The Maldives offer the most beautiful and tranquil beaches I have ever been lucky enough to indulge in on this earth. With the most magical and diverse aquatic life lying under the cyan blue waters and powdery white sand in excess, it’s not surprising this set of Indian Ocean islands just off Sri Lanka, come with an extremely luxurious reputation attached to them; one would think it’s just the rich, famous and lucky honeymooners that are able to reach this corner of paradise. But I lie in neither of the aforementioned categories and am not a ‘big spender’ as such, (I prefer travelling more times for less than a couple times for more). However – I went to the Maldives and lived in paradise, soaking up the sun, insane views and island life for 9 days without damaging my pockets.
Sure, I’m not saying you can grab a £200 all-in bargain with flights, transfers and all-inclusive like you can to Magaluf… but a few sneaky tricks here and there can cut the cost and enable you to experience the same paradise that I did.
1. Seasonal Flight Prices
(Like this dress? You can get it here.)
Firstly, flight prices can differ throughout the year, I went in October which is just at the end of their Monsoon season so flight prices were lower than they would be from November to March. The weather may not be sunny every day – I had 6/9 days of beautiful hot sunshine but for the money you save, it is worth it (and it did not feel like Monsoon season!). I also know people who visited in January (peak season) and got similar weather. So if you can avoid the high season to cut costs, I would.
2. Local vs Resort Islands
There are 1200 islands that make up the Maldives, 200 of which are inhabited by the Maldivians and there are over 100 that are resort islands – on the resort islands, the hotel resort has the whole island.
If you really want to do the Maldives as cheap as possible, then you can stay on one of the local islands for about £160 for a week for 2 people in a guest house (check them out at booking.com here) or around £400 for a nice hotel, which is incredibly priced and which you can find here. But note a couple of things – just because you’re off to the Maldives, this doesn’t mean you’ll get luxury, so definitely check the reviews before booking, also note that on the local islands – Muslim laws apply and you have to respect them, this includes no alcohol permitted and apart from when on a “bikini beach” you must cover thighs and shoulders at all times.
Therefore, we made the decision to stay on a resort island as we wanted the freedom to walk around in swimwear and shorts and my partner does enjoy his evening beers to relax with, which is permitted on the resort islands. But if these points aren’t important to you then research into the local islands and experience the local culture of these stunning and remote beauties.
3. Island Location
If you do decide that you’d like to stay on a resort island where the whole island is owned by the hotel, then one main factor to cutting down the costs of your vacation is the location of the island. When booking a resort hotel, they will most likely add a compulsory airport transfer onto the price (note that booking.com include this at the outset however hotels.com don’t!).
The hotels add this compulsory charge on as their private transfer is usually the only way that you can reach their island as the public ferries that you can catch to the local islands, do not stop at the private resorts. If the resort is not in the vicinity of the Malé Atol then a sea plane will be organised which can add at least $300+ per person onto your overall cost. Instead, we went for an island which was only a 40 minute speedboat ride from Malé airport (where you’ll most likely fly to) and hence paid only $160 dollars round trip (I say only, granted it’s still alot but half the price than you’d pay for a sea plane) for this because as you can imagine the boat rides are much cheaper than the sea planes. I stayed on Biyadhoo Resort Island – take a look at my experience here or book on booking.com here.
To get to the local islands, you can hop on a ferry which will cost you around $3 but watch out – there are no ferries on Fridays so plan your flights’ arrival and departure times wisely.
4. Don’t forget your snorkel
Another way to wiggle your holiday price down further is to bring everything you need with you to the Maldives in your case. It may seem obvious, but we thought we’d buy our snorkelling equipment once we got to our resort. BIG MISTAKE. As they have no competition on the resort islands (as you’re basically stuck there – unless you make a day trip to another local island), they can charge whatever they wish. Snorkelling equipment at our hotel started from $40-50 for a simple snorkelling set that we could have grabbed for a tenna at home and a hat that I had seen in England for about £5 was being flogged for $35. Don’t make the same rookie error as us! Also note that what you see isn’t what you get – every price shown whether it was food/drink/day trips were excluding a 10% obligatory service charge and 12% local tax. So be wary of the ++ additional charges before buying.
5. Opt for a prepaid meal plan
When booking your hotel, my advice to you (unless you’re on a serious weight loss programme and looking to not eat whilst you’re away) is to opt for a prepaid meal plan, i.e. half board, full board or all inclusive. If you don’t do this, then you will have to pay as you go for your meals. As there’ll be no other alternative place for you to eat at – you’ll have to eat at the hotel anyway and what they charge is at their discretion; let’s say $30 per meal… at 3 meals a day for a span of 7 days that’s an extra $630 you’re adding on rather than just paying the extra £100 when booking. So bite the extra bullet at the first instance and you can sit back, relax and eat as you wish throughout your Maldivian stay.
So there you have it – a few top tips on how to do The Maldives on a semi budget(ish). You can pay $10,000s more for greater luxury but at the end of the day, the weather and cyan blue waters will be very similar wherever you go – so soak up some rays and dip into the magical Indian Ocean aquatic world of the Maldives. Xx