When people think of a Maldivian vacation, the word ‘expensive’ immediately comes to mind. Because of this misconception, a majority of the people who want to visit the country think that Maldives is a once-in-a-lifetime destination, a place they can only afford to visit if something very special happens to them.
True, your stay in the best island beaches in the world will be luxurious, but it’s not impossible to enjoy one of the world’s best destinations on a budget.
Others may think that spending your vacation on a budget may not be as fun, but truth is told, some honestly think it’s great too, if not better.
When traveling on a smaller budget, you are forced to do a lot of exploring by foot or staying in a less developed accommodation, allowing you to be closer to nature, which is what the Maldives offers best.
Here are some tips and tricks of the trade on how you can get the best of Maldives without overspending/ripping your bank accounts:
True, it may be a breeze and it may save you a lot of sweat when you hire a travel coordinator. But since you are working within a limited budget, it’s time for you to improvise. What you can do of course is use the Internet to your advantage.
Some travel agencies are generous enough to post their sample itineraries on their websites. There are also a lot of travel blogs out in the open, which you can use as your guide. Coming from there, you can now just tweak the little things, like change the places you want to visit. Just make sure you consult an online map to know whether the changes you made are still doable and not so much of a hassle.
At the same time, you can also research on the best deals in Maldives—what are the best (but cheap) restaurants you should try, or what are the activities you can try for free, which accommodation is a steal?
Again, the most crucial and essential part of your trip on a budget is the research part. When DIY-ing your travel, knowledge is power!
Riding seaplanes may be fancy, but it should be a no-no when you travel on a budget in Maldives. Well, if it’s the experience you’re after, maybe you can spare $500 for a round trip ride and spend less on other things.
Local transport alternatives when island hopping include ferries which cost under $4. As a matter of fact, you can actually travel to the majority of the islands and atolls with these ferries. The only downside is, of course, it goes on a trip a little less frequent and sometimes schedules change without prior notice.
Visiting a resort usually requires you to hire a speed boat, as the local ferries don’t make a stop on private islands. For a 45 minute ride, it would cost you at least $200, which can be a little pricey when you have a budget to keep.
What you can do is be friendly to the local fisher folk who owns their fishing boats. Ask around if any of them would be willing to take you to your destination and it’s between you and your fisherman friend how the ride will cost.
You need to know that there are limited accommodation types in Maldives: Resorts, Guesthouses and some offer bed spaces for a night or two. Since the tourism in Maldives is relatively new compared to others, other lodging types like dormitory-styles or bed and breakfasts are not yet explored and developed.
Having limited choices doesn’t necessarily mean that you are forced to spend more on where you would sleep. Guest houses are great deals. Aside from the fact that they offer you the basics—room, water, electricity, and comfort, you can interact with the locals and have firsthand information about their country.
Some top rated guesthouses offer free breakfast and room service as well. This is as great as staying in a hotel if you think about it. Many also offer services and gear rentals, so that would save you some hassle.
Again, research is your friend. You can also find Airbnb options in different islands.
Since some guest houses got your breakfast covered, all you need to worry about are lunch and dinner. In smaller islands, there are fewer choices. But, more or less, you’ll spend $5-$10 per head per day. For a filling and delicious meal, we think that’s a good deal.
The peak season in Maldives starts in October and the prices of guesthouses increase dramatically. Cheap and worth it guesthouses change their prices at least 40% higher than their original price. This continues until the end of the year when more tourists come to the islands because of the holidays.
It would be best for you (and your pockets) to visit sometime between August and September when the least number of tourists arrive. The only downside is, the weather is more unpredictable, but take your chances. At least you can have a whole island for yourself!
Do what you have to do in Male. Buy some groceries, especially snacks and bottles of water. You can save a lot instead of buying more expensive essentials in the islands.Do not overspend! The only ATMs in the country are in Male, which means if you overspend, you will need to travel all the way back to the city center to withdraw some more.
Pay what you can in advance. Book your accommodation in advance. The guesthouses will occasionally take credit cards, but they’ll also charge you around 4% to do so. We didn’t see anywhere offering cash advances on the islands.
Make use of the free Hammocks. They can be strange but they are very comfortable Make the most out of these free resting nests, especially when you’re tired from a lot of walking and commuting.