Maldives: Travel & Costs
Wondering what to do in Maldives? Here are some out of the box suggestions to make your trip better.
Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Even when you're on a modest budget, it's wonderful to indulge in an extra dose of R&R. Expect to pay at least 1,000 MVR ($65 USD) for a 30-minute massage. Some of the larger hotels offer discounts for early morning/late evening bookings so check with your hotel, Airbnb host or guesthouse to learn about deals.
Seafood is an integral part of Maldivian cuisine. Most hotels and guesthouses rent poles, bait and provide a guide for around 775 MVR ($50 USD). Skipjack and yellowfin tuna, wahoo, mahi-mahi, bigeye scad and mackerel scad are all commonly found here. If you are a seasoned angler, some of the best game fishing in the world can be done here. Expect to pay at least 3,000 MVR ($200 USD) for a half-day shared charter.
Snorkel at Ba Atoll
Ba Atoll is a 1,200 square kilometer UNESCO Biosphere Reserve filled with manta rays and whale sharks. On a clear day, you can see them floating beneath the surface. It is only a five-minute boat ride from Dharawandhu Island, but visiting the area is strictly regulated and has an 80 person capacity so as not to disrupt the precious ecosystem. Admission is 310MVR ($20 USD), which gives you 45 minutes in the water and a certified snorkel guide. Profit goes to the Ba Atoll Conservation Fund.
Visit the National Art Gallery
Established in 1999, there is no permanent gallery here, so be sure to check the website in advance as the space will be vacant if there are no exhibitions on display. The temporary exhibitions in the gallery, which range from traditional paintings and local textiles to international modern artists, are well worth a visit.
Dive into the Conquest of the Maldives
In 1981, this 100-metre-long cargo ship collided with a cliff and sank. It is now an incredible dive site for experienced divers. Resting between 15-31 meters below the surface, there are strong currents that keep tropical fish flowing through the shipwreck – but they also make it a challenging dive site. You will find all kinds of corals, fish and sponges here. It is available throughout the year.
Visit Male Fish Market
Come here and catch a glimpse of Maldivian people living in their daily routine in the commercial hub of Male. Select a fish (if you can make your way through the purchase as most fishermen don't speak English) and have it cooked for dinner at their guesthouse.
Wash on the Sandbank
These tiny sand dunes in the middle of the Indian Ocean are the closest you'll feel to feeling on your own private island. Private tours can be arranged to any one of a hundred different banks located around the islands (many of which are linked/affiliated with the resorts) for 775 MVR ($50 USD) for one person. Tours usually last 2-3 hours.
Maafushi, once a sleepy little island, is now a victim of uncontrolled development. There are hotels going up and down left and right, boats make frequent trips to Male to take tour groups, and there's an increasingly crowded and over-built beach. The few restaurants on the island cater mostly to tourists and the area is cleared for outside visitors, a garbage-covered dump. Leave it!
Maldives travel cost
Accommodation - There are no convenient hostels or hostel options across the country. There is a single hostel on Thulusdhoo Island but it costs 615 MVR ($40 USD) per night. Since private rooms can be found for the same price, opt for guesthouses instead of dorms.
Resorts start at 5,400 MVR ($350 USD) per night (not including the private speed boats you'll need to get there). They can cost over $2,000 USD a night, making it the perfect place to use up any hotel points you save.
Airbnb is available around the islands with private rooms starting at 700 MVR ($45 USD), although 1,000 MVR ($65 USD) is more common. For an entire house/apartment, prices start at 925 MVR ($70 USD). Whole houses/apartments are much less common so be sure to book in advance if you prefer one.
Wild camping is not possible as all the land around the islands is owned. Your only real camping option is to ask someone to put up a tent in one's backyard, however, this is not a reliable solution. Skip camping here.
Food – Traditional cuisine in Maldives is based on fish, coconut and rice. Tubers like taro and sweet potatoes are also common staples. Meals are included in most resorts and hotels as restaurants here are scarce. In addition to all kinds of fish and seafood soups and stews, be sure to try the gulha (dough balls filled with fried fish), kuli (spicy fish cakes), and sweet treats like bondi bai (Maldivian rice pudding). Most traditional meals cost under 55 ($5 USD).
Expect to pay around 310 MVR ($20 USD), with a drink, for a three-course meal of traditional cuisine at a budget-friendly hotel. For a meal at a five-star resort restaurant, you can pay 2,300 MVR ($150 USD)
Alcohol is generally prohibited but can be found at some of the more luxurious resorts. Expect to pay a premium for it: beer is $8 USD while cocktails are double that. A latte or cappuccino costs 35 MVR ($2.50 USD) while a bottle of water costs 6 MVR ($0.40 USD).
If you’re looking to cook your own food, make sure you stock up at the STO trade center in Male. Shopping here will save you a little extra money, especially if you are staying somewhere with a kitchen. Prices here are often more competitive than street vendors and there is a great assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other daily essentials