The Maldives: Why is this a “Not-So-Budget-Friendly” Itinerary?
Because I spent less than USD1000? Lol! 😆
Read through to know more!
They say The Maldives is every couple’s dream honeymoon destination… a paradise ONLY FOR the rich and the famous. However, a tourism boost has made the country more accessible for those who are on a tight budget… Moreover, you don’t have to be keen on finding for “Ms. Perfect” nor “Mr. Right” because the setting doesn’t need to be romantic. Spending holidays with friends or family in The Maldives can (and surely will) also be the “B.E.A.C.H” (Best.Escapade.Anyone.Can.Have)
Ok! Enough of those cheesy introductions because, I know, I owe some friends with a DIY itinerary. Lol! After our getaway trip to The Maldives a few months ago, many have been asking me questions about it. How did we do it?… How much did we spend?… Did we arrange it with a travel agency?… How much did the water activities cost us?… I was waiting for questions like, “How was the food?”, “Are the beaches powdery?”, “Did you enjoy watching over those dolphins?” But Nah!… The first questions they uttered were all related to the budget.
To be honest, our expenses are not the recommended ones. Thus, this is a disclaimer for those who are following a strict “backpacking” budget. This is my “Not-So-Budget-Friendly” itinerary for 4 nights and 4 days. I think this is reasonable though. I will be discussing them below and you may (or may not) follow all of them. Prices may have changed from the time we went there so please take note of that as well.
When we planned this trip, one of the criteria we agreed upon is to experience the comfort of an island resort staycation as well as enjoy the pocket-friendly activities and food offered on a local island. So, if you plan to spend your whole trip in a cheaper stay at the local islands you may need to drop the read. I will be splitting this into 2 parts:
- 2 nights and 2 days in an Island Resort
- 2 nights and 2 days in a Local Island
But first… How Did We Get There?
I am biased with the airline company that I am working for. Lol! Of course, we flew with Scoot. The roundtrip Scoot fare to the Maldives ranges from as low as SGD 250 to as high as the SGD 800. This is depending on the timings of your booking and flight dates. If you are a good “Promo/Sale Fare Hunter”, you can purchase a roundtrip ticket of less than SGD 200. Example of these is Scoot’s Take-Off-Tuesdays.
Flight time from Singapore to Malé is 4.5hours. Scoot does not fly daily (M-W-F-Su) and as of writing, the ETD from Singapore is 19:10H. There is a 3-hr difference in the UTC between Singapore and Maldives, so ETA in Malé is 20:50H.
If you want to book from other airlines, you can choose from this Skyscanner list.
As I purchased a staff travel fare which is one of the privileges of working in an airline company, I won’t be telling how much I paid for a roundtrip ticket. ‘Cos it’s much cheaper. Haha! But my colleagues were able to purchase a roundtrip fare of SGD230, approximately USD170.00.
2-N, 2-D in an Island Resort
Though the dream travel to The Maldives may just be an arm-reach away, it is still advisable for you to prepare, especially, if you don’t want to carve a much bigger chunk from your holiday savings. As mentioned above, we wanted to experience the Maldives in 2 ways- the intimate, peaceful and relaxed type, likewise, the practical one.
We found this resort which is just 10 minutes away from Malé – the Malahini Kuda Bandos. They don’t have the most sought water villas though. Instead, they have beach villas along the shoreline made for contemporary beach front living. They also have rooms with lower rates such as the Deluxe, Garden and Classic Rooms.
Since this is a private island, everything from airport transfer, to water activities, and meals are arranged within the resort. It is highly recommended that you book your accommodation via their website so you can immediately coordinate for early check-in or late check out. They also offer discounts and spa vouchers if you intend to stay for more than 4 nights.
The resort offers an extensive range of excursions and water activities for all their guests; hence, they do not allow private excursions or boat hire arranged from the outside. Price ranges are also much higher compared to those from the local islands. Availability for some activities may also depend on the number of heads, unless, you are willing to shell out more from your budget. Fortunately, there were 6 of us so the arrangement of the activities we took is much easier.
