Discover how to travel to the Maldives on a budget and learn how you can explore this tropical gem without breaking the bank.
I have always believed the Maldives was a luxury-only travel destination that required thousands of dollars to visit and resort-only stays. However, this is not the only way to visit the Maldives.
In fact, I have personally visited the Maldives on a budget and I had an amazing stay with all the same beauty and magic as a luxury holiday!
Let’s delve into how you can travel to the Maldives on a budget below.
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In This Post
How to Travel to the Maldives on a Budget
Embarking on a budget-friendly journey to the Maldives requires strategic planning and a more mindful approach to expenses. From choosing the right accommodation to exploring local islands, these tips will guide you in making the most of your Maldivian experience without breaking the bank.
Where is the Maldives
The Maldives is a tropical paradise located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka and India. It is composed of 26 atolls (series of islands), which are made up of over 1,000 coral islands. The capital city is Malé, and the country is known for its stunning coral reefs, turquoise waters, and luxurious overwater bungalows.
How to Get Around the Maldives on a Budget
Embarking on an affordable journey to the Maldives requires a different kind of planning but nothing too difficult. Here are key tips to help you reach this tropical paradise on a budget.
🛥️ By Boat
Visiting the Maldives on a budget is most easily done by boat. You can use both local ferries and speed boats which offer a low-cost way to island hop.
The local ferries in the Maldives connect the inhabited islands at a very low cost. The cost of local ferries in the Maldives can vary based on the distance of the journey and the specific route.
For shorter routes between nearby islands, the fare might be a few Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) ($1-$2 USD). Longer routes covering greater distances may have slightly higher fares.
For faster transfers between islands, you can opt for shared speed boat services, which offer a balance between cost-effectiveness and efficiency, especially when shared among fellow travelers. The cost for speed boats is $25USD +.
💡 I choose to transfer between islands with the shared speed boat services. The price is higher than the local ferries but they are 4x faster which is much preferred.
In the Maldives, traveling between islands by plane is efficient and can sometimes be budget-friendly. Maldivian, the national airline, operates domestic flights that connect various atolls, allowing you to explore different regions of the Maldives.
Using domestic flights is a great option for you if you want to visit remote islands and experience the diverse landscapes of the Maldives. While resort transfers by seaplane can be more expensive, choosing domestic flights for inter-atoll travel provides a cost-effective option.
The Best Islands in the Maldives on a Budget
Thulusdhoo (MY TOP OPTION)
Thulusdhoo is a hidden gem for budget travelers in the Maldives. Known for its vibrant local culture and stunning beaches, Thulusdhoo is the ULTIMATE paradise island that I LOVE!
With its famous surf breaks and surrounding snorkeling spots, this is a top place to visit if you are looking to do some adventure activities! Thulusdhoo also has the nicest beach which is enough reason to visit.
💡 This is my favorite island in the Maldives and a place I would honestly visit again. It has an amazing local island feel and the Bikini Beach is stunning! Easily my top option for a local holiday.
➡️ Read More: Things to do in Thulusdhoo
Dhigurah is one of the BEST local islands in the Maldives. It is both affordable and has the beach and island vibes you imagine when visiting the Maldives. Here you will find budget guest houses and hotels instead of luxury bungalow hotels allowing you to enjoy the magic of the Maldives without spending a fortune.
With its long sandy beach, you can have the perfect beach-filled paradise-like holiday. Dhigurah also provides opportunities for affordable water activities, such as snorkeling and diving. The island’s genuine Maldivian charm, coupled with reasonable prices, makes Dhigurah an ideal choice for budget-conscious travelers.
💡 This is a beautiful local island that is best known for its snorkeling with whale sharks! The one downside is that it is a little bit further from Malé (the capital city) so it is a little more expensive to reach and takes quite a bit of time. But 100% worth it if you love snorkeling and underwater adventures.
Maafushi is a great choice for budget-conscious travelers in the Maldives. This local island offers a blend of authenticity and affordability, making it a perfect base for exploring the Maldives without breaking the bank.
Maafushi has budget accommodations, including guesthouses and local island inns, which offer a glimpse into Maldivian daily life.
Here you can enjoy the Bikini Beach, where you can dress more freely than on local beaches. Or engage in watersports, island-hopping excursions, and cultural experiences at reasonable prices.
