The notion that a vacation in Maldives come with a hefty price tag is now being debunked. The Maldives aren’t just for honeymooners and the rich anymore; budget travelers, backpackers, and shoestring tourists can now spend their dream stay among the 26 atolls proud with white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, rich marine life and warm people.

Relatively a young tourist destination, the Maldives opened up for independent travel in 2009. Before, only luxury hotels offer accommodation, which is the main reason why a few can only afford to stay in the country. But as the tourism industry continue to boom and bring economic growth to the country, more and more options are available to make your budget trip to the Maldives as great in a much lesser price.

Here are all the things you need to know to enjoy a budget trip in the Maldives:

Accommodation: Go local!

Instead of choosing to book and stay in luxurious island hotel and resorts, you can always choose to stay in guesthouses offered by the locals.

Five years ago, the Maldivian government finally allowed the locals to open up guesthouses on their islands as an alternative to the expensive resorts. This is especially for budget travelers and backpackers who like to spend more on food and experiences rather than accommodation.

Now, guesthouses are springing up on local islands on a seemingly monthly basis, offering budget travelers an affordable way to explore the country at a much lesser price.

Of course, different rules apply since you will practically be borders and bed spacers. Some reminders to keep in mind include:

– Women must wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees.

– Women can’t wear swimwear unless there is a designated “bikini beach” for tourists.

– Beaches are less pristine.

– Alcohol is prohibited.

Transportation: Take the public ferry!

Maldives' Public Ferry Boat

Photo credit to Huffington Post

Private transfers to your accommodation from Male, the capital city of Maldives, can be very expensive—in fact, one of the most expensive parts of the trip. If you’re not in a rush and more after the experience, using the service of local ferries can potentially save you hundreds of dollars. The ferry from the island the airport is on to Male proper is only $1 USD per person, and its schedule is quite frequent and reliable

Transferring from island to island may be tricky. While they are cheap, they are often sporadic, running at odd times and on alternate days but you can read on their schedule online.

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. One alternative could be to turn up at the nearest local island and ask around to see if a local fisherman will take you across on his boat. With your negotiation and haggling skills, they will agree to bring and fetch you to your destination.

Although it may be tempting, avoid the seaplanes if you’re traveling on a budget. They usually cost around $500 return for a 20-minute journey.

Food: Eat with the locals!

Havaadhulee Bis - Maldives

This type of local cuisine is called Havaadhulee-bis

Upon researching, you will know that food and water prices on resorts were ridiculously expensive. One tip would be to eat where the locals eat. Turn down luxury and expensive looking restaurants.

Taste what Maldivian food’s really like through the local eateries and cafeterias you can find around marketplaces. Some guesthouses also offer food with accommodation.

Activities: Coordinate with your guesthouse!

The cheapest way to go on an exciting excursion is to book it through your guesthouse. Don’t be afraid to canvass for the price difference, though. You can wander into four or five guesthouses and ask for their prices before you make a decision.

Also, check to see what’s included in the price — some guesthouses will include lunch, water, and a soft drink, some won’t include any extras.

Most guesthouses will also arrange fishing trips ($50 per person), or day trips to the resorts ($50 per person plus a $30 per person entrance fee). You can also take trips to sandbanks ($25 per person) and go island hopping around the atoll ($50 per person).

With these tips and secrets, you can afford to spend your dream vacation in the island nation. For real, the Maldives is not just for the rich anymore

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