How to visit the Maldives on a budget

10 tips on how to save money in the Maldives

During our 1-year-honeymoon we decided to visit the Maldives because we wanted one real honeymoon experience in a hotel, with a white beach and beautiful blue water. But since we are travelling for 1 year, we didn’t want to spend all our money on this one special trip. We went to the Maldives with a tight budget, below you can find 10 tips to do exactly the same. Enjoy!

Cheap flight

Try to visit the Maldives when you are in a country nearby. If we would’ve booked a flight from Belgium, it would be super expensive. We did our trip to the Maldives in between Sri Lanka and India. A flight from Colombo to Malé cost 52 dollars. Without taxes, it was only about 10 dollar per person. About 70% of our ticket price was taxes/fees because MLE is kind of a privately owned airport.

Flying above the maldivian sea

Free visa

If you want to enter the Maldives, it’s free! No expensive VISA here.
On the downside, you do have to pay 8 dollars per person per night tourist tax.

Public ferry to Malé and islands

You can easily take a speedboat in the Maldives, to everywhere you like (starting at $50). However, a cheaper option would be the public ferries ($2).

You can take a ferry from the airport to Malé city (the airport is located on a separate island) and from Malé, you can take a ferry to one of the (local) islands.

Local islands, no resorts

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If you think of the Maldives, you probably think about the beautiful resorts. Those manmade islands are way too touristic (and expensive) for us (and most of them are owned by Europeans, Americans and Chinese people). We prefer visiting local islands, like Maafushi and Gulhi. It’s not only way cheaper, but you also get to know the real Maldivians (which are super friendly people).

Want to know where we stayed? You’ll read it at budget hotel/guesthouses.

Drone shot Maafushi

Plan your trip

If you want to go to different local islands in the Maldives, you should definitely plan your trip before you leave. You have to book your flight first, then you look for the islands you would like to visit and last, of course, the timetables from the public ferries. You can easily plan your accommodation with the ferry timetables in mind. That’s why we stayed one night in Malé city as we couldn’t take the public ferry to Maafushi the day we arrived.

Local food

Like we do on any trip, we eat locally. It’s always cheaper and it tastes better!
We always had a continental breakfast included in our hotel so we chose to eat locally for lunch and dinner. The best option is to ask for some tips in your hotel, most of them are local people and they know the best spots.

Buy snacks/drinks at the supermarket

The Maldives is a beach destination, obviously. So when you’re laying at the beach chances are you’ll get hot and sweaty. You will probably be craving for a delicious mocktail (no alcohol allowed on local islands) with a (healthy?) snack.

You could buy them at a beach bar, but it’s way cheaper to go to a local supermarket. They have some great non-alcoholic fruity beers for less than 2 dollars. Instead of the 8-10 dollar mocktails you buy at the beach bars…

Budget hotel/guesthouses

When you are staying at a local island, there are always a few guesthouses or hotels you can choose from (sometimes only three). Try to pick the cheapest accommodation, you’ll only sleep there so you don’t need to stay in that 5-star hotel.

We stayed at:

Choose your activities wisely

There are many activities to choose from on every island. Snorkelling, surfing, diving, jet ski, kayak,…

Always try to book your activity through your hotel, this is way cheaper and they always give you the correct price and information.

We wanted to go kayaking one day, the people on the beach said it was only 10 dollar per kayak and a lot cheaper than in our hotel. So we asked again in our hotel and they offered it for free!

The other thing we did was a half day snorkelling trip. The trip included snorkelling at 2 places, watching the dolphins and lunch on a sandbank. Price: 25$. Swimming with turtles? Priceless!

Snorkelling in the Maldives

Pay in local currency

If you don’t have the correct amount in dollars, try to pay in local currency. They’ll always round. We once had to pay 23,02 dollars and he insisted on receiving 24…

If you pay in MVR however (which is the most beautiful money we’ve ever seen by the way) you’ll pay the correct prices.

Bonus tip

We were on our honeymoon and told the hotels so via Some of them give you free upgrades if they have better rooms available, so don’t forget to mention it (even if you’re not on a honeymoon you could try it, but we didn’t say that)

Do you have another tip for us?
Let us know in the comments below!


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Great article about the Maldives. The tip about the plane to save money is a good one. We will take it into account when we are going there. Have fun on your year honeymoon.

Best regards,
Sporty Travellers

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