Yes, I have a thing for ocean. I crave for sea shells, golden sand bank. I believe waves can gently wipe away our pain with them. I believe the mysterious under water world can paint our life with all possible colours.
My love story with ocean has come a long way. It started from my most favourite 'The Little Mermaid' and somersaulted ahead over 'Finding Nemo' and movies like 'The Blue Lagoon' and 'Life of Pie'. My heart has always raced fast with imagination of ocean.
This February when we landed on Maldives for our second marriage anniversary celebration, the thin line between the dream and reality disappeared. We were welcomed by crystal clear turquoise water, swaying palm trees and white sand beaches.
Here are some useful tips and recommendation for a rejuvenating experience in an serene Maldivian Island without making a hole in your saving.
How to reach Maldives: Male airport is well connected from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kochi and Chennai. We travelled from Bangalore to Male via Colombo by SriLankan Airlines. Air India has a direct flight from Bangalore to Male. Other airlines are Spicejet and Indigo that operate from major Indian cities to Male.
Mark Your Calendar: December to March is the peak season for Maldives like any other tropical, beach side destination . Summer is a big NO to travel to Maldives. Monsoon (June-August) is off season for Maldives trip.
Visa: Indians get Visa on arrival at Maldives.
How to cut down the Budget: I have read many blogs like 'How to travel to Maldives under 40k', 'Ditch the resort and stay with Locals at AirBnb', 'Budget Backpacking to Maldives' and all. But let me burst the bubble. The main attraction of Maldives are inhabited islands, unspoilt beaches, luxury resorts with those fancy water villas. It's absolutely okay to book a budget friendly guest house, couch surf or AirBnb and to spend few days in local islands like Male city, Mafushi island or Hulhumale to experience the mosque, local life, markets, cafes and restaurants. But the true essence of Maldives lies on the tranquil islands dotted with fancy overwater villa, surrounded by pristine beach and glittering ocean waves. At any time of day you can walk on the beach, jump into water or go for snorkelling or scuba diving.
a) So I would very much recommend to book your stay at private luxury resort at least for 2-3 nights. Resorts of Maldives are hell expensive but we're smart. So the best way to cut down your budget for a Maldives trip without sacrificing the luxury part is advance booking. Book both resort and flight tickets 6-7 months in advance. Believe me, it can decrease the total price of your trip remarkably.
b) The second thing that can tip up the price is to and fro airport transfer. Either you have to opt for a sea plane speed boat transfer to reach your hotel. These transfers are pretty much costly and can come in the range 150-200 US$ one way per person. To avoid that always research for a resort that offer these transfers with the stay. There are many luxury resorts that give a combined quotation of stay and airport transfer. This can easily save 70-80 US $ per person.
c) The next thing is meal and drinks. Generally the luxury resorts are situated in isolated islands and they transport the food items and drinks from Male city or other important towns to their resort. So meal, drinks or even drinking water are extremely costly at Maldives. That's why always go for a full board meal plan. In such plans all three meals of a day are included. Additionally they provide some nice complementary drinks and snacks during your stay.
I booked my stay in Adaaran Select Resort in Huduranfushi island and chose an all inclusive plan. All meals, snacks, unlimited drinks (both soft drink & hard drink), 2 Litre of drinking water per day, to and fro airport transfer and non motorised water sports like snorkelling, kayaking, Catamaran, water ski, dolphin watching cruise trip and scuba diving everything was included in this package. I booked my trip in September, 2019 and I wrapped up this all inclusive plan for 4 nights and 5 days with flight tickets only in 75k per person. One has to admit, I got a damn cheap deal.
d) Going to Maldives and not staying in a fancy ocean villa is almost like a crime. But ocean villas are hugely expensive and may cost from 500-800 US$ per night. So it's better not to book the entire stay in ocean villa. I decided to split my stay as two nights in beach villa and two nights in ocean villa .
e) Another smart hack for a budget friendly yet luxurious Maldives trip is planning your trip on June-Mid July. I won't recommend late July to August as it's full monsoon over there. June- Mid July is considered as off season in Maldives. But while doing my research I found many travellers across the world prefer heading to Maldives in this season. Hotel and flight ticket prices come down considerably and it doesn't rain at a stretch. Local people confirmed me that it rains for sometimes and again gets clear. The scope of water activity might get affected slightly but one can easily go for a swim in ocean on low tide phase.
f) Don't spend a penny on buying local sim or international matrix sim. Male airport and 99% of resorts have super fast, free Wifi connectivity. Don't worry. Your Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp status upload won't be hampered or slowed down. You can easily stay connected with your family through internet calls. But if you're planning to explore Maldives like a backpacker or want to cover three or more islands on your extended stay (more than 15 days or so) you can buy a local SIM card from airport that may cost 15-20 US$ with internet data pack and unlimited local calls.
Invest in a good travel Insurance: No, you don't need a travel insurance to enter Maldives. But I always strongly recommend to secure a travel insurance on your international trip. In Maldives, quite naturally tourists participate in various water sports like Catamaran, Scuba diving, Snorkelling, Parasailing and all that. No matter how much safety measure is taken we can't predict how and when we meet hazards. So always safeguard yourself with a robust, low cost-high feature travel insurance scheme. We invested 750/- INR in Religare Health International Travel Insurance and got an insurance amount of 100K US$ for each of us.
Currency: Maldivian Rufiyaa is (MVR) local currency however US dollar is accepted all over the country. You need MVR only if you are going to travel as a local, accessing public transport or shopping grocery. If you're going on an all inclusive plan you don't need to spend any money. But if you want to enjoy some additional activities like island hopping, going for scuba diving out of your complimentary package or buying souvenir then you need to pay extra. We carried 100 US$ cash as backup and bought some fridge magnets.