13 dreamy places like Maldives but cheaper

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

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

A vacation to the luxurious resorts of Maldives is an unforgettable affair compelte with powder sands and cyan-blue waters. But if you're after something a little kinder to your bank account, or a little closer to home, one of these fabulous locations could hit the spot.

For budget's sake, we've mentioned whether their low cost (package holidays are under $1,000), mid-range (package holidays are between $1,000 and $2000) or high cost (package holidays are $2,000+)

How much does the Maldives cost?

  • Flight time from Australia: 11 hours (from Perth, 1 stop)
  • Package holidays can start from under: $3,699 per pers on for 5-night stay including flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. Check here for the latest prices.

1. Best for families: Fiji

This South Pacific archipelago chain sits east of Queensland and features over 300 islands blessed with sandy beaches and coral-filled waters.

With its endless outdoor activities and kid-friendly resorts, Fiji is an ideal escape for families with young ones keen to unwind during the school break. Poolside, naturally.

  • Flight time from Australia: 3.5 hours (from Brisbane, non-stop)
  • Package holiday prices: Mid-range. Check here for the latest prices.
  • Best islands: Yusawa, Mamanuca, Viti Levu, Savusavu and Lautoka.
  • Things to do: Snorkelling, diving, paddleboarding, kayaking and eating fresh seafood.
  • Where to stay: De Vos The Private Residence. A dreamy pool and access to a private beach are just some of the perks that this 5-star hotel has to offer.

2. Best for budgets: 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.

The price of hotels and meals on Gili Islands, or elsewhere in Bali is dirt cheap compared to Maldives with a day's worth of meals costing under $10 and the average cost per person, per day coming under $50.

  • Flight time from Australia: 3.5 hours (from Perth to Bali, non-stop)
  • Package holiday prices: Low-cost. Check here for the latest prices.
  • 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.

3. Best for short breaks: 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.

With flights under an hour from major Australian cities and numerous non-stop options this works as a weekend or a long-weekend break.

  • Flight time: 1.75 hours (from Brisbane, non-stop)
  • Package holidays price: Mid-range. Check here for the latest prices.
  • Top 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.

4. Best for island hopping: Vanuatu

If escaping to a nation of dozens of tropical islands surrounded by unbelievably blue waters is your thing, then we'd recommend Vanuatu. Only a few hours' flight off the east coast of Australia, these islands are perfect for a short escape or an extended getaway - after all, there are more than 80 islands to explore.

  • Flight time from Australia: 2.5 hours (from Brisbane, non-stop)
  • Package holidays prices: Low-cost. Check here for the latest prices.
  • Best beaches: Champagne Beach
  • Things to do: Snorkel or dive the coral reefs, chase waterfalls at Mele Cascades, check out the mighty, active Mt Yasur volcano
  • Where to stay: Iririki Island Resort and Spa. Two words, overwater bungalows. Plus, there's a beach, a pool overlooking the sea, tennis courts, and more activities available.[/fin_hide]

5. Best for beaches: 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.

If you're lucky, you can catch flights to the Philippines for under $200 return. When in the nation, the cost of living drops dramatically as well with similar meals half the price of those on Maldives.

  • Flight time from Australia: 14 hours (from Sydney, 1 stop)
  • Holiday package prices: Low-mid range. Check here for the latest prices.
  • Top 5 beaches: Boracay, Siargao, El Nido, Panglao, PagudpudMust 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.

6. Best for couples: Cook Islands

Nestled halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii is the Cook Islands chain and its bevy of beautiful beaches. It comes up just slightly pricier than Maldives unfortunately as prices on-island are dear however the flight time is bang-on perfect coming up less than 6 hours from Sydney. Flights are mainly operated by Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand though Jetstar offers a few indirect services per week.

  • Flight time from Australia: 5 hours and 45 minutes (from Sydney, non-stop)
  • Holiday package prices: Mid-range. Check here for the latest prices.
  • Top 5 beaches: Muri, Aroa, Black Rock, O'otu and One Foot Island.
  • Must do/see: Snorkelling, diving, hiking, sailing and ecotours.
  • Stay: at Sanctuary Rarotonga on the Beach and you won't regret it! It's a 5-star stunner moments from the airport with its own private beachfront and balcony rooms. Prices start from $261 per night for a beachside suite.

7. Best for divers: 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.

  • Flight time from Australia: 8 hours and 50 minutes (from Sydney, non-stop)
  • Average flight price from Australia: Unavailable. Search for current fares here.
  • Holiday package prices: Mid-high.
  • 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.

8. Best off-the-beaten track destination: 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.

  • Flight time from Australia: 1 day and 4 hours (from Sydney, 2 stops)
  • Holiday package prices: High-end.
  • 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.[/fin_hide]

More places like the Maldives

Not on such a tight budget? Then we'd recommend checking out these idyllic isles like the Maldives that exude luxury:

9. Best for honeymooners: 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.

  • Flight time from Australia: 14 hours and 30 minutes (from Melbourne, non-stop)
  • Holiday package prices: High-end. Check here for the latest prices.
  • 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.

10. Best for overwater bungalows: Bora Bora

When you think of paradise, you think of Bora Bora. This picture-perfect spot in the South Pacific has lush, jungle-covered mountains, an unbelievably blue lagoon and pristine beaches.

  • Flight time from Australia: 15 hours and 50 minutes (from Melbourne, 2+ stops)
  • Holiday packages prices: High-end. Check here for the latest prices
  • Best beaches: Matira Beach
  • Things to do: Explore the lagoon by jetski, indulge in an overwater bungalow (and dive right into the water from it), snorkel or dive
  • Where to stay: Intercontinental Bora Bora. Idyllic overwater bungalows and unrivalled views of the lagoon and mountain. What more could you ask for?

