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How To Do The Maldives On A Budget


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Verina Greenwood



Welcome to the tropical paradise of the Maldives! Known for its crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, and luxurious resorts, the Maldives is a dream destination for many travelers. However, the misconception that a trip to the Maldives has to break the bank can deter budget-conscious travelers from experiencing the magic of this enchanting country.


But fear not, as there are plenty of ways to enjoy the beauty of the Maldives on a budget. By following some smart strategies and making informed choices, you can have an unforgettable trip to this idyllic archipelago without draining your bank account.


In this article, we will guide you on how to do the Maldives on a budget. From finding affordable accommodation and saving on flights to experiencing local culture and enjoying budget-friendly activities, we will provide you with practical tips and insights to make your dream trip a reality.


So, if you think the Maldives is only for the wealthy, think again! With a little planning and some insider knowledge, you can embark on an incredible adventure to this tropical paradise without breaking the bank.


Are you ready to discover the secrets of budget travel in the Maldives? Let’s dive in!


Choosing the Right Time to Visit

When planning a budget trip to the Maldives, timing is key. The high season in the Maldives falls between November and April when the weather is dry and sunny. However, this is also the most expensive time to visit. To save money, consider traveling during the shoulder seasons of May and October when prices are lower, and the weather is still favorable.


Another budget-friendly option is to visit during the low season, which is from May to September. While there may be more rainfall during this time, the Maldives is still a stunning destination, and you can take advantage of significant discounts on accommodations and activities. Just be sure to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.


It’s also worth noting that weekdays tend to be cheaper compared to weekends, so consider planning your trip for Monday to Friday to save money on flights and accommodations.


Additionally, keep an eye out for special promotions and deals offered by resorts and airlines. By being flexible with your travel dates and taking advantage of these offers, you can secure even greater savings.


By carefully selecting the right time to visit, you can enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Maldives without breaking your budget.


Finding Affordable Accommodation

While the Maldives is renowned for its luxurious resorts, there are also budget-friendly accommodation options available for those looking to save money. One of the best ways to find affordable lodging is to stay on local islands instead of the private resort islands.


Local guesthouses and hotels can offer a more budget-friendly experience while still providing access to beautiful beaches and a taste of Maldivian culture. These guesthouses often offer comfortable rooms, amenities, and even activities such as snorkeling or fishing trips at a fraction of the cost of a resort.


To find these budget accommodations, explore websites that cater to guesthouses and budget travel in the Maldives. Booking platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com also offer a range of affordable options. Take the time to read reviews from previous guests to ensure the quality and value of the accommodation.


Another budget-friendly option is to consider staying on a local island and booking day trips to visit luxury resorts. This way, you can enjoy the amenities and facilities of the resorts during the day while saving on accommodation costs. Remember to check if the resort offers day passes or if you can book activities such as spa treatments or dining experiences separately.


Lastly, if you prefer an all-inclusive experience, there are some budget-friendly resorts in the Maldives that offer inclusive packages. These packages typically include meals, activities, and non-motorized water sports. Research and compare different options to find the best deals that fit your budget and preferences.


By opting for local guesthouses, booking day trips to luxury resorts, or choosing budget-friendly resorts, you can find affordable accommodation options that still provide a wonderful Maldivian experience.


Saving on Flights to the Maldives

Flights to the Maldives can be a significant expense when planning your budget trip. However, there are several strategies to help you save money on airfare.


First, be flexible with your travel dates. Prices for flights can vary depending on the time of year and day of the week. Use flight comparison websites or sign up for fare alerts to monitor prices and find the best deals. Consider traveling on weekdays or during off-peak hours to potentially save on airfare.


Second, be open to connecting flights. Direct flights to the Maldives can be expensive, so consider booking flights with layovers. Not only can it save you money, but you may also have the opportunity to explore an extra destination during your journey.


Third, consider alternative airports. In addition to the main Velana International Airport in Male, there are domestic airports in other Maldivian islands. Explore flights to these airports as they might offer competitive prices, especially if you plan to stay in the surrounding area.


Lastly, join airline loyalty programs and take advantage of frequent flyer miles. Accumulate miles by flying with affiliated airlines or through credit card rewards programs. These miles can be used to offset the cost of future flights or even redeem free tickets to the Maldives.


By being flexible with your travel dates, considering connecting flights or alternative airports, and maximizing loyalty programs, you can significantly reduce the cost of your flights to the Maldives.


Eating and Drinking on a Budget

While the Maldives is known for its luxury dining experiences, it’s still possible to enjoy delicious meals and drinks without breaking the bank.


One of the best ways to save on food expenses is to eat like a local. Explore local restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls where you can savor authentic Maldivian cuisine at affordable prices. Look for “hedhika” (traditional Maldivian snacks) and “rihaakuru” (a fish-based paste) to try some unique local flavors.


Another budget-friendly option is to opt for guesthouses or budget accommodations that offer meal packages. These packages often include breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a fixed price, allowing you to enjoy a variety of dishes without worrying about individual costs.


