives.
How to get from the airport?
A local ferry costs 10 Rfy (.60 USD) and it´s a ten-minute boat ride. Speedboat will cost you 25Rfy (1.5 USD).
– To Hulhumale
You can go here by bus and it will take you 10-15 minutes. The trip will cost you 20 Rfy.
– To Thulusdhoo
Speedboat costs $30 and lasts 30 minutes.
From Male to Maafushi
A local ferry costs 22 Rfy for a 1.5-hour boat ride. The boat’s departure is at 10 AM and 3 PM. And from Maafushi to Male, it leaves at 7:30 AM. Speedboat will cost you $25 and it will last for 25-30 minutes.
From Male to Thulusdhoo
It costs 25 Rfy and the trip lasts 1 hour and a half. Departures are at 3 PM and from Thulusdhoo, departures are at 7 30 AM ( but during Fridays, it leaves at 3 PM).
It´s not allowed in the islands but it’s allowed in the private resorts. You can also have alcohol in the boats near the island where you need to take a small boat to get to the bigger boat. Prices of the beers are between 6-9 USD.
Maldives is a paradise, but if you are working online like us, it isn´t the best place. We had a few problems with internet connection during our stay in all the hotels and guesthouses. Internet was very intermittent!
Quick Facts about Maldives
Is the island of Maldives so beautiful as I see in the pictures? Yes! You guys have to visit! We were surprised about the beauty of the beaches and the colors of the water. We liked them even more than Thailand beaches and one of our favorite places in the Philippines: Palawan.
Maldives is located southwest of India and Sri Lanka. Most of their population are Muslims. It means alcohol isn´t allowed in local islands, only in luxury resorts.
Where To Visit
This local island is popular for surfers. It´s very small, quiet, and beautiful. It´s full of guesthouses too where you can sleep from $30-$100 depending on the hotel and if it includes meals. It´s great to be respectful with the locals and wear appropriate clothes to walk around outside bikini beaches.
You can surf, rent a kayak, do snorkeling, and experience day trip in the sandbar here. Most of the guesthouses and hotels offer food and there are a couple of places to eat in the island. There’s Contagious Pizza where prices are around $10. And there is a local restaurant in the ferry port where prices start from $2 to $3 for a local meal.
The island is perfect for walking around, swimming, taking pictures, relaxing, flying the drone, and of course enjoying the sunsets.
Where to Sleep in Thulusdhoo
We stayed in a few places and we recommend all of them in different budgets.
Luxury Budget-Mid Budget
This is the biggest hotel in the island with an amazing rooftop pool. The beach near the hotel isn´t Bikini Beach so you have to be careful and respect the locals. It´s just a couple of minutes walking to get to the Bikini Beach. Season Paradise sells tickets for the speedboat going to the airport.
The food was really delicious and we tried Maldivian dishes and also some Western choices. The room was big with a balcony and it had all the comfort we needed- from toiletries, tea, and coffee in our room. The views to the beach were amazing, too!
It´s very close to the ferry port, just 2-3 minutes walking distance. Click here if you want to book.
This place is really nice because it’s next to the beach with hammocks, tables, and a very welcoming place. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Their rooms are clean, spacious, and have nice views to the beach.
The food was delicious! There were tasty pizzas and pasta dishes. All the dishes are Western and we loved the coffee so much!
It´s located 5-minute walking distance from the ferry port.
However, we had a small problem renting a kayak since the kayak was broken and the row too. We went to Chicken island but on our way back, it was little bit wavy and the kayak capsized with very bad consequences for us losing all our travel gear.
** Ismail (the owner of Canopus Retreat) informed us that the kayak was replaced. We were happy to hear because what happened to us also happened to people a week before 🙁
If you want to enjoy in Canopus Retreat click here.
It´s a very quiet place with a playground where you can have meals and juices plus you can just relax there! This is a great option if you’ll visit Maldives on a budget.
The rooms are big enough with a private bathroom, TV and air conditioning. It´s just one minute walking distance to the beach and 5 minutes to the port. If you want to stay here, click the link to book your staying.
We really enjoyed our time in Thulusdhoo. The place is quiet, beautiful and it offers different plans. You can click here, to check other places for staying in the island.
A few shots walking around Thulusdhoo:
This is one of the most popular destinations to visit Maldives on a budget. The place is really beautiful and most of the people are around bikini beach.
There are many day trips for snorkeling, diving, and also watching sharks. There are also a few restaurants where you can have a meal starting from $3-$5.
Like the other mentioned islands, alcohol is not allowed here but there is a boat where you can have alcohol.
If you want to book places to sleep, click here to get the best deals. We stayed with our friend Ayoub that we met through Couchsurfing. As always the experience was amazing. We enjoyed a lot with him, we learned many new things about Maldives, about Lebanon his country and we joined to his plans in the islands. We did taekwondo with him and we met a few people while doing the activity.
This is another place to visit on a budget, where you can come by bus from the airport or by local ferry from Male. It’s just a 20-minute boat ride for just 5 Rfy (0.33 USD).
The beach has a mix of locals and foreigners. We really loved the sunrise in Hulhumale. There are few places to eat local food on a budget and also other kind of restaurants. The place is really nice to walk around!
You can get boat trips for snorkeling, visiting luxury resorts and also do other water activities. It´s very quiet and the beach was full of life!
Where to Sleep in Hulhumale
We stayed at Plankton Beach with nice view from the balcony to the beach. It’s a great place to sleep on a budget and it includes breakfast on the beach. The staff was helpful and gave us good recommendations to move around Hulhumale and Male. Click here, if you want to check prices.
Food in Maldives
Prices were on a budget (affordable) comparing with the prices of the country.
You can get snacks for 2-3 Rfy ($1=15,4 Rfy). It´s very usual for locals have tea with these snacks. And rice with fish curry for 25 RFy where they will give you a kind of chips for free, perfect for sharing with the food. Most of the dishes have fish and curry but you can also find chicken.
More prices: a bottle of water for 10 Rfy; cookies and small snacks 5-10 Rfy; Ice cream 20-25 Rfy.
Foreigners’ meals cost $7-$10. It’s mostly pizza and pasta. There is also Chinese food for $5-$6 per dish.
There are many different tours and the activities start from $15 to $50 depending on the duration. For $15, you can have half a day trip including snorkeling or visiting a sandbank. For $30-$50, you can enjoy diving, watching sharks, dolphins, manta rays and spending the day island hopping with lunch included.
Visiting Luxury Resorts?
Visiting luxury resorts on a budget? I think that is kind of impossible in Maldives. It´s not cheap but there are tours for $100 where you can spend the day in a resort if that´s your dream. If you followed all our tips going on a budget in Maldives, why not give yourself a luxury treatment for a day or two, right?
Let us know in the comments if we forgot any nice place to visit Maldives on a budget and if you have questions for your next trip to Maldives.