Maldives on a Budget!
Updated: Dec 4, 2021
The Maldives offers such a fantastic combination of sparkling beaches, cerulean oceans, and world-class diving that its expansion to people with little financial resources is undoubtedly causing joy. Bear in mind, however, that because of the Maldives' complete seclusion from the rest of the world, it will never be a truly budget resort. The following are some straightforward suggestions for staying inside your budget while visiting a destination with a well-deserved reputation for exorbitance.
Cost of Accomodation
To begin, it's worth noting that there are no super-cheap Hostels in the Maldives options. You won't find dorm rooms or a lousy $5 USD per night beach house in the Maldives like you might in Southeast Asia but there are also a plethora of cheap guesthouses located on the local islands, that are surprisingly affordable.
For $30-60 USD per night, you'll get a clean, modern, and spacious room with air conditioning, a hot shower, complimentary breakfasts, snorkeling equipment, a bottle of water every day, twice-daily room cleaning, and fast Wi-Fi. For around $100-$150 USD per night, you will start to find some really amazing local hotels with rooftop pools that overlook the beach. Then from here on up, this is where the resorts start and you will not find a bargain there.
From the most exclusive places to stay in the Maldives, you will have to shut your eyes and swipe your credit card, because there are no bargains here! Overwater villas, underwater restaurants, private infinity pools, all-inclusive cocktails and five star food, this all comes at a price. Water Villas generally cost around $750 USD - $2,000 per night, and if you find one cheaper - be careful because the transfers, food and drinks on top could make a significant difference too.
Check out our Travel Guide for all of our Favourite Resorts in the Maldives.
There are a number of search engines where you can find affordable hotels in the Maldives, and if you're lucky you may even get a decent deal on a resort. Enter your travel dates and search for hotels in the Maldives, filter the results from lowest to highest, and then begin studying. If something seems to good to be true, then it may be true, as the most important thing that you will have to worry about is the transfers, make sure that you can actually get to the islands for an affordable rate.
Cost of Transport
Transportation is also inexpensive. Local ferries operate on a limited timetable but should cost no more than $2-10 for a three-hour ride. If you are staying at a resort, you will need to pay for transfers that are organised by the resort. To visit a resort on a 'day trip' from a local island, you must go via a speedboat that is approved by the resort, as the traditional drone ferrie do not stop at the resort islands. There are commercial domestic airlines which link Malé to most of the capital cities in the Maldives for around $100 - $200 USD but if you're on a budget, avoid the seaplanes; they typically cost around $500 return for a 20-minute ride. Check out our Getting into the Maldives update for more information and boats, ferries and domestic flights.
Cost of Food
While you travel the local islands in the Maldives food will cost roughly $5-10 per dinner, although most guesthouses include a huge complimentary breakfast. In general, the smaller the island, the fewer food alternatives there are, and you'll likely spend most of your time dining at your guesthouse or a small little local restaurant. In the resorts the food will generally start at around $20-30 USD for something simple and unto hundreds of dollars if you would like to splurge. Don't forget to add your taxes and tips (15% VAT and 10% tip) on top of your bill in the resorts. Make sure that you try some Maldivian Food - it is the BOMB!
Cost of Excursions
There are sooo may Amazing Things to do in the Maldives, try to knock off as many day trips as you can whilst over here, because you will never know when your coming back! The most affordable way to book an excursion is through your hotel or guesthouse. However, do not be scared to shop for the best deal! Before making a decision, visit a couple of hotels and guesthouses and enquire about their rates to make sure that your getting value for money. Additionally, inquire about what is included in the fee – some guesthouses give snorkels, kayaks and bikes free of charge.
To give you and idea of what most excursions on the local islands will cost, we can comfortably safe that snorkelling trips begin at $25 and can go up to $100 depending on what you are want to see, how far away it is and what the day includes. Whale Shark excursions are typically found $100 USD, Manta Ray are around $50 USD, Cooking Classes are $35 USD, Fishing Trips are between $30 - $100 USD and then the prices are significantly more when organised in a resort (sometimes 2 or 3 times the price).
You can also organise a resort visit from a local island with typically cost around $30 - $60 USD for the transfers and between $100 - $170 on the entrance which typically includes lunch and all inclusive cocktails for the day.
If you want to go scuba diving through your guesthouse or a diving shop on a local island, you should expect to pay roughly $50 for two dives and in the reports you can expect to pay between $140 - $200 USD for two dives. However, the funnest way to dive in the Maldives is on a liveaboard cruise, as you will be able to dive unto 4 to 5 times a day, the only thing is a liveaboard will usually cost between $2,500 - $3,500 for the week depending on the company and boat.
We may be a tad biased but we obviously believe the best way to experience this places is on our Maldives Island Hopping tour, as you will get the best of both worlds. It is affordable, you get to tick so many items off your bucket list and still end up drinking cocktails in a couple of resorts!
Cost of Alcohol
Unless you stay in a resort, any vacation in the devoutly Muslim Maldives will be alcohol-free and may be a deal-breaker for some. If you're staying in a guesthouse, the only way to acquire a drink in the Maldives is to plan an evening excursion to a nearby resort or liveaboard diving boat.
Beers can be anywhere from $5 USD to $12 USD, Spirirts are around $10 USD and cocktails and wine can be from $15 USD to $25 USD. Famous islands like Maafushi have a dive boat semi-permanently stationed beside the island, making it relatively easy to have a sundowner. However, you may discover that your bill from a night of drinking is very sobering, as alcohol is heavily taxed in this country. This is one destination where abstinence pays off.