If you’re staying on a local island, consider visiting the local markets to purchase fresh fruits, snacks, and drinks. This way, you can pack your own picnic or enjoy a meal by the beach at a fraction of the cost of dining out.


When it comes to drinks, avoid luxury resort bars where prices tend to be higher. Instead, opt for local cafes and small bars where you can enjoy affordable drinks. Be sure to try “kurumba” (a local coconut-based drink) or “raa” (a toddy tapping drink).


Lastly, carry a reusable water bottle and fill it up with filtered water available in hotels or guesthouses. This will save you from constantly buying bottled water, helping both your budget and the environment.


By exploring local eateries, taking advantage of meal packages, visiting local markets, and being mindful of your drink choices, you can enjoy delicious meals and drinks in the Maldives without overspending.


Exploring the Local Islands

One of the best ways to experience the Maldives on a budget is by exploring the local islands. While the luxury resorts are stunning, the local islands offer a more authentic and affordable experience.


Take the time to venture beyond the resort areas and immerse yourself in the local culture. Wander through the narrow streets, visit the bustling local markets, and observe the daily life of the Maldivian people.


Many local islands have beautiful beaches that are just as pristine as those on the resort islands. Spend a day sunbathing, swimming, or simply relaxing on these public beaches without the hefty price tag.


Another budget-friendly activity is snorkeling. The Maldives is renowned for its incredible marine life, and you don’t need to stay at an expensive resort to experience it. Rent snorkeling gear from a local dive shop and explore the vibrant underwater world around the local islands.


If you’re feeling adventurous, consider going on a local island hopping tour. These tours allow you to visit multiple local islands, each with its unique charm and attractions. You can learn about the history, traditions, and customs of the Maldivian people while supporting the local economy.


Engage with the locals, try traditional Maldivian activities like fishing or sailing on a traditional “dhoni” boat, and be open to discovering hidden gems that only the local islands can offer.


By exploring the local islands, you not only save money but also gain a deeper understanding of the Maldivian way of life and create unique memories that will last a lifetime.


Enjoying Budget-Friendly Activities

The Maldives is not just about relaxing on the beach or indulging in luxury experiences. There are plenty of budget-friendly activities that allow you to make the most of your trip without straining your wallet.


Snorkeling is a must-do activity in the Maldives, and luckily, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Many local islands offer affordable snorkeling excursions that allow you to explore vibrant coral reefs and spot a dazzling array of marine life. Alternatively, you can rent snorkeling gear and explore the underwater world near the shore for free.


Another budget-friendly activity is island hopping. Whether you book a guided tour or arrange your own itinerary, hopping between islands allows you to experience the diverse landscapes and cultures of the Maldives. Each island has its unique charm, from pristine beaches to traditional fishing villages, making it a memorable and inexpensive way to explore the archipelago.


If you’re a fan of water sports, you can still enjoy activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and windsurfing without breaking the bank. Many local guesthouses and water sports centers offer affordable rentals and lessons, allowing you to have fun and stay active during your trip.


Don’t miss out on experiencing the mesmerizing bioluminescence phenomenon in the Maldives. On certain nights, the ocean becomes illuminated with glowing plankton, creating a magical and unforgettable sight. Many local islands offer night tours to witness this phenomenon firsthand, providing you with an incredible experience at a fraction of the cost of a luxury resort.


Lastly, take advantage of the stunning natural scenery by going for walks or bike rides on the local islands. Many islands have well-paved paths or scenic trails that allow you to soak in the beauty of the Maldives. Whether it’s a sunset stroll along the beach or a bike ride through coconut groves, these simple activities can provide moments of tranquility and appreciation for your surroundings.


By participating in budget-friendly activities like snorkeling, island hopping, water sports, experiencing bioluminescence, and enjoying nature walks, you can have an enriching and memorable Maldivian experience without exceeding your budget.


Tips for Saving Money on Transportation

Transportation costs can quickly add up, but with some smart planning, you can save money on getting around in the Maldives.


When it comes to inter-island transportation, consider taking public ferries instead of speedboats or seaplanes. Public ferries are the most budget-friendly option and operate regular routes between many local islands. Be sure to check the ferry schedules in advance and plan your itinerary accordingly. Keep in mind that public ferries may be slower than other modes of transportation, so allocate enough time for your journeys.


If you’re traveling with a group or prefer more flexibility, you can also consider renting a private speedboat or chartering a local fishing boat. By splitting the cost among several people, this option can be more economical compared to individual tickets on speedboats.


When moving around on the local islands, walking or using bicycles are great options for short distances. Many guesthouses offer complimentary bicycle rentals, allowing you to explore the island at your own pace while saving on transportation costs.


For longer distances or when you have heavy luggage, consider using local taxis or hiring a private driver. Negotiate the price upfront to avoid any surprises and compare rates from different providers to get the best deal.


Another tip is to plan your activities strategically to minimize travel expenses. Group activities together on the same island or in nearby locations to avoid unnecessary back-and-forth travel.


