Back when Louie and I were still going out, we’ve always dreamed about traveling out of the country together. Never have we imagined that our first out of the country trip will be on our honeymoon in the Maldives. Trips to foreign land always require a lot of preparation and after reading about blog posts about the Maldives, it was evident that it can be quite expensive. Notice that I said “can be quite expensive”? Yes, it can get very expensive but not always! Louie and I have traveled a lot locally DIY style so we wanted to see if we can wing our Maldives honeymoon without breaking the bank. Lo and behold, we spent 4 days 3 nights in the Maldives but only manage to spend less than 12k per person! (NOTE: Does not include airfare) That’s cheaper than a week’s stay in Boracay or Palawan! Here’s how we did it. Airfare varies, we got ours almost 16k roundtrip, but you can book a flight for 11k roundtrip during the off-peak season, however its best to visit the Maldives during the months of December to April.
Venue: Hacienda Solange Tagaytay
Photo: We Finally Made It
Video: Angelo Bronolo Films
We booked our accommodation using Airbnb (Click here for discount!) and it was there where we came across a hotel owner called Abdul Wahab of Equator Beach Inn, one of the kindest man we’ve ever met while travelling. We were eager to pay him immediately because of the fantastic rates but he said we can just pay him upon check out. We found it weird at first because most hotels would ask for a deposit/reservation fee of some sort. Abdul explained to us that he works on a trust basis and he want’s us to just enjoy our stay and not worry too much about the payment. Cool right?!
A day after we got married, we flew to Kuala Lumpur via Philippine airlines. The flight took about 4 hours and from KL we flew to Hulhumale via AirAsia which was around 3 hours long. The flight from Manila to KL was comfortable thanks to PAL great service and free meals. The flight from KL to Hulhumale – not so, but we didn’t really mind it because we were too excited!
We reached Velana International Airport at around 8PM and as we were about to exit, we saw a man holding a sign with our names written on it. We had to do a double take because we don’t normally experience that kind of stuff hahaha! Man I wish I took a picture of that. We approached the guy and introduced ourselves. The guy’s name was Hyder, one of Abdul’s subordinate. He explained that Abdul asked him to welcome us in the airport. He also showed us where to buy ferry tickets and gave us instructions on how to get to Maafushi island which is where our accommodation was.
Since it was already late in the evening, the passenger boat from the airport going to Male wasn’t available. Renting a private boat would cost a lot of money ($25 per person) so we decided to stay in one of the hostels (Elite hotel) 30 minutes away from the airport. Passenger boats from the airport to Male only cost PHP 65 each so it’s a lot cheaper compared to renting a private boat.
TIP: Make sure you check what time you’ll arrive in Velana Int’ Airport as passenger boats going to Male (where passenger boats bound for Maafushi) do not run 24/7. Also, there’s only 1 scheduled trip from Male to Maafushi and it’s at 3PM at Villingili Port. Make sure you get there on time otherwise you’ll have to rent a private boat to get to Maafushi.
We woke up early the following day and strolled around the quite town of Hulhumale and visit it’s local beach. I really liked the feel of this town. It seems very calm and quiet and the local beach was also quite nice. Fast forward we took a bus from Hulhumale back to the airport. There’s a bus that runs from Hulhumale to the airport every 30 minutes and the fare is around PHP 65.
We took the passenger boat from the airport to Male and the trip was around 15 minutes. Male is the capital city of Maldives and it is quite congested. There also plenty of hotels there but if you ask me, I would rather stay in Hulhumale. We then took a taxi to get to Villingili ferry terminal and the ticket price was around PHP 71 each. Since we got the ferry terminal pretty early, we decided to explore Male a little bit and look for places to hang out. The were cafés and restaurants but we didn’t really fancy any of them so we decided to just buy snacks instead.
We left Male at 3PM on the dot. Boats here strictly follow their schedule so don’t be late. I don’t remember exactly how long the trip took from Male to Maafushi but if I had to guess, I would say it took more than an hour.
Note: Maafushi is the 3rd stop from Villingili ferry terminal. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals if you are not sure where to offboard.
