How to save money in the Maldives – 23 tips to help you spend less

Are you looking for ideas on how to plan a budget trip to the Maldives? This beautiful country doesn’t have to be expensive! In this blog post, we’ll share our top tips on how to save money in the Maldives without sacrificing your vacation. Keep reading to learn more!

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Get a cheap flight

The flight is one of the main issues when traveling to the Maldives, as it can be expensive, no matter what you do. There are a few things you can do to limit this expense though. One of them is, of course, hunting for the best prices with a tool like Skyscanner (don’t forget to use it just to search and book only from the airline, as I teach you in my budget tips eBook).

Another option is to book a flight to a destination from which you can reach the Maldives for very cheap. Two of these places are Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Dubai. See if you can make your trip a multi-stop one, and get to enjoy one more place as well.

Don’t forget to join services like Jack’s Flight Club or the Dollar Flight Club to get notified when prices are lower. You might get a great deal by keeping your eyes open to the deals these two services are sending.

Travel during the shoulder or low season

If you are looking to save money while visiting the Maldives, one of the best things you can do is pick your trip dates carefully. The high season here runs from November through April, and prices for accommodation, activities, and transportation tend to be at their highest during this period.

If possible, try and plan your trip outside of these months when rates may drop significantly. Additionally, different islands have their peak seasons so researching which island offers better value for your budget could help you save even more money!

Another piece of information you need to keep in mind is when school vacations take place, as this is when people with children can travel. Avoid these periods and known holiday seasons (like Christmas, New Year, and Valentine’s Day), as prices can be a few times bigger due to the demand.

Use a cashback app

Using a cashback app such as WayAway Plus is an excellent way to save money while traveling to the Maldives. With WayAway Plus, you can save up to 10% or more on your overall trip expenses, including flights, hotels, car rentals, and activities. You can also save even more when you use their annual plan, as you’ll pay less than a month-by-month subscription. Additionally, if you use my code (honest-travel-stories), you will get a 10% discount for the annual plan.

Choose a local island

Staying on a local island in the Maldives is an excellent way to save money while still enjoying your vacation. Local islands often have cheaper accommodations and activities, but they also provide unique experiences that you won’t find in the more popular tourist spots.

From learning about the culture and customs of locals to exploring breathtaking lagoons and coral reefs, staying on a local island can be a great way to save money without sacrificing your holiday experience. You can choose a smaller island where the accommodation will still be cheaper than on a resort island, but the coral will be great and the experience will be more authentic.

If you also want the Instagram experience and have enough time, try to combine an inhabited island with a tourist island on the same trip. It will be a bit of a hassle to change islands, especially if you combine two very distant ones, but it is doable and a good idea as well. This way, you can get the best of all worlds.

Choose your accommodation for your needs

For budget travelers looking to save money in the Maldives, one of the best things you can do is carefully select your accommodation. While luxury resorts and overwater villas may be extremely tempting, they are often expensive and can blow a hole in your vacation budget.

Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable options available that still offer great value for money. Hostels or guesthouses located on local islands like Maafushi or Hulhumale will give you an authentic experience without breaking the bank.

You could also opt for private beach bungalows with direct access to the ocean instead of a water villa which come at more reasonable prices. With careful planning, you can enjoy all that this tropical paradise has to offer while sticking to a tight budget!

Stay at a new resort

A new hotel or resort will most probably be cheaper than the other ones in the area, as it’s not yet established. You can find them easily as they don’t have that many reviews on Booking or Agoda. As they are just launching, the initial price is smaller to attract people and get those reviews.

A nice benefit of this is that they’ll also deliver great services. Making a good name for yourself matters a lot for a business that has just begun, so they will overdeliver for sure, all at a smaller price than the competition. Now, this is what I call a bargain!

Compare before you book

When it comes to booking accommodation in the Maldives, Agoda and Booking.com are two of the most popular websites for travelers. Both offer a wide selection of hotels and resorts, but they also have some differences when it comes to pricing, amenities, and customer service that can save you money on your trip.

