Aerial view of a snorkelling site in Vavuu Atoll
If you’re planning on exploring the local islands of the Maldives, or are interested in island hopping, there are three ways of transferring – a seaplane, a speed boat or a public ferry. At the time when I visited the island nation, ferries from the airport to the various atolls were not operational, plus they are quite slow as compared to a speed boat. But they are the cheapest transfer at the end of the day. So, here’s a a pro tip for you! I would suggest that you cover the islands within the same Atoll to save on transportation cost. The transit among the islands of same Atoll by ferries is still operational currently and is quite cheap, priced at just $3/person one way. Whereas, a speed boat (only mode of transfer currently) from the airport to the island itself will cost you a whopping $40/person one way! A seaplane usually only flies to the more expensive resort islands which are farther away from the airport.
But currently, each time you wish to visit a new Atoll altogether, you will have to pay transit charges for a speed boat to the airport or to the island in the new atoll concerned if there is one. Which means paying $40 almost 4 times from airport —> island —> airport —> next island —> airport!
Whereas if you transit within the same atoll, you can opt for a local ferry for island hopping, to cut down on your cost, since inter-atoll public transport is still currently operational.
Otherwise, if you are a backpacker at the end of the day, and don’t want to pay for the speedboat, I recommend that you visit the Maldives when the Public transportation system fully opens up and check on the routes
HERE in advance for planning your trip!
Final budget breakdown for a 3night/4 day trip to a local island like Fulidhoo:
Flight (round trip) – ₹20k
Accommodation – ₹3500k (breakfast included) (cost split into two)
Food – ₹7000 (Counting 7 meals at ~ ₹600 – 1500 per meal)
Activities – ₹4500 – 5000
Speed boat – ₹3200 *2 = 6400
This comes down to
approximately ₹41500 for one person on one island!
(All currency is mentioned in the Indian Rupee)
Since I am pretty well versed with the Vavuu Atoll, which is located 64 km (40 miles) from the capital
Malé, 60 minutes by speedboat, and 3 hours by dhoni (public ferry), here are some more islands that you can visit within the Atoll:
Inhabited/local islands – Felidhoo, Fulidhoo, Keyodhoo, Rakeedhoo, Thinadhoo
Resort islands – Alimatha, Dhiggiri
Amongst the local islands, Keyodhoo has the largest recorded population of 635 inhabitants.
Fulidhoo for my stay because it has an impeccable diving school called Fulidhoo dive center and they take you for channel dives and deep dives at all prominent locations in the atoll including Alimatha, where you get to dive with some incredibly gentle nurse sharks.
Besides this, some of my friends have visited
Keyodhoo, and heres what they had to say about it: It had more local people and less tourists, which was completely opposite to Fulidhoo. But I would say a lot more snorkeling activities are present nearby and the sites are not as deep. It is also so very good for thise who wish to start snorkeling. We went to a sandbank, an uninhabited island shipwreck and all these sites were too good. Although, the place where we were staying was very basic. We also did some fishing which was nice since this is prominently more of a fishing island. A of people especially from Germany visit this island for fishing . But the island had a smaller bikini beach than Fulidhoo.
This is mostly all I have on the budget aspect of Maldives from one of its Atolls! However, there are around 26 Atolls in total and the country is totally worth exploring even besides its beautiful resort islands!
But If you also wish to see a comparison of budget vs luxury in the Maldives, check out this YT video: