The Maldives is a fascinating country to travel to independently, not least because it’s only been possible to do so for the past decade. As I write this in 2023, however, guesthouses are springing up on local islands on a weekly basis, offering budget travellers an affordable way to explore the country.
And, in many ways, travelling on a budget in the Maldives is far superior to staying in one of the luxury resorts. When it comes to the latter, each resort is built on its own island, isolating you from the rest of the country so you never get a chance to experience local life. Staying on the local islands has given me an insight into life in the Maldives that very few people have experienced so far.
But things are changing rapidly.
The number of guesthouses on some of the more popular islands are doubling each year as more and more travellers turn up in search of paradise on a budget. On one of the islands I visited, Dave and I were the only tourists — we had every beach to ourselves! I suspect this won’t be as commonplace five years from now.
So, now is the perfect time to travel to the Maldives.
I spent three weeks in the country and visited three of the local islands — Maafushi, Fulidhoo and Guraidhoo. I also splurged on two nights on a resort stay at Olhuveli Island in an overwater bungalow so that I could experience the differences between the two ways of travelling.
How much does it cost to travel the Maldives on a budget? As little as $50 a day. As a budget traveler, you can expect to spend $30 a day on a private room in a guesthouse; $10 a day on food; and $10 a day on activities. But there are, of course, ways to do it even cheaper.
Here’s everything you need to know about travelling the Maldives on a budget.
Independent and Budget Travel is Very New to the Maldives
Tourism in general is relatively new to the Maldives. The first resort in the country opened in 1973 and for thirty years, the only way to visit as a tourist was via these expensive island retreats.
Ten years ago, however, the government changed its regulations to allow guesthouses to open on the local islands. For the first time, tourists were allowed to stay with locals and gain an insight into Maldivian life. At present, many budget travellers remain unaware that it’s possible to do this. When I visited, I felt like one of the only independent travellers in the country — I even turned up on one island and learned that my boyfriend, Dave, and I were the only tourists currently staying there!
When I arrived at Male airport, Dave and I were the only backpackers in sight. We were the only people to walk through the airport without a travel agent greeting us, and we were the only non-locals taking a ferry over to a local island.
Any downsides? At times, it felt like I was invading the islands against the locals’ wishes. I felt as though Dave and I were regarded with suspicion — or perhaps curiosity. On some of the smaller islands, our greetings of “hello” towards the locals were often ignored, as we received little more than stares in exchange. I don’t know if they were shy, or curious, or even angry that we were on their island home. This did, however, occur predominantly with the older residents.
Having said all that, the majority of the locals were friendly and welcoming and happy to chat. It was just the occasional stare that left me feeling like I was intruding.
Additionally, while Dave and I were mostly left alone when walking as a couple, when I was wandering the islands alone, the local women were all excited to chat to me. Whether it was just to say hello, or to offer me a piece of Maldivian chocolate to try, travelling as a solo female offers a different experience to travelling as a couple, and I felt 100% safe while alone there.
It Can Be Done Cheaply
The Maldives were always my dream honeymoon destination for a couple of reasons.
1. It looked like it had the best beaches in the world
2. The resorts were very expensive.
I’d assumed that the Maldives was a once in a lifetime destination that I’d visit only for a very special occasion.
Finding Cheap Accommodation:
The first thing to note is that there aren’t any super cheap options for accommodation. You won’t find dorm rooms in the Maldives, or a crappy $5 a night bungalow on the beach like you would in Southeast Asia. You will, however, find over a hundred Couchsurfing hosts. Couchsurfing isn’t my jam, but if you’re up for spending nothing on accommodation, check that out first.
Aside from Couchsurfing, though, there are still plenty of budget guesthouses, and they’re surprisingly good value.
For $30-60 a night, you’ll receive an clean, modern, and spacious room with air conditioning, a hot shower, free breakfasts, snorkeling gear, a bottle of water each day, twice daily room cleaning[!], and fast Wi-Fi. The rooms are seriously nice — much higher quality than the rooms I stayed in in Eastern Europe, for example, at that price.
The easiest way to find cheap accommodation in the Maldives is through Booking.com. Simply search for hotels in the Maldives along with your travel dates, sort the prices from lowest to highest, and then start researching.
Alternatively, we found Airbnb to offer just as many accommodation options on the local islands. There are over 300 guesthouses under $100 a night and 120 under $50 a night.
Maafushi: We stayed at Triton Beach Hotel and paid $70 per night. This was my favourite guesthouse from our time in the Maldives and I fully recommend staying here. The breakfasts were enormous, the owner was lovely, and our room was incredibly fancy and felt like great value for money.
Fulidhoo: We stayed on Thundi Guesthouse and paid $63.59 per night. Again, we were really happy with our choice and I’d wholeheartedly recommend staying here. The shower was hot, the air conditioning was cold, it was incredibly peaceful and the Wi-Fi was super fast! It’s easily the best option on the island.
Note that these prices don’t include the taxes and fees the government charges — more on those below!
Finding Cheap Transport:
Transport is also cheap. Local ferries run on a somewhat infrequent schedule but shouldn’t cost more than $2-4 for a three hour journey. We paid $0.60 for the ferry from Male Airport to Male, $3 for the ferry from Male to Maafushi, $4 for the ferry from Maafushi to Fulidhoo, and $2 for the ferry from Maafushi to Guraidhoo.
If you want to visit a resort, you’ll have to pay for a speedboat, as the local ferries don’t stop at the resort islands. These speedboats are very expensive — we were quoted $280 per person return trip for a 45 minute journey, or $200 per person return for a ten minute journey. One possibility could be to turn up at the nearest local island, and ask around to see if a local fisherman will take you across on his boat. We managed to arrange a transfer from Guraidhoo to Olhuveli for $40 per person return trip — but given that the resort was only 6 kilometres away, this is still pretty pricey.
Avoid the seaplanes if you’re travelling on a budget — these will usually cost around $500 return for a 20 minute journey.
Finding Cheap Food:
Food will set you back around $5-10 per meal, but with most guesthouses offering an enormous free breakfast, Dave and I found ourselves skipping lunch and only paying for dinner. You can’t complain about spending $5 a day on food!
In general, the smaller the island, the less food options there are, and you’ll likely be eating at your guesthouse for most meals. On Fulidhoo, the smallest island we visited, we were charged $10 per dinner whether we ordered chicken fried rice, curry and rice, or a gigantic fish barbecue. There were only three restaurants on the island and they all charged the same price — for the tourists, at least.
For a busy island, such as Maafushi, there were plenty of food options. There are maybe a dozen restaurants on the island, all offering reasonably priced dinners. We paid around $5-10 a meal for fish curry and rice, fish and chips, tuna fried rice — lots of fish-based meals!
Finding Cheap Excursions:
The cheapest way to go on an excursion is to book it through your guesthouse. Don’t be afraid to shop around for prices, though! Wander into four or five guesthouses and ask for their prices before you make a decision. Also check to see what’s included in the price — some guesthouses will include lunch, water and a soft drink, some won’t include any extras.
I’m not a diver but many of you expressed interest in knowing how you can dive in the Maldives on a budget. If you decide to dive through your guesthouse, or arrange it through a dive shop on a local island, you’ll be looking at paying around $100 for two dives. The cheapest option for diving in the Maldives, however, is doing a liveaboard trip.
Other options for excursions include lots of snorkeling trips. If you’re lucky to be visiting during manta ray or whale shark season, you’ll be able to arrange a trip to see them. We tried to do this in Guraidhoo but sadly didn’t get to see any manta rays. We paid $50 per person for a half-day snorkeling trip. It was pretty pricey but it was also the best snorkeling of my life! Amazing visibility, thousands of tropical fishes, and even adorable sea turtles swimming alongside us.
Most guesthouses will also arrange fishing trips ($50 per person), or day trips to the resorts ($50 per person plus a $30 per person entrance fee). You can also take trips to sand banks ($25 per person) and go island hopping around the atoll ($50 per person).
There Are Even Maldives Tours You Can Take
One of the best tour companies out there — G Adventures — runs sailing tours all over the Maldives at pretty reasonable prices for group tours. If you’re keen to check out the local islands of the Maldives but can’t spend weeks planning it all out, or would rather have somebody else show you around rather than jumping headfirst into independent travel, this is a fantastic option.
G Adventures run small-group tours with a heavy focus on sustainability, authentic experiences, and giving back to local communities. In the Maldives you’ll sail on a traditional Dhoni boat and have opportunities to participate in a plastic clean-up operation on the islands.
Some of their tours include:
- Maldives Dhoni Cruise (7 days) — You’ll spend a week cruising around some of the prettiest islands in the country, like Fulidhoo — my favourite island! You’ll get to snorkel in coral reefs, skip over pristine sandbanks, and visit uninhabited islands that are truly off-the-beaten track.
- Maldives Island Hopping (8 days) — Head north from Male to Dhiffuhsi, Thulusdhoo, Huraa, and Villimale. You’ll take walking tours across the islands, jump in a kayak for sunset, check out a saltwater lake, and enjoy a traditional meal with a local family. This one looks epic, as it’s going to a part of the Maldives that I’m desperate to check out!
- Sri Lanka and Maldives Adventure (14 days) — If you have more time, why not combine an adventure in Sri Lanka with some time spent sailing in the Maldives? Sri Lanka is one of my favourite countries in the world, so I have no doubts that this would be an incredible trip.
There’s So Little Information Around
I’ve never visited a country where independent travel is so new, and it certainly made planning a little tricky. When there are so many islands to choose from and only a handful of resources for some of the lesser-known ones, it can be frustrating to figure out where to go and when.
I’m a chronic over-planner, so trying to choose between islands left me more than a little anxious. The first thing I do when I decide I want to go somewhere is head to Google Images. I’m a visual person and I like to see exactly where I’m going. When I did this with many of the Maldivian islands, I came across stock photos of the Maldives, photos of resorts, and satellite photos of islands.
Searching for detailed information was just as tricky. Many of the islands had a paragraph on Wikipedia mentioning their size and population, and that was mostly it. I couldn’t find many travel bloggers who had been and written about the islands. In this scenario, I would venture over to TripAdvisor and start reading the accommodation reviews of guesthouses on an island that I was keen to visit — many of them were long and detailed and covered what the island was like, too.
This won’t be a problem if you visit the more popular islands in the country, but if you want to strike out and find the places that are still untouched by tourism, you’ll feel as though you’re winging it a bit.
And that’s exactly why I’m writing this blog post! I found so little information online that I was determined to start sharing detailed guides on how to travel independently in the Maldives. (Want to share what you learned on your Maldives trip with the world? I highly encourage you to start a travel blog! It’ll help people be better informed when they visit and provide you with a lucrative income source. Win-win, in my opinion!)
Ferries Run Infrequently
If you want to visit several islands while you’re in the Maldives, the ferries will be your biggest barrier. Ferries don’t run on Fridays, and typically run every other day to the main island of each atoll.
Because the ferries run so infrequently, island hopping can be a bit of a pain in the ass. If you want to avoid spending time in Male, then you’ll have to make sure that your flight arrives on a day that the ferry runs and several hours before that ferry leaves.
Trying to get from one island to another can often involve multiple changes, and coordinating these travel days to coincide with the ferry timetable can leave you overnighting on other islands.
It’s a Strict Muslim Country
The Maldives is an Islamic state operating under sharia law, and requires all of its citizens to be Muslim. Upon entering the country, you have to sign a declaration stating that you are not bringing into the country “materials deemed contrary to Islam including ‘idols for worship’ and bibles, pork and pork products, and alcohol.”
Furthermore, in the Maldives, Friday and Saturday is the weekend, with Friday being a day of rest. Everything but restaurants close down on Fridays and ferries cease to run.
Pork and alcohol is banned, and there are also no dogs in the country. You won’t be able to find an alcoholic drink anywhere outside of the resorts. It’s not even like it’s banned but you can secretly buy it at expensive prices — we didn’t see it for sale anywhere and weren’t offered any while we were there. If you’re hoping for cocktails or beers at sunset, you’ll have to stick with bottles of water instead.
Budget travel tip: I recommend picking up a GRAYL water bottle to save money on drinking while also helping protect the environment. This water bottle works a bit like a French press — you fill it with water and then slide the filter down to the bottom of the bottle. Doing that kills 99.999% of all viruses, bacteria, and cysts in water and gets rid of any sediment or weird flavours, making it completely safe to drink. You can drink tap water anywhere in the world with this kickass bottle and not get sick — whether you’re in India, Mozambique, or the Maldives!
So what should you wear on the local islands?
For both women and men there’s a strict dress code: shoulders and thighs to be covered at all times, even when on the beach. No see-through clothing, either. Guys, you won’t be able to go shirtless or wear shorts that expose your thighs, and females, you won’t be able to wear a bikini or swimming costume.
I would swim in board shorts and a baggy t-shirt in the ocean. For walking around the island, I usually stuck to jeans and a t-shirt. I’d wear a knee-length dress when heading out for dinner and wrap a shawl around my shoulders.
If you’re going on an excursion away from the local islands — a snorkeling trip, for example — then you can wear whatever you like once you get on the boat.
There are Beaches Especially For Tourists
On some of the local islands, there’ll be one designated beach for the tourists, typically called Bikini Beach. A barrier will be erected between the beach and the streets of the island, and once you pass that barrier, you’ll be able to take off your clothes. Well, some of them. Topless sunbathing (for ladies) is illegal in the Maldives and could land you in jail.
Some of the guesthouses have a small garden area where they’ll allow you to sunbathe in bikinis if there isn’t a Bikini Beach. It’ll say in the listing if this is the case, so be sure to check in advance if sunbathing is important to you.
There was a beach for tourists on both Maafushi and Fulidhoo.
Mostly Anything Goes on the Resorts, But They’re Crazy-Expensive
On the resorts, women can wear bikinis, men can go shirtless, and alcohol is available at Australian-ish prices ($8 for a beer, $15 for a cocktail).
Fancy a special trip to one of the fancy resorts while you’re in the country? Prepare to pay a lot of money. For a room on the beach, you’ll be looking at $200+ per night, for one of the beautiful overwater bungalows, you’ll struggle to find anything under $400.
Each Island is Different — And There Are So Many to Choose from!
Before arriving in the Maldives, I had naively assumed that each island would be pretty similar. I was wrong.
There are 1200 islands in the Maldives, 200 of them inhabited. Of the inhabited islands, you’ll find guesthouses on maybe 50 of them. You’ll also, as I keep saying, know very little about any of them. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to discover that each island I visited offered something different. The only thing they had in common: none of the streets were paved!
Maafushi is the touristy island. There are more guesthouses on the island than anywhere else in the country. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, the locals are used to tourists, and there are many souvenir shops. The beach is beautiful, despite the built-up hotels.
Fulidhoo is the quiet island paradise that’s a little off the beaten track. This is where we were the only tourists for almost a week. The downside to the peace and quiet is the lack of eating options. There’s something like three restaurants on the island, but nobody speaks English and our attempts to order food failed often. Because there are so few options, we were charged $10 per meal, drastically higher than what we paid on any others.
Guraidhoo is a hangout for surfers. There isn’t a beach for tourists here, and the beaches aren’t incredible. The waves are huge, though, and there’s plenty of badass looking Maldivian surfer dudes wandering the streets. Everyone tries to sell you Maldivian chocolate in Guraidhoo — a mixture of coconut, sugar and jasmine.
The Taxes and Fees are Horrible
The Maldivian government charge you a whole load of taxes and fees, and they’re a pain in the ass to pay. For every night you spend in the Maldives, you’ll be looking at:
A $8 bed tax. That’s $8 per person per night.
8% GST for the room.
10% service charge.
Guesthouse owners try to get you to pay this fee in cash in US dollars. It’s frustrating and expensive, and you can’t pay in advance. That’s an issue because:
Running Out of Money is a Real Concern
The only ATMs in the country are in Male, which makes paying for things on the local islands kind of frustrating. The UK has an annoying rule that you can only withdraw $350 per day from an ATM and, as I was in Male for just six hours, that’s all the cash I could get out for a three week trip. (I travel with an emergency credit card that I’ve never used, and when I tried to get cash out with it at the airport, my bank blocked my card!)
