Changes in government policy regarding the way tourism is done in the Maldives have allowed locals to open their houses to foreigners and operate small accommodations in inhabited islands – where tourism was formerly prohibited. This makes a holiday in Maldives much cheaper than the average tourist who visits the Maldives. It is possible to enjoy the sandy beaches and crystal clear waters within a range of USD 40 - USD 63 per day.
Presently direct scheduled flights from International origins are not available to Gan International Airport though direct flights from Colombo, Sri Lanka are expected to begin by the beginning of December 2016 There are several daily flights between Male’ and Addu by the National Airline–Maldivian. Presently, the easiest way to get to Addu City is through Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and then to Gan International Airport. Most International flights arrive late to Male, so if you’re planning on staying at Addu City and have not booked a flight from Male to Gan, you’ll still probably need to stay the first night in Male or Hulhumale.
Though Maldives iconic brand for tourists is the resort, they are too expensive for backpackers. Instead, there are Guest houses around the city where you can easily travel from one island to the other with ferries. Local travel agents can guide you to find the best and cheapest Guesthouses available in the city. In just 5 minutes from Gan Airport there is the Equator Village.
If you like local food, which is mostly made out of seafood, you will have no problem finding a local restaurant or a cafe in the city. This is the cheapest option, and a meal will cost you around MVR 50 (about $3.50). Other than grilled fish, typical Maldivian cuisine includes tuna with onion and lime juice, sweet and thick milk tea, and flat bread called Roshi – similar to Indian roti. If you’re not into seafood, you can still find delicious meals with curry, chicken, or other meats that will be just a few more dollars more expensive (ranging between $5 to $10). Now, if you go for western food, that’s where you’ll be paying over $10 per meal. Since liquor is prohibited in local cafes and restaurants you have to go to a place like Equator Village for a drink.
Tip: Make sure the weather will be nice the day you go for any of these adventures, as everything is outdoors, and activities can be cancelled last minute due to inclement weather. For diving… the cheapest dives are from Maradhoo and Equator Village. Going around the islands is pretty straight forward. If you like the breeze with some exercise a bicycle tour is best. Buses Taxis and ferry boats are also available as private or through public transport system. Your tour guide will assist you finding all these facilities.
In Addu City, you can reach all inhabited island by bicycle, motorcycle, taxi or bus except for Hulhumeedhoo for which you need a ferry, or a speed boat. It takes about 20 minutes to reach most distant places by cars or speedboats. Addu city has a reliable ferry system. The ferry between Feyddhoo and Hulhumeedhoo costs MVR 25 (about $1.6) and takes 45 minutes shore to shore. One thing to have in mind is that not all ferries run every day you should check their schedule with the Feryy Service Provider. When you arrive at the airport, you have the option to take a taxi, speedboat depending on the location of your Guest House. If you’re staying in Gan and like to have transport arranged by the hotel you can arrange transport during the time of reservation.
Be very respectful to locals, they are very friendly and welcoming but this is an Islamic country, so there are some limitations you must adhere to. It is imperative that you know that alcohol and pork are forbidden. The only places you can drink alcohol are either in the Equator Village, in one of the resort islands, or on a “booze cruise”. Outside of that, it is illegal. And, don’t even try to bring them into the country, as your bags are x-rayed upon entry. If you want to go to any public beach, bear in mind that women can’t wear a bikini. You must dress modestly at all times. So, no bikinis or other forms of swimwear, no see-thru clothing and shoulders and knees should be covered at all times. Instead, if you want to wear a bikini, you should go to a Picnic Island, a resort, or any uninhabited island. If you want to go to a resort without staying there for the night, resorts offer day passes for as low as $50 (some of them including transportation). There you can enjoy the beach, suntan, drink alcohol, and see the famous over-water bungalows! You can coordinate this with your guesthouse or any tourist shop.
Sure thing!! Budget tourism in the Maldives is just in its initial stages and not too many foreigners are venturing out of the resorts. So, for a while, you can enjoy certain islands just by yourself or explore the town with you just being the only foreigner! As you can see, Maldives is not as exclusive or as expensive as it seems to be; especially if you do your proper research, planning, and are willing to go very local, makes it even better!