To make sure you get the best deal possible, it’s important to compare both sites before deciding where to book your stay. In my experience, Agoda usually has better prices for destinations in Asia, but Booking might be a great solution for you if you have Genius status or some money already earned in your wallet.

Combine room types on the same stay

If you’re not going to stay in a water villa, why are you even going, am I right? Well, I don’t know, I was never the water villa type of person (although I would adore spending a night in the underwater suite from this hotel), but most people dream about this when they think about the Maldives.

If you’re one of these people, book most of your stay in a standard room, and splurge only for one or two nights in the water villas. There are plenty of resorts with affordable water villas in the Maldives, and you can find great options if you dig deep enough.

Combine islands on the same stay

If you’re arriving late and leaving early, book your first and last night on Male. There’s no need for you to pay a resort price if you’re only going to spend half of the time on the island, and that would be spent sleeping. They have beds and showers in Male as well, I can assure you.

A bonus is that you won’t be in danger of missing your flight or connection if your inbound flight gets delayed or the weather is bad in the Maldives so no boats are leaving the island. You’ll be better off being closer to the airport in these cases, from all points of view.

Plan your meals carefully

For budget travelers looking to save money while visiting the Maldives, choosing the right meal plan is key. Eating out in all-inclusive restaurants can be expensive, so it’s important to consider all of your options before deciding on a meal plan that fits your needs and budget.

Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable options available on the local islands for those who want to enjoy local cuisine without breaking the bank. From buffet meals at guesthouses to street food stalls offering delicious local dishes, there’s something for everyone in this tropical paradise!

If you’re thinking of going to a resort island, think realistically about your needs. Will you eat three meals a day? Or would you rather spend more time on the beach? If you can easily survive with a rich breakfast and dinner, plus some light snacks in between, there’s no need to splurge for the full board. The half-board option will be more than enough.

Do you usually drink more than one alcoholic beverage per day? If you just want a glass of wine now and then, or rarely enjoy a cocktail at the pool, then don’t pay for the ultra-all-inclusive package. In a Muslim country, alcohol is heavily taxed and all of it is imported at a high price, so this will make a huge difference in your final cost.

Think about the transfer cost

An important thing when you want to travel to the Maldives on a budget is to consider all of your transfer costs. While there are many ways to save money on accommodation and meals, transport expenses can quickly add up if you’re not careful.

From water planes and ferries to speedboats and private jets, there are several options available for getting around in this tropical paradise – but some come at a much higher cost than others. So if you want to save money while exploring the islands of the Maldives, read the fine print carefully when booking your accommodation.

If you would like to visit a local island, you can use public ferry transportation, but it will come at the price of your time. These ferries are like buses for us, they go on multiple islands, so it might take you half a day to reach your destination. After an overnight flight, you might hate this situation, but it will be the cheapest option. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for these ferries as they don’t run every day, as you might expect. You can find out more details in my detailed post about traveling between islands in The Maldives.

Local islands usually have transfer options for tourists that are better and faster than the public ferry, but the price is also higher. Still, these speedboats will never cost as much as a water plane or private boat, so rest assured it’s still great value for money.

One of the tips on how to save money in the Maldives is to choose a local island like this one. The underwater world is still amazing, and the price is 4 times smaller than on a resort island.

If you’re thinking of choosing a resort island, there are a few things you can do to minimize the amount spent on transportation. First, you can avoid the islands that require transfer by seaplane, as these can easily become more expensive than your transoceanic flight. Yes, even when coming from Europe. Better yet, avoid islands that offer transfer options by a combination of seaplane and speedboat, as this will cost you more than the accommodation for 2-3 hours or flying.

Second, you can choose islands closer to the airport, or at least within the same atoll. While this will have an impact on your experience because you’ll hear airplanes all the time, you will get there faster and cheaper than the alternative.

And third, just include the transfer price when comparing accommodation options. Don’t fall in love with a resort only to discover later that you’ll have to sell a kidney to get there. There are plenty of nice things you can invest in when traveling to the Maldives, and the transfer is not one of them.

