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  • We’ve just returned from the Maldives 🐠 We travelled with WizzAir 🚀 Here are all the details and lots of advice on how to do the Maldives on a budget!
staff francesco falcioni

We went to the Maldives on a budget to see if it was possible. Here are our best tips 😎

Alright, mateys? It's your globe-trotting Pirate "Hook" here, and I want to tell you about my very recent trip to the Maldives, aka Paradise on Earth!

From transport to accommodation, and from activities to budgeting, I'm going to tell you everything I found out on my trip...

Let's dive in, Pirates!

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You have to be cunning and clever. I had two layovers, in Rome and Abu Dhabi.

I managed to get some bargain return flights between London and Rome and between Rome and Abu Dhabi.

The Rome - Abu Dhabi route was booked with Etihad (7–26 December). I arrived in Abu Dhabi on 8 December at 6:00am, in time to catch my Wizz Air flight from Abu Dhabi - Malé, Maldives (8–23 December) at 11:40am.

So, I gave myself more than 5 hours after the arrival of the second leg, more than enough to change flights (given that they were separate bookings).

For all of my flights, I checked in online via their apps.

For Wizz Air, it said the boarding passes also had to be printed, so I printed it, but once I arrived in Abu Dhabi I realised that it wasn't necessary.

💸 Flight prices

  • London - Rome return with easyJet: £52 per person

  • Rome - Abu Dhabi return with Etihad: £130 per person

  • Abu Dhabi - Malé return with Wizz Air: £140 per person

My wife and I left for a 15-night holiday in the Maldives, with only the classic backpack allowed by low-cost airlines. On Etihad, you can bring a hand luggage (as well as your small "personal item"), but on Wizz Air & easyJet, only a backpack is included, so we made do with that (my wife included😅) since you can take light summery clothes to this tropical paradise.

Once we arrived in Malé City, we bought necessary toiletries we'd had to leave behind, like shampoo, shower gel, SPF, and after-sun etc. These cost similar to what they would do in the UK.

🎒 NB: In both Abu Dhabi and Malé, they didn't have the bag measuring tool that they often have at the gates in Europe and the UK 😅 The staff in these airports also seem much more forgiving, compared to the staff in the UK, so even a relatively "swollen" backpack (like mine) passes through without any extra charges! 😁 (Although still be careful, as this was just my experience).

✈️ Examples of flights in February with the best current prices:

Plus, you can get return flights from London–Rome most of the time for £70 or less!


We landed in Malè at around 6.30pm (sunset). We loved that we could see the islands from the sky, but it was too late to catch either a speedboat or a ferry to any of the islands, so we spent the first night in Malé. We stayed at Nap Corner but, I strongly suggest you to look for something in Hulhumale, so you're on the opposite side from the airport and further away from the crowds (of people and scooters)! Unfortunately, Malé City is not very pleasant and even a simple walk can be a hastle.


The next morning, we left from Pier number 1 in Malè City at 10.30am towards Ukulhas - the first of the 3 islands we visited. A one-way speedboat transfer with Coral Transfer was booked for us by Nap Corner (or you can WhatsApp them yourself using this number: +9607783518) - this cost us about £40 per person and took approximately 70 minutes. It can be a bumpy ride, so I recommend taking anti-nausea pills and/or using bracelets for "weak stomachs" (like mine 😅) and everything will be fine!💪

Once we arrived in Ukulhas, the manager of our guesthouse was waiting for us, and he accompanied us to the property. We stayed at the Sea View Villa Ukulhas for 4 nights. It cost less than £60 per night for a double room with breakfast.

On these so-called "Local Islands" (ie. not the Resort Islands - at the end of this post you will find a link to a video which explains the difference very well), there are multiple small restaurants, almost always managed by local people. At this kind of place, dinner for two (often 2–3 sharing dishes of rice, noodles and (delicious) fish, two soft drinks and a 1.5L bottle of water) is likely to set you back £17-26 in total.

