Why Is The Maldives So Expensive?

maldives is expensive but super nice

I’ve always wondered why the Maldives is so expensive so I thought I would look into why that is?

The main reason why the Maldives are expensive is because of the high cost of real estate, high taxes imposed on foreigners and tourists and that just about everything is imported.

The Maldives is the epitome of luxury in nature. With its crystalline waters, perfect white sand beaches, and romantic cabana getaways right on top of the gentle sway of the waves — this small island in South Asia that is every single traveler’s dream of visiting doesn’t come cheap.

But why is that?

Travelers think that the Maldives is expensive but really, it’s mostly the accommodation that breaks your bank.

The Maldives is an island nation that has limited land resources so you can only imagine how much a developer needs to build a resort, maintain it, and make it attractive to tourists.


Another reason why the Maldives is expensive is the taxes imposed on foreigners and tourists.

If you visit the Maldives, you have to individually pay the Green Tax of $6 per day if you’re in resorts, vessels, and hotels.

You also have to pay the GST or the Goods and Services Tax which is an additional 12% and service charge of 10%.

Almost every resource in the Maldives is imported so you should expect almost everything to be more expensive than you’re used to.

So how expensive a trip to the Maldives can be? Here is the breakdown of your possible costs:


Accommodation will take the most chunk out of your budget. If you want that luxurious Maldives experience with its iconic overwater bungalows, expect to shell out a minimum of $1,000 a night without taxes.

Book it in advance too. It’s recommended to book your overwater bungalow as early as a year before your trip because this type of accommodation gets full very quickly.

A good example of this is Kanuhura Resort where an island room in this 5-star resort on a private lagoon islet will cost you anywhere between $1,300 to $1,600 per night. This tropical oasis doesn’t come cheap, but the topaz waters and palm-fringed beaches will make up for it.

If you don’t want to spend that much money on a hotel, there are a lot of options in the Maldives.

A 3-star beachfront hotel will cost from $60 to $100. You’ll spend $35 to $50 on a guesthouse while an Airbnb rental can go as low as $25.

These prices are considered budget-friendly and you’ll only find accommodations like these on local islands.

If you want a more secluded place, then it comes at a price since private resorts usually have the best private spots around the islands.


Food and non-alcoholic beverages, as you can expect, are a bit more expensive in the Maldives.

If you’re staying in a resort, don’t bother to pay your meals separately because it will be more expensive.

Do opt for an all-inclusive package that will cover your meals throughout your stay.

But if you want to have more freedom on your major meals per day, here is an estimated cost of food at resorts without the 22% tax:

Simple A La Carte restaurant meal: around $40

  • 5-star resort meal: around $50
  • Restaurant buffet meal: $30 plus the cost of drinks (including water)
  • Pizza from hotel restaurant: $15
  • Bottled water: $5
  • Soft drinks: $10

As we said, it’s not a good idea to pay for your meals separately when you’re staying in a hotel or a resort because you really can’t eat anywhere else except for their restaurants.

But if you’re on a local island, the meals are much more reasonably priced. A simple full meal can go from $5 to $15 per person.


What you need to always remember is that in the Maldives, it’s illegal to drink in public and you can’t buy any alcohol on local islands.

If you want to have a cocktail by the beach, you need to get yourself checked-in at a resort or a live-aboard-boat.

These places are licensed to serve alcohol but with a steep mark-up. Price also depends on which resort you are in.

The more high-end the resort is, the more expensive the drinks are.

Here are the estimated prices for alcoholic drinks in the Maldives:

  • Beer: $6 to $15
  • Cocktail: $12 to $25

Those are only the base prices for the drinks. Most restaurants in the Maldives will not include taxes and government service charges.

So always add 22% to your bill.


There are four main ways of getting around the Maldives: domestic flight, boat, seaplane, or a private yacht.

Boats are like cars for the locals in the Maldives while as a tourist, you’re most likely to use seaplanes and private yachts (also called liveaboards).

It’s always a good idea to let your hotel or resort handle your traveling means when you get to the Maldives.

