A trip to the Maldives is a unique opportunity to experience one of the Earth’s most unblemished stretches of shimmery ocean and it can be done on almost any budget!
Flights to the Maldives often involve layovers in places like Doha or Dubai. Look out for a new direct route opening for passengers soon.
Budget to Midrange
Take an economy flight with stopovers in Doha or Dubai: longer but cheaper
Cape Town to Malé: Around R11 839 for return tickets
Johannesburg OR Tambo to Malé: Around R10225 for a return
Durban to Malé: Around R12 949 for return flights
If you’re willing to splurge, the extra comforts a first-class ticket buys might be worth the money.
Cape Town to Malé: Around R53 090 for return flights
Johannesburg OR Tambo to Malé: Around R53 090 for a return
Durban to Malé: Around R54 974 for return tickets
Note: flights are calculated for mid-June in 2018.
The boundaries of budget categories are shifted significantly in the Maldives. With a total lack of hostels and cheap hotels at the bottom of the pyramid, top-tier prices have sunk down to affect the backpacker and middle-class family travelers. However, if you’ve got enough rands for the resorts, you’re in for a treat of some of the world’s most luxurious facilities.
For a really cheap night’s stay, try Couchsurfing.It’s free to join and stay over, and small gifts for hosts cost very little.
Souvenir gift for hosts: R20-R50
Otherwise, the backpacking scene in the Maldives is humble, to say the least. What you will find instead are guesthouses. Be thankful for them; a few years ago they were non-existent and the tourism industry was dominated by exclusive resort hotels.
These guesthouses are located on local islands which also helps to keep prices down. What’s also key to an affordable stay in the right local island. Your chosen island’s proximity to Malé and the number of hotels on it impact on the prices you’ll be charged per night: choose well!
A stay in a Malé hotel: R500 to R1000 per night for a double in some of the city’s best budget options.
A night in Thulusdhoo island: 600 to R800 per night for a double room.
If the hotels and guesthouses on local islands don’t make the cut, there are some affordable resorts in the Maldives. Your best deal might be an all-inclusive package.
Holiday at Meeru Island and Spa: R25 960. This amazing deal includes return economy flights, 7 nights’ accommodation in the 4-star venue, three meals daily and resorts transfers!
Resort getaway to Kuredu Island Resort and Spa: Around R40 335. The package includes return flights, 7 nights in a 4-star resort, resort transfers, three meals daily, complimentary drinks, use of canoes and windsurfing equipment, a half day snorkeling tour and golf lessons. What more do you need?
There’s no end to the luxury options in the Maldives.
Hurawahli Island Resort: From R67 125 for a 7-night 5-star stay including breakfast, return flights and return transfers by seaplane.
Lily Beach Resort and Spa: From R58 111 for 7 nights in a 5-star beach villa, including three meals a day, return transfers by seaplane, complimentary snorkeling equipment, and two excursions.
Other dream resorts include Soneva Jani, an eco-conscious resort that prioritizes tranquility and indulgence with retractable roofs for stargazing in bed and a choice of twelve different pillow types.
A small villa at Soneva Jani: Starts at R35 679 per night
There’s also the One & Only Reethi Rah, a world-class option for its spa and extraordinary design, that’s seen royals and Hollywood stars as guests.
Accommodation starts at R19 891 per night for two sharing.
Keeping with the beachside theme, Maldivian cuisine is very seafood-based but it is possible to eat in the Maldives on a budget.
Seafood buffet: Around R150 per person
Pizza: Around R109
Cappuccino: Expect to pay around R31
If you’re on a top-end allowance, chances are you’re staying at a resort and meals are included in the package price. If not, there are plenty of exceptional restaurants to choose from.
A picnic on a sandbank is an exceptional experience: R3016 for two people.
It’s all about the water in the Maldives. Whether it’s by the shore, on the ocean or underwater, it doesn’t matter what you do so long as you get to the shimmering seaside!
The best parts of the Maldives are the beaches and they come free. Just make sure you’re on a tourist beach if you want to wear a bikini; they’re not allowed on local beaches.
A ride in a dhoni or ferry to a nearby island is a cheap version of an Indian Ocean Cruise.
Try a sunset excursion to a sandbank with snorkeling en route. A guide will point out marine life and help the inexperienced with their equipment. A tour like this combines three of the Maldives’ most incredible experiences.
Secret Paradise Maldives offers this tour from R1 500 per person, with a minimum of two people required.
If you couldn’t quite afford the most expensive packages for your entire holiday, sneak a glimpse into the good life with a day trip to one of the luxury resorts dotting the country.
Cruise Maldives offers a day trip to Club Med Kani Island, including a buffet lunch, transfers and entry to the resort and swimming pool for around R3000 per person.
With over 1800 islands comprising the nation, island-hopping is iconic of a trip to the Maldives. It can be done in a full day excursion and will include snorkeling or scuba diving, as well as exploring the mainland.
Secret Paradise Maldives has such a tour available for around R2700 per person, including a buffet lunch and traditional tea.
Chartering a private boat for a memorable day trip to nearby islands, many of which may be deserted, is also a unique possibility and is arranged with the hotel.
The dhoni is both an authentic Maldivian vessel and a cheap option when getting around the islands.
Journey by Dhoni: around R39 per kilometer
You’re more likely, however, to use the ferry which sometimes takes the form of a dhoni and sometimes is a larger vehicle. In an effort to boost budget tourism, the Maldivian government has invested in expanding the ferry network. However, these ferries only connect local islands, not exclusive resort islands.
Ferry ride: about R120 for a 15-hour journey
Flyme runs flights between Malé, Maamigili, and Dharavandhoo with reasonable prices.
Flight from Malé to Dharavandhoo: R1308 (one-way)
Flight from Malé to Maamigili: R1535 (one-way)
Again, transfers to luxury resorts will more often than not be included in the cost of your stay. There are speedboat services which make getting between islands quick and scenic.
Speedboat trip: R900-R4500 for a return ticket
The seaplane, half boat, and a half plane is used to connect the remotest islands. It’s a way of traveling that isn’t used everywhere and the company that operates in the Maldives has the largest fleet of seaplanes in the world: there’s no better place to try it!
Seaplane flight: upwards from R4164 (one-way)
With spectacular resorts and a pristine coastline, the Maldives is a dream destination. Fortunately, this guide proves that a trip to the Maldives can suit all sorts of travelers and budgets so don’t hesitate: the Maldives’ brilliant blue shores await!