Traveling the Maldives on a Budget

Coming to the Maldives is naturally a dream come true. The myth that traveling to the Maldives is reserved for the wealthy, and that every night has to be spent in a luxury resort is totally false. The Maldives is made up of more than 1,000 little islands, and consists of extremely easy-going and friendly people. While it is definitely not cheap, this dream is not entirely unattainable. With the local Maldivians renting out guesthouses or even opening up their homes to tourists, there has never been a better time to book a vacation to see paradise island. 

Fun Fact: Alcohol is illegal anywhere outside resorts and hotels!

When to go: November and April is considered low season and the best time to get an island all to yourself.

Where to Stay: You can splurge and go all out on a luxury resort, but if you’re on a budget, there are plenty of options on AirBnb. Use this referral credit to get $40 off your booking for AirBnb. If you would rather book the best hotel on a budget, it is relatively close to the other islands, so you can take a day trip out for a fraction of the cost. Get $25 off your booking using the referral code: RIDING13. Look for Alaka at Maafushi. Each night ran me $40, and I had such an amazing time there. The amenities are great, and the food was amazing too. The guys at Alaka are really helpful, and will help you book day trips, or diving adventures. 

Modes of Transportation:
Speed boat rides are $25 for non-locals to most islands. Just make sure to check the boat schedule.

How Many Days to Spend: 3+ days

Safety: Depending on which island you are on, it could be really chaotic on the main island of Male, or on Maafushi, where it was really quiet. Overall, I felt safe, and everyone I met was kind and friendly. 

What to Wear: I would recommend breathable clothing, as it gets really humid here. Maybe a light cardigan to block the sun.

Tip: Bring cash (USD). They value that more than Maldivian Rufiyaa. I did not see any ATMs anywhere. Also, there’s a lot of snorkeling to be done, so make sure to borrow or bring your own snorkels!

Itinerary suggestions

Arrival – Night Prior
-Settle in to Alaka at Maafushi and enjoy the rest of the night. Book a day-trip from the list of available resorts. I went with Taj Exotica Resort because of the stingray feeding and shark sighting. I also spent a day in Male, but the local life there is definitely a lot different than being on the other islands. 

Resort – DOs
A day-trip to Taj Exotica was $173, and it starts at 8am with speedboat pick up. It included transfers between islands, lunch and one water. I am welcomed with a ride on a golf cart, and a refreshing fruit juice on the way to the reception. After being briefed about the resort island, I was free to explore. I started my day snorkeling around the water bungalows, and then eventually made my way to the other side of the island. It’s about less than a 15 minutes walk from one side to another. November is their low season, so I saw less than 8 guests in my entire time there. It was quite nice having the island to myself. Lunch was around noon, and it was an amazing 3-course meal that was worth every penny. I started my appetizer with sushi, had delicious beef, and ended with creme brûlée. Around 3 was when the leopard shark sightings were, and I saw one that came close, but it swam away as soon as I tried to swim closer. At about 5, it was stingray feeding time – The most exciting part of my trip! Just half an hour prior, there were a few stingrays swimming around the shore. They would come up to my feet, and were so sociable. I got to feed them, and ended my day seeing cotton-candy colored skies on the boat ride back to Maafushi. 

Resort – DON’Ts
I picked the Adaaran Club Rannalhi for an all-inclusive day trip (~$100), and not only was it crowded, it felt less luxurious, and I got food poisoning from their buffet style food. Sad to say, but I would definitely pick a higher end resort for the best experience. 

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