Recently I’ve been seeing lots of guides on how to visit the Maldives on a budget. I wish I had been able to see some of the local islands, but ultimately my ‘Maldives Dream’ was to stay in a water villa…not just for a night, but for the whole trip. The majority of ‘budget guides’ seem to be local local local…and then shows what it looked like in their all expenses paid night in a 5* hotel that will be well out of a reasonable budget. I set a budget for my honeymoon that I didn’t want to go over and now I’ll be sharing simple tips that can lower the price, no sponsorship, no airline/hotel points, these can be done by anyone. Believe me, there ARE options for cheap overwater bungalows!!
Adaaran Club Rannalhi Maldives Review
Put it this way, my budget per person was the SAME as what my one way flight to America was when I emigrated. First, decide on what you’d be happy with, obviously if you start getting silly, the price is going to match, literally my only MUST was:
- The overwater bungalow HAD to have a private ladder into the sea.
That was it, no private hot tub on the deck, no fancy net hammocks, I just wanted to be able to get into and out of the ocean. When doing my research, I rejected some hotels because the overwater bungalow had no ladder!
Other things that I wanted included:
- All inclusive. Not necessarily 24 hour, alcohol wasn’t a priority and a mini bar in the room didn’t bother me. I just didn’t want to worry about having to pay for food and because of the heat, I thought unlimited water and soft drinks would be a plus.
Adaaran Club Rannalhi Maldives suited our needs perfectly! If you’re searching for the cheapest water villa in the Maldives, then this resort should be on your radar!
The facilities at the Adaaran Club Rannalhi include:
- 2 bars
- 1 buffet restaurant
- A spa (extra)
- A small playground
- Water sports (extra)
- Various hammocks, sun loungers etc scattered around the island under palm trees!
- A large beach area
On arrival we were greeted with a cold towel and a glass of iced tea. Very refreshing after a long journey!
The resort felt more relaxed and there were no certain dress codes for the restaurants (other than no swimming gear or wet clothes). The meals were buffet style and there was more than enough choice of food, after a while it may feel a little similar but there was plenty to pick from, even fussy eaters would have been happy. House beer and wine, along with softs drinks were included in the price, the mini bar, premium brands and cocktails were however an additional cost.
The main restaurant is open for 2hrs for each the breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Between these times, the cocktail bar had light snacks available (such as mini bite sized burgers and cakes). For the majority of the day, the 2 bars were open for drinks. The all inclusive package included: house spirits, draft beer and wine, soft drinks, tea, coffee, water, cordials and selected cocktails. The mini bar in the room cost extra, however we received 2 large bottles of water each day for free. Although make sure to drink or hide them before housekeeping comes the following day, because they didn’t replace them unless they were empty. These are the only drinkable water in the rooms and the bar will only serve water by the glass.
As a guest in a water bungalow, we could also have breakfast delivered to our room. We had to fill out what we wanted in advance and then it was delivered in the morning. There is less choice than what is obviously available at the buffet, but it was nice to have at least one breakfast on our sun deck!
Water sports and excursions are offered at Adaaran Club Rannalhi for an additional fee. The Chavana Spa offers various different treatments and they often had ‘specials’ during the quieter times. Here are some of the costs of extras we paid for, outside of our all inclusive plan:
- A 1 hour full body massage at the spa – $120 for the both of us
- One night we bought 2 for 1 cocktails in happy hour ($10 for the 2) plus one evening they had ‘Coconut Night’ – cocktails made in coconuts, I bought one.
- A 4 course private candle lit dinner on the beach – total $50
Adaaran Club Rannalhi Water Bungalow
Adaaran Club Rannalhi is a very small resort island with only a handful of water bungalows. Each bungalow has 2 rooms, the 2 storey bungalows have 4 rooms, however the upper bungalows don’t have direct ladders into the water. Even though rooms are quite close together, it still felt quite private. They are also quite small and basic, compared to some of the Maldives resorts.
I couldn’t fault the room…yes it was a little outdated but as someone that’s used to budget travel, staying in motels, private hostel rooms, it was more than enough! We had a TV, air con, free bottles of water, a bathroom with a glass wall so while you were in the shower or on the toilet you could look out over the ocean (the older water villas have a glass floor in the bedroom), a deck WITH A LADDER, tables and chairs, lifejackets and 2 sun loungers. For no extra cost, we could have breakfast delivered to our room. It was everything I could have wished for! Housekeeping even decorated the bed each night. We liked to keep the curtains open at night, so when we woke up, we were greeted with ocean views!
The floor of the sun decks did get VERY hot when the sun was shining on them. It’s best to either use a towel to make a walk way to the shaded area, or leave flip flops right at the very top of the stairs, ready for when you come out of the water!
