A vacation in the magnificent Maldives has always been a serious entry for an intense bucket list chaser like myself and, thanks to my blog, I got to experience the well-known Promised Land for lovers of luxury last September.
The sweet little haven of bliss in the Indian Ocean did not disappoint and the only negative from the trip is the weeping echo from my savings account. With that being said, there are cheaper options and seeing as travel is very much a “different strokes for different folks” kind of deal, you need to work out what’s best for you.
I hope that this post helps you do that. Before I review my experience in my chosen resort of splendour, here are some things you may need to consider when planning a trip to the Maldives.
Work out what you want and COMMIT
Do you want a discretionary splurge, but not completely bankrupt yourself? Do you unapologetically detest resorts and want to stay with locals? Are you holding out for an off-peak season bargain? Is this your honeymoon/special occasion and you want to smash into your piggy bank with a “screw it, let’s do it” attitude?
Work out which one you are first and jump in with both feet, so that you can find the best Maldives trip to suit your personality and financial situation. On that note, let’s discuss budget options…
How much does it cost to stay in the Maldives?
Budget stay options in Maldives – you’re thrifty and nifty and you want to experience local life whilst seeing a different side of the country that is not shown online. Power to you!
Resort life makes you wince and even if you do fancy a bit of high-level comfort, you simply don’t have the financial means to do so at the moment. Good news – locals have taken advantage of a 2009 law, allowing Maldives folk to open their guest houses, restaurants and homes to tourists.
Mathiveri Island gets rave reviews – an uninhabited island with cheap and cheerful guest houses like Mathiveri Inn and Mathiveri Island Guest House at around $60 a night. Travelling with another person will halve the costs and bingo – budget travel in paradise.
If you like the sound of that but feel like you’re missing out on local interaction, then check out homestay.com. I love homestays when I travel and the last time I stay in one I asked myself why I don’t consider them more often. There are plenty of good deals on there, so you can stay with a Maldivian, eat local food, visit parts of the country you’d never see on a resort – for as little as $40 a night.
Mid-range options – you’re shrewd and inspired. You want to relax in the Maldives, but are not fussed about paying the premium for a bungalow on the water.
$400–$500 a night is your realistic shooting range here, but note: it will be the trickiest of all options and you’ll need to dig deep into the bargain bin, although it’s still doable if you’re willing to put the time in.
Luxury options – you have deep pockets and an unrepentant love for the high life when possible, but going a tier up seems exorbitant even for a high roller like yourself.
Or maybe this is the very top of your dream vacation list and you’re going to ride it until the wheels come off. You understand that you “get what you pay for” and want an unforgettable holiday in wonderland.
This will typically set you back around $800–$1000 per night.
Upper luxury options – oh hey there, big spender! You have “f**k you” money. If Jordan Belfort were your mate he’d be arranging an intervention for you – Maldives doesn’t know what it’s letting itself in for.
Sexy beach houses on stilts await you in the higher end, with fancy places such as Niyama Resort and Soneva Jani leading the way.
What’s the currency of the Maldives?
Maldives has its own currency, but only one ATM in the airport. It’s a pain in the bum in terms of logistics, so just take plenty of US dollars – which are happily accepted all over the Maldives.
When is the best time to go to Maldives for the weather?
The Maldives has two dominating seasons: a dry season and a wet season associated with southwest monsoons and strong winds and storms. The dry season has little rain and lower humidity; it lasts from December to April. The wet season lasts from May to November.
Out of the four days I was there, it rained on two days but had plenty of breaks from the showers with more than enough sun. So, thumbs up for an October Maldives trip from me.
Which airline companies fly to Maldives?
I kept reading about getting cheap flights to Maldives from worldwide hubs, but this wasn’t my experience and the transport was a painful added financial cost. I paid $755 for a flight from Dubai with Emirates and I returned to Bangkok with Bangkok Airways for $365.
Air Asia and Sri Lankan Airlines also fly to Maldives so you might have some luck there. Play about on Skyscanner for the best deal for you, wherever the hell you are.
All paths leading to holiday bliss in Maldives lead from the capital Male, your resort will transfer you in a speedboat. Maldives freestylers will have to do their homework regarding ferry times and boat taxis to get to their guest house or homestay.