That’s why it’s a good idea to book your accommodation in advance so that you can pay for it before you arrive. The guesthouses will occasionally take credit cards, but they’ll also charge you around 4% to do so. We didn’t see anywhere offering cash advances on the islands.
The taxes and fees that I mentioned above mostly have to be paid in cash and, although the guesthouse owners will ask for it in USD, we got away with paying for it all in Maldivian Rufiyaa.
In restaurants, on the local ferries and in the local shops, everything has to paid for in rufiyaa.
It’s also quite hard to get rufiyaa changed back into anything useful when you leave, and there are quite a few reports online saying that all of the currency exchange places in Male refused to change their currency back. Getting out lots of money in advance with the idea that you can just change back what you haven’t spent at the end of your time isn’t a great idea. I’d recommend bringing a few hundred US dollars into the country with you as a backup supply of cash.
Note: Since publishing this post, a few locals have commented to let me know that there is at least one ATM on each atoll. For the islands that I visited, the guesthouse owners often travelled to Male to get cash, and when we were close to running out, told us we’d need to take a trip to Male if we didn’t want to pay by card. I’d therefore recommend asking guesthouse owners before you arrive whether there’s an easily accessible ATM near to the island if this is a concern for you.
It’s a Great Location for Digital Nomads
I was fully expecting to spend my three weeks in the Maldives offline due to unusable Internet.
On Maafushi, our Internet speeds were 6mb/s download; 3mb/s upload. They were a bit slower on Fulidhoo and Guraidhoo but marginally so. We had one day without Internet on Guraidhoo, which was a network-wide problem, but other than that we stayed connected all the time.
If your phone is eSIM-compatible (all recent iPhones and many Android phones are), I recommend checking out Airalo, which sells local e-SIM cards for travellers. What that means is that you can buy your SIM card online before you arrive in the Maldives, and then as soon as you land in the country, you can switch on your data and start using it. It’s worked flawlessly for me and I’ll never go back to physical SIM cards. You’ll pay $30 for 17 GB of data for the Maldives and can also top-up through the Airalo app. if you run out.
We were shocked to discover that we received a data signal everywhere we went — even during a two hour ferry ride across the open ocean where we couldn’t see land in any direction. I guess that’s what happens when there’s no tall buildings to diminish the signal.
Working and travelling in the Maldives is therefore easy. Wi-Fi speeds are faster than I’ve received in many guesthouses around the world, and data is very reliable.
Maldivian Hammocks are Strange but Comfortable
And you’ll be spending a lot of time in them.
One of the first things I noticed when we arrived in the Maldives was the strange hammocks — I’d never seen anything like them. Made from a steel frame with netting sewed around the edge, you’ll find these uncomfortable looking contraptions hanging from sturdy tree branches on the beach. You’ll even find ground-based ones outside of most houses.
They’re surprisingly comfortable.
The Maldivian Language is Fascinating
The language spoken in the Maldives is similar to Sinhala, but also has aspects of Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and many, many more languages.
The script is thought to have originated as a secret code for writing magical formulas so that outsiders couldn’t understand what was being written. As far as experts can tell, the ordering of the alphabet is completely random.
Maldivian Breakfasts Are Divine
Maldivian breakfasts are incredible, and every time I’ve been served a continental breakfast, my least favourite of the breakfasts, I’ve felt like breaking down in tears.
The most popular breakfast in the Maldives in Mas Huni, pictured above. That bowl of awesome contains finely chopped tuna, onion, coconut and chili, which you roll up in freshly-baked roshi.
But the rest of the meals aren’t as exciting. Unsurprisingly, fish features heavily in Maldivian meals. So does curry and rice. Curry and rice every day. Every day it’s curry and rice. I wasn’t a huge fan of the curry in the Maldives, but it seemed that every time we ordered a “Maldivian dinner” from our guesthouses we were presented with fish curry and rice. Still, better than a continental breakfast.
The Weather is Hard to Predict
Online, I read that the wettest month in the Maldives is September but the locals say it’s June/July. Either way, it’s pretty hard to predict the weather.
Each island has its own climate, so if it’s raining on one island, it won’t necessarily be raining on an another that’s 20 km away. Because of this, every weather forecast sticks to the standard rainy season prediction: Dry until 3pm, rain for the rest of the day.
The smaller the island, the harder it is to find a weather forecast online. I spent most of my time in the country obsessing over the weather because I was so concerned it would rain over Dave’s birthday, when I’d booked a resort stay as a present. Spoiler alert: it did.
Low Season is the Time to Go
High season starts in October and the prices of guesthouses increase dramatically. Our $60 a night guesthouse in Maafushi almost doubles its prices to $100 and is now fully booked from October until the end of the year! While we were there, at the start of September, we were the only people in the guesthouse for our four day stay.
The other islands have also been pretty quiet in August and September. On Fulidhoo island it was so quiet that we were the only tourists. On Maafushi, the island with the largest amount of guesthouses, there were usually only around 10 people on Bikini Beach at any one time, so it didn’t feel busy there, either.
Go during this time of year! We’ve experienced one full day of rain over three weeks, and two rainy afternoons. The weather has been great, the prices are halved, and the islands are quiet.
It Won’t be Like This Forever
Let’s take Maafushi. Last year, there were 100 beds on the island. This year there are 500. Next year, there’ll be something like 1000. Seriously. They’re already building a big resort with 80 beds for the upcoming high season. The unbroken silence of the much smaller local islands no longer exists on Maafushi. Instead, there’s construction everywhere. We woke up and went to sleep with the gentle sounds of banging and crashing as people worked on building guesthouses all day every day.
Maafushi is a small island. It measures 1.2 km by 0.2km and the bottom third of island is taken up by a jail. That many beds feels like too many on an island like Maafushi, especially when there’s only one “Bikini Beach” and it’s about 30 metres long. That’s going to get very crowded very quickly. This is a place that I think I would return in two years and barely recognise it.
I’m certain that the next time I return to the Maldives it’ll be unrecognisable from the quiet islands I experienced today.
Phew! That was a long post! I’ve tried to cover absolutely every aspect of travelling to the Maldives independently as best as I could. If there’s something I missed out, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help! :-)
Related Articles on the Maldives
🎒 A Budget Traveller Visits a Luxury Resort in the Maldives
🏖 Falling in Love With Maafushi
🏝 Fulidhoo: The Only Tourists on the Island
🙅🏼♀️ Scammed in Guraidhoo: The Shady Guesthouse Owner
Definitely bookmarking this post! Thanks a lot for all the detailed information. I know which country will be in my travel list for next year :)
One question though: would you still recommend non-millionaires to visit one of the resorts?
I would, but I’d say to limit your stay to just a few nights if you don’t have much money to spend. Our two nights was perfect, and well worth the money. Because we usually stay in budget guesthouses and apartments throughout the year, it was so exciting to treat ourselves to a luxury experience. The overwater bungalows really are special, and definitely worth experiencing at least once! :-)
Hi lauren, i am also trying to be there at olhuveli resort for 1 night from guraidhoo, but the major issue is transfer charges. I just need to know that if we reach there through local fisherman, they will allow us to stay there if we have booking for 1 night.
Sorry, no idea!
What do you know about cheap flights to the Maldives? I stay in South Africa and so far the flight prices to Maldives cost more than the accommodation.
I take it that it’s probably not the best country for vegetarians to visit outside the resorts. Still pretty keen to go though. The Maldives have been on my bucket list for a long time.
You’d definitely be okay on some of the more touristy islands — there were plenty of vegetarian items on the menu in restaurants in Maafushi and Guraidhoo. In Fulidhoo, we didn’t really see much in the way of vegetarian food, but I’m sure you’d be able to get some if you asked. Of course, how good it would be is another matter… :-). You’d also probably end up having to have a Western breakfast over the Maldivian one.
Thanks so much for this write up. Really helpful stuff! I hope to be able to experience the Maldives the same way you did and will start saving right now :)
Glad you found it helpful and good luck with your saving! :-)
Wow! Thank you! Lauren for this blog. I didn’t even know Maldives has budget guest house options available. I was put up at Eriyadu resort island and spent a bomb on water and the excursions. I always wanted to visit Maldives again and now I know it’s within reach.
Thank you for this lovely post covering pretty much everything one would want to know. I’ve always dreamed of visiting the Maldives, but it never seemed possible because of the extreme prices. Good to know that’s not the only option. Lovely photos as well! It looks like 3 amazing weeks you spent there.
Three amazing weeks and I really didn’t want to leave! It’s definitely a much more affordable option than it seems :-)
Love this! I would love to visit the Maldives one day, I love how colorful it seems. Seems affordable too as long as you’re not at one of the big resorts.
Yep, it’s so much cheaper in the guesthouses than at the resorts, AND you get to experience Maldivian culture, too. Win-win :-)
Hi Lauren, What an interesting read, even for a local. I swear I could feel your frustration about the lack of information about islands and the transportation woes. On the bright side maybe well have less crowds because of it. I visited Maafushi recently and things are as you describe. Sad to see so much of nature giving way to concrete and cement. On the order of the alphabet, as you observed, you might think that maybe they set the most used letters to the front. It might have been helpful getting new words accepted quickly. The language has gone through a lot of changes in recent times.
Thanks so much for your comment, and for some information on the alphabet. I really appreciate it! :-)
Compare the first 9 letters of Thaana (the name of the Dhivehi alphabet) to the first 9 Arabic numerals. To know more about it search up “thaana” on Wikipedia or Google. :)
Great information! The Maldives is one of those places I have never really considered visiting, mainly because I thought it was just honeymooner destination. Good to know you can do it on a budget now, and visit other parts of the country! It looks like it was a great experience!
Thanks, Hannah. It was a wonderful experience and I fully recommend checking it out! :-)
Thank you SO much for this post. I have been wondering if the Maldives can be done on a budget for a while now as I want to plan a trip there at Easter. Having only stayed in a resort there before I had no idea this could be done and you have opened my eyes!
You’re welcome, Olivia! It’s definitely possible to travel on a budget in the Maldives, it just takes a bit of research and a little extra effort! It’s well worth it though :-)
This looks incredible. I knew pretty much nothing about the Maldives. (Alright, I admit it, I had to google them to find out where they were.) So thank you so much for sharing all this ingormation – really great and comprehensive. Also, your photos are stunning – I particularly love the one of the heron.
I know what you mean about places getting ‘spoiled’ though – though if it’s providing a livelihood for locals… It’s a tricky one to get the balance right on, I think. Too many tourists can so easily spoil a place (it’s been endangering my own home of the Lake District for decades), but then, if the tourism industry dries up, it can be catastrophic. I’m glad you had such a good experience of the Maldives though. And fingers crossed the travel industry doesn’t destroy such a beautiful looking place.
No problem! I’m glad I could introduce you to this beautiful country :-). Completely agree with you — I think it’s great that locals are now getting to profit from the tourism industry, rather than the big resorts, but I hope it doesn’t end up destroying the wonderful islands. It’s a tough balance.
You would honestly think the way so many “westerners dream of the Maldives” there would be more information on the location.
I knew it was a strict Islamic State, but I didn’t realize it was that strict, and I think very important to know before hand.
The beaches still look perfect though. This was a fascinating post. Who knew so little is known about such a dream destination.
I agree — but I think most Westerners are dreaming about the resort-filled image of the Maldives, where everything’s arranged for you and you don’t have to do any research. The beaches were incredible! :-)
Such good information! I was dying over your Instagram posts–like you, anywhere with overwater bungalows is basically a dream honeymoon destination for me. Good to know that it can be done a bit differently on a budget, but still with those gorgeous beaches :)
Absolutely — the beaches were just as nice on Maafushi and Fulidhoo as they were on the fancy resort :-)
Great guide–thanks for putting it together! It’s exciting that they are allowing guesthouses on the local islands, but I agree, I hope the islands don’t get too over built! I would love to visit the Maldives, and it’s so nice to know that it can be done on a budget. Hope we can make it there before they change too much!
You’re welcome, Jenna! I’m happy you found it useful :-)
I usually don’t focus on “beach destinations” for my travels, being from a Caribbean island… But this looks like something very special. I’m a bit concerned about the recent law adjustments, though. To each their own, i respect a country and its culture, but some things are harder to digest than others. I’ll definitely be thinking about this destination, though.
I understand your concerns, and I agree with you. It’s a tricky decision to make, but the Maldives is still a wonderful country.
I went to the Maldives last year for the first time and agree that it has some of the best beaches in the world and I totally fell in love with it but I have always thought how expensive it is and know of many people who have wanted to go but been put off by cost – I think this is just a wonderful post giving people an opportunity to visit the Maldives, where they may have previously not thought it possible! It’s also given me some great tips to keep at the back of my mind if I ever make it back :)
Thanks so much, Shikha! I hope you get to make it back :-)
YES! I’m so glad to see this! I love locations like the Maldives, and I love it when people prove that they’re accessible – though sadly that does come at a trade off. I’m glad you had such a good time :)
Thanks, Lindsey! It’s so much more accessible than people believe it to be, and I’m happy to share my experiences :-)
Awesome, awesome overview. I think the lack of ATMs would really bug me! Funny how some things you have to be so prepared for but other things (like the ferries you mentioned) you really can’t plan so much for.
Also, that building reminds me of the half finished buildings we saw around Santorini!
It was a little frustrating as I was really aware of how much I was spending — I hate having to order the cheapest option on the menu because I’m so conscious about prices!
Wow! You did an amazing job with this post, Lauren! A lot of time and work, I’m sure, with a perfect post as a result. I was just talking about visiting the Maldives yesterday, with my husband. Wlll ‘dive into it’ again;-), but now with your info at hand. Thanks!
Thank you so much, Anja! Let me know if I can help out with anything :-)
Amazing resource. I have not been to Maldives and learned a lot. Thank you for this guide, Lauren.
You’re welcome! :-)
It’s really nice to see that it’s possible to visit the Maldives without having a huge wallet – I’ll definitely try to visit here by 2016. The pictures of the islands are beautiful!! Thanks for sharing. :)
You’re welcome! Hope you get to visit soon :-)
Very interesting, I didn’t know much about the Maldives, apart from seeing pictures of high priced resorts. I didn’t even know it was a strict Muslim country. It is somewhere that I would defiitely consider visiting and I think I would also want to do a mix of resort and local islands. If only the flights weren’t so expensive :(
The flights can be expensive if you’re coming from far away. From Southeast and South Asia, however, I’ve found the flights to be quite reasonable. Sri Lankan Airlines have a lot of good deals on at the moment!
Excellent post! Very good specific information. Maldives is back on my list! Thanks Lauren.
Thanks, Shirley! Glad you found it helpful :-)
Hi Lauren, loved reading your post about backpacking the Maldives on a budget. I got some very useful tips as my boyfriend and I have just spent a week on Maafushi Island. Our accommodation budget was a bit lower than your so we couldn’t take your Water Breeze Inn recommendation however we did find a very reasonable and pleasant guest house for $29 per night.
The week went pretty smoothly and our money definitely went further than we expected, however we ended up not being able to board the cheap ferry back to Male city as it was full and so had to pay $25 each for the speed boat. Nightmare when you are on a shoestring as I’m sure you can imagine!
Other than that it was a perfect week before a crazy three weeks in Sri Lanka. Thanks again and enjoy your onward travels
Ah, so sorry to hear that you had to take a speedboat! And crazy that it was full — it was so quiet when I was there. Glad you had a good time overall, though! Isn’t it such a beautiful country?
Hi, Lauren exilent information in your every
Answer and now I will plan my Maldives tour
Otherwise my previous experience regarding
That place are not very good.Thank you very
much Lauren I think many people now take
Planning of Maldives.
IM looking forward that I can visit this fantastic place in Maldives/ great to hear those feedbacks which leads me to excitement visiting this place :)
Thanks, Carney! :-)
Such a useful post! I was wondering if you booked your guesthouses before arriving on each island or waited until you got there to look at them?
Thanks, Jayne! :-) I booked before we arrived, which was a bit risky but we wanted to pay for them in advance because of the whole ATM issue.
Thank you for this wonderful post and photos of the place I currently call home! I loved how you spoke about the country and the locals (sometimes I read things online that are a bit offensive- especially about the culture/religion). Visiting Maafushi next month and hope to see those other two you mentioned before my contracts up! :D
Than you so much, Sarah! I’m so pleased to hear you liked the post. Hope you like Maafushi — that was my favourite island.
