Discovering Affordable Paradise: How We Enjoyed a 14-Night Maldives Getaway for Just $1000

Fri Sep 29 2023

Discovering Affordable Paradise: How We Enjoyed a 14-Night Maldives Getaway for Just $1000 image

Challenging Perceptions of the Maldives

Many people perceive the Maldives as an extravagantly expensive destination, seemingly out of reach for most. I, too, held onto that belief until our recent journey proved me wrong. My partner and I were fortunate enough to indulge in a 14-night holiday in this earthly paradise, and astonishingly, we managed to cover all expenses with just $1000!

Embracing the Unexpected: Exploring the Maldives in May

One of the most crucial factors influencing the cost of a Maldives holiday is the season. It's worth noting that the Maldives experiences a wet season typically from mid-May to November, and a dry season from January to March. Our journey took place in mid-May, marking the onset of the wet season. This is when hotel prices tend to drop, and the number of tourists dwindles. You might assume that the weather would be less than ideal during this period, but to our delight, we didn't encounter a single rainy day during our two-week sojourn. Instead, we were greeted with consistently amazing weather, with temperatures hovering around 35 degrees Celsius each day. The locals confirmed that May and early June are often considered an ideal time to visit the Maldives.

Choosing the Right Islands: Picking the Perfect Paradise

When planning a trip to the Maldives, one of the most crucial decisions is selecting the islands to visit. We chose to explore three local Maldivian islands: Thoddoo, Rashdoo, and Ukulhas. While each possessed its own unique charm, Thoddoo undeniably stood out as the most spectacular—but more on that later.

Thoddoo beach has those Maldivian signature water swings

Respecting Local Customs: Navigating the Muslim Culture

However, it's essential to be mindful of local customs and regulations when traveling to a Maldivian island. The Maldives is a Muslim country, which means no alcohol is permitted, and female visitors must dress respectfully. Additionally, not all local islands have bikini beaches; some are reserved for Muslim use only.

With these considerations in mind, let's dive into our journey, shall we?

Embarking on the Journey

Arrival in Male: An Unconventional Beginning

We arrived in Male, the capital city of the Maldives, at 10 p.m., opting to spend the night at the airport. The speedboat to Thoddoo island was scheduled for the following morning. Alternatively, we could have booked a night in Hulhumale. In that case, we would have needed to catch a local ferry to the city, find our accommodation, get a short night's sleep, and then catch a public ferry back to the airport in the morning. However, this seemed like too much hassle for just a few hours of sleep to us. I must admit that sleeping at Male airport wasn't the most comfortable experience, but it was more than manageable.

The Male Airport Experience: Making the Most of the Layover

Male airport resembles an open space with a roof. There's an area with chairs, some with armrests removed, allowing for a reasonably comfortable nap. Facilities include restrooms, several internet provider offices, a couple of coffee shops, Burger King, Dairy Queen, and a few more food and beverage providers—plenty to keep you satisfied. An important detail to mention is that there's free Wi-Fi at Male airport, though it's limited to 2 hours of usage per day.

Navigating the Islands

Choosing the Public Ferry: An Affordable Commute

Morning arrived, and we embarked on a speedboat journey to Thoddoo, facilitated by our first hotel's manager, costing us $35 per person to travel from Male to Thoddoo. This was the only speedboat we used because for other trips, we managed to commute via public ferry. The public ferry is a cost-effective way to move around the Maldives, with fares ranging from only 1.5 to 2 USD per person to travel between local islands. While it may take longer and lack the flexibility of speedboats, it's an excellent option when considering the price.

Public ferry that goes from Velana International Airport to Hulhumale

Ferry Schedule Challenges: Seeking Local Guidance

Finding an up-to-date ferry schedule in the Maldives was a bit of a challenge, but we reached out to our hotel's manager for assistance, and he graciously provided us with the necessary information. Additionally, we relied on this website to plan our stays on different islands.

Interior of a public ferry

Planning is Key: Strategizing Our Island Stays

We meticulously calculated the duration of our stay on each island based on the public ferry's route since it only connects certain islands a few times a week. Indeed, planning is crucial in the Maldives if you intend to manage costs using public transportation.

Thoddoo Island: a True Paradise On Earth

Thoddoo - A Six-Night Oasis

Our initial destination was Thooddoo Island, where we spent a delightful 6 nights at a cost of $400, averaging just $67 per night, and this rate even included a sumptuous, hearty breakfast. We had the pleasure of staying in one of the newest hotels on the island, aptly named "Brisa Fresca." The hotel manager, an incredibly hospitable individual, welcomed us with refreshing coconuts and also assisted us in obtaining some cash to avoid ATM fees.

A Taste of Local Fruits: Lunchtime Delights

Given our hearty breakfasts, we typically craved only local fruits for lunch, which were readily available near the island's most beautiful public Sunset beach. Thooddoo Island stands as the sole agrarian island in the area, ensuring the freshest and juiciest papayas can be found for a mere $1-3, depending on their size. However, if papayas aren't your preference, you'll discover a wide variety of fruits, including coconuts, bananas, passion fruits, guavas, and more to satisfy your palate.

Dining on a Budget: Affordable Dinner Spots

When it came to dinner, Thooddoo Island offered a wealth of dining options, and the prices were exceptionally reasonable. In fact, $10 per person was more than sufficient to indulge in a hearty dinner. Among our favorite dining spots were:

  1. Mango House Cafe' & Restaurant: We couldn't resist their kothu roshi with tuna; it was an absolute delight for our taste buds.
  2. Food Land: This eatery also earned our approval, especially for their tantalizing tuna steaks.

Amazing Tuna Kothu Roshi - the traditional Maldivian dish

Island Activities

Thoddoo's Enchanting Sunset Beach: A Budget-Friendly Slice of Paradise

Now, let's talk about the crown jewel of Thoddoo Island – the Sunset Beach. This serene slice of paradise stood out as the highlight of our entire Maldivian journey. You know how some places can appear breathtaking in Google photos, but when you arrive, they don't quite live up to the hype? Well, Thoddoo's Sunset Beach is every bit as picturesque as those images online – and even more so in reality.

This beach embodies the quintessential Maldivian experience, all while staying within a budget. It's a genuine slice of heaven on Earth. Imagine palm trees lining the shore, offering a welcome shade from the sun's rays. Moreover, the beach is adorned with an abundance of sunbeds, available to everyone free of charge. It's the perfect spot to relax and soak in the beauty of the Maldives without breaking the bank.

Thoddoo Sunset Beach

Nighttime Magic: Glowing Plankton Extravaganza

But what truly sets Sunset Beach apart is its crystalline waters. The clarity is unparalleled, making it one of the most memorable natural wonders I've ever encountered. Perhaps the most enchanting experience was witnessing the beach come alive at night. We were treated to the mesmerizing sight of glowing plankton along the shoreline. Picture thousands of tiny blue lightbulbs twinkling beneath your feet as you walk along the beach – it's a spectacle that words can hardly do justice. It's a profound testament to the wonders that Mother Earth has created in this little corner of paradise.

The Coral Reef Experience: Meeting Sea Turtles and Colorful Fishes

The coral reef lay just about 10 meters away from the shore, making it incredibly accessible. This proximity meant that we had the privilege of encountering numerous sea turtles and a vibrant array of colorful fishes, creating unforgettable memories beneath the crystal-clear waters.

Up next: Rashdoo

After those mesmerizing 6 days in Thoddoo, we moved on to Rashdoo Island, but more about that in the upcoming article. Stay tuned!

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