How To Visit Maldives For Less Than 500 USD?

Maldives On Budget – The Ultimate Guide

How to Do Maldives on budget?

When you think about Maldives, you might picture yourself chilling outside an overwater bungalow while looking out over crystal blue water and hotel staff serving a Pina Colada.

It’s the epitome of romantic luxury.

And it costs hell lots of money. Resorts are too expensive and moreover there is no cheap transportation to resorts.

For so many people, this country is an unreachable dream.

But what if we tell you that you can easily experience Maldives for less than the price of a night at a luxury resort?

Yes! It wasn’t until we booked a flight to Maldives and started researching on options to do it cheap. We at Offbeat Wanderlust take it as a challenge to do super expensive countries on a budget  πŸ™‚ 

While Maldives is known for their luxury resorts, it is very much possible to enjoy an affordable trip to this paradise.

Experience Maldives on Budget with Offbeat Wanderlust

Need budget tips for other expensive country. Read our guide here “Iceland on Budget

We spent 450 USD for our 4 days trip to Maldives (all inclusive – Activities, Food, Accommodation, Transportation).

Cost break down:

  • Accommodation: 90 USD (3 nights @ 30 USD PP per night)
  • Experiencing Lavish Resort (full board): 130 USD
  • Activities (diving, snorkeling, banana boat, sailing, fishing): 100 USD
  • Food: 90 USD
  • Local Transportation / Ferry Rides: 40 USD

Here is how we did it.


1) Accommodation: Go Local

Staying on a local-inhabited island instead of a lavish resort is perhaps the best advice we can give to those who want to experience Maldives without doing too much damage to their wallet.

It’s not only cheap to stay in the local main islands but also you will experience true Maldivian culture here as compared to when staying in a resort. Also, when staying in a resort, you will be stuck to one resort as each island is one resort and you will be restricted with your travel options.

There are two main islands of Hulhumale & Male where you can find cheap accommodation. This is where you will set foot in Maldives for the first time, as practically all visitors arrive at Male International Airport.

We stayed in Hulhumale @ 30 USD per person per night (including breakfast) in a guest house on a double room occupancy.

We would say it was a very good stay for the price we paid. Beach was just 2 min walk from our place, many local food options to choose from and our guest house staff would cook for us customized meals as per our desire for a very reasonable price.


Beach just at a walking distance from our guest house in Hulhumale


2) Experience a Lavish Resort

Maldives is known for 2 things: its crystal clear blue water and its resorts. So if you come to Maldives and don’t visit a resort, you might not do justice to your trip. 

There are 2 options to do it cheap.

Option 1. Book a night in any nearby resort from the airport. This will help you to avoid expensive ferry or inter-island flight cost. There are many options available at a reasonable cost (for as low as 80 USD for 2 people) even in lavish resorts. Of course, don’t expect a water bungalow at this price.

Some resort options to stay at cheap price are Ayaana Lodge, Coral Retreat Maldives.

Option 2. Booking a day trip to a resort. Many tour operators in Male or Hulhumale will offer you a day trip to nearby lavish resorts (all inclusive).

We booked a day trip to Club Med Kani for 130 USD including everything: ferry, three 5 course meal, unlimited drinks etc.

Additionally, you also get to experience all the free activities that are offered by the resort to its guests such as snorkeling, sailing, banana boat ride etc.

It was more than worth the money we paid for.

Experience Luxury for reasonable price – Club Med Kani


Trying free activities in our day trip to a luxury resort


3) Activities

Staying in the main islands comes with other benefits such as booking activities for a reasonable price. You can do activities for half the price what you would pay in a resort.

We booked scuba diving with Ocean Junkies for 45 USD/dive (including guide, full gear, transport, snacks). You can’t get a better deal than this in Maldives. We would highly recommend this company. Their staff/owner treats you like their own family.

Other activities such as snorkeling, sailing, banana boat ride, you can do for free as mentioned above by choosing an all-inclusive day trip to a nearby resort.

