Maldives (Republic of the Maldives)

Languages: Maldivian

Currencies: MVR · Maldivian rufiyaa (.ރ)

Capitol: Malé

Continents: Asia

More useful information

Area: 300km2

Population: 540,542

Traffic/driving side: left

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +960

Timezones: UTC+05:00

Last updated on September 23, 2023

Why you should visit the striking Maldives islands at least once in your life?

Budget travel guide to Maldives

The Maldives is often seen as a luxury destination, reserved only for those with deep pockets. However, from secluded beaches to budget-friendly guesthouses, Maldives offers a variety of options that won’t break your account. Perhaps you won’t be staying in the luxury bungalow resorts, but trust me – you don’t need that at all! The striking beauty of the islands and exceptional wildlife is everywhere across the islands. The most magnificent places in Maldives are accessible from local islands, providing budget-friendly and authentic travel experience. 

Maldives islands on a budget – absolutely YES! Check this comprehensive budget travel guide to Maldives with detailed advise on transportation and locations to visit in this dream destination!

The touch of wilderness!

Maldives with its pureness and extraordinary biodiversity create unforgettable memories. Coral reef is accessible from the shore with all the colourful fishes, sting rays and turtles. To meet the sharks you would need to go deeper in the ocean – this was the most terrifying but THE BEST WATER EXPERIENCE IN MY LIFE. Imagine being dropped off in the middle of the ocean for snorkelling and sharks came just out of the blue. Sounds unreal but happens in Maldives. Suddenly you are surrounded by 5 of them, they guide tells us they do not attack people, so you are actually swimming with huge sharks in open water. 

Where to stay in Maldives islands on a budget?

Mathiveri Island.

One of the best islands you can choose to stay on is Mathiveri – gorgeous paradise island, surrounded by coral reef, located 2h by speed boat from the main Male island. Mathiveri is located in the Alif Alif Atoll of the Maldives. 

The whole island is around 500m long. The best part is that the island is linked to a Mathiveri Findhu located on the south – unhabited, tiny, white sand island, where you can snorkel, do kayaking or just sunbathing all day.

How to get to the island of Mathiveri?

Reaching most of the Maldives islands is possible by boats or sea plane. Best option is booking a speed boat (only 60$ one way) – most reliable and convenient way of traveling between the islands. Speed boat will take you from the main port in Male island (airport) directly to your island. Boat trip from Male to Mathiveri takes 2.5h with 3 stopovers. Booking is very easy and the sea transportation across Maldives is really well organized. Check all details and book below.

Staying at the local place in Maldives.

Exploring the local islands is much more interesting that being closed in a luxury, isolated resort. On a local island you can witness the everyday life of the Maldivian people. You can easily interact with friendly locals, visit small family-run businesses, and gain insights into their traditional way of life. By staying at guesthouses on these local islands, you not only support the local economy but also forge connections and create lasting memories. 

What’s available on Mathiveri island:

  • Souvenir shops,
  • ATM,
  • Delicious restaurants,
  • Explore Local Markets – Visit the local markets to get a taste of the Maldivian culture and shop for souvenirs. The souvenirs are not great but you can still spot something unique. From handmade crafts to local spices and traditional clothing, these markets offer unique shopping experiences. Bargaining is common in the markets, so don’t be afraid to negotiate for a better price.

Maldives cuisine.

Indulge in the local Maldivian cuisine, which is not only delicious but also budget-friendly. Try traditional dishes such as mas huni (a mixture of tuna, coconut, and onion), garudhiya (a clear fish broth), and hedhikaa (a variety of savory snacks). Eating at local restaurants and cafes will not only save you money but also provide an authentic culinary experience. The food is delicious!!

Best place to eat in Mathiveri:

  • Koba Chai Cafe’ & Bistro! Smashing food, plnety options to choose from: grilled fish, delicious burgers, fresh juices. Single dish price: 10-15$, fruit juices 3-4$. 
  • Second Home restaurant – nice food but overpriced comparing to others. 
  • Cafe Palato – nice, local dining. 

On the right side of Mathiveri island there are two other island – Kudafari and Nika Island Resort & Spa (5 star hotel). You can reach them by speed boat – more about local transportation below. On the left side of the island there’s a popular sunset beach spot!

Snorkeling and diving tours  can be easily booked on Mathiveri and the prices are very affordable. For a single snorkeling tour (one option to choose from: reef, turtle, matas, sharks, etc.) you will pay 60$. If you wish to combine few options there are packages of 4, beside tour operators are flexible and they will surely accomodate your needs. The tour takes 3-4 hours by speed boat with few stopover for snorkeling. 

Best accommodation in Mathiveri island.

Choose Guesthouses – on there are plenty of budget-friendly options across different islands of Maldives. I stayed in Mathiveri island (2.5h from the main Male island) in MAHCHAVARU MALDIVES (less than 50USD per night) guesthouse and it was amazing!! Instead of staying at expensive resorts, opt for guesthouses on the local islands. These guesthouses offer comfortable and affordable accommodation options, often with amenities such as air conditioning and Wi-Fi. They also provide opportunities to interact with the locals and learn about their way of life. People and guesthouse management was super friendly with lovely, charming Suresh! This place was king! There’s even small restaurant  in the same building. 

Transportation in the Maldives.

Getting around the Maldives islands on a budget may seem like a challenge but with a little planning and research, it can be done for decent cost. For best connections check, they offer ferry, speedboat and seaplane tickets.

