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For a budget traveler who is either confined by finance or choice of traveling style, Maldives doesn’t sound like an economical destination to travel to. Ritzy overwater villas, fancy food, expensive commute – everything just adds up to say a quick ‘NO’ to this paradise. But who doesn’t want to go to this ‘Shangri-La’, especially when there are enough claims to suggest that it might drown soon. Our love for marine life, clear- blue waters, and a post on budget Maldives by a fellow travel blogger encouraged us to explore this little drop of heaven.
Maldives is a collection of 1200 tiny to large (well, not exactly!) islands with around 300 islands inhabited by people. We were surprised to know that 100 of these inhabited islands are occupied by resorts exclusively. These islands are spread at various distances from the International Airport in Male, ranging from close (30 minutes) to extremely far rides (a domestic flight and ferry away!). This means, once you reach your island via a boat/seaplane – bye bye for a while, my friend! Hence, your choice of guesthouse/ resort will come to define your experience in Maldives.
Obvious choice for us was to select a local island – one, to keep us under budget but more importantly to explore local Maldivian life that is rarely written about. To stay in a safety net, we chose to stay in an affordable luxury guest house placed on the tiny local island of Vaavu Thinadhoo, a little south to Male. Plumeria Guest House was the perfect balance of luxury and comfort we were hoping to find in this exorbitantly priced country.
Plumeria is situated on one of the closer islands from Male and takes about 6 hours to reach via a public ferry and 90 minutes using a speedboat. A speedboat ride is definitely the most convenient even though it costs 15 times that of the public ferry. We took Plumeria’s private speed boat to reach Thinadhoo that literally flies through water. Like any other fancy resort in Maldives, Plumeria’s staff will find you at the airport and usher you to the boat.
Select your stay based on its distance from the Airport. Stays in the far south or far North can only be accessed via a seaplane that will send your budgets over the roof. If you want to catch the public ferry, book flights on days when the public ferry operates to your island. The ferry calendar is available here.
With options of choosing from sea view rooms to garden/village view rooms, Plumeria has something for everyone. The rooms are spacious, clean, and very well maintained. A fully equipped coffee bar, drinking water,basic amenities like clean towels, toiletries, bath robes and slippers are provided in plenty with the room. The rooms are cleaned every day and sometimes twice on request. The staff surprises you with special notes, towel art, chocolates on the bed and more. There was nothing in the room that put us off at any point of time – if this is not luxury, then what is!
Guest Houses and affordable luxury stays in Maldives is a recent phenomenon. The go-to place for guest house booking is this website, wherein you can directly book full board all-inclusive packages. They also offer the best prices!
The fruits, the juices, and the tropical mocktails (Yes, Alcohol is banned in Maldives, except on private resorts) stole my heart away. Plumeria host guests from multiple countries across the globe. We were super impressed by the way they accommodate everyone’s taste and comfort into their food. To put this in perspective, you should know that our island had no other restaurant or eating joint apart from Plumeria’s kitchen. The only other options were to snack on crackers from a nearby store or wait for the upcoming Bangladeshi food joint to set up a functional kitchen. Thankfully, we didn’t need to explore those options.
Plumeria served us pompous buffets consisting of more than 12 items to choose from, each time. Chicken, beef, seafood, lamb, lots of veggies, and a LOT of desserts! Cherry on the top – if you feel like eating something special, just tell the chef. Jony, our chef, was kind enough to cook on-demand dishes for us. Cherry on top of the cherry is that the food is served right next to the ocean every single meal. Oh, did we not mention that they cooked a special meal for Christmas – a fresh king Mackerel that smelled like the ocean (ah!), a huge roast turkey, king prawns, an assortment of a dozen salads, curries and desserts. Well, you get the drift...
Our chef, Jony, deserves a special mention for cooking dishes particularly to our taste!
It’ll be wise for you to carry along your favourite munchies before you head to the island because chances are that the island won’t even have a grocery store.
What snow is to Antarctica and perhaps coffee to Colombia, crystal clear waters and marine life is to Maldives. Do not come back from Maldives without exploring its opulent waters. Every island in Maldives is surrounded by an in-house reef. As you walk towards the white sandy beaches, you will soon hit the poky reef that is home to thousands of marvellous fish species and rare water creatures.