Can you travel the Maldives on a budget?

Can you travel the Maldives on a budget?

Maldives is the kind of destination that everyone dreams of but I often hear so many people saying that travelling there is only a dream because of how expensive it is; I am here to bust that myth! Maldives had been on my bucket list since the early days of instagram and we finally got to make it a reality at a fraction of the price we imagined.

I recently started seeing more and more people travelling the local Maldives islands and claiming that they were much cheaper than resorts. After looking into it, I was overwhelmed with how many local islands there was to choose from and I was very picky in wanting an island that looked like the 'typical' Maldives you see online; the blinding blue water, palm trees, sand banks and dolphins. This is how I cam across Dhigurah island which translates into 'long island'. I was blown away by the prices and how beautiful it was here! It quickly became my new favourite place in the world and I am already counting the days until I can visit again.

If you want a glimpse into what a trip to a local island looked like, watch my tiktok on it here or in my instagram Maldives highlights! 

Let's talk about some Maldives basics first...

How to get to the Maldives?

Something that I don't think many people talk about is how to get to your island or resort. There are no direct flights to any of them and majority of islands don't have airports which means the only way to get there is either via boat or seaplane.

Firstly, you will need to fly into Malé airport. Once there, you need to find your counter which your accommodation will tell you beforehand (each resort, boat or island has their own). The process is quite simple and the representative at the counter will handle everything for you and ensure you get to your destination. 

When is the best time to visit the Maldives?

According to google, the best time to visit in between November - April which is known for having calmer seas and sunnier skies. In saying that, I did speak to the locals there and they said that there isn't really a bad time to visit and that it is mainly sunny all year round! Prices vary depending on peak season so if you are on a tight budget then maybe look into going in May - October instead.

How long should I spend in the Maldives?
I would say that a week is the minimum time you will want to be spending there. Anything less than that and you will definitely not be ready to go home. As it's a tropical destination, sometimes there are clouds and rain so in order to make the most of your trip, allow some buffer days in case the weather isn't optimal. 
What currency do they use in the Maldives?
We found that most places charge in USD so I recommend getting some cash out before you go or taking your physical card with you. Otherwise, you can use the Maldivian currency which is called Rufiyaa (and is honestly the prettiest currency I have seen). 

Okay, now onto more information about Dhigurah specifically...
Dhigurah is a local island located in the South Ari Atoll and is considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the Maldives. Dhigurah is essentially a 3km stretch of palm trees with the shops, restaurants and accommodation on one end and a beautiful sand bank on the other. The locals are all passionate about the ocean and do beach clean ups so the entire island was pristine. Watch my tiktok talking about all the information you need on Dhigurah here.

How do I get to Dhigurah?
The best option was a 2 hour direct speedboat from the airport. This cost $55 USD per person each way and you will be able to organise this through your accommodation. The one thing to note is that there are only 2 boats a day, so you may get unlucky with your flight time and have to wait a few hours until the boat departs. Just discuss this with your accommodation beforehand and they will book you the best option.

Another thing to note is that if you are travelling somewhere else in the Maldives after Dhigurah, you will have to get a boat back to the airport and continue on your journey from there; you won't be able to get picked up from the island.

Best accommodation in Dhigurah?
I could rave on all day about where we stayed which was Akiri Dhigurah. Rashvaan the owner and his lovely staff were the best hosts we have ever had and organised everything for us; boat transfers, excursions, tuktuks, dinner reservations, you name it! He looked after us so well and I really could not recommend them more.

Akiri was in a great location and only a 2 minute walk to the beach as well as walkable distance to all cafes and restaurants. Breakfast was included and to make things easy, you could organise all of your excursions through them as well. The price per night is around $100 USD.

Book with Akiri here.

What is there to do in Dhigurah?
Maldives is a great destination if you are wanting to just sit back and relax, eat and swim. On the other hand, if adventure is more your thing, a local island like Dhigurah will keep you busy as the activities are a fraction of the price compared to a resort. 

Dhigurah has a variety of excursions and boat trips available and is actually the only island in Maldives that has whale sharks all year round. I saw more marine life here in 4 days that I have ever seen in my entire life! Some of the excursions available are swimming with manta rays, swimming with whale sharks, sand bank trip, swimming with nurse sharks/shipwreck snorkelling. The prices are below:
  • Whale shark snorkelling (half day) - $90 USD per person
  • Manta snorkelling (half day) - $65 USD per person
  • Sand bank trip (snacks included) - $95 USD per person
  • Vaavu trip (full day with nurse sharks, shipwreck snorkelling and visiting Fulidhoo to see stingrays) - $175 USD per person
We did the whale shark, manta and sand bank trip and they were all some of the best experiences I have had whilst travelling. The endless blues, the reef, the warm ocean... literal paradise! 


Where to eat in Dhigurah?
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from on the island and most meals will range from around $15 - $20 USD per person. 

Some recommendations that our accommodation gave us:
  • Bonthi Dhigurah (we ate here for most lunches and definitely recommend it!)
  • Savaa Restaurant 
  • Ufa Escape
  • Dhiguveli Maldives
  • Dhiguveli Breeze
How to get around the island?
There are no cars so the best way to go up and down the island is on a tuktuk which you can organise to pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation. The rate is about $14 USD round trip. You can also hire bikes but keep in mind that they can be a bit tough to ride through sand! In saying that, the island is totally walkable and would only take about an hour to walk from one end to the other. 

Some other things to note:
  • Dhigurah is a local island which means there are dedicated bikini beaches; you are not allowed to wear a bikini and you must cover up your shoulders when you are not in that area. In saying that, majority of the beach that you would want to swim in is all a bikini beach so this rule was very easy to follow! If in doubt, just ask.
  • There is no alcohol on the island.
  • Bring mosquito repellent!
Overall, given the cost of accommodation, meals, excursions and the boat transfers, Dhigurah was very affordable! The prices are definitely not Bali prices, however I would say that this trip cost a lot less than prices in Europe or Australia. So, if Maldives is on your bucket list then book that trip! I would come back in a heart beat. 

P.S. I asked and Maldives is pronounced 'Mol-deeves' not 'Mal-dives'. Happy to settle that debate haha

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