Where we’re at: I’m recapping my trip to The Maldives in March 2022.
Since you all indulged me with my nostalgia-filled Maldives travelogues, I thought I owed you something in return — a detailed answer to the question I think on everyone’s mind when they see dreamy photos of overwater bungalows gracing their feeds. How much did that cost?
I’ve been blessed. I’ve slept over the turquoise sea in Jamaica, in Indonesia, in French Polynesia (yet to be blogged) and now in the Maldives. Plus, if you count it, a creaky old overwater hostel in Panama. Truly, each one is unique and special. Is it worth it though? Only you can answer that!
Here’s every Maldivian Rufiyaa — okay fine, it’s all in USD — we spent on our five days in paradise. Plus, some major money saving tips! I’ll be curious to hear if it’s more than, less than, or exactly what you expected!
We stayed at The Standard for many reasons, one of them being the relative accessibility of the overwater bungalow pricing.
At The Standard, every single room has a private pool, which is fun. However, you will have to choose between beach villas or overwater villas, between one or two bedrooms, and then between lagoon and ocean view. The first two will probably be easy to answer depending on your travel circumstances and desires, but you might be stumped on the last one!
The position of an overwater bungalow actually does matter and while we paid a little more for the “ocean” versus “lagoon” bungalow since lagoon was sold out, in the end I was happy we did because we had a little more of that castaway feel; staring out at the ocean versus back at the resort. Also think about if it’s more important to you to watch sunset or sunrise from your room — I love sneaking out and watching sunrise from the quiet of my own deck, but loved doing sunset at the resort bars and pools.
We noticed while planning this trip that The Standard does sales a lot! Sign up for their mailing list and keep an eye out, if you have the time and flexibility. We paid $1,420 each including all taxes and fees for our five night stay, which worked out to $284 each per night.
For an overwater bungalow in Maldives, that’s actually a great rate! While the rooms didn’t feel like the most dripping-in-luxury place I’d ever stayed, they felt fun and tropical and funky, and that’s exactly what we were looking for on this trip.
Okay, this one hurts. That’s just the transportation to and from Malé — international flight not included! Our round trip seaplane rides were $555 each, and were the only option to reach the resort. On top of that, I ended up having to pay a shocking $150 in baggage overages, which hurt me! Make sure you read the weight requirements very carefully for your seaplane ride as they weight each and every bag, purses included, and the overage charges are wild.
Wowza! If you’re on a budget — or have a fear of flying — a resort that can be reached via boat from Malé is certainly not a bad idea. In fact, it was my original idea, though the round trip speedboat prices can get into the triple digits as well.
All that aside, I must say the seaplane ride itself was quite fun, which took some of the sting out of the crazy price tag. Also, The Standard is building their own lounge at the Malé Airport which will make the wait there a lot more fun.
Food + Drinks: $420
So, this is where I feel like we majorly hacked the system. The Standard, along with most Maldives hotels, offers an array of meal plans that seem like they’d be the logical choice when there’s no off-resort dining available. They range from the lowest level which only includes breakfast to the highest which includes food, drinks, and even some tours.
• $265 per person per night bed and breakfast: what we did!
• $340 per person per night half board: Includes breakfast and dinner but the catch? Dinner is in the same restaurant, Kula, every night.
• $375 per person per night full board: but again, all three are in Kula, every day.
• $425 per person per night “all inclusive:” Essentially the same, but with a $50 resort credit and selected alcohol.
• $483 per person per night “all inclusive plus:” Adds in the ability to have dinner at Guduguda or BBQ Shak, plus an excursion and 30 minute spa treatment.
I had a hunch that the packages weren’t worth it, and when we did the math after the fact, we were majorly right. For example, had we booked the breakfast, lunch and dinner package, we would have each spent $550 on our food, plus had to have every meal at the buffet, plus had to spend extra on alcohol. Instead, we spent $420 each on food and booze and ate and drank wherever we wanted!
Had we done the “all inclusive” we would have spent $800 on food and booze — again, as opposed to the $420 we paid a la carte — and still had massively less selection. And even with the “all inclusive” packages, only some dishes are included. Hence my quotation marks.
We really loved our freedom. One afternoon we were feeling a little nibbly so just ordered a fruit plate, I requested a cheese board and got one, and a bottle of white wine. It was one of our best afternoons and it cost $67 each. Our most expensive lunch, but also our most fun — and one we wouldn’t have gotten to have on any meal plan.
Now, keep in mind the Maldives just doesn’t have the same boozy all-inclusive culture you might think of in say, Mexico. At least at The Standard (and with some exceptions, pretty much everywhere in the Maldives) there’s no swim-up bar, or big drinking vibe amongst guests. It’s mainly some wine at dinner or a sunset cocktail here or there. We did hop the happy hours, which also helped our budget for sure.
So, keeping that in mind, unless you know you’re a huge eater and drinker (in which case, party on), I’d opt against the meal plan for the most flexibility and for better rates. And again, five days was the perfect sweet spot where we got to try all the restaurants but didn’t get bored. We met some European couples staying for two weeks! We both agreed we could do maybe one more night or two, but after that we’d want to split the stay into two resorts.
Katie and I are both massive spa lovers, and so it’s actually only surprising that our bill wasn’t even bigger than this! We took advantage of some fun public spa events like the hammam day and the sound bath which were a wildly reasonable $25 each, plus treated ourselves to massages on our last day.
Unfortunately, I also paid an exorbitant price to have my gel nails done but it was legally required (okay, by my own law rather than international one.) Not something I’d ever opt to do at a resort like this where it’s more expensive and less specialized than in a salon but… when you’re living on the road for months like this, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!
My favorite category, ha! As we opted to enjoy the resort’s free amenities and activities, we spent nothing on entertaining ourselves (outside of our spa appointments, of course.) We loved the free wine tastings, movie nights, kayak and paddle board and snorkel supply rentals, biking around the island, using the gym, and just lounging around reading and luxuriating.
Of course, if you didn’t just come off an incredible action-packed liveaboard like we did, you might rack up a bill here on some tours enjoying the incredible aquatic adventures the Maldives have on offer like diving, boat trips, and beyond. I will say that The Standard’s excursion boat didn’t look like anything too special; we were very glad to have had all those experiences onboard the ScubaSpa.
If you had a longer stay, you also might feel a little restless to do some tours off the island. However, with five days, we had plenty to keep us entertained on-resort.
The Bottom Line: $2845
So in total, we spent $569 per person per night for five nights in paradise. A bargain? Absolutely not. But, considering many of the famous overwater bungalows you see on Instagram in the Maldives run two grand a night — and, I kid you not, I saw for sale an eighty dollar bottle of sunscreen — we felt we got a decent deal. Even having stayed in some super luxe overwater bungalows before, I just couldn’t put a price on this time with Katie.
(By the way. Run out of sunscreen at a Maldives resort? Try the dive shop rather than the gift shop. We noticed there’s was a third of the price!)
Is an overwater bungalow on your bucket list? If you’ve done it already, was it worth the splurge?