By choosing Maafushi, you can enjoy the beauty of the Maldives without compromising your budget.
💡 I stayed in Maafushi for three nights and I loved its close proximity for excursions but I didn’t LOVE the island. It wasn’t as picturesque and authentic as many of the others.
➡️ Read More: Things to do in Maafushi
Fulidhoo stands out as one of the best islands in the Maldives for budget-conscious travelers.
Fulidhoo has a beautiful bikini beach, ideal for unwinding and enjoying the turquoise waters. With its affordable guesthouses and local eateries, Fulidhoo allows you to explore the Maldives’ natural beauty and cultural richness without straining your budget.
💡 Bikini Beach = a place where you can wear bikinis on the island. This is the only place where you can wear a bikini on the island in public. Due to the Islamic beliefs in Maldives, it is not appropriate to wear clothing as revealing as a bikini in public.
Thoddoo is a standout choice for budget travelers in the Maldives, offering an authentic and affordable island experience. Known as the “breadbasket” of the Maldives due to its abundant fruit orchards, Thoddoo provides budget-friendly guesthouses for accommodation.
The island is famous for its agriculture, particularly watermelon, allowing visitors to indulge in fresh, local produce without straining their wallets. Thoddoo’s white sandy beaches and turquoise waters add to its beauty, making it a top place to base yourself for a local island getaway.
Where to Stay on a Budget in the Maldives
South Ari Atoll
⭐️ Digurah (TOP CHOICE IN SOUTH ARI): Dhigurah is a favorite with its long sandy beach and budget accommodations.
➡️ Stay HERE in Digurah
⭐️ Mahibadhoo: Mahibadhoo, a local island, offers an authentic Maldivian experience with budget accommodations. Its vibrant local culture and welcoming atmosphere make it a top choice.
⭐️ Omadhoo: Omadhoo, known for its stunning beaches and rich marine life, provides affordable guesthouses.
⭐️ Dhangethi: The perfect gateway to the Maldives’ underwater wonders, including the renowned Hanifaru Bay, known for its manta ray and whale shark sightings.
North Ari Atoll ( Alif Alif Atoll)
⭐️ Rasdhoo: Dive into the vibrant marine life, and experience the Maldives’ charm without exceeding your budget.
⭐️ Thoddoo: A budget-friendly paradise. Known for watermelon cultivation, this local island offers affordable guesthouses, providing a budget-conscious escape with fresh, local produce.
⭐️ Fulidhoo: Fulidhoo, a tranquil local island, is a budget-friendly haven. With affordable accommodations, it offers an authentic Maldivian experience, complete with pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Malé Atoll (Chosest to Malé – Capital City)
⭐️ Thulusdhoo (BEST OPTION OVERALL): Thulusdhoo is a budget-friendly gem, celebrated for its surf breaks and local art scene. Affordable guesthouses and a unique cultural vibe make it the BEST choice for those seeking an authentic Maldivian experience.
➡️ Stay HERE in Thulusdhoo
⭐️ Gulhi: Caters to budget travelers with its budget-friendly guesthouses. Experience Maldivian culture, relax on its beaches, and enjoy an affordable escape in this charming island setting.
⭐️ Guraidhoo: Immerse yourself in the Maldivian way of life, explore the local culture, and unwind on its scenic beaches without breaking the bank.
⭐️ Maafushi: Budget accommodations, coupled with its Bikini Beach and vibrant local culture, make it an ideal choice for those seeking an authentic Maldivian experience without a hefty price tag.
How to get to an all-inclusive resort island in the Maldives on a budget?
Traveling to an all-inclusive resort in the Maldives doesn’t have to break the bank. Discover budget-friendly options, from transportation to accommodation, ensuring a luxurious experience without the hefty price tag.
Day Trip to an All-Inclusive Resort
Embarking on a day trip to a Maldivian all-inclusive resort opens doors to a world of luxury without the overnight price commitment. Discover the resort’s activities, ranging from water sports to spa treatments, and explore the amenities designed for day visitors.
Full Experience at an All-Inclusive Resort
For those seeking the ultimate Maldives experience, an overnight stay at an all-inclusive resort promises an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the iconic overwater bungalows, try gourmet cuisine, and immerse yourself in the resort’s unique offerings.
Unfortunately, this is pretty difficult to do on a budget. The one way you can enjoy a night or two of luxury without breaking the bank is by paying for your room with credit card points!
