Assuming you have seen the tranquil pictures of Maldives, with crystal clear waters, and houses floating on these waters, I can safely say that pictures do no justice!
And, Maldives on a budget is not this. It is undoubtedly a luxury holiday. Anyone telling you otherwise, is not letting you experience the true flavours of this island.
I find planning holidays therapeutic and my limited knowledge of Maldives, always made me think that this country does not demand any planning. Hence, not my kind of holiday! There is not much of a sightseeing that you need to plan in advance. But, deciding on the basic nitty gritty of this place is the true essence of planning a Maldivian holiday.
- Getting to Male
As we were going from Bangalore with a 9 month old baby, we were hell bent on getting a direct flight. This was our baby’s first flight and we did not want to overwhelm him (or us), with multiple flights.
We easily found a direct flight that fit in our budget from Bangalore. However, the return flight had a change in Kochi.
Now, while booking a flight, make sure you land at a time when your resort transfers, especially seaplanes , are operational.
Speed boat transfers operate 24 hours per day.
Whereas, seaplanes operate from 6:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.only. If you land after 3.30 p.m, you might have to stay in Male till next day.
- Deciding hotel transfers
Maldives is an island country of Asia, with the most geographically dispersed states. Seaplanes and speed boats serve as taxis to your destination. Without this service, getting to your hotel is not possible.
Almost every island is a separate resort and there are over 100 of such resorts.
Island transfer time depends on the selected hotel. Speed boat transfers can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as 60 minutes. Seaplane transfers usually take from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
A few resorts even demand a change of flight.
Hence, selection depends on your choice of transfer. We had a baby who was taking his first flight. So, we wanted a speedboat transfer.
Speedboat transfers will be arranged by the hotel based on your arrival/departure time.
Seaplane Carriers are independent operators which provide the resort with schedules in the evening prior to arrival and departures. As such, all schedule timing are solely at the discretion of the seaplane management. You must arrive into Male before 3:30 p.m. in order to catch a same day Seaplane transfer. For any further queries, you can e-mail the resort and steer clear of unwanted complications later.
Note – If you have motion sickness, pop a tablet for it, atleast an hour before you board the speedboat or as prescribed by your physician.
- Where to stay?
Maldives holiday planning looks simple at one glance. Pick a hotel, no visa applications and just be there to chill. But, sit with a magnifying glass and it all gets complex thereof.
Once you start looking at the resorts, you will feel incapable of making decisions in life. The resorts are so many, they all look so wonderful, and they are all quite pricey. But factor in a few things that will help you narrow down your options.
Budget is one thing. You cannot be extremely frugal but you can still make up a budget for yourself. Beach villas are cheaper than water villas. All the resorts do not have one or the other.
We had two reasons for splitting our stay between a beach villa and a water villa. One being the water villa digging a hole (or rather a crater) in our pockets. And secondly, we were unsure about staying at the water villa with a crawling infant.
So , we were sure to pick a resort that had both the stay options.
Also, the farther you go from the capital city of Male, the seclusion makes it more coveted, and hence expensive. Though, each year there are atleast 3-4 new resorts that open, and those can be available at discounted prices.
Second aspect to consider is distance from Male. Farther it is, and you will be taking a seaplane. Seaplanes are, one, operational only for limited timing in the day, and are operated by a separate agency, and not the hotel. It is also more expensive, when compared to speedboat transfers.
With an infant, we wanted to be close to the capital, in case of any emergency.
For us, our stay had to be baby-friendly.
Few resorts do not allow babies on water villas. On the other hand, few have baby-sitting facilities.
The fun of visiting Maldives is staying in the water villas. If you cannot do that, I am not sure, how worthy is spending all that money on that holiday.
Our options were tremendously downsized with application of all the above variables. We evaluated our budget, and Voila!
VELASSARU RESORT made the cut!! And we are so glad!
Deciding where to stay is quite a mind-boggling decision. Almost all the work is done, once you are able to book your flights and stay.
Visa is on arrival for Indian passport holders and it is free too! Make sure you have all your booking details handy.
Our itinerary for Velssaru resort
Day 1 – We had a 2 hours flight from Bangalore to Velana Airport in Male, and we reached at 3.30 pm. There is a time difference of half an hour. 3.30 p.m. in Maldives is 3 p.m. in India.
We had booked our airport transfer via seaplane, in advance and hence were greeted by the hotel representative at the airport exit. They directed us towards the hotel kiosk and requested us to look around, while our speedboat was being set up.
