How to Visit The Maldives on a Budget
The Maldives may be the land of exotic private islands, overwater bungalows, and five-star underwater restaurants, but that doesn't mean you have to be a true millionaire to visit them for a week.
It is possible to visit the Maldives on a limited budget, although it requires a bit more planning and research.
But remember that the budget will be relative.
What is considered low budget in the Maldives would still buy moderate to high vacations in a more affordable destination like Vietnam or Indonesia.
However, you can still find great rooms for under $ 80 a night.
Located in the Indian Ocean, south of India, the most expensive cost to visit is probably the flight.
If you are visiting from the US, it will take you at least 19 hours to get there, and even twice as long if you are flying from a small town on the west coast (regardless of time zones).
One of the reasons the Maldives is so small is that people tend to hang around a bit to justify the long flight.
However, if you're willing to travel midweek and visit outside of peak season (thus avoiding December through March), you'll likely find flights to New York starting at $ 800 roundtrip.
Hotels are much cheaper between July and October, which is the Maldives monsoon season.
Room rates can be less than a third of the cost of the same room during peak season.
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How to save money on hosting
Aside from your flight, your hotel or resort is sure to be the most expensive item line of your vacation.
While the Maldives used to be mostly luxury resorts, in recent years hostels have rented rooms.
The cabins can be two, three, or four-star rooms on the local islands, or they can be one or two bungalow-style rooms run by a close family.
They may have restaurants and bars, or they may include a home-cooked dinner every night. They are always more affordable than the larger complexes.
If you are trying to spend less than $ 100 a night on lodging, you can do so at a guest house.
Experience the Azoush Tourist Guest House on Baa Atoll, with basic but clean rooms and a short walk from a white sand beach.
Rooms start at $ 70 for double occupancy including breakfast, and full-board packages are also available.
You can also try the Kuri Inn in South Ari Atoll, where rooms start at $ 60 a night, also with breakfast.
Dinners are common style and are prepared in the family kitchen.
Be sure to check out Airbnb for small inns, like the colorful Beach Villa Ukulhas, for under $ 70 a night.
If you're dedicated to staying at a resort, stop by the overwater bungalows and private pools (and luxury glamping bubbles).
As almost all resorts are on small private islands, you will always be within easy reach of the beach.
Basic rooms at the Sun Island Resort (which has a restaurant, bar, and spa) start at $ 140 when you reserve in advance online.
At Kuramathi Maldives, you'll save over $ 200 if you book a beach villa instead of a water one ($ 295 vs. $ 510).
How to save money on meals
The bad news is that budget-conscious travelers will likely have to skip the fancy underwater restaurants.
But the good news is that Maldivian cuisine is rich in seafood and as fresh as possible, which is why even "cheap" restaurants are delicious.
If you are staying at a resort, it is probably beneficial to book an all-inclusive package.
The Maldives has an “one island, one resort” mentality, making it almost impossible to dine outside of your resort.
All-inclusive packages will end up being cheaper in the long run.
For example, at Robinson Club Noonu, one-bedroom packages for two per week start at about $ 2,200, less than $ 160 per person per day for lodging and all your food and drink.
And that includes alcoholic beverages.
If you don't like full board, many resorts have different levels of all-inclusive, so you can save money by not adding alcohol or wanting to visit buffets all the time instead of a la carte restaurants.
You can also stop at the duty-free shops when you arrive for snacks and drinks, or stop at the island's food markets for fresh fruit, juices, seafood, and snacks at local prices.
If you are staying at a resort on the island of Malé or Hulhumalé, like Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa Maldives, you can walk or take a taxi to the local markets and restaurants, where you can eat for less than $ 10 per person.
How to save money on transportation
Seaplanes can be fun, but they are also quite expensive (and noisy, but that's another story).
You can save money on your Maldives vacation by booking hotels accessed by speedboats.
All international travelers will arrive at Velana International Airport in Male, so choose a hotel from a network of nearby islands such as Male Atoll, South Male Atoll, Ari Atoll, or Felidhoo Atoll.
Each hotel website should advise if it is possible to get there by speedboat and it usually has a fee (around $ 50 per person is the average).
If $ 50 is too expensive, choose a resort accessible via the country's local ferry system.
Taking a local ferry is a fun experience (unless you have excess luggage).
Ferries generally cost no more than $ 2 to $ 5 per person. You'll find a handful of island inns with ferry service (try Plumeria Maldives or Rip Tide Vacation Inn), but you may need to take a local speedboat to reach most of the resorts.
Your resort may have an accessible connector.
How to save money on activities
Another reason to stay at an inn? The activities are usually much cheaper.
Most pensions can organize activities even if they don't have a lot of information on their websites.
Many hostels are close to larger islands, so you'll have access to the same spots for snorkeling, dolphin watching, fishing, and sunsets.
Please message your hostel in advance to request tour prices.
Are you planning a diving trip? The most economical option for you may not be to stay on land.
Live onboard tours of the Maldives can reach remote dive sites and often include stops on the beach for an afternoon of visits to resorts for happy hour, so you can still enjoy the experience of the Island.
Amba is one of the cheapest and costs around $ 1,200 per person for eight-day trips, including diving and meals.
Dives at the resort can cost $ 100 more per tank.
You can also find free activity options on the larger islands.
Visit public beaches like picture-postcard Bikini Beach on Maafushi Island, visit national parks, or bring your own mask and snorkel and explore the underwater world off the coast.
Activities like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are generally included if you are staying at a resort, as is a loan of snorkel gear.
Some resorts are generous with their all-inclusive packages, like Komandoo Maldives, which includes free windsurfing lessons, a sunset sail, a spa treatment, and even an hour-long "introduction to scuba" in their basic package.
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