What activities can you do in the Maldives on a budget?
Despite its reputation for luxury, the Maldives offers various budget-friendly activities for travelers. Here are some options:
➡️ Snorkeling: Explore vibrant coral reefs and marine life by snorkeling.
➡️ Local Island Tours: Visit local islands to experience Maldivian culture, architecture, and daily life, often at a fraction of the cost of resort activities.
➡️ Relax on Bikini Beach: Many local islands have designated bikini beaches where you can enjoy the sun and sea without violating local dress codes.
➡️ Island-Hopping by Ferry: Use local ferries for affordable island-hopping, allowing you to explore different atolls and their unique offerings.
➡️ Fishing Trips: Join a local fishing excursion, experiencing traditional Maldivian fishing methods and enjoying the catch.
➡️ Picnics on Sandbanks: Pack a picnic and head to a sandbank, enjoying a day in a pristine natural setting without the need for expensive resort bookings.
➡️ Dolphin Watching: Opt for a budget-friendly dolphin-watching tour, providing a chance to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
➡️ Water Sports at Guesthouses: Many guesthouses on local islands offer affordable water sports activities, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and more.
By exploring these options, you can enjoy the beauty of the Maldives without overspending, making it a more accessible destination for budget-conscious travelers.
Tips to Make the Maldives Budget-Friendly
⭐️ Choose a hotel or guesthouse on the local islands
⭐️ Use ferries to hop between islands
⭐️ Go for an all-inclusive deal
⭐️ Bring US Dollars to get better rates
⭐️ Travel during low season
⭐️ Book in Advance
Frequently asked questions about the Maldives
Below are some frequently asked questions about the Maldives answered for you!
Are the Maldives expensive?
Yes, but it can be made more budget-friendly.
The Maldives is generally considered an expensive destination. The country is known for its luxurious overwater bungalows, private resorts, and high-end amenities. However, in recent years, efforts have been made to promote budget tourism. Local islands now offer guesthouses and budget accommodations, and activities such as snorkeling and island-hopping can be more affordable.
While luxury options are what the Maldives are known for, it’s possible to enjoy a complete Maldives holiday on different budget ranges by exploring these alternatives.
Can the Maldives be done on a budget?
Yes the Maldives can 100% be done on a budget. Even though The Maldives is synonymous with luxury it has become more accessible for budget travelers.
Now you can visit local islands and opt for guesthouses and low-cost hotels, utilize public ferries, and enjoy local dining to keep costs down.
Exclusive resorts offer opulence, and exploring the Maldives on a budget offers the beauty of its local culture and pristine landscapes without compromising the enchantment of this tropical paradise.
When is the cheapest moment to visit the Maldives?
The most budget-friendly time to visit the Maldives is during the off-peak or low season, which typically falls during the monsoon or rainy season. This period, from May to October, experiences more rainfall and slightly rougher seas.
While weather conditions may vary, some travelers find this time ideal for budget trips, as accommodation rates can be lower, and there may be promotions or discounts offered by resorts.
💡The weather is very unpredictable in the Maldives. I visited the Maldives in November and it only rained twice during my 10-day visit. Some people visit the “dry” season and it rains the whole time.
How much should I budget for a trip to Maldives?
The budget for a trip to the Maldives can vary widely based on many factors Here’s a general breakdown:
Budget: $50 – $150 per night for guesthouses on local islands.
Mid-Range: $200 – $500 per night for boutique hotels or guesthouses on inhabited islands.
Luxury: $500 and above per night for overwater bungalows or private island resorts.
Budget: $10 – $20 for local meals on local islands.
Mid-Range: $30 – $50 for meals at mid-range restaurants.
Luxury: $100 and above for dining at resort restaurants.
Budget: $1 – $5 for local ferry rides between islands.
Mid-Range: $30 – $100 for speedboat transfers.
Luxury: $500 and above for seaplane transfers.
Budget: Free to $30 for local excursions and activities.
Mid-Range: $50 – $200 for guided tours and water activities.
Luxury: $200 and above for exclusive resort experiences.
What language is spoken in the Maldives?
Dhivehi, also known as Maldivian, is the official language spoken in the Maldives. However, most people speak English, especially in tourist areas, and many Maldivians working in the tourism industry are proficient in English. You should have no difficulty communicating in English, making travel and interactions with locals relatively easy.