Oops and one thing – alcohol is illegal on local islands, you said about it “not being banned but you can buy it secretly”- secret buying is the black market. Be very careful!!!!
Ah, I think you misread the article. I said: “It’s not even like it’s banned but you can secretly buy it”. I wasn’t recommending buying it on the black market! :-)
Yes- alcohol is certainly banned on local islands! For locals and tourists alike. There is one hotel on Hulhumale island, called Hulhumale International Hotel (HIH) close to airport- this is the only one I know that has an alcohol licence.
I’ve heard about that!
great guide, this will be so much help to me when I finally make it there! i’ve been in India for 2 years and have been dying to go because flights aren’t too bad. Bookmarking this! Thanks.
Glad you found it helpful! There are some really cheap flights from Sri Lanka and India. I think we paid around $180 return from Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines.
Which airport did you fly into?
I have never fancied going to the Maldives due to the resorts. Good to know it is possible as an independent traveller. Thanks for the post.
Yep, there’s definitely a lot more to discover than the fancy resorts! :-)
This post has scared me!
I’ve always wanted to visit the Maldives, and now I feel like I have to visit ASAP before it becomes a tourist trap! Aaaahhh!
While some of the busier islands that I visited will rapidly attract more tourists, there are still hundreds of islands to choose from :-)
Pretty neat write up. I’d like to correct one tiny bit, men can go swimming shirtless. I’ve seen a lot of locals do that. As for women, your attire description is what one should keep in mind. Great post btw. I’m book marking this to show to pass on to all those who keep asking me for budget options in the Maldives.
Ah, thanks so much for that! I’d read before arriving that men had to keep their shoulders covered on the local islands, so that’s what we did. Good to know that Dave could have been a lot more comfortable when swimming! :-)
That was a very detailed post. loved it. I am a Maldivian and even for us exploring our own beautiful nation is so expensive we usually end up in a beach in South East Asia, for more fun & privacy from the Islamic Culture. However this is a must see destination in terms of our beaches, reefs, tropical nature :) Thank you for the post, it will definitely help a lot of new tourists who would love to explore Maldives within a decent budget. Btw, 10% service charge is not for the government but almost all the hospitality service providers charge it for themselves. in resorts its divided among the staff members, i am not sure bout small operations. It’s sort of a forced tipping.
Ah, thanks so much for letting me know, Leesha! One of the guesthouse owners made it seem like the bed tax, GST *and* the service charge were all collected for the government. I feel much better knowing that it’s going to the service providers instead (apart from the guesthouse owner who scammed us!) :-)
Great article about local island hopping. However you can dive for $25 on Maafushi with Shark Diving, great company, great guides (includ all equipment, boat). Liveaboards are definitely not the cheapest way to see the underwater world.
Ah, I actually meant that it was the cheapest way to visit the Maldives and dive — because the accommodation and meals and entry to islands and whatnot would all be covered in the price.
I always thought the maldives were only fancy resorts, but this looks right up my alley!! Awesome guide!
Glad you found it helpful, Katie! :-)
Thank you for your kind words about our country. Awesome that you chose to experience local life too as most people just see the resorts as life in the maldives, but as u would have seen, its really different.
Did you get a chance to visit Male’, the capital? A day trip/half day is a must for any traveller going to maldives. After all, a third of the population lives there, just on one island, when we have about 1200 of them.
Thank you so much, Amina! I’m thrilled you liked the post! I spent half a day on Male while I was waiting for a ferry but I sadly didn’t get to see too much of it. I had my backpack with me and didn’t want to explore in the heat with all my luggage. Next time I visit, I’ll definitely be taking so time out to take a look around :-)
I know this is an old post but since your a local I would like to ask which island you recomend. We are traveling to Maldives only for 3 nights. I would prefer an island where we can explore the Maldivian culture. And since I am Muslim myself would like quiet beaches. Other than this fantastic post not much info on net about it. Thanks
well i just wanted to add that the government doesnt take the service charge. its a charge by the hotels. but then again all of the hotels will charge them (although the amounts might vary) and so that doesnt make much of a difference.
Thanks for letting me know, Ahmed! I’ve edited the post to reflect that :-). Quite a few of the guesthouse owners told me that all of the taxes and fees were for the government, so it’s interesting to hear that the service charge goes directly to them.
Excellent info from a foreigner about my home town….glad you had a beautiful time….but for the benefit of others wanted to correct a minor error. on contrary to what the write up says,both men and women can most definitely wear shorts. while women’s shorts are acceptable slightly above knee length,at mid-thighs, men can have theirs slightly shorter.
Thanks so much for the information! I did actually say that women and men need to cover their shoulders and thighs, meaning that shorts were okay :-)
Bank of Maldives ATMs are available all over the country, with at least one ATM at each atoll.. where ever you are, you just have to locate the nearest bank branch for you to have access to an ATM
Oh, thanks for the clarification! I find that interesting as, when we were close to running out of cash on several islands the guesthouse owners told us that the only way for us to get money out was to go to Male. One of the staff members on Guraidhoo needed to get some cash out and went to Male to get it, too. That’s much better if there are ATMs on each of the atolls :-)
Hey Lauren! I’m a Maldivian and I have been living in the US for the past three years. I heaven’t had time to read the entire article. I just wanted to drop a comment about the part I read. Most people do not talk and stare simply because they are shy and out of curiosity… Take my word for it. Now you know.
Thanks so much, Zihan! That’s good to know! :-) I had a feeling that was the case, I just was a little concerned my presence may have been bothering the locals, which I really didn’t want. Thanks for letting me know! :-)
This was really interesting, Lauren, thanks! I had no idea the Maldives were such a strict Muslim country, that really seems strange to me considering I picture it as the quintessential tropical holiday place: somewhere to lie on a beach in my bikini with a cocktail. Good job I know better now!
That’s definitely the experience you’ll have on the resorts, but not so much on the local islands! :-)
You’re welcome! :-)
It’s pretty surprising how little people know about it, isn’t it? I would have visited a lot earlier if I’d known!
Now, the taxes thing would piss me the hell off, ditto the ATMs. Glad to know there are tourist beaches, too – board shorts don’t bother me, but I HATE swimming in t-shirts! The beaches look divine though, and good to know the WiFi situation is top notch! Also, those breakfasts…you actually had me searching for flights to the Maldives after reading this. Someday…
It was a bit frustrating to think you knew the price of everything and then have 18% extra thrown in! I think you’d love the Maldives, though. You have to visit!
Is there a certain months to go far as storm season and do you know any good guesthouses on the maafushi island
Great article. Few things I wud like to correct,.. Men can go to the beaches shirtless. Short shorts are also allowed. But like you said Bikini is not allowed in the “public”.In resorts they will let you do anything you want. Nude sunbathing will not be a problem if you are in a sandbanks or picnic island where locals normally don’t go. I recommend not trying to get alcoholic beverages from the black market. Now that cud get u in jail. If you fancy a drink, they have a bar in the airport. (Hulhule Island Hotel or H.I.H). But experiencing “Maldives” is like you did, avoiding resorts and sticking to the local islands.
Thanks, Joe! I wasn’t advocating buying alcohol from the black markets — I actually don’t drink! Good to know that men can go shirtless on the beaches, though :-)
I’m a Maldivian and I’ve been to resorts as well as traveled to a bunch of islands within the country, I always wondered why tourists chose the fancy resorts and the high prices instead of exploring the beautifully, traditional lifestyle of the locals.
I don’t think you’ll have to worry about the islands getting ruined by too much tourism, because some other island will be then begin to start getting into the tourism industry as it’s gonna be one of the few employment opportunities on local islands.
Maafushi was the first island that became specialized in tourism Even before the law was passed, the guest houses were there. I’ve been there a few times and I’m planning to go there next month.
The most beautiful island I’ve been to (and I’ve been to many) would be HA. Kelaa. Yeah, HA Atoll means a long way from Male’, and it also means they are much more beautiful. There should be one or two guest houses there, but since the population is small, and I hadn’t seen many young adults around, I don’t think there are a lot of restaurants around. However, the locals are always willing to help, if you could find an agent within the island, they can arrange a fair accommodation and meal plans.
Tip: If you’re traveling to an Island not near Male’, there are only a few options to get there. The farther it is, the harder it gets. But it’s worth it.
– There are a few local airports located on islands on different parts of the country, so you can fly to the airport which is nearest to your destination, and from there, you’re able to travel by ferry which can be a 1-4 hour journey depending. Flying from local airport to airport can cost around USD70 – USD100. There’s a small charge for the ferry too, which can be USD20 – USD50.
– Then there is the cheaper, but time consuming option. Each of these islands have a ferry that travels from Male’ to the island, (and transits on other islands within it’s atoll, in some cases). It costs around USD25 – USD35 for the ferry, but it can take around 18 hours on the ferry. The trip can be enjoyable if you chat up with a crew member, or even the captain. They can tell you a lot of stuff about almost anything about the islands. They are very experienced.
Well, I hope all this was helpful. If you want anymore help, feel free to ask me :).
Thank you for you compliments on our country, Lauren. :)
Im travelling there in january. For 5 days 4 nights. Is it true that the north atoll is better during this period in term of weather and coral visibility
Sorry, Ray, I haven’t been to the north atoll to know personally. I also haven’t heard either way, and wouldn’t want to guess and give you wrong information!
Thank you so much for your super detailed comment, Mohamed! You make a good point about previously untouched islands opening up to tourism more and more — and there are so many islands to choose from in the Maldives that there’ll always be some quiet ones to explore :-)
I can’t wait to head back and explore further afield!
Thanks Anthony! Glad to hear you enjoyed reading it :-)
If there is a BML branch on the Island, there should be an ATM.
Maldives hammocks you mentioned are locally knows as “Joali” or “Undhoali”- which is a swing.
Transport cost’s will be damn expensive if you want to travel to other islands.
Loved the article. But it would be complete if you could have mentioned some of the activities you could do while in Maldives as such night fishing, diving, snorkeling, barbecue, watersports…
Suggestions regarding how certain facilities could have been improved would be helpful to those owners and travel agents.
P.s. Do visit again and share your experience. As you mentioned, certain travel info is hard to get hands on. That is true as this sector (backpakers/budget holiday) is a recent setup is on the verge of expansion. Hence as the market grows, so will the services and facilities. If you need certain info before hand try facebook queries and other travel agent websites.
Thanks for the suggestion! I actually didn’t do many of the activities on offer in the Maldives aside from a snorkeling trip. I don’t write about things I haven’t personally experienced so that’s the reason why I didn’t focus on activities very much.
I also write for my readers, fellow travellers, rather than guesthouse owners and travel agents :-)
Shifax, If you need I wrote an article about diving in the Maldives if you need more information you can have a look: http://divezone.net/diving/maldives
Otherwise, Lauren congratulation for your post it is very informative and very exhaustive!!! I hope I could also write articles that long ;-).
Don’t hesitate to send me an email if you need more information about the underwater world of the Maldives!
Thanks so much for sharing your information about diving, Julien! One day I’ll work up the courage to try it :-)
Thanks for putting together such a detailed post, Lauren! I’m dying to do the Maldives on a budget, but I think I’ll have to save more for it. I’d love to stay in one of the expensive resorts for a night too.
I see you were in India recently, can’t wait to hear how you got on! :)
Ah, I actually had to cancel my India trip, which is how I ended up in the Maldives. My Indian visa ended up being too complicated and expensive to apply for, so I went for some island hopping instead! :-)
So beautiful! The best beaches I’ve ever seen :-)
SO helpful! Definitely bookmarking this! Thanks for sharing.
Happy travels :)
Greetings and best wishes from Maldives. I am a Maldivian and just like the other couple of Maldivians loved your post, I also loved it equally or even better. You have described Maldives and it’s most aspects of tourism related side so well. Quite detailed and easy to understand even for someone who never knew about these islands.
Maldives is a Muslim country but not so strict on dress code as long as someone’s not so exposed getting close enough to nudity. You will find even local girls with their shoulders exposed and wearing shorts at the thigh level. Boys may not walk around without a shirt but that doesn’t mean they are forbidden. The elderly and the young has quite a huge difference in the ways of dressing and you could have noticed it had you stayed a bit long in Male’, the capital.
I am not trying to put someone into a religious debate over this issue (someone who may read this) but wanted to clear the impression that you had about the serious restrictions over dress code here in the Maldives.
Like you said, Maldives was always recognized as a destination for the rich but now you have explained it otherwise, so well.
Your article is valuable and thanks so much for the compliments.
Thanks so much for clearing that up. I do my best not to offend cultures as I travel so was cautious not to offend and covered up as much as possible :-)
This is a fantastic guide, Lauren! I’ve always thought of the Maldives being out of my reach (budget-wise), but I’m so glad to hear that this doesn’t really have to be the case!
Even though you said locals were friendlier to you when you were out on your own, the lack of other tourists would kind of make me think twice about traveling solo there – I would want a buddy to at least chat to!
Yes, I would have felt a bit lonely on Fulidhoo if I hadn’t been with Dave. Some of the more popular islands, such as Maafushi, would have been fine as a solo traveller.
better try out the islands away from the Capital Male’…. you might not find guest houses or much people who speak English. But the hospitality you will receive is something to cherish…… Eid festival is marked very colorfully in islands with lots of cultural activites
Thanks for the recommendation, Fathima! I definitely enjoyed the islands the further from Male I travelled. Would love to visit for Eid one year!
How do you tink I need to spend for a 5days 4 nights trip on a budget. One night water villa n e rest in a guest hse.
Maybe $500/night for a water villa, and $60/night for a guesthouse.
Awesome article i must say :) however Guys can go shirtless as long as they are covered beneath with a short. And girls can also wear shorts that is not much revealing in the local islands.
Thanks for sharing, Shafa! I wore shorts when I was on the local islands, but I’d read in a few places that men had to keep their chests covered up, too. Good to know that’s not the case :-)
This is Awesome!!!!! reading this makes me wanna go there for a holiday this December
You should :-)
I read your article .Very usefull information about Maldives budget tour. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you! :-)
Great article about your trip to my lovely country. I saw it late at night and still ended up reading the whole blog and comments.
I just want to share a link on ferry schedule by MTCC http://www.mtcc.com.mv/content/rashu-link
Hope you will visit our country again.
Thanks so much for sharing, Shifan! I’m so pleased to hear you enjoyed the article, and I can’t wait to return to the Maldives! :-)
wow! Ur post is just brilliant….i was in Maafushi in May this year and enjoyed my time there the locals to me were super friendly and I spend next to nothing to be able to enjoy the kind of beach and clear waters that far exceeds my expectations…..the island hopping to Sexy beach and picnic island were just perfect I could spend a whole day there….any photo at any island looks so good….my next trip I will check out the other 2 islands you mentioned….nobody mentioned them to me last May haha…..
Awesome — so glad to hear from someone who loves Maafushi as much as I did. Next time I plan on doing some island hopping like you did :-)
Hi Lauren, I’m in Maafushi now and I agree with you. It’s way cheaper living in local island and heading out to island hop and do activities at different island, locations. I haven’t quite get my taste buds to like the local food yet. Though I love their barbequed fish. So fresh!
I’m definitely coming back here for holiday. It’s way laid back then any other places/islands I’ve visited.
So great to hear from someone else on Maafushi — so pleased to hear you’re enjoying your time there, too! :-)
Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing :-)
You’re welcome! :-)
I am so bummed that we did not have the time to fit in a visit to the Maldives when we were so close by in Sri Lanka, especially now that I’ve read your account of it. It’s great to hear that budget tourism really is becoming feasible and you can rest assured that the next time we’re in that part of the world (and obviously we will make it a priority to do so because I need to get back to Sri Lanka asap!) we’ll be using this as our guide.
Hope you make it back to Asia soon, and would love to hear what you think of The Maldives! :-)
Class post, it doesn’t sound like the Maldives are possible on my typical budget which is often $50 per day. I guess many travellers are going to think – why bother going to the Maldives and spend more money for something I can get for cheaper in Thailand…where I can also get drunk every night and walk around with my top on.
