Maldives Budget Itinerary | Spend 8 Days in Paradise under $2500
April 23, 2020
Here is my 8 days Maldives Budget Itinerary. It is a comprehensive and easy-to-read guide for you to plan for your next adventure!
I visited Maldives back in August. It was a trip we booked on impulse as the air tickets were on sale. It was only SGD 400 per person for a round trip ticket from Singapore. Many people have the misconception that it’s really expensive to travel there, but we managed to do it under SGD 2,500per person. Of course, we did not get to experience the Club Med lifestyle with this budget, but that all really depends on the type of travel you’re looking for.
Table of Contents
Maldives Budget Itinerary: The Best Time to Visit Maldives
It is summer all year round in Maldives. However, their monsoon season runs from May to October, while their rainiest months are in June and July. The best time to visit is actually from December to April where there is the least precipitation and warmer temperatures. We visited Maldives in August and although it did rain a couple of times during our stay, the rain didn’t last long and we were still able to enjoy all the activities we had planned.
Maldives Budget Itinerary: How to get around Maldives?
Ferry and speed boats are the main mode of transportation in-between islands. If you are going to a private island from the Airport, your resort will arrange a pick-up for you, just remember to indicate to them your estimated time of arrival.
If you’re heading to Maafushi Island (inhabited) from Male Airport, you can either book a speedboat service from iCom Toursor take the public ferry service. But do note that the public ferry service can be quite a cumbersome method for some.
How to take the Public ferry from Male Airport to Maafushi Island?
1. At Male International Airport, walk opposite the road to the ferry terminal 2. Buy either a speedboat ticket for USD 2 (4 minutes ride) or a ferry ticket (10 minutes ride) for USD 1 to Male Island *Ferry schedule can be found here. 3. At Male Island, take a taxi to Villingili Ferry Terminal (10 minutes ride, about USD 2) 4. Buy another ferry ticket to Maafushi at Villingili Ferry Terminal (45 minute ride, USD 3)
*IMPORTANT: Ask your hotel about public ferry schedules before planning to take this route in case there are changes. The last I heard, there are no ferry services on Fridays.
In Summary (take your pick): By Speedboat: 45 minutes, USD 25 By Ferry: 110-120 minutes, USD 6
Private vs. Local Islands in Maldives
Looking at all the islands on google maps can be an excruciating process. The next question you’ll probably ask yourself is, which Island should I stay on? Here is a summary of what you need to know before booking your accommodation:
Maldives is made up of many tiny islands. Some of of them are local islands (inhabited) while some of them are private islands that are owned by resorts.
What is a Private Island?
Staying on a private island is A LOT more expensive than staying on a local island. Those water bungalows/villas you see? They can be found on private islands only. What makes it even more expensive is that you’ll have to pay an additional transfer fee to your accommodation for ferrying you by speedboat from the Airport to the Island. Usually, the cost ranges between USD 100-150 per pax. Ouch right?
What is a Local Island?
On the other hand, local islands are where the locals stay. They have nice hotels and resorts on these islands and the tours you book are going to be a lot more affordable. On top of this, you can take a local ferry to transfer you to one of these islands and this will only cost you around USD 2-4 for a 3-hour journey. Here, you’ll get to interact with the locals and really experience how they live day to day!
You should trying staying on both Islands
We wanted to experience both types of living. As we go along, I’ll share with you how we planned our stay here. If you’re feeling a bit lost, here is a visual representation of the islands we travelled to during our stay. As you can see, there are many many other islands on the map.
Our Maldives Budget Itinerary & Where to Stay in Maldives on a Budget
Day 1 – Overnight at Airport
We landed at Male International Airport at 8pm. As we did not want to waste money to stay the night on a private island resort, we decided to book a 1-night accommodation at a hotel near the airport.
The hotel we booked was called Express Inn Hulhumaleand was priced at just SGD 48 per night. We arranged for our hotel to pick us up at the airport, which was just a 6 minute drive away.
Day 2 to Day 4 – Budget Stay in Water Villa on a Private Island
Price per night: SGD 393 (will vary according to season) Transfer fee: USD 119 per person (about SGD 170)
It took me a long and gruesome process to choose a private island as I had to compare all the prices on booking.com. For some resorts, cheaper room rates came with a transfer fee at over USD 400 per person. Hence, you need to take note of this while choosing your accommodation.
Paradise Island Resort & Spa had a pretty good balance of both I believe. It was important to me to be able to stay in a water villa as I’ve never stayed in one before. Note that the cost per night to stay in a water villa is 2-3 times more expensive than if you were to book a land villa/room.
How to get to the resort?
Remember to contact your hotel beforehand to check with them the pick-up location and time. We arrived back at the airport at 12pm to board our speedboat to the island.
Our Experience on Paradise Island Resort & Spa
I cannot stress how amazing the service at the resort was. The moment we got off the boat, we were guided to the reception area to check-in. The hotel staff told us to sit at the waiting area while we were served with some drinks. Unlike in most places whereby you’ll have to queue at the counter to check-in, they brought our room keys and hotel information to us. Next, we were loaded onto a buggy which ferried us to our water villa. In the meantime, our luggage on the boat was all taken care of and brought to our door step as well.
