When I think about the Maldives, I immediately think of overwater bungalows, pristine white sand beaches, and lots of MONEY. There’s no way around it. The Maldives are expensive. Or are they?
In this guide, you’re going to learn exactly how we funded our luxury vacation to the Maldives on a budget.
High-End Maldives On A Budget
I want to be upfront with everyone reading this. Staying in high-end accommodation in the Maldives will never be cheap, especially compared to other beach destinations around the world.
But, if you know the right tricks, you’ll be able to find awesome deals that would otherwise be outrageously expensive.
Before you plan your vacation to the Maldives, take these five tips into consideration to save big and book your trip on a budget.
1. Use The Low-Season To Your Advantage
One of the best ways to travel to the Maldives on a budget is to go during the cheapest time of year. Just like any other vacation destination, there is a high season and low season.
During the low season, fewer tourists travel to this archipelago, meaning that hotel rooms aren’t in high demand. Because of this, resorts lower their prices.
That is when YOU dive in and get those sweet deals!
The peak of the low season is in June and this is also the cheapest time of year to visit the Maldives.
Keep in mind, it’s low season for a reason. June is the rainiest time in the Maldives, typically raining 14 days during the month.
Although you may come head to head with a few rain clouds in June, you’ll be able to save immensely on luxury resorts and perhaps even extend your stay. You’re sure to get some sunny days, so consider booking your Maldives vacation for June.
2. Early Bird Specials
Another way to save big on your luxury Maldives holiday is to book your accommodation early. Many resorts have early bird specials where they take a specific percentage off of the overall price if you book your stay several months in advance.
3. Book Directly With The Hotel
To save even more money on your overwater bungalow, book your stay directly with the hotel.
Although I typically suggest booking through third-party sites like Booking.com or Hotels.com, I’ve found the best deals on overwater bungalows by booking directly on the hotel’s website.
Below, I’ve listed 6 resorts that offer great deals on overwater bungalows. You can find their websites by clicking on the links provided.
4. Check Transfer Prices
When I originally started searching for great overwater bungalow deals in the Maldives, I was excited.
The prices seemed relatively reasonable for what you were getting: an amazing room over turquoise blue waters in the most beautiful resorts in the world. I would gladly pay $400 per night for that.
What I didn’t realize was that the resorts don’t include the transfer fee. The trick is.. you NEED to pay the transfer fee in order to get to the island.
When I started to investigate further, these resorts were charging a ridiculous amount of money for speedboat or seaplane transfers. And by ridiculous, I mean like $500 per person. Crazy!
So before you go ahead and book an amazing Maldives resort on a budget, be sure to check the transfer fees. If they don’t display the cost on their website, ask them via email.
The cheapest transfer fee I could find was approximately $150 per person and that was for Meeru Resort, Fihalhohi Island Resort, and the Hard Rock Hotel Maldives.
5. Beachfront Accommodation
I’ve saved the best tip for last.
If you truly want to enjoy a luxury Maldives holiday on a budget, the easiest way is to book a beachfront bungalow rather than an overwater bungalow.
I realize this isn’t what most of you picture when thinking about a Maldives vacation. The iconic overwater bungalows are where you want to be.
But, with a beachfront villa, you’ll still get the same amazing views, you’ll be able to swim in the same crystal clear waters, and you’ll enjoy the same amenities. Except for MUCH less money.
Or perhaps you could mix and match. Spend a night or two in an overwater bungalow before moving to your beachfront villa for the remainder of your stay.
Overwater Bungalows On A Budget
I get it. Some of you are set on staying in an overwater bungalow while visiting the Maldives. I was too and I can confidently say that I don’t regret it one bit. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
For those looking to stay in an affordable overwater bungalow, I’ve made a list of some of the cheapest options in the Maldives:
Before you begin sorting through this list, keep in mind that I found these prices directly from the resort websites.
I used the dates June 22 – 25 for each of these reservations.
1. Sun Island Resort and Spa – $330/night
Sun Island always comes out on top for the cheapest overwater bungalows in the Maldives. Although the furniture and style of these overwater bungalows are a bit dated, the views from your front porch more than make up for it.
With this price, breakfast is included. You must purchase all the other food during your stay.
Since this resort is quite far from Male, getting to Sun Island requires taking a seaplane from Male International Airport, as well as a short speedboat ride.
Transfer fees to Sun Island Resort are $250+ per person.
2. Olhuveli Beach & Spa Maldives – $377/night
This four-star resort offers amazing amenities for guests, including eight restaurants, a sunrise pool, an infinity pool, and live music.
Breakfast is included in the price shown above, as well as two kids for free!
Olhuveli Beach and Spa is located 45 minutes from Male and you can reach this island by speedboat transfer. Be ready to pay $220+ per adult for the speedboat transfer.
3. Meeru Island Resort – $384/night
Mike and I decided to stay at Meeru Island Resort based on what they offered. Not only do they include full board in the price shown above, but their transfer prices were the lowest we could find from any resort ($155 per adult).
The resort was beautiful and the island was well taken care of by staff. The food was exceptional and there were plenty of options for all types of diets.
If you get the chance, I highly recommend booking your stay with Meeru Island Resort.
4. Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives – $385/night
This family-friendly Holiday Inn Resort in the Maldives has some great overwater bungalow deals if you take the time to search.
The price above doesn’t include any food or drinks, so take this into consideration before booking. Food in the Maldives is not cheap, especially at these fancy resorts.
A transfer fee of $229 per adult is required for the Holiday Inn.
