Visiting Maldives On A Budget | Explore This Tropical Paradise for Less

The Maldives is a highly sought-after destination for its idyllic island life, stunning beaches, watersport activities and abundant marine life. However, it is often considered as a costly destination.

Travelling to the Maldives is on many travellers' wishlist. By figuring out how to travel to the Maldives on a budget, we can turn this holiday dream more achievable without breaking the bank.

Budget travel is an emerging travel style that is more wallet-friendly with a focus on cost-effectiveness over luxury. With smart planning and optimising every cost-saving opportunity, your budget can go a long way in the tropical paradise of the Maldives. Here is our essential guide on the Maldives and how to plan a trip on a budget

How To Travel To Maldives On A Budget

Maldives On A Budget - CabinZero

Maldives is a popular tropical island that attracts travellers around the world. Photo by icemanphotos on

A Maldives holiday might seem extravagant as most things are imported to this remote island nation, and high-end resorts are often featured online when it comes to Maldives as a topic. By setting your budget right from the planning stage and avoiding needless costs, a holiday to the Maldives, one of the best tropical islands, is certainly within reach for budget-conscious travellers.  

Setting Your Budget

Having a well-defined travel budget can help you minimise stress while travelling and maximise your budget to make the most out of the Maldives. You can start by calculating the estimated costs of flights, accommodations, transportation and food by checking fares online and considering the cost of living in the Maldives. Numbeo is a useful tool to quickly compare the cost of living in the Maldives compared to your current location. 

There are many ways to manage travel budgets. From using budgeting tools such as Expensify and Splitwise to using simple spreadsheets like Excel and Google Sheets to organise travel budgets into different categories and track travel expenses.

How much should I budget for a trip to the Maldives? A seven-day trip to the Maldives can cost around $1,070 - $1,940 total, if you know how to do it right. This includes airfare, accommodation, meals, and transportation.

Planning In Advance

Spontaneous travel is a fun experience, however, it is considered as a luxury for most travellers. Without planning, you might be subjected to expensive last-minute flights and costly accommodations. With fewer options available to select from and less time to find good travel deals, you are more likely to pay excessive prices.

On top of that, by planning in advance, you can avoid travelling to Maldives during the high season. High season in the Maldives is typically from December to April as the local weather has wonderful long hours of sunshine. Low season is around May to September, when the island nation experiences rain due to the monsoon season.

Avoid Unnecessary Costs 



Travelling light is a smart way to travel that saves you from expensive baggage fees. Shop product now: CabinZero Classic Deep Ocean

Small costs can quickly add up to a large sum. It is best for you to be aware of common travel costs and actively avoid paying needless fees to make the most out of your travel budget.

  • Extra baggage fees: Most airlines have extra fees for excess baggage, including overweight fees, oversized fees and additional checked bags. To avoid baggage fees, you should travel light with the right bag and weigh your luggage as you pack at home.
  • Single supplement fees: Hotels, resorts, and cruises sometimes charge solo travellers extra fees, called single supplement fees. To avoid paying extra, you should consider booking with companies that support solo travellers and do not charge a single supplement.
  • Transaction fees: Use ATMs wisely to avoid high fees and always ensure that you do not run out of cash unexpectedly. If you are staying at guesthouses, asking the owners before booking to know if there is an ATM in the area is a good way to be prepared.
  • Unexpected events: Consider having travel insurance to cover medical expenses and unexpected costs during your trip. You can research the Maldives and select an appropriate travel insurance that covers your planned activities and unforeseeable expenses.
  • Single-use products: Bringing reusable items with you is not only a sustainable way to travel, but it is also a cost-saving habit in the long run. Thinking of reusable water bottles, shopping bags, toiletries and menstrual cups, if applicable.

Consider Working While You Travel

Working while travelling has become an increasing trend among solo travellers and budget travellers. To work in the Maldives, a work permit issued by the Ministry of Economic Development and a work visa approved by the Maldives Immigration are required. Check here for more information.

Typically, most jobs available for foreigners are within the hospitality industry. You can start by looking for vacancies at major resorts, depending on your skills and qualifications, you can consider different departments including Food and Beverage, Spa, Kitchen and Recreation.

Staff are usually offered accommodation so you will save a considerable amount on accommodations in the long run. You can start looking for job opportunities in social media channels, groups for jobs in the Maldives and on LinkedIn. Or you can live your digital nomad dream on this paradise island. Here’s an experience of one person living and working on Maldives.

Volunteer work is also a promising opportunity for travellers in the Maldives. You can take part in protecting sea turtles, restoring coral reefs or teaching children. Working Traveller, Reefscapers and Volunteer World are good places to start browsing.

