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 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.
Put it this way, my budget per person was the SAME as what my one way flight to America will be when I emigrate. 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 water villa HAS 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 search, I rejected some hotels because the water villa 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. After all it was my honeymoon, I wanted to be a little bit spoilt!
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. The resort I found was 45 minutes away from the airport via speedboat.
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 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 we’re not exactly a sunbathing couple and 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. I opted for a 3 star resort that I felt was more suited to me and my other half. Opting for a more budget all inclusive resort meant that the upgrade to a water villa was more within our price range. 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.
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, a deck WITH A LADDER, tables and chairs, lifejackets and 2 sun loungers. For no extra cost, we could even have breakfast delivered to our room. It was everything I could have wished for! The staff even decorated the bed each night!
Other than chilling, swimming and a scuba diving test dive, additional activities and excursions were extra. We wandered around the island, swum and went snorkelling a lot. The house reef had turtles and sharks that we found by ourselves without the need of paying for a trip or a guide.
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. My budget was £3000, even with the extras we came no where near that total. These were:
- 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…it was our honeymoon after all!
Is the Maldives on your bucket list? Are you surprised by how much a budget all inclusive trip staying in a water villa costs? Have any of these money saving tips worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!