Think the Maldives is all 5 star resorts, water bungalows and butlers on demand, think again. Real people live here too, the Maldives has an estimated population of 300,00 and is made up of 1,196 tiny islands.
Until 2010 it was illegal for foreign tourists to visit locally owned islands which is why, when we think of the Maldives we think of the privately owned fancy resorts in glossy magazines. These only actually make up for around 100 of the islands.
I was completely unaware that the Maldives could actually be a perfect location for budget travel until I read an article on Pinterest. Since the law changed in 2010, more and more BnB’s have been opening on the local islands, making the Maldives a perfect place to budget travellers and backpackers.
We stayed in on 3 islands, each one completely different to the last.
Dress Code: When visiting a local island it is illegal for women to sunbathe in a bikini in the Maldives unless you are on a designated ‘bikini beach’.
Getting Around: travel by boat is an absolute must if your in the Maldives, local boats work in the same way as busses, with timetables and reticular stops, they are also really cheap.
Accommodation: We were in the Maldives for 10 nights and spent an average of £37.20/night staying in basic B&B’s. I booked everything on AirBnB.com.
Visa: UK Passport holders do not currently need a visa to enter the Maldives.
Vaccinations: At the time of writing (Sept 2017) there are no vaccinations required.
Money: The currency in the Maldives is the Maldivian rufiyaa. Exchange rates in July 2017 below:
£1 (GBP) = Rf19.85 (MVR)
$1 (USD) = Rf15.45 (MVR)
€1 (EUR) = Rf17.30 (MVR)
Most islands only have 1 ATM, but they are so small that your never more than a 10 minute walk away. If your staying on an island that’s very far from the beaten path then it’s best to check they have an ATM with your guest house before you arrive. ATM’s were really easy to find on the bigger islands of Male and Hulmale.