Personally I think the lack of alcohol and conservativeness of it all sounds perfect. I’m always looking for an excuse to not drink beer (hate the stuff) and keep my top on (typical pale English chest.) But is it worth all the extra hassle with the ferries and such?
Some things you didn’t mention that might interest. Bugs. Are there any? I always picture tropical islands as being filled with them. Hot water. Is it available? (Or do you want it?) And was it too hot to lie on the beach? Nothing worse than a beach holiday where you can’t actually go on the beach!
I think it’s worth the hassle. As long as you spend a few hours planning to make sure your plans coincide with the ferry schedule it shouldn’t be too difficult. Frustrating, yes. But it’s worth it :-)
Not really any bugs. There were a few on Fulidhoo when there wasn’t any breeze, but most of the time it was windy enough to keep them at bay. Temperatures were around 25-30 degrees C most days.
Such a magical place!
It really is! :-)
You’re welcome! Glad you found it helpful :-)
Definitely a great place that I want to visit. Most people I’ve heard that have went usually spend a ton of money. Now that I know there are cheaper options definitely want to look into it more. Thanks for sharing your experience.
It’s so much cheaper than people think it is! :-)
Thank you for such a comprehensive post on travelling independently to the Maldives, Lauren! The photos were impressive (the door and the heron ones topping the list)!
I have one question I’ve been meaning to ask you, though: how do you feel about the fact the Maldives (and several of the countries you visit) don’t really respect basic human rights? Don’t take me wrong; I’m not asking you this in a critical or flaming sort of way. It’s just that I myself would LOVE to visit countries such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Belize, etc., but feel really ambivalent about it because I feel I’d be contributing to the economy of countries which do not respect, for example, women’s rights and/or LGBT rights. How do we look past this?
It can be tricky. But where do you draw the line? If I stopped going to countries that didn’t respect human rights, that restricted freedoms, that were corrupt, that advocated torture, that had shitty politics, gender inequalities… how many countries could I actually visit? Not many.
I feel that by visiting these countries it helps to bring about change because locals meet people with different life views and ways of thinking. Staying away only increases the isolation that can create these issues in the first place. I personally have re-evaluated so many of my beliefs since I started travelling just from meeting other people from different cultures and ways of life. The countries you mentioned above are some of my favourite countries in the world, with some of the friendliest people I’ve come across. Truly lovely, welcoming people who I’ve been happy to give my money to. So, I try to stay in homestays and guesthouses wherever possible so I can give to the locals who need it.
I guess what it comes down to is that I wouldn’t want to hold an entire population of country responsible for the actions of their government, or of a certain percentage of said population. And it’s only by visiting and experiencing a country first-hand that I can see what it’s really like. Having said that, one country I don’t plan on visiting is North Korea because I don’t think there’s an ethical way to do so.
Thank you, Lauren!
It’s a really tough call for me. You’re totally right when you say these populations benefit from being exposed to new ways of thinking (as do we), and I do think if we stick exclusively to countries which respect human rights we’ll be limiting and keeping ourselves from visiting some on the most gorgeous places on earth (and if we bring animal rights into the mix, we won’t even leave the house *sigh*).
I guess I’ll just have to somehow triage said nations and decide how much I’m willing to turn a blind eye to. The algorithm is still being worked out… In the meantime, I guess there’s still a myriad of options that likely won’t interfere with my current criteria. :)
After read your post , seem that going Maldives is not a dream for budget traveler like me ! Useful information =)
It can definitely be a reality! :-)
Hi Lauren, really great to chance on this brilliant post! Can I know what exactly is “day trips to resorts”? What can we do at the resorts, just basically visiting it? Tks!
Yep, you can use the pools, lie on the beach, go to the restaurants or visit the spa. Basically just visiting it for a day :-)
Wow! I knew the Maldives was beautiful but I always assumed it was way beyond my budget. I’m planning to do some travelling next year and now I have a new destination on the list. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Myles! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did :-)
Thank you for the detailed post about the Maledives! A lot of it really surprised me. Now it can really be on my bucket list.
You’re welcome, Laura! I hope you get to visit soon :-)
So many great tips! Maldives is at the top of my list of places to go and maybe I’ll be able to afford it sooner than I thought!
Thanks, Gina! I hope so — it’s a really wonderful country :-)
yeah right, if you plan to stay for a week in a budget hotel in one of the islands then you can get a cheap deal.. cheap in maldives term is mid-range compared to travelling in other countries with good tropical beach as well (e.g. thailand, philippines, etc beach + culture). don’t be decieved with adds saying below 100 USD for a guest house in the maldives cos you also have to make sure about the ferry cost which could go up to 150 USD per 2 persons or if you can get both hotel and ferry cheaply then you also lose time cos of either ferry leaves late afternoon from male or very early from other islands. way to go maldives
Hi, C. I don’t want to assume that you didn’t read my post but I’m confused by your comments. There are plenty of guesthouses available for under $50 a night. I took 5 ferries in the Maldives and didn’t pay more than $3 for a ferry. The speedboats are ~$150-300, but the local ferries are very cheap.
And yeah, there are much cheaper accommodation options in Thailand and the Philippines, but I can’t think of anywhere in either place that are this beautiful without a single other tourist on them. For me, the appeal was being somewhere where very few (and in some cases, no) other tourists were. And the $40-60 a night guesthouses were just as good value as you’d receive in SE Asia for the same price.
Yeah, you can’t do it for $5 a day, but when you compare it to the $1000 a night all inclusive resorts, $70 a night is pretty damn budget :-)
Hopefully next time I visit I’ll be able to recognise the complexities that go into each of the curries. I’m still very inexperienced with curry eating.
This is a great resource! I always hear that the Maldives is so expensive but these tips are great for those of us who want to visit without a lot of money :D
Absolutely! It really doesn’t have to be expensive at all :-)
Great compilation! I’m in the midst of preparing a backpacking story on the Maldives myself! Went there last year and realized it’s one of the hardest countries to say goodbye to. I also went to the southernmost atoll–Addu, which is quite open to budget tourism, and is an old British army base. I’m glad independent travel in the Maldives is possible now–staying on isolated resorts, no matter how outstanding, there is next to nothing you learn about this unique atoll country and its culture.
Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve heard really great things about the Addu atoll, so I’ll have to make sure I visit next time. It sounds fascinating! :-)
If we’re travelling with kids (ranges from 2-11 yo), which island would u recommend we go to???
I’m obviously not an expert at travelling with kids, but Maafushi seemed like it would be the best place out of the islands I visited.
So great to see that word is getting out about the Maldives as something other than a high-end resort destination. We travelled there for the first time shortly after guesthouses started opening officially and just loved the raw experience on the local islands. We’ve since been back to see more (Omadhoo, Hanimaadhoo (north), Guraidhoo).
Totally agree with your comment on there being very little information around, and your highly-detailed post will be really helpful to travellers, I’m sure! The guy at guesthouses-in-maldives.com is really knowledgeable and helpful too :)
About the bikini swimming and activities, many guesthouses are selling packages now that include meals and trips to deserted islands, where you can also swim freely. A package might help reduce the cost of some of the activities and make sure you can get off the island to see more of the gorgeous scenery.
Thanks so much for sharing, Jennifer! I can’t wait to head back to explore some other islands :-)
LAUREN, loved your report! Thanks for sharing. Also thanks to SHIFAN for providing the link to the ferry schedule which lists days/times for longer trips. My question is regarding the shorter ferry trips between Male and the nearby islands such as Hulhule(airport), Hulhumalle, Villingili, Kuda Bandos, Kurumba, Thulusdhoo. Do these ferries run daily (including Fridays?) and several times per day to and from Male?
Is there a webpage that lists the timetable?
This website should help with the shorter ferry trips: http://www.atolltransfer.com/#!ferry-routes/c1jxp
An excellent point, and so sad to think about :-(
hi lauren, your blog is increbidle!!!
i just want to ask if a tourist staying in a guesthouse can have also an access in the photos that you posted above which you captioned “Working in the Maldives: surprisingly easy!”
That photo was taken on Olhuveli Resort, so not on one of the local islands with guesthouses.
I am a Maldivian. Thank you for coming in and trying out the real Maldives, and not the completely artificial, cut-off-from-all-the-world and horribly expensive resorts (where the money guests spend mostly don’t even enter the local economy!).
Just a couple of words to you: Do come again. And please do forgive the locals for what you feel is a stare. Usually what you see as a stare is a good thing. In local terms, if they do not look at you, they are pointedly ignoring you which means that they don’t like you! Also, if ever you need help of any kind while you are on an inhabited island, please ask for it. That is one great way to make friends. And please, please, if there are children around, do not ignore them. Even if you do not need anything, think of something and ask for it (Try this: Ask where you can get a glass of water to drink. I will be very surprised if someone does not invite you home for a cup of tea!)
Come again! Stay with us. Let us become part of your life while you are here.
I have never travelled out of india and first time I am planning my Honeymoon and I am thinking for Maldives…I have gone through many websites including yours and now I know a lot about Maldives like what to do where to do and about hotels.. etc…
do I need to worry about something ? any suggestions for me ??
Nope I can’t think of anything you need to worry about, and you don’t need to use a travel agent. It’s quite easy to book everything yourself :-) Let me know if I can help in any way!
Thank you so much, Dhivehi :-) I can’t wait to return!
well, im from k.guraidhoo, and im one of the surfers that you mentioned above.. are we that scary looking? :O
I didn’t call anyone scary in my post?
Hi Lauren – enjoyed our stay at Papa Pippos on Otres Beach in Cambodia this past winter after reading about it in your blog. Glad we got there before it gets ruined. Now looking for an inhabited island in the Maldives where we can snorkel right off the beach. Want to be able to snorkel easily and also mingle with the locals. Any ideas? Thanks.
Hmmm, well none of the islands I visited had amazing snorkeling. The Indian Ocean tsunami destroyed much of the reefs around the local islands so there’s a lot of dead coral. Maafushi was the nicest island for snorkeling and swimming as the waves were very calm — but not any coral to see, just a few colourful fish.
Kindly reply to my post… that will help me a lot… by the way I am planning the trip my self. thinking to book flight tickets and hotels separately my self, not by using any Travel Agent/Travel website. is it ok not to get any Guide, I think after knowing about Maldives from Google and your posts, I can manage my self…. please reply…. any suggestions for me ?
Yep, you definitely don’t need a guide! Just book your accommodation and flights separately, and you’ll be sorted :-)
Just want to say thank you for this blog. It’s very helpful. :)
Thank you for saying that! :-)
I enjoyed your blog very much! I’m going to Maafushi on Sunday and I have one big dilemma: should I take a suitcase or a backpack? What did you use? Is there enough space for a suitcase in the local ferryboat? Do you that it’s safe for a woman to travel alone in the local islands?
Thanks a lot,
There’ll be plenty of room for a suitcase — the ferries are quite big with room for luggage. And yep, I think it’s perfectly safe to travel solo in the Maldives as a female — I felt very safe when exploring alone.
Thanks for sharing this and other related posts. I really enjoyed reading your blogs.
This by far is the most informative post I read on Maldives (on a budget). I was hesitant about doing this trip , but after reading your posts I have decided to go ahead. Just need to find the right time … when its not full season and yet not terrible weather. Need to have luck on my side for that :)
Thanks so much, Sameer! I found August/September to be a great time of year to visit! :-)
Hi there Lauren,
I am wondering if you can recommend an overwater villa near the islands you visited? We are hoping to do the same sort of thing as you, and treat ourselves to two nights on an overwater villa as part of a budget trip.
I can only recommend Olhuveli Island as that’s the island I stayed at. I don’t know about any others.
Great article. We are going to the Maldives next month. Regarding the ferries: I’ve found that ferries can now be booked and paid online http://www.atolltransfer.com/#!buy-tickets-/cyfs
but the prices are much higher than you describe. Do you recommend booking online or just show up?
The ferries I talk about in this article are run by the government. I think your link is a privately-owned company so a little pricier. I’d probably just show up at the ferry terminal.
Or they’re a third party that charges you many times the price of a normal ferry ticket.
I just wanted to say thank you for your amazing post. I found myself completely engaged the entire way through it. So many tips, and tricks and amazing things to consider. Thank you for that.
My bestie and I do a large annual trip and this year we are considering a Taj Mahal to Maldives trip, and this was a perfect read.
Could you suggest how to get to Male from Mumbai, assuming you know of course. (most efficient and cost effective way)
Thank you once again, and have an awesome day.
Hi Brooks, I haven’t done the journey myself but Sri Lankan Airlines have some good deals at the moment.
$78 from Colombo. Flying into Male.
hi lauren, I am planning a trip to Maldives soon. I want to know which is the best island. I don’t want anything secluded as I want to experience the culture its self. thanks
Maafushi is a good option! Or Male, which isn’t pretty, or with beaches, but probably has more of the culture.
Thankyou for the amazing post. I can`t say enough on how awesome this post is. Me and my fiance were planning are honeymoon in Maldives in May 2015. I wanted to ask you the following:
1. Can get whale shark excursions from maafushi?
2. I can`t seem to find Water Breeze Guesthouse on airbnb? Should I book directly with them?
Glad you found the post useful! :-) I think you can see whale sharks from Maafushi, depending on the season, especially if you’re divers. Thanks for letting me know about Water Breeze. I’ve updated the link to Agoda, where you can book it! :-)
Here’s the link to Water Breeze: http://www.agoda.com/water-breeze-hotel/hotel/maldives-islands-mv.html?cid=1719506
Hi Lauren, Great compilation!
I’m preparing honeymoon to Maldives, and your post helps a lot!
If you have to choose 1 specific island for honeymoon, which one u prefer?
I’d choose Fulidhoo :-)
Thanks Lauren. My flight gets to Male at 3:05 pm on a Tuesday. Possible for me to get to Maafushi by ferry that day? or would I have to wait?
Also I was choosing between the three islands you mentioned for my honeymoon? What would be your top two picks? One is going to be Fulidhoo as I can see from the post above :)
Maafushi or Guraidhoo?
I think you’d have to wait until the next day to get to Maafushi.
And definitely Maafushi! Guraidhoo was pretty ugly and the beaches weren’t very nice.
Thanks so much for this post, was really helpful!
Do you know anything else about the liveaboard trips? Me and my friend want to do one in august and dunno where to find info!
Hi Clara! I personally don’t know much about liveaboards in the Maldives, but this page on Tripadvisor looks to have some useful information and trip reports of some companies: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g293953-c205197/Maldives:Liveaboard.Safari.Dive.Boats.html
Thanks so much for this informative post! I noticed you wrote about the overwater bungalow in your post, can you let me know how did you arrange that please? I mean, did you have to go back to Male for the transfer to resort or you actually went from either Maafushi, Fulidhoo or Guraidhoo? Can we arrange our own transfer or it has to be arranged through the resort?
Thanks in advance!
Yep, I stayed at Olhuveli Island, and arranged the transfer from Guraidhoo. The resort quoted me $200 return per person for the six kilometre journey, but through our Guraidhoo guesthouse, I arranged transfers for $40 return per person. You can absolutely arrange it outside of the resort and it’ll save you an awful lot of money! :-)
Thanks so much Lauren! ;)
Hi Lauran, thanks you for your blog. i have a question about this answer. when i want to book hotel, in many website they include the tansportation and you i cant book only the resort. how did you do?
i have another question, my wife has a little problem with the food. do you think you can find “normal” food like rice, chicken, fries in local islands?
thks for all
Ah, maybe look at booking directly through the resort’s website? Olhuveli didn’t include transport when you book — it was an add on.
Rice is seen as normal in the Maldives as well! They have rice for breakfast and a lot of meals are chicken curry with rice or chicken fried rice. You can get fries and pizza on Maafushi! But I don’t think they had Western options on Fulidhoo or Guraidhoo.
Your post is what inspired us to go to Maldives in November last year and we loved it. We did not go to Olhuveli but Thoddoo, which is famous for its fruits and white sandy beach. It was a great – inexpensive – holliday. The only problem was the weather: we were so unlucky, it rained almost everyday. But the water was still calm, warm and crytal clear!
Yay! So happy to hear you decided to visit after reading this post :-). Thoddoo looks amazing, even with all the rain!
Hi Lauren, my friends and I were planning to go to Maldives and after reading your blog, we became hesitant due to the fact that they are a strict Muslim Country.
