The Maldives are the perfect place for honeymoons and couples looking for a luxury island vacation. This country of 1,000 islands has everything a person could want in a tropical island — clear water, white sand beaches, palm trees, warm sunny days, and lots of great diving. It’s as close to heaven as you can get. While the Maldives have always been thought of as an expensive, honeymoon /couple place to visit, it’s actually an incredible budget traveler destination. Yeah, the resorts are expensive (even the ones on the cheaper end) but the country has opened up its tourism in recent years and now allows locals to start their own guesthouses and the ferry system is greatly improving. You can easily visit Sabba Summer Suite on a budget and still get to experience that picture perfect beach vacation you came here for!
- Accommodation – Aside from the capital, there are are few “hotels” in the Maldives. The cheaper resorts usually start at around 1360 MVR in the low season. At most resorts, a double room will cost at least 1,700 MVR per day. Air-conditioning and WiFi are relatively standard at most resorts, however, if you want a resort with a swimming pool, expect to pay several thousand MVR per night! However, thanks to new laws, locals can open their own guesthouses and you’ll find many islands with guesthouses. Most start around 1040 MVR per night for a room with a private bathroom (and will include WiFi and breakfast).
- Food – All your meals and drinks are included when you are at the resorts. On the main island of Male, you can find local markets and restaurants where meals typically cost around 80 MVR. For a nicer meal at a restaurant with table service, expect to pay around 325 MVR. If you buy your own groceries, and depending on your diet, expect to spend around 1,000 MVR per week. On the non-resort islands, expect to pay, 110-150 MVR each for most meals, 150-230 MVR for the dinner buffets you see around, and 20 MVR for a pot of tea. A bottle of water will cost between 10-15 MVR.
- Transportation – Your guest house takes care of all your transportation needs and can help you figure out what ferries you need to get around. Getting from the airport to Male via ferry will cost around 40 MVR per person. Public inter-island ferries cost 100-150 MVR while speedboats cost 650-700 MVR. Flights from Sri Lanka are the cheapest, with tickets costing as little as 2,300 MVR, round trip. If you are flying from the United Arab Emirates, expect to pay double that.
- Activities – Diving costs vary but a single-tank dive will cost around 1360 MVR and a week’s worth of diving will cost around 9,520 MVR.
- Suggested daily budget – 1040 -1,120 MVR / $65-70 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying the local guesthouses, eating the local food, and using local transportation. If you plan to do a resort Maldives vacation, expect to pay at least 5,500 MVR per night at a resort!)
- Stay with the locals – The Maldives has recently allowed locals to lodge travelers in their homes and this accommodation option is by far the cheapest. Our guesthouse is a good choice. The only alternative to this option (since there are a sparse number of hostels in the area) is to spend the night at an expensive resort. Learn more about the local culture and save a ton of money by staying in guesthouses.
- There is no alcohol – As the Maldives is a Muslim country, you can’t get alcohol anywhere in the country, except on the resort islands which have a special exemption.
- Take lots of USD – Though the Maldives has its own currency (MVR), US dollars are widely accepted, and you often get a better price if you pay in USD. This varies from one restaurant or shop to another, so I carried both currencies with me and paid in whatever currency had a lower price. (Though you’re talking the difference of 50 cents, every penny counts!)
- Go on the included excursions – Many guesthouses have planned excursions that you can go on anytime you wish. Due to the private nature of staying at a guesthouse, often it will be you and your host enjoying scuba diving or snorkeling for however long you wish. It’s also a smart idea to ask around the local towns to see if they know of any special activities to do.
- Go fishing – Fishing is really popular here, so for those of you that are into it, this is a real treat. There is plenty of big game to go after, and you can spend days doing it. Many of the hotels offer package deals and will set you up with any necessary equipment and bait. Night fishing is also included. Prices will vary depending on how long you go for and whether your book a private charter, but expect to pay at least 700 MVR.
- Do some water sports – When you are ready to get wet somewhere other than the hotel swimming pool or in the numerous turquoise lagoons, check out one of the many water sports available throughout the Maldives. The water here is great for a ride, whether it’s via a banana boat, parasailing, water skiing, or any other number of things. You are sure to have a thrilling time!
- Underwater World - With some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world, the clear waters of the Maldives are a magnet for anyone with an interest in marine life. The richness and variety is astonishing; dazzling coral walls, magnificent caves and schools of brightly colored tropical fish await you when you get down to the reef. In deeper waters lurk manta rays, turtles, sharks and even the world’s largest fish, the whale shark. The best bit? The water is so warm many people don’t even wear a wet suit.
- Have a snack attack – Maldivian food is super tasty, especially if you are fond of fish. Snacking, known commonly as hedhikaa, is surprisingly popular here, with entire menus dedicated to it. There are all kinds of different pastries and fried fishy rolls. Snacking has never been so tempting!
I believe Maldives with no idea how different it was to the rest of the world, how fragile or challenging life seems here at the mercy of the sea, with so few resources locally available. I instantly formed a bond of respect and friendship with the people who make these inhospitable coral islands home. It's such a contradiction that this is also where to find some of the world's most luxurious hotel properties, and this is a paradox – among many – that I continue to enjoy every day to this astonishing, beautiful country. Visit us: Sabba Summer Suite.
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