Maldives blog

The Maldives has long been known as the ultimate destination to satiate your thalassophile fantasies. The immaculate turquoise waters, the luxurious water villas and the picturesque beaches are all that comes to mind when we think about the Maldives. But can we take a trip to the Maldives on a budget?

With these splendid views come some even more splendid price tags that make travelling the Maldives on a budget look like a distant dream, right?

Often the budget traveller gasps for breath while merely thinking of visiting this idyllic dream destination. But fret not, there are tonnes of ways to travel around this extravagant archipelago without having to break the bank.

Want to know how? Read on below to find out the best ways to explore the Maldives on a budget!

Maldives on budget

How To Save On Flights to the Maldives

Make sure you plan ahead. We have heard this so many times, right? But trust me, this little tip can work wonders.

There are tonnes of direct flights available from the major cities of India. It is recommended to check the prices for a connecting flight against the direct ones, to get a fair idea of the total cost. You can choose to go via Bengaluru, Madras, Colombo from different cities of India.

For instance, if your departure is from Mumbai, you can check the cost of the Mumbai-Maldives flight against the Mumbai-Madras-Maldives flight. More often than not, connecting flights turn out to be cheaper comparatively. Also, keep an eye out for Sri Lankan Airlines and Air India deals that may help you cut the cost tremendously.

Booking cheap air tickets is not as hard as we think. I have personally experimented with some of the tricks. You can learn more about booking cheap air tickets here.  

How To Find Budget Accommodations

So, basically, there two types of islands here: Private islands and public/ local islands.

The Maldives typically encompasses two different kinds of accommodations. These include resort islands (situated on private islands) that house luxury resorts; and the local guesthouses that are built on the public islands which are inhabited by the locals.

The hotels on the public/local islands are cheaper for obvious reasons, and they come in handy when you want to visit the Maldives on a budget. Some hotels/guesthouses are reasonably priced for as low as $30 while the mid-range hotels may range from $80 to $100.

As we are talking about the Maldives on a budget, we are aiming at staying in one of the local beaches or areas near Male, the capital of the Maldives. And remember, the public beaches are gorgeous too, so don’t you worry!

Here are some of our favourite budget accommodation options:

1. Stingray Beach Inn, Maafushi (Less than $50 for a night)

2. Arena Beach Hotel, Maafushi (Less than $70 for a night)

3. Lvis Boutique Hotel, Male (Less than $80 for a night)

4. Kaani Palm Beach, Maafushi (Less than $110 for a night)

If you are a backpacker, you can also check out some great hostels in and around the islands that will cut your accommodation cost in half, while also helping you jam with fellow travellers.

These will cost you anywhere from $30 to $90 depending on the choice of bunk sharing or private rooms. Check Hostelworld for more details.

Principally, if you choose to stay at a hotel or inn on a local island, prepare to shell out about $50-$100 per night. For lodges, try booking with Agoda and Hostelworld. For guesthouses, try Airbnb.

Some of the local islands that are famous among tourists are:

Maafushi: Kaafu Atoll (and the most popular one)

Thulusdoo: capital of Kaafu Atoll

Dhingurah: South Ari Atoll 

Kelaa Haa: Alifu Atoll. 

How to Save Money On Transportation

The Maldives is an island group of 1,190 islands, out of which about 200 are inhabited. When it comes to transportation in the Maldives, the transport options are between local ferries, a speedboat or a seaplane. 

Local Ferries:

This is the best option. The local ferries installed by the government, sails between Male (the main island) and the local islands, not to resorts. 

Most local ferries run for no more than $3-$5. For example, the ferry between Male and Maafushi costs about $3 per person.

However, the ferries run on quite an infrequent schedule so make sure you research their availability beforehand. You can find more information at Atoll Transfer


Now, if you are visiting a resort, taking a speedboat is faster and convenient, as local ferries do not stop at the resort islands. But, contrary to the ferries, these will cost you way more, around $30-$35.

You can, however, work around that by finding the nearest local island and asking to see if a local fisherman will take you across on their boat, and voila, you will save a bunch!

Pro-Tip: There are some companies (for example iCom company) that use speedboats on islands to transport tourists. Depending upon your island, they charge around $20 to $30 per person.  Just like a ferry, these speedboats sail at set times.   

Seaplane or Helicopter

This is the easiest and most expensive option. They are mainly used to travel to remote islands and resorts. It costs about $350 – $500 return per person.

How To Save Money On Food & drinks     


When you are not booking an all-inclusive, the food in the Maldives is affordable. One of the most pleasant things about travelling to the Maldives on a budget is to know how cheaply you could eat!