I’m wondering if they would allow tourist from LGBT community like for example Transgender and alike?
From what I can tell, pretty much anything goes on the resort islands — there are lots of reports from gay couples online saying they had no issues there, and I’d imagine it’d be the same for transgenders. I can’t find any information on travelling to the local islands, though, so if that’s in your plans, you might you want to email guesthouses in advance to check, or aim to be discreet during your visit. Hope that helps, and sorry I couldn’t offer more detailed information.
Hi Lauren and Gils Feliciano,
Just jumping into the conversation. We were wondering exactly the same thing about LGBT and it is not a problem. Generally, resorts do not care. But yeah, Maldives is quite a conservative country so it is better to be discreet… You can read more on our blog about our GAY experience of the Maldives: http://nomadicboys.com/gay-maldives/
Perfect! Thanks so much for jumping in, and happy to hear LGBT travellers can safely visit the Maldives :-)
Great read! thanks for the whole lot of insights into Maldives. Like you, I couldn’t find much info on the country and such. And so sad that I saw your post one week after i’ve booked at a resort, a not-so-cheap resort. Here’s hoping all goes tremendously great!
I’m sure it will, Aida! The resorts are so beautiful that it’s impossible not to have a great time :-)
Thanks for the post; it’s very helpful:)
I still have one question…is it possible to arrive in Maafushi without accommodation and find those offering affordable rooms waiting at the dock?
Yep! I’d probably just wander around and find somewhere rather than relying on those guys, though — they’re there to pick up guests rather than tout their rooms.
Excellent post :) Very Informative, Thanks :)
Glad you found it helpful!
Hey.. Thank you so much for publishing this.. You saved a catastrophic honeymoon.. No alcohol and restrictions on clothes – definitely not somewhere I would want to go for a honeymoon.. I really liked the way You’ve put everything.. Great Blog!
And thank you once again!
That’s only the case on the local islands but either way, glad to have helped!
Hi Laura, this is SUCH a useful post. We honeymooned in Maldives 20 years ago, we found it pretty boring. We dived 2-3 times a day, which was great, but being stuck on an island with no cultural interest was dull. We were thinking of going again in 2 weeks, we’re in India now so the flight would be easy. I’d love to see more and backpack around, but no alcohol would spoil our trip. I really don’t see tourism growing very fast if you can’t have a cold beer at the end of the day. Seriously considering whether we should bother going or not now. But thanks for the info, I would not have even thought about the beer situation otherwise. Every country we’ve ever been to where alcohol is “banned” it wasn’t, you could still get a coldie, even if it had to be disguised in a teapot. Cheers!
It’s Lauren, not Laura :-). And alcohol is really so important to you that you wouldn’t go somewhere if it wasn’t available?
Bookmarked! One of the most informative blog i have encountered so far while doing my research for my upcoming backpacking trip to this wonderful place. I’m considering going to Sri Lanka for fewdays from Male. Let’s see how extensive i can research about this place. Thank you Lauren for your informative blog.
My boyfriend wrote a similar style post for Sri Lanka here: http://whatsdavedoing.com/budget-travel-guide-sri-lanka/
Thank you for such invaluable information. We are planning on doing a Three night vacation (Unfortuantely thats the time my husband and I have on hand atm)
We will be staying in Hulhumale. I plan to do a day trip to Male and take the ferry in the noon to Maafushi. Stay in Waterbreeze for the night. Leave for male-Hulhumale the next day and then goto the Resort Islands the next day (Hotel has a shuttle. I am not sure if its the same as Picnic Islands???) Will stay in one of the overwaterbungalows). Leave for Hulhumale the next day. Spend the day and leave next day. Would appreciate any tips/ suggestions.
I loved reading your information and defiantly want to visit – what is the best and most affordable route to get there from the USA – also are there any charter yachts available? Also do you have to snorkel and dive in skins ? Curious
Mark – aka CaribeSail
I’m afraid I’m going to fail at answering all of those questions! I’d head to Skyscanner to find the cheapest flight from the US. I *think* there might be charter yachts! And no you don’t have to snorkel or dive in skins.
When you to the transferring from island to island (ie Guraidhoo to Olhuveli) and while you get the resort to arrange the transfer for you and as the quote the price, do you actually pay via credit or you only pay upon the service rendered? And as for the return trip, is also possible, while you are already in the resort at Olhuveli Island, to get them to send you back to male instead of the origin island you came from? Is it also possible from any resort to send you to the Male Airport instead of Male?
I didn’t arrange the transfer through the resort, I organised it through my guesthouse. I paid after we returned to Guraidhoo and when we checked out. Olhuveli will be able to transfer you back to Male, but I doubt the guesthouse will. And if they did, I imagine it would end up being pretty expensive due to fuel costs, whichever you used. The resorts will take you to Male Airport but it’ll likely be around $250 ish. I think it would be the same price to use the guesthouse’s boat. You’re best to return to Guraidhoo and then catch the local ferry. That would work out at around $25 instead of $250.
Thanks Lauren for the prompt reply. My apologies for the many errors from the previous post and yet you are able to understand where I am coming from! Anyhow, my plan is to actually travel from maafushi to Olhuveli and to Male Int’l Airport. From what you had mentioned, will it be advisable to book a return ticket of Maafushi – Olhuveli, from which, I can then travel from Maafushi to the Airport? However, there is an issue with timing of the ferry/boat mentioned in your article too. What is your recommendation or solution for such a problem then?
Right. I guess your only option is to pay for the transfer to the Airport. I think it’ll be around $200 whether you book it through the resort or guesthouse. You could try emailing your guesthouse in Maafushi to see if it’s something they can offer you at a cheaper price?
Thank you for the informative post on Maldives. One question though, I was researching on accommodation and am still a bit confused on the transfer details. From what you mentioned, local ferries don’t go to private resorts. Do you know how I can find out which islands do the local ferry go to?
Here’s the timetable: http://www.atolltransfer.com/#!ferry-routes/c1jxp
I cannot believe that i read your very long (but informative and useful) post. Usually i ignore 3 paragraphs ’cause i am too lazy staring at it. But i am pleased and thankful that you made this post.
Like you, i want to save enough money and travel. well, me doing odd jobs means a no-no for me. But whenever i could, i would.
We are planning to stay at Maafushi, and probably at the same Guest house you stayed (WaterBreeze). Your post shows what i want to know. Really thankful : )
if you have anything more to add. like affordable things we can do in Maafushi or a must-try food. please do share = )
Thanks, Jun! I’m glad you stuck with me all the way through :-)
Good day Lauren. Very informative site, thanx. I thought i will add a few things.. Some guest houses/ hotels have their own speedboats and dont charge much for transfer, eg. Plumeria hotel, newly opened in Thinadhoo, next stop on way from Fulidhoo on ferry. 65usd per way. Also, always try n book direct with guest house, they very negotiable with rates. Before booking flights make sure of ferry schedule , usually 3 times a week to island, and 3 times back to Male. Sat/mon/wed, or sun/tues/thurs. ferry times from Male 9am, or 10 am. Takes approx 1 hour from landing to get to ferry, first have to take ferry from airport island to Male, comes to north side of Male. Need to take taxi from there to Vilingili ferry terminal, south west of Male, distance approx 2km, cost about 3usd..return times of ferry also important, usually arrives Male at 2.30-2.45 pm. Takes half hour to get to airport from ferry terminal. Some inhabited islands have scheduled speedboat transfer, costs vary but 1 example is Omadhoo island, 25 usd.per way. Dughurah 95usd, but this island in South Ari Atoll, best place for Manta rays and Whale sharks, and island has 3km long sandy beach, and great house reef. Other good islands are Thoddhoo, this is agricultural island, nice beaches too. Also Ukulhas island. With regard to ferries, there are some islands that have ferry service at night, leaves at midnight from Male, arrives usually at 5am. This has advantage of saving 1 nights accommodation cost. And ferry very cheap, less than 5usd.
Ooh, and for sharing this, too! So helpful! I really appreciate it :-)
Thank you Farid for your detailed comment. Where can I find a schedule of the midnight ferries you mentioned and where do they go? My flight arrives at 1:30am and I was planning on spending the night at the airport, but if there is a ferry around that time that would be great.
Thank you so much!
Larsen, this is a fantastic post! Thank you!
Farid hasn’t subscribed to comments on the site, so I doubt he’ll see this and be able to reply to you. Just wanted to let you know! I’d suggest asking the guesthouse you want to stay at if you can’t find the timetable online.
Lauren (not Larsen) :-)
now for some info on Thinadhoo island, Vaavu atoll, next stop from Fulidhoo on ferry. Ferry leaves sun/tues/thurs from Male @ 10am. Return to Male sat/mon/wed, 9.15am, arrives Male @ 2.30 pm. 5 guesthouses on island. Oceanic Village where i am staying now, 4 rooms. Hudhu Raakani, 5 rooms, both on the beach. Plumeria, very stylish 4 star, plush, 21 rooms, 100m from beach, Casa Barabaru various rooms on island some on on beach, some not, Rai Nika beach, 5 rooms? 3 of these are Italian/Maldivian owned. Fantastic BIKINI beach, locals not allowed there. About 500m long, spotlessly clean.only 1 restaurant owned by Hudhu Raakani, run by Erica(italian) so can get pizza/pasta if u want. This is my 8th day here and until now we are the only tourists on this island. Entire beach to the two of us, now thats private. Also, there are only 40 locals staying on this island, yes u read correctly, 40 ppl. Quiet, peaceful. House reef wonderful. If u need more info u r more than welcome to e-mail me.
Thanks for sharing, Farid!
Fascinating! I’ve always wanted to go. Had no idea it was a strict Muslim country. Are you able to go to the expensive resorts to grab a cocktail/dinner without being a guest?
Yep! As far as I’m aware, you should be able to do so!
But you might have to pay their day rate, so it’d be worth going for a full day.
Hey Lauren, i have been following for quite some time now but i must say that this post is one of my favorites, since i plan on visiting Maldives soon as part of a 4-week volunteer program. I have just one question and i was wandering if you could help me.! Do you consider staying in Maldives safe or not? Have you witnessed any rise of religious extremism or something relevant?
Continue traveling and inspiring us this way!!
Hi Eleni! I experienced zero problems in the Maldives with regards to safety. I felt extremely safe, I was happy walking around on my own, and I didn’t see anything that I’d classify as religious extremism or violence or anything like that!
Dear Lauren, thanks for writing this lovely blog. I had many apprehensions in finalizing Maafushi as my Honeymoon destination in the month of November this year but after going through this article, I feel I know almost all about this lovely Island.
However there are few queries in my mind, which is obvious, and was wondering if you could help:
1. The main reason of staying on this Island is definitely because its cheap and you get chance to explore the best water activities. However, to experience the life in Resorts, would you recommend a day trip there or to book a water bungalow for a night? In later case, does resorts allow this for a night and of they do, what would be a good option around?
2. Me & my partner doesn’t know swimming. We’re planning to stay there for 3 day, so can we experience SCUBA after their training? Or knowing swimming is a mandatory thing?
Many thanks again for the details that you have already provided. Looking forward for your response. Cheers!
Happy you found my post useful, Piyush! :-) Here are my answers:
1) I’d recommend staying in one of the resorts for a night if you can afford it. That way you’ll have access to the bungalows and be able to relax a little more, without constantly looking at the time to see when you have to leave again. I’d recommend Olhuveli — it was beautiful!
2) I’m not a diver myself so I’m not too sure. I think you need to be able to swim 200 metres in order to dive.
Nice article, thanks for sharing Lauren.
You’re welcome! :-)
Thank you so much for this detailed post, this has helped me so much! I had booked a flight to the Maledives for a few nights (because I always dreamt of going to the lovely unspoilt beaches and beautiful beach huts *sigh*) without realising how expensive it would be – I nearly fell over when I checked out some resort prices yesterday!!
Fulidhoo sounds really lovely – how are the beaches there, would you recommend going just there? Is it possible to have excursions from there? And how easy is it to get there from the airport (we arrive in the evening, so it might be too late to catch a ferry…)? And do they have a tourist beach at all?
I loved Fulidhoo! In case you haven’t seen it, here’s my post about it: https://www.neverendingfootsteps.com/2014/10/23/fulidhoo-tourists-island/ If you’re only going to be there for a few nights then I think it would be perfect! The island is small so any longer than four or five days and you’d probably start getting a bit bored. Lots of excursions available! If you stay at Thundi Guesthouse, which I mentioned in the post, the guy offers lots of excursions — island hopping, resort visits, fishing trips, snorkelling, diving, whale shark watching. They do have a tourist beach — it’s small, but lovely! Because there are only six beds on the island, you’re likely to have it all to yourself.
In terms of getting there, you’ll have to go via Maafushi, and I don’t think the ferries run very late. You might be best to spend the night in Male and then get to Fulidhoo the following day.
I would be visitng the Olhuveli resort in August 2015. But the cost of speedboat transfers are way too much. For a family of three, I have to spend close to 1000 USD!! (only for the speedboat transfer)
Would appreciate if you could suggest anything to save me some dough. Anything like the ferry rides, island hopping…etc.
Thanks in advance!
Yep, just take a ferry to a local island and arrange a transfer there! I arranged one with a guesthouse owner on Guraidhoo for $20 each way per person. The ferry to get to Guraidhoo is around $3.
Wow, thanks for the quick reply & solution!
Do the local guesthouse owners arrange for a transfer even if i dont want to stay in their guesthouse ?
And are there many guys who would be willing for the transfer?
Coz i dont wanna get stranded on the island!
I think it would be possible, but having not done it myself, I can’t say for certain. One option could be to email a guesthouse owner on the island in advance and see about arranging a transfer with them without staying there.
This post is awesome! I’m going to Maldives with my girlfriend. We are going to stay on the islands of Fulidhoo, Maafushi, Feridhoo and Ukulhas. You explained pretty exhaustively about Fulidhoo and Maafushi, but do you know how the islands of Feridhoo or Ukulhas are?
On the island of Fulidhoo we’re staying at La Perla Guesthouse… Do you have any experiences there?
Sorry, I haven’t been to those islands and don’t know anything about them. I also didn’t stay at La Perla Guesthouse so can’t say how it is. Glad you found the post helpful!
Thanks Lauren for such a wonderful article. This is definitely going to help me a lot for my trip to Maldives. :-)
Hi lauren! This blog is very informative! Thank you so much for this. Im from the Philippines and yes im a tropical country babe. Id love to visit maldives hopefully on our honeymoon next year. Then i learned its a muslim country. And so… my bikini daydreams have changed. Lol. By the way, i just want to ask… Where does direct flights to male come from? Any specific country that would have a flight which you would suggest? Thank you.
I flew from Sri Lanka, but you can get there from all over. Maybe there’s a direct flight from Manila?
We see thats its a great post that you have written about Maldives. You have really covered a lot of very important points that will be needed for a tourist to visit Maldives. We being a guest house operator wish there are more informative posts like this that could help the average traveler a trip to Maldives guest houses, to enjoy more days of sun shine and turquoise blue waters and free to travel around from one island to another exploring the local folk, sea, beaches and islands.
We hope you will come back and write another exciting report soon. Please feel free to mail back if you do require any assistance.
With warm Maldivian regards
Thank you so much, Shaheem! I hope to return next year! :-)
This is one of the best article i have ever read …
I actually felt being in Maldives while reading this post .. Simple and informative .
Nicely written Lauren
What a compliment! Thank you so much, Bilal.
Amazing article, complete and exhaustive!
I would also recommend to visit the capital Male.
A nation’s culture is best reflected in its people’s way of life, and this is what a traveller should try to capture when is visiting the Maldives Islands.
Whether you are staying in a beautiful Resort or Guest House or you are touring cultural museums and art gallery in Male, you can immerse yourself in the old world of Maldivians going about their daily routine and catching the exuberant culture that defines the Maldives.