After what seemed like forever, we finally arrived in Maafushi where one of the staff of Equator Beach Inn. His name was Mohammed and he was a very nice man. He even took our luggage even when we told him not to. It might be that it’s normal for the staff to make their guest feel comfortable but for it didn’t feel right because I am fully capable of carrying my own things hahaha. I am not used to this kind of treatment LOL.
The Equator Beach Inn was very nice and felt homey. It’s a bungalow style hotel with 6 rooms and a garden area with a hut, a hammock, a traditional hammock chair and a mini lounge. They also serve meals here if the chef is available. Luckily for us, all of the other guests had already checked out when we arrived and no other guests checked in throughout our entire stay. We felt really blessed since it was like we rented the whole place! It was just Louie, myself and Mohammed. Abdul also visited to discuss the activities that we will do in the next few days. I recommend that you discuss it with him as soon as you arrive so he can arrange the necessary equipment, transportation etc. that you will use for the *excursion and other activities.
*Excursion – snorkeling, dolphin watching, fish feeding, island hopping etc.
The room was quite big and has a queen size bed, a TV, fridge, a wardrobe and a small table. The restroom was nice but lacks a bathtub. I don’t really mind not having a bathtub. I mean who would even want one if you are surrounded by pristine beaches?
It was already late in the afternoon when we arrived in the hotel so after having our bags and clothes sorted out, we headed out for a quick snack, got back to the hotel and called it a night.
Day 1 We woke up early the next day and found our breakfast already prepared in the dining area. A good serving of scrambled eggs, 2 slices of toasts with butter/jam, a bowl of cereal, sausages, some fruit slices, a cup of coffee, and a glass of orange juice. Plenty if you ask me as I am not used to eating breakfast anyways.
Note: Breakfast is served around 7 a.m. and comes free with the hotel stay.
With our tummies full, we headed down the jetty to meet our boatman and his companion. One of the hotel staff even came with us during the excursion to make sure we make the most of the activities. The boat was a double engine speedboat and was scary fast. I really enjoyed the boat ride as I’ve never ridden a speedboat. It was an adrenaline-pumping experience.
The first activity was fish feeding and snorkeling. I was expecting schools of tiny fish to feast on the breadcrumbs that we brought but to our surprise, the fish that came about was bigger than our hands. They were all over the place and was having a feeding frenzy. One of them even snagged my finger as I was swimming.
After the fish feeding, we headed to one of the many sandbanks of Maldives. The sand was powder fine and the water – crystal clear. Be sure to bring sunscreen though as most of the sandbanks are bare. Not a tree on sight. We were very pleased because there weren’t any people in the sandbanks/islets that we visited.
The last activity of that day was the dolphin watching. I’ve seen a dolphin before but not a whole pod. Actually, there were 2 pods of dolphins and they were quite close to our boats but once the boat got too close they dove under and emerged further. I really wanted to go swimming with the dolphins but I reckon they will just swim away when you get too close. My friends call me “fish” but there is no way I can out swim a dolphin! The dolphin watching, for me, was one of the highlights of our entire trip. There’s something about a pod of dolphins swimming freely in the vast ocean that’s so magical. To get real close to them is truly an amazing experience.
We were exhausted when we got back to the hotel so we decided to just chill and watch a movie in our room. The TV didn’t have many channels to choose from. Good thing we brought a hard drive with some movies in it.
Now you might be wondering where we have our lunch and dinner. There are plenty of hotels that offers lunch and dinner buffet but it can get very pricey especially the ones by the beachfront but if you head inland you will find small cafes that offer local food for a cheap price. One of them is Rocket Café where locals dine in. We ate most of our meals here as the food was decent and we don’t see ourselves spending tons of money on buffets.
TIP: Most lunch/dinner buffets are priced at $12 per person. Small cafes offer meals for much less. If you want to go cheaper, you can buy food at the convenience store where they sell tinned food and other things.
Day 2 was the day Louie and I was most excited about since this is the day we stay in one of the island resorts and see the famous water bungalows. There are plenty of island resort surrounding Maafushi island. The island resort that we stayed at was called Adaaran Prestige Vadoo.
Now let me tell you how we manage to cut the cost of our honeymoon. The reason why people spend a lot of money in Maldives is because they stay in the island resort for the entire duration of the trip. Accommodations in these resorts, especially the water bungalows, are very expensive. We’re talking PHP 40,000 and above for a 1-night stay. If you want to stay in these resorts but you are not willing to spend that kind of money, then what you can do is go on a day tour instead.
