Maldives is known to be one of the most beautiful places on this planet. But it is also known to be very, very expensive! I’m Kamiya Jani, the Chief Travelling Officer at Curly Tales and recently discovered how you can visit this paradise at a fair price.
What Is It?
Maldives resort islands are world-famous and attract tourists from all over the world. Until a few years ago, people could only stay on the aforementioned resort islands, which to be honest, costs a lot of money. But now with tourism increasing and the government norms easing out (thank god!), you can stay at local islands making accommodation easily affordable.
Before I begin, the cost of living on local islands depends on a few factors:
1. The distance between island and Male (capital of Maldives).
2. The infrastructure of the island.
3. Competition among guest houses & hotels.
Some of the most popular islands are Maafushi, Guraidhoo or Dharavandhoo. I visited Eydhafushi which is a part of Baa Atoll near Dharavandhoo.
Here are all the right reasons to imagine yourself on a Maldivian beach!
1. Flights: Maldives Just Got Closer & Cheaper
Back in 2010, when I traveled to Maldives, I had to take an 8 hour long flight via Malaysia for Rs 28,000. Things didn’t get any better in 2014, the distance got shorter by 2 hours as I could now stop over at Sri Lanka. But cut to 2018-19, a lot of Indian domestic airlines have launched direct flights to Male that cost as much as Rs 13,000 – Rs 18,000 for a round trip. I could never thank Indigo Airlines, Spicejet and GoAir enough! You can now reach Maldives in 3 hours or less from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru & Chennai at just about Rs 6500 – Rs 9000 (approx) one way. That’s lower than some of our domestic flight rates!
Disclaimer: Of course, if you book it at the right time.
2. Transfers: No more high flying or sailing
The other reason why Maldives has been notoriously known to be expensive is because of internal transportation & transfers. All of Maldives consists of 1200 islands, off which only about 200 are inhabited. To get to one island from another or to even get to Male (capital of Maldives), you had to either take a seaplane or book a speedboat from the resort. Depending on how far you stayed, this would cost anywhere between 100$ to 1000$ per person.
The good news is that it is now possible to go to almost any island using a local ferry. The cost is about 2-20$ (Rs 139 – Rs 1382) per person, however, the travel time is from 30 minutes to 14 hours.
Please note: So it will either cost you money or time to get to there!
3. Accommodation: Go Local
Staying at the local islands in Maldives is one of the best advice I can offer to all my fellow travelers, without doing too much damage to their wallet. Apologies for you may not be able to post a drool-worthy picture of the water villa but the water in itself – well, that’s beautiful – no matter where you go in Maldives! Just about five years ago, the Maldivian government gave a go-ahead to open guesthouses, hotels & Airbnbs on the local islands, giving an affordable alternative to expensive resorts!
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Give love, give warmth, smile along, Make this world – one place. That’s Shifa on extreme left with her family living on a local island in Maldives, cut off from the rest of the world. I told them to scream with me – ‘Welcome to Maldives’ on camera but their voice lowered down every time a local man was passing by. Said they were shy. They were amazed at how I wasn’t bothered at all. I really hope they come out of their shells and be themselves for there is nothing more liberating than freedom. Freedom from being judged, fear or not being liked! Do what makes your heart sing ? As for me, I am #LuckyAndLoved . . . #eydhafushi #male #maldives #localisland #maldivian #maldivianwomen #locals
For both my trips before, I have stayed at luxurious resorts spending as much as Rs 50,000 per night. Wandering around a local island called Eydhafushi, I figured that a night at a decent hotel called Salsa Retreat would cost me about Rs 2500. A quick check online on hotel booking websites confirmed the fact as there are many more options now. What a respite! Turquoise water can now come at an affordable price.
Please note that you probably cannot walk down your water villa to get to the ocean but at this price, it might just be 100-200 meters away! The rooms would be basic.
Prices drop further during the off-season (May to September).
4. Food: Tasty Eats At An Affordable Price
I remember having a chicken burger for $45 (Rs 3140) on my first trip to Maldives and chose to stay hungry for the rest of the day! Since everything is pretty much imported to the island resort, even the food is crazily expensive here. But here is a hack, if you come and live on a local island, even the food prices are slashed and how! Like everything else on the local island, even food can be enjoyed without burning a hole in the pocket. Maldivian cuisine is heavy on seafood and various curries. Almost every hotel has a buffet to offer at an approximate price of $12 (Rs 840) per person.
5. Water Sports: Embrace the waves like a true water-baby.
If you’re in the land of blue waters, it would be a complete shame if you aren’t tackling the waves head on. Maldives is an adrenaline junkie’s delight and if you’re just a beginner, I would suggest you start with Jet Skiing. It doesn’t require you to know swimming and you’ll always have a life jacket in case you do topple into the water. The best time for this is from April to October.
Then there is everyone’s favorite, Scuba Diving. With waters as clear as you can ask for, Maldives is one of the most preferred scuba diving spots in the world. There is wonderful flora and fauna to explore and the best time to experience this is from January to April. A lot of resorts on the island offer you great packages for this sport, so do remember to check with yours.
There’s however one water sport that takes the cake: Underwater Walking. You get transparent, oxygen head masks that allow you to breathe and watch every sea creature that passes you by. You actually get to walk on the ocean floor! But this one’s the most expensive of them all so be prepared.
Please Note: All the water sports here are definitely on the expensive side, the prices mainly determined in US dollars and are not very rupee-friendly. (Starting from Rs 4,900 up to Rs 10, 500)
Well having said all of this, I can’t dismiss the fact that the joy of living in a luxurious resort in Maldives. You may have to compromise on a few things, but remember that you gain a lot, experience & local flavor included!
And through out the trip, keep reminding yourself that there are certainly few things that money can’t buy (lol).
Please see: I have also done a video on – Maldives On A Budget, which is expected to be released soon! Keep watching this space for more. Until then, follow my travels on instagram