Thanks, Marcello! Male is on my list for when I next head back.
the best and the most informative article till date about visiting maldives.
heading towards Dubai n then to maldives in couple of day
Hope you have a wonderful time! :-)
You’re welcome! :-)
Just want to add my thanks! Looking at going to Maldives this fall and this is the first site I’ve found with a lot of useful information (after much searching). Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much, Jennifer! Have a great time :-D
Trust all is well at your end. Couple of days ago landed on your blog while searching for Maldives. We are a small family (2+1 5y) and have 5 days 4 nights at Maldives which was not planned but due to cheap tickets we could accommodate it and flying to India after that which was actually our main destination. We don’t know swimming so for us not many options are left for snorkeling etc. what would be your suggestion for booking? A resort nearby Male island to save transfer times and might be able to use public ferry or guest house on surrounding islands near Male. I hope you could help us decide our itinerary. Many thanks :)
Hi Mil! I recommend heading to Maafushi for your stay. You can take day trips to resort islands while you’re there, and there are many more restaurants and guesthouses to choose from than on other islands. It’s also pretty close to Male so getting there and back won’t be a problem.
Or, if you’re looking for a resort, I can recommend Olhuveli, which I stayed in!
Your tips are very useful to me because I was planning to go Maldives with the family to spend my vacations. Now I can save me a lot of money by using your idea. Thanks a lot for these
So happy I could help, Sally! Have a great time!
Hi Lauren, thanks for sharing so much of information here! Is really help as I’m travelling to Maldives with my bf on Dec. :)
Wish to get some advice from you, as we going for only 5D4N, i planning to stay 2 nights in Maafushi Island, 1 night at Olhuveli Resort (for my bf birthday) & last night will be stay near to Male airport. May I know how to get the Olhuveli Resort from Maafushi (for budget way)? & also how to get to Male city from Olhuveli Resort?
Hi Chee! Email your guesthouse on Maafushi and ask if they can arrange it for you. I did it through my guesthouse in Guraidhoo. They’ll be able to drop you off and pick you up. And then you can get a local ferry from Maafushi back to Male.
This is such a great post, thank you for sharing all of your insightful experiences!
I am looking to go to the Maldives in the winter and your blog has really helped a lot!
I do have one question – while doing my research on the Maldives, I found out that in order to visit the non-resort islands I needed to be granted a special permission from the Maldivian government. With so little information around, I was not able to find anything out about the process of actually getting the permission granted. How did you go about this?
Thank you in advance! :)
I’ve never heard of that being a thing — maybe you read something written before tourists were allowed to freely visit the local islands? Either way, I didn’t do anything before arriving.
Hi Lauren! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this – it has surely helped me understand the Maldives much more. Apologies if this question has been asked above – but if you can lend some insight / advice that would be great! I am travelling to Sri Lanka with my boyfriend from December 19th – Jan 1st and then Vietnam from Jan 1st – Jan 9th. During our stay in Sri Lanka – we want to detour for 3-4 days in the Maldives. We are two young professionals (30 and 37), fit, outgoing, love to eat & drink (boyfriend is a travel food writer), and have spontaneous adventures. You mentioned you went to Maafushi, Fulidhoo and Guraidhoo. If you were us, which 2-3 islands would you recommend us visiting as I understand there are hundreds? As well, which islands should we avoid? Looking to stay on a budget with a little wiggle room. Thank you so much!
I’d recommend visiting Maafushi and Fulidhoo, and avoiding Guraidhoo. I hope to return to the Maldives soon to add some more islands to my list, but for now, I don’t have any personal experience with any other islands. Hope you have a great trip!
Hey lauren thanks for such a informative and detailed blog. All my doubts were cleared about maldives by you.
No worries! Have a great trip! :-)
Lauren, you are a GEM for this. I’ve read every word of your blog and subsequent Q&A but have yet to come across my question. I often have subtle anxieties about currency exchanges/insufficient funds in light of emergencies etc.
1. Did you pay in Maldivian currency the entire duration of your stay?
2. Was your Resort booked online?
3. Lastly, can online confirmation of an “onward” ticket be used as proof to exit the island? If so, when should this be presented?
1. I think it was mostly USD. Places preferred us to pay in USD but would also accept ruffiyah as well.
2. Yep, I booked it online.
3. I wasn’t asked to show an onward ticket when I arrived, but yep, online confirmation is fine. You probably won’t be asked for it!
how is football(soccer) over here,are they (players) well paid a do yhey ha e stadium
Sorry, I really don’t know!
we are a newly wed couples ….planing for a 7 days tour…we are concerned about budget..can u guide me…approx amount (considering a budget traveler & few luxury options)…thanks
Hi Rajshekhar! I’d say you’d need around $100-125 a day (between you) for the budget option, and maybe $500 a day for a luxury stay.
Hey Lauren, very cool post. Thank you so much!
We’re planning our honeymoon trip and hoping to reach Maldives on / around 20th Dec. I’d highly appreciate if you could address below queries:
1. We’re required to book our return tickets and accommodation in advance for the airport verification (entry requirement). We have 5-6 days in hand and are in a limbo regarding how many days to spend Vs where (have so far decided for Maofushi, Fulidhoo based on your inputs). Any other recommendations looking at the time in hand?
2. Any special pointers/recommendations considering that we’ll be on a honeymoon trip?
4. Where could we buy internet enabled local SIM, upon reaching there?
Sorry it took a few days to get back to you.
1. I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions for anywhere apart from Maafushi or Fulidhoo, as I haven’t been anywhere else (apart from Guraidhoo, which I didn’t like). Maybe take a look at Gulhi — I think you can get there from Maafushi and a friend of mine who visited gave it a good write up.
2. If you’re not going to be staying at a resort, it’s well worth doing a day trip to one from the local islands! It gives you a taste of luxury for around $30 for the day. You’ll have access to all of the resort, which is a lot of fun! I also loved the snorkelling trip I did — the water was so shallow that you could stand up and still be surround by colourful coral.
3. For the local SIM card, this post has everything you need to know: http://toomanyadapters.com/buying-sim-card-maldives/
Hi.I book room on Maafushi yet and i wanna book resort such as Fihaalhohi or Olhuveli resort.But i dont know how much for those tours.Can u give me some infos and prices ? And price of any tour
I paid around $500 per night for an overwater bungalow on Olhuveli. Check out their website for prices!
Glad you found it helpful!
Hi Lauren, great post. you are so right when i was trying to have the big picture of MAldives and where we can go and not go. As you said 1000 islands , where do one start?
So from what i gathered, we should just do Mafushi and the other two could be put aside ? Are there any other island to look / check out too?
Also its a shame that we can’t wear our usual beach where and need to be all covered out and walk to bikini beach to be free and relaxed?
I’d recommend including Fulidhoo – very different to Maafushi and much nicer. I didn’t visit any other islands so can’t offer any recommendations, but there are a ton in the comments on this post that locals have recommended to me.
Well, there could be no bikini beaches at all… I don’t think it’s a big deal to have to cover up on a one minute walk to the beach.
This is literally the best and yet most honest reviwe I’ve read about my country! Glad that you’ve mentioned all the above difficulties you had to go through and I hope everything here changes in a more positive way as well. There is something you should know about us locals though, most of us we do know English but maybe it’s the accent that some of us have a difficulty in understanding, but the younger generation ofcourse would be able to understand you perfectly. I personally know locals in Fulidhoo since it’s literally my half home; and thats what they lack there and I shall take note of what you said about the varieties of food avialable as well. Thank you! =)
So happy to hear that, Mihkna! :-)
Hi. I’ve read through your article and it’s really great and I can literally imagine your trip given the amazing pictures! So I’m planning a solo trip to Maldives next year around May or June. You mentioned about Airbnb. Is that like an agency where I go to once I land in Male? And is 3d2n enough for me to just visit the Maafushi Island? I heard that’s the most popular island people go to and I just wanna experience the local life and maybe some underwater sightseeing.
Hi Choo! No, Airbnb is an accommodation booking website. Just type in the name of the island into the site and book somewhere :-) I think 3d is fine for Maafushi.
Thanks so much! :)
Thanks Lauren for sharing informative blog… It ‘ll surely help when we ‘ll visit maldives.
Good information, thank you!
This post is remarkably detailed! I definitely have to bookmark this for future reference. I have had the Maldives on my mind for about a year now, as well as Sri Lanka. This is by far the most information I have found online. Thank you so much for helping others!
Thanks, Jodi! Glad you found it helpful! :-)
Our arrival to Male is on a Tuesday 12:45 and departure on Sat at 11:25 am since i could not find a flight that could match with the ferry timings from Male.
The ferry timings are a really pain , we need to get transferred to felidhoo islands and the Ferry departs Male city at 10 am on Tue Thur n sun,
from Felidhoo it is 8:40 am on Sat , Mon and wed.
Is there a second ferry that runs on the same day , Ferry timings are really a pain in the ass. It is screwing up with our entire journey and we are on a budget trip.
Please advise if we have better options or do we have to change our booking to another atoll.
As far as I’m aware, the only ferries are those you’ll find on the timetable online. It would probably be best to visit somewhere different. Alternatively, you could get in touch with the owner of a guesthouse you want to stay at and ask if there are any additional ferries.
Wonderful post. I was wondering if you saw bioluminescence. Do the guesthouses arrange trips.
I didn’t. I think it can only be found on certain resort islands at certain times of the year. I didn’t see any trips to go see it, sadly!
Thank you so much for your awesome info Lauren! I just went there and I fell in love with Fulidhoo right away. Now I miss Fulidhoo now!
I miss it, too! Glad to hear you enjoyed your visit :-)
Thank you Lauren for the very informative and helpful post on this. It was very handy for organising our trip to Maafushi:).
So happy to hear that, Daniel!
hi Lauren, nice blog! learn a lot from it. me and my husband are going in maldives this March on a budget travel mode. :) based from my previous research, the place is really quite expensive which im afraid if our pocket money would make it. haha!!! yet im excited to see the beach, the water bungalow and everything there! your photos are awesome that i want to see it in person.
You could definitely visit for $50/day each, so it’s not too expensive! Although the water bungalows will definitely increase the total price by something like $1000 :-)
During low season, it’s possible to find accommodation lower, than 50$. But it’s better to ask chosen guest house about discount.
Price for water villas now starts from 400-500$ per night, but these prices from agent, not booking[dot]com.
Actually, booking is not the best place to book accommodation in Maldives
And you wouldn’t just be saying that because you’re a travel agent, would you? ;-)
Its a great post with loads of very useful information.
I always thought that travelling in Maldives would burn a hole in my pocket.
Now i can consider to plan a trip!
I visit Maldives last year , and i spent 5000$ for two weeks , it was the best vacations inmy life. I wish that i can return to those amazing places. Thank you Lauren
No problem! Glad you enjoyed your time there — it would be hard not to! :-)
Thanks for sharing. Amazing post! I am planing my budget honeymoon. This post has helped a lot! :-D
So happy to hear that! Have an amazing trip :-)
I am currently in Maafushi. There is an ATM now! It’s towards the prison end of the island on ‘Main Street’. The whole island is a construction site. My fear is where will all the guests sun bathe in a year or two…. Bikini beach is tiny, there’s no way it will accommodate much more than already visit! Just to add, I’m a solo travelling female and its no problem! Love your blogs!
Hi! I am planning a trip to Maldives alone, is it safe? I will only stay there for 5 days, which Island and resort will you recommend so I can enjoy my trip.
Yep! Definitely safe! I recommend Maafushi or Fulidhoo :-)
This might be a silly question, but the prices that you quote in your post- are they in usd or the Maldivian currency?
Thank you so much and hope to hear from you soon!
US dollars! If it was Maldivian Ruffiyah, it would be very, very cheap to travel there! :-)
Thank you so so so much for this post – it has really helped me a lot! I am planning on going to the Maldives for two weeks, and was just wondering whether you think that is a good idea? I would be going solo, as a young (22) female… Would you think this would be an issue, or would I have to be concerned about my safety when being there?
Thank you already in advance!
So happy to hear that, Ravi! :-)
Thank you for the very informative blog! it helped me alot in planning my Trip. I have some questions though, What private island resorts did you go to during your stay in which you took that pretty good pic of the overwater bungalows? and how did you get there and how much did it cost you? thank you very much!
Fortune Cement plant
Brgy. Mapulo, Taysan Batangas
That’s mentioned multiple times in the post.
I would like to know difficult it is to fly into Male and then get a boat out to MAAfushi? can you get a ferry any day out there and anyway back, excluding friday? And then once back into Male do you catch another ferry to one of the luxury resorts? or will the resort take care of that for you.? Thanks Jeana
Not very difficult. Look at the timetable for ferries — it’s linked to a dozen times in my post and the comments — to find out when the ferries run. Also covered in the post is how ferries don’t run to the luxury resorts — you have to pay $200+ each way to visit them or arrange your own transport with a local.
I am planning to go to Maldives in NOVEMBER with my wife. Is it the best place for honeymoon ?
And , I am a pure Vegetarian , would i get sufficient veg food items there??
I’ve heard it’s easy to eat as a vegetarian on the local islands, so you shouldn’t have much of a problem. As for whether it’s a good honeymoon destination, that depends entirely on what you like to do! If you’re all about the beaches and relaxing, you’ll love it :-)
I really do like your article about Maldives :) I spent 8 months there, but not as tourist. I was working on construction lot finishing the 7 star resort. 98% of the time, I spent on an island of 500 m in diameter, but my experiences is different (even though very interesting) story. There is not much I can contribute to your blog, since my expenses were paid by the company. Still, I might can add a few tips. if you need, or want, stay overnight in Male, the good alternative could be an island Vilingilli, just 10 min away from Male. It is very local island, only pedestrian, and easily reachable by ferry from Male. One of my supervisor lived there and invite me to visit. I was so suprised to find something so authentic so close to Male. The second tip might not work for ordinary visitor, but once, when I was in Male, they couldn’t find find an free seat in hydroplane for me, so asked a local supplier if he can help me, since I didn’t want to spent a 4 hours ride in the speedboat. He managed it and it costs 50$, so try maybe locals web to get cheeper flight. For adventures souls, it is possible to travel long distance from Male on dhoni (local boat) for the peanuts (or nothing), just need to find a good captain in harbour, maybe have a sleeping bag, and time, since 3.5 hour ride with a speed boat can last 24 hours. Depends what experience will make you happy. The only thing I would like to worn you, if you stay away from resorts, is dengue fever; use mosquito repellent on less inhabited islands. Unfortunately, it is all I can tribute :( But it is worth to visit, I never saw such a beaches and turquoise sea as on Maldives :)
Thank you so much for your comment, Anesa! There’s some really great tips in here :-)
I am headed to the Maldives for a few weeks this July/August and, like you, have been struggling to find information to help with trip planning. That is, of course, until I came across your blog. Thanks for taking the time to offer your readers a comprehensive, detailed look at life in paradise.
Oh, you’re welcome, Jessica! I’m glad you found it useful :-)
Awesome job Lauren…. superb attention to detail. I could visualize perfectly everything you described. I’ll be looking forward to reading more of your travel blogs.
Hey, thanks so much, Jonathan!
Thanks a lot Lauren for the detailed review about the trip. It was so insightful that I would hardly need a handguide now. I will be travelling in June this year.
Glad you found it useful! :-)
What a fabulous post! I’ve got to say – how great and refreshing it is to read such a thorough post, and with so many questions replied, too. This has led to me exploring your blog some more. Full kudos to you!
I’m traveling to the Maldives in July, for a live aboard dive trip. I thought while I was there – is at least visit one of the three islands you’ve mentioned (while visiting all three would be the dream, time is of the essence). Which of the three islands would you recommend? It will most likely be for one or two nights.
Additionally, how long should I spend in the capital to get a real feel for the Maldivian culture/’city’ life?
Also, is there anything particular I should see or do while there? While I’m happy to lounge on the beach, or in one of the hammocks you mentioned for half a day – I’m an explorer at heart and just like getting out there and seeing and doing.
Thanks so much for this post – it’s about time the word spread about alternative options for visiting the Maldives! To clarify, there are some guesthouses that have private beaches and even swimming pools. So, visitors can still have the bikini beach holiday experience without having to take an excursion to a deserted island or a resort. One of the best parts of the Maldives and staying at guesthouses has to be the sense of seclusion – the islands are so scattered that you can still feel you’re the only tourists around. We’ve been twice, both times via guesthouses, and I’m sure we’ll be back. Enjoy the Maldives, all!
I completely agree with you, Sakda! :-)
I would be very grateful if you could let me know more info about your guesthouse stay in the Maldives.
