Maldives Planning a Break: The luxury of some of the smaller islands in the Maldives comes at a price. However – if included as a short addition to a longer trip through other countries in the region – this unforgettable experience can be enjoyed without drastically over-doing the budget.
The price you can expect to pay to stay in the type of island described here is around $650 per day per couple. This is pretty much fully inclusive, barring tips, alcohol, and some expeditions. However, it doesn’t include getting there and away, which is why the cheapest way to arrange this is as part of a trip to a neighboring country. In this way, the Maldives can be included as a stopover at the beginning or end of a trip to your main regional destination.
In the past, we have visited the Maldives using India as the principle destination, and similarly with Sri Lanka. Both are fascinating low-budget countries whose lower cost offsets the comparatively higher cost of the Maldives. Emirates make it easy to arrange flight combinations with India and Sri Lanka.
On another occasion, we used Singapore Airlines to arrange a stopover in the Maldives en route to Singapore and Thailand.
Maldives Planning a Break
So planning a route through South East Asia can often offer the opportunity of a stopover in the Maldives at very little extra cost. You will still have to arrange transport from Male (where you arrive) to the island you have chosen. If the island is not too far from Male (Bandos, for example), you can get there quite cheaply in one of the local Dhonis (the traditional fishing boat of the Maldives).
If the island if further out – and a lot of the better ones are – you’ll have to count on a pricy motor yacht transfer, or even a flight in a small plane. The Maldives is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries, comprising 26 coral atolls, which are made up of hundreds of islands, and encompassing a territory spread over 90,000 square kilometers,
When choosing one of the many islands available to tourists, bear in mind that you’ll get pretty much what you pay for. For this reason, its better to bite the bullet and opt for something a little special: After all, due to prices and accessibility, for many people this may be a once in a lifetime visit.
We stayed at the Makunudu Island Resort located in the North Male Atol. We chose this island based on very good experiences there 18 years previously. In the years between, we had also visited the Embudu and Bandos Island Resorts. These larger more affordable resorts offer good sporting facilities, and are geared more towards groups and families.
Given a fixed budget for our trip, (this time, combined with a tour around Sri Lanka) we preferred to book fewer days in the Maldives, but to have a more secluded, better-quality experience.
We therefore arranged with Emirates a short detour to Male, on our way to Colombo in Sri Lanka. We booked just 3 nights at the Makunudu Resort. Half board in a Deluxe bungalow came to US$ 1,990 (including a round trip speedboat transfer for 2 for US$ 463).
Included in the price was also a series of complimentary benefits provided to all guests staying at Makunudu Island:
♦ Daily International buffet breakfast, and table service dinner
♦ Unlimited use of snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel & flippers)
♦ One snorkeling excursion during the stay
♦ One night fishing trip during the stay
♦ One introductory dive for beginners
♦ Unlimited use of catamaran sailing and windsurfing during the stay
Putting all this into perspective, our short Maldives break would comprise the first 3 days of a 25-day trip. Although these 3 days would eat up almost 1/3rd of our total 25-day budget, it wasn’t like we would have to live like Mahatma Gandhi for the remainder of our trip (see Sri Lanka itinerary for more details).
Because of the limited time we would have in the Maldives, we determined to remain as active as possible during our stay to make the most of what was on offer – and for such a small island, there is plenty to do if you’re up for it.
Luckily, we were able to arrange a flight that got us to Male just after 8 am on our first day. Since we had a 3-night stay, this effectively gave us 3 and 1/2 full days before our departure. The tricky bit would be staying awake on Day 1, after 2 long flights from Europe and a Dubai stopover.
We had a lot to pack into our short visit: night fishing, a day-excursion to swim with manta rays on a nearby reef, an exclusive dinner for 2 on a tiny sandbank in a remote part of the Indian Ocean, a dive to check for any friendlies at Shark Point, a barbecue on the beach, a trip to one the locally-inhabited non-tourist islands, an evening musical gig with the island staff, and as much snorkeling around the house reef as possible.
If money was no object, I would happily spend a full week on Makunudu – each week there is a varied menu of food and activities. Two weeks would feel a bit decadent however, and would probably result in spending too much time lounging around on one of the beaches.
If you want to contact the Management of Makunudu island directly, you can do so at [email protected].
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