Cost-saving Opportunities For Maldives Travel

Maldives On A Budget - CabinZero

Finding good deals on flights is an important step in visiting Maldives on a budget. Shop product now: CabinZero Classic Tech Georgian Khaki

From finding inexpensive bookings to staying flexible with your travel plans, there is always room to save more while travelling. Here are travel tips that you can apply to visit Maldives on a budget.

Pre-book In Advance For Cheap Flights

Airfares to the Maldives vary greatly depending on the time of year, the flight route and the airlines. You can check airlines that operate flight routes to the Maldives, such as AirAsia, Etihad, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Emirates and Qantas

Travellers can fly to the Maldives' airport in Malé or Gan Island. Flying to Malé is usually a cheaper option than flying to Gan Island. Flying direct is a fast and convenient way to travel. However, you should avoid flying direct as it is more expensive than flying with one stop or more.

When searching for flights, do remember to check and compare flight prices from different airlines. Useful flight search tools to use are Skyscanner, Google Flights, Hopper and Kayak. Tracking flight prices and considering booking in advance are practical strategies that are used by seasoned travellers. 

CabinZero’s Tips: Many search engines do not bundle transit flights together. This is when a little research can come a long way for your budget. 

Browse For Good Deals On Accommodations

In the Maldives, the choice of accommodations is varied, from luxury resorts to  immersive liveaboards and friendly guesthouses. According to the official tourism site of the Maldives there are 165 resorts, 11 hotels, 146 liveaboards and 772 guesthouses as of 2024. 

Staying in local guest houses or finding affordable hotels that fit your planned activities in the Maldives can cut down on accommodation expenses. The national tourism office of the Maldives is a great way to find the full list of guesthouses and hotels.

Where to find good deals on accommodations? You can use Google's hotel search tool to quickly filter budget options or find attractive deals on or Agoda. Depending on your chosen islands and accommodation types, a guesthouse can cost around $35 to $150 per night per room.

Staying on a local island is recommended. For instance, a room at guesthouses and budget hotels on Thulusdhoo will set you back around $50-$80. A speedboat ride from the airport to this island costs 35$ per person per way. This is way more affordable than the tourist islands.

Be Flexible With Activities And Entertainment

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You can enjoy the Maldives on a budget with the right plan Photo credit: DomjanMoni / mino.maydon

There are more ways to fully enjoy the Maldives without the fancy yachts and Instagrammable overwater bungalows. The Maldives offers many wonderful ways for travellers to enjoy its natural beauty and local uniqueness.

You can snorkel on a public beach instead of a resort's house reefs. You can take part in planting corals to support the Maldivian reefs. Relaxing on the beach is always a great and free plan for an island getaway. Observing the locals in Malé Fish Market is also a free and interesting way to learn about the Maldivian culture.

The Maldives is blessed with a rich marine life and ideal waters for watersports. Voted as one of the best places to scuba dive in the world, diving in the Maldives is a must-try experience for watersport lovers.

Love to free dive with whale sharks? If you are looking to spend some quality time underwater with colourful tropical fishes, lovable sea turtles and impressive manta rays, consider booking excursions through guesthouses.

Sometimes, you can find great deals on excursions in person that are not available online. You should compare a number of offers before deciding, especially knowing what is included in the package, such as lunch or a drink.

CabinZero's Tips: Do you know that the Maldives has the largest whale shark population? These harmless fishes can be observed in both snorkelling excursions and diving trips. Snorkelling is a more budget-friendly way to see whale sharks in the Maldives.

Be Resourceful With Transportation

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Dhoni cruise bundles are often expensive. Photo by elvistudio -

The average cost of a public ferry for one person per way is around $3 to $6. However, public ferries are known to not run daily, and their running schedules are not always on point. They are also slow. For instance, a ferry from Malé to Maafushi can take about 90 minutes.

Because of these reasons, ferry use requires planning. You can incorporate speed boats into your travel plan. The average cost of a speed boat for one person per way is around $25 to $80, depending on your destination island. Shared speed boats are also a thing and can be a great way to save on costs..

On larger islands like Hulhumalé and Addu, bus services are available and very affordable, but the routes are fairly limited. A bus ride between Male and Hulhumale (airport island) starts from $0.50.

There are taxis in Malé and some larger islands. They have fixed rates, typically around $1-$2 for short distances within the island (and maybe an additional of $1 for using car boot for luggage).

Once you are on an island, consider renting a bike or travel on foot to get around as everything is small and walkable. Some guesthouses even offer day trips to nearby islands, which can include transportation, meals, and activities at a bundled price.

CabinZero's Tips: you can pay in cash, in either USD or Rufiyaa. For local shops, cafes, public transport, and smaller purchases on local islands, it is better to use MVR.

