Maldives on a Budget

We have all probably thought of the ideal trip to Maldives; the fresh breeze from the ocean, the secluded beaches, the barrage of Instagram pictures that will make the jaw drop, it’s all a recipe for the perfect holiday. What this recipe requires, however, is money and lots of it. Or does it?

For years Maldives has branded itself as the ultimate luxury travel destination and by all means, the country delivers in spades in that regard. However, in 2009, a change in regulation allowed tourists to visit local islands and stay amongst the local population – as opposed to the previous laws where tourists could only plan a trip to resort islands. This has given rise to local tourism, which in turn has led to the emergence of guest houses on local islands.

With one stroke, Maldives opened itself up to a world of new possibilities, the most significant one being the introduction of budget travel. Gone are the days where a trip to Maldives was nothing but an unachievable dream, one that never seemed realistic. This slice of heaven is much more than a fantasy now.

Let’s explore how plan a trip to Maldives on a budget.

Getting There

A trip to Maldives used to involve long flight and transit times and used to cost over 1000 USD. As the country has increased in popularity, regional flights from nearby countries like Sri Lanka and India have reduced plane tickets to a few hundred dollars. South East Asia and Dubai also have direct flights to the archipelago which are highly affordable. Perhaps a layover in Maldives at the end of a backpacking trip will be the perfect way to end an adventure.

Getting Around

Visiting a resort in Maldives usually entails a transport to the island via the resort’s own transport – which tends to be quite pricey. If you’re visiting local islands, however, a ferry system will cut that cost to a few dollars – downside is you will have to work on a timetable, which also means waiting. The ferry is also much slower than a speedboat but fret not! Maldives has a number of speedboat operators (who are readily available online) that conduct regular transport to different islands. These trips will not cost much but will require a bit of preplanning.


The 2009 regulation change paved the way for numerous locally owned affordable establishments to open their doors to guests. These guesthouses cost a fraction of resorts and are just as majestic. Here you can experience a slice of heaven for the mere price tag of around 50 USD – going as high as 250, depending on the room. Most places will also have all the basic amenities like air conditioning and Wi-Fi.


Food on local islands will be more geared towards Maldivian cuisine, although other options will be there. Most islands don’t have too many restaurants so options might be limited but guesthouses usually provide meals to guests as well for a few dollars. Local restaurants and cafes are also quite inexpensive and usually serve fish caught that very day. Other than fish, lunches consist of scrumptious curries, roshis (like Indian rotis) and buttered rice.

Things to do.

Pretty much everything available in resorts is also available in local islands. If it’s the marine life you’re after, then snorkeling might be your thing. Diving is another option to get up close and personal with our friends in the sea. Maldives has some of the best diving sites and teachers in the world and is a wonderful place to get a diving license.

Similarly, surfing in Maldives is almost divine with Thulusdhoo being one of the most popular destinations amongst surfers, owing to its famous Cokes and Chicken surf breaks. If you’ve ever been to Indonesia for surfing, Maldives is quite similar but with less aggressive waves.

Perhaps your trip to the Maldives is about relaxation. After all, the country is the post card for serenity and serenity you will get! Every island in Maldives seems like it has barely been touched by man; from the white sand beaches to the pristine nature of the country, relaxation isn’t a privilege, it’s a right in Maldives. Most local islands have private bikini beaches where one can bask in the sun and walking the entirety of the coast usually takes less than 30 minutes. How does that sound for romantic walks on the beach?

This is just breaking the surface of things to do. Island hopping, stingray feeding, shark feeding, dolphin sighting, swimming with whale sharks, breathing in Maldivian culture, the list goes on and on and on. There is absolutely no shortage of adventure and relaxation in this archipelago, and it doesn’t matter if you stay in local islands or luxury resorts during your trip to Maldives, the experiences will be unforgettable and profoundly breathtaking.

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