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Flashpacking in the Maldives: How to Travel to Paradise on a Budget
Full Article 12 minutes read

A holiday in the Maldives will usually come with a big bucks price tag. Many of the ultra-luxurious resorts have pretty eye-watering prices at first glance, yet some offer all-inclusive packages that can make island life a lot more wallet-friendly. There are also a wave of new independent and family-run accommodations springing up on some of the local islands, which make it a lot easier for those travelling on a tight budget. On top of that, there are all sorts of incredible discounts and money-saving tricks that you can use to book a great value Maldives resort. We’ve compiled the best tips that will help you to take a champagne-filled holiday to the Maldives on a lemonade budget.

Cheap Flights to the Maldives

If you are purchasing your flights and Maldives hotel separately (as opposed to a package holiday), then the flights can take up a big chunk of the total cost. One of the best ways to look for cheap flights to the Maldives is to use Skyscanner. This site compares a range of flights from not only different airlines, but from different travel companies – so you can find some great flight deals.

You will most likely have to fly in to Male International Airport before taking your seaplane or speedboat to get to your resort. To get the best deals, try looking at special airport ‘hubs’ around the world that you can stop off on the way in order to cut costs on your Maldives flights. For example, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are all hotspots for cheap connecting flights, and it may be worth looking into those places if it makes sense for the destination that you are travelling from. Again, you can use Skyscanner and type in the airport that you want to depart from, and then type in ‘everywhere’ into the destination box. This will present you with a list of options of the cost of a flight to all major destinations, and it’s one of the best way to find cheap flights. Then, if you found a good price for a location that is on the way, just continue your search for a connecting flight to the Maldives.

If you have a lot of time, or are flexible with your dates, then you may even want to make your vacation a multi-stay trip. You can mix things up and incorporate another travel destination in your getaway. Sometimes it can be nice to combine a week at a Maldives resort with something more adventurous such as camping in the desert in Dubai or even exploring the Taj Mahal and other cultural sites in nearby India.

Budget Maldives Accommodation

The average cost per night for an all-in resort in the Maldives can sit at around $800. Yep, that’s a lot of cash, but you have to remember that this includes everything: Your breakfast, lunch dinner, snacks and drinks. Some resorts will even throw in things like excursions and free spa treatments, so when you add it all up it can really be worth it. When you purchase Maldives accommodation only, then you will have to pay for all of your meals, drinks and snacks separately – and these often come at incredibly high prices.

You see, everything has to be imported in the Maldives (and products are faced with a sky-high import tax). On top of that, if you are staying on a Maldives resort island then they know that you literally have no other option than to eat at the resort. So travel smart! If you see a super cheap island resort, always do your research, some will lure you in with the low rates but then may serve ultra expensive food and drinks when you get there (that will probably make you wish you just went for that all-inclusive option in the first place).

To find the best deals on Maldives resorts, it’s best to travel during the off season – see the ‘best time of year to visit the Maldives’ section below for more info on this. It also pays to be flexible with your dates. There are two schools of thought when it comes to booking a Maldives holiday. One is to book a long time in advance to land those early bird deals, and another is to leave it to just a few week before for a last minute bargain. Both work, and the type you go for should depend on your personal preferences and shopping style. If leaving it up to last minute sounds stressful then opt to book in advance and vice versa.

Up until recent years, you only really had a choice of resort-only accommodation as well as hotels on the main island of Hulhule. Hulhule isn’t that much of a holiday destination and is better served as a stopping point, should you need a place to crash for the night while you wait for your seaplane or transfer the next day. However, times have changed and thanks to rental sites like Airbnb, as well as guesthouses and hostels, you can now find a number of much more affordable accommodation options springing up across the Maldives. There are even several Couchsurfing options listed on the website. In order to find the smaller hotels and guesthouses, you may first have to do a little detective work on Google. Try searching for ‘Maldives hostels‘, or running an Airbnb search on some of the smaller local islands to see what you can find.

Food and Drink in the Maldives

These sections are for those who are planning to stay at a hotel, hostel or ‘rented room’ type accommodation on one of the local islands. If you plan on staying at a Maldives island resort then skip this section.

