How to do the Maldives on a Budget

Filed in Maldives by on March 17, 2015 • views: 1744

Budgeting Maldives and Still Have an Island Getaway

Budgeting Maldives is possible if you follow these tips.  If you’re looking for an island getaway for your next vacation, there’s no better place than the Maldives! This collection of more than a thousand coral islands in the Indian Ocean is absolutely stunning.  They offer fantastic diving, snorkeling, excellent surfing, and plenty of picturesque beaches to relax on. When you’re planning your trip, you might find yourself a little worried.  Aren’t beautiful island getaways are only for the rich?  This is not always true when you budget Maldives the right way!  There are plenty of things you can do to minimize your total cost while maximizing the amount of things you do during your trip to the Maldives.

Budgeting Maldives

An Island in the Maldives Photo by

Money When Budgeting Maldives

It’s important to know that although US dollars are widely accepted in the Maldives.  It is generally cheaper to pay in the local currency (Maldivian Rufiya). This is because things will generally be rounded up, so something that costs between $1 and $2 will generally be charged as $2, and so on. To get the best bang for your buck, you’ll want to convert your money to the local currency and pay in that.  When you exchange money, make sure you hang on to your receipts as you can only change leftover Rufiya if you show the original receipt of exchange!

Accommodation when Budgeting Maldives

One of the first things to figure out when you’re planning your trip is where you will stay. There are many luxury resorts, but obviously those are not going to help you stick to a strict budget. Instead, you want to make sure you’re looking at guesthouses or AirBnB. These will generally run somewhere between $40 – $100 per night for a standard room, but that’s a lot better than what you’d be spending at a resort. The other great thing about staying at a guesthouse is that they’re usually locally owned, meaning you get an authentic, immersive experience of local culture.

When you’re choosing where to stay, make sure you choose an island that will be cheap for you to get to. Flying into the country, you’ll end up at Malé International Airport. If you don’t plan on staying in or near Malé, you will probably want to take public ferries to other islands, as these are your cheapest option. The fares are inexpensive and timetables can be found online, but be aware that they don’t operate on Fridays! Remember that you should set up a VPN on your computer or smartphone to protect your personal information any time you’ll be using Wi-Fi abroad.

Budgeting Maldives

Holiday Inn Kandooma One of the cheaper options in the Maldives Photo by


Food When Budgeting Maldives

Your food may be included in the cost per night, depending on where you stay. If it isn’t, there are bound to be some restaurants in the area. As a rule of thumb, restaurants serving European or generic Asian food will typically be more expensive.   Maldivian food when served at smaller establishments called hotaa—will generally be a bit cheaper. When in doubt, ask at your guesthouse and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Maldivian food tends to be heavy on fish and light on vegetables, which makes sense given the location. As with Sri Lankan or Indian food, Maldivian food is typically spicy and served alongside rice or flat bread.  If you spend any time in Malé, check out the fish market. Or if you go on a fishing trip and get lucky, you might get to eat what you catch!


One cheap thing to do in the Maldives is just relax on the beach or go swimming. Regardless of where you stay, there should be a lovely beach nearby and depending on where and when you go, you might find you have the whole beach to yourself. The best way to figure out which beach to go to is either to explore on your own or ask the locals.

Depending on where you stay, you may be able to rent scuba diving equipment at a low cost from your guesthouse or nearby, and your host might even be able to take you out on the water for cheap. If scuba diving or snorkeling is something you plan on doing, ask prior to making your booking. And remember that Maldives is a primarily Islamic country, so be sure to ask at your guesthouse whether bikinis are okay on the local beach!

Budgeting Maldives

A Beach on a Resort Island Photo by

Around the Island of Malé

Should you choose to spend time in the capital city, there are a few free things that you can do for sightseeing. As the smallest capital city, you’ll have no problem getting around on foot. Make sure to check out the 17th-century Friday Mosque and the Islamic Centre, which holds the largest mosque in the Maldives. Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to enter the former without having received prior permission, but they will have no problem with the latter. Also check out the Sultan Park and National Museum, which was once the Sultan’s palace and where you can now see some artifacts from Maldivian history.

Budgeting Maldives

The Main Mosque on Male Photo by


budgeting Maldives

The Sultan’s Palace Photo by

If you’re sick of the city, stroll along the Southwest Harbor and take the ferry out to Villingili island. The ferry costs about $0.20 each way, and the island is both scenic and a great spot for snorkeling. Or head out to Hulhumale Island, a man-made island with another nice beach with restaurants and cafés.


Although the Maldives is a stunning archipelago that might seem out of reach to the budget traveler, this is not the case at all. If you’re smart and put in a little prior planning, you don’t have to stress over the cost. Instead, you can find yourself relaxing on your own deserted little beach, to the envy of all your friends.


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