SPEEDBOATS: Best option for sea transportation! It was very well organized and safe (approx. 60USD per ticket one way – 2.5h journey from Male port to Mathiveri Irland). If you’re looking for a faster alternative to public ferries, shared speedboats are a good option. These boats operate between popular tourist destinations and are a more cost-effective choice compared to private speedboats. While shared speedboats may not be as luxurious or as fast as private ones, they offer a convenient and affordable way to travel between islands.

BE AWARE SPEEDBOATS run only one or twice a day/depending on weather conditions! So don’t leave your return trip to the last minute, you don’t want to miss your flight in case of any boat delays. 

PUBLIC FERRIES: Public ferries are the most affordable mode of transportation in the Maldives. These ferries connect the local islands and offer a glimpse into the everyday life of the Maldivian people. The fares are significantly cheaper compared to private speedboats or seaplanes. While public ferries may take longer to reach your destination, they provide a unique and budget-friendly way to explore the Maldives. Ferry ticket approx. 15 USD.

DHONIS: Dhonis are traditional Maldivian fishing boats that have been converted into passenger boats. These boats are often used for inter-island transportation and offer a budget-friendly option for exploring the Maldives. Dhonis may not be the fastest mode of transportation, but they provide an authentic and memorable experience for budget travelers. I would recommend only as an adventure option. 

SEA PLANE: This may definitely be an unforgettable experience, however the cost is around 900 USD per passenger.

USEFULL TIP: I would highly recommend booking your boat ticket in advance. Traffic may get busy, however there many more boat operators in place than I ever expected to see. The boats run from the main port in Male (the Airport) to your destination island. The port is located in front of the main gate of Male Airport. There are numerous boat operators, you’ll find all counters at the airport main hall – very easy to find. We have booked speed boat in advance but I’m sure it would be doable onsite. 

Speed boats transportation in Maldives.

Once you booked your boat it’s very easy. After landing in Male airport go to the main hall with all the tour operators counters (see picture above). Have your voucher to check the name of the operator and find your counter to register 😉 The guy will probably label your luggage as the boat has few stops on the way. Our boat was going from Male-Rasdhoo-Ukulhas-Folhudhu-Mathiveri, dropping people off on the way across all these islands. We also had to change the boat in the middle of the trip but it takes 10 minutes. 

NOTE: Maldives is an Islamic country, which means alcohol is strictly forbidden to bring on the islands. Alcohol is served in luxury resorts only, neither bars and restaurants will serve alcohol, so search beforehand for places that do if you can’t get away without it. 😊

Maldives is a paradise for water sports activities.

The best thing in Maldives water tours is that you never know what you gonna meet! Everyone knows Maldives is renowned for its stunning turquoise waters and abundant marine life. But the wildlife is MINDBLOWING!! While many resorts offer expensive water activities, you can find affordable options on the local islands like Mathiveri. Snorkeling, diving, and even dolphin-watching tours can be enjoyed at a fraction of the cost.

  • Snorkeling – all you need is a snorkel mask and you can spend days in turquoise waters! (you can rent snorkelling gear in almost every guesthouse)
  • Snorkeling tours start from 60USD for manta, turtle or reef watching. Other available options are: shark watching/feeding, whale sharks, dolphins.
  • Diving centre is located on the island, pre-booking required.
  • SkiJet – 70$ per 30 minutes – you can’t miss it in Maldives, go and chase stingrays!
  • Kayaking – 15$ per day.
  • Island Hopping: Take advantage of the affordable boat/ferry services and embark on an island-hopping adventure. Explore different islands and witness the unique charm and beauty each one has to offer. Ask in the port for boat schedules and go island hooping!

We tried almost everything and here how it looks 😉

How much did my trip to Maldives cost?

  1. Speed boat ticket: 120$ boath ways.
  2. Accommodation: 50$/per day including breakfast.
  3. Lunch/dinner: 15$ per dish + king coconut and fresh juices few times a day 😉 3-4$/each. 
  4. Water sports – unlimited! For 3h open water snorkeling tour (when we dive with sharks!!) cost 250$ for 2 people. It includes 4 options you can choose from the list – we did reef, manta and turtle snorkelling.
  5. Flight ticket – Colombo/Sri lanka – Male 240$ (both ways).

What to take to Maldives?

You won’t be needing much in Maldives! But don’t forget to take:

  • sun glasses
  • sun lotion!! do not go without sun protection even in a cloudy day.
  • I highly recommend – get your snorkeling mask (allows you to snorkel when you want and where you want).
  • swimming suit (swimming suit is allowed only in beach area, except the main port beach). 
  • wetsuit – you won’t need it, even if you are a poor swimmer, salty water will keep you drifting.
  • sea sickness pills (however the boat cruise was very pleasant, without any sensations). 

Useful information to know before you hit Maldives.

REPUBLIC OF MALDIVES: consists of 1190 islands on Indian Ocean.

HOW TO GET THERE: Only accessible by air.

POPULATION: less than half million.

CURRENCY: Maldivian Rufiyaa. 1USD ~ 16 Rf

Payment Accept: CARD payments are accepted. ATM’s are available almost everywhere. But don’t worry, we paid with local currency, dollars and even Euros 😉

Best time to go to Maldives.

BEST TIME TO GO: November to April will be a peak season for Maldives. From May to October Maldives prices drop slightly as it is a low season. What it means it might rain from time to time but we have experienced only 1 rain during the whole week (which lasts 2-3 hours). 

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!