We rarely ordered lunch, since breakfast was huge (and very similar) almost everywhere we went. Usually there were eggs, bread, some form of protein or baked beans, juices, coffee and fruit. We then bought juice, fresh fruit, biscuits and ice-cream from one of the mini markets on the island to eat as a snack in the early afternoon, and we were easily able to last until the evening for dinner, which we usually ate early anyway.

Ukulhas is stunning - it has the beautiful Bikini Beach, a variety of great restaurants (most places they accept credit cards) and the locals are very friendly and hospitable. The fact that it is the probably the island we liked the least of the three (only because the sea was slightly less beautiful than in the other two places), doesn't detract from it at all, it's a truly wonderful place, believe me!

Note: on all the islands we visited, on the Bikini Beaches, there are umbrellas and sunbeds that can be used for free!


After 4 nights in Ukulhas, we went to Mathiveri using Coral Transfers again. This time it was less than £8 per person, for a 20-minute speedboat ride).

As soon as we arrived in Mathiveri, we fell madly in love with this island! Here you can see the colours of the picture-perfect sea that we have always dreamed of, even just near the marina 😍

We stayed at the Royal Reef Stay. It cost us £56 per night, including breakfast. In the evening, we always had dinner at an excellent restaurant called "Second Home", because it was reasonably priced, had friendly and efficient staff, and it had excellent and varied Maldivian cuisine, some Sri Lankan dishes and even pizza, pasta and hamburgers. They only accept cash here and a dish costs from around £2.50 to £8.

Of the three islands we visited, it was in Mathiveri that the local people were a little more reserved, but they were still extremely hospitable!

There is a strip of sand that the locals call Pic-Nic Island (Finolhu on the map below), which is accessible via a short swim of a few dozen of metres, which any decent swimmer can do. Maybe check the current and wave conditions before you set off, though, and check if other swimmers have already successfully reached the island before you.

🐠 I strongly advise you to bring a mask and snorkel with you and to bring (or buy, if you don't have one) an underwater camera or a waterproof phone case, so that you can take photos and videos underwater! The underwater views are out of this world!

There is a well-stocked mini market, a souvenir shop and an ATM in Mathiveri.


After 5 days in Mathiveri, we caught the public ferry to Feridhoo. There are two ferries a day, one at dawn and one at 12.30pm, we took the latter, and after exactly an hour of slow but pleasant sailing, we arrived. It cost just over £1 each for the ferry ticket and there is no need to pre-book, just go to the marina a few minutes before the boat departs.

We stayed at Feridhoo Inn. Like in Ukulhas, hotel staff met us at the marina and took us to the hotel, where they immediately offered us fruit juice and a small refreshing towel. This was our favourite of the three hotels we stayed in. As with the other hotels, this place cost us around £60 per night, for a room with breakfast.

Feridhoo does not have an ATM, so it is best to withdraw local currency before getting there. Local money is accepted everywhere so, unless one of your hotels specifies that they want to be paid in US dollars (this happened to us), I'd suggest withdrawing enough local money for your entire trip as soon as you land.

💵 PS: if you need dollars, they are easily available from many currency converters, like MoneyGram & the Post Office. As you know, the worst rates can be found at the airport.

Feridhoo's sea and beach were absolutely gorgeous! What makes Feridhoo so special is the temperature of the sea - it was by far the warmest of the three. The others were warm too, but this felt like you were swimming in the bathtub at home! AND the fact that the snorkelling here is much better than on the other two islands. This is because there are lots of large rocks full of coral close to the shore, where various colourful fish gather.

We had dinner in two restaurants but the AMBAA Cafe & Bistro was certainly the best, with delicious food and a terrace overlooking the sea and the island 😍 You'll likely spend between £16–24 on a dinner for two.

Feridhoo is also the only island we visited which still has parts completely covered by a dense forest of mangroves and coconut palms. This is essential for the current fauna and flora to thrive, and unfortunately it's disappearing as more and more of the islands sacrifice the land to make room for buildings.