11. Best for advenure seekers: 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.

Flying to Belize is not going to be cheap with fares starting from $1,500 from Sydney however it's the cost on ground that makes this cheaper than Maldives with cheap meals starting from $4 according to Numbeo. 5-star hotels can start from $138 per night. Comparatively, equivalent hotels in Maldives start from $200 per night.

  • Flight time from Australia: 20.5 hours (from Sydney, 1 stop )
  • Holiday package prices: High-end
  • Top 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.

12. Best for sunsets: 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.

  • Flight time from Australia: 1 day and 2 hours (from Sydney, 2+ stops)
  • Holiday package prices: High-end.
  • 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.

13. Best for the ultimate splurge: Seychelles

Located on the east coast of Africa, for somewhere utterly pristine, heaven-scent and a bit of a blow-out, make yours a luxurious trip to Seychelles. It's definitely a cut above Maldives in terms of cost but for the crystal clear water, nature reserves and unique flora and fauna it's the thing of dreams. Make yours a reality.

  • Flight time from Australia: 21 hours (from Melbourne, 1 stop)
  • Holiday package prices: High-end. Check here for the latest prices.
  • Top beaches: Anse Source d'Argent, Anse Georgette, Grand Anse, Petite Anse Kerlan and Anse Cocos.
  • Must do/see: Diving, fishing, island hopping, wildlife hikes and temples.
  • Stay: at Coco de Mer Hotel and Black Parrot Suites for a highly rated, well-priced 4-star hotel that offers everything from an outdoor tennis court and private beach to a tour desk to get out and explore. Not that you need to.

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

KayakKayak

Australia flights from $54 return

Available on flights from June - September 2021 to Gold Coast, Cairns, Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth, Alice Springs, Uluru and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Melbourne with Jetstar.

Last verified

Deal ends

RedBalloonRedBalloon
Exclusive

Get $5 off activities with code

Available on experiences across Australia including Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, Hobart and more. Minimum spend of $250 required. Activities include hot air balloon flights, hop-on hop-off bus tours, whale watching cruises, skydives, high teas, quad biking experiences and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon
Exclusive

Get $10 off activities with code

Available on experiences across Australia including Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart, Sunshine Coast and more. Minimum spend of $300 required. Activities include hot air balloon flights, hop-on hop-off bus tours, whale watching cruises, skydives, high teas, quad biking experiences and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

KlookKlook
Exclusive

$15 off all Australian activities with code

Available on select travel dates when you spend a minimum of $100. Activities include hot air balloon flights, tandem skydives and attraction passes. Destinations include Sydney, Gold Coast, Cairns, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and more. Exclusive for new members. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

SkyscannerSkyscanner

Jetstar sale: Australia-wide flights from $32 each way

Available on flights from April - September 2021 to Launceston, Gold Coast, Hobart, Adelaide, Whitsundays, Townsville, Hamilton Island, Darwin, Uluru and more. Sample fare is Melbourne-Adelaide. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

SkyscannerSkyscanner

Up to 50% off: Qantas flights from $70 each way

Available on flights from April - September 2021 to destinations including Sydney, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Launceston, Canberra, Darwin, Broome, Perth and more. Sample fare is Melbourne-Launceston.

Last verified

Deal ends

KayakKayak

Up to 50% off domestic flights with Qantas

Available on flights from April - September 2021. Destinations include Sydney, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Launceston, Hobart, Cairns, Darwin, Broome, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

SkyscannerSkyscanner

Queensland flights from $44 each way

Available on Jetstar flights from July 2021 - March 2022. Destinations include Cairns, Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Townsville, Sunshine Coast and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Gold Coast.

Last verified

Deal ends

Skydive AustraliaSkydive Australia

Extra $40 off weekday skydiving with code

Available for use on all 5 days of the week until August 2021. Applies to 15,000ft tandem skydives. Destinations include New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

KayakKayak

Rex Airlines sale: Flights between Sydney and Melbourne from $39

Available on select flight dates until December 2021.

Last verified

Deal ends

DiDiDiDi
Exclusive

Get $20 credit

Get $5 off each of your first four rides in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Geelong, Perth and Newcastle. Valid on all dates for new users. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

DriveNowDriveNow

Campervan hire from $5/day

Available on select routes, dates and locations in Australia, including Darwin, Alice Springs, Cairns and Brisbane, and New Zealand.

Last verified

Rentalcars.comRentalcars.com

Up to 20% off car hire

Compare car hire prices on Rentalcars.com and save up to 20% compared to booking direct.

Last verified

KKdayKKday
Exclusive

Get $15 off Australia activities with code

Available on all experiences until 31 December 2021 across Australia when you spend a minimum of $100. Activities include hot air balloon flights, skydives and attraction passes. Destinations include Sydney, Whitsunday, Cairns, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and more. Exclusive for new members. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

KlookKlook

Extra 10% off Sydney activities

Available until 31 August 2021, including during Vivid Sydney Festival, on activities such as hot air balloon flights, whale watching cruises, Sydney Opera House tours, attraction passes and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

AdrenalineAdrenaline

Up to 50% off Australia experiences

Available on select travel dates for activities including skydiving, hot air balloon flights, quad biking, scuba diving, whale watching, bridge climbing, high tea and more. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne and more.

Last verified

Motorhome RepublicMotorhome Republic

Up to 15% off Apollo Motorhomes rentals with code

Available on one-way rentals to Northern Territory from 12 July - 17 December 2021. Pick up locations include Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Broome, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

WotifWotif

Up to 15% off hotels with code

Available on stays until 30 June 2022 when you spend a minimum of $150. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

EuropcarEuropcar

Up to 20% off Australia and New Zealand rentals

Available on 2+ days rentals until 11 December 2021 when