When you think of Maldives, one can only picture relaxing in the infinity pools of the stunning over water bungalows perched on the pristine white sands overlooking the transparent turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Post that, reality sinks in making this the most expensive destination of our lives. Well, we too like all of you got struck with this reality check when Donald surprised me by booking the flight tickets to Maldives for my birthday not knowing what lies ahead. So in this blog, we will be sharing all the tips and tricks to travel on a budget and when we say budget that means under 45000 INR per person. Yes, you heard it right and it is absolutely possible. If we can make it happen, so can you and we are always here to help you guys. So let's begin the Journey to the ultimate Dream Destination... India to Maldives!!!
Heading finally to Maldives our Dream Destination! We took the 1.20 pm Indigo Flight from Mumbai International Airport and landed at Velana International Airport, Male previously known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at 5 pm. Our flight was delayed by almost 2 hours due to which we missed our onward island transfer to Rasdhoo Island as the last ferry to that island departs at 4.30 pm. We completed our immigration process within 10 mins since Indians have the benefit of visa on arrival in Maldives. We exchanged some local Maldivian currency at the airport exchange counter Bank of Maldives where the exchange rate was 15 MVR = 1 USD however we suggest exchanging currency within local popular islands of Male, Hulhumale and Maafushi as the currency exchange rate is better 15.4 MVR for 1 USD. We also picked up a local sim card for $15 USD with 4 GB data and unlimited local calls from Oreedo at the airport. Since we missed our island transfer, we had no option but to stay that night at Hulhumale or Male city and we opted for the former as it is comparatively less crowded. So we booked Koamas Lodge for $46 USD and took a cab till the hotel which costed us 100 MVR ($10 USD).
Hulhumale to Rasdhoo Island
Woke up early next morning as we had to take the 10.30 am ferry from Male Jetty. We had our English breakfast, checked out of the hotel and hired a taxi for 100 MVR to Male Jetty. This happened to be a shared taxi which dropped a few to the Male airport and then took us to the Jetty No 6. We boarded the speedboat named Coral Queen which costed us $35 USD per person one way. Our speedboat started on time and then made a quick stop at Male Airport to pick up rest of the passengers which took about 45 mins. We made a mistake here as we could have taken this ferry from the airport itself rather than renting a taxi all the way till the jetty. So this is something you might wanna keep in mind when you take the public speedboat to any island, take it directly from outside the airport unless your taking a public ferry for which you will have to come to Male Jetty. You can take a public boat from Airport to Male Jetty which would cost around 25 MVR per person. We reached Rasdhoo island in 1.5 hrs (around 60 kms by sea). We reached the tiny beautiful island of Rasdhoo where the waters were turquoise nothing compared to what we seen in Hulhumale or Male.
Rasdhoo Island to Maafushi Island
Woke up the next morning and had our first Maldivian breakfast which included Kotthu Roshi (Roti) and Mas Huni (Composed of finely chopped tuna, onion, coconut, and chili). We headed for our second snorkeling session with turtles in deep waters and we were shit scared. We met Alok, an Indian travel vlogger @backpackers guide who was also staying at our guesthouse. This is the best part about travelling and staying in budget hotels and hostels where you get to interact and share experiences with fellow travelers. After our snorkeling experience in deep waters, while heading back to the sandbank, we happened to spot 3 sea turtles and were so excited to capture them on our GoPro. We then snorkeled and relaxed at the sandbank for few hours and returned back to our guesthouse at 12 pm. With just an hour left to take our next ferry to Maafushi island, against all odds we quickly decided to rush to the nearby Bikini beach to try our luck with Sharks or Manta Rays and guess what, we spotted at least 5 baby Sharks swimming around a school of fish. Looks like it was their lunch hour too ;) We also spotted a Maldivian Heron posing to be clicked. Finally we checked out of the guesthouse as happy travelers and took our next ferry to Maafushi island at 1.30 pm. We wished we had few more days to spend time on this island but some day we will surely return.
Woke up to an English breakfast and then headed for some snorkeling at the local beach. We spotted some colorful fishes and also watched others wind surf, para-sail and kite surf on the beach. We then booked the night fishing activity for $20 USD per person. You can inquire for packages at Salt Beach Hotel and ask for Kalam, he is quite a helpful person and can also offer some discount in the packages. We returned to our hotel and freshened up. Went for lunch at Mama Mia's for a yummilicious pizza. Later that evening we went for our first night fishing activity.
Aadaran Club Ranalhi
Today we were heading to a luxury resort Aadaran Club Ranalhi as Donald planned to surprise me for my birthday. This day visit costed $100 USD per person which was all inclusive of unlimited drinks, cocktails, mocktails, morning and evening snacks, buffet lunch, access to the private beach, use of sunbeds and return transfer to the hotel. We reached the resort at 9 am and were greeted with a welcome drink. Then we had some morning snacks, a couple of drinks and headed to snorkel in the private beach. Had a scrumptious buffet lunch, relaxed and chilled at the hotel and then had high tea snacks and returned back to our hotel at 6 pm. It was definitely once in a lifetime experience.
One of our friends had signed up for Open Scuba Dive from Maafushi Dive. We too wanted to attempt Scuba diving however the instructor suggested it wouldn't be recommended for Diana due to her chronic sinusitis issue and Donald was not keeping well that day. We will definitely have this checked off our bucket-list next time for sure. We wanted to go for some island tour however being Friday a public holiday, everything was shut post 1 pm. Later that evening we went for souvenir shopping and strolling on the Bikini beach. We must say, we had never seen so many people at the same time on the Bikini beach in all these days. All thanks to Friday!! Then we headed for a safari boat ride where they serve beer and wine. We had a few drinks and headed back to participate in the Crab race which only happens every Friday at Active Watersport Maafushi.