Why is the Maldives So Expensive?

The Maldives are an expensive destination to travel to. It is usually considered Heaven on Earth by tourists thanks to its crystal clear water and its white-sand beaches. But it is definitely not Heaven for your wallet! Indeed, the Maldives are very expensive. But why? This is what you will learn right now. So, why are the Maldives so expensive?

The Maldives are extremely expensive mostly because of the high prices of the resorts. The expenses are also high because the Maldives is an archipelago where the local authorities need to import food and materials. Finally, the fame of this tourist destination makes the Maldives expensive.

Why are Maldives hotels so expensive?

First of all, we need to start with what will most likely be the biggest expense of your Maldives trip: the hotel. In the Maldives, hotels are expensive, but for good reasons! So, why are Maldives hotels so expensive?

Resort hotels in the Maldives are extremely expensive because they have a high standard of service and quality. Hotels in the Maldives are also expensive because they are sometimes built directly on the water (water villas) or on the beach (beach villas). Cheaper options in the Maldives are guest houses.

island drone photography in expensive maldives
An example of a water villa in the Maldives. Credits to Ishan @seefromthesky

The high prices of the resorts are also due to the design of the hotels. Usually, hotels in the Maldives are modern and stylish. Finally, some resorts can be extremely expensive (more than $1,000 a night) because they have all-included services.

Now that we saw the reasons why your biggest expense is so high, we also need to consider the other areas you will spend your money. Indeed, traveling to the Maldives will also cost you a lot for food and activities. Let’s see how much does one day exactly cost.

How much does one day in the Maldives cost?

There are several ways to experience the Maldives. There is the resort-style way and the more local way. Overall, traveling to the Maldives is expensive, definitely more expensive than traveling to Bali, Thailand, the Philippines, or Zanzibar. But still, there are ways to make your trip cheaper. First, how much does one day in the Maldives cost?

One day in the Maldives costs around $580 on a resort island and $90 on a local island. On resort islands, meals and activities can sometimes be all-included whereas, on local islands, you need to pay for activities. Those two amounts take into consideration accommodations, food, and activities.

How much do the Maldives cost on a resort island?

Now let’s run a little experiment. I will pretend to travel for one week in the Maldives in a water villa resort. I will count everything I pay for every day and sum up everything at the end of the week. Then, I will divide that amount by seven and divide all the expenses that take two people into account. This will give you the average cost of one day in the Maldives on a resort island for one person.

First, I found a resort for $1,070 per night for two people. For one person, this is equal to $535 for one night. This resort is an all-included one, meaning that I do not need to pay for breakfasts and meals. However, I do need to pay for activities. During the week, I choose to do a deserted island trip, costing $150, and a fishing trip also charged $150. I also drank some glasses two nights, which cost me $30.

Overall, this week cost $4,075. Now let’s divide this amount by seven: we arrive at $582 per day in a resort in the Maldives.

ExpenseAmount ($)
Resort$3,745
Food$0 (included)
Activities$300
Total (for the week)$4,075
Total (for one day)$582
Table summarizing the expenses in a resort in the Maldives

Note that this experiment does not take transportation into account. In reality, you will need to book your flights and take a boat to the resort island. But those prices vary from one experience to another, so I preferred to not take them into account.

How much do the Maldives cost on a local island?

Now let’s run the same kind of experiment but on a local island. Thankfully, someone already created a great piece of content and studied the cost of living on both a resort and a local island. I will let you watch the video and we will discuss it afterward.

Credits to Jorden Tually

As you just saw, this man was able to find a guesthouse for $60 per night. But this does not take into account the food. So he spends around $20 per day eating. Finally, he found the prices of fishing trips and deserted island trips: they are 5 times cheaper! The guest house owner charges only $30 for a fishing trip and $40 for a deserted island trip.

Let’s use those numbers to create a table just like I did for the resort island. First, we need to multiply the cost of the guest house seven times ($420). Then, we need to do the same for food ($140). Finally, let’s assume that we did the two same activities, but on the local island ($30+$40=$70).

ExpenseAmount ($)
Guesthouse$420
Food$140
Activities$70
Total (for the week)$630
Total (for one day)$90
Table summarizing the expenses in a resort in the Maldives

Once again, this experiment does not take into account transportation and flight tickets, but those two expenses are the same in both cases, so we do not need to consider them in our comparison. Overall, it costs 6,5 times more money to spend your vacations on a resort island in the Maldives than on a local island. Omadhoo island could be a wise choice if you want to save money when traveling to the Maldives.

Are resort islands too expensive in the Maldives?

Now it’s time to conclude about the worthiness of resort islands. We saw just before that the prices can be ten times higher on resort islands than on local islands. The question is: is the overall experience ten times better on resort islands than on local islands? Well, it is hard to find enough reasons to say yes. Of course, the comfort will be much better in water villas, but that’s about it!

Keep in mind that there are the same beaches, the same wildlife, the same water, the same nature on both resort and local islands. The only difference is that on resort islands, you are in much better accommodations, with usually all-included options. This comfort can make all the difference if you visit the Maldives for your honeymoon for instance.

Finally, it is interesting to compare the prices of activities on both resort and local islands. The issue with resort islands is that they charge higher fees for tourists. For instance, a fishing trip will cost around $30 on a local island and $150 on a resort island. Swimming with whale sharks will cost you $150 on a local island and up to $1,000 on a resort island.

Basically, when it comes to comfort, it is fine if there is a difference between local and resort islands. This is just a different standard to sleep in a water villa than in a guest house. But when it comes to activities, it is a bit strange to see such price differences.

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