The whole experience of this airport is different. The seaplane taxis are flying one after another, and speedboats are anchored to carry their guests on the forward journey. And it is expectedly, hot and humid too!
We were already soaking in, all the azure views in front of us, when our speedboat was ready and we gladly hopped on. The boat is quite comfortable, air conditioned and well maintained. The hotel staff greeted us in the boat with a bottle of water and a very warm smile.
It was a 25 minutes ride, after which we were at the island resort, already looking around with excitement and were very promptly led to our room.
Our first 2 days were to be spent at the beach villa. The room was spacious. The back door led us directly to the beach with our beach chairs already sitting there.
Our room had an infant bed set up, without us requesting for it.
We spent the first day figuring out the property, and all the amenities. They gave us a brochure of all the activities, which also included a few free ones. Make sure to call the reception and book a free photoshoot, complimentary sunrise cruise and a complimentary snorkel. Do this as soon as you can. We were lazy to do so and missed out on all the free stuff!
Later, we went and sat at the ‘Fen’ bar and enjoyed the live music along with some drinks, followed by our buffet dinner at the restaurant ‘Turquoise’.
We had booked a half board and as food is expensive there, it is wiser to book a half or full board.
Day 2 – I typically start my days early on holidays, especially a beach holiday. I love to loiter around the beach and feel the morning breeze. I did the same here, while husband volunteered to sleep and take care of the son if he got up.
These mornings strolls are the best. I explored the length and breath of the island, made some boomerangs, sat at the beach, geared up for the day ahead.
After the breakfast buffet, we got ready to hit the waters. While our baby took his first nap of the day, we went into the waters, spent a good one hour frolicking together, until Ahaan (our baby boy) was up.
We spent the afternoon playing with our kid indoors (it was really hot) and later went out in the evening for good golden hour pictures. This is also the best time to sit at their ‘Chill bar’ where you can grab a beer and see the setting sun.
Day 3 – Eat. Beach. Repeat.
Also, we shifted to our water villa, which was again set up with a baby bed. We also had a private pool here and thats where we spent all our day! It is a great vantage point if you intend to snorkel. Or else, sit at the edge of the villa and you can easily spot the school of fishes swimming around.
Evenings are perfect to venture out for kayaking and Velassaru has their own water sport junction You can enquire about everything on your first day to plan it properly.
This evening, there was a ‘cinema under the stars’ that we went to see. But, with a baby, we could not sit for long.
They also organise private romantic dinners at the beach if you are willing to have one, of course at an extra cost.
And, you can also re-new your vows and get married in a dreamy ceremony by the beach.
This being our penultimate day of the vacation, we made sure our next day airport transfers were sorted and on time, by visiting the reception.
Day 4 – Day of goodbye. Felling gloomy is inevitable. Such a short stay, in such a slice of paradise, with impeccable arrangements, and the most luxurious rooms, food and everything! Who would want to leave this behind!
Things you must know about Maldives –
- It is the lowest country in the world. Just to give you perspective – even its highest point (17 feet), is the lowest highest point in the world.
- There is news of some political unrest, but that does not affect tourists.
- If the sea levels keep rising at the current speed, this beautiful island will no longer be available in the next 80 years.
- Most of the resorts of Maldives are fighting the global warming in their own way. Eg. Velassaru has close to no use of one time use plastics. No plastic bottles. The toiletries are in re-fillable bottles. No plastic straw at the restaurants. This is actually need of the hour.
- Almost 99.9% of the country follows islamic religion. Make sure you are respectful of the religion. Dress modestly in Male atleast. Once at the resort, you can wear or do anything.
- You cannot carry alcohol into the country. In case you picked up something at duty-free, you will have to submit it at the customs and can retrieve it on your return journey.
- Carry USD and you are pretty much sorted unless you plan to stay at Male. In that case, you might have to exchange USD to Maldivian Rufiyah. Make sure to carry a few lower denomination USD to tip the butlers.
- If you may intend to visit other islands, you need to pay for the transfers via speedboat or seaplane and that only adds up to the money you spend..
Expenses (water sports are not included)
- Stay and airport transfers – 2 nights beach villa + 1 night water villa – 3000 USD (Booked via Makemytrip.com)
- Flights from Bangalore to Male and return for 2 adults and 1 infant – 770 USD. (You can book way in advance to save money)
- Food & drinks – 2 days lunch and evenings at the bars – 200 USD
- Total – 4000 USD. (approx.)
If you have any questions, please free to get in touch. You can also follow me on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/bla.bla.black.sheep/ ) for timely updates of every holiday.