Modest Maldives – how to travel in Maldives on a budget

…in my mind Maldives was some divine place in heaven, inaccessible to ordinary mortals…

Maldives are associated with shockingly blue water, pristine white sand beaches on uninhabited islands, strings of water villas and of course– luxury. You might think that lucky Maldivians have to be very wealthy if their resorts charge over 1000$ per night, right?

…Michao admires the water-villas during our island hopping …

I. What is the truth? Where are the Maldivians since the islands are ‘uninhabited’ ..?

Maldives is a real country on Planet Earth with a little over 393,500 inhabitants, which make it the smallest in Asia by land and population.  If you wonder how this mysterious population looks like, I will give you a hint – Maldives lies southwest of India and Sri Lanka…

… the local crew and the lower deck of the speedboat on which Michao was lounging …

Okay, so going back to wealthy Maldivians there is another shocking surprise. It turns out, that Maldives suffer from unbelievable level of corruption. Apparently, few people in the government sells its little islands to international hotel brands for millions of dollars. The money goes to only few pockets, whilst the local people live in rather poor conditions on the public islands. If you want to know more, check out this documentary [click].

… Maldives capital – Male, and just behind it an island-airport …

If you are more of adventure traveler and want to see by yourself how ‘the paradise’ really looks like, OR you don’t have extra few thousands of $ lying around and still crave for Maldives- I have good news. You can travel in Maldives cheaply! The trick is to … stay on public islands. This will not only save you a lot of money, but you would also be contributing to local communities rather than international corporations.

And by saving money I mean the whole range of things that are crazy expensive in Maldivian’s resorts:

  • transfer: the resorts are located on private islands, so you have no choice but fork out extra few hundreds of $ for a private boat or plane to get you there upon your arrival to the capital island – Male. However, if you stay on public island, you can use a public transport, which in this case is a small ferry. In fact, the ferry ride is one the cheapest I have seen around SE Asia, only 1,5$!

…the interior of the public ferry to Maafushi Island …

  • accommodation: I can imagine that there is nothing like Maldivian resort, but there really are other options for budget travelers. We paid only 30$ per night/per room in a nice hotel by the beach on Maafushi Island.

… who would’t want to stay in a room where you can go out to the beach directly through the window?:) …

  • activities: I have no idea how expensive that might be on private island (probably – very very expensive) but on public one there were few dive shops, so you can negotiate the price. We paid 100$ for 2 dives and only 30$ for the tour around the ‘neighborhood’, and that included the whole day of island hopping in a cool speedboat, snorkeling and lunch in local ‘restaurant’!

… island hopping and chilling on the rooftop of our speedboat …

II. And now the best part: Luxurious Resorts Travel Hack!

Even if you stay in a cheap hotel on Public Island you can still experience the luxury of a resort! How..?

Public island hotels organize 1-day ‘resort trips’, for as low as 15$. There is additional entrance fee to the resort (from 43$ to 183$- depending on the resort, including buffet lunch and unlimited drinks). So you can treat yourself for a day or two and enjoy the luxuries… cheaply;)

III. Warning!

If you like the idea of public island stay, you need to know that Maldives is a very strict Muslim country – total alcohol ban and ‘appropriate’ outfit applies. I traveled around the Muslim countries in SE Asia and usually the rules were pretty relaxed. Surprisingly -not in this case. There really is no alcohol in the local bars, shops and even hotels, at which entrance we are reminded about the island ‘dress code’.

I guess we could survive those few days of holidays without a drink but we absolutely cannot imagine Maldives without swimming in that insanely-blue water freely, right…?

As always there are few ways around this:

– you could do a resort-trip with a day of open-bar and unlimited bikini time,

– make sure your public island has a ‘bikini beach’ – which is a zone where only foreigners can enter to expose their shameless bodies as much as they want,

… my “swimsuit” on the public beach …

– bikini ban applies on the islands but no one cared what I wore on the boat while island hopping or during snorkeling;)

Questions? Comments? Any Travel hacks/ ideas for me? Let me know in the comments!

In the next post –> how does Maldivian public island looks like?



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