Moreover, if you have the time and are up for an adventure, you can also consider island hopping on local ferries. This allows you to explore multiple islands while enjoying the scenic beauty of the Maldives at a fraction of the cost of private transportation.


Lastly, embrace local modes of transportation when available. Try hopping on a “dhoni,” a traditional Maldivian wooden boat, for a short sea journey between islands. This not only offers you an authentic experience but also helps support the local community.


By utilizing public ferries, walking, biking, using taxis strategically, planning activities efficiently, and embracing local modes of transportation, you can save money while getting around the Maldives.


Shopping for Souvenirs on a Budget

Bringing home souvenirs is a wonderful way to cherish your memories of the Maldives. While it’s tempting to splurge on luxury items, there are plenty of budget-friendly options for souvenir shopping.


First, explore the local markets and shops on the local islands. These markets often offer a wide range of souvenirs, including handcrafted items, locally produced goods, and traditional Maldivian handicrafts. Bargaining is common in these markets, so don’t be afraid to negotiate prices and get the best deal.


Look for items made from natural materials such as seashells, coconuts, or coral to bring a piece of the Maldivian nature back home. Handmade jewelry, wood carvings, and traditional woven items like mats or baskets also make unique and affordable souvenirs.


If you’re visiting Male, the capital of the Maldives, head to the local artisan markets such as the Maldives Craft Market or the Male Local Market. These markets offer a variety of handicrafts, clothing, accessories, and local food products, allowing you to find affordable souvenirs in a centralized location.


Consider purchasing postcards or small prints of local artwork as keepsakes. They are lightweight, easy to pack, and often come at a reasonable price. These items not only make great souvenirs for yourself but can also be thoughtful gifts for friends and family.


Keep an eye out for special promotions or discounts offered by local shops and markets. Sometimes, you can find bundle deals or discounted prices for purchasing multiple items, allowing you to save even more on your souvenir shopping.


It’s important to note that certain items such as coral, seashells, or products made from protected species are illegal to purchase or export. Ensure that any souvenirs you buy comply with local regulations to avoid any legal issues.


By exploring local markets, looking for unique handmade items, bargaining, and keeping an eye out for special promotions, you can find affordable souvenirs that capture the essence of the Maldives without straining your budget.


Understanding and Planning for Additional Costs

When planning a budget trip to the Maldives, it’s important to be aware of the additional costs that may arise and factor them into your budget. By understanding and planning for these expenses, you can avoid any financial surprises during your trip.


One of the main additional costs to consider is the cost of transportation from the airport to your final destination. Whether you’re staying on a resort island or a local island, there may be additional fees for transfer services such as speedboats or domestic flights. Research and compare different transportation options to find the most cost-effective choice for your itinerary.


Another cost to keep in mind is the Maldives’ mandatory tourist tax. The Maldivian government imposes a Green Tax on all tourists staying in guesthouses and resorts. The tax amount varies depending on the type of accommodation and typically ranges from $3 to $6 per person per night. Make sure to include this fee in your budget to avoid any surprises upon checking out.


Additional activities and excursions can also add to your expenses. While it’s tempting to try everything, prioritize the activities that align with your budget and interests. Consider booking activities in advance to take advantage of online deals or look for group tours that offer discounted rates.


Food and drinks are another aspect to consider. While local restaurants and street food offer affordable options, dining at luxury resort restaurants can be costly. If you plan to indulge in a fine dining experience, allocate a portion of your budget specifically for these meals.


Finally, be prepared for miscellaneous expenses such as gratuities, Wi-Fi access, and additional services or amenities. While these costs may not be significant individually, they can accumulate during your stay. Having some extra cash set aside will allow you to cover these expenses without compromising your budget.


By understanding and planning for these additional costs, you can have a clear picture of your overall expenses and make informed decisions while budgeting for your trip to the Maldives.



Traveling to the Maldives on a budget is not only possible but also incredibly rewarding. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can make the most of your trip without overspending.


Start by choosing the right time to visit, taking advantage of off-peak seasons and special promotions. Look for affordable accommodation options such as local guesthouses or budget-friendly resorts. Save money on flights by being flexible with your travel dates and considering alternative airports or connecting flights.


When it comes to food and drinks, explore local eateries and markets, opting for authentic Maldivian dishes and snacks. Enjoy budget-friendly activities like snorkeling, island hopping, and walking or biking on the local islands. Be strategic with your transportation choices, considering public ferries, walking, or using bicycles for short distances.


Shop for souvenirs in local markets, focusing on unique handmade items and bargaining for the best prices. Understand and plan for additional costs such as transportation fees, tourist tax, activities, and food expenses.


By implementing these strategies and making smart choices, you can experience the magic of the Maldives on a budget. From tranquil beaches and colorful coral reefs to vibrant local culture and warm hospitality, the Maldives offers unforgettable experiences for every traveler, regardless of their budget.


So, don’t let the misconception of the Maldives being a luxury-only destination hold you back. With careful planning and a sense of adventure, you can create lifelong memories and explore the breathtaking beauty of this tropical paradise without breaking the bank.