By: iamAldonLopez | April 26, 2019
The Maldives is a prominent choice for a precise holiday for a lifetime with some of their incredible white-sand beaches, breathtaking underwater world and stunning resorts.
Welcome to the Maldives which consists of 1,192 coral islands and considered the lowest country in the world but the country’s biggest currency earner because of tourism. The Republic of Maldives is a country in South Asia located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It is situated southwest of Sri Lanka and India. Malé is the Capital of the Maldives and the most populated city, traditionally called the “King’s Island”.
There are ways of transportation in the Maldives from Valena International Airport to Hulhumalé and Malé such as by taxi, by bus and by boat. Also, three main ways to travel between islands: by domestic flight, by boat or by seaplane. Valena International Airport is the main gateway to the Maldives. International travel is available on numerous major airlines. Good thing, a visitor to the Maldives do not need to apply for visa pre-arrival regardless of your country of origin. As long as you have proof of onward travel, a valid passport and the money to be self-reliant while in the country. The Maldives used to be a Buddhist country and converted to Islam by the mid-12 century. As of 2010, Islam in the Maldives are at 98.4%; so, make sure to be aware of where you can wear your swimming attire because swimsuits are definitely not allowed especially if you swim in a public beach. The Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate, so it’s expected that the temperature is constantly hot and often humid. On the other hand, the common language in the Maldives is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan Language closely related to the Sinhala language of Sri Lanka and English is widely spoken by the locals of the Maldives.
This fact alone is enough to bring well over a million people across the world a year to this nanoscopic, isolated but very well-known Indian Ocean paradise. Of course, I am one of the million people who visited this paradise this year. I treated myself a gift for my 30th birthday since this has been my dream and I made it! It was such an awesome experience to be able to feel and to see how wondrous the islands in The Maldives are.
The Maldives on a budget
Yes, it was a treat to myself for my birthday, but it doesn’t mean it has to be as luxurious as I want it to be. The fact that I was able to unlock one of my greatest travel destinations is already enough and the thing is, I was still able to experience the underwater world and visited one of the private islands in the Maldives. So, I recently spent heavenly 6-days in the Maldives and was surprised that I still have more than $200 left in my wallet out of my $700 supposedly budget for hotel and whilst in the country. I will show you the breakdown on table format of how much I spent whilst I was in the Maldives including the roundtrip airfare from Thailand to Maldives and hotel. I planned this trip 2 weeks ahead and it could have been cheaper if I planned this trip a month/year ahead of time. You know I once thought that this country was reserved only for the rich people and the honeymooners, but I was wrong even you are a solo traveler with a tight budget can definitely go to this place! Just keep on reading so I could help you an exciting adventure plan and at the same time within your budget.
Hulhumalé and Malé
Hulhumalé is a reclaimed island located in the South of North Malé Atoll, Maldives. I chose to stay on this island because it only takes 15-minutes away from the Airport as they just opened the Sinamalé Bridge last September 2018 which the road networks of the three islands such as Hulhumalé, Malé, and Hulhulé were connected for the first time. Aside from that, they also have nice beaches here. My hotel is actually beachfront which I enjoyed the view during breakfast time and even sunset. There are various hotels to choose from. If you want to have cheap airfare hotel/hostel/guesthouse, I will give you 10% discount and at the same, you can book ahead of time so you can have it for a very low price as well. You can book your hotel and airfare via AirBNB, booking.com, and 12goAsia.
Malé, on the other hand, is the most populous city in the Republic of Maldives. This is the King’s Island of Maldives. The city was called ‘Mahal’. From here you can go to different islands by boat. I spent half a day here visiting their mosque, wet market, and park. I didn’t stay here as it really populated but they have hostels here and hotels at a reasonable price too. You can book your hotel and airfare via AirBNB, booking.com, and 12goAsia.
Activities in the Maldives
The Maldives is not only for honeymoon and relaxing activities but of course, there are various water sports activities to choose from. I recommend you choose Maldives Water Sports as they also offer full day water activities and other plenty of exciting sports available to those with a flair for adventure. They actually have a reasonable price too and Select Mr. Ippi as your photographer underwater if you want to have instagrammable photos. What I did was a full day package which includes sandbank, snorkeling, a visit to a local island, and dolphin’s sight-seeing. Unfortunately, dolphins were too shy during that day, so I haven’t seen one, but I enjoyed much with snorkeling as I have seen many species underwater.