See if you can organize your own transfer

In very rare cases, even some resorts will allow you to organize your own transfer. They won’t book it for you, so you’re on your own (I’m actually preparing a detailed guide about traveling between islands in the Maldives), but you can save a huge amount of money like this. Keep in mind thought hat you’ll probably waste a lot of time this way, but hey, you’re not here to save time, you’re here to save money so, it’s a valid point.

For example, resorts in North and South Male atolls can be accessed by taking a private or public ferry to Maafushi ($2 per person per way), and then you can take a speedboat from ICom Tours to reach your final destination. Keep in mind that you’ll have to confirm this with your intended accommodation, so plan carefully.

Look for child-friendly resorts

If you’re traveling with children, check out the resorts that offer to host your children free of charge. When you have to pay for 4 plane tickets, getting to spend only the money for two people on accommodation will be a breath of fresh air. Damn, children are expensive!

Pay attention though that some types of villas might be out of your league, as they cannot host small children. The overwater bungalows are usually off-limits, and some resorts don’t allow families with small children to stay in pool villas as well, for safety reasons. So do your shopping carefully and enjoy not paying for your children this time!

Take advantage of free activities

For budget travelers looking to save money while visiting the Maldives, there are plenty of free activities available that will help you get the most out of your trip. From snorkeling and swimming with sharks in crystal clear waters to exploring local markets and discovering hidden gems on deserted islands, there is something for everyone here.

If you have chosen to stay on a local island, you can spend nothing more than a few souvenirs and your meals. There’s no need for fancy boat trips if you’re happy with the amazing snorkeling you can do from the island’s beaches. You can get to know the locals and enjoy their simple life. Watching a fishing contest in the Maldivian sunset is the most authentic thing you can do here. You can also enjoy the local infrastructure like parks and mosques, and fall asleep on the beach every single day.

If you’re staying on a resort island, there are probably quite a few activities you have included in your package. While the spa services are usually a separate thing, using the gym and being part of a group yoga class will most probably be included in your package. On resort islands, you can usually enjoy movie nights, Maldivian evenings, specialty food tastings, or various art classes. Ask the very nice people at the reception and they will provide you with all the cool things you can try.

Shop around for anything you need to buy

This only applies to those who travel on local islands, as resort islands will have a big price for everything due to the lack of competition. But on local islands, there’s competition for almost anything. So shop around for souvenirs or necessities, don’t just buy from the first store. Don’t forget haggling is a thing in Asia, and it can work on local Maldivian islands.

Also, try multiple places to eat. You will not only find better prices this way, but you’ll get to try varied foods and tastes. You can also hit the local markets or street food vendors for some delicious snacks, and you’ll spend less time waiting for your food and more time watching turtles.

Shop around as well when booking tours and activities. I recommend Viator for this as they have great tours, but you can always book nothing before arriving and get the best offer on the spot, after comparing all the options. A great local company that caters to tourists for decent prices is Secret Paradise. Check them out and see if you can find some nice tours and activities you can enjoy for a fraction of the price.

Splurge from the local island

If you’re visiting both a local and a resort island, buy all of your planned activities from the local island. All of them will be even 50% cheaper here compared to the resort, and I’m not even exaggerating about this discount.

Keep this in mind if you plan to enjoy a massage or plenty of water activities. Especially diving and snorkeling trips can be easily done from the local islands, and I highly suspect they all take you to the same places nearby. It’s not like the tour from the resort island can take you that much further than a tour from a nearby local island. It’s the same ocean, and at least that’s free to love.

Bring your own gear

One of the best tips for saving money in the Maldives is to bring your own gear instead of renting it when you get there. By bringing your snorkeling gear, fins, water shoes, and other equipment with you, you’ll save a lot of money compared to paying for rentals every time you use them. Plus, your gear is already broken in and adjusted properly for your body size and shape, so it will be much more comfortable than using unfamiliar rental items. Some resorts offer them free of charge though so find this out before you pay overweight luggage fees for no reason.

Another thing to bring your own is sunscreen, both cream and protective clothes (find sun protective clothes on Amazon for both him and her). The sunshine is extremely strong in the Maldives and you will get sunburnt if you don’t protect yourself. You can imagine how expensive these items are on the islands, as they know you need them, and they know you can’t just leave the place and find a cheaper option.

