10 dreamy places like Maldives but cheaper

These alternative coastal paradises will give Maldives a run for its money.

A vacation to the luxurious resorts of Maldives is an unforgettable affair, but we want you to look back on your holiday and remember powder sands and cyan-blue waters, not the hefty price tag. So to help out your bank account, we have 10 fabulous locations that are similar (if not better) and more importantly, cheaper.

These places tick all the boxes for white sandy beaches, clear waters and watersports that Maldives is famous for.

When you need a break from the sun and sea, explore the rich cultural heritage of these sites, trek lush jungles or visit national parks, sample the food and enjoy the warm hospitality of the people.

10 places like Maldives you’ll fall in love with


Image source: Tourism Whitsundays

1. Whitsundays

Located in the heart of the world’s most famous reef, the 74 Whitsunday Islands have stunning beaches and secluded bays framed by aqua water and emerald forests. If you have to choose one though, we recommend Whitehaven Beach - it’s the finest in Whitsunday, if not the world.

  • Top 5 beaches: Whitehaven Beach, Horseshoe Bay, Turtle Bay, Catseye Beach, Airlie Beach Lagoon
  • Must do/see: The Great Barrier Reef, Aboriginal rock paintings, scenic drives
  • Stay: At the Martinique Whitsunday Resort. French-Caribbean style apartments with a balcony that offers panoramic ocean views. Prices start at $370/per night.

Check the price of flights to the Whitsundays


2. Lord Howe Island

Australia’s very own secluded paradise island, Lord Howe limits the number of visitors to an exclusive 400 at a time - meaning no crowds at the clear-water beaches and on the lush hiking trails.

  • Best beaches: Ned’s Beach, Blinky Beach
  • Things to do: Hiking Mt Gower, snorkelling at Ned’s Beach, birdwatching
  • Where to stay: Capella Lodge. Okay, this one’s a splurge, but well worth it. The stunning hotel offers access to an exclusive beach, features rain showers, and boasts incredible island views.

Check the price of flights to Lord Howe Island


3. Gili Islands

Only a short boat ride from Bali but a world away, these three small islands offer picture-perfect white sand beaches, swaying palms and a view of Lombok’s majestic Mt Rinjani volcano.

  • Islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, Gili Meno
  • Things to do: Diving in crystal-clear waters , snorkelling right off the beach, island hopping between the Gilis, watch the sunset from a beachfront bar
  • Where to stay: Aston Sunset Beach Resort. Sitting on a private beach on the main island, Gili Trawangan, this resort offers a range of accommodations including villas with private pools.

Check the price of flights to Gili Islands (Bali)


Image source: Travel Belize

4. Belize

Belize will have you spoiled for choice with Caribbean shorelines to the east and Central American jungle to the west. Packed with adventure and culture, you can scuba dive the Great Blue Hole one day and explore excavated tombs of Mayan kings the next.

  • Top 5 beaches: Placencia Peninsula, Hopkins, Ambergris Caye, South Water Caye, The Split
  • Must do/see: Reef diving, Mayan archeological sites, Belize Zoo, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, Great Blue Hole
  • Stay: At the Belize Ocean Club Resort. Choose to wake up to breathtaking ocean views with snorkelling and other water activities at your fingertips. Prices from $329/night.

Check the price of flights to Belize


5. Mauritius

Looking every bit like the epitome of paradise, Mauritius is a small island nation in the Indian Ocean that’s packed with picturesque lagoons, towering waterfalls, and colourful reefs.

  • Best beaches: Trou aux Biches Beach, Belle Mare Beach, Ile aux Cerfs Beach, Flic en Flac Beach
  • Things to do: Diving, exploring national parks,
  • Where to stay: Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa. Treat yourself at this luxury, beachfront property that offers sunset views over the Indian Ocean. It also offers complimentary dolphin-shopping trips.

Check the price of flights to Mauritius

6. Philippines

Thousands  of inviting islands and famed Boracay beach parties await you in the Philippines, but don’t forget to take some time to explore the chiselled beauty of rice terraces and historical landmarks in Manila.

  • Top 5 beaches: Boracay, Siargao, El Nido, Panglao, Pagudpud
  • Must do/see: Nightlife, beaches, island hopping, swimming with whale sharks, rice terraces
  • Stay: At Discovery Shores Boracay. This luxury five-star property sits on Boracay’s fine white sand beach. Enjoy a day on its private beach or pamper yourself at the full service spa. Rates start at $317/night.

Check the price of flights to the Philippines


7. Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands are less than hour boat ride from the east coast of Malaysia, and are a haven for scuba divers. Whether you are touring the underwater wonderland, relaxing on the blindingly white sand beach or trekking the lush jungles, it's is a budget-friendly path to a tropical escape.

  • Top 5 beaches: D’ Lagoon, Long Beach, Coral Bay, Turtle Beach, Adam & Eve Beach
  • Must do/see: Scuba diving, turtle conservation, jungle trekking
  • Stay: at Bubu Resort Perhentian Island. This resort is the perfect holiday destination for honeymooners and water sports enthusiasts. Go scuba diving or relax by the beach - it’s entirely up to you. Rooms start at $372/night.

Check the price of flights to Malaysia


8. Cook Islands

This South Pacific Island chain sits between New Zealand and Hawaii and features picture-perfect lagoons, lush green hills. And most importantly, you can be at the beach just 30 minutes after landing.

  • Best beaches: Muri Beach, One Foot Island Beach, Ootu Beach
  • Things to do: Paddleboarding in lagoons, experience the local culture, eat fresh seafood
  • Where to stay: Little Polynesian Resort. A dreamy pool by the sea and a private villa are just some perks at this small 4-star resort has to offer.

Check the price of flights to Cook Islands


9. Lakshadweep, India

So much like the Maldives, technically this Indian island chain is part of the Maldives, geographically speaking. It’s much less developed and accommodation is sparse, but budget bungalows can be found on a few of the islands.

  • Best beaches: Kavaratti Beach, Minicoy Beach, Bangaram Beach
  • Things to do: Visit Kavaratti Aquarium or snorkel to see the local sealife, relax on the beach, visist uninhabited islands
  • Where to stay: Agatti Island Beach Resort. This beachfront resort features white and blue villas that place you right on the sand and is surrounded by crystalline waters.

Check the price of flights to India

10. Curacao

Curacao is one of the Caribbean's best kept secrets with hidden beaches tucked along its Western coast. Watch psychedelic sunsets at more than 35 captivating beaches while savoring the rich history dating back to the 16th century at its capital city Willemstad.

  • Top 5 beaches: Cas Abao, Playa Kalki, Blue Beach, Caracasbaai, Jan Thiel
  • Must do/see: Ostrich farms, scuba diving, Christoffel National Park, Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge
  • Stay: at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. Take scuba diving classes and swim with dolphins. Tee off in paradise at one of the best golf courses in the Caribbean. A room with spectacular sea views start at $229/night.

Check the price of flights to Curacao

Luxury 5-star Curacao stays from $135 per night

Book luxury 5-star accommodation in Curacao, in the Southern Caribbean, from just $135 per night.

Search for more hotels in these tropical destinations:

Ready to fly? Book using these travel coupons and deals:

Up to 50% off day tours and activities in Thailand

Sample discounts include 50% off James Bond Island tours, 45% off Phi Phi Island day tours, 15% off Mae Ping River Cruises.

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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