5. Fihalhohi Island Resort – $459.42/night
Be pampered at the Fihalhohi Island Resort in the Maldives. Located 45 minutes from Male Airport, you’ll find all of the amenities of a fancy four-star resort on this island paradise.
The price above includes breakfast. Add an additional $150+ per adult for the transfer fee from the airport.
6. Hard Rock Hotel Maldives – $525/night
I decided to include the Hard Rock Hotel on the list of budget overwater bungalows in the Maldives because of how unique and extensive this resort is.
This brand new facility has everything you could think of. Not to mention, it’s only a 15-minute boat ride from the airport in Male.
Unfortunately, food is not included in the price listed above and you’ll be looking at $150+ per adult for transfer fees.
How We Stayed In An Overwater Bungalow In The Maldives For Free
If you’re anything like me, $350+ per night for a hotel room seems a bit steep. On a travel blogger’s budget, this was too much.
Luckily, we used our sneaky travel hacking skills to book our overwater bungalow in the Maldives on a very tight budget.
And by “tight” I mean FREE.
Yes, we actually stayed in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives for free. Here’s how we did it:
In early 2018, Micheal and I both opened up new credit cards.
While we opened several new credit cards, we benefited the most from the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
After spending $4,000 in the first three months (on everyday bills and groceries that we would purchase regardless of having a credit card), we were each awarded 60,000 Chase points. Chase points are pretty valuable; 60,000 points are worth more than $1,000 USD.
Since we both opened Chase Sapphire Preferred credit cards, we earned more than $2000 toward travel, which INCLUDES overwater bungalows in the Maldives. HELLO Maldives on a budget!
Other Luxury Options In The Maldives On A Budget
So you’ve seen a few different ways you can save money on your Maldives vacation. Now, let’s venture into completely new territory.
You’ll still be receiving luxury accommodation and amenities, but this option is a little different.
Liveaboards are a common way for travelers to explore new places, islands, and beach towns.
A liveaboard is like a mini-cruise specifically for divers and underwater adventurers. You’ll sleep in a private room (cabin) on the boat with your own ensuite bathroom.
Most liveaboards accommodate 40 travelers or less.
There are plenty of liveaboards to choose from destinations all over the world. If you plan on visiting the Maldives, I recommend booking your liveaboard with Scubaspa Yang Maldives.
Scubaspa Yang Maldives costs $239/day per person but this includes full board (buffet style), multiple dives, yoga, a hot tub on deck, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, the most beautiful rooms, and so much more.
If you’re looking for the best all-inclusive deals in the Maldives, a liveaboard is a fantastic option.
Maldives On A Frugal Budget
Some of you have made it this far in the blog post and you’re thinking, “this is NOT how to spend a vacation in the Maldives on a budget”.
You’re right. Luxury resorts are never quite budget-friendly.
Don’t be discouraged, though. The Maldives can still be done on a tight budget if you decide to venture off the beaten path.
During our last few days in the Maldives, Mike and I stayed on a local island among local people.
The beaches were still beautiful, the water was still the turquoise-blue that you see in pictures, but the price was FAR less.
Two local islands that we can recommend visiting are Maafushi and Hulhumale. On these islands, you’ll find cheap accommodation, cheap food, and cheap excursions.
But you won’t find any 5-star resorts.. sorry!
Cheap Accommodation Options In The Maldives
During our stay on Maafushi, we stayed at a lovely guesthouse called Alaka At Maafushi. Run and operated by a group of local guys, they made us feel welcome at all times.
The food here was great and the guys helped us book awesome excursions for a fraction of the price that you’d pay at a fancy resort.
We paid $40 per night at Alaka via Airbnb, which was a steal! If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb yet, use this coupon to get $40 off your first booking; that’s a free night in the Maldives!
Cheap Transportation Options To The Maldives
The cheapest way to get to the Maldives via AirAsia. You’ll need to get to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore first, but from there, you can fly AirAsia for a decent price.
Our roundtrip tickets to the Maldives from Kuala Lumpur were approximately $200.
To find ridiculously cheap flights from the US to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, be sure to check out this recent blog post: 7 Skyscanner Tricks for Booking the Cheapest Flights.
We regularly find flights from the US to Southeast Asia for under $350 roundtrip using these tricks.
Cheap Food Options In The Maldives
The best way to save money on food in the Maldives is by eating local food. If normal people live in a luxurious place, then there must be affordable food somewhere.
Our favorite local food was called hedhikaa (or short eats), which are small bite-sized pastries eaten in mid-afternoon. Some hedhikaa are savory, others are sweet, but they are all delicious.
Check out our Maafushi Youtube video for a sneak peek of what hedhikaa looks like (2:29) and what we think of it!
Cheap Excursions In The Maldives
Exploring the Maldives would be incomplete without partaking in some awesome excursions. Whether you choose jet-skiing, night fishing, or island hopping, there is something for everyone among these atolls.
The only problem? Maldives excursions will cost you an arm and a leg!
We found that the best way to stay on a budget in the Maldives was by taking excursions on the local islands.
Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to go night fishing at the resort, we paid $25 per person while on Maafushi. We also snorkeled and swam at the tourist beach for free while staying on Maafushi.
I encourage you to get out and explore the Maldives, but forking over hundreds of dollars for a two-hour adventure is silly.
Either stay in a resort that offers free kayaks, snorkel gear, etc. or wait until you’re on a local island to take excursions.
The Wrap-Up: Maldives on a Budget
Traveling to the Maldives is a dream vacation for beach-goers and water-sport enthusiasts alike. Although these incredible islands are pricey, you shouldn’t miss out on visiting them. Use these tips to achieve your fairytale Maldives holiday on a budget.
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