Which island? which guesthouses would you recommend?
any other useful details you can forward that you learned on your trip.
With many thanks
Hi Brock, I highly doubt that Sakda will return to this post and see your comment, unfortunately.
Hi Sakda, which guesthouses did you go, if you dont mind sharing please.
Hi Dooris. I doubt Sakda will return to this post to see your question, as it’s not possible to be notified of replies to comments.
Thank you for the lovely post which coves everything one wants to know about Maldives. Planning to visit Maldives in the first week of July 2016 for 2 weeks & I hope to enjoy Maldives as much as you did. Thank you
I’m sure you will!
Thank you! :-)
How much ruffiya we have to take with us for one week stay at maldives for two persons. On average How long it will take to enjoy a single island?? is one week stay is enough for the islands you have mentioned??
That depends on so many factors, like which islands you’re staying at and how you’ll be getting around and how many activities you’ll be doing. A week is probably too long for any of the islands — they’re all very small and there isn’t much to do on any of them aside from sitting on the beach. I’d say 3-4 days is enough for any island.
Hi, if we only have 5 nights and 4 days. which is the best island you can recommend for us to stay? Looking to travel on Aug 19th-24th 2016. Thank you in advance!
I’d recommend Maafushi
Hi Lauren, fantastic post! I’m going next month for a week on a live aboard, and then I’m going to “island hop” for another week before heading home. I very much appreciated your comments on what to wear. Question: do you think it would be safe for a single female to travel around on her own there? I’m mostly interested in exploring and experiencing the local culture. Any thought would be great!
Yep, absolutely! I felt very safe whenever I was wandering around on my own. You get a few stares and stuff, but it’s curiosity rather than anything else :-)
Thank you so much for the outstanding post. It really helps a lot. I’m planning to visit during the second week of Aug, for 9 nights and 10 days with my wife and 2 young kids, below 6 years old. What would you suggest the best island to stay? We need to have a relaxed visit; not surfing or diving. Which is the nice place to visit with kids? Since we are planning a budget travel, can kids really enjoy the trip?
Thanking you in advance for your suggestions.
I’d suggest spending half of your time on Maafushi and the other half on Fulidhoo. Your kids will definitely enjoy the trip! Budget doesn’t have to mean crappy — our hotel room was lovely and the beach was beautiful. It didn’t feel like we were slumming it or anything!
Great post! I absolutely loved my time in the Maldives and couldn’t believe how easy it is now to do it on a budget. Your post was a great help in planning my trip – however i REALLY didn’t like Maafushi island. I believe it may have changed a lot since you were there and there’s now lots of Chinese tourists on package holidays arriving there. The beach was totally dug up when I was there, too.
Oh, no way! Yeah, when we were there we were sharing the beach with maybe five people at the most and there were no package holiday tourists/tour groups at all! Such a shame to hear it only took a couple of years for it to change so significantly :-(
Congrats for this wonderful post… i have a question for you… I’m planning to go to the Maldives alone.. Do you recommend me to do so? what about safety there for solo travellers???
I can’t say for every local island in Maldives about safety, but I was in 7 of them and they are safety for solo travelers.
So you can go alone, no need to worry about it. I saw a lot of ladies that travelling alone.
Yep, they’re very safe places for solo travellers.
Just wanted to ask how did you manage to avoid the 277 USD transfer fee for Olhuvelli? Isn`t it mandatory and didn`t their management still insist for you to pay it, regardless of the fact that you`ve arranged your own transport from Maafushi to there. Asking, cause read a similar case on Trip Advisor with another traveler
Nope! I emailed them to say I was coming from Guraidhoo and arranging my own transport and they were fine with it.
Maybe they’ve changed their policy, but it definitely wasn’t mandatory when I went.
Thanks a lot for the reply.
I consider visiting Olhuvelli (as a somewhat luxurious experience), combined with Fulidhoo for a more local approach. Do you think it will be hard to find someone from Fulidhoo to transfer us to Olhuvelli and then back again few days later? I saw it`s closer to get to Olhuvelli from Maafushi and Guiradhoo, but don`t like the fact that Maafushi is now run with tourists, while Guiradhoo doesn`t have a bikini beach (read that there is one on another island nearby).
It will be expensive to travel from Fulidhoo to Olhuvely as its private transfer. Contact Atoll Transfer, maybe they have cheaper option.
About picnic island near Guraidhoo. There is a bridge that connect Guraidhoo and picnic island with bikini beach. So it’s very easy to go there
nice work done.
i m planning to visit maldives in dec for my honeymoon.
required your personal assistance for that, is there any way i can keep in touch with you.
You can drop me an email through my contact form if you have any quick questions.
I was getting so confused and panicked as my wedding is getting closer and me and my partner has booked flights to Maldives and after that nothing has been planned but your blog was so helpful.
But we are going in Dec the highest peak season for 5 days and 4 nights during new year’s eve. Any suggestions and does Ferry takes a lot of time to travel to Mufaashi island?
It only takes an hour or so to get to Maafushi by ferry. But I would high recommend avoiding Maafushi and going somewhere else for your wedding. I’ve heard recently from readers that it’s been destroyed and is full of tourists — it doesn’t sound like a very nice place anymore.
Thanks a lot for this very comprehensive and useful post! I am actually going on a business trip to Male. I will be staying for 2 extra nights to explore one or 2 of the islands(thursday through saturday). So happy to know that it’s possible to find budget hotels on locally inhabited islands! I have 2 questions for you.
– Which of the islands would you recommend for a female solo traveler?
-Do you think it will be difficult to get the ferry to the airport on Saturday evening? (Last thing I want is to miss my plane).
So information on a single post. This is great information. Thank you.
Thank you for the kind comment!
hi Lauren! nice to know your post and it really helps me! :))
i’m going to go to Maldives 2 weeks later, and hope to get a wonderful experience as yours. thank you <3
I hope so too! :-)
Dear Lauren, this is an amazing story and really helpful info. I am planning to go to Maldives alone for 5 night in November and I booked the nice guesthouse at Maafushi. I am planning to stay there with my accommodation,but as I understood from all that you said, I could pay for some excursions or go visit another island…Is it possible if you go by ferry from island to island to go in the morning and come back later in a day from one island to another for instance Foolidhoo as long as they are connected with public ferry? I did not find anything more helpful than your post, since I was also frustrated I did not know what to choose out of thousand islands. . I love to swim for hours, so since you said there is a beautiful beach in Maafushi, I hope I can experience the blue waters and enjoy, even if I am only there…I might remember something more to ask since I have a month until my trip. As I understood I could pay in US$ almost everywhere? Restaurants? and ferrys? and tours? Thanks much!!!
Hi, your blog was very informative. I have booked our 10 yrs wedding anniversary for next year, however I got a bit worried with few things you have mentioned in your posts. One of that was the dress code. So are we expected to wear long pants and sleeves when we come out of the plane or in the airport? Our international plane will arrive a night before our check in day, so that means that we still have to stay in the main city. Where will be the closest stay you can recommend?
Nice, informative blog. How much is the bottled water in the Maldives and can it be easily bought on each island?
Yeah, you can easily buy it everywhere. I can’t remember how much it was as I visited over two years ago. Maybe $1 or 2. I don’t remember it being expensive or anything.
hi its around 0.30 for 1.5 Ltr and 0.20 for 500ml and you could easily get it from any shops on the island like lauren said they will accept only in Maldivian Ruffiya which is $0.30 = MVR6 and $0.20 = MVR3 and now most of the island will have local ATMS which accepts VISA MASTRO all of the major brand hope helped out a bit cheers :D,
Thank you! :-)
I’m thinking about traveling to the Maldives in a few days. Do you think Villingili is a safe bet if I’m on a tight schedule? Do you know how easy it is to go snorkeling and other water activities from there? I’m an American hoping to travel there for a couple of days but want to keep it simple.
Thanks for the blog! It’s great!
Ah, I haven’t been to Villingili, so I can’t speak for what it’s like.
Maldives is one of my favorite travel destinations in Asia. And I think to experience best of Luxury travel in Asia, you have to visit Maldives… it offers to many amazing things to do for its tourists that everybody ought to live this place. there is awesome things to do and specially for honeymoon couples.
hi and bravo!
that was the most informative and greatest post i ever encounterred on internet about maldives on budget.
i have a question: was it cheaper to pay in rufiyah or in USD?
thnx in advance
Eeep! I’m afraid I don’t remember. It’s been three years since I last visited the Maldives.
hey I’ve heard that Maldives has one of the most known bio-luminescence beaches in the world..
when is the best time to go to truly experience this? where on the islands has the best beaches for this?
I’m sorry, I don’t know where you’d find it. Maybe one of the resort islands? I’d love to see it too one day!
Thanks for sharing such a nice post. I love to visit Maldives once in a life. And It’s really helpful for me to visit Maldives within my budget.
Glad to hear it! :-)
I have a dream to travel to Maldives. I just love your post and also found informative and interesting.
what are the best countries to fly into the maldives from? also do you need a visa (US)?
You’ll find the cheapest flights from India or Sri Lanka. Southeast Asia isn’t too expensive, either. But really, it just depends on what deals are on at the time. Sometimes I see flights from Turkey for $300 return; sometimes from the UK; sometimes from Poland; sometimes from Qatar. There isn’t one country where you’ll consistently be able to score the cheapest flights.
You don’t need a visa.
Thank you for your detailed overview regarding Maldives. The best thing about you is that you are still replying and guiding travellers on this blog even after 3 years.
I would like to know about visa process. Should We have to acquire visa before landing maldives or do we get there on landing? and how much does visit visa cost? any idea?
Thank you.. :)
Most countries will get a visa on arrival for free.
How did you book the Olhuveli resort without paying the speedboat fee? I tried booking and it says it’s compulsory for the transportation fee. Thanks for your vlog anyway, very helpful.
I think they may have changed the fee to be compulsory after I wrote about how to avoid it. It wasn’t compulsory when I visited — it was optional when making the booking, so I didn’t include it and emailed them to tell them I’d be arranging my own transport to the island.
I emailed them and they said ” as per company policy, it is mandatory to book a one way
transfer to Male International Airport at the charge of USD 138.60 net per
Hopefully i can find other resorts around the area with same price range which can wave the transfer fee.
Best of luck! :-)
A detailed analysis of every aspect .Thank you Lauren ,this was really helpful.
I’m glad you found it helpful, Tana!
Great article!!! reading this makes me wanna go there for a holiday this year
You should! ;-)
Great article, I have dreaming of the Maldives but since I am not wealthy by any means, staying at the resorts seemed impossible and now I see other options.
What I did not know is that the Maldives are a Muslim country that practices sharia law. I could be mistaken but I thought that a man and woman need to be married? I would like to visit with a long term boyfriend; we live together but are not married. Are there issues with that?
Nope, no issues with that. I shared a bed with my boyfriend in every guesthouse and we’re not married.
Hey Lauren I just want to say that I appreciate that article that you have made about The Maldives, it made me wanted to visit the place with my family soon.
I’m so happy to hear that!
Great blog post! I love how you categorize your ideas in headings and subheadings, making your content scannable and easy to read. I also enjoy the information and sources your provide for your readers.
Thanks so much!
Thank you very much for such exhaustive information. It was very helpful
You’re welcome! :-)
Thank you so much for this post. It was super helpful.
Do you think it would be smart to plan a 5 days trip to Maldives?
Also, I am a woman traveling alone on a budget. Do you think it will be safe overall?
It’s super safe as a woman in the Maldives. I never felt in any danger while I was there. And sure, if you want to go to the Maldives, it’s a smart decision to go :-)
Loved all the details you provided here . I’m considering it for my first wedding anniversary . I have around 3 days in Maldives with the second day as my anniversary . Would you recommend any over water resort for two days ( maybe the one you chose for the birthday celebration ? ) and an added day of island hopping ? I would value your input highly :)
Yes, I would recommend that! I loved Olhuveli, but be aware that you’ll have to pay for the expensive transfer from Male now, so it will be more expensive.
This is a FABULOUS post I have ever read on Maldives, trust me! I am off to this country next week and staying in Maafushi! All your points are so very helpful, especially for the dress code! I am a solo woman traveler and will be going solo to Maldives. Hope to come back with lots of memories :)
Hope you have a fantastic time! :-)
Is it difficult to travel between Islands
Did you read the post?
Doing my search now about going to Maldives together with my Google Map too to locate the islands you mentioned here and OMG. lol But your blog is so informative. Tips and tricks and everything about the ATMs (I’m no fan of bringing cash with me) but since you mentioned it here gosh I gotta bring some or I’ll end up somewhere. Thanks though, Lauren. I really appreciate every detail here. We’ll definitely consider going to Maldives maybe this year or next and I have clues what to do this time. God bless. :)
Glad you found it helpful, Jannelle!
Hi Lauren, I wanted to know whats the easiest way to fly into Male airport? What airline to use? Also how can I make sure a ferry will be there to take me to the island where my guest house is booked?
I mean, I don’t even know where you live, so I can’t answer your question. Just look at Skyscanner for what your options are for flying to Male and choose the one that suits you best.
Ferries run on a set timetable, so look at the time of the ferries and make sure you flight lands in Male before then. It’ll take about half an hour to get from the airport to the ferry terminal, so I’d give yourself at least half an hour before the ferry departure time.
Thank you so much for your information.
I am wondering about the way to get to the Olhuveli Resort. You indicate that you took a ferry to Guraidhoo and then a fishing boat to Olhuveli.
I am curious which atoll. There appears to be more than one. Or I’m misreading something. Ferry schedule gives you the option to land at either Kaafu Atoll or Thaa Atoll.
I’m also a little concerned about cash as I’m coming from Sri Lanka without any backup USD. Hopefully, there are credit card machines at the resort. :)
Please let me know.
Yes! I paid by card at Olhuveli.
I didn’t finish my comment, apologies.
Do you believe now that the speed boat is really the only option to get to Olhuveli Resort?
And is it just the cost of the speedboat two ways that you have to pay or are their other costs now?
You mentioned in a response to a comment the following: ” loved Olhuveli, but be aware that you’ll have to pay for the expensive transfer from Male now, so it will be more expensive.”
Please let me know.
Ah, yes. Back when I first visited Olhuveli, I had no problem emailing them to tell them I was arranging my own transport. Going by what my readers have told me, shortly after that, Olhuveli made the transfer costs mandatory, so there’s no way to get around them. You can try your luck with them, but it seems that they’re now telling people the speedboat is compulsory.
Hi Lauren, I will be in Maldives for 5 days, do you think is a good idea to spend all days in Maafushi, what do you recomend.
Thanks in advance
If possible, I’d try to get to a different island instead, as Maafushi has become overrun with tourists in recent years.
Wonderful article about independent traveling through Maldives. It’s great to see finally Maldives welcoming budget traveling. This will be a great chance earn money for locals and also for budget travelers can travel there on a budget. What wonderful chance to enjoy world’s most beautiful beaches.
Absolutely! It’s wonderful that it’s now possible to explore the country without needing to pay extortionate fees to the resorts.
Hi Lauren! Wonderful article! I just discovered your blog because I’m looking for info on Maldives, we’re going there this January. Your post makes me more excited than ever!
Hope you have an incredible time there, Maj!
LAUREN, loved your report! Thanks for sharing
Lauren, do you know whether camping is allowed on the beaches (or elsewhere)? Often when I travel, I just find somewhere interesting/hidden and camp. Weirdest place was in Djibouti City. I am daring enough to try anything, but if it is illegal I don’t want to get embroiled in some ridiculous mess. Thanks!
I’m not sure, but you’d definitely struggle to find anywhere hidden. Most of the islands are around 100 metres in length, 20 metres across, and with one beach. So it’d be pretty obvious you were doing it. Not sure if it’s legal or not, but given that you’re supposed to pay daily bed taxes, etc, I’d lean more on the side of it not being possible.
What a fantastic post! So informative! I actually own a scuba diving centre in Fulidhoo called Fulidhoo Dive – we opened last year! I think you’d be surprised if you came back – there’s a lot more guesthouses now and speedboat transfers to the island are quite frequent now – although we’re still managing to retain that relaxing, remote atmosphere, and during low season there are still times when there are only half a couple of tourists on the island! If you were going to update the post again, you might want to mention that bed tax is now abolished. Instead there is a green tax, which is 3usd per person per night. GST is now 12% on guesthouses! And also have you seen the new money? It’s really beautiful, but doesn’t look like your photo anymore! i hope one day you might be able to come back and compare your experiences!
