For many, a romantic beach getaway is the perfect dream vacation. Secluded beaches on tropical islands in fabulous locations are the ultimate getaways from normal life. The Maldives is one of the most illustrious destinations for a vacation like this.
As you probably already know, the Maldives is a beautiful island nation in the Indian Ocean, just south of India and Sri Lanka. Known for its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and luxurious resorts, the small island nation has quickly become one of the premier destinations for a romantic getaway.
The breathtaking beauty of this destination comes with a hefty price tag, with the average flight price from the United States East Coast at about $1,500. Flights can be 21 percent more expensive in the high season, from May to July. That’s where I use Going.com to stay in the loop on cheap flights to remote destinations like this. You’ll get email alerts for outstanding flight deals without any research needed.
Beyond just the flight, you will have to shell out cash for meals and your hotel stay, which often is on an outer island or atoll that you’ll have to get to by seaplane or boat transfer.
Luckily for us, budget-conscious folk, several places like the Maldives take a more budget-friendly path. Many islands around the globe have beaches comparable to the Maldives, just waiting to be discovered by you.
Besides the price, monsoon season in the Maldives extends from mid-May to November, and torrential downpours are common, so if you’re hoping for a beach vacation now, consider looking at other parts of the world.
Continue reading to discover our top recommendations for Maldives alternatives that won’t have you constantly checking your bank account while you should be relaxing on white sand beaches.
Show Table of Contents
- Places Similar to the Maldives to Visit
- 1. Fiji
- 2. Tahiti, French Polynesia
- 3. Moorea, French Polynesia
- 4. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
- 5. Whitsunday Islands, Australia
- 6. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
- 7. Rarotonga, Cook Islands
- 8. Curaçao
- 9. Belize
- 10. Gili Islands, Indonesia
- 11. Boracay, Philippines
- 12. Seychelles
- 13. Formentera, Spain
- 14. Jamaica
- 15. Lichadonisia, Greece
Places Similar to the Maldives to Visit
Looking for places like the Maldives but need something less Maldives-ish? Read on for our top alternative coastal paradises!
Fiji is an absolute dream if you’re looking for places similar to the Maldives that have a bit of added adventure. Of course, you’re welcome to lounge on the beach to your heart’s content, but you can also surf at Cloudbreak, one of the world’s transcendent surf spots, or explore lush jungles.
The main island of Fiji offers a wide selection of budget bungalows, but if you’re up for a bit of a splurge, the outer islands offer more privacy and hidden beaches.
This tropical escape is known for its stunning beaches and has no shortage when it comes to outdoor adventures. If you plan to stay on the main island and are looking for adventure, check out this River Tubing Tour along the Navua River.
If you’re looking to stay dry, this Zip Line and Cave Tour in Nadi allows you to explore canyons from a bird’s eye view and takes you into Fiji’s largest cave.
Where to stay in Fiji:
See Related: Beautiful 7 Star Hotels from Around the World
2. Tahiti, French Polynesia
The island of Tahiti is the capital of the gorgeous South Pacific archipelago chain of French Polynesia. It is easily my favorite place I’ve ever been to, and I will continue to return to this exquisite paradise for years to come.
No matter where your final destination is within French Polynesia, you must transit through Tahiti but don’t overlook it just because it’s the capital. You will still find crystal-clear waters and overwater bungalows waiting for you to enjoy.
If you plan to venture outside the resort, Point Venus is a breathtaking black sand beach and a great stop for a circle island tour. I recommend renting a car via Kayak, where you can find rental cars in Papeete for as low as $25 per day.
Tahiti is the largest island in the country, so it’s best to rent a car to experience everything the island has to offer. After Point Venus, check out the three waterfalls at Cascade de Faarumai. It’s a wonderful spot to catch a break from the hot sun, but don’t forget to pack your mosquito repellent.
My favorite spot in Tahiti (besides the ocean) is Maraa Grotto. Magical green ferns cascade down over the entrance to the grotto, making you feel as if you’ve been transported to Fern Gully. The water is cool and refreshing, perfect after a long day on the beach.
You can also never go wrong with this Tahiti Island Crossing tour, the best way to see the dense rainforest in the island’s center.
Where to stay in Tahiti:
- Budget: Ninamu Pearl Guest House
- Mid-Range: Hilton Hotel Tahiti
- Luxury: InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa
3. Moorea, French Polynesia
Within the island nation of French Polynesia, Moorea is my favorite island to visit. You won’t find friendlier people anywhere, and the beautiful beaches seem practically untouched. If you’re looking for places like the Maldives but cheaper, this is the spot for you.