It was paradise. With the ocean just beneath us, we changed into our swim wear and dived into the crystal blue waters to snorkel. The marine life was so vibrant, if you’re lucky, you’d be able to spot pufferfishes, stingrays, black tip sharks and so on. And after all the sun and sea, climb back home to your villa and take a dip in you warm outdoor bathtub.
Dinner & Shark Feeding
We also ate dinner at the resort’s restaurant, but it did cost us quite a bit. Just take note that food on private islands will not be cheap, so you may want to bring some alternatives along with you beforehand.
We also had the chance to witness shark feeding during our dinner! If you’re daring enough, you can jump into the water with the sharks. Black tip sharks generally do not pose a great danger to humans, just remember to keep a safe distance from them and never ever touch them. The same goes for all the other marine life!
We spent a good 2 full days on the island snorkelling and sun-bathing on the island. During your checkout, inform the hotel staff which island you’d be visiting next so that they can make the necessary arrangements for you. For our local island, we decided to stay on Maafushi.
Day 4 – Exploring Maafushi Island
The hotel we booked on Maafushi was called Velana Blu Maldives.The price was just a total of SGD 300 for 4 nights.
You can also rent bicycles for free at the hotel. It’s a really small island and you’d probably take only about 30-45 minutes to cycle one round around it.
When we alighted from the boat, our hotel staff was already waiting for us and they drove us to the hotel reception. It was a very pleasant stay at Velana Blu, the locals were all super friendly and they made us feel very comfortable.
We booked a total of 2 tours with the hotel for the following days that we’d be staying with them. If you’re planning to travel out to do tours such as snorkeling / sand bank / dolphin watching etc., it’s better to do it with your hotel on a local island as booking activities on a private island would be 2-3 times more expensive.
Day 5 – Half-Day Snorkelling Tour
Together with a group of 8 people from our hotel, we booked a half-day tour out to visit some coral reefs for snorkelling and free-diving! The price of this tour was about USD 35 (SGD 50) per person. We were able to spot so many marine animals – from black tip sharks to sea turtles and stingrays.
1. Turtle Reef
Located on the east-side of South Male Atoll, this place offers you a good chance of sea turtle appearance. The turtles also seem to be quite used to being close around humans so it gives you a good chance to be able to take a selfie with them (but please do not touch them)!
2. Biyadhoo Island
Biyadhoo Island is a private island resort. They have a reef nearby where you can snorkel and view a range of marine life. Here, we were able to spot some black tip sharks as well!
3. Stingray Spot
Lastly, our tour brought us to a nearby island to view and swim along with a couple of stingrays!
Day 6 – Scuba Diving
1. Scuba Diving
As certified divers, we did not miss a chance to scuba dive in Maldives either. We booked 2 dives with a shop near our hotel called ‘Eco Dive Club’. The price of 2 dives was only about USD 90 (SGD 128) per person. As it wasn’t their peak season, we were lucky enough to have a private tour for ourselves as well.
The experience was so so amazing. All our scuba equipment was set up nicely and they brought us to the most beautiful reef we’ve ever seen – Kandooma Thila. If you’re a diver, this reef is a MUST to go. Our dive masters also took photos for us with their GoPros, you can collect these photos for FREE after your dive, all you need is to provide them with your thumb drive.
Day 7 – Full- Day Snorkelling Tour with Sharks
On our last full day in Maldives, we booked a full-day tour which included going to a sand bank, swimming with nurse sharks and feeding stingrays. The total price per person for the tour was at USD 70 (SGD 100).
1. Nurse Sharks
We hoped on a boat with about 15 other tourists at 7am in the morning. Our boat brought us to a private island where nurse sharks tend to gather. Over 15 nurse sharks were swimming beneath us!
2. Sand Bank
After which, we headed to a sand bank where they set up lunch for us to eat and relax by the ocean.
3. Ship Wreck at Vavoo Atoll
Next, our boat brought us to view a man-made shipwreck. If you can hold your breath long enough, you can even swim through the doors of the ship as it is shallow enough.
4. Stingray Feeding at Fulidhoo
The last stop of the day was at another inhabited island to feed the stingrays. Over 5 stingrays gathered at the shore and we were allowed them to feed them with our hands.
5. Manta Ray Spotting
On our way back to Maafushi, our guides spotted Manta Rays and we were quick enough to dive into the water to swim with them. It was a great way to end our tour and it was an unforgettable experience!
On our last day in Maldives, we bid farewell to our hotel tour guides and thanked them for the pleasant stay. They aided us with our luggage to board the ferry before we arrived back in Male International Airport for our flight back home.
Things to Pack for a Trip to Maldives
1. Lots of Swimwear (having a rash guard is an armour against cold waters) 2. Lots of Sunblock 3. Thumb Drive – to collect pictures from the guide after each tour FOC 4. Sunglasses / Sun Hat 5. GoPro & Accessories 6. Drone (if possible – aerial shots are mind blowing)
Overall Expenditure Per Pax for this Maldives Budget Itinerary (SGD)
Flight Ticket: $400 Accomodation @ Hulhumale: $25 Accomodation @ Paradise Island: $452 Transfer Fee: $170 Accomodation @ Maafushi: $163 Half-day Tour: $50 Full-day Tour: $100 Diving: $128 Total: $1,488 (this leaves you with over $1000 for all the feasting & souvenirs!) *Prices will vary accordingly, note that figures are also close estimates and not to the exact cent.