Avoiding sticker shock: How to save on your trip to the Maldives

maldives-atolls luxury overwater bumgalow

Congratulations! If you are reading this, it means that you have made the fantastic decision of booking a dream vacation to the Maldives. Unfortunately, a celebrity-worthy getaway can also come with a high-roller price tag, which is why many travellers don’t think it’s realistic to visit this incredible group of islands.

This is something I quickly came to grips with when I began researching the Maldives for my honeymoon. Every time I opened an e-mail with a quote from a travel agent, it was like getting sucker punched. As wonderful as it is to live in Canada, it means we usually have to travel a great deal further to get anywhere, compared to our lucky friends in the U.K. For just flights, basic accommodation and half board, we were looking at over $10,000 for one week—ouch. But thanks to a little luck (travel points we’d saved up) and a lot of research, I managed to slash that price in half and stay in a stunning overwater villa on an all-inclusive plan. Here’s how.

Water villas in Raa Atoll.

Water villas in Raa Atoll.

Saving on flights

OK, I cheated. Yes, we got to cash in our long saved-up travel points and only pay a few hundred dollars in taxes for our airline tickets, versus the $1500+ fare we would have been forced to fork over. But if you don’t have that luxury, get creative with your itinerary. If travelling from anywhere outside of Europe or Asia, try booking a flight to a hub like London or Dubai, and then book a package vacation to the Maldives from there. Those based in the U.K. should also look at booking their flights through a tour operator, as extra costs like transfers may also be included.

Another big cost in the Maldives is actually getting to your island, so the closer you are to the capital of Male, the cheaper it can be. Hotels like the Sheraton Full Moon are just a 15 minute speed boat ride away, versus a hour-long flight on a pricey Maldavian Air Taxi. Those flights cost hundreds of dollars—though the stunning birds-eye view of white atolls surrounded by turquoise waters is well worth the price tag. If you can’t stomach the idea of paying for yet another flight, then stick to resorts that are accessible by boat like Kurumba, Meeru Island, Club Med or the Four Seasons, or get creative and book a Dhoni cruise!

A Maldavian air taxi.

A Maldavian air taxi.

Saving on accommodation

We booked our honeymoon through Purely Maldives, and although I’m not typically a huge fan of booking through travel agents, this was one of the best decisions we made. The U.K.-based agency specializes in travel to the country, and offers unbeatable packages to over 100 resorts. Through them, we got a fantastic rate to stay in an overwater bungalow (of course) at the Adaaran Meedhupparu Prestige Villas.

Personally, it seems sacrilege to go to the Maldives and not stay in an overwater villa, but let’s face it, it’s not cheap. So unless you are celebrating some major milestone like an anniversary or special birthday, an easy way to save money is by booking a more basic room on the beach. Resorts like Velassaru offer tasteful options for bungalows, while the Lagoon and Beach rooms at the Taj Exotica boast outdoor showers and private plunge pools. That’s a pretty good trade off!

Many villas feature easy access to the water below.

Many villas feature easy access to the water below.

Saving on food

One place you’ll really be seeing dollar signs is when it comes time to eat or drink. Read: $30 for a burger, $16 for soup. Who wants to have to deal with that? A great workaround for this is to add a full board or all-inclusive meal plan to your booking. It’s important to keep these costs in mind when deciding on which resort to book, since you will not have an option to eat anywhere else once you get to your little piece of paradise. Resorts also vary widely on what is included in their packages. Adaaran’s all-inclusive gold plan includes all meals and drinks including alcohol and a mini-bar, along with experience perks like snorkelling equipment, massages, wi-fi and a special dinner on the beach.

Lily Beach Resort & Spa has really taken it up a notch with their Platinum Plan that gives guests access to premium brands of alcohol, including wines from around the globe. Vacationers can also take advantage of complimentary excursions and are even provided with a cooling box for the beach, so they don’t have to get up for drinks! However, many resorts don’t offer any type of meal plan, which can take a big bite out of your budget, so plan accordingly. You also aren’t allowed to bring any of your own alcohol into the Maldives, so don’t even try cutting corners that way.

Finally, there is one foolproof way to save money on your trip that works every single time: book a shorter trip. The great thing about the Maldives is that it’s not as much about sightseeing as it is about relaxing, so you can easily get away with a four day trip and explore your whole island, walk around the capital of Male and go on a couple of excursions. This also works well if you tack on a few days in the Maldives as an extension of your trip to nearby Sri Lanka, Dubai or India.



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6 Responses

  1. Next to Purely Maldives it could also be helpful to check out sites like http://www.trivago.ca or other hotel comparisons to find a suitable and cheap hotel. However, Purely Maldives maybe has a better, more local overview. But everyone should remember that holidays on the Maldives are never cheap and at some point there’s a minimum of costs you just can’t get under.

  2. FlyDubai recently started flights to Male – often for very low fares. Also consider staying in Male and just do snorkeling trips to the hotel beaches. These often run for $20 or less per day and give you lot’s of variety.

    • Those are some fantastic tips, thank you so much for sharing! This is also a great way to get more of a dose of the local culture, which can be somewhat lacking when you are ‘stuck’ on a deserted island.

  3. Rachel says:

    Thanks for much for this article, it is so helpful! I am trying to plan my dream trip to Maldives but on a budget. Your article makes me feel more confident my dream can become a reality!

    • So awesome! Yes since we went for our honeymoon it was definitely a ‘dream trip’ but didn’t have to break the bank thanks to some planning. I hope you get to go soon!

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