Probably one of the most popular honeymoon destinations make the Maldives also one of the most expensive destinations. Bur there is a way around it, wanna know? J
Private island resorts –the fancy way
We are not going to lie; staying at a resort with over water villas and getting there by sea-plane is expensive – that’s a fact that unfortunately can’t be changed. Why? Resort are accessible only with their own private transfer and will not allow any other type. Some cheaper resorts will allow that, but they are not that nice so it is maybe wiser to spend money elsewhere.
A very important fact when you google accommodation prices are the taxes. Everything you see at resorts usually excludes transport, government tax 12%, service charge 11% and environmental fee which is 6$ per person and night.
We visited two private resorts – Adaraan Prestige Vadoo and Centara Ras Fushi.
Staying on a local island – the budget way
Anyone who comes to the Maldives will land at Male airport and from there you can take a boat to the city which is around 10 rufias.
After that you can choose a local island. Why a local island? Because it is inhabited by locals and they use public transport (ferries 2$). We decided for Maafushi, because it is one of the nearest local islands to Male. Due to Ramadan the ferry didn’t depart on Tuesday (usually the ferry doesn’t operate on Fridays) so we went by speedboat for 20 $ pp. This is much faster and will get you to Maafushi in 45 minutes. On the island you can choose from many different types of accommodation. We opted for The Holiday Lodge for 38$ per night with breakfast for 2. There are cheaper and more expensive options so feel free to browse a little online.
The real reason we chose a cheaper accommodation was that we could do more stuff: diving, snorkelling, visiting different resorts.
Very important fact: the Maldives are a Muslim country. That doesn’t mean anything on private resort islands, but on local islands it is very important. It means, there are designated bikini beach areas and an appropriate attire for women is required. Oh, and no alcohol. We found just ginger beer.
The bikini beach on Maafushi is actually quite nice, they are expanding it right now. At the time of our visit was rainy season so the sea was quite choppy, otherwise I think you could snorkel directly offshore.
On Maafushi are local dive centres with good equipment, ok boats and very nice dive instructors. We had 4 dives. Each was 30$ including equipment. The sites are breath-taking, maybe we were missing a bit of coral colour, but the area is suffering from the worldwide coral bleaching effect.
Snorkelling and sandbank
It doesn’t matter which atoll you visit, you will always be offered a sand bank visit. Strips of sands usually accessible only at low tide are beyond belief beautiful. Our sandbank trip included also 2 great snorkelling spots, drinks and snacks. Cost 30$ per person.
In the evening the locals organised a crab race. On the floor in the sand they drew two circles – one big and one smaller inside the big one. Everyone got a crab with a number on its shell-house. Then they gathered some crabs and put them in the middle of the small circle. The “owners” of the racing crabs were allowed to stand outside the bigger circle and cheer for their crabs. Which crab crossed the line of the small circle first, won and was qualified for the next round. Everything is free and the locals were super friendly.
This is the trick, how to enjoy Maldivian luxury but spending a lot less than staying in fancy resorts. From Maafushi you can choose between 5-6 resorts in different price ranges.
We visited Adaran Prestige Vadoo and Centara Ras Fushi.
If you are curious:
Here is a comparison between staying on a local island vs staying at a resort with all activities we did on the local island. That means: diving, snorkelling, drinks, food.