Exploring underwater world for half the price in any luxury resort


and the star fish hunting begins


4) Food

You will find very cheap food option in the main islands of Male and Hulhumale. You can get a 3 course meal in the main islands for the price of a water bottle in a resort! Yeh, it’s that much cheaper. For 10 USD you can have a 4 course dinner by the beach. And of course the true Maldivian delicacies can be found in local islands more easily than in resorts. Another reason to stay in the main islands over a resort. High five  😎 

Lunch time by the beach in Hulhumale


5) Local Transportation

Let me start by quoting some of the rates you would pay if booking yourself in a resort. 280 USD PP for a 45-minute speed boat ride 2 ways, 500 USD for a 20-minute sea planes. Yes, cheap transportation to a Maldives resort is a myth. Instead, if you want to do island hopping without paying a bomb, we would say, stick to local ferries.

They run on a somewhat infrequent schedule but still wouldn’t cost you more than $2-$5 for a three hours ride. Ferry from Male Airport to Male costs $0.6, from Male to Maafushi $3, from Maafushi to Fulidhoo $4, from Maafushi to Guraidhoo $2. Even taxis in the main islands are fairly cheap.


Hope we have convinced you now to visit Maldives. No more excuses that it isn’t a budget friendly destination  πŸ™‚ . If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to us.

If you need more inspiration read our fellow bloggers tips to do Maldives on Budget


Author: Offbeat Wanderlust


  1. You have a point – there are no excuses not to visit somewhere because of a tight budget! There are so many great ways to save nowadays. A 3 hour ferry ride is certainly worth the savings, it’s a vacation after all. The first shot of the bungalows and the sparkly, blue water really got my attention. I cant wait to check out Maldives for myself.

  2. Looking around, getting in touch with the local, find a smart way to go straight to what you want. Theese are some of the qualities that make a good traveller, and it looks you got all of them : ) Nice inspiring post. “Traveling is not a matter of money but of courage” (Paulo Coelho)

  3. The idea to stay in a local hotel and spend a day at a resort is genius! Now I know I it’s possible to visit Maldives on a budget I’ll visit sooner rather than later!

    1. Yeh they opened budget travelling option 4- 5 years ago but still not known to many. Hope this article helps budget travellers.

  4. Great tips. I am definitely taking your advice and staying away from the resorts when I visit the Maldives. You did a great job saving money!

  5. I like your point about really experiencing Maldivian culture on the trip – that’s so much better than staying at a generic, culture-free high end hotel! Nice article.

  6. Every time I plan for Maldives, I reconsider my plan thinking I can do other places in the same budget for more number of days. But your post is motivating. I have to replan now.

    1. yeh Maldives in general is expensive but considering that 130 usd consist of full 3 meals, unlimited drinks, transportation and activities its pretty reasonable deal for Maldives.

  7. Amazing!!! Never thought it would be possible to visit the Maldives for this price!!! But you’re right, it’s amazing how much money you can save when you avoid the big resorts. We recently spent 4 days in the Bahamas staying in a local guest house and spent a similar amount. Great post!!

  8. This is a great post on seeing the Maldives on a budget. I always thought it was super expensive but your tips have made me see otherwise!

  9. For most people, Maldives are rather a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a big portion of the visitors goes there for honeymoon. Those are holidays where you don’t want to pinch pennies and just enjoy life and your vacation. For everyone else, with no “special” occasion, your article ought to be helpful, but definitely you have to be willing to organize a few things on site and accept a certain lack of planning uncertainty. Hence, you trade convenience against a lower price. Everyone has to decide on his/her own what thre priorities are.

    1. Thanks Dennis. you can organize everything in advance mentioned in my article too. πŸ™‚
      We ourselves like to plan everything bcz with limited holidays , we want to make most out of it.

  10. This is such a great article! I am so glad you published all the cheap options to visit the Maldives. I will definitely take all your tips into consideration when I go! Thanks!

  11. This is a great post about making travel accessible to everyone, well done. Loved our luxury stay in the Maldives though, its the only luxury time we have had on our 12 month travel adventure and I may need to do it again at the end. Love you photos too

  12. Wow! That is a very beautiful resort. I don’t think we can resist jumping in those lovely blue waters the moment we wake up. And since we are scuba divers, we would definitely be exploring the reefs all week! Hehehe!

