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
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.
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Whitsunday Coast and Hamilton Island flights from $49
Valid on select flights to Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine) and Hamilton Island airports. Sample fare is departing Brisbane. Other fares include Sydney to Whitsunday Coast from $75 and Melbourne to Hamilton Island from $169. One-way fares.
Image source: Visit Mexico
This one-time gateway to the Mayan world offers the best of both the modern and ancient worlds: seven miles of pristine white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and legendary Mayan archeological cities and ruins.
- Top 5 beaches: North Beach, Maroma Beach, Playa Forum, Playa Chac Mool, Playa Delfines
- Must do/see: Ancient Mayan ruins, snorkeling and diving, surfing, nightlife
- Stay: At the Hyatt Zilara Cancun. The room rate includes meals and beverages at the restaurants and bars, room service, nightly entertainment and use of the facilities. Prices start from $630/night.
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All-Inclusive Cancun resorts from $176
Find all-inclusive accommodation in Cancun, including unlimited food and drinks, from just $176 per night for two people.
3. Fethiye, Turkey
The port city of Fethiye is known for its natural harbour, clear waters and addictive white sand beaches. Pretty islands are scattered around the region, making island-hopping boat trips a popular activity.
- Top 5 beaches: Çalis Beach, Ölüdeniz, Koca Çalış, Blue Lagoon, Patara
- Must do/see: Boat trips, rock tombs and ruins, beaches
- Stay: At the Hillside Beach Club. This all-inclusive luxury hotel is surrounded by woodlands and has its own secluded private bay where you can indulge in watersports. Prices start at $400/night.
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Image source: Travel 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.
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Image: Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Bureau
5. Sri Lanka
This tropical island off India’s southern tip is known for many highlights, including eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, world class beaches, ancient Buddhist ruins, flavourful cuisine and the world’s finest Ceylon Tea.
- Top 5 beaches: Unawatuna, Hijjaduwa, Kalpitiya, Bentota, Arugam Bay
- Must do/see: National Parks, temples, tea estates, Buddhist ruins
- Stay: At the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort. Set amidst a coconut plantation, this resort offers the perfect getaway with a secluded beach front. Rates start from $330/night.
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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.
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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.
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Image: Tourism Cambodia
Though the magnificent Angkor temples may be the first things that come to the mind of travellers, don't overlook the beaches in the South Coast. Think untouched sands, swaying palm trees and azure waters without the crowd.
- Top 5 beaches: Long Set, Victory, Koh Pos, Serendipity, Main
- Must do/see: Temples of Angkor, beaches, Khmer cuisine, genocide museums, Phnom Penh markets
- Stay: At Sokha Beach Resort. This beachfront spa and resort has easy access to a private beach. Beachfront dining options are available and guests can opt for a massages while overlooking the sea. Rooms start at $193.
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Image: Vietnam Tourism
Vietnam is a place of breathtaking natural beauty. To pick some random examples: the incredible limestone islands of Halong Bay and unique heritage such as the Vietnamese War history museums and the lush fields of Sapa.
- Top 5 beaches: Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Phi Quoc, Doc Let, Danang
- Must do/see: Halong Bay, Paradise Cave, Cu Chi Tunnels, War Remnants Museum
- Stay: at Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa. Elegant French colonial villas with a private beach. There is also a cable car linking to Hon Tre Island. Rooms start at $189/night.
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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.
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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.
Places like Maldives with overwater bungalows:
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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.