How to Enjoy a Five-Star Luxury Maldives Vacation on a Budget

Adaaran Club Rannalhi is one of the island resorts you can visit on a day trip
Adaaran Club Rannalhi is one of the island resorts you can visit on a day trip | © Adaaran Club Rannalhi
Sam Bedford

What was once a pipedream is now a reality: Budget-conscious tourists can travel to and experience all-inclusive five-star luxury in the Maldives on a budget. Here’s how you can visit photogenic islands and some of the best Maldives resorts without spending thousands of dollars.

Formerly the World’s Most Exclusive Destination

It’s no secret the Maldives are a notoriously expensive destination. The Indian Ocean archipelago is famed for coral reefs, intense beauty, snorkelling, Asia’s top diving sites and luxurious resort islands. With the average night costing several hundred dollars, the Maldives were out of reach for budget travellers. But not anymore. Today, the islands burst with mid-range tourists and the occasional backpacker visiting the Maldives on a budget.

Water bungalows on the resort island can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per night

Visiting the Maldives on a Budget

The simple rule to make the Maldives affordable goes something like this: Stay in a guesthouse on a local island. The Maldives have approximately 100 inhabited islands. Maafushi, located 25 kilometres (15 miles) and a ferry or speedboat ride south of the capital Male, is the most popular. Maldivians are capitalising on more relaxed tourism laws which now allow tourists to visit inhabited local islands, instead of being confined to the ultra-expensive resorts. Visitors can save a fortune by staying at one of the growing number of guesthouses on local islands, such as Maafushi, Guraidhoo, Dhigurah or Thoddoo. But remember costs are relative. Don’t expect the same prices as South and Southeast Asia.

Adaaran Prestige Vadoo on a day trip

How Much Does it Cost to Visit the Maldives?

After arriving at Velena International Airport in Male, either take the local ferry via Male or the speedboat. The former costs approximately $3 but operates on a sparse timetable. Private speedboats have regular departures charging $25 per person. A typical guesthouse on local islands like Maafushi have nightly prices between $50 and $70. Day trips to resort islands range from $70 to $150 per person. Activities, such as night fishing, snorkelling and half-day trips are anywhere from $25 to $60. Food is surprisingly affordable, with meals costing just a few dollars for a single meal and up to $15 for buffet-style barbeques.

Public beach in Maafushi

Luxury on a Budget

Tourists travelling to the Maldives on a budget can experience five-star luxury without spending hundreds of dollars per night. While staying at the local islands, you can get a day pass to the resorts. The pass, about $100 per person on average, includes a return speedboat transfer, entrance fees and full access to the resort’s facilities. Many offer a lunch buffet and unlimited drinks, including free-flowing cocktails, wine and beer.

Take a day trip to one of the resort islands such as Adaaran Club Rannalhi

The Smart Way to Visit the Maldives

Couples who stay at one of Maafushi’s guesthouses and take a day trip to the resort islands will spend about $260 and still have access to the facilities and amenities, rather than paying $800 or more per night. Tourists have the advantage of visiting more than one resort too. So yes, travelling to the Maldives on a budget is possible. A dream vacation in one of the world’s most beautiful spots won’t break the bank.

For approximately $100 each, a trip to one of the resort islands is worth it
Swim in the clear blue waters of the Maldives
Take the opportunity to go snorkelling when in the Maldives
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.