Exploring the Maldives with Esha Gupta and the joy of budget travelling

Maldives isn’t just about the sea, beaches, and resorts. It’s also about adventure sports like snorkelling and scuba diving. And Bollywood actor Esha Gupta has captured just that in her recent visit to the island country.

We already know that the Maldives is one of the favourite holiday destination of film stars across the country from their vivid Instagram pictures. Esha shared videos of her doing water yoga and scuba diving, along with her trainer on Instagram. For Indians, Maldives is a fairly hassle-free location to access, with no elaborate Visa rules and other complications.

Visa on arrival is available for tourists from all over the world in the Maldives. In fact, this is one country that doesn’t require elaborate pre-planning and is perfect for a quick getaway. The only thing you need to perhaps consider would be the pandemic protocols. Look out for the attractive packages available at resorts. 

The Maldives is an Islamic state operating under sharia law and requires all of its citizens to be Muslim. Upon entering the country, you have to sign a declaration stating that you are not bringing into the country “materials deemed contrary to Islam including ‘idols for worship’ and bibles, pork and pork products, and alcohol.” Furthermore, in the Maldives, Friday and Saturday is the weekend, with Friday being a day of rest. Everything but restaurants close down on Fridays and ferries ceases to run.

Pork and alcohol are banned, and there are also no dogs are allowed in the country. You won’t be able to find an alcoholic drink anywhere outside of the resorts. It’s not even like it’s banned but you can secretly buy it at expensive prices - we didn’t see it for sale anywhere and weren’t offered any while we were there. If you’re hoping for cocktails or beers at sunset, you’ll have to stick with bottles of water instead.

Are you a budget traveller and desperately want to visit Maldives? We have some useful tips.

• Finding inexpensive accommodation

There aren’t any super low-cost options for lodging. You won’t find dorm rooms in the Maldives. But you will find over a hundred Couchsurfing hosts (is a service that connects members to a global community of travellers. Use Couchsurfing to find a place to stay or share your home and hometown with travellers. If not, there are still plenty of budget guesthouses, and they’re surprisingly good value for money (clean rooms with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, free breakfasts, snorkelling). You can log into booking.com (search for hotels in Maldives) or Airbnb. 

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• Finding cheap transport

Local ferries run on a somewhat infrequent schedule but shouldn’t cost more than $2-4 for a three-hour journey. If you want to visit a resort, you’ll have to pay for a speedboat, but they are expensive. One possibility could be to turn up at the nearest local island and ask around to see if a local fisherman will take you across on his boat. Avoid the seaplanes if you’re travelling on a budget - these will usually cost around $500 return for a 20-minute journey.

• Affordable and good food

Options are less in smaller islands and it would be advisable to have your meals at the guesthouse. Most of the restaurants charge the same for meals (10 dollars for rice, chicken, and barbequed fish). But some islands will have many options and it is advisable to order their various fish curry meals. 

• Cheap excursions

The cheapest way to go on an excursion is to book it through your guesthouse. Don’t be afraid to shop around for prices, though! Wander into four or five guesthouses and ask for their prices before you decide. Also, check to see what’s included in the price - some guesthouses will include lunch, water, and a soft drink, some won’t include any extras. The cheapest option for diving in the Maldives, however, is doing a liveaboard trip. Other options for excursions include lots of snorkelling trips. You get amazing visibility, watch thousands of tropical fishes, and even adorable sea turtles swimming alongside. Most guesthouses arrange fishing trips, island hopping, day trips to resorts, and sandbanks. 

And please consider that for both men and women they have a strict dress code to follow on the local islands. Shoulders and thighs are required to be covered at all times, even when on the beach. No see-through clothing, either. Men are not allowed to go shirtless or wear shorts and women can forget about wearing a bikini or swimming costume. But if you’re going on an excursion away from the local islands - a snorkelling trip, for example - then you can wear whatever you like once you get on the boat. But the good news is that there will be one designated beach for tourists called Bikini beach. A barrier will be erected between the beach and the streets of the island, and once you pass that barrier, you’ll be able to take off your clothes. Some of the guesthouses have a small garden area where they’ll allow you to sunbathe in bikinis if there isn’t a Bikini Beach. If you are staying at the resorts, no such rules apply, and you can wear whatever you want and even sunbathe in a bikini. 

Few exciting things to do in Maldives 

• Experience Submarine Tour

Consider taking a 45-minute submarine expedition to the underwater world in the Maldives, 100 feet below the ocean, in the air-conditioned Whale Submarine Maldives’ comfort. The Whale Submarine’s certified crew in the Maldives will ensure that this submarine expedition in the Maldives takes you through the impenetrable depths of the Indian Ocean, ensuring that you have the smoothest and most pleasant experience possible on this 2-hour Maldives submarine tour from Male’.

Spot some extraordinary and unique sea life, including coral reefs, reef sharks, surgeons, and more.

• Dolphin Watching near Dhiggaru

The Maldives opens several choices for watching whales and dolphins. It finds its place in the top 5 whale and dolphin watching destinations worldwide, and its shimmering coastline is home to over 20 different species of whales and dolphins. From the mysterious Spinner Dolphin and Melon-headed Whale to the mighty Blue Whale and Pilot Whale, you’ll find it all here.

• Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving in the Maldives usually ranges between 45 – 50 minutes. Due to depth and currents, 20 meters can be covered in 40-50 minutes. The best time to go Scuba Diving in the Maldives is between November to May. During this period, Maldives enjoys excellent sea conditions and provide clear visibility, making Scuba Diving a top-notch activity.

• Underwater Treasure Hunting

There is an exciting underwater treasure hunting activity for sports enthusiasts that is one of the most incredible excursions in the Maldives’ deep seas. There are many resorts in the Maldives that offer this activity. It allows you to spend hours in the water looking for something unpredictable and beyond your thoughts!

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