Maldives is an Islamic country
The Maldives is a 100% Muslim country under sharia law, this is mostly important to know for those opting for a homestay or guest house. It’s OK to drink alcohol if you’re over 18, not Muslim and staying on a resort. It’s also fine to wear a bikini in private resorts, but women staying outside of them, visiting public beaches, will have to cover up with a t-shirt, even when in water.
Also, I saw people have alcohol confiscated at customs, but only temporarily, with the option to get it back when departing the country. Same goes for Iraqi swords with a cobra head!
Kids, or no kids?
If you have little ones, you may have to do a little bit more research, as some resorts are adults only. Some resorts are more family friendly and some are catered solely to families.
All-inclusive isn’t always the best option
I have very little experience staying in resorts, but what I’ve found is all-inclusive can be a duplicitous exaggeration. It’s best to do your research and send a couple of emails to your resort beforehand – I opted out of this option as it was economically better for me upon seeing what I’d get for the extra cost.
Review of Adaaran Prestige Resort
Upon landing I made my way to the Adaaran boat taxi – it wasn’t hard to find as the airport in Male is so small. The bumpy ride took about 15 minutes and I was greeted upon arrival by a friendly guy who would be my personal butler for my time there.
I was then shown around with a refreshing glass of iced tea before arriving at my room – classy, gorgeous, stylish and set up for the privacy that was so badly needed. On that note the resort, like most, is designed for intimacy. Guest interaction is sparse and that suited me perfectly.
There were options for activities such as visiting other islands, snorkelling and diving. I declined, as all I wanted to do was chill and regenerate in paradise after four high-energy days in Baghdad.
Food – there’s always one princess with a diva food request; and that princess is usually me. Being a vegan who hates onions doesn’t make the most popular of dinner guests, but Adaaran sorted me out with samosas, delicious selections of dahl, chana masala, pasta and the chef got creative with my slightly drunken requests.
I did my homework on what I would get for all-inclusive and at $300 extra per day it wasn’t worth it – especially for myself who doesn’t eat animal products as the menu was full of meat and fish. The menu I ate from was a room service and restaurant menu, which was separate from the all-inclusive menu.
I didn’t feel like I was missing out when I saw the food and I genuinely think I would have felt the same as an omnivore. It looked dull and second-rate to the menu that I was eating from.
Again – you have to do your own homework on this, but in my opinion all-inclusive can be a sneaky way of penny-pinching for the business, which leaves the consumer with a false sense of being frugal. My spends came to $60 a day for food and drink! Even after tipping handsomely, I saved a massive wad. All-inclusive be damned.
How much did it cost?
My bill before I even got there was $1,800. $60 a day for food and drink, plus 20% tip for my butler = $2,500.
Wi-Fi – I wanted a full digital detox during my time there, but I was seduced into a good old couple of Instagram stories. T’was a small victory for hedonism.
Also, on the second day, Khabib Nurmagomedov was fighting Conor McGregor in the UFC early one morning and my stream worked perfectly for this.
Staff – second to none. Always making an effort to go the extra mile for personal preferences and for special occasions.
Amenities – the resort had a lovely little beach bar, which overlooked the gorgeous view of the bungalows in the sea. On our resort, women could dress how they wanted with skimpy bikinis and men could don Daniel Craig-style short shorts – but that isn’t a green light to fly to the Maldives and walk around in the nude, shaking your paralytic drunken ass to Sean Paul (or whatever the kids are listening to nowadays).
The country is aesthetically glorious, but an overlooked truth is the discriminatory harsh punishments that are handed out, and as always with religious dogma – it’s the women who bear the brunt. So it’s best off leaving your canoodling and shenanigans until you’re in your luscious private room – it’s always better when it feels somewhat taboo.
The private room had a small wading pool on the balcony, which overlooked the ocean. On the day that I planned to use it, I had an uninvited visitor 😛
S/he set the place up for a perfect photo opportunity … before taking a nonchalant dump in the private pool. I guess that’s the small price you pay for getting to kick back and relax in one of the world’s most sought-after dream destinations.