Known as one of the world’s most luxurious and breathtakingly beautiful destinations, and favored by celebrities and crypto millionaires, the Maldives, surprisingly, can also be an affordable beach vacation destination. Yes, you read that right. The place that is widely considered a paradise for ultra newlyweds to relax on flawless beaches and fantasize about the rest of their lives together is not actually out of reach for ordinary couples. Sure, you can spend $50,000 per night to sleep in a suite under the sea, but you can also experience the Maldives on a budget and still have a pretty sweet vacation. From affordable overwater villas to yacht rentals, here’s how to have an affordable Maldives beach vacation.

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How to experience a Maldives beach vacation on a budget


Spread across 1,200 atolls and with more than 140 resorts in all price brackets to choose from, a Maldives beach vacation can easily be experienced on a budget.

No, traveling here isn’t going to be as cheap as backpacking in Southeast Asia, but the nightly rate at some of the resorts is akin to what you’d experience in the Caribbean or Mexico — except you’re in the Indian Ocean, waking up in a king-sized bed in an overwater bungalow on the edge of a pristine white sandy beach.

So how do you do this? Well, first it’s important to identify what you want most from your vacation before booking. Do you want as luxe of a hotel as possible? Or do you care less about where you sleep and would rather have more cash for activities, like the exceptional diving and snorkeling on offer here? Once you figure this out, you can decide what to splurge on and where to save.


Are there cheap flights to Maldives?


One of the most expensive parts of getting to the Maldives is likely going to be your flight, but even this can be done affordably.

That said, this may not be an area where you want to skimp too much as the journey from the US to South Asia takes between 20 and 30 hours. For a flight option that offers a good balance between luxury and cost, Qatar Airways economy class is be a great choice. It has consistently been voted one of the top economy class cabins in the world. To get the best cheap Maldives packages, consider booking your trip during the low season, which is considered to be from May to November, and book flights that run mid-week, such as on a Monday through Wednesday. You can also use points from your credit card or loyalty programs and sign up for deal alerts on flights to the Maldives for additional ways to save.


How to get around the Maldives


Once in Malé, the capital of the Maldives the final leg of your journey is to take a boat or seaplane, depending on how far your resort is from the airport.

This is potentially an area for you to save some money as the speed boats can be more affordable. For example, one resort priced travel to its island by speedboat at $168 and by seaplane at $275. But if you prefer the seaplane or require it as your resort is too far to access by boat, you might find that the ride’s unforgettable views of the sandbanks and turquoise lagoons make up for the higher price tag. Generally, the cost of your seaplane will vary depending on the distance you’re traveling to from Malé, so keep that in mind as you select your resort and opt for a closer and more affordable Maldives resort if available.

Another option to get around that will actually allow you to see more of this beautiful island for less, is to book a luxury yacht in the Maldives. With Yacht Maldives, you can book a private charter on either their Dhoni Stella 1 or 2, or their Over Reef yacht for the afternoon or plan to stay on board for some or all of your trip depending on your preference. Booking a 3 cabin yacht on Yacht Maldives during low season is about $2000 per night ($1000 less per night than in high season), and allows for up to six guests with full board, internet, and airport pick-up included! There’s even a divemaster on board so this could be a particularly great option for those passionate about scuba diving and hoping to go on quite a few dives during their stay.


When is the most affordable and best time to visit Maldives?


For the best prices on flights and resort stays, you should plan to book your trip to the Maldives during their low season, between May and early November, and avoid their peak season, between late November to February. Thankfully the Maldives is warm and sunny all year round, so even during the low season you can still expect temperatures in the 80s. The rainy season is from May to October, but the rain usually doesn’t last for the whole day so there will still be plenty of time to enjoy the island.


Are there affordable Maldives beach resorts?


There are more than 1000 guest houses available on Airbnb, and some are very affordable stays in the Maldives. But booking a resort will give you some additional luxuries that you might otherwise miss.

For example, as the Maldives is a Muslim country, you’re not permitted to consume alcohol or wear revealing bikinis in public. Whereas on a private resort, you have access to full bars to enjoy your favorite piña colada and you can wear whatever swimwear you like. There are also additional luxuries, such as buffet dining with a large variety of foods to choose from, good WiFi, and free resort entertainment.

When booking an affordable luxury resort option in the Maldives, consider a couple of adjustments. If your heart is set on a five-star resort experience, try booking the beach villa instead of an overwater bungalow to save. You will still have the same access to amenities, pristine beaches, and turquoise blue waters you’ve been dreaming of, for a more pocket-friendly price tag.

At the boutique five-star hotel Coco Bodu Hithi for example, you can save as much as $4500 by choosing an island villa instead of the Coco Residence with a private pool overwater bungalow.

But if you are particularly keen to stay in an overwater bungalow, select a four-star resort over a five-star to save a considerable amount of money while still experiencing a luxury stay.

For example, Reethi Beach Resort is a lovely four-star resort that has a beautiful overwater bungalow you can book for a six-night/seven-day stay, including airport transfers and daily breakfast buffets for two people, for about $3500 including taxes and fees. For another $1100 you can upgrade to an all-inclusive stay, which might help you save some additional money overall. A similar stay at the five-star Coco Bodu Hithi Resort starts at more than $6000 for one room including breakfast for two and increases with the addition of their all-inclusive option.


How to save on resort bookings


Traveling in the low season isn’t just a good way to save on flights. You can also find the best rates at resorts too. Additionally, check the resort’s site for deals and discounts on nightly rates and vacation packages. Resorts often list the best offers on the company’s own website, and if you find a cheaper offer somewhere else, try contacting the resort’s reservations service to see if they will honor it. You could also find yourself saving some money depending on the credit card you book with, as some resorts, such as five-star boutique resort Coco Bodu Hithi, offer 10 percent off when booking with Visa, or your fourth night free when booking with Mastercard.

Lastly, if you haven’t already, consider joining a resort’s loyalty program. Sometimes you can transfer loyalty points from your airline or credit card to the resort’s loyalty program to put towards the cost of your stay. Joining a resort’s loyalty program can also get you membership perks like free wifi, early check-in or late check-out, and complimentary room upgrades.


How to make Maldives beach activities affordable


If you want to save some money on your luxury getaway, don’t get caught up by over-planning your trip with an excessive schedule of excursions and activities. You can just simply relax. You can expect your resort to have free entertainment options to keep you occupied and various complimentary or cheap activities available such as kayaking or paddle boarding if you want to get a little more active.

One of the main reasons to visit the Maldives is for the isolated tranquility, the impeccable beaches, and world-class snorkeling experiences, which are all free on arrival. You can pack a couple of snorkels and be on your merry way every morning or afternoon, exploring the vibrant coral reef which is home to a diverse array of marine life. If you were to splurge a little on one incredibly memorable excursion, try snorkeling with whale sharks or giant manta rays.