It may be feeling as a luxury destination, but we managed to spend only 370 euros each, for 11 whole days and ten nights. This is excluding the flight ticket.
I had a one-way ticket, from the Netherlands, for 300 euro’s, continued to Asia after this.
My friend had a return ticket, from Germany, for 575 euro.
So how did we do that?
Local islands: Islands owned by the country and local people, not the ones owned by a resort, the so-called ‘private islands’.
This beauty you can find anywhere but the price you pay on a private island for your hotel and food is so much higher!
Sleep: The magic word is Couchsurfing! We only paid for three nights in a hotel, all the other nights we got for free from lovely local people.
But the few hotels we booked were not expensive as well, around 40 euros a night. We arranged our sleeping place only one day before. Go together is the best tip I can give you on saving money here. You always pay for two people so better if you can share it.
Our thinking about hotels was, we are here to sleep and outside in the daytime so if it has good references and is hygienic it is good for us, we don’t need luxury.
With Couchsurfing you also have to be a bit lucky, sometimes it doesn’t work out, we had evenings that we didn’t know where to sleep until 8 pm or so. I can tell you then it doesn’t feel that nice, but in the end, you can always book a hotel.
Food: Prices are different on each island, a place like Malé, which is a city everything is cheaper. Here ones we even cooked dinner ourselves because we found a ‘big’ supermarket.
Mostly we had dinner in local restaurants; they are often delicious and quite cheap! Some islands you can not choose, because simply there isn’t that much.
At Dhiffushi and Thulusdhoo we ate in a little bit more luxurious places. Worth every penny.
Same counts for breakfast and lunch, just look for a place not, especially for tourists. With the hosts we had from Couchsurfing we were also lucky, some also arranged breakfast for us. One time we got even some lunch when we arrived.
Transport: Another keyword is local transport. From the airport, we took the ferry to Malé, which costs 1 dollar and if you pay in Maldivian currency, you pay even less. It goes around every 10 minutes. A lot cheaper than a taxi, for example.
The long distances between the islands we did mostly by local ferry, it is around 5 dollar for a ticket a person, and it stops along several islands on the route.
In between islands that were close to each other we took the speedboat. For only 5 minutes on the speedboat, you will also pay 5 dollars each.
Check this website for the ferry schedules, it looks chaos, but after a couple of days, I found out how it works and was able to check all the times.
Activities: We did a lot, but most of it was free. On each island, we explored the place. Walked around, enjoyed the sunset, tried out some beaches, swam in the sea.
It was not that we didn’t want to spend money on activities, but first, not all islands have a lot of paid excursions, and second, there was simply no need for us to do something else than what we did, enjoying that beautiful place.
We booked full-day tour at Maafushi with Shadow Palm, and it costs 50 dollars each including water and lunch with some fruit juice (they also provide vegetarian lunch).
And with an additional 20 dollars for taking drone pictures. Out of a pity that I got bitten (see my story about the Maldives), we got the pictures for free. As I said, sometimes some luck helps…
Some advice: Bring your snorkelling gear or just some simple goggles with you. Every place where you can swim the underwater life is great to witness and not everywhere you can hire equipment plus it saves money if you take your own.