Most guesthouses have a kitchen you can use. Also, many local guesthouses cook meals for their guests at a nominal cost, with breakfast usually included in the price. It is quite similar to the full-board option in resort islands.

In case the meals aren’t included, you can opt for the local Maldivian food with a mix of fish, curries, coconut and rice, which should save you a bunch. Local restaurants are inexpensive. You’ll find snacks, noodles, stir fry veggies, sandwiches and a variety of meal for about $5-$6.

Note: Restaurants levy a 10% GST and 6% service charge on food. These taxes vary as per the restaurants. Tipping is not very common in the Maldives. 


Since the Maldives is an Islamic state that operates under sharia law, alcohol is strictly banned. You won’t be able to buy alcohol on the local island OR bring any duty-free when you enter the country.

So, if you are staying local, don’t expect a cocktail on the beach or hit any beach bars. However, if you wish to have a few drinks, you may need to plan a day-trip and to head to one of the resort islands.

Things to do / Activities

The Maldives is much more than lazing on beaches and soaking up paradise. If you love the ocean, there’s a lot stored in for you.

Even when you’re in a tight money stitch, there are plenty of activities for budget-conscious tourists to enjoy in the Maldives. You can ask the locals around and guesthouses for the best activities available.

Most guesthouses will arrange fishing trips ($50 per person), or day trips to resorts ($50 per person + $25-$30 entrance fees), island hopping around the atoll ($50 per person). You can also take trips to sandbanks for about $30 per person.

Go surfing: With a plethora of islands around, Maldives has been known to offer some of the best surfing spots in the world. The Jailbreak Surf Inn at the Himmafushi Island and the Cokes surf camp at the Thulusdhoo Island are the best budget-friendly surfing land camps to check out. You can expect to pay around $50 to $80 per night with the stay, with meals and boat trips included.

Indulge in scuba diving or snorkelling: A thriving marine flora and fauna make the Maldives a great environment to go scuba diving or snorkelling. Places in the South Ari Atoll and the Baa Atoll will offer a sweet view of the manta rays while the Cinnamon Resort at the Fulidhoo island is great for viewing various sharks along with the manta rays. It will cost you around $50-$60 that will be included in your stay. 

What Is Expensive In The Maldives?

  • Overwater bungalows and villas
  • Alcohol
  • Speedboat and seaplane transfers
  • Meals at a fancy restaurant

What Isn’t Expensive In The Maldives?

  • Accommodation on local islands
  • Standard rooms in resort islands
  • Ferry transfers to get around 
  • Some of the water sports/ activities
  • Meals on local islands

Travel Tips For Maldives

1. Carry loads of USD: In addition to the national currency of Rufiyaa, US dollars are widely accepted across the country. Running out of money is a real concern as the only ATMs in the nation are in Male, making it a hassle to pay for things at the local islands.

Plus, the Maldivian ATMs charge a hefty $6.50 fee per withdrawal, so, make sure that you carry more than enough and don’t run out.

2. Compare islands: When it comes to budget travelling, you must ensure that you thoroughly compare the resort islands versus the local islands. If you are lucky, you may encounter some great deals on resorts as well.

3. Visit in the off-season: October to April are considered the best and the busiest time to visit the Maldives. This means every place will have higher price rates as well. So, when on a budget, you must visit sometime between the peak and the off-season so as to cut down the travel cost by up to 20%.

4. Book the hotels/resorts prior to your arrival: Pre-booking your hotels and resorts for months in advance will definitely come in handy. You will get some great deals and discounts that you may not get if you choose to book them in person.

5. Pack only essential items: We all have a tendency to overpack, but avoid overloading your bags. Do not carry any religious idols, alcohol, pork or tobacco with you, as they are strictly banned in the country. In addition, ensure you carry all your essentials such as moisturizers, sunscreens, goggles and toiletries to avoid paying tonnes in purchasing new ones.

6. Visa-on-arrivals: For Indians and for all nationalities, there is visa-on-arrivals. It is free.

7. Get a local SIM card: It’s easy and only for $3. If need be, you can top it up with 1GB for an additional $15. However, most guesthouses, lodges and hotels have decent Wi-Fi.

That’s it from us!

Remember, “budget travel” is relative. So, speaking about the Maldives, the same is doable with some planning, flexibility, and a bit of sacrifice! If I have missed anything or you have specific questions, please leave a comment below.

Next Read: “Visit These Countries under INR 60,000

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