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How can I travel to the Maldives for less ?

Maldives cheap

Article mis à jour le 15 Jan 2024

Travel to the Maldives for less : my top tips for a week

How to travel to the Maldives for less ? Whether you like the Maldives or not, for religious or ecological reasons, this destination remains a paradise on earth for the eyes, with its 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls and its translucent waters. I won’t go into the polemics.

The aim of this article is to help you travel to the Maldives on a small budget. Because yes, this dream is more accessible than you might think. I guarantee you can spend a week in the Maldives indulging in activities and food for less than €1,000 for 2 people (excluding flights) 😊!

In fact, you can find my front page stories on our Instagram account.

How can you enjoy the Maldives without breaking the bank ?

The idea is simple, you need to find a cheap flight, an island close to Malé, as transfer fees are HALLUCINANT ! I’ve had speedboat quotes at €1000 for 2 and seaplane flights are €500 one way per person…). And avoid the big resorts that are on private islands !

How do you plan a trip to the Maldives for a less budget ? 

Find all the information you need to travel to the Maldives in the more general article on my stay at the Sun Syiam Resort. You’ll find all the information you need : visas, when to go, where to buy your plane ticket, drones, etc.

➡️ How much does a SIM card cost in the Maldives ?

You don’t have to buy one, as hotels and some restaurants offer wifi. On a boat trip or at the beach, it will be a good opportunity to cut.

The price might put some people off : expect to pay €40 for 30GB or €50 for 100GB (30 for internet and 70 for social networks). You buy it at the airport, just after collecting your luggage. It took me literally 1 minute, and you don’t need a passport like in some countries.

✈️ Find a cheap plane ticket ?

As we all know, these days, airfares are often the biggest item of expenditure on a long-haul trip! And the Maldives are no exception from Europe… There are 2 solutions :

  1. find a cheap flight to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. A flight from Abu Dhabi to Malé (the capital of the Maldives) can be found for less than €90. If you arrive in Dubai, you can take a taxi to Abu Dhabi for €100 and a 1-hour journey.
  2. find a city that offers a cheap direct flight. Personally, I found a direct night flight (perfect for saving a night’s stay) from Frankfurt for €320, including baggage. The flight was operated by Condor and despite the delay, it was fine. I had to add a train journey from Lyon at €50.

The return trip can therefore cost €700 per person direct.

What is the budget for a 1 week trip to the Maldives for less ?

The official currency of the Maldives is the Maldivian rupee and the exchange rate at the start of 2024 is 17 rupees to 1 euro.

  • Plane : €700 per person on average
  • Speedboat transfer : €50 per person return
  • Hotels : €60 per night on average
  • Restaurants : €20 per day per person for 2 meals
  • Excursions : €25 for a snorkelling trip (turtles visible and small sharks if you’re lucky) and €60 for a Nurse Shark trip with a snorkelling stop to see the magnificent coral reefs.

Total = €2370 for a 7-night stay, i.e. €1185 per person.

Excluding flights : €485 per person !

Please note : this budget can obviously vary according to the price of flights, but also according to the standard of the hotels/restaurants you choose. I’m only speaking from experience here.

What to do in the Maldives during 1 week ?

First of all, I recommend that you find an island close to Malé. As I said earlier, if you go far away, you pay a lot… A lot! Seaplane trips cost €2,000 for 2 round trips and speedboat trips can also cost €2,000. After that, it’s best to choose an island that’s fairly developed so as not to get too bored, and to try out different places to eat and wander around.

A trip to the Maldives for less : what to do?

The island of Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo Island is located in the Malé atoll, a 30-minute speedboat ride from the airport. With its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, the island offers an idyllic tropical getaway. The local community, mainly made up of fishermen and craftsmen, contributes to creating an authentic and welcoming atmosphere.

What to do in Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo’s economy is largely based on the cottage industry of surfing. It’s a popular spot for surfers from all over the world (which really gives it a laid-back vibe), attracted by the world-famous waves, including the Coke’s surf spot. Apart from surfing, Thulusdhoo offers other activities such as scuba diving to explore the diverse marine life of the surrounding coral reefs.

I should point out, because I know this is very important to some people (🤪) : there is no alcohol for sale on this island ! Outside the private islands (large Resorts), you won’t find alcoholic drinks in the Maldives. And it is also forbidden to import them…

Where to stay in Thulusdhoo ?

