In the Indian Ocean, to the south-southwest of India lies the Maldives, a pristine archipelago comprising some 1,192 coral islands. The Maldives is regarded as one of the most luxurious holiday destinations in the world, and there are several reasons for this. For one, it boasts of absolutely stunning white-sand beaches, which are perhaps amongst some of the very best in the world. Moreover, it also offers some of the world's best underwater activities and a fascinating marine life. What is even more compelling about these islands is the fact that virtually every resort in there has its own private island, and the facilities and services that these resorts offer just seem to be unparalleled.
Alright, let us get this straight―the Maldives is expensive. It never was a typical backpacker-type destination; however, there are ways to save money on your Maldivian vacation if you research well and know the tactics of spending wisely. Buzzle brings you this brief guide to help you plan, not a cheap, but an affordable vacation to the Republic of the Maldives.
Visit in the off-season.
The off-season in the Maldives runs between the months of May and November. This is the time when the islands experience heavy rains and storms. During the off-season, there are fewer tourists around, and the resorts tend to lower their rates to a considerable extent. So, if you are not very choosy weather-wise, the off-season is the best time to travel on a budget in the Maldives. Those interested in surfing should note that the surfing season in the country ranges from March to October. So, by traveling in the off-season, you will be getting the best of both worlds―you will save money as well as get a fantastic surfing experience.
Book your flights and stay online.
Making all your bookings on the Internet can be both convenient and affordable at the same time. Booking for flights and accommodations online, more often than not, entitles you to certain benefits and discounted offers, which cannot be found otherwise. Moreover, you can always compare prices quoted on different travel websites, and acquire the cheapest possible bargain. However, remember to check all the details carefully before making payments, and also look for any sort of hidden costs, taxes, etc. Moreover, it is also a good idea to read customer reviews for the hotel/resort, and then decide on whether or not to opt for the same.
Look for last-minute deals.
While it is an extremely good idea to plan your vacation well ahead in order to get the best deals, sometimes, last-minute deals may also do the trick for you. Often, resorts and even airlines offer tempting discounts on last-minute deals to attract people. Although these may not be very cheap at all times, you will definitely be saving a certain amount of money of such deals. Especially, if you are intending to travel during the high season, it is a good idea to look for such deals. They might not be available at all times due to the large number of tourists traveling during the peak season; however, you can always test your luck.
Go for an all-inclusive package.
Everything in the Maldives comes for a price, and it is not one of the most suitable destinations for those on a budget. However, one of the best ways to save money on your Maldivian vacation is to go all-inclusive. There are a number of resorts out there, which offer all-inclusive packages that include, apart from lodging, lunch and/or dinner buffets, activities, excursions, and sometimes, even transport. Moreover, if you intend to consume a lot of alcoholic drinks, opting for an all-inclusive package will be the only worthwhile option at your disposal. It will strictly restrict you to house drinks, rather than buying them at splurging prices outside.
Stay on a local island, instead of a resort.
As mentioned before, virtually every resort in the Maldives owns an island for itself. This means that these resorts offer you exclusive facilities and activities, which in turn also means that you will be ending up breaking your bank. If you are visiting in the low season, you might be able to afford a stay in one of these resorts, but even then, there are other less pricey options available. A good number of B&Bs, inns, and guest houses are available in the inhabited atolls of the Maldives, which provide pretty good facilities at affordable rates. And, staying in the inhabited atolls also have an added advantage. You will get to experience the local fervor of the country, something that you will miss out on in the resorts.
Some local guest houses and B&Bs offer cheap activities.
This is, by far, one of the best advantages of opting to stay at a local guest house or a B&B. The owners of these facilities almost always tend to double up as your tour guides, and you can buy their courteous services at pretty affordable prices. Added to this, some guest houses also offer water sporting activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing at less than half of the resort rates. All you need to do is to book them in person with your lodging facility―it may not be a very luxurious experience, but a memory worth cherishing.
Travel as the locals do.
The main modes of public transport available in the Maldives include boats and air taxis. The only places where you will need to travel by road on the islands are the capital city, Malé and the archipelago's southernmost atoll, Addu. At these two places, you can hire private cars and motorbikes―there are various local companies offering these services―however, these are again pricey. You also have an option of hiring bicycles at these places, which are available at affordable prices, and walking is of course free. On all the other atolls, water transport is the only reliable mode. Inter-island ferries are available; prices depend on the distance, but are still not very pricey. If you are traveling in a group, you may also go for chartering a boat/water taxi, which might seem affordable as the total amount will get divided amongst your group members.
Do not opt to stay very far from Malé.
There is only one international airport in the whole of the Maldives, which is the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Malé. This means that no matter in which corner of the Maldives you opt to spend your vacation, your first and last stop in the country is going to be Malé. So, the closer your destination is to the country's capital, the lesser you will have to spend on your transfers. The resorts which are more far off from Malé generally require expensive seaplane transfers both ways. Plus, it is also time-consuming, in that you may have to spend a night on one of the domestic airports from where you may be getting a connecting flight. On the flip side, if you choose an island/atoll that is not very farther apart from Malé, you will save a substantial amount of money on getting to your destination and back.
Traveling to the Maldives on a budget can be a big challenge; however, it is not impossible. It is very important that you are extremely careful while planning your budget, as the country is never going to turn out to be cheap, especially by Asian standards. The best way to avoid busting your budget in the Maldives is to stick to your plans and control your splurging urges.