How to Save Money Booking an Overwater Bungalow in the Maldives

With my bedroom slider open, I can hear the soft waves lapping on my overwater bungalow in the Maldives.  As I glance towards the sea, I notice a fever of stingrays gliding past.  Even from the comfort of my bed and soft duvet, I feel like I’m part of the ocean.  Certainly renting a water villa in the Maldives has put me as close to the sea as possible without actually getting wet or having to deal with seasickness.  Everyone who loves turquoise waters and an assortment of multi-colored marine life should experience this at least once in their life.

How to Save Money Booking an Overwater Bungalow in the Maldives

Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives
Overwater bungalows at Fihalhohi Report in the Maldives. The water villas was first created in the late 1960s in Tahiti by 3 guys from California who modeled the structures after Tahitian fishing huts.

     

Table of Contents

  1. Map and Layout of the Maldives
  2. Try Flying into India in May
  3. Consider Staying at Fihalhohi Resort
  4. Book Through the Hotel Directly
  5. Ask for an Upgrade Once you Arrive
  6. Relevant Links for the Maldives

 

Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives
The Maldives is the lowest country on earth.  So much so that it’s in risk of being underwater in 30 years due to global warming. Even at its highest point of 5 feet (1.5 meters), it’s still one of the lowest points on earth.

 

1 – Map and Layout of the Maldives

The Maldives is an independent nation comprised of over 1,000 islands floating just barely above sea level in the Indian Ocean.  It’s known for azure waters, pristine beaches, palm trees and a large array of colorful ocean life.  Many people call it paradise, and I would have to agree. Honeymooners consider it a top go-to place.  Personally, I could picture myself living here.

All flights arrive in the capitol of Male.  Although Male is scenic, I don’t recommend staying here for any more time than needed.  The other islands are just so much more spectacular.  Plus, Male is really just a stop over point between the other islands and the outside world.  We spent a day and night in Male, before heading to Fihalhohi Island.  Really, that was enough.

From Male most resorts offer private water taxis or sea planes, depending on the distance.  For example, some islands reside only 10-60 minutes away by speed boat, while others require an hour sea plane ride.  Yes, some of the islands are that far apart.  Although private water taxis can be pricey (several hundred USD), they are the fastest and most efficient way.  Otherwise, you are reliant on the public boat system which can take days,  hopping from one island to the next, never mind the added costs in food and accommodations for the extended journey.

Map of the Maldives
Map of the Maldives. Out of the 1,200 plus islands in the Maldives, only about 200 are inhabited. In fact, you can rent an uninhabited one from the government for a reported $300,000 USD per annum.

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2 – Try Flying into India in May

When I was researching roundtrip flights from Boston to Male, they started at well over $1,500 USD in economy. However, I discovered I could save about $600 USD per person by flying into New Delhi, India first for only $700 USD and then catching a flight for only $200 USD from New Delhi to Male.  This was a savings of $1,200 USD per couple.

The other key in saving money is to fly in May during the lower-priced shoulder season.  Although the monsoons technically begin in May, the real rain doesn’t start until June. This means you can enjoy the savings while not missing any beach time.  During our May trip we experienced little to no rain at all.

 

Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives
Fihalhohi Island Resort in the Maldives. To my left is the overwater bungalow we rented. Below me a bright blue parrot fish munches on coral.

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3 – Consider Staying at Fihalhohi Resort

Out of the approximate 132 resorts in the Maldives we found Fihalhohi to be the one of the most affordable with overwater bungalows.  Without the need for a private butler or pool, Fihalhoi provided what we desired in terms of accommodations without the extravagant cost.  For example we paid only $250 USD a night including breakfast and dinner, compared to at least double that anywhere else.

The bungalows were amazing. From the moment I stepped on the boardwalk, I felt like a child entering Disney World for the first time.  I wanted to run, jump, smile and take a million pictures all at the same time. The euphoria that enveloped me lingered for days afterward.

Our private overwater bungalow at Fihalhohi was spacious enough for it to be bigger than most apartments.  It included a grand bedroom with king bed overlooking the ocean.  Sliding glass doors open to a private patio with dining table and lounge chairs.  The most exciting feature was our exclusive entrance into the sea via the step ladder off our patio.  Frequently I would just jump in and swim to shore rather than using an antiquated form of transport (my legs).  Rounding off our living quarters was a large bathroom with tub and shower, walk-in closets and small office area.

The only downside to the rental was an additional one-time fee of $150 USD per person for the roundtrip 45 minute speed boat ride from Male.  However, regardless of where you go in the Maldives, you’ll have to pay for a similarly-priced transfer service.  So we found it a necessary expense.

Fihalhoi Island Resort: https://www.fihalhohi.com.mv/

 

Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives
Gray heron flies towards the overwater bungalows in the Maldives. On Fihalhohi Island, the only 4-legged creature is a cat named “Lucky” who washed up on shore in a box after a storm several years ago.

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4 – Book Through the Hotel Directly

We found the best rates when booking through the hotel directly.  For example, on booking.com, rooms were $100 USD more expensive for a weeks’ stay as compared to Fihalhoi’s website.  Regardless, please remember to always check both sites before reserving, as third party sites like booking.com do sometimes have the lowest rate.  I have literally had hotels tell me to reserve through booking.com as they could not beat the price offered.  Amazing.

Also keep in mind that the hotel will maintain the most accurate availability. For example, water villas which show as “sold out” on booking.com, are displayed as “available” on Fihalhoi’s site.  That’s because the hotel blocks off groups of rooms for third party vendors like travel agents.  Booking.com is forced to mark these rooms as booked, even though the hotel can still show them as vacant.

 

Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives
Our private patio on our overwater bungalow in the Maldives. While on Filhalhoi I was able to dive a shipwreck for the first time. It was totally incredible!

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5 – Ask for an Upgrade Once You Arrive

We saved over $250 USD per night by booking a premium double room, and then asking for an upgrade upon arrival to a water villa.  Instead of charging us for the full upgrade, the front desk only required an additional $100 USD per night.   If you look online, the price for overwater bungalows at Fihalholi is more than double that of a premium room.  That equates to a savings over $1,000 USD for a 5 night stay.

Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives
The private patio on our water villa in the Maldives. The only area on the island where we could not swim was just off the point in this picture where apparently strong tides can pull you out to sea.

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6 – Relevant Links for the Maldives

Fihalhoi Island Resort: https://www.fihalhohi.com.mv/
Flights on Kayak: https://www.kayak.com/maldives
Maldives Tourism Board: https://visitmaldives.com/
Maldives Weather: https://weather.com/maldives
Male Airport: https://www.maleairport.com/

Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives
Ladder leading to the sea on our private overwater bungalow. The water here is only about 1.5 meters deep (5 feet), so we could certainly touch the ground. About 30 feet (9 meters) to the left lies the coral reef where the drop off is significant.

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Matt Weatherbee
Matt Weatherbee

Hi, I’m Matt.  In 2008 I quit my job, sold everything and drove from Boston to Mexico to start a business.  Now I live and work in the Carribean, and spend my free time traveling the globe.  Learn more.

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