Last month I had the opportunity to visit the Maldives with my husband and our daughter… an ultimate bucket list item! I was hesitant about whether it would meet my expectations as it’s a destination I really put up high on a pedestal. In all honesty, it not only met my expectations it truly exceeded them. It literally was a perfect vacation – how often does that happen?
If the Maldives is on your bucket list too but you’re on a tight budget, there are ways to make it cost effective. Before we dive in, however, here are a few nice to know’s:
- The Maldives is a Muslim country and therefore there is no alcohol on the main island of Male and on the local inhabited islands
- All flights land in Male and then you transfer to your various islands for your vacation – either by boat or sea plane
- All the hotels are on their own island (there are 1200 islands in the Maldives, only approximately 300 of which are developed
- Inhabited local islands do have certain accommodations for tourists and there are sometimes beaches near these accommodations where you can swim in a bikini etc. but be respectful of the local culture and learn the law around drinking, skin exposure in public etc.
Let’s jump right into the tips I know you’re dying to know… how to vacation in the Maldives and not break the bank…
- Choose an island close to Male so that you can take a boat rather than a plane to your destination, this can save $1000.00 USD right off the bat. Most boat transfers will range from 20-45 minutes max. The planes are also much more restricted by weather conditions and can have you waiting out the storm at the airport.
- Travel in low season – this is not necessarily by month, but even by week. If you book the lower grade room there is a REALLY high chance you will be upgraded, especially if you’re celebrating something special. When the hotel is low capacity, the staff are able to go that extra mile to earn your loyalty since the Maldives is a very competitive tourist destination.
- Mix up the accommodation style – overwater bungalows are especially expensive, and typically start around $800 USD a night. However, many islands offer alternative forms of accommodation, from beach bungalows, to typical hotel rooms, and tree houses. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars if you decide to stay in one of these rooms for part of your vacation, and splurge on the overwater bungalow only as many nights as you can afford. Most tourists dream of the overwater bungalow experience and so hotels charge a pretty penny for these!
- Travel with friends and share the accommodation – for those of us who don’t mind cuddling, the Maldives could be a perfect girls trip. Sharing a room splits the cost by 50% automatically. Cha ching.
- Book your flight from Bangkok on Air Asia for $100 USD. Not kidding. Look it up.
- All inclusive – this one is tricky because it’s highly personal to whether you eat and drink a lot. Personally, we loved a la carte because All Inclu limits restaurant options, but we did opt for it for part of the week and enjoyed it. It didn’t seem to save us money though, because we don’t drink much anymore (hi little baby, hangovers don’t work for us anymore!). If you’re going to party, definitely get the All Inclusive. If you’re going to relax and chill with your family, you’re probably going to save money not doing the All Inclu.
- Whale sharks are in the South Atoll (far from Male) so if this is your reason for journeying down to the Maldives make sure you look into which islands support this expedition. Also, if you are looking for specific activities such as diving and snorkelling, some islands offer much better reefs than others. Do your research to avoid disappointment. We had the BEST time ever, but we have heard of others being highly disappointed by the water conditions, plastic in the ocean etc. The currents, reefs, and water varies quite substantially.
- Take your own toiletries or prepare to pay premium for anything at the resort. Sunscreen was over $50 USD at our resort, yikes.
If you think the Maldives is for honeymooners only, think again! We took our baby who was 10 months old at the time and it was the best family vacation ever. Most of the resorts have doctors on site and the local people adore children making it a very baby friendly destination. We also met a lot of solo female travellers and big groups of friends. Some of the resorts cater specifically to the honeymoon niche, so if that’s what you’re after, opt for one of the resorts that focus specifically on romantic holidays. That way a crying baby or toddler tantrum won’t ruin your special dinner.
If you have any other questions please comment on this post below and I will respond to you directly! I would LOVE everyone to have the experiences we had… it truly is a once in a lifetime, magical destination. What do you think, are you adding it to your bucket list yet? What else is on your list? And can you offer any other tips to save money travelling to this luxury destination?