I also visited the Himmafushi (Kaafu Atoll) which situated in the northeast of the country’s capital, Malé. In this island I learned that the locals are very quiet – rarely a loud noise from the men and never from the women. The men are relatively easy-going. The Muslim faith is upheld thus most women are in hijab. There is no deliberate thieving or violent crime from locals. However, be aware of dishonest conduct such as overcharging visitors, etc. Himmafushi is ideal for the budget conscious traveler that wants to have a relaxing holiday and see a bit of local life. The bikini beach is shallow and warm – so very family friendly. There is also a famous shop here called ‘Kuda shop Maldives´ where Mr. Ali was very accommodating, and I found out there are lots of Filipinos who already went to this shop and bought something from Mr. Ali and they even left a notes on the wall saying some recommendation about the shop and so I did it too!
Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives (Chaaya Island Resort)
This island resort showcases the mixture of the Indian Ocean with a substantial surf break with crashing waves to one of the islands and a calm lagoon for snorkeling on the other.
This is an easy-going nature and a great value for all-inclusive. On the lagoon side is a quiet laid back while you can hear a dramatic wave breaks on the other. This resort is also good for surfing, drinking cocktails, wine, beer, etc. whilst you are having a relaxing day on the island. They even offer buffet-style, with a wide choice of international dishes and live cooking stations. Raalhu Bar’s outdoor deck overlooks a renowned surf point whilst the Raiyvilaa Bar is the perfect spot for sun-downers. Unfortunately, this resort will be closed for 6-months for renovation. So, if you are planning to book a day visit here or even spending some time here, you can do so but after 6-months.
As promised, I will show you the breakdown of how much I spent in my lovely 6-days experienced in the Maldives:
TIPS FOR STAYING ON A LOCAL ISLAND IN THE MALDIVES
- Beaches are less pristine
- If you are staying in the country, you have to pay $3 per day for the environmental fee. Sometimes hotels will collect it the moment you check in.
- You should expect that all prices quoted for meals and excursions will be subject to a 10% Government Island Tax + a 12% Local island Tax – which would mean something at $10 is actually $12.20. Don’t be surprised by this at all when you are in the Maldives.
- Most of the local islands do not have ATM’s so it is necessary to stock up on cash at the Airport or in Male. The local currency is the Maldivian rufiyaa; however, it is a closed currency and cannot be exchanged back at the end of your stay (unless you change it at the booth in the airport and keep your receipt). I would suggest you travel with USD and withdraw a small amount of rufiyaa on your arrival.
- You should expect that there are a lot of extensive ongoing construction work of the islands and the disturbance to the land can affect the coral and reduce the variety of sea life in the area. If you want to go snorkeling, it is necessary to book a day trip/excursion to an uninhabited or less populated island.
- On Fridays, most of the shops are ‘closed’, and other transporation like ferries may not run.
- Best time to go to Maldives is when dry season from November – April.
- If you want to have access to the internet 24 hours, I would suggest you buy local sim card. Some of the hotels or restaurants don’t offer free Wi-Fi access.
- Food options will be limited to locally available cuisine unless you are in a private resort with buffet style. For Filipinos, you can have filipino food at some of the restaurant in Malé.
- Again the Maldives is an Islamic country and so expect the following:
- No alcohol is available unless you are in a private island resorts
- Women can’t wear swimwear unless they are on a designated ‘bikini’ beach – on other beaches, shorts and t-shirts will be required (even when swimming)
- They pray 5 times per day
- Women must wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees
Ultimately, my holiday in the Maldives is quite pricey but still within my budget. I always believe once you travel you have to make the most of it. I don’t like the feeling of regretting things that I never have done when I have a chance. Again, if you plan a trip to the Maldives make sure you book ahead of time so you can have a cheaper offer from airfare to accommodation.
Thank you for reading! If you want to see more photos and videos about my Maldives trip you can visit on my Facebook account and YouTube account. See you in my next article!
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