Yeah that’s right… I said budget travel in the Maldives. It’s actually possible. No, really, it is.
The Maldives have traditionally been that post card perfect destination that you dreamed of going on a romantic getaway. And that’s definitely that it used to cater to. Up until recently, tourists could only stay on resort islands – islands owned by resorts. When the entire island is owned by the resort, it pretty much eliminates competition. Budget wasn’t really a buzz word in the Maldives at this time.
Things are changing. Ever since regulations loosened, and tourists were allowed to stay on inhabited islands there has been a blossoming of the Maldivian guesthouse. If you are a budget traveler then rejoice – guesthouses are certainly within an achievable price range.
Budget Accommodation in the Maldives
As I was saying, most budget travelers will stay in a guest house. Now, when choosing a guest house it is important to look at more than just the price. There are a couple other factors that will dramatically affect your wallet in the Maldives, and that is; food and transport. Some guest houses do not include any meals, so it is important to look into what restaurants are available in the area. If there is no budget friendly eatery nearby, then the overall cost of the experience is going to increase.
Many guest houses operate in a similar concept to resorts – they are all inclusive. These resorts include all your food and sometimes activities as well. Even thought these guest houses may look more expensive at first glance, you may end up much better off by the end of your holiday. We stayed at Jupiter Sunrise Lodge, an affordable guesthouse that included all meals and drinks, as well as all activities.
Transport in the Maldives
When choosing a guesthouse, you must always keep transport in the back of your mind. Getting between islands can be an all day affair. Public ferry’s are a great insight into local life, but they are slow and do not run every day. There is usually a speed boat option, but this is much more expensive. One thing to keep in mind is that some guest houses are only reachable by seaplane or speedboat – and can sometimes cost you as much as the international flight which initially brought you to the Maldives in the first place!
If you are truly on a budget, look for a guesthouse on an island that is reachable by public ferry.
Food in the Maldives
Since food was included during our stay at Jupiter Sunrise Lodge, we didn’t really have much of a food expense. We did have to buy our meals when we stayed in the capital of Male though. I found it pretty easy to find cheap tea houses and snack bars to find a quick bite. Most accommodations we saw, did not offer self catering facilities, so eating out is a reality. However, most hotels and guesthouses do offer free breakfast.
Tricks to stay on budget in the Maldives
The trick to staying on budget is to do your research in advance. If you spend a day getting out to an island by ferry, and find that the guesthouse you have booked does not include food, and the attached restaurant is astronomical – well, there isn’t much you can do. Most islands only have one or two guesthouse on them – so chose wisely!
By finding a good guesthouse which is all inclusive, you will know your costs ahead of time. By staying on a smaller island you will pretty much eliminate the chances of any impulse spending, as shops on the islands are extremely limited.
The cost of activities or renting snorkeling gear can add up. We brought our own snorkels and marks which saved us quite a bit of money and didn’t take up much room in our suitcases. Pack wisely, and bring everything you need some home. Items such as sunscreen are highly marked up as it is only tourists who shop for these items. Check out our Maldives packing list for suggestions so you don’t forget something crucial (and costly) at home.