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The Maldives has built a reputation for its all-inclusive resorts with bungalows overlooking the Indian Ocean. The private islands have become synonymous with luxurious destinations, especially among the rich and famous. Indeed, staying in an exclusive 5-star resort is expensive, ranging between $350 and $45,000 per night.

Due to its reputation, many travelers still believe the Maldives is a destination only for wealthy travelers. But is it possible to visit the country on a budget? The answer is yes, as the country is much more than resorts. The archipelago consists of 1,200 small islands, and 200 are inhabited. There are some spots that travelers should definitely consider visiting in the Maldives, and it is possible to travel on a budget to some of them.


Choosing Local Islands

Before, foreigners could only stay in resorts while traveling to the Maldives. The rules changed in 2008 when the first democratically elected government allowed locals to have guest houses and receive tourists.

This means that beyond the private islands, Maldives also offers local islands that are more affordable.

Staying on those islands is also great for tourists who want to have contact with local culture and discover a different side of the Maldives.

The busiest islands often have more affordable prices for guesthouses, restaurants, and activities.

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Maafushi is located only 90 minutes from Mali, Maldives´ capital, and is the most popular choice for travelers on a budget. This small island has over 50 hotels and is famous for its beaches and bioluminescent plankton.

Tourists can choose a range of activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, or just spending the day at the beach.

Speedboat Price: $40


Travelers who want to visit Dhigurah need to travel two hours on a speedboat from Mali or book a domestic flight to Maamigili (20 minutes), where they will take a speed boat to the island.

One of the main reasons to visit the island is to watch the whale sharks while scuba diving.

Prices: Speedboat - $60

Domestic Flights - $120 (adults) and $75 (children under 12)


Fulidhoo is another local island that is becoming more popular among tourists. The island is worth visiting, especially for the scuba diving tours at the Vaavu atoll, where tourists can encounter dolphins and whale sharks.

The island is a perfect choice to discover more of the authentic Maldivian lifestyle.

Speedboat Price: $40


Thulusdhoo is the capital of the Kaafu Atoll, and there are speedboats from Mali heading to the main island every 30 minutes.

The place has incredible beaches, and tourists can snorkel on the coral reefs.

There is also a famous tour of a Coca-Cola factory on the island.

Speedboat Price: $30

Choose A Guesthouse Instead Of A Resort

The Maldives is famous for its all-inclusive resorts, but those exclusive accommodations are often the most expensive part of visiting the country.

Choosing a guest house makes the Maldives much more affordable (approximately $50 per night). Travelers also have more freedom to bargain when doing activities and choosing their agencies.

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Island life Maldives Retreat & Spa, Magoodhoo

This guest house is located in the beach area and is excellent for families, featuring spacious rooms and a playground. The hotel has a private beach in an area famous for snorkeling.

The place also has a lovely terrace where guests often play darts or enjoy the sun. It is an excellent choice for travelers looking for an exclusive location at an affordable price.

West Sand, Ukulhas

Guests who choose this hotel must walk one minute to reach the beach. The West Sand was recently inaugurated, and guests can access a private beach and water sports.

For those who choose to spend the day at the hotel, there is a playground for children, a restaurant, and a terrace.

Nala Island Village, Maafushi

This lovely guest house is near a white sand beach with pristine waters and is the perfect place for enjoying the beautiful days in the Maldives.

The hotel has a restaurant with international cuisine and a great garden to relax.

They also help guests to organize tours, including night fishing, picnic island excursions, and sandbank trips.

Travel During The Low Season

Most tourists travel to the Maldives between November and February, which means those are the most expensive months to be in the country.

Travelers have many reasons to travel during the shoulder season (March to April), as the weather is still great, and the prices are more affordable.

For travelers on a budget, the best time to visit is during the low season (May to early November). The resorts often have better deals, and the weather is still warm, but tourists will likely experience some storms and rainy days.

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Travel By Ferry Boat

Travelers might feel tempted to stay on more than one island in the Maldives. Although many give up on the idea when they realize it can be time-consuming and costly two travel between the locations they dream of.

Although staying on just one island is a wise decision to save money, it is also possible to visit more than one island on a budget.

The best way to do that is to choose islands on the same atoll, as they are often connected and have regular public ferry boats.

The prices for each journey will depend on the distance, but they usually start at $30.