  13. It’s really cool that you have ideas for doing Maldives on a budget. Although I loved our experience of staying in a water bungalow, it was definitely expensive and not a lot of people would like to spend that kind of money unless maybe it’s their honeymoon πŸ™‚ Good tips here!

    1. Absolutely..I wanted to say in water bungalow badly but then my husband as always convinced me that we can always stay in water bunglow in cheaper places. πŸ™‚ sneaky him

  14. Well done! You’ve shown how even the most exotic and expensive destinations can be within reach with a little resourcefulness and preparation. I love the Maldives. It’s just so tranquil, and I hope to return again.

  15. I think it might be really tough to convince us to not stay in an over water bungalow haha :). At the same time though we do like to enjoy the culture of where we are staying and if that means staying on a different island or on the main island then we may consider that instead.

    1. was hard for us to ditch that too but then my husband convince me we will live in water bungalow in some cheap country. πŸ™‚

  16. really inspiring post. I have to do this one day. I also went through to some of your other posts and I must say you have a great blog overall. Keep it up

  17. As a budget traveler, I smiled as I read through this post, there are so many countries in the world that people think are out of reach, but with some research into the basics you can find affordable prices for your price range. Like you guys did it’s always cheaper to eat at local places than in resorts. Great read πŸ˜€

  18. OH MY GOSH! This is like my dream trip, though I’d want to do it for a bit longer, as the Maldives is far to travel from the UK! Those resorts though, they look beautiful, and I like your tip about staying just one night near the airports so you can experience it x

  19. I have been looking at visiting the Maldives for quite a while, but the cost is astronomical. Thanks so much for this post. I like the tip of booking a resort from the airport. It is one I am going to use!

  20. Thanks for this! The day trip to the resort is something I’m hearing for the first time and is a fantastic idea. Staying at the resort for one night costs double what you paid for your entire trip!

  21. Nice tips! I did not even think about staying in some local areas at Maldives would be great for saving some bucks. When I think of Maldives the expensive resorts come to my mind immediately. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  22. Maledives look like a paradise, your photos are beautiful. Maledives are on my bucket list for next year, thank you for sharing all these valuable tips!

  23. Wow! I had no idea that you could visit the Maldives for so cheap! I am in Sri Lanka right now and looking at all of your stunning photos I’m tempted to book my flight right now! Thanks so much for sharing πŸ™‚

  24. I really enjoyed this post and actually wasn’t aware that you could do Maldives in such a budget! When I went it literally cost a bomb and as nice as it was I agree with the being confined to one island part! Thanks for sharing this, will definitely be using your tips next time!

  25. Whenever i think about Maldives i get only thing in my mind – luxury. But thanks o your post, i am thinking otherwise. These are some amazing tips and gorgeous photos.

  26. Wow, I never imagined Maldives can be considered for a budget holiday. Although the resorts look stunning and out of the world, I was put off by the pricing in these places. Now I can actually go ahead and plan a holiday in this paradise. Thanks a lot for all the details.

  27. I have always been putting off my trip to Maldives for the very reason that it is expensive. But I m really happy to know tourists are allowed to stay on main islands and the expenses are quite less compared to what lavish resorts advertise. I would always love to have local encounters during my travel than to be stranded on a luxury island resort. Thanks much for affirming that a vacation is Maldives is definitely possible in budget.

  28. Hey there exceptional website! Does running a blog similar to this require a massive amount work? I’ve virtually no knowledge of programming but I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyway, should you have any ideas or tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off subject however I just had to ask. Kudos!

  29. Ive never ever read something like this prior to. So nice to locate somebody with some original thoughts on this topic, really thank you for beginning this up. this site is something which is required on the internet, an individual having a little originality. helpful job for bringing one thing new to the net!

  30. Me and my Husband have been postponing our dream trip to maldives because we were unsure if it’s really going to worth the price..because when we try to calculate the costs of a week vacation in Maldive it can easily cost 2 week trips somewhere (also beautiful) place..that’s what we’ve been doing, we decided to go somewhere else but we always dreamed to go to Maldive..
    Knowing that you’ve done it pretty well, I now believe that we are able to reduce some costs in our plan as well..
    Thank you for the great tips and lovely pictures πŸ™‚

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