When Maldives is talked about, everybody is thinking of a luxurious type of vacation. A place no one can afford. It is like a destination for rich, famous, elite and for honeymooners.
Ok, I didn’t think of going to Maldives in the first place. My usual travel buddy Yana invited me to go with her for a short trip. I was bit hesitant to go as I wanted to go another place. I was thinking Maldives will not suit a budget traveler like me. But since she wants to go and I’ve never been to this island, we both agreed to see the paradise of Maldives.
Quick facts first about Maldives. Maldives consists approximately of 1,190 coral islands clustered in a chain of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean. (Just like Philippines, made up of thousands of islands). The atolls are scattered along the north south direction with an area covering roughly 90,000km2. Only 200 islands are inhabitants. Each resort is usually occupying one island. The capital of Maldives is Male. The population is around 338,442 and speaks Dhivehi and English and the main religion is Islam. (information taken from Maldives Visitors Guide 2014)
My travel buddy Yana and I met in Dubai. It took me one hour by plane to reach Dubai from Oman and we flew together going Maldives. Upon arrival at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport,a landing card will be filled out and there is no prior visa application needed.(good news especially for fellow Filipinos, right?) You can either take speedboat or a sea plane to go to your selected resort. We stayed in Hulhumale Island, an island where the airport is located.
This trip was arranged and fixed mostly by my buddy Yana. I was on a trip that time so I asked her if she can just manage our trip to Maldives. (So yes I don’t have any idea where will be staying and all the details except will be going to Maldives! She booked in one travel agency in Dubai (she is based there) which includes airfare +hotel stay with free breakfast and airport transfers for 3 days. It costs around 200omr/ 23,000PHP/519USD each person. But I strongly recommend to do research and check website for airfare and accommodations as you may get cheaper rate. If we did, I think we could have got cheaper rates! Anyways, we arrived almost midnight and picked up by the tour guide at the airport and brought us the hotel. Hotel was clean, comfortable and enough to have a good sleep. Hulhumale Island is one of the islands in Maldives perfect for budget traveler. Hotel, hostels and guesthouses are everywhere.Take a trip with Agoda.There are also stores and restaurants where you can eat and buy some foods which are affordable. Hulhumale Island is a place where locals are staying. Good chance to know how it is like to live as a local.
Next day we went for a whole day activity arranged by our private tour. We went to ClubMed Kani(considered 4-5th star resort) located in Kanifinolhu Island for a one day pass. The resort was said to costs roughly around 500-700USD/ 192-269 OMR/ 23,000- 31,000 PHP per night but with one day pass we spent in the resort only around 150- 170usd/58omr-65omr/6700-7600PHP each person (I forgot the exact price).The money we paid includes buffet breakfast, lunch and snacks, unlimited cocktails and drinks, activities like snorkeling, sailing, kayaking and other use of amenities such as the pool. It was indeed a well spent time in the resort.
The next day we spent our time doing snorkeling, island hopping, dolphin watching, and had an authentic Maldivian cuisine. Maldivian cuisine is closed to Indian foods. Spicy and I think even spicier! Mostly of the cuisines I tried were made up of tuna which I loved.
We also spent time going to Male (city of Maldives) which can be reached by a ferry from Hulhumale Island. If most of the cities have taxi for transportation, in Maldives you transfer from one place (which means from one island to another) by means of speedboat or ferry. Pretty cool and different experience! Though most of the tourists visit Maldives for the purpose of staying in one resort, going to Male shouldn’t be missed out to experience and know about the daily life of Maldivians. The ferry is reasonably affordable from Hulhumale to Male Island and takes 20-30mins only. Male city is a small island. I remembered we roamed around the city for less than an hour. It is not the typical city as you will imagine. Most of the stores are of average size and mostly of the people just walk or use bicycle to go around the city.The city is a good place to buy souvenirs as well. We bought some tuna mix around 1 USD per piece and taste so good (well if you love spicy) and readily available in the market place. I like the crackers too called “Papadum”.
Based on our experience, I don’t think someone needs to spend a lot of money to experience the ultimate Maldives getaway. Though our time was short I had a great time in Maldives. Hoping to come back one day and experience Sea Safari which we have missed!
Total Cost Spent: 882USD/ 340 OMR/ 39,700 PHP, Yes I spent 363 USD/140 OMR/ 16,000 PHP for the foods, activities and souvenirs! Ok, others may say still bit expensive. In my opinion Maldives as having a reputation of being an extravagant place, spending an amount around 363USD was fair enough than spending 700usd per night per person in one resort! So yes budget trip is possible!
Where do you want to spend your vacation? Any dreams of visiting Maldives? Share on the comments below.