Two Asian girls on a white sandy beach wearing a backpack

Maldives – Guide to Backpacking in the Maldives

This post was last updated on February 1st, 2020 at 02:53 pm


When you think of backpacking you don’t immediately think of the Maldives. The country is not at the top of everyone’s ‘to-do’ list. That is not surprising, since you could not really backpack in the Maldives until recently. The country kept tourism and local life strictly separated, which meant that you could only stay in resorts on uninhabited islands.

 

Backpacking in the Maldives does not have to be that expensive anymore. Would you like to go to the Maldives without blowing a hole in your wallet? Then read this page where we will tell you everything about this beautiful country and how you can enjoy it without spending too much.

 

Backpacking in the Maldives

Since 2009, tourists in the Maldives can “mingle” with the locals, which is ideal for backpackers looking to come to the Maldives. It means that you can hop between all islands with ferries. And that is a good thing because the Maldives is a paradise on earth! You might find the most beautiful beaches in the world here.

 

The Maldives consists of 1,200 islands and each island is surrounded by perfect beaches. The beach here is whiter than white and almost nowhere in the world can you find clearer blue water than here. This alone should be enough to make a trip to this paradise.

 

White sandy beach on the Maldives
One of many beautiful white sandy beaches

 

In addition, the underwater world is among the most beautiful in the world. You will find all of this on small, tropical islands where you can really unwind.

 

TIP – Backpacking in the Maldives does not have to be expensive at all. We spent about $50 a day in 2016 with 2 people. You can read more about this on our Maldives budget page.

 

Flight Tickets to Maldives

A plane ticket is the largest cost item in your Maldives budget. But because this island group is becoming more and more popular, the prices for an airline ticket are also starting to fall. If you search well you can find tickets below $550, which is on the same level as tickets to Bangkok. Incidentally, it is a lot more expensive during the summer holidays (June to August).

 

The country is not very big. We have been there for 5 days and that was enough to enjoy the beautiful beaches, the water activities, and the tropical islands. This is probably not a destination where you go for three weeks.

 

That is why the Maldives is often a typical holiday destination for a week or 10 days. The airplane tickets are, therefore, quite expensive compared to the time you are there.

 

View of the Maldives from an airplane
When you arrive with the airplane you will have a great view of all the islands

 

From (Southeast) Asia to the Maldives

If you want to save on your Maldives budget, go there if you are already in Asia. We were already in Asia when we flew to the Maldives and this is considerably cheaper than flying from our home country. In addition, it is a much shorter time to fly there so you get more out of your trip. For our round trip Kuala Lumpur – Malé we paid around $250 per person.

 

Costs of Backpacking in the Maldives

This is a bit of a sensitive issue. The Maldives has been completely accessible to tourists since 2009, but that does not mean that the prices are also backpack-minded. That is not surprising of course, since backpackers never actually came here before.

 

In recent years, however, developments have been going fast and in addition to the expensive resorts, cheaper hostels and guesthouses on local islands will also be introduced. Because of this you can do great backpacking on islands such as Maafushi, Thulusdhoo, Haa Dhaalu, Fuvahmulah, Gan, and Guraidhoo.

 

Man with a backpack on the beach
You can really unwind here at the beautiful beaches

 

Backpacking in the Maldives: Cost of Accommodations

The prices are still quite high if you compare that with countries such as Thailand or Laos. Prices for accommodations are still around $55 per night for a private double room. That is around $27.50 p.p. if you go with a partner.

 

There is no real budget accommodation, so you will get good rooms for that money. Of course you can also opt for the resorts, but this will not be affordable for most backpackers. Keep in mind that you should book in advance, especially for the high season!

 

TIP – We slept on Maafushi in the Arora Inn. Good rooms, delicious breakfast, and friendly staff.

 

Expect around $65 per day including accommodation, food, and drinks. You have to pay around $30 to $55 for a tour.

 

Backpacking in the Maldives: Costs for Food and Drinks

The food (if you do not eat in expensive luxury hotels) is not that bad in terms of costs. Your breakfast is usually included with the accommodation. For lunch, dinner and drinks you pay around $5 per person per day. In addition, you have quite a few stores/supermarkets where you can buy food.