Being a small resort island, it’s better suited to those who just want to relax. We wandered around the island, swum and went snorkelling a lot. Directly around the water bungalows, the water is quite shallow and there’s not much to see, mainly just smaller fish. If you swim a little further out, you’ll reach the house reef which had turtles and sharks that we found by ourselves without the need of paying for a trip or a guide. This area does suddenly drop off very quickly once you reach it and the currents can be quite strong. Snorkel equipment is available for rent, however we took our own (see below).
Adaaran Club Rannalhi also has standard rooms on the main part of the island, which are similar to the 2 storey water bungalows (4 rooms = 2 on the upper level and 2 on the ground floor). These rooms have balconies or an outside area, with tables, chairs and life vests, however they aren’t very private.
Being a small island, there are no golf carts or ‘transport’ between the bungalows, standard rooms and the main restaurant and bar areas. It’s not a huge distance to walk, but it’s something to keep in mind. There’s the length of the boardwalk, plus a sandy walkway around the island. People will often say ‘you don’t need shoes in the Maldives, but the boardwalk gets hot too…so take shoes!
Here’s How I Made My Trip Cheaper
I booked it as a package holiday, maybe it would have been cheaper booking independently, maybe not, but not everyone going on honeymoon is a travel geek (like me) so this can work for anyone.
Travel Out of Season
Especially in the UK, the weather for weddings is hit and miss at the best of times. I would say the majority of weddings take place in the summer in a small attempt to get a nice day. My wedding was at the end of summer, in early September, however this meant that it was the tail end of rainy season in the Maldives. It worked out in our favour as the prices were a little cheaper and did it rain? Nope, not once, we were in the Maldives for 5 days, one day was slightly overcast but other than that it was blue sky and sunshine. We could have just been lucky, we could see passing storms in the distance but it never hit our little slice of paradise.
When booking, a lot of the time websites will say how long the transfer is between Male Airport and the resort. Some are quite far away so require a seaplane transfer. I automatically knocked these on the head as it made the cost of the trip ridiculously expensive. Yes it could have been a cool experience, but we had window seats on the aeroplane between Dubai and Male so still got to see the islands from the sky. Adaaran Club Rannalhi is 45 minutes away from the airport via speedboat.
(View coming into landing into Male Airport)
This one took a little bit of additional research. I wanted as many nights as possible in the water villa, I had a list of possible resorts lined up but discovered, using the Maldives resorts website, that some places don’t offer a 24 hour transfer service, they only run during daylight hours. This would have limited the flights we could have taken, without needing a night near the airport. By finding a resort that offered a 24 hour transfer service, we then had pick of the flights and therefore could choose a cheaper option. (Our transfers to the Adaaran Club Rannalhi resort were around 4pm on arrival and 5am on departure).
Duration of the Trip
Do you really need 7 nights/14 nights just chilling on the beach? We had 4 nights in the water villa and a 5th night on the plane. This gave us 3 FULL days in the Maldives. Don’t get me wrong, the Maldives is an absolute dream, but I’m not a sunbathing fan and we found ourselves all snorkelled and swum out by the time we were going home. This was a perfect amount of time for us to experience paradise.
The 5 star resorts are expensive but there are cheap resorts in the Maldives! Adaaran Club Rannalhi is a 3 star resort that I felt was more suited to our style of travel. Opting for a more budget all inclusive resort meant that the upgrade to a water villa was more within our price range. The island is very small. There’s no swimming pool, no golf cart transportation.
To hire a snorkel at the resort was $10 per day, per set, for both of us for 3 days that would have cost $60. I already had a snorkel at home, but then bought another on eBay for $10…therefore saving us $50 just by taking our own. Even with the snorkels, we still managed to only travel with just 2 regular sized hand luggage backpacks. This then cut out having to ‘pay/tip’ someone to take the cases to the room too. I was annoyed when visiting Mexico, they forced us to have our bags delivered to the room even when I said I wanted to take it myself, we then had to tip but had nothing smaller than $10 and the guy pretty much just followed us to the room! After dragging a bag all round the world with me having to pay someone to take it the last few steps does grind on me a bit.
*I Came In Under Budget*
Coming in under budget then meant we were happy to spend extra on the added luxuries. The package included: return flights on Emirates from London Gatwick to Male, Maldives (connecting in Dubai), the speedboat transfer, the all inclusive food and drink plan, scuba diving try dive and a water villa upgrade. Because I’m an open, honest blogger, the 5 nights for 2 people cost £2400, that’s £1200 which as mentioned, is the same as my last minute one way ’emigrating flight’ between London and Chicago (Emirates even spoilt us as it was our honeymoon, with a special dessert and a card). My budget was £3000, even with the extras we came no where near that total.
Book a stay at Adaaran Club Rannalhi
Is the Maldives on your bucket list? Did you know there were cheap resorts in the Maldives and that luxury can be achieved on a budget?!
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Disclosure: Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking and it comes at no extra cost to you! As always, opinions are my own.