The Islands of Maldives are a dream destination!

In my previous post Maldives: Holiday On A Budget I showed you how we went about independently booking flights, arranging boats, and choosing our island accommodation in Maldives on a budget.

Maldives is not normally a destination you think of doing on a budget!

But as we were already travelling in Asia – in Kuala Lumpur – and it was coming up to our 40th wedding anniversary we were looking at taking a two-week holiday vacation in Maldives.

Firstly, we found return tickets on a budget Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Maldives’ Capital of Male.

These flights were priced at (less than £100 GBP) at USD $100 each.

But what about island accommodation I hear you ask?

When, generally, private island resorts prices are upwards of 100’s of £/$ per night.

The good news is that the Maldivian government has passed a ruling that local people living on local islands can open guesthouses.

This is a much more affordable option for independent travellers.

And we do love a homestay.

Up until this point, we had already been travelling extensively through South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

So, we were looking for a basic but relaxing laid-back beach holiday.

We didn’t really need anything fancy, and we didn’t want to do anything except rest and relax on a lovely beach and swim in a warm ocean.

On Bikini Beach Maamigili Island. The Backpacking Housewife
Bikini Beach Maamigili Island. Photo: Janice Horton

So, looking on the accommodation booking site (affiliate link) Booking Dotcom, I came across a small hotel on a local island in Maldives with lots of wonderful reviews.

The hotel is called (links to their Facebook Pages) Koimala and it’s on Maamigili Island in South Ari Atoll.

Koimala means ‘Whaleshark’ and the name Maamigili means ‘Whale Shark Island’.

It sounded perfect for us – especially as the total price for 14 nights on the dates we wanted – staying in a double room with private bathroom including breakfast each morning  – was only 335 UK GBP (approx. USD$ 425) for both of us.

Yes – that’s for two weeks!

We researched getting to Maamigili Island and decided we’d take the local ferry from Male Airport Island (yes, the airport is on a small island) over to Male itself (cost US$1 each).

Be warned: if you take a private taxi boat you’ll pay an awful lot more!

From Male, we knew we’d have to wait for a couple of hours to take the local boat to Maamigili.

We were quoted US$ 35 each. Journey time 2.30 hrs.

Now, Maamigili is the only island in South Ari Atoll with an airstrip.

So, you should know that a (20-minute flight) is certainly an option.

But, as we were on a tight budget, we’d decided to take the local boat.

With a couple of hours to spare to the scheduled departure time, we walked around the centre of Male, to check out the city centre and see the busy fish market.

If you read my previous post Maldives: Holiday On A Budget you can see my photos and video snippets on Male!

In my previous post there’s also some more details of our boat trip from Male over to Maamigili Island.

When we eventually arrived at Maamigili, the smiling owner of Koimala Hotel was waiting to greet us at the dock.

And that’s the moment our wonderful and totally relaxing stay on Maamigili Island began!

After checking in and being shown to our room, which was clean and basic and had everything we need, we wasted no time in heading straight to the beach.

The sun was starting to go down and so we were in perfect time to watch a perfect Maldivian sunset!

As we walked along the sandy road (all the roads and paths on Maamigili are sand) from our hotel to the beach we noticed huge fruit bats swooping from the trees.

And I remembered seeing them the last time we’d been on holiday in Maldives.

But I’d forgotten about the amazing fruit bats and how huge they are here!

We found the beach by following the sandy track and the sound of waves lapping the white sand.

And, for the next two weeks, every night, we got to watch the sun setting over the Indian Ocean.

Indian Ocean sunset. Maamigili Island Maldives. Photo: Janice Horton

We ate at the hotel for breakfast (included in our room rate) and every evening (on top of our room rate).

Breakfast was very good. I asked for fruit and was given a plate of assorted tropical fruits every morning along with my choice of breakfast off the menu and coffee.

Dinner was also good. Lots of rice and fish so basic but always properly cooked and presented.

Take a look at the menus and prices. Our total bill for two weeks will surprise you!

Menus at our hotel on Maamigili Maldives
Prices are in Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR)

Drinking water was provided free of charge which was welcome and refreshing.

The hotel offers lots of optional extra-curricular trips and daily activities at extra cost.

Many guests did them all and were kept busy every day.

Us, not so much, we just wanted the beach and relaxation!

MALDIVES HOLIDAY - LOCAL ISLAND - MAAMIGILI #travel #summerholiday #maldives #maldivesislands

Activities offered were: scuba diving at one of the local dive centres. Boat trips to swim with Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.

You could choose to be castaway for a day on an island sandbank with a picnic.

And lots of other trips and activities too.

It is also actually possible to visit a neighbouring island resort to use their facilities for the day.

Island resorts, of course, serve alcohol!

