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Highlights Boat trips, snorkelling over the coral reefs, uninhabited islands & sand bars, cultural shows, beach barbecues, dining with local families, diving options.
Maldives on a Shoestring small group tour
Maldives on a Shoestring
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Our Maldives on a Shoestring tour (formerly Maldives Magic) gives you the chance to see the real Maldives and to discover the culture, beautiful scenery, friendly local people and atmosphere of this tropical paradise while staying in comfortable locally owned guesthouses. The itinerary starts with a tour of the modern capital of Malé, before visiting both Guraidhoo and Maafushi local islands. Activities include a sunset Dhoni cruise and evening fishing trip, beach barbeques, cultural shows, snorkelling trips, meals taken with local families, the chance to prepare traditional Maldivian snacks and much, much more! Scuba-diving options are available and we also offer the option to extend your tour in the Maldives with an add on extension to one of the many amazing island resorts for some more luxurious relaxation.

Private tour option

If our scheduled departure dates don’t work for you, or you would prefer not to travel with a group, then we can also run this tour privately for you. Please contact us for more information and prices.
View Tour Dossier    
Day 1 Arrive in Malé, transfer to hotel
Upon arrival at Malé International Airport you will be greeted by our representative and transferred by the airport shuttle taxi to your guesthouse on Hulhumalé, just 15 minutes away. Settle in after your flight before taking your first steps on the sands of this tropical paradise. The beach is 3 min walk away, with several local cafes and local restaurants, plus a watersports centre. For travellers arriving before 5.00pm there is an optional visit to Malé for sunset mocktails at the top of the highest building in Malé which provides panoramic views of the city and surrounding islands.
OvernightGuesthouse – Newtown Inn or similarExtrasSingle Room Supplement, Extra night in Hulhumalé
Day 2 Malé Tour, ferry to Guraidhoo
Following breakfast served at the guesthouse you will transfer by public ferry to Malé, a 20 minute journey, where a guide will accompany you on a tour of the capital city, providing opportunity to visit places of interest including The Friday Mosque, The National Museum and Sultan Park.
After lunch transfer by local ferry (approx. 14.30) to your harbour-side guesthouse on the local island of Guraidhoo, South Malé Atoll, 120 minutes from Malé. Sit up top on the ferry to view the beauty of the many Maldives islands that pass you by whilst keeping your eyes open for dolphins!
Upon arrival you will have time to settle in before either relaxing on the beach or on the terrace of your guesthouse to watch the sun go down, followed by dinner freshly cooked at the guesthouse.
OvernightGuraidhoo Guesthouse – Ifja Inn or similarMealsBreakfast, Dinner
Day 3 Breakfast with local family, Guraidhoo tour
Breakfast this morning is taken with a local family allowing you true access to Maldivian local life.
Accompanied by a guide the morning is spent exploring Guraidhoo with the opportunity to learn about the local way of life including a visit to the Mosque, perhaps participate in a lesson at the school and at the boatyard learn how the common wooden boat known locally as a ‘dhoni’ is built.
The afternoon is at your leisure to relax on the beach or enjoy optional watersport activities before being taken to a deserted sandbank at around 4pm (exact times depend on the tide as the sandbar is covered at high tide!) where with nothing but a few birds in sight you will be able to swim and snorkel in the waters surrounding the sandbank before enjoying dinner served Robinson Crusoe style!
OvernightGuraidhoo Guesthouse – Ifja Inn or similarMealsBreakfast, Dinner
Day 4 Day trip to a Picnic Island, dinner with a local family
Following breakfast you will be taken by speedboat to an uninhabited picnic island, approximately 1km long, with a picture perfect sand bar. Here you have the opportunity to swim, snorkel or just lie back and relax before enjoying a BBQ lunch and then enjoying more of the same! Timing approx. 10.00-16.00, toilets & washroom available, island landing fee included. Dinner this evening is spent with a local family trying more traditional Maldivian food, just don’t expect silver service as traditionally meals are eaten without the aid of a knife and fork!
