Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too: Part 12 – An Afternoon in Male City

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Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I used our miles and points to have a fabulous honeymoon in Bora Bora.

We heard that the Maldives Islands rivaled the beauty and splendor of Bora Bora, so we planned a trip to decide for ourselves!

The Maldives is known for its luxury resorts, and most resorts have their own private island.  There are beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water.  The islands also have fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving!

We booked 5 nights using Hilton points at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.  The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a 30-minute seaplane ride from Male, the capital of the Maldives.  We booked this trip to make the most of our Hilton points before the Hilton devaluation last year.

An Afternoon In Male
Daraius and His Dad at the Grand Friday Mosque in Male City

Our $27,000 Vacation to the Maldives for ~$4,300 & How You Can Do It Too Index:

The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean, just south of India.  Getting to the Maldives is a long journey, but the trip is definitely worth it!  Daraius and I have been to many beach destinations such as Bora BoraMaui, and Kauai on miles and points, but the Maldives tops them all!

Traveling to the Maldives is also very expensive, but you can do it for much less than the retail cost!  This trip would have cost us ~$27,000, but we only paid ~$4,300!! These series of posts will show you how you can also take a trip to the Maldives on miles and points!

An Afternoon in Male City

After our seaplane ride from the Conrad Maldives Resort, we took the ferry from the Male airport to Male city.  The airport is on a separate, smaller island.

An Afternoon In Male
A Ferry Can Take You From the Airport to the Bustling City of Male in 10 Minutes

The boat fit ~50 people and costs ~$1 per person.

An Afternoon In Male
The Ferries Run 24 Hours a Day

We hired a private guide to show us around the cityIt looked much like the small cities you find in the US.

An Afternoon In Male
Is This Male or Austin?

We saw the Ministry of Defense…

An Afternoon In Male
It’s Always Interesting to See the Government Buildings in Other Countries
…and another government building.
An Afternoon In Male
The People’s Majlis Is the Legislative Body of the Maldives

Then we went to Sultan Park.

An Afternoon In Male
Sultan’s Park Was Once Part of the Sultan’s Palace, But Now It’s a Public Space

It was very secluded.

An Afternoon In Male
A Quiet Escape From the City

Next, we went to the Grand Friday Mosque.

An Afternoon In Male
The Mosque Can Fit Over 5,000 People

Women are expected to cover their heads.  So I brought a shawl with me.  I noticed many women in Male dressed in a scarf.  I wore mine around the city to be respectful of their customs.

The mosque is only open during certain times.

An Afternoon In Male
The Mosque Closes to Non-Muslims 15 Minutes Before Prayer

It was the biggest mosque in the Maldives.

An Afternoon In Male
The Golden Dome of the Mosque Glitters in the Male Skyline

We took off our shoes at the staircase.

An Afternoon In Male
Muslims Remove Their Shoes Before Entering to Keep the Mosque Clean

I loved all the intricate details inside.

An Afternoon In Male
Gorgeous Chandeliers Hung From the Ceiling

We took a quick look at the cemetery alongside the mosque.

An Afternoon In Male
Many Former Sultans Rest Here

Mopeds are the main method of transportation on this small island.  They were everywhere!

An Afternoon In Male
Mopeds in Every Color of the Rainbow

We continued our walk along the pier.  There were a lot of cargo boats with men loading and unloading their goods.

An Afternoon In Male
Many of the Boats Were Exporting Goods to Other Maldivian Islands

Our guide took us to the market, which sold fresh and dried fruit and vegetables.  There were some unique fruits that we had not seen before.

An Afternoon In Male
The Mangos Looked So Fresh

It was fun to browse the shops.

An Afternoon In Male
It Gets Quite Warm Walking Around a Tropical Island With a Scarf on Your Head

Next, we went to the fish market which was across the street.

An Afternoon In Male
Male Is a Great Spot for Seafood Lovers

There was a variety of fresh seafood.

An Afternoon In Male
The Octopus Didn’t Look Too Appetizing

Our guide also took us into some very expensive souvenir shops.

An Afternoon In Male
Just Browsing!

We thought we could find souvenirs cheaper so we didn’t buy anything.

An Afternoon In Male
Don’t Fall for the Tourist Traps

Any shops that have air conditioning mean they will probably charge more.  Also when prices are in dollars you can expect to pay a premium.

The guys were hungry so stopped for lunch.

An Afternoon In Male
Daraius Is Always Happiest When He’s Eating!

There was a display case filled with food.

An Afternoon In Male
The Food Has Such Vibrant Colors

There were so many choices!

An Afternoon In Male
Naan and Samosa Complete With American Coke

So Daraius ordered a bit of everything.

An Afternoon In Male
Daraius’ Lunch 😉

After lunch, we walked back to the ferry station and took the boat back to the airport.

How You Can Do It Too!

Our favorite way to get to the Maldives from the US is with American Airlines miles on Etihad or Qatar Air.

If you’re willing to book separate award tickets (i.e. 1 award ticket from the US to Hong Kong & another from Hong Kong to the Maldives), you could even fly on Cathay Pacific or Malaysia Air using American Airlines miles to the Maldives.  

Here are ways to get lots of American Airlines miles.  And here’s my series on using American Airlines miles.  It could also be worth using an award booking service to book the flights for you.

You can also use Alaska Airlines miles on Emirates or Cathay Pacific.  And folks say you can get the Alaska Airlines credit card multiple times.

We used United Airlines miles because we wanted to go to India first.  But folks who only want to fly from the US to the Maldives would likely use American Airlines miles or Alaska Airlines miles.

1.   Using American Airlines Miles

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

A flight from the US to the Maldives costs:

  • 45,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 67,500 American Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 90,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

You can use American Airlines to fly many different ways to the Maldives, including on Etihad, Sri Lankan, Qatar, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airways.  If you want to book on Etihad, first find the available flights on the Etihad website and then call American Airlines to reserve the tickets.  See this step-by-step guide for more information.

2.   Using Alaska Airlines Miles

Link:   Alaska Airlines partner award chart to Middle East

From the US to the Maldives you’ll pay:

  • 42,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in coach (Emirates)
  • 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in coach (Cathay Pacific)
  • 62,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class (Cathay Pacific)
  • 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in First Class (Cathay Pacific)
  • 72,500 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class (Emirates)
  • 90,000 Alaska Airlines miles 1-way in First Class (Emirates)
You can book Emirates flights on the Alaska Air website, except for Cathay Pacific, which has to be reserved by calling Alaska Airlines customer service.  See this post for more ways on using Alaska Air miles to get to the Maldives.

And folks say you can get the Alaska Airlines credit card multiple times.

3.   Using United Airlines Miles

Link:   United Airlines award chart

To fly from the US to India, you’ll pay:

  • 42,500 United Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 70,000+ United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 140,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

Here’s a post on how to use United Airlines miles.

And here’s how you can get the airline miles and hotel points for your trip to the Maldives!

Bottom Line

The best part about Male city was seeing the local culture and getting some good deals on shopping.  While the guide took us to some overpriced shops, we were able to find cheaper spots on our own.  The prices were about 75% less than the resort!  We found magnets for $2, t-shirts for $10, and cute leather wristlets for $10.

If you want to get a feel for the culture of Maldives, it is definitely worth the quick ferry ride to Male city.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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