Plan: The Maldives on a $500 budget per day
The Maldives conjures images of white sand beaches dotted with palm trees, bright aqua ocean water with coral reefs brimming with colorful fish and postcard sunsets from the beach or over the water villas. With over 105 resorts scatted among 2,000 individual island, the Maldives is a bucket list destination where one can escape the confines of large resorts to experience a vacation as a castaway on a small island.
For budget travelers, it’s not the most cost-effective destination for the average tourist due to the high price of food and beverage, the additional costs of speedboat transfers or float plane tickets, the lack of cheap accommodation, and high taxes and fees added to everything. For example, Lonely Planet estimated the daily cost per day at $400USD just for budget friendly options and around $850USD for top-end options.
As we travel a lot and we weren’t too sure how much we’d enjoy being marooned on private island resort, we decided to invest time and money to visit the Maldives for 3 nights and 2 full days in early December. In choosing our accommodation, we tried to find the most budget-friendly option that also offered a nice setting and conformable room/villa. In this post, I will share the table and criteria we used to compare 4 different options to keep our costs at around $500USD per day. The 3 key factors that we identified as crucial were:
- Island accessible by speedboat: Finding a resort that’s accessible by speedboat for convenience as they are usually less than half the cost of a float plane fare.
- Food and beverage: We were looking at places that offered a high quality breakfast buffet for free and that had a-la-carte options at restaurants to avoid the standard $75-$100USD per person dinner buffet that is common.
- Room: An over the water villa was definitely at the top of our list but we weren’t willing to go above budget for it if other options and the setting scored well.
- Other factors that affected daily budget:
- Traveling during a less busy time right before peak holiday travel. Early December is a good time because the weather tends to be good and it’s before Christmas and New Year’s where some resorts charge you $250+ per person for dinners.
- Flights: Our flights were all booked using airline miles. While the Maldives is serviced by many airlines, it can still be expensive to fly here even on a discount carrier if you’re connecting through places like Singapore.
- Packing Snacks: We plan on bringing some snacks to help minimize the amount of food we order from the hotel restaurant.
Here are the 4 properties we booked and assessed in the table below or in a more readable PDF document available here.
We had bookings at all 4 resorts and in the end, we decided to keep our booking at the Anantara Dhigu because it scored the highest. We also felt that having access to other islands, including the Anantara Veli that’s adult only would be a nice escape if our resort is too overrun with children. From the time that we started our research and analysis, the Anatara Dhigu was the one we were the most excited about and while it would have been nice to have an over the water villa at the Grand Park Kodhipparu, we were not entirely convinced that resort would offer us the most enjoyable experience. Stay tuned for our review and recap of our trip to the Maldives.
Have you ever used a table like this to compare various options? Do you agree with our criteria or would you have added more? Are you interested in visiting the Maldives?