TURNING MY DREAMS INTO REALITY!!! AHHH! THE MALDIVES!!! It was just a dream, a long time dream. But, like what I always say, DREAMS DO COME TRUE! When you look at the photos online and all those luxury resorts, you’d think to yourself “How can I afford to go to this place? It’s so expensive!”. If you know me, I always look for ways to travel on a budget even outside of the country. Thankfully, we have seat sales now! And, I was able to book a round trip airfare ticket to my dream beach destination without breaking the bank! For tips on how to score a seat sale, you can read my previous blog – Airfare Seat Sale Tips.
In this blog, I made sure to write everything that you need to know to help you plan for your Maldives trip. I also made a suggested itinerary and expenses so you can prepare your budget. Let’s start, shall we?
Upon my research, there are only two airlines from Manila to Maldives:
If there’s a seat sale, you can book a round trip airfare ticket to Maldives for as low as PHP 9,000. I saw this before, but didn’t have the budget to book at that time yet, someone also posted that on DIY Travel Facebook page.
We got ours for PHP 15,388 per person because we weren’t able to catch a seat sale for both ways. Both were booked via Skyscanner with Scoot airlines. MNL-MLE was booked almost a year before our flight, which was November 2018, and we booked the MLE-MNL last July 2019. See below:
Since we are budget travelers, I chose a hotel that is affordable but not sacrificing our comfort. I don’t believe in spending too much in a hotel when traveling. Why? Because you’ll be out and touring the whole day and you will just sleep there at night. I booked through Agoda and got a room for only PHP 4,800 for 4 days and 3 nights. This hotel is just 2-3 minutes walk to Bikini beach.
I originally booked Water Breeze Hotel but I got an email saying that it’s under renovation, so they transferred us to White Shell Hotel. No complains at all! Ibrahim, the staff, took care of us and helped us with everything we need especially the tours. They have cheaper tours compared to other hotels.
It’s better to arrange an airport pick up for your convenience. We paid $20 per person from the airport to the hotel via speedboat, same price going back to the airport.
Yes, this is at the airport and you’ll be welcomed with blue waters!
Our 4 Days and 3 Nights Itinerary:
Day 1: Travel to the Maldives
Basically, our Day 1 and 5 is spent on airports and airplanes since there’s a 4-9 hours layover. Travel time from Manila to Singapore is 3 1/2 hours, while Singapore to Maldives is 4 1/2 hours. We made sure to download movies on our phones, we also did a lot of activities in Singapore Changi Airport (that’s for another blog).
We arrived at Maafushi Island around 10:30 PM. So, all we did was to settle in the hotel, book our tours for our stay and sleep. It was a long, tiring day!
Day 2: Shark Point Tour
We woke up early and walked around the island. One thing that I thoroughly read was this, Maldives is a Muslim country and we have to respect their rules. You’re only allowed to wear swimsuits and bikini at the Bikini beach.
This is the Bikini beach in Maafushi Island. Wow! The water and sand!
Of course, I had to take a welcome photo with the swing!
This was our first full day in the Maldives and I can say we started our trip with a BANG!!! When I was doing our Maldives itinerary, this was top on my list – to swim with the sharks! I love the underwater, the marine life and the ocean that’s why this moment was really super AMAZING!!! (I have no other adjectives to say)
They are twice my size, but I was swimming really close to them, literally chasing them. If you’ve seen our Singapore vlog, I was in awe of Manta Rays so I had to see them closely.
Our tour guide said Manta rays are seasonal and there’s only 50/50 chance to see them. We were blessed to see five!
Another one for the books, swimming with dolphins! And there’s a lot of them! The only difference is that they swim so fast so I didn’t have a chance to get close to them. But still! These cute little dolphins flipping ahhh! You’ll see more on the vlog.
I’ll say it over and over, it’s been on my bucket list to swim with sharks. And I thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity (and not be eaten LOL). Kidding aside, they don’t bite nor eat humans. They were just swimming that’s why I didn’t get scared at all! I love them!!! My not so baby sharks!
