Your dream vacay is all set to be a reality Image: Thinkstock
Like us, have you been fascinated by the beauty of Maldives, too? Yup, we know those white sandy beaches and the clear blue sea have an irresistible charm. It's not for no reason that people compare a trip to Maldives equivalent to attaining nirvana — a glass bottom boat to row in the calm and pristine waters, witnessing green algae and red fish. Aah!
So, what's stopping you from heading there? Oh yes, the expenses. But hold on for a moment before you replace your plans with a cheaper option back home. We have a plan that will help you design a not-so-exorbitantly-priced trip to Maldives.
First things first. What to do in Maldives?
There are tonnes of fun activities such as the following:
Sunset Cruise: Most resorts arrange for a sunset cruise where you can drink your favourite champagne and watch the sun go down. In most resorts, these cruises start around 4 in the evening and last for three hours. The cost for each guest starts at $90, which is around Rs 6,000 per person.
Dolphin Watching: Maldives is one of the best places in the world for dolphin watching. Varieties of playful dolphins are a common sight in Maldives. There is no better tropical setting than Maldives to discover diverse species of dolphins. Some of the species that can be explored in the rich waters of Maldives include Spinner Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Spotted Dolphins, and Striped Dolphins. A visit to the popular sites where dolphins show off their gymnastic talents will give you an unprecedented experience.Opt for a complete package of dolphin watching along with sunset cruise as that will be pocket-friendly. Travel adventure startup Thrillophilia has got some amazing combos starting at Rs 8,165 at Hulhumalé Island.
Seaplane photo flight: One of the most popular activities in the Maldives is a seaplane photo flight. Visitors love to embark on this journey to capture stunning images of the flawless islands from above. Seaplane prices vary from island to island depending on the distance. Most seaplane flight durations are between 30 minutes to an hour. The average cost is between Rs 15,000 to Rs 35,000 per person on return flight, as per Atoll Transfer, a Maldives-centric travel website.
Glass Bottom Boat Trips: An effortless way to view the underwater world in the placid lagoon of a resort is through the transparent deck of a piloted glass bottom boat. Passengers sit on seats running the length of the boat (made of fibreglass), peering into a well in the centre of the boat that has a glass bottom and reveals everything the vessel is cruising over. It is an amazing experience as one gets to glimpse brilliant-hued fish and gardens of coral and also see the dramatic plunging of a reef into the dark depths of the ocean. Many resorts offer glass bottom kayaks that cost around Rs 1,900 – Rs 2,500 for an hour of self-kayaking.
Sandbank Picnic: Sandbank picnics are arranged by resorts that have a sandbank within range and the resort provides everything including a private boat and a butler to serve visitors. Sandbank picnics can be arranged by the hotels on request. This should tentatively cost around Rs 5,000 over the cost of food and beverage.
Where to stay?
Dusit Thani Maldives, Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Shangri La’s Villingili Resort, Sheraton Maldives, Kurumba Maldives, Coco Palm, Paradise Island Resort & Spa are some of the luxurious places you can stay at. But when you are looking for a budget stay at Maldives, online travel sites such as Yatra.com offer less expensive options including a 3N/4D trip to Maldives at exotic resorts such as Fun Island Resort or Paradise Resort, which are priced at Rs 41,990 onwards.
If you want to travel on your own, hotels such as UI Inn, Express Inn and Iberry Inn in Male are priced Rs 3,000 onwards per night per room. Maafushi Island in Maldives has some three-star hotels like White Sand Lodge, Arena Lodge and Beachwood Hotels, which are priced Rs 3,500 per night onwards.
What to eat?
‘Mas huni’ (tuna and coconut mix), ‘Kulhimas’ (chili tuna), ‘Garudhiya’ (Maldivian fish soup), ‘Handulu Bondibai’ (sweetened sticky rice), ‘Kulhiboakibaa’ (fish cake) are some of the delicacies in this part of the world. If you get a chance, don’t miss out on the Beef Curry. It’s better than any other place in the world.
Male has some cheap food options right from McDonald's to Pizza Hut. A McMeal at McDonald's costs around Rs 750- Rs 800. Most restaurants on various islands in Maldives offer meals at Rs 1,300-Rs 1,500 per person. A 300 ml coke bottle costs Rs 50. It’s advisable to include at least breakfast and one meal in the tour package.
Getting a reasonable flight ticket
“It is always advisable to make flight bookings in advance to get the best possible fares. The cheapest flights are offered by Air India from all major airports with a layover at Doha, Colombo, Dubai, Istanbul etc. In addition to booking tickets in advance, it is recommended to go during the off-season, which is in summer from April to June, when fares are comparatively cheaper,” says Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer, Yatra.com.
Insiders say flights from Kochi to Male via Colombo are the cheapest. Most return flights, booked in advance, cost around Rs 26,000.
Commuting in Maldives
The distance between each island is almost one-two hours on an average. "To keep the budget in check, travellers should opt for public transport services using government ferries,” says Dhall.
Islands to opt for
In Maldives, the resorts are located exclusively on one single island. So it’s one resort per island. While planning a three-night-four-day trip, ensure you don’t keep island hopping as that would increase the cost. Try for maximum two resorts during this duration.
“The most popular islands in Maldives are Hulhumalé, Kuramathi, Moofushi, Mirihi, Hulhulé Island, Rangali. They all provide breathtaking views and have proven to be comfortable for solo or family trips. Rather than choosing private islands which are generally booked by luxury/private resorts, travellers looking for budget options should visit local islands which are open to all. The best local islands are Maafushi, Fulidhoo, Guraidhoo that can be explored extensively by budget travellers,” Dhall tells us.
For Indian citizens, Maldives offers Visa on Arrival.
1 Maldivian Rufiyaa is equivalent to Rs 4.37.
Get your currencies exchanged at Male Airport as you won’t really find a place to change currency once you are at the resort.
Since Maldives is an island country, most daily necessities are priced up.
Maldives is a Muslim country so no alcohol or religious idols are allowed from outside.
It’s a tropical country. Carry enough beach wear and sunscreens.
Never pick up any dead corals/ oyster shells from the sea. Carrying them in your luggage may get you imprisonment.
WiFi is a luxury at some resorts. Try taking a Maldivian sim card from one of the markets in Male.
Most importantly, enjoy the blue sea, white sand and lots of sea food.