A Maldives vacation is one of the most luxurious things you can think of. The classic image of the Maldives is a group of beautiful private islands in the Indian Ocean with overwater bungalows, deluxe speed boat transfers, and scuba diving excursions. The Maldives is one of the most famous honeymoon destinations, and considering all of this, it is no wonder why people wonder, ‘Is the Maldives expensive for a holiday’. Estimated costs can rocket into tens of thousands of dollars.
Yet, these are some of the most popular islands visited in the world – so how exactly do people budget for this trip of a lifetime? In this guide, we’ll break down the average Maldives trip cost and how you can tweak your vacation to best fit your budget.
Maldives Trip Cost in 2023
Are you ready for a full Maldives trip cost breakdown? Let’s really unpack how much it costs to take a trip to the Maldives. It is easy to write off budget destinations as just incredibly expensive. However, with a proper understanding of the budget breakdown, the Maldives is suitable for all travel styles.
Cost of Maldives Airfare
There’s no way around it; plane tickets to the Maldives are usually expensive. Of course, the question of ‘how much does it cost to fly to the Maldives’ does vary depending on a few factors. For instance, where you are flying from, when you are flying, and if you can snatch any discounts from frequent flyer programs. As a whole, though, these are the most competitive flight prices you should expect to fly to Malé International Airport from different destinations around the world:
- $1,000 round trip economy flight tickets from the US
- $800 round trip economy flight tickets from the UK
- $800 round trip economy flight tickets from Australia
- $500 round trip economy flight tickets from Dubai
The price of flight tickets to the Maldives can vary substantially depending on where you fly from. You can use these guidelines to budget for your main international flights. If you want a cheaper experience, you may want to consider adding a detour to the Maldives onto an existing holiday to take advantage of cheaper flight routes.
Remember that you’ll likely need domestic flights or airport transfers on top of your main international airfare. There are four to five major international airports in the Maldives (with Malé International Airport being the most popular) and approximately eight domestic airports. However, since there are around 1,200 islands in the Maldives, you may find yourself on resort chartered seaplanes, too – especially if you book a luxury vacation. Seaplane transfers are the norm if you choose a luxury Maldives resort. Otherwise, there are still multiple airlines for domestic flights, and travel insurance should cover you for any flight hiccups.
You should budget an extra $300 for domestic flights in the Maldives and check transfer policies for your resort beforehand.
Maldives Accommodation Prices
The Maldives offers plenty of luxury resorts, and that’s no secret. It is known as the destination for those craving an all-inclusive package. Maldives resorts have a reputation for being expensive, which isn’t unjustified, especially if you want a romantic getaway to an overwater bungalow with private plunge pools. There’s a reason why it is one of the best honeymoon destinations. Think all-inclusive meal plans, an infinity pool, full board, room service, and cycling to your bungalow aesthetically on a beautiful wooden boardwalk – this version of the Maldives is a place of dreams. Many resorts offer this experience, including the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t find a cheap travel package.
How much accommodation in the Maldives will cost depends on your travel style and when you visit. After all, you can find the best deals in low-season periods. As a whole, though, these are the rates you should budget for per accommodation type:
- Guesthouse: $80+ per night
- Double Room: $120+ per night
- Luxury Double Room: $200 per night
- Luxury Beach Villa: $1,000+ per night
- Overwater Bungalow: $2,000+ per night
As you can see, the type of accommodation you choose for your trip to the Maldives can massively impact your overall Maldives trip cost. This could be your most significant expense, so if you want a budget-friendly trip, opt for a guesthouse or double room stay in a lowkey hotel. These accommodation types usually offer a cheap travel package, a half-board meal plan, and a private pool. Similarly, consider lesser-known resorts if you want a luxury beach villa or overwater bungalow. These average prices can rise to $2000 a night at the most popular resorts.
Maldives Transportation Costs
As mentioned earlier, it is wise to ask ‘how much does it cost’ when considering airport transfers. The Maldives has more than 1,200 islands, and whether you want airport transfers or day trips, you’ll have to factor in transportation at some point when calculating your Maldives trip cost. The good news is that local transportation doesn’t have to be the most expensive part of your trip to the Maldives. Let’s break things down.
Not factoring in your round trip airfare and initial airport transfers – be that domestic flights or shuttle services on speed boats – you should allow around $100 for transport. This is so low because if you book a day tour, transportation will likely be included. Furthermore, most resorts offer a complimentary shuttle service to nearby towns and busier islands, especially if they are set in a remote location.
If you carefully choose your resort and book mainly guided excursions and day tours, the only time you will need to factor in local transportation is if you decide to head out independently. Or if you choose to visit multiple islands in the Maldives, you can stay a few nights on each.