Here is the breakdown of our expenses in Malahini Kuda Bandos:
2 Garden View Rooms (3 pax per room for 2 nights) – USD 220 per pax (USD 1315.76)
– Includes breakfast buffet meal at Maaga
– Unlimited drinks at Bluu Bar
– Airport Transfers (to and fro, via speedboat) and Green Tax
– Free use of gym amenities
– Free use of SUP, Canoe, Windsurf & Paddleboat
Dinner at Bluu Bar- USD 14.00 – USD 25.00 per pax
Full Day Excursion Activities – USD 95.00 per pax:
– Water Villa visit (Thulhagiri Lover’s Paradise)
– Sting Ray Encounter (Snorkeling at Sting Ray Point)
– Sunset / Dolphin Cruise
Souvenirs and other expenses -Approx. USD 50.00 per pax
For the whole stay in this island resort, each of us had paid out USD390.00.
How was our stay on an Island Resort?
Since the resort is just 10 minutes away from the airport you also don’t need to worry about getting there. They will arrange your boat transfer at any time- 24hrs. Unless there’s a bad weather advisory, they will be able to fetch you even if your arrival time is late at night. The staff are also accommodating and are happy to welcome you upon your arrival.
With a touch of minimalism, the rooms are tidy and spacious. Everything in the resort is accessible. Though there was a bit of an issue with the toilet flush system, the staff had immediately rectified.
Food choices were reasonable, with the set of local to international tastes. Maaga has a tropical ambiance overlooking the crystal blue waters. There is an open-air deck if you prefer to sit, dine closer to the sound of the sea waves and kissed by the morning sun or see the stars shine bright like diamonds at night.
Above all, the beach is tranquil and clean. Imagine just lying on a hammock, feeling the breeze gently blowing the scent of the sea… This vibe! It’s just so relaxing!
2-N, 2-D in a Local Island
As many budget travel websites would prefer, local islands in The Maldives serve those who are trying not to reach the ceiling of their holiday expenses. Moreover, if you are the type of person who easily gets bored of just lying on the beach, isolated in a less crowded island, then, staying in one of the countries local islands would be favorable for you.
After spending the first half of our trip to an island resort, we transferred to Maafushi. Although Malé, the capital city, has all the convenience from transportation to establishments, this local island is the most recommended one considering its distance from the international airport and the competitive accommodations it offers. To mention, the capital city has already been developed in terms of infrastructure so the “beach vibe” is no longer apparent compared to the other local islands.
We were able to find our hotel via Booking.com. We stayed at Velana Beach Hotel, located at the beach front opposite to the more commercialized side of Maafushi. Since it is located away from the crowded side of the island, the atmosphere here is typically serene.
Maafushi is accessible via public ferries from Malé, but you can also arrange a speed boat transfer with your hotels if you prefer convenience. Just a note, public ferries are scheduled and since The Maldives is a Muslim country, they don’t operate every Friday. For us, we arranged our transfer to and from Maafushi with Velana Beach Hotel.
I will give the details of what we did in Maafushi in a separate article, but here is the breakdown of our expenses including the excursions we took:
3 Super Deluxe Rooms (2 pax per room for 2 nights) – USD 91.00 per pax (USD 546.00)
– Includes breakfast buffet meal
– Unlimited drinks
– Airport Transfers (to and fro, via speedboat) and Green Tax
Areena Beach Hotel – USD 14.00 per pax
Kaalamaa Restaurant – USD 15.00 per pax
– Half-day Snorkelling and Sandbank tour (private tour for 10 pax = USD 300) – USD 30.00 per pax
o Snorkeling at a Marine Sanctuary
o Lunch at the Sandbank
o Snorkeling at Turtle Reef
o Dolphin Cruise
– Half-day Island Resort Tour (Fihalhohi)
USD 25.00 per pax (USD 150.00 boat transfer)
USD 70.00 per pax (Resort access fee and lunch)
o Includes full access to resort amenities
o Includes lunch buffet
Souvenirs and other expenses – Approx. USD 50.00 per pax
Everything in Maafushi is of reasonable prices, whether be with accommodations, food or water activities. The island offers great choices or options and even the beach is what tourists are looking for. For the whole stay in Maafushi, each of us had shelled out USD295.00.
Now… Do you think this is a “not-so-budget-friendly” itinerary?
My expense breakdown may not be the recommended one. I just wanted to show you how we enjoyed this trip without ruining our mood thinking about how much were we spending. Above all, it pays off to be prepared in every travel you make. Each of us will have our own trip goals and expenses but, in the end, we still wanted to check how others have done it.
For me, I am happy to be able to share our own way of doing the 4N4D trip to the “Sunny Side of Life” … the Maldives.