Other items you might want to include on your Maldives packing list (that you can conveniently download below) are a power plug adapter, mosquito repellent, an insulated water bottle, and water shoes. And yes, you need them, no matter what you might think. Check out my related posts to find out why.

Be aware of the hidden costs

While there are plenty of ways to save money in this tropical paradise, there are also hidden costs that can add up quickly and eat away at your budget if you’re not careful. From airport transfers and resort fees to taxes on food and alcohol, here are some hidden costs that tourists should be aware of when traveling to the Maldives.

One of them is the 10% service tax that is added to more services and products than you’d think. The 12% tax is added on top of that, and none of these is displayed openly on the price list. When you spend like this for a week, it can quickly add up to more than you planned.

While it’s not a hidden cost, tipping culture in The Maldives is also something you should be aware of. While it’s not mandatory to tip, you will want to, as the people are amazing and the service quality is high as well.

Keep track of your expenses

There’s a very convenient way to pay while you’re on resort islands, and that is to just say your room’s number while on vacation, and you pay the bill at the end. And boy oh boy does this add up! So keep track of what you spend before that bill is long enough to reach the ground.

I know that a $15 cocktail doesn’t look like much when you’re next to the pool, but it will look like a lot when it will be almost $18 (including taxes and service charges) on a bill with other 5 cocktails, a spa package, two boat trips, and a special dinner.

Tell them if you’re special

I don’t mean you should tell them your mother keeps your drawings from kindergarten. I mean you should tell them if you’re on your honeymoon, celebrating a birthday or marriage anniversary. They will most probably offer you at least a bottle of wine and a special dinner.

But in some cases, they can offer you an upgrade for the room or some free spa treatments. It wouldn’t be too shabby to pay for a standard room and enjoy the deluxe villa, so start sharing your good news and enjoy the perks!

Book last minute

If you’re brave enough, you can book last minute and enjoy the best discounts ever. The closer you get to the trip period, the more discounts you can find. No hotel would rather have empty rooms than offer discounted rooms, so keep an eye on the offers and grab them at great last-minute prices.

Use a multi-currency card

While you will be able to pay in US dollars everywhere you go in the Maldives, the exchange rate will never be in your favor. On resort islands, you will pay everything in dollars, so there’s no reason to exchange money in this case.

But if you’re visiting a local island, prices will be in Maldivian rufiyaa. The store owners will make a conversion for you, but you can imagine it won’t be the best one. So having a multi-currency card like Revolut comes in handy. You will pay exactly the price displayed, with no exchange fees attached.

This is especially important as rufiyaa can be bought or withdrawn from ATMs only in Male or bigger islands on each atoll, but it’s hard to exchange back upon leaving the islands. So relying on cash is not a good idea, but paying in USD when the prices are not in USD is even worse.

Check out my other budget tips

I’m going to go over this quickly, as I know you have some planning to do. I have gathered all of my knowledge regarding budget traveling (and you can see it’s quite a lot) and made an eBook with it. It contains 160 tips on how to travel on a low budget and covers everything from finding cheap flights to choosing the perfect gear for your trips. Check it out!

Tips on how to save money in Maldives – The takeaway

The Maldives is a beautiful and luxurious destination, but it can be quite expensive if you’re not careful. With proper planning and budgeting strategies in place before traveling to this tropical paradise, you can make your vacation even more memorable without breaking the bank.

Between being aware of the hidden costs that come with travel to the islands, keeping track of your expenses, telling people about special occasions like anniversaries or birthdays for perks, booking last-minute deals when possible, and using a multi-currency card such as Revolut to save on exchange fees – we have covered plenty of tips on how to save money in the Maldives while still having an enjoyable trip.

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6 thoughts on “How to save money in the Maldives – 23 tips to help you spend less”

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  5. This is definitely so helpful! I always thought traveling to the Maldives is an absolute bank breaker but with these tips I think it’s doable to travel to the Maldives and not spend a fortune 🙂

    Reply

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