The Maldives in the heart of the Indian Ocean is most peoples dream destination. The white sands, the turquoise blue ocean and of course those overwater bungalows are what draw people to this incredible country. Unfortunately all of that comes at a cost and a LARGE one at that. To give you an idea the average cost of an overwater bungalow (when having a quick squiz on Wotif and Booking.com) they can range anywhere from $1500AU upwards for one night. Ridiculous is you ask me! Imagine paying that amount of money and having it rain the majority of the time, that is possible in the Maldives.
Ok so you want to head to the Maldives, enjoy the marine life but do it on a budget! Is it possible? Well having just returned from our recent trip to the Maldives we believe it is. No, it won’t be as cheap as Thailand or Bali but it can be done substantially cheaper than $1500 a night and in my opinion it is just as good.
Sailing around on a Maldivian Dhoni
Dhoni – a small Maldivian wooden sailing vessel. This is what we saw the Maldives in for a total of 6 nights and 7 days. Costing $1500AU per person and therefore $3000AU for the two of us (good maths there don’t you think) we easily got more bang for our buck. Yes, I get it – it is still on the expensive side but hey it is heaps cheaper than the over water bungalow and way more fun. With 8 of us on board and 5 crew we were fed like kings and queens, had our beds made every day and were safely chauffeured around the Maldives snorkelling twice a day at an array of reefs.
For me I wanted the Maldives to be a place I could experience a multitude of marine life I was yet to encounter such as turtles, sting rays, ect while also managing to relax. This option of sailing around on a boat certainly was the best for us. Moving every day let us experience different reefs observing different marine life. We got to experience the real culture of the Maldives exploring an array or local islands as well as having plenty of time to relax on board the dhoni.
I must give you a word or warning though. We came to the Maldives with quite a few misconceptions. Having seen many photos of the Maldives we assumed the following:
- The islands were incredibly close together
- The weather was always perfect
- The waters were going to be flat…always
The above was certainly not the case. Apparently the islands are quite a way from each other even within the atolls (which is a ring or islands). The weather certainly wasn’t always perfect, it was quite often windy and it rained on a few occasions and we were travelling during the high season. Please don’t let this put you off though because lets be honest what tropical island and beach isn’t windy at times and doesn’t see rain? But let me tell you that the Maldives are still INCREDIBLE even when the weather isn’t perfect. I think the photos and video above speak for themselves, because our weather wasn’t perfect.
Due to this weather the waters can often be rough. This is the reason for sharing our misconceptions. We are people that have never been sea sick and I wasn’t…..really, but I did have land sickness, but that is another kettle of fish! Sadly others on the boat were slightly sea sick. Sea sickness is not a nice feeling. I am certainly not saying that you will certainly get sea sickness but just in case bring some tablets.
Also if you are wanting to know more about the phenomena of land sickness just give me a yell. Essentially it is the opposite of sea sickness and I felt sick when I got to land….weird I know.
We had the most incredible time seeing the Maldives from the comforts of a local boat. I would happily recommend it to most people. But maybe spending a week on a boat isn’t for you. Hey, it certainly isn’t for everyone but don’t fret, there are other ways to see the Maldives on even more of an extreme budget…..the Nomadic Boys will happily help you out with that.
Nomadic Boys: The Maldives On A Buget
We travelled to the Maldives last year as part of our big trip in Asia. We were travelling on a budget of money we’d saved up for this big trip, so for the Maldives we researched at length how to minimise cost for what can be a very expensive country to travel in.
Since 2009, the Maldivian government officially allowed tourists to stay with the local population rather than just on the privately owned pricey resort islands. This has allowed backpackers and budget travellers to enjoy the pristine waters of the Maldives.
Although not as cheap as say India or Nepal, it is still very possible to visit Maldives on a budget especially now that locals are allowed to have guesthouses.
Flights from Europe to the Maldives are pricey and not the cheapest. However, if you make a trip to the Maldives part of your travels to India or Sri Lanka, flights are inexpensive. We flew from Kochi airport (south India) to Male for £55 ($85US) per person. Our return flight from Male to Colombo (Sri Lanka) cost us £65 ($100US) per person.
We stayed on Thoddoo island, around 67km from Male and took the overnight public ferry (3-4 hours, $10 per person each way). The only downside to the public ferry is that it’s very basic: you will sleep on the floor on a thin cover with pillow supplied to you with the cargo (fruit exports, motorbikes etc) next to you. But at $10 a ticket, you can’t really complain.
We paid £42 (around $65US) a day for an ensuite room with breakfast and other perks like free snorkelling gear rental, a fishing boat ride, one water sports session, fruit, free tea/coffee and water and it included a communal kitchen to cook.
Tourism is still very new to most of the local islands like Thoddoo. This will work to your benefit because you will be spoilt rotten. When we went there (November 2014), there were just 6 tourists on the entire island. Nonetheless, Thoddoo island has a handful of restaurants where you can buy inexpensive meals. For example, a meal in the local ‘cafe’ restaurant on Thoddoo island (called “Ice Tea”) cost us $11 for two. There are also several small supermarkets where you can buy the basics to cook your own meals in your guesthouse kitchen.
If you wish to read more about how the Nomadic Boys saw the Maldives for next to nothing check out their full post: How To Visit The Maldives On A Budget
Otherwise drop a comment with you budget hacks for the beautiful Maldives.
Thanks – Lauren