The island is surrounded by a shallow lagoon protected by a barrier reef. The pristine lagoon teems with tropical fish, reef sharks, and stingrays. Of course, snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities in the lagoon.
The Hotel Les Tipaniers has my absolute favorite beach on the entire island. The water is shallow, crystal clear, and warm, perfect for a beach nap.
Nearby, you can rent a boat or kayak to go out to the sandbar where sharks and stingrays like to hang out. It’s not that scary to jump in the water with them, and the stingrays love being petted; they are so friendly and cute!
Where to stay in Moorea:
- Budget: PainaPaopao Backpacker
- Mid-Range: Hotel Les Tipaniers
- Luxury: Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort
See Related: Best Places Like Bora Bora to Visit
4. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Bora Bora is one of the ultimate honeymoon alternatives to the Maldives. An unbelievably blue lagoon surrounds the most inviting islands and atolls. Unless you plan to charter a boat, you must fly into the Bora Bora airport, and then it’s only a short boat ride until you are at your final destination.
Most hotels are located on private atolls or islands surrounding the main island. You will most likely have a breathtaking view of Mount Otemanu from anywhere you stay.
One of the most thrilling activities in Bora Bora is a Jet Ski Tour like this one. It’s an exciting way to explore the lagoon and its marine life. For a more relaxing option, I suggest this 3-Hour Private Lagoon Cruise, where you can snorkel or relax on the boat.
The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora is the most magical and luxurious property I’ve ever stayed at. Prices on the island are steep, but it’s certainly worth the price for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Where to stay in Bora Bora:
5. Whitsunday Islands, Australia
The Whitsunday Islands are located just off the east coast of Australia in the Queensland Territory. This island group is known for its pristine beaches and turquoise waters that make you feel as if you’ve been transported to the Caribbean Sea.
74 islands, including Whitsunday Island, Hamilton Island, Hayman Island, and Hook Island, comprise the island group. You can catch flights to visit the different islands by seaplane or take boat rides between the islands or from mainland Australia.
The islands are sandwiched between mainland Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, making it a perfect paradise for snorkeling. Central Whitsunday Island is home to one of the most famous beaches of the Whitsundays, Whitehaven Beach.
The blindingly white sand beach is shallow and stretches as far as the eye can see. The water temperature is warm year-round, so it’s perfect for swimming any time of the year!
The best way to see the entire Whitsundays is by taking a scenic flight like this one. I highly recommend it as you will get stunning views of the islands and the iconic Great Barrier Reef.
Where to stay in the Whitsundays:
- Budget: Queens Beach Tourist Village
- Mid-Range: Hamilton Island Beach Lodges
- Luxury: Mirage Whitsundays
6. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
The Perhentian Islands in northeast Malaysia are two tropical islands that are still relatively under the radar to visitors. Southeast Asia is notoriously dirt cheap compared to the Maldives, and you can often find comparable accommodations for half the price that you would pay in other countries. Such a fantastic deal!
You must take a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut to get to the islands. I recommend taking the Peranda bus overnight to maximize your time. From Kuala Besut, you can take a speedboat to either of the two islands.
The islands’ sandy beaches draw people to both islands. The smaller island, Pulau Kecil, is known for its nightlife and budget-friendly accommodations. The bigger island, Pulau Besar, is perfect for families or couples looking for a quiet getaway.
Scuba divers, rejoice! Both islands are excellent for scuba diving; you can find scuba dive shops dotted along the beaches wherever you go that offer PADI certification courses. Coral Bay is a gorgeous spot to snorkel among stunning coral reefs and is the perfect place for a photo op.
Where to stay in Perhentian Islands:
See Related: Best All-Inclusive Resorts Without a Passport
7. Rarotonga, Cook Islands
The gorgeous Cook Islands, nestled halfway between French Polynesia and Samoa in the South Pacific, is a group of 15 islands and is truly paradise on Earth.
Early Polynesian settlers have a rich history dating back to prehistoric times in the Cook Islands; Cook Islands Maori is still spoken in the islands today, along with English.
You might choose the Cook Islands over the Maldives because it is much more secluded, with hidden beaches around every corner. It is also much less touristy than the Maldives and offers visitors a more authentic vibe.