This one was unexpected as well. After all the swimming with those amazing creatures, we were brought to the longest walkway sandbank in the Maldives. The water was very clear, the sandbank, and the birds OMG! It was jaw dropping! I’ll let the photos speak for itself!
We had lunch on the boat while on the sandbank. Then after lunch, we strolled around Fulidhoo Island. It’s a small local island and our tour guide said it’s very quiet so it tends to be boring. We saw a stingray swimming around though.
As you walk around the local islands of the Maldives, you’ll notice that this is what they use as a chair. This is called the Maldivian Joali chairs.
That’s the end of our tour! We started at 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Traveled back to Maafushi and got some photos with the welcome signage.
For the complete list of resorts and activities in the Maldives, and if you want to see our Mantra rays, dolphin and nurse shark experience, you may watch this vlog.
We had buffet dinner at Arena Beach Hotel. It’s $12 per person, plus 12% tax.
Outfit of the night
Day 3: Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa
Maldives is known for their luxury resorts and water villas. This was one of the things I look forward to as well. Honestly, I cannot afford to pay $500 to $1500 to stay in a villa for a night. So, I did my research and found out that they accept day trips! I was giddy with excitement because I don’t have to pay that much! You just have to pick which resort you want to go, it ranges from $100 to $250 for a day trip depending on the resort. I chose Centara Ras Fushi because I think the price is just right with all the inclusions:
If you want to stay in their water villa, this is the price per night!
You’ll be welcomed with this. I think their logo is a stunner!
A dedicated staff will explain to you everything you need to know. After the quick introduction, you’re on your own!
What’s not to love in this resort?
Our little nook just right in front of the water villas!
We totally love the place!
There’s no stopping me, I had to go to the water villas!
Did I mention that they have unlimited drinks? Here are your choices. During our whole stay, I had seven mango juice and one Centara sunset haha!
Drinks while soaked in water? Why not?!
We also took advantage of all the water activities
Before having lunch, we had to change clothes. Swimsuits are not allowed for women and sleeveless are not allowed for men. Also, you can’t enter the restaurant if your clothes are wet.
Oh, the buffet lunch! Super worth it!!! The ambiance is cozy, and everything was delicious, it’s crazy! I took a lot of videos of the food in the vlog
We wanted to sleep after lunch because we were so full! But we didn’t want to waste any time here, we rested for about 30 minutes.
And then chill by the pool
A bar at the pool, yes please!
This was the most relaxing place at the resort for me! Just look at my view!
We saw some baby sharks, unfortunately we were about to leave so we were just watching them from here
If you have a drone, you’ll get a photo like these. Grabbed this from Google, credit to the owner of these photos.
But seriously look! Look at that beauty!!!
For this resort’s tour, you may watch the vlog:
Day tour ends at 5:00 PM, they will pick you up exactly 5:00 PM. If you’re late, you’ll have to find another way to go back to your hotel. So we were in the waiting area at 4:45 PM, better safe than sorry!
At dinner, Kaeser arranged a romantic dinner set up at Arena Beach Hotel. This was supposed to be the previous day, but it rained so it was moved the next day. This set up is $50, and the buffet is $12 per person, same as the other day. They have ala carte meals, so you don’t need to have buffet all the time.
Day 4 – Water Activities at Maafushi Island
This was our last day and a free day, we didn’t book any tours because we just want to enjoy Maafushi. Plus, I think we pretty much did what we wanted to do in the Maldives so we’re good. After breakfast, we just spent time at the Bikini beach.
Swing of course!
Outside our hotel, there are a lot of water activities that you can try so that’s what we did.
We were a given discount for getting two activities. We did Jet Ski and Fun Tube for only $20 per person. Compared to its individual price, it was a good deal!
We did Jet Ski first, Kaeser was driving. We saw dolphins, but they were fast!
Then, this crazy Fun Tube! Look at our faces after the ride! I wanted a massage after LOL!