For these instances, you can catch the public ferry to cut costs, as local ferries are much more budget-friendly than private transport options. Or you can splurge on a more efficient short boat ride by speed boat. The speed boats run more reliably in low season, while local ferries are a great idea in peak season when the weather is good. The average price for these transport options is $5 for the local ferry and $35+ for the speed boat transfer. So, you can clearly see why you won’t need a vast public transportation budget. On individual islands, you can get around for free or extremely cheaply on foot or by bike.
Maldives Food Cost
Nothing screams ‘relaxing vacation’ like having an all-inclusive food and drink plan. Most resorts include a full board for those who choose to splurge on a luxury hotel or resort, meaning you’ll pay nothing for food or drink once you arrive. This is one way of wiping out one of the significant travel costs. Many people find it more cost-effective to book all-inclusive, especially if they aren’t planning long day trips requiring them to eat out and about.
However, for those who haven’t booked full or half board, how much does it cost to eat and drink in the Maldives? Food bills can quickly add up, particularly if you are taking a family trip with many mouths to feed.
Let’s break things down by travel style. A budget travel style involves groceries, street food vendors, and lowkey cafes and eateries. A mid-range travel style involves all the above, plus one or two fancy meals at luxury restaurants. And finally, a luxury travel style involves predominantly fancy meals at luxury restaurants. This is what you should budget per day, depending on your style:
- Budget: $25
- Mid-range: $50
- Luxury: $100
As a rough guide, a local restaurant meal should cost around $10, a luxury meal out can cost from $20 to $100, and street food costs around $5 per meal.
Cost of Tours and Activities in the Maldives
There are so many things to do in the Maldives, and why visit a country if you miss out on experiencing its best qualities and attractions? You should budget around $500 on tours and activities in the Maldives as an absolute minimum. The average snorkeling excursion costs around $40, while island hopping and sunset cruises cost more than $100. You want to experience amazing things like scuba diving and island hopping around local islands on your Maldives vacation. Definitely, factor in as big a budget as you can for activities and tours into your overall Maldives cost; things like diving excursions and immersions in local culture provide you with a totally different experience of this tropical paradise.
To cut costs, you can always bring your own snorkeling gear. It is also worth noting that things like sunset fishing experiences can cost more upfront but work out cheaper when traveling to the Maldives in a group. Many tours operate on availability and group size basis, meaning it isn’t necessarily the most budget-friendly destination for the solo traveler, who will likely face additional single supplement rates. Remember this when planning your trip and budget extra for your overall Maldives cost.
Overall Maldives Trip Cost
Phew. We have covered a lot of ground. Overall, the main costs to consider for your trip to the Maldives are airfare, accommodation, and tours and activities. You can also check out our Maldives travel tips for more inspiration.
To give you a final summary and total, let’s take a quick look at the average Maldives trip cost.
Airfare: $1,300 round trip economy flights from the US, including domestic flight transfers
Airfare is one of your significant expenses when visiting the Maldives. The cost of round trip flights is around $1,000 from the US, plus approximately $300 in necessary domestic flights or relevant airport transfers to your resort or hotel’s island.
Accommodation: $80 per night on a budget, $200 per night mid-range, and $1500 per night for luxury
These are the average rates per night. Expect $80 per night for a guesthouse or basic hotel room option, $200 per night for an upscale double room – potentially with ocean views – and over $1,500 for a luxury ocean villa or overwater bungalow. Luxury resort prices can rise as high as or sometimes more than $20,000 per night.
Transport: $100, not including airport transfers and any domestic flights
If you are staying at a hotel that offers shuttle services or are booking guided day tours, chances are you won’t need to spend on public transportation. Keep $100 aside just in case, though, which should cover a roundtrip speed boat transfer and around four public ferry services.
Food: $25 per day if you are on a budget, half-board, or full-board
If you are on a budget and self-catered, sticking to $25 per day is easy. The average street food meal in the Maldives is just $5, and local restaurants have tons of options under $10.
On half board, you can easily budget a lunch at $25, even if you choose an upscale restaurant. And if you are on full board, you will barely need to eat out, so $25 per day won’t be an issue.
Tours and Activities: $500 minimum
You should budget $500 as a minimum for tours and activities in the Maldives. This budget should allow for 3-4 days of activities, with an extra budget required for more luxurious experiences like helicopter rides and fishing excursions.
Money Saving Tips
With all that in mind, you could save money and knock off some of that estimated Maldives trip cost. If that’s the case, this section is where you’ll find all the top tricks and secrets to reduce the cost of your trip to the Maldives. Why should you pay more than you have to? Adventure is for everybody. So, if you want to make your Maldives trip cost just a bit more financially accessible, these are the 10 things to save when visiting the Maldives.