It can prove to be very economical to book Maldives accommodation which has access to a kitchen. Quite often, hostels in the Maldives will allow you use their kitchen and store stuff in the fridge. They may also have things like blender as well as kitchen appliances and utensils that you will be allowed to use during your stay. If this is the case, then head to a local supermarket or market and pick up fruit, veg, rice and other staples so that you can whip up some of your own meals when you are away to save some cash. Think delicious tropical fruit smoothies, granola bowls, coconut curries with rice, and fresh salads with a zingy citrus and oil dressing.

If you’re staying on the local islands, then you will also have access to a lot of eateries where you can sample Maldivian cuisine. Ask your Maldives hotel owner or host for some recommendations on where the locals like to eat. We even have a whole article that you can check out which features some of the best dishes in Maldives cuisine. If you are vegetarian or vegan then you may have a little difficulty finding meat or fish-free meals, so look out for things like stir fried vegetables, rice dishes, fruit platters and spicy veggie samosas.

Excursions in the Maldives can be pricey too, so shop around and also make friends! You may find some locals who offer boat rides and snorkeling trips at a fraction of the cost of the large resorts. You can search internet forums for advice from past budget travellers to see what deals they found.


Maldives Package Holidays

Once package holidays to the Maldives were super pricey, nowadays travel companies, airlines and hotels are competing for your business, so you can find some pretty good deals if you know what to look. Try some of the major airlines that also offer package holidays such as Virgin, Emirates and Thomas Cook. They will offer package holidays that include flights, transfers to your hotel as well as the Maldives accommodation itself.


It pays to be flexible with your dates when looking for a package holiday to the Maldives, so keep this in mind when you are planning your trip. Often, these companies will offer special promotional deals throughout the year and you have to really be quick to be able to snap them up. If you happen to be booking a holiday anytime around Black Friday or Cyber Monday, then keep an eye out for special deals. You can also choose to sign up to the airline’s newsletter, and follow them on social media so that you make sure that you’re the first person to know about these special offers when they come up.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Maldives?

You are going to get the very best Maldives deals if you choose to travel during the off-peak season that runs between April and the end of November. During this time you can expect a fair amount of rain, but don’t let this put you off. Often the rain passes very quickly, plus it’s warm, so you can still take a dip in the ocean while the heavens open. Many Maldives resorts and hotels will also have a selection of ‘wet weather’ activities available to keep guests entertained during these times. Another bonus of going to the Maldives in the off season (apart from the price) is that it is often a lot quieter, so you will have more of the beach to yourself.

Maldives Discount Tips

Have you heard of cashback sites? These sites allow you to make purchases online through your favourite websites, but the money that would normally be paid to affiliates or advertisers will actually get paid to you. The amount of cashback that you can earn will depend on if you are buying flights or a whole package, and what airline provider or hotel you choose to go with. But typically, it can range anywhere from 1% to 5% of the total cost.

This may not sound like a lot of money, but when you are making a large Maldives Resort purchase of say $2,000, that means you can save $100 off of the total – which is enough for quite a few pina coladas on the beach. It’s worth noting that it does take a little bit of time for your cashback to show up in your account – usually a month or so, but it’s worth the wait. To use a cashback site go to your site of choice, type in the travel agent, airline or hotel that you want to buy from click on the link and then continue with your purchase as normal direct from the website. The cashback site will register your purchase and you will automatically see the cashback money in your account whenever it is paid. Always do your research before signing up to a cashback site, we recommend Topcashback.

Then of course there is the use of Airmiles, which is a whole other art in itself. If you are a member of any form of airmile program then it’s always worth looking into how many airmiles / travel points you currently have, and if you can redeem them against a holiday to the Maldives. You may want to use them to upgrade your economy flights to business, or use them to score discounts and special offers on hotels in the Maldives. Another thing to think about is singing up to a credit card in order to land airmiles as a welcome gift.

So, if you are thinking of booking a holiday to the Maldives, then test out some of the above tips and tricks and save yourself some big cash. We’ve heard of people scoring a whopping 60% off a vacation to the Maldives by using some of the above techniques. There is even a story of a travel savvy couple who used their points to save $32,000 on their holiday to the Maldives!


If you are after more information on the Maldives then you may want to take a look at our guide to some of the best resorts in the Maldives, as well as a detailed guide to weather in the Maldives which goes over the different seasons and the best times to visit. Holidaying to the Maldives for cheap may not be easy, and will require some time and effort to plan, but it certainly is possible. Enjoy.

Don’t miss the chance to see the incredible country – book your Maldives resort now! 



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