When I tell people that the Maldives is affordable for most people, I still get stared at as though I’m talking nonsense. Yes, if you want the 5* Resorts with all the trims then its out of the majority of peoples price ranges but over the past 3-5 years a number of islands have opened up what we would call the budget family friendly hotels which are certainly a fraction of the price. We stayed at Maafushi Island but there are plenty of others offering a true Maldavian feel such as Dharavandhoo, Dhigurah, Thulusdhoo and Bodufolfudhoo.


We set out on this trip of a lifetime on March 31 2018 (growing up in the North West of England I could only dream of going to somewhere like the Maldives!), a mere 4 ½ hours from KL. There are two flight times with Air Asia, an early morning flight or an overnight flight, depending on the time of year. There are two main reasons why I’d recommend the morning flight. One, the views from the plane when you get to the islands is outstanding, just make sure you get a window seat and secondly getting to the island is much easier when you arrive during the day.


We arrived there around 9.30am but the speedboat picking us up was only at 1pm which meant a long wait. Getting through immigration was easy as Maldives allowed entry to all nationalities (take note, world!). There are lots of food outlets at the airport, mostly western, so we got a Burger King and wandered around the island (the airport is its own island) before our shared speedboat came. You can organise a private speedboat for around $150 but we shared one which was $25 each (Maya was free). We toyed with the idea of spending a day in Male but we decided against that, looking at it from the boat, I’d say it’s worth a few hours if you can but certainly not a day trip. The journey to Maafushi was just over half an hour as we had to wait at Male for a family to join us.

Maafushi is in the Kaafu Atoll and although isn’t huge, it still has lots of hotels (lots were being built when we were there), a school and even at the far side of the island: a prison. Don’t worry, you forget that it’s there!! We stayed at Arena Beach Hotel which was a 4* hotel right on the beach. Prices for Arena Beach vary on the season but it is really nice and although not the resorts you will see on the adverts, it’s certainly a great view of the ocean. What we really liked at Arena Beach was the evening buffet, only $10 each for all you can eat, not bad for a tropical island and lots of fish!! There were a number of small restaurants around the island, we went to the pizza cafe a few times (2 minute walk from Arena Beach) as it was very reasonably priced, sold pizza, sandwiches, coffee etc and you could even get it for takeaway so convenient if you have a youngster who just wants to go home!

Remember that the Maldives is a muslim country so alcohol is not readily available. It is in the resorts but you will pay accordingly! On Maafushi there was no alcohol which may put some people off going (who doesn’t enjoy a beer on the beach?) but there is hope. There is a boat, about 50m offshore which you can go to and drink. A can of Tiger is about $10 so I can do without. It would have been kind of cool, getting a boat, to a boat, for a beer in the middle of the ocean. Maya’s bedtime made that pretty impossible even if I’d have wanted to.

Anyway, what to do with 6 days in paradise? Lots of the hotels offer trips but we dropped on and found one with a guy named Fa Yer. He has since left that hotel and moved to a new one but he can be contacted via Facebook and will do you a great deal on trips and of course accommodation (lots of the newer hotels even have a small pool). All their trips were around the $25 mark. These trips from the resorts were much more but you’d still end up at the same places. In fact, many of the local resorts would get a boat over to Maafushi for souvenirs. One of the big plusses with Fa Yer was his after trip service. Usually, once you are home, off you go. Fa Yer would invite everyone back and he’d upload the day’s photos for you so make sure you take your laptop or a flash/pen drive. We did two great trips with him where we went to Fulidhoo Island (if you want peace and quiet then this is for you), we swam with turtles and saw herds of dolphins for as far as the eye could see, I mean hundreds. I jumped in to try and swim with them but they are so fast, so majestic. Having lunch on a sandbank surrounded by nothing but sea is an experience many will never get and he had his drone out to capture it all for you. 

If you are not into boat trips then you will struggle in the Maldives but you can stay on Maafushi itself as it has its own beach called Bikini Beach. Please make sure to not walk around semi naked as mentioned its a muslim country and all the local women do cover up. The local men don’t, they are all in board shorts and sunglasses and generally look pretty cool. Bikini Beach has very shallow water and you can walk out for about 50m taking in all the sea life beneath you. Within 2m of the shore, 3 bank sharks swam past me which is pretty normal. Unbelievable but eventually you get used to it. Arena Beach even had its own beach, small but a beach nonetheless, literally next to Bikini Beach.

On our last day, we decided to take a day trip to one of the local resorts. It cost about $90 each but this included all transfers, food and drink (including alcohol). There is a choice of resorts to go to all at different prices but we chose Adaaran Vadoo Resort as it was the nearest. Yes, it is nice, but for me, after a few days it could be quite same same. They do go off the resort and do the same day trips for much more than from Maafushi but if on Honeymoon I can see the attraction. They even had evening buffets for $50 p/p!

On the resort, they had pools, the beach, and the bar. I made sure I got my money’s worth by drinking the Carlsberg or rum and coke, Aida less so, but she enjoyed sunbathing with a few drinks spaced out through the day. You do manage to get some great photos, you are not allowed into the rooms but can walk around and nosey at what you would get for $300+ per night. Before we left, they fed the big fish which Maya enjoyed, just make sure no one falls in the sea as the fish were very hungry!!

In the distance, Singha Beer (Thailand) were making their own resort. Quite amazing how they could build an island in the middle of the sea!

We could the 7.30am speedboat back to the airport (again $25) and reflected on what was a great experience. We will be back!!

Rating: Chris 9 (miss a beer on a night), Aida 10