How I Found Paradise in the Maldives Without Breaking the Bank

How I Found Paradise in the Maldives Without Breaking the Bank

Perhaps temperatures are a little chilly for you wherever you are in the world right now, and you're just dreaming of that island holiday everyone seems to go on and on about.

Growing up in Southeast Asia, places like Bali, Boracay, Phuket or Koh Samui have never been out of reach for me, yet having been to many of these places, I never really got the perfect island holiday experience. 

Some were overrun by tourists, resulting in waters that weren't all that clear or blue after years and years of abuse, sands that weren't all that powdery or white, local shopkeepers trying to sell you a product or service at every turn, local culture being pushed aside or paraded as tourist attractions in some shape or form, everything just felt a little too... pandering to the tourists. 

But everything changed when I touched down in the Maldives.

Just another day on your own private island

Just another day on your own private island

See, the thing about the Maldives that's different, is that almost every private resort occupies its own island.

This means that the number of guests on a beach often tends to be not very many at all, and finding your own little quiet corner is a breeze.

I knew planning for this trip that I needed to find somewhere reasonable and not nosebleed expensive, with many luxury resorts calling the Maldives home, including LUX*, COMO Maalifushi, Four Seasons, Anantara etc. which nightly rates easily hitting a few grand. 

I began on my search for a reasonably priced resort who could offer the same natural beauty the Maldives has to offer.

After doing my research and sending out a few emails, I eventually settled on Fihalhohi Island Resort

The overwater bungalows at Fihalhohi

The overwater bungalows at Fihalhohi

Fihalhohi has several room types, including the Classic, Comfort, and Premium Rooms, which were bungalows located on the island itself, while the premium offering was a Water Bungalow.


I decided to get a Comfort Room and would be able to head around the island to see the Water Bungalows anyway. 

Pictures were all I needed, I decided.

And thus began my quintessential Maldivian experience.

Travelling to the Maldives in the low season really aided my search for decent prices, as I was offered US$166.88 per night for two persons on half board (that is, breakfast and dinner), and got a free upgrade to full board.

Bear in mind that when you stay on a private island, all your needs (including food and drink) are covered by the resort.

This means you get the option of half board or full board rates, and the buffet spread at the hotel was more than sufficient. 

There are serving times for each meal, and we honestly ate, and ate, and ate, and ate, and chilled at the beach. 

Oh god, this view, I never tired of this view during my days there

Oh god, this view, I never tired of this view during my days there

The island Fihalhohi occupied was big enough for a few hours of exploration, with the jetty situated at a corner, all beach activities in one, water bungalows at another, the rest of the beach at other corners.

We were offered a return transfer from the airport at a rate of around US$143.

While that might seem a little steep, seaplane flights can hit around US$500 for a seat so cost is all relative here.

Our room, though basic, was sufficient, and it did rain in the night (thank god), but hearing the raindrops pitter patter on the thatched roof kind of added to the island charm of it all, so it was fine.

Honestly, I could've stayed for quite a while.

To fill your days, many resorts have an excursion list, and Fihalhohi offered activities such as hand and line fishing at sunset, snorkelling, dolphin spotting, diving etc.

The one I was most interested in though, was catamaran sailing to a sand bank.

And boy, did it not disappoint.

We really were the only ones on this small island (besides the member of staff from the resort who sailed us over of course), and it felt incredible.

I must've had ancestors who were explorers, because I felt like one; I felt like I could've been one.

The Maldives far exceeded my expectations, and I can't wait to find more island paradises like these around the world someday.

An uninhabited sandbank just a short sailing trip away from our resort

An uninhabited sandbank just a short sailing trip away from our resort

Of course, I titled this post with the intention of travel that didn't break the bank.

If you're looking for truly budget travel in the Maldives, that's more than possible.

Instead of private islands, you opt for public islands— islands that are inhabited by locals, and you'll most likely stay at a guesthouse. 

You'll share a beach with locals, which means local rules apply, so shoulders and thighs need to be covered.

Lodging can be had for around US$30 to US$40, and some popular islands include Maafushi, Thulusdhoo, Fulidhoo and Hulhumale (this is the same island Male's airport occupies), and hopping onto other islands can be done by their network of local public ferries.

Of course, travelling in the low season makes for more attractive rates, and we lucked out with the weather thankfully, so we had no troubles there.

Many cheap flights can be had from other Asian traffic hubs, such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) or Colombo (Sri Lanka).

Are you ready for your slice of paradise?