The tour runs from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and it includes the use of the resort’s facilities such as the pools and what not, buffet style lunch from 12 pm. – 2 p.m., unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and tea time at 4 p.m. In the resort that we stayed in, there is shark feeding at 5:30 p.m. Day tour costs PHP 5000 per person. It is still a lot I know but it’s much cheaper than PHP 40 000 right?!
Take note however that you are not allowed to get close to the water bungalows since it’s rented by guest and the staffs are quite iffy about the privacy of their guests. The nearest you can get to the water bungalow is halfway across the bridge that connects the island and the water bungalows. I saw some guest crossing the halfway mark and some even went as far as the bungalow itself but they were quickly shooed off by the staff.
After taking loads of picture, Louie and I decided to just chill by the pool and listen to the crashing waves and the howling wind. We also took advantage of the unlimited beverages. Ice cold soda for Louie, gin and tonic for me. I could’ve gotten really drunk if I wanted to but I don’t roll that way anymore hahaha! I mean who wants to get drunk in such a wonderful place. You’ll miss most of it when you are out of your head. Totally not worth it.
Time flew so fast during our stay, the next thing we know it was already 5:30 p.m. The last activity for that day was to witness the shark feeding. Several black tipped shark and different kinds of fish almost as big as the shark feasted on the fish trimmings that the staff threw in the water. There was even a humongous sting ray who joined the feeding frenzy. That stingray was so huge it could pass as a magic carpet except with a stinger.
By 6 p.m. our boat transfer was waiting for us to take us back to Maafushi island.
Day 3. It was our last day on Maafushi island so we made it a point to wake up early so we can make the most of time we had left. We visited bikini beach which is just a few meters from the port. Bikini beach is the only beach in Maafushi where women can wear bikinis hence the name of bikini beach. The Maldives is a Muslim country hence they are quite strict when it comes to what women wear. You are also not allowed to drink alcohol in Maafushi but there are floating bars that you can go to if you really wanted to drink alcohol. The floating bars are apparently in “international waters” so they are not bound by the laws in Maafushi.
We got back to our hotel around 12 noon and spent the rest of the day there. Abdul visited us and asked how we found our stay. Of course, it was all praises as the Maldives is truly a wonderful place. It was during our conversation with him when we asked about our total bill. To our surprise, Abdul decided to not charge us our first night’s stay and the excursions we did on day 2. What a blessing! He was such a nice man and was very accommodating. He didn’t even ask us to pay him until the last minute of our stay. Our check out time was supposed to be 12 noon but he allowed us to stay until 4:30 p.m. as he knew that our boat transfer back to the airport is at 5:00 p.m. For all our readers out there, if you plan to go to the Maldives and is looking for accommodation, I definitely recommend the Equator Beach Inn.
It was sad that we had to leave so soon but all things have an ending. We boarded our plane back to Kuala and arrived there early in the morning. Our flight back to Manila was not until 4 p.m. so we had around 12 hours layover in KL. We could’ve gone to KL central where shopping malls are located and is connected via KLX (train) but we chose to just stay in the airport and book a room in the airport. Capsule by Container Hotel offered a promo wherein you can get a container style sleeping accommodation for PHP 1,300 which is good for 6 hours. Perfect if you have a long layover but can’t be bothered or too anxious to leave the airport as you might miss your flight. They is also a communal shower, lockers, WIFI and a mini bar. I really enjoyed our stay as it was so much more comfortable than sleeping in public/waiting areas.
NOTE: Kuala Lumpur International Airport is a huge airport and has 2 terminals which are connected via train. Make sure that you know which terminal your flight is at so that you won’t miss it.
Our honeymoon was truly a memorable experience for Louie and I. It was our first trip together abroad and as a wedded couple. Of course, it will not be the last! I am so blessed to have a partner who shares my passion for traveling <3.
Stay tuned for our next blog post. Louie and I, together with the rest of The Heliopaths will be touring the beautiful countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand this coming February! Happy travels!
Abdul Wahhab – https://www.facebook.com/TouchParadiseMaldives
Equator Beach Inn – https://www.facebook.com/equatorbeach/