OvernightGuraidhoo Guesthouse - Ifja Inn or similarMealsBreakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 Maafushi, snorkelling boat trip & Bodu Beru dinner
Start early today for breakfast and then a transfer by local ferry to the local island of Maafushi, just 20 minutes away. After checking into the guesthouse, this morning you will have the chance to enjoy the underwater beauty of the Maldives. The coral reefs of the Maldives are inhabited by diverse marine life and are teaming with colourful fish and corals. A half day snorkelling excursion (approx. 09.00-13.00) takes you out to some of the best reefs to discover this underwater world for yourself.
On return to Maafushi enjoy an afternoon at your leisure to relax on the screened tourist beach or enjoy optional watersport activities. Dinner this evening will be a selection of local dishes accompanied by traditional dancing and the beat of the ‘bodu beru’ where a group of men sit around the ‘bodu beru’ – big drum and sing to a rhythmical beat until they reach a crescendo.
OvernightMaafushi Guesthouse - Arora Inn or similarMealsBreakfast, Dinner
Day 6 Snorkelling trip and sunset Dhoni trip with evening fishing
Following breakfast served at the guesthouse, today is yours to enjoy as you please, relax on the beach or for those feeling energetic participate in the various optional watersport activities on offer. Optional diving trips can be organised for certified divers.
Just before sunset you will board a traditional Maldivian fishing dhoni in order to cruise the Indian Ocean and weather providing enjoy a Maldivian sunset with the possibility to catch a glimpse of schools of dolphins. You can also try your hand at fishing Maldivian style. The Maldives is unique in that its history depends on tuna fishing and the locals are excellent fishermen using pole and line and are happy to share their line fishing skills with you. Your catch will be freshly prepared for you to enjoy as a BBQ dinner.
OvernightMaafushi Guesthouse - Arora Inn or similarMealsBreakfast, DinnerExtrasFull-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi, Half-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi, Manta Ray boat trip from Maafushi
Day 7 Maafushi, free time, various watersports options
Following breakfast served at the guesthouse today is a day of relaxation on the beach. Again, resort visits, snorkelling boat trips and diving excursions are available. Some of these can be booked in advance, but further snorkelling boat trips and day trips to resort islands should be arranged locally - your guide will assist with this.
In the afternoon, a visit to a local cafe is included to sample traditional ‘hedika’ - Maldivian savoury and sweet short eats served with black tea.
OvernightMaafushi Guesthouse - Arora Inn or similarMealsBreakfastExtrasFull-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi, Half-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi, Manta Ray boat trip from Maafushi
Day 8 Transfer to Malé airport for departure
After breakfast you are transferred back to Malé by public ferry (approx. 07.30-09.00), across town, and on to Malé airport where the tour ends. You should expect to arrive at the airport by around 10.30am.
If you have a flight departing earlier than 1pm then we recommend taking an earlier speedboat transfer from Maafushi to the airport (at extra cost).
If you have a late afternoon or evening flight departure and understandably do not want to spend a long time waiting at the airport, then day-use rooms are available at the Newtown Inn. Alternatively, there are day package options at Hulhule Airport hotel to use the swimming pool, restaurant, bar etc. or a half day visit to Vilingilli local island which is 15 minutes from Malé. Other snorkelling trips or other watersport activities are also available.
Those travellers booking a resort extension will transfer from Malé airport on to their resort via the resort’s own transfer boat. Our guide will assist you with meeting this transfer though there may be a short wait depending on the resort boat’s schedule.
OvernightN/AMealsBreakfastExtras3-night resort island extension, 4-night Dhoni cruise extension, Extra night in Hulhumalé, Speedboat departure transfer, Day-use room & airport transfers in Hulhumalé
View Tour Dossier   
  • 7 nights accommodation: 1 night Hulhumale guesthouse, 3 nights Guraidhoo guesthouse, 3 nights Maafushi guesthouse
  • All transport and transfers
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Free 30-day tourist visa on arrival to all nationalities
  • Local guides
  • International Flights (available on request)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks, tips and other personal expenses (eg. laundry)
  • Any other items not mentioned above