Go For Local Food

The cuisine of the Maldives is based largely on rice, fish and coconuts. When visiting the islands, there are various delightful fish and seafood dishes. A few local favourites in Maldivian cuisine are "Gulha" (Dumplings filled with tuna), "Kuli Boakibaa" (Fishcake with smoked tuna, coconut and rice) and "Garudhiya" (Fish soup).

The local cafes. also known as "teh stalls,” are a great place to grab a cheap and tasty bite. A meal at a hotels can be pricey (around $20), while these places can offer a dish and a drink for as little as $5. 

Food stalls and carts are another great option. They often sell local delicacies like grilled fish, curries, and roti (flatbread). This is a great way to experience authentic Maldivian flavours at a very affordable price.

Cooking on your own is doable. Stock up on groceries from local markets and supermarkets. You'll find fresh produce, fish, and shelf-stable items at a fraction of the price you'd pay at resort restaurants.

Maldives Travel Guide For Budget Travellers

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Maldives is blessed with a diverse marine life and visitors should be responsible in protecting its natural environment. Photo by Andrei Armiagov on   

Best Maldives Islands For Backpackers

Private resort islands are a big no-no for a happy wallet. There are plenty of public islands for you to choose from without worrying about the hefty costs. A trip to the Maldives can be a budget-busting experience if you visit high-end resorts and private islands. 

Planning your itinerary on an untouched island can be a stressful experience for many of us without adequate information online. So let's find the islands that are in the middle of both worlds together. Here are the best Maldives islands as alternatives for your choosing.

  • Maafushi Island: Located in the South Male Atoll, this island offers an ideal mix of pristine beaches and budget-friendly accommodations. 
  • Fulidhoo Island: Located in the Vaavu Atoll, this untouched island is a perfect destination away from the busy crowds.
  • Thulusdhoo Island: Located in the Kaafu Atoll, Thulusdhoo Island is well-known for surfing, clear turquoise waters and palm-fringed beaches. 

Costly Mistakes To Avoid In Maldives

When visiting a new destination, it is always helpful to consider the differences in the local culture, infrastructure and landscape. Here are things that you need to know to have a smooth and enjoyable trip in the Maldives.

  • No paying attention to the local customs: The Maldives is a conservative country, and it's important to dress modestly, especially when visiting local islands. Women should cover their shoulders and knees, and men should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts or shorts that are too short. One important thing to note is that bikinis are banned in non-tourist/local islands and public areas. Bikinis are fine in resort islands.
  • Check ferry schedules carefully: Island hopping requires planning, especially around the schedule of the ferry system. It is recommended that you double check ferry schedules beforehand to avoid troubles in keeping up with your itinerary.
  • Avoid drinking expensive alcohol: As the official religion in the Maldives is Islam, alcohol is listed among the banned items along with drugs and pork. Travellers can find alcoholic drinks on resort islands and on safari cruise boats, which can get expensive. If you are on a tight budget, consider skipping alcohol when staying in the Maldives.
  • Forget to use reef-safe sunscreen: There are environmental initiatives to preserve native reefs in popular destinations around the world and the Maldivian reefs are among them. Remember to be a responsible traveller and only use reef-safe sunscreen while spending time in the beautiful waters of the islands.


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Maldivian cuisine often features fresh ingredients such as fish and tropical fruits such as coconut. Photo by Evgenija on  

1. Can The Maldives Be Done On A Budget?

An affordable trip to the Maldives can be done with smart budgeting and strategic planning. There are always opportunities to save extra costs. You can select low-cost activities such as spending time by the beach or snorkelling instead of diving or going for jet skiing. Opting for less costly accommodation types like hostels and guesthouses can make long trips more affordable.

2. How Many Days In Maldives Is Enough?

The answer depends on your personal preferences and the travel experiences that you are looking for. For travellers who have time and resources, they can stay for more than a week to discover the islands at a more relaxed pace. For travellers with limited time and budget, a Maldives holiday of 4 or 5 days is ideal for most travellers.

3. What To Do In Maldives On A Budget?

The options are plentiful for budget-conscious travellers in the Maldives. You can enjoy a sun-soaked day on one of Maldives' public islands with fun and low-cost activities like sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling and sunset watching.  Browsing for local eateries and cafés to find hidden gems at reasonable prices can be a fun daily activity. Planning your own walking tour to discover the city of Malé is an inexpensive way to learn about the country's culture.

Visiting Maldives On A Budget | A Complete Guide

With a dazzling world underwater and idyllic white-sand beaches, visiting the Maldives is truly a lifetime experience. With this guide on travelling the Maldives on a budget, we hope that you will have a wonderful island holiday without pressures from financial stress.

Looking for pocket-friendly ways to explore the world? Follow us for more inspirations and keep on reading for more useful tips on many exciting destinations around the world.  

Chau Dao

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