‘Cheap’ and ‘Maldives Holidays’ doesn’t exactly go together. Or so I thought.
When I first heard of Maldives, I thought “great honeymoon destination, way out of our budget!” The turquoise waters that are crystal clear and full of sea life looks like something out of a movie. Overwater bungalows that are so romantic but would definitely put a dent in your wallet...maybe Maldives, “one day”.
If you’ve ever thought this, I’m here to let you in on a secret, no one should be hiding...and it’s that Maldives Holidays can be super cheap!!
Maldives and cheap don’t seem to ever fit in a sentence together… but what if I told you, it’s possible to stay in Maldives for a fraction of the price that you’re expecting?!
Welcome to “local islands”. Just about 10 years ago, The Maldivian government started to allow local islands to develop as tourist destinations. Maldives is no longer solely a resort paradise, but you can now travel to a local island and still enjoy the vast beauty that’s out there in the Indian Ocean.
B and I spent 6 days and 5 nights on a local island and paid less than $600 total!! (Flights excluded of course). Talk about a Cheap Holiday in the Maldives! Here’s how it went down...
How We Did Our Maldives Holiday On the Cheap
We were thinking of places we could go on a few different vacations. Both of us had finally had a couple months off together, and we were not going to let it go to waste! We planned on a few smaller trips (since my idea was to “travel the world”) and we decided to head to Finland for our first. While researching everything to do in Finland, I discovered that Maldives would be sooo much cheaper to fly to from Finland than it would be from the states! We had already booked a trip to Bali a couple weeks after Finland, so we had 2 weeks in between to decide what to do. Rather than flying home, we decided to do our “trip around the world!” Since Maldives has been on our list of top 10 places (my top 5) we decided to do it. We went ahead and set up an awesome few nights in an overwater bungalow on a resort island, because “bucket list”...
But, we still had a week to figure out where else to go. I didn’t think we could swing 2 weeks in Maldives with our budget, until I discovered Maafushi, Maldives.
We found a great little guest house called Isle Beach Inn, that had great reviews, and was very affordable, so we booked our first 5 nights with them. We then booked our flight from Finland to Dubai, and then Dubai to Maldives since it was the cheapest way to get there.
Maafushi is a popular local island, close to the airport, so the transport to the island was super affordable as well.
Getting to Maafushi
You can spend around $500 just for your transportation to a resort island after you land in Male! But if you head to a local island, you can pay as little as $4. There are two options to get to Maafushi. You can take the local ferry, which can be about 1.5 hrs long, and pay $3 (plus a $1 ferry from the airport to Male island) or, you can take a 45 minute speedboat and pay about $25. I was actually planning on taking the local ferry, but our flight was delayed a bit, so we didn’t make it on time. So, speedboat it was. To be honest, I was so thankful we ended up on the speedboat. After a long flight and layovers, it was nice to get to the island quick and not be on a crowded local ferry for an hour and a half. Depending on what time your flight lands, either one could be a great option.
When you walk out of the airport, you may be overwhelmed with people holding signs and asking you where you’re wanting to go. Just walk past everyone and get your bearings. There are kiosks around that show hotels that you may be staying with, and you can ask them for help in getting on your boat. Or, you can find the person holding the “Maafushi Island” sign, and they will guide you.
Some of the people asking if you need help, are genuinely there to point you in the right direction, so don’t worry if someone comes up to you.
We were sent to a kiosk to pay for our ticket, and were told to be back at a certain time. We kept checking in a little early, but they were serious about their times. They had us waiting until the time they gave us. The lady then lead us to the boat, and we headed for Male to pick up more people, then to Maafushi. It was a beautiful ride, and fairly quick.
Local Islands=Cheap Maldives Vacation
There are a few things you have to understand when visiting a local island...
Locals live on the island so it’s their home. It’s not all resorts and attendants keeping the rocks off the beach. It can look a bit beat up, full of construction, loads of trash in places, and not the prettiest buildings. Actually, several islands are still recovering from the huge tsunami that happened in 2004! It’s a developing country, so you have to go in expecting that. The locals are very new to tourism, and can seem a bit to themselves. They aren’t mean, or grumpy, they’re just shy. They’re learning a new way of life with tourists coming in and invading their space. Most like it, they just don’t know how to act with all these new strangers in their lands. Smile, be nice, and they’re sure to reciprocate.
Our first impression of Maafushi was a bit rough. We pulled up in the boat, and saw a huge pile of trash burning on the shore, and noticed there’s a huge prison on one end of the island. To get to our guest house, we also walked through a street where many locals live, and it was a bit run down.
We weren’t too sure of this place, since we had no warnings beforehand, but spoiler alert...we loved Maafushi more than the other islands.
As soon as we got off the boat, someone from Isle Beach Inn was waiting for us to bring our luggage to the guest house. It was a short walk from the port and we got to walk through a little bit of the main strip.
Maafushi has a very touristy side of the island, and the “quieter side” of the island. We chose to stay in the quieter side, and we were glad we did.
The walk around the entire island only takes about 20 minutes. (Skipping the prison of course). And tourists pretty much stay on the opposite side of the prison as well, so it’s not really ever seen. And it is only a 5 minute walk from the “quiet side” to the “touristy side”.
Maafushi has one bikini beach next to all the hotels, shops, etc. We didn’t spend much time here, as it was always too crowded for us personally.
Isle Beach Inn
Isle Beach Inn, is a small guesthouse with only 5-6 rooms. It’s nothing fancy, but our room was clean, we had our own bathroom, and the a/c was awesome. So that was enough for us. We were greeted with a welcome drink and cold towel, which was more than welcomed after our travels. They sat us down and explained everything we needed. Our breakfast was included in our price and it was a breakfast I looked forward to every morning! They have a cute outside setup attached to their restaurant, so we ate on the beach several nights. They also explained all the tours/activities we could do during our stay.
The staff was always very friendly, and even said we could place our dinner order in the morning and let them know what time we wanted to eat, and they would have it ready for us...an option that several guests enjoyed. Since there are only 5-6 rooms at this guest house, the staff was always very attentive, and we felt a bit spoiled. The employees at Isle Beach Inn, really made our stay more enjoyable.
Active Water Sports Maafushi
We enjoyed a fun excursion with Active Water Sports Maafushi. We hopped on a jetski with one of the tour guides, and he took us to a sandbank in the middle of the ocean. We saw tons of sea life on the way, that he pointed out, and we got to drive around some of the neighboring islands. It was a fun adventure for sure!
Maldives Grand Total
-Transportation from Airport- $25 x2 = $50
(Could be $2/person instead)
-5 Nights at Isle Beach Inn- $270
-Fishing Excursion- $25 x2 =$50
-Jetski Excursion- $50
-Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Desserts- $178
GRAND TOTAL: $598
(We spent just a little more than we needed to because we had to take the speedboat from the airport, and we ate like KINGS and whatever we wanted. It can easily be cheaper!)
So, if you’re looking to head to the Maldives and think it’s out of your price range, think again! You can do a cheap Maldives Holiday with 5 whole days in the Maldives for under $300 a person! You won’t regret it!