There’s an embarrassment of riches to choose from for a small island. I have selected 3 hotels for you :

  • Reef Edge : tried and tested ! The staff are lovely, the rooms are clean, there’s a lovely sea view and the breakfast is very good ! I found it at €70 on Booking but overall it’s around €90. You can trust them for excursions.
  • Hotel Reef EdgeSeason Paradise : it’s the most expensive on the island, but if you’re looking for a pool, it’s your only option (rooftop pool too). I went there to withdraw money, as the only ATM on the island was out of order, and the staff were very friendly.
  • Akiri Surf Retreat : for me, the best value for money on the island. The hotel has a garden and lends out bicycles for getting around (although everything is easily done on foot). The managers are very attentive to their guests. Expect to pay around €60 per night including breakfast (if you are Genius on Booking).

What to do in Thulusdhoo ?

  • Surfing : Thulusdhoo is famous for its world-class surf spots. Surf enthusiasts can enjoy the impressive waves of Coke’s and Chicken’s, among others, for an unforgettable experience.
  • Surfboard workshops : local workshops where Maldivian craftsmen handcraft surfboards. This is an opportunity to understand the manufacturing process 🏄‍♂️.
  • Take a stroll through the island’s colourful streets : you’ll find plenty of small shops and it’s easy to get around on foot. There are no roads, so you’ll have your feet in the sand the whole time. If you’re interested, you can take the opportunity to visit the Coca Cola factory. It’s the only factory in the group to use desalinated water for its drinks. I never thought I’d find a factory on this island !

What to do inThulusdhoo

  • Scuba diving : local diving centres offer excursions to explore the seabed and observe a multitude of tropical fish 🐠.
  • Lazing on the beach : the main white sand beach is really beautiful ! Quite large, you won’t be stepping on each other and can go snorkelling just a few fathoms from your towel. The coral reefs are not far away and you can walk for dozens of metres. What’s more, if you stay at the Reef Edge hotel, they’ll lend you flippers free of charge 😊.

beautiful Thulusdhoo beaches

  • Dolphin watching : there’s a boat trip to watch dolphins in their natural environment. The waters around Thulusdhoo are teeming with marine life, offering memorable encounters 🐬.
  • Local cooking : Maldivian cooking can be found in the island’s restaurants. Fresh seafood, such as tuna and sunfish, is a must !

Excursions to Thulusdhoo ?

I highly recommend doing the “Nurse Shark” outing 🦈. It’s the best experience I’ve had in the Maldives. You can ask at the excursion vendors on the beach or even go to the Reef Edge Hotel to book your outing. Prices are pretty much the same everywhere, but I got a better deal at the hotel. Expect to pay just €60 for this 3-hour outing, which includes a 1 hour stop with the sharks and 30 minutes in the open sea to contemplate the magnificent corals. During your dive (masks/snorkels/fins are provided), even if you are in a group of 10, you can move away a little and find yourself alone with the sharks. It’s magical ! Please note that they are harmless, but you mustn’t touch them or wave your arms at them.

As a second excursion, you can choose the €25 snorkelling trip. Just 15 minutes by boat to a beautiful spot with lots of fish, turtles (I saw 3) and rays (I saw 1). It’s accessible to beginners, as you can ask for life jackets to float and let the current guide you. Allow 45 minutes to 1 hour for the dive.

Nurse Shark Thulusdhoo

Where to eat in Thulusdhoo ?

I’ve tested and approved several addresses ! Here are my top 3 places to eat :

  • Bandaha Café : this is the place to go if you want to eat locally and cheaply. There are many specialities, it’s very good and the portions are quite generous. There’s no view of the sea, but the terrace is quiet and there are only locals (well, I haven’t seen a single tourist in 2 meals). Expect to pay €3/4 for a real dish.

Bandaha café Thulusdhoo

  • Indulge Thulusdhoo : this is the island’s ‘Instagrammable’ address for food. You’ll find wonderful (and good) bowls, colourful detox juices, lots of coffees, toasted sandwiches, burgers… The setting is very pretty and well decorated. Prices are more or less the same as in France. Expect to pay €10 for a bowl and €11 for a burger.Indulge restaurant
  • Batuta Maldives Beach Restaurant : I think this is the perfect place to dine ! I even went there 4 times. I first stopped for the setting: seaside, feet in the sand, garlands between the palm trees… Then I came back for the food, which was very good. As for prices, expect to pay around €12 for a dish. Remember that there’s no alcohol on the island, but here you’ll find non-alcoholic beers.

Restaurant Maldives

That’s the end of this article on the cheap Maldives. I hope you now know how to enjoy the Maldives without breaking the bank and I wish you a great trip to this exceptional country !

For more travel inspiration, check out our guide and 10-day itinerary in Sri Lanka (perfect for combining with the Maldives, as it’s only a 1 hour 20 minute flight away) or Thailand.

This article contains affiliate links. If we’ve helped you organise your trip or you’d just like to support us, please consider booking your activities and hotels in the Maldives by clicking on our links. We’ll earn a small commission and the price stays the same for you of course. 🤍

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