I’m actually going to be returning next year so that I can write about how it’s changed/explore some more islands :-)
I will be planning a trip down to Maldives on this November.
Ticket has been booked.
May i have your contact to get your advise on our trip.
Adele isn’t subscribed to comment replies on this post, so she won’t get your message. Also, she isn’t a travel agent.
Thanks for these tips for traveling on a budget. I’m glad that you mentioned that it’s important to book the accommodation in advance, so that you can pay it before you get there. Not only that, but it seems like a good way to assure that you will have it when you get there. I’m interested to learn more about how early you should book this, like if it can be done as early as a month in advance or even earlier.
Yeah, I booked around a month in advance.
Hi, Lauren. I found your blog so helpful. I’m planning a solo trip to the Maldives on May, 2018 for my 43rd birthday ;) and I just want to experience something different on birthday occasion. Do you think the weather is favorable for a tourist in May? Seems the country’s weather is unpredictable and I just couldn’t find blogs from travelers traveling there in May….would that still be a low peak season? Hope to hear from you and thanks :)
Sorry, I didn’t visit in May, so I’d only be googling what the weather is like in May to answer your question. Which I assume you’ve already done :-)
This post is great! You share some really good tips and recommendations, which we highly appreciate. My boyfriend and I are actually going to travel the World for the first time, starting in Janaury. Therefore, we love reading about travelling experiences from more experienced travelers.
I got curious while reading your blog post, about a lot of things really and in particular travelling to the Maldives without spending a fortune, but I also noticed that you said that you do not really like using couchsurfing while travelling, and I was just curious to know if there’s a reason for that? We have been talking about using couchsurfing as much as possible when we are travelling and we would like to know what other travellers thinks about it.
We are looking forward to your reply, and to see more of your adventures!
Yeah, a few reasons:
1) I make good money from this site so don’t feel as though I need to use Couchsurfing to keep costs low.
2) I’m an introvert with social anxiety, so the thought of staying in someone’s home and then feeling as though I have to hang out and chat with them, while having no privacy, makes me panic.
3) I work a lot, so I’ll often spend all day inside working on my laptop, but feel as though I couldn’t do that if I was in someone’s home.
4) I’ve heard from friends who use it that it’s nothing like it used to be 5-10 years ago. The culture has changed. That it’s mostly guys looking for hookups these days. Meetups are always full of men. That hosts are so fed up with hearing from people who just want freebies that they’re leaving the site in droves, so it’s hard to even find anyone who will host you. Also, the fact that I have a hosting profile that has nothing but my name and a photo — I’ve never used Couchsurfing and have no reviews — but still receive desperate requests from men to stay with me at least once a week is weird. Here’s an article from back in 2013 that talks about these points in detail, and the comments offer more opinions too: https://www.nithincoca.com/2013/03/27/the-rise-and-fall-of-couchsurfing/
When I first left to travel, I thought I would try Couchsurfing because all I ever heard was amazing things about it. Six years later, I can’t remember the last time I heard anything positive about it. None of my friends use it anymore and every article I read about Couchsurfing says it’s been destroyed.
Loving the tip about the GRAYL water bottle. Will defo be getting myself one of those for my next trip! Just got back from the Maldives and I absolutely loved it. Had the pleasure of seeing a whale shark and some green turtles whilst snorkelling! Will defo be going back!
Amazing! Glad to hear you had a great trip, too :-)
Amazing!!! Thank you…if you can kindly answer these questions :D
Do you know if it’s possible to stay in the guesthouses/resorts and travel around with a 2 years old baby? Do the resorts provide transportation to the resorts and back included in the price? Possible to get a marriage cerimony in a budget too? lol
Many questions hahaha
Yeah, I you can travel with a baby — I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t be able to! The resorts charge around $280 for return transport from Mali. No idea about a marriage ceremony, sorry.
Hi Lauren, I, like many here just wanted to thank you for your detailed information about visiting Maldives as a budget traveler. It was very helpful, particularly where you described in detail what you could wear (and where). As I’ll be going with only carry on luggage that will be very helpful for smart packing. Also that you mentioned you felt safe being out and about as a solo woman. Just one quick question on that – do you have experience being out as a solo female in Male city/Hulhumale at night? If so, did you also feel it was safe? If you haven’t been there at night alone, no worries and thanks again for all this helpful information! ^_^
Ah, sorry, I didn’t spend more than a few hours in Male and haven’t been to Hulhumale yet.
Hey.. I have heard bikini is not allowed on the public beaches and only on resorts. Is that correct?
Nope. Read my post again.
Is there a way of getting from Male to Feridhoo and return several days later say in Feb 2018.
Check out the ferry schedules.
I love all the details on this post. Thank you for this comprehensive article. Air Asia also has provided direct flight to maldives
No problem! Yep, I flew out of the Maldives with Air Asia actually.
You’ll love it! Hope you make it there :-)
check mandhoo island in south Aari atoll. it is a paradise.
It’s on my list! Even if you’re self-promoting, haha.
A great list to get the most out of your travel without much hustle ?
Nice post! Thanks for sharing such a beautiful informative information on the blog. It’s a nice information on how to travel the maldives on a budget. Information really helps for frequent traveler for maldive’s. I really apprciate the blog, thanks for shring the information once again. I look forward to get more article’s on budget travel to maldive’s. Thank you.
That’s an awful lot of keywords in that comment ;-)
Thanks for providing such a wonderful guide and tips. I was thinking of travelling to Maldives next month with my wife, and I am sure that these tips really gonna help me a lot for my trip.
Have a great trip!
I just got back from the Maldives, I was traveling to other local Islands- it was amazing experience.
The thing i love about the Maldives that each island is different than the other.
Thank you for the information.
It’s much more diverse than people think :-)
Hi Lauren, you’re a great travel blogger! Thanks for the amazing details covering local accommodation, travel, culture and general life in Maldives – makes it way more interesting to consider this destination in light of all this information, rather than just going there for the luxury experience. Look forward to reading about your future travels :)
Thank you! I really appreciate that :-)
Hi Lauren, good day! I found your post as I was browsing the internet about cheap/affordable out-of-the-country travels. I LOVE HOW DETAILED EVERYTHING AND GOT A GOOD ESTIMATE ON WHAT TO DO IN MALDIVES. I am not sure if someone has asked this before, but i hope you wouldn’t mind me asking – how much (in USD) would I need to save if I were to go on a week-long trip, covering the airfare and accommodation? ? I am from Philippines, and usually USD rates are high and I would love to save up for it. How does $500/person sound? Or should it be more? I hope to receive your recommendation and favorable response. ? Thank you sooo much!
Very helpful for those who are thinking/planning a trip to Maldives. Thank you for sharing your experience and tips on how to save and enjoy as well.
Thanks for reading!
As someone who specialize in selling budget holidays in Maldives and having visited the most guest house island in Maldives I must say that Lauren’s guide is the best guide ever written on internet for Maldives budget holidays. Great work!
Wow, thank you so much! That means a lot :-)
Thank you for all the helpful hints that you have given in your article. This would definitely help me plan my trip better. I have a question, what is the cheapest way to travel to the Maldvies from USA?
Thanks for the great article on Maldives…I’m planning to visit it for my honeymoon in January, and this write up has been super helpful to say the least. I not only read the articles but also all the comments.
I would also like to explore a couple of local islands and then head to a beach resort for a couple of nights.
I have a few questions and it’d be nice if you couldhelp.
is the airport and Male city on separate islands? If yes, how far and how much does it cost to go there?
Going by the comments, Maafushi is ruined by tourists, Fulidhoo sounds nice going by what you mentioned. I’m sure you’ve done your research for your upcoming trip, have you come across any peaceful local island that i can include in my list?
Can i carry a few bottles of water from the local island to the resort island to avoid buying at an exorbitant price?
Do you think it’s advisable to do the water activities from the local islands and then move to the resort island, i’m guessing it will be expensive to do the activities at the resort.
Do you know of islands where one can get bicycles on hire to explore the island?
Thank you in advance :)
This was such an insightful read! I always postponed a visit to the maldives so that I can splurge when I visit. But since it is possible to travel on a budget – guess there’s no time like the present!
Could you please give me more details on how to search for transport, other than the one provided by the resort? Was it difficult to find it, how did you do it? Is it reliable?
Thanks in advance
Hi Lauren just browsing about travel to Maldives, I’ve been twice there and always wanna back there. It was wonderful to see your boat photos with stairs to upper deck…yeay I’ve been using it too when I was in Angsana Velavaru.
Food is incredible I think, I ate a lot of curry and biryani chicken rice there and buy some herb but still can use it for cooking till now hahaha a bit difficult to use it in my local food.
Anyway thank you for remind me about Maldives
Thank you very much for this blog. It’s really very helpful for a person like me, who plans all his trips on his own i.e. without a travel agent. It’s always a thrilling experience to plan your trip on your own.
Me and my wife have gone through almost everything you wrote here and found overwhelmingly useful to plan our trip. It made us to google around or ask our hotels for certain things like ATM/Cash/Payments etc. Also, before we planned this trip I thought that, one can roam around in Maldives almost everywhere in shorts (women in bikinis). But thanks to you for making that point clear about private islands and bikini beaches.
It’s indeed a lovely post. Making almost everything clear.
Thanks for this informative post.
As you mentioned, you had managed the transfers from Guraidhoo to Olhuveli Resort through local fisherman and that is a way cheaper option.
I am also planning to stay in Guraidhoo for 2 nights and then visit Olhuveli for 1 night. But while booking the Resort Water villa, they mention MANDATORY transfer fees.
Can you please tell me if I can arrange my own transfer and ditch the mandatory resort transfers ?
Yeah, unfortunately, Olhuveli seem to have made their transfer fees mandatory, which wasn’t the case when we visited. You could maybe see if you could arrange a transfer from Guraidhoo rather than Male with them, as that should cost less. I think we were quoted $200 rather than $280, which is still outrageous, but less money overall. It’s ridiculous that they make the transfers mandatory.
Amazing article! I hope the upcoming tourists will travel with responsibility so many others can still visit the archipelago.
Great information about travel to Maldives. I am going there next month. I am going to be arriving in the evening and i cannot find any information for the ferries schedule from the airport to male city. Do you know the ferries schedule or the last ferries to Male city.
Few things from experience
1. The islands which you mentioned are nearby islands to Make airport and you would end up seeing factories and pollution
2. They don’t respect their currency and they love dollars. If you pay in dollars they give back change in Rufiyaa Only
3. Madlives doesn’t accept damaged currency and they are very strict in this case. Even a tiny torn in the middle, they won’t take the currency. So, be careful while you are carrying dollars.
4. Resort experience is completely different from island experience
5. Male has full pavement across city
Maldives is now completely controlled by Koreans and they are heavily investing in Maldives. They are constructing malls, flyovers and damaging the beauty of Maldives
great guide, this will be so much help to me when I finally make it there! i’ve been in India for 2 years and have been dying to go because flights aren’t too bad. Bookmarking this! Thanks.
The Maldives has always been my dream destination. But I either don’t have time or the money to travel. Glad that I found your website now I can properly plan my trip for the upcoming summer and finally cut it off from my bucket list!
Yay! Have an amazing trip :-)
Local is always the best way to go! The point of traveling is not only to see the area but also to embrace the local atmosphere, it’s more hands on experience. And being cheaper is always a plus 😅
Hi Lauren, you are amazing! I was trying to find a cheap destination for a week! I am happy to see your blog, and I have been reading comments, and the target seems impressive to me. But, I want to ask you I am planning to go with my friend and now it’s 2019. How far the inflation rate has increased the prices. We want to spend less amount on accommodation and high on extra leisure activities.
If I go for the cheapest option like $40-$50, how far it will be from a beach and what types of activities are available for youngsters to enjoy fully.
Gosh – I was researching the Maldives for me and my family (husband and 3yr old and 1 yr old) and after reading this blog I’m convinced this is not the best option for a family. Would you agree?
How come? I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be a good idea to visit with kids!
No it’ll be absolutely fine if you choose to stay at a resort catering to families. (Some are adults only.)
If you chose to stay at an inhabited island, just need to be very aware of the social customs and laws and abide by them. (This is not a country you want to be flouting the law in by doing things like drinking alcohol in public on non-tourist islands. Apart from being disrespectful, you may find yourself being fined or worse.)
With young kids I’d try and avoid island hopping too much if you’re not sticking to the tourist routes, but that would apply anywhere.
If you’re respectful and nice to the locals, you’ll find you have a good time in return.
Hope you get a chance to revert. My fiance and I had no idea that accommodation was this expensive in Maldives and tried to be spontaneous by booking flights from 25th Dec – 1st Jan thinking we could celebrate Christmas and New Year’s both. After researching a lot, we thought that the only logical thing to do now is to cancel the tickets and go some time off season. But your post has made me rethink my decision. Would you recommend us taking this trip even if it means skipping overwater villas?
Thanks for the rush down memory lane. Loved your blog of the Maldives. I happen to visit once on uncle Sam’s dime( us Navy ) back in Dec 80 – Jan 81. The ship was anchored off Male, so never went to far from there. The snorkeling was the best I ever experienced. That’s saying alot since our ship went all over Asia & Australia. Wish I was a diver then. Have been wanting to get back there since. You’ve given me the courage to start looking into it again. I imagine it will be way different now. Thanks again.
6 yr bump!
Great post, and such a stark contrast to this other guy’s post I just finished reading who was unable to look past gushing about the uber expensive accommodations/transportation he experienced, my first impression was he did not try hard enough, nearly put me off Maldives as a destination. Thanks to you it’s back on the radar:)
Thank you! I’m so glad to hear that :-)
This is one of the most thorough articles on traveling that I’ve every come across. Big thank you for sharing your travel experiences and for providing us with all the required info!
One quick question – I and my wife are planning to travel to Maldives. We are aware that the local ferries are run by the govt. and we would love to explore this means of transport only. Is there a way we can find out the schedules of these local ferries?
Thanks in advance for the revert!
My dream destination! Thank you on a detailed impressive guide! Saved your post for the future 🙂
Lots of good info here, but I’d say you’re incorrect in that you can’t get a room on the beach for less than $200 a day. It’s not always possible, but it is possible if you keep your eyes open and are willing to jump on deals that come up from time to time. They usually occur in low season, and may be relatively short notice (I think I booked within 4-6 weeks of my travel date).
I wrangled an on the beach self contained room on a resort island, with all meals included, during whale shark season for under $200 a night. (I think it was about $170 from memory which wasn’t bad considering it was a nice resort and everything I needed was included (bar some snorkeling/diving trips I decided to do) and you could spend the whole days on the house reef easily at no charge which I did do myself.)
Also really important to get any transfers bundled into your accomodation stay. I needed a seaplane to get out there which if booked alone would have been crazy expensive, but although not cheap compared to a local ferry, was brought back in cost considerably when booked with the accomodation during this deal which made it affordable for me.
Amazing stay, but you do need to be very conscious of extra charges if you decide to go out on boat trips, and drinks (including water) were not included at all places I stayed while there, as it can add up.
I considered staying at an inhabited island which would have been cheaper, but being female and wanting to spend the whole day in the water, didn’t really want to deal with the restrictions that would have probably had me swimming in my clothes or restricted to the tourist beaches. Not a backpacker level costing trip, but still worked out cheaper than many of the destinations I could have visited in my own country.
Edit: Australian currency quoted so would be quite a bit less than that again in US dollars.
Hi! Thank you for all the useful information. The article seems to be written in 2014 but updated in September 2021. Could you possibly comment on the COVID restrictions? From what I see on the website, you must book at a tourist resort right now and book your whole stay in advance? Also, do you know whether you need a return ticket in order to enter the country? Thank you so much in advance!
I contacted maafushi tours and pickmytrail and both informed that Islands hopping or private resort visits for day tours are not working due to COVID restrictions. They mentioned like it is not explicitly banned, but u need to get separate RT PCR on all the islands and need to stay minimum 3 days.
If u need visa on arrival, u need return ticket and hotel bookings for sure.