Arrange a private transfer when you arrive at the airport in Malé, so you won’t have to waste a day waiting for public ferries and cargo boats.

Private transfers could cost anywhere between $500 to $800.

When you’re going from island to island, the fastest option you have is a seaplane transfer.

These aren’t cheap and will cost you at least $300 return per person but what usually an hour and a half ride by boat will be cut down to 25 minutes of scenic Maldives flight.

But there are significantly cheaper costs of travel around the Maldives, but they will take their time and you will need a bit of patience and a sense of independence to get used to it.

Here are their estimated prices:

  • Speed boat transfer within Malé: $90 per person
  • Speed boat transfer to another Atoll: minimum of $150 per person
  • Public ferry: $3

Is it worth it?

The Maldives is expensive and if you’re not financially prepared, a trip can ruin your bank’s credit. Most of the luxurious things that the Maldives has known for cost an arm and a leg. So is it still worth it?

The answer is it really depends on your budget.

If you’re worried about spending almost all of your money on travel arrangements and accommodations that you won’t have anything left to spend during and after your Maldives trip, then it’s not worth it.

Asia has a lot of amazing tropical resorts and beaches that rival the ones in the Maldives. Plus, it doesn’t cost as much.

Your hotel or resort budget for the Maldives will go a long way in a 5-star resort in the Philippines, Malaysia, or in the Caribbean.

If you’re going to the Maldives for overwater villas, then there are a lot of South Pacific Islands that offer the same experience.

But, if you’re financially ready to blow away your budget for an amazing getaway to the Maldives, then, by all means, do it.

However, you’ll only get your money’s worth for a Maldives experience if you’re staying at an overwater villa.

Most of your trip to the Maldives will only revolve around resorts so don’t skimp on it.

The majority of your travel experience will depend on how big you went — if you splurged on liveaboards, private planes, and exclusive resorts.

All of these are tailored in crossing off your bucket list for the Maldives since, for such an expensive destination, it will most likely become a once in a lifetime experience.

Of course, you can also travel to the Maldives on a tight budget but that’s not recommendable especially if it’s the first time you’re going there.

You’ll likely experience regret and envy since most of the best things in the Maldives are considered luxurious. Because going to the Maldives is a luxury in itself.

So if you’re planning your trip to the Maldives, that romantic getaway will cost you a lot but of course, Maldives is undeniably one of the most beautiful destinations and even incomparable to some.

It’s a natural beauty, combined with the luxury that envelops the Maldives experience will truly make your trip worthwhile and unforgettable.


Why is the Maldives so expensive?

The Maldives is expensive primarily due to the high cost of real estate, high taxes imposed on foreigners and tourists, and the fact that almost everything is imported. Limited land resources make resort development and maintenance costly, and the high demand for luxurious accommodations drives up prices.

What are the taxes that tourists need to pay in the Maldives?

Tourists visiting the Maldives are subject to a Green Tax of $6 per day for stays in resorts, vessels, and hotels. Additionally, a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 12% and a service charge of 10% are applied.

How much does accommodation typically cost in the Maldives?

Accommodation costs vary widely in the Maldives. Luxurious overwater bungalows can start at $1,000 per night without taxes. More budget-friendly options include 3-star beachfront hotels for $60 to $100 per night, guesthouses for $35 to $50 per night, and Airbnb rentals as low as $25 per night.

What is the cost of food and drinks in the Maldives?

Food and non-alcoholic beverages are generally more expensive in the Maldives. A simple restaurant meal at a resort can cost around $40, while a 5-star resort meal may cost around $50. Alcoholic drinks like beer and cocktails can range from $6 to $25, depending on the resort. Prices are lower on local islands, with full meals costing between $5 and $15 per person.

What are the transportation options and costs within the Maldives?

Transportation options in the Maldives include domestic flights, boats, seaplanes, and private yachts (also called liveaboards). Private transfers from the airport can cost between $500 and $800. Seaplane transfers cost at least $300 per person for a return trip. Speed boat transfers within Malé start at $90 per person, and transferring to another Atoll begins at $150 per person. Public ferries are available at $3 per trip.