 

We often bought food in a shop for less than a dollar which we took to the beach. This is much cheaper than eating in a restaurant (remember to not make a mess with plastic etc.). Some example costs;

 

  • Water $0.50
  • Coconut $1
  • Meal local restaurant $4
  • Buns from the bakery $3

 

TIP – There is no alcohol on the local islands. For that you have to go to a special boat. We did not do it, but if the need becomes very high, there is a way to get alcohol.

 

Plates of food on the Maldives
There are many different styles of food you can try here!

 

Cost of Tours in the Maldives

After accommodation, you spend most on tours in the Maldives. And there is quite a lot to do for such a small country. Of course you can relax on the beach, but you will get tired of it after one or two days (at least we did).

 

Fortunately, there is more to do than enjoy the impressive beaches. For example, a half-day snorkeling trip costs around $30 to $35 per person (incl. gear). A day at a resort varies between $80 and $400 per person.

 

Are you a bit sportier? Kite surfing and windsurfing costs $45 to rent the gear for an hour and $60 for an hour of lessons. Of course you can also get your PADI here; a course costs around $500.

 

Maldives Highlights

You don’t have to expect centuries-old temples or vast rice fields in the Maldives. The most important highlights of the Maldives are the white beaches and the clear blue water around the islands. Most people come here to relax on the beach.

 

However, the opening up of the country in 2009 has also led to more and more organizations, not only from the expensive resorts but also from local islands. The Maldives is one of the best diving locations in the world and snorkeling is a feast for the eyes.

 

But in addition to diving and snorkeling you can also book trips to sandbanks (recommended!), visit other islands, spend a day at a resort, surf, jet ski, water ski, or sail.

 

TIP – View all highlights on our Maldives page.

 

Beautiful scenery on a beach on the Maldives

Can you think of a more beautiful to lie down and enjoy the crystal clear blue water?

 

Maafushi

The Maldives is such a place that always appears on a “Top 10 Things To See Before You Die” list. Everyone knows the pictures of luxurious water villas that seem to float above a magically clear, blue sea with a snow-white sandy beach and a few palm trees within walking distance. And everyone knows the price tag… But luckily there is Maafushi.

 

Thulusdhoo

There are a number of islands in the Maldives where you don’t have to win the jackpot to spend the night there. These are often the local islands, including Thulusdhoo. This is a lively island with beautiful white sandy beaches, clear turquoise water, and beautiful coral reefs.

 

Water villas in the Maldives

If you Google the Maldives, chances are that you will come across a photo with one of the many water villas. These accommodations built on stilts float above the clear turquoise water. It is not the cheapest option as accommodation but one of the nicest and definitely worth the money!

 

Best Time to Visit the Maldives

If you go backpacking in the Maldives, it is useful to know when you have the best weather. The best time to visit the Maldives is from December to April. In these months there is little wind and the sea is calmest. You can also dive and snorkel the best during these months.

 

The sea is clearest around March and April. The climate in the Maldives is determined by two monsoon periods.

 

In the Maldives, they also call it the Iruvi, the hot dry northeast monsoon, and the Hulhangu, the hot and wet southwest monsoon. These two periods also determine the high and low season and, therefore, also the best travel period for the Maldives.

 

TIP – You can read more information about the weather on our page: Best time to visit the Maldives.

 

Average temperature and rainfall on the Maldives
Average temperature and rainfall on the Maldives

 

Visa for the Maldives

Maldives grants visa-free or visa-on-arrival status to all nations of the world except Indian and Bruneian citizens for 30 days, and a 60 days extension is available for a fee of 700 MVR (about US $45).

 

Your passport must be valid until the day you leave the Maldives. Because you can get a visa at the border, it has little added value to arrange a visa online.

 

You can find more information on this subject on our Maldives Visa page.

 

Local Islands in the Maldives

Many people think the Maldives is incredibly expensive, which used to be true. Nowadays you can also stay on local islands such as Maafushi and Thulusdhoo. Here you can spend the night for $40 and eat and drink for $5 a day! A great option if you’re backpacking in the Maldives.

 

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