We checked out and left our luggage in the lobby of the hotel. Our flight was at 9:00 PM, and our airport transfer was at 5:15 PM. So we still have time to have lunch and roam around.
Our lunch was not a buffet! Haha! I craved for shrimp and Nasi Goreng! Yummy!!!
Saw this cute Gelato place, sadly noone’s there
You’ll also see this shop where they paint on canvas and even in ref magnets, that’s on my first Maldives vlog
We bought milkshakes and saw this. Locals said you can only find this fruit in the Maldives, its called a Screw pine
And, since we weren’t able to bike at Centara Ras Fushi, we looked for a bike! They said you’ll feel like a local Maldivian if you experienced biking there. Bike rental is $10 for an hour, $5 for 30 minutes.
Watch our mind blowing Fun Tube experience and all about our last day in this vlog:
While walking towards the speed boat going to the airport, I can’t help but be emotional. I still can’t believe that I was actually in my dream beach destination. More than the photos and videos, the feeling is really indescribable. I’m in awe of every corner of this island. The marine life is breathtaking. I also love the locals, they are very nice and hospitable. I thank God for His provision and most of all, I think Him for creating such a paradise. I will definitely save up and go back with my boys.
Travel Tips: (I think this is the most important part of this blog)
- Travel during lean season as hotels and airfare are cheaper. Lean season (monsoon) is from May to October while peak season is from December to March
- If you want to stay connected online, they have WiFi in the hotels and resorts. You can also buy a SIM card at the airport for $20 for 7 days (correction on the vlog)
- Tourists use US Dollars in the Maldives. Some restaurants don’t have change for USD, so it’s better to have some Rufiyaa on hand. $100 = 1500 Rufiyaa
- Keep the receipt if you plan to exchange your USD to Maldivian Rufiyaa. You will need to exchange it back to USD
- There’s no ATM in the local islands, but you can also use your credit or debit card in paying at the hotel, groceries or restaurants
- Before paying, be very clear whether the price includes tax or service charge. They usually have 7-15% tax on top of the actual price
- Also, when accepting your change, don’t accept damaged money. You will not be able to use that anymore
- Get a hotel with free breakfast, tours have lunch included, so all you need to buy is dinner
- A meal is around $10 per person, buffet is $12 plus tax
- Bring a water bottle, water in the Maldives is expensive. You may get water from your hotel or restaurants. Although, there are hotels that provide daily water like our hotel
- It is very hot and humid at the Maldives, make sure your skin is protected with sun screen
- Traveling with someone or a group is less expensive because you share and split expenses (this is true in all of our travels)
- Haggle – whenever you shop, use your haggling skills. They are even offering lower price even if you don’t ask
- Ref magnets range from $2-$4. If you buy a set, one ref magnet costs less than $2 each
- Alcoholic drinks are strictly prohibited in local islands. I believe you can only drink alcohol in exclusive resorts
- I heard that most places and ferries don’t operate on Fridays
- If you easily get dizzy or sea sick when riding a boat, make sure to bring Bonamine. Waves can be rough at times
- For women, bring lots of long dresses and for men, bring T-shirts/polo than sando
- Bring your cameras, all kinds, especially underwater cameras. Every place is worthy of taking photos
- Bring extra cash for souvenirs. This one, I can’t tell you how much because it depends on how you shop. As for us, we only bought ref magnets.
This was our actual expenses and itinerary:
My suggested itinerary assuming that you got your airfare ticket on a seat sale:
If you’re not into visiting other islands and just want to enjoy the beauty of Maafushi Island, here’s the most affordable itinerary I made for you:
If you want to stay at Maafushi Island and experience a day trip at a luxury resort, here’s the suggested itinerary I made for you:
I hope this blog helps, especially for those who are dreaming to go to the Maldives! Remember that this is a Do-It-Yourself budget travel and may not fit for everyone. You can always book through a travel agency for convenience. You can even book your accommodation in a water villa if you want! At the end of the day, it’s the memories that will last forever that no one can take away from you!