1. Visit in the Low Season
Visiting in the low season is an incredible hack for the hardy, non-fair-weather travelers. The low season has cheap hotel rates and even free upgrades and transfer deals as hotels try to entice travelers to fill their empty rooms. The one catch? The low season is the wettest period to visit the Maldives. While it is still warm, you can expect an hour or two of rain most days. It is still worth visiting the Maldives in the low season, especially if you can stay longer or work remotely. In fact, the wet weather can make it an even more romantic destination.
The low season runs from May to November in the Maldives, with the official monsoon season from May to August. May until August is the rainiest time to visit the Maldives, with August to November still getting regular showers. August to November is your safest bet, and you still get cheaper rates than high season.
2. Choose Between Half Board and Full Board Carefully
The age-old question of how expensive the Maldives is massively stems from people browsing through the luxury resorts with all-inclusive packages. And when it comes to looking at packages, you should pay attention to half board vs. full board. Half board typically includes breakfast and dinner, while full board includes three meals daily.
Consider your eating style and the activities you will be participating in. Will you be going out on lots of day trips? Do you want to sample lots of local cuisine? If you answered yes to those questions, choosing a half-board option is likely more economical – especially as you’ll be missing lunch at the resort anyway.
3. Skip the Popular Islands – at Least for an Accommodation Base
You should really skip the famous islands if you are budget-conscious. The local islands are much lighter on your pocket and have more varied accommodations, not just luxury hotel and resort options. Plus, you’ll spend more sustainably and contribute more to economies off the beaten tourist track. On the famous islands, most of your spending gets taken straight back into the profit of corporate offshore companies and international chains.
4. Don’t Forget Transfers
At the same time, remember transfer costs. Finding slightly cheaper accommodation on a remote island is all well and good. However, you should remember that you need to fund getting there. The most popular transfers in the Maldives are via seaplane, speedboats, public ferries, and private planes. Consider your options, and always reference and compare the ‘how to get here’ sections when researching hotels.
5. Avoid Exchange Costs
If you travel regularly, you should already have a brilliant travel credit or debit card. One of the best things you can find on a credit or debit card is a no exchange rate charge. Many cards offer low charges when you use your card in a foreign country, but having no charge or exchange fee is the best way forward. Check out card companies such as Monzo, and if you still need to find your ideal card match, don’t delay your search. Hit the ground running in the Maldives and set yourself up for saving success by not taking on any unnecessary fees.
6. Check Out Free Activities
Next, you should always (always, always) research free activities when you want to cut costs on a trip. And if you want to cut your Maldives trip cost, this is one of the best solutions that requires minimal sacrifices in the way of entertainment. You could window shop at markets, bring your own snorkeling gear to enjoy cost-free snorkeling, or plan a sunset picnic experience on the beach. If you are staying at a resort, see what activities they offer for free. Who says you can’t have a fun itinerary on a budget?
7. Sign up for Rewards
Whether you bag rewards for a resort chain or frequent flyer points, you should always use reward systems. Reward programs are a little like penny falls games in an arcade; they build up suddenly, and you suddenly get a payout. But if you travel regularly, it is well worth keeping in mind. For instance, Booking.com has a tiered loyalty program system that can bag discounts and upgrades at participating properties.
8. Take the Public Ferry
One brilliant way to save money in the Maldives is to take a public ferry rather than a private or speedboat transfer. Yes, it will likely take longer, and you won’t be guaranteed as comfortable a crossing. But it can successfully help you cut costs. If you want to avoid spending extortionate private transfer fees, it is one of the best Maldives travel hacks. Public ferries run frequently between most destinations, with private islands being the slight exception to this rule.
9. Don’t Shop for Souvenirs on Male
Avoiding souvenir shopping in Male might sound overly cautious. Still, this island is one of the Maldives’ most touristy, and it has the highest souvenir prices. To cut costs, try to buy souvenirs from more local islands. You can take a day trip to more remote islands or choose an accommodation option in one of the less touristy areas in the Maldives. Either way, these quieter islands are where you should prioritize buying souvenirs. The profit goes to different communities, providing more sustainable tourism, and you save money on souvenir prices.
10. Guesthouses Rather than Luxury Resorts
Guesthouses are often more relaxing and authentic places to stay in the Maldives. If you aren’t desperate for the overwater bungalow experience, consider staying in a guesthouse to reduce your Maldives trip cost. Guesthouses usually offer half board and sometimes even cooking facilities. They tend to be authentic accommodation choices run and owned by island residents, and for solo travelers especially, it can be the perfect idea for a sociable place to stay with a supportive atmosphere. And even if you just want a short overwater bungalow experience, you could always spend one night in a luxury resort before heading off to a guesthouse on a different island.
The Maldives is actually suitable for a pretty impressive range of budget types. It isn’t just a high-budget destination for luxury-seeking travelers. However, you will have a fantastic time if that’s what you want. Have a beautiful holiday in the Maldives, and invest in some day trips and cultural activities – no matter how aesthetic and comfortable your resort is.