We didn’t go but some of our new friends reported back to us that the neighbouring private resorts where lovely for a day of pampering and great for taking holiday Facebook or Instagram photos with a (pricey) cocktail in hand!

We spent our mornings from 9.30am until noon and late afternoon from 4pm to sundown at the beach.

One beach on the island is for the use of guests and is known locally as Bikini Beach.

Bikini Beach is the only place on the island where it is acceptable to wear swimwear.

MALDIVES BUDGET HOLIDAY - MAAMIGILI BEACH WALK #travel #maldives #maldivesislands #maldivesholiday


Other than Bikini Beach, elsewhere on the island, it is important to dress reservedly as Maamigili is an Islamic community.

I saw all the local women on the island are completely covered by headscarves and long dresses.

I was very aware of the restrictive dress code for women before I arrived and to be respectful (to the women) I had brought with me a sleeved long cotton cover-up to wear over my swimwear while walking through town and to and from the beach.

While at bikini beach, it is okay to sunbathe and to swim in a bikini or wearing other swimwear.

I didn’t mind covering up. But if you want to wear shorts and crop tops and similar stylish but western attire on your holiday, then you might find Maamigili and other local islands, a little too restrictive.

It’s only fair to point this out to you.

Another warning I would give is to be very careful in the heat and the sun.

I mentioned above the specific hours we spent at the beach. It’s so hot in Maldives.

The sun is so intense and it’s easy to overdo it in a short time of exposure.

We completely avoided being in the sun during the afternoon when it was hottest.

So many of the guests at our hotel (of which there is only nine rooms) were horribly sunburned.

So many had red raw skin (or no skin!) on parts of their body like arms legs, shoulders and backs.

Some had painfully swollen legs and feet.

This totally spoiled their holiday as they then had no choice to spend time in their room.

Be careful in hot tropical places so you don’t suffer from heatstroke or sunburn!

Wear sunscreen. Cover up. Drink lots of water.

MALDIVES - LOCAL ISLAND HOMESTAY ON MAAMIGILI #travel #maldives #maldivesislands


Perhaps another thing I should warn you about is a lack of things to do in the evening on the island.

And that, for us anyway, there was no opportunity for socialising in the evenings.

I could blame the lack of a bar – coffee or otherwise – as all hotel guests took to their rooms after dinner.

So, after 8pm, there was no one around.

I didn’t mind the first week, but once I’d caught up on sleep, I would have liked a bit of social interaction in the evenings.

Maybe it was just us?!

Or, maybe the troublesome evening mosquitoes were to blame?

See my post on biting flies and no-see-um’s!

Beautiful Bikini Beach on Maamigili Island Maldives: Photo Janice Horton
Beautiful Bikini Beach Maamigili Island Maldives

Maldives – maamigili island

I hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with me to Maldives!

I wanted to show you that it is possible to see this amazingly beautiful place on a budget.

Maldives is not just for the wealthy.

I can personally recommend this alternative way of experiencing the Maldives to you.

Below are our total costs for TWO PEOPLE on a TWO WEEK Maldives holiday on a budget.

I’m quoting costs in US Dollars as that’s a universal currency also preferred in the Maldives.

On Bikini Beach Maamigili Island Maldives; the backpacking housewife
On Bikini Beach – Maamigili Island Maldives


FLIGHTS: Two economy return tickets with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Male Maldives. $200

FERRY: Two tickets local ferry from Male Airport to Male Island: $2

SPEEDBOAT: Two return tickets on local scheduled speed boat from Male to Maamigili Island. $150

HOTEL: Two weeks in a double room accommodation (Booking Dotcom) with breakfast at Koimala Hotel: $425

DINNER: Two person’s evening meals (with drinking water) for two-weeks at Koimala Hotel: $100

AIRPORT HOTEL: One overnight stay at Hulhumale at Male (Booking Dotcom) before our return flight: $66

TOTAL COST: for two people including flights, boats, accommodation, and food, for two weeks = $943

That’s a two-week holiday in Maldives for two people for LESS THAN $1000!!

Maamigili Sign: Maamigili Island Maldives

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and my photos and video clips of what was a very special holiday and a wonderful way for the backpacking husband and I to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary!

If I ever get to holiday in Maldives again, I wouldn’t hesitate to travel independently.

But I think, next time, I’d be tempted to ‘island hop’ around the local islands.

It’s possible to spend a week or just few days using the local boat transport, to experiencing staying on several different islands.

Although, independent travel is still relatively new to Maldives, so it could involve a bit of research into local boat schedules.

Have you been to Maldives?

Which island did you go?

Have I inspired you to try a local island?

What do you think of this alternative way to experience Maldives?

Let me know in the comments!

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