There is a well-stocked mini market in Feridhoo, but, unlike in Ukulhas and Mathiveri, there is no souvenir shop or ATM.


I should perhaps have said it at the beginning since it's incredibly important, but DO NOT underestimate the power of the sun! In the Maldives, the maximum temperature all year round is around 30–32C and the sun's rays have strength. Even on an overcast day, it is easy to get burnt. So, always wear sunscreen!

💡 Tips & tricks


At least 96 hours before arriving in the country, all travellers must fill out this online form.

💰 In Malé and on other islands (like Ukulhas and Mathiveri), you can withdraw local currency (some places require payment in cash, so you should always carry some). In Feridhoo (and certain other islands, check Google), there is no ATM, so bring enough cash with you.

🚤 Local public ferries are great for short trips, such as from Mathiveri to Ukulhas or Feridhoo. A 20-minute speedboat trips (£8) are equivalent to an hour by ferry, with the latter costing £2.50 max. Your first transfer (from Malé to the other islands) will be longer, so the situation is different. For example, the 70-minute speedboat ride from Malé to Mathiveri would take around 4 hours by public ferry. This might be doable for you, but it'll obviously be much longer and more tiring, especially if the sea is rough that day.

Speedboats and local public ferries usually make a double stop in Malé - at the airport and the city port so, you can take them from wherever is most convenient for you.

🤢 If you know that you suffer from seasickness (no matter how much), be ready with the right remedies, as you're likely to travel a lot by boat (due to transfers and excursions).

☀️As mentioned, be careful of the sun! Especially in the first few days.

🏩 Finding an excellent guesthouse on these islands should be easy as the quality, services, prices and proximity to the beach are often the same. Many hotels offer half-board basis and the rooms have air-con, excellent WI-Fi, comfortable beds, private bathrooms with hot showers and usually a mini fridge (very useful for keeping your water cool).

🦟 Be careful of the mosquitoes too. This would be my only negative about my time in the Maldives. There were lots of mosquitoes on every island we visited and they were aggressive (and hungry). They were also around ALL day, not just at night or at sunset. Luckily, they were almost never in the room.

Locals told me that there may be fewer mozzies in January and February because they are the drier months, but they didn't tell me that they disappear completely. So arm yourself with spray repellent (you can easily find it in the Maldives) and some long-sleeved clothes for the evening, if you don't want to be "devoured" by the little critters!😂

🤿 Don't forget your mask and snorkel, and please respect the sea! You don't want to miss out on the wonderful world that is just below the surface of the water, but this ecosystem is as beautiful as it is fragile. Also, definitely bring some form of underwater camera (or use an airtight transparent smartphone case).

🔎 Finally, I strongly recommend you watch this video created by a YouTuber, so that you can better understand the differences (and similarities) between the Maldives' Local Islands and Resort Islands.

🚌 How I bagged a FREE trip to DUBAI on the way home 😎

With Etihad, as soon as you book a flight to Abu Dhabi, you have access to Etihad's bus booking platform (on the company's website or via the App). This means you can book a FREE round-trip bus ticket from Abu Dhabi airport straight to the centre of Dubai in about 90 minutes ( info ).

If you arrive via Wizz Air, there is a company which sells bus tickets. It costs just 35 AED each way and there are services 24 hours a day, even in the middle of the night! It takes the same amount of time (70–90 minutes) and the ticket can be easily bought at a desk in Terminal A (the Etihad terminal), which is very close to the bus stop, which is located just outside the terminal itself.

We stayed in Dubai for 2 nights (which was enough for us, but UK passport holders can go for up to 30 days) and we stayed at the excellent 4-star Atana Hotel. We'd really recommend this hotel as it has a super buffet breakfast included, a swimming pool, sauna and steam room. It's also less than a 10-minute walk from the Dubai Internet City metro station, and from there it's only about 15 minutes to Dubai Marina and about 20 minutes to Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa on the elevated metro (giving views of the city on your journey)!

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