On the main island of Rarotonga, you’ll find palm trees swaying in the warm tropical breeze and friendly locals. You’ll also find some of the best snorkeling on the entire planet. I highly recommend joining this Half-Day Lagoon BBQ Lunch Tour and Snorkeling to maximize your day on the water.
Don’t miss out on the traditions of the Rarotongans and immerse yourself in the culture by joining this Cook Islands Cultural Village Tour with Night Show and Buffet Dinner. It’s a lovely way to spend your evening learning about the country’s culture.
Where to stay in the Cook Islands:
- Budget: Secluded Holiday Home with Pool
- Mid-Range: The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium
- Luxury: Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa
See Related: Best Island to Visit in Hawaii: What’s Best for You?
The beautiful Dutch island of Curaçao is known for its colorful capital city Willemstad and expansive coral reefs. If Caribbean island life is calling your name, check out Curaçao; once you get there, you won’t want to leave!
The weather is perfect year-round, with just a bit of rain now and then in the winter, so you can visit the island whenever you want. This is a great advantage for choosing Curaçao over the Maldives.
Get out onto the clear, blue water with this 2-Hour Kayak Tour. On this tour, you’ll be able to explore the beautiful coral reefs and secluded bays framed by the reef only accessible from the water.
Besides the gorgeous waters, I recommend taking a sightseeing tour like this on the entire island. Curaçao has a rich history and beautiful, colorful towns that should not be missed.
Where to stay in Curaçao:
See Related: Best Caribbean Islands to Visit
The former British colony of Belize is a gorgeous country in the heart of the Central American jungle. It is an excellent option if you’re on a tight budget because you can get two different experiences in one vacation.
In the Cayo district in western Belize, you’ll find jungle-covered mountains, ancient Mayan ruins, and breathtaking caves. I highly recommend taking a full- or half-day tour like this one, where you’ll discover Mayan temples, rivers that flow through caves, and an exciting zip line.
Along the country’s east coast, you’ll find the Cayes, a series of small islands surrounding the coast of the country. Don’t miss the Great Blue Hole, a gargantuan marine sinkhole reaching 410 feet. You can see it on a dive-boat day trip or a sightseeing flight by the local airline.
I recommend this Food Tasting City Tour throughout Belize City for a slower-paced activity. Food is one of the best ways to experience a new place.
Where to stay in Belize:
- Budget: Coco’s Beachfront Cabanas
- Mid-Range: Costa Blu Beach Resort, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
- Luxury: The Ellysian Boutique Hotel
See Related: Belize’s Stunning Great Blue Hole is Life-Changing
10. Gili Islands, Indonesia
The Gili Islands is a group of three small islands just off the coast of Lombok Island in Indonesia. The islands are Gili Trawangan (Gili T), Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Bali is the familiar alternative to the Maldives in Indonesia, but the Gili Islands offer the same mind-blowing vistas with much fewer people.
My favorite part of Indonesia in general (besides the natural beauty) is all the delicious cheap meals starting at $3 and usually not more than $7. I’m getting hungry just thinking about a tasty plate of nasi goreng. This is an amazing deal when traveling on such a tight budget.
Sightseeing cruises are a great option to see all three Gili islands in a short amount of time. I recommend this Private Gili Islands Glass Bottom Boat Tour. It’s so affordable for a private tour, and you’ll get to snorkel among some of the most colorful fish and even visit the turtle sanctuary at Gili Meno.
Gili T is the party island known for Instagram-worthy swings in the ocean. After the first one gained popularity, overwater swings popped up all over the island, so it’s not hard to find one. Gili Meno is much calmer and laid-back, whereas Gili Air is a mix of partying and relaxation.
Where to stay in Gili Islands:
11. Boracay, Philippines
Boracay is known for its world-class white sand beaches. The natural beauty of the smaller islands of the Philippines is hard to beat- and the affordable prices make it even harder to pass up. The closest Maldives-like beach in the Philippines is White Beach, located on Boracay Island.
Besides its stunning natural beauty, Boracay is also known as a party island. These famed Boracay beach parties can go on all night and are great if you’re looking for a fun atmosphere to meet new people. Coco Bar is a fun stop with great music and games.
A pub crawl is also a fun activity to do on the island. My favorite way to take in the island’s stunning beauty is on a bike. You can stop at so many lovely beaches, like White Beach and Puka Shell Beach, and go up to the Mt. Luho observation deck to get the best view of Boracay.
I recommend this 8-Hour Bike Rental so you can take your time to explore the island. Finding a Maldives-like resort in the Philippines is easy, especially in Boracay. I recommend The Strand Boutique Resort on White Beach, but you can find something to fit any budget.
Where to stay in Boracay:
Seychelles is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. The most notable landmark in Seychelles is La Digue, an island off the coast of Mahe, the main island. To get there, you must take a ferry from Mahe that will also stop at other beautiful islands. You can book the fast ferry here.
Besides the unreal landscape of La Digue, don’t miss out on the Veuve Reserve. It is one of the most beautiful nature reserves in the region and is home to several native plant and animal species.
The main island of Mahe also offers a lot for visitors to do. The island is quite large, so if you only have time to visit one part of the island, I suggest North Mahe as there is much more to do and see there.
Sunset Beach is one of the best spots on the island to watch the sunset, and Victoria City still holds on to its old British colonial charm. The best time to visit Seychelles is in winter, between May and October, when temperatures are cooler, and the trade winds are calm.
Where to stay in Seychelles:
- Budget: Blue Horizon Bungalow
- Mid-Range: Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa
- Luxury: Six Senses Zil Pasyon
See Related: Best Honeymoon Destinations in the World
13. Formentera, Spain
Looking for places like the Maldives in Europe? Look no further than Formentera Island! The island’s secluded beaches make it a perfect alternative to the Maldives as well as other nearby popular destinations like Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca. It is the smallest of Spain’s Balearic islands but definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.
The island has no airport, so the best way to get to Formentera is a 35-minute ferry from Ibiza. Once there, rent a scooter or bike to explore the island.
Head to the El Pilar de la Mola artisan market to find the cutest clothing items and souvenirs to bring back home. Then go to the Far de la Mola lighthouse for some of the island’s best views.
The island has so many stunning white sandy beaches; you can’t go wrong with them. If I had to choose just one, I would recommend Platja de Ses Illetes. It’s close to town and has an unreal long strip of white sand that extends out into the water with the turquoise sea surrounding you on three sides.
If you’ve already booked your trip to Ibiza, check out this All-Inclusive Boat Trip to Formentera; it’s basically like a floating beach club that allows you a few hours to explore Formentera island.
Where to stay in Formentera:
- Budget: Apartment on the Seafront of Es Pujols
- Mid-Range: Hotel Levante
- Luxury: Gecko Hotel & Beach Club, a Small Luxury Hotel of the World
See Related: Best All-Inclusive Resorts in the Maldives
Jamaica is the perfect option if you’re looking for all-inclusive luxury surrounded by the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. Like the Maldives, you can find turquoise blue water, white sands, and overwater bungalows in Jamaica.
The flight time is less than 4 hours to Jamaica from New York, so it’s much more convenient to get there than in the Maldives. The Sandals Royal Caribbean All-Inclusive Resort & Private Island is touted as one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the world. Completely disconnect from the real world while relaxing on the beach, or try snorkeling or windsurfing.
If you’d actually like to get out of your luxury bubble at the resort for a moment, check out Chukka’s Good Hope Adventure Park and Falls. Activities at the park include zip-lining, river tubing, gem mining, and rum tasting. After the adventure park, check out Nine Miles, the village where legendary reggae artist Bob Marley was born.
Where to stay in Jamaica:
- Budget: White Sands Negril
- Mid-Range: S Hotel Jamaica Boutique All Inclusive
- Luxury: Sandals Royal Caribbean All Inclusive Resort & Private Island
See Related: Best Restaurants in Jamaica to Try
15. Lichadonisia, Greece
Lichadonisia, a small island group located above Athens in the North Euboean Gulf, has been dubbed the “Caribbean of Greece” for its bright blue water and lush scenery. It has also been compared to the Tuamotu islands of French Polynesia.
The islands are uninhabited, but there are plenty of options to stay in Kavos on mainland Greece. From Kavos, it’s just a few minute boat ride to the main island of Lichadonisia. Once on Lichadonisia, you’ll see the stunning Monolia Beach.
Monolia Beach is a gorgeous bay for lounging, swimming, and snorkeling. A beach bar and chairs are set up so you can spend the whole day there. There is also a shipwreck off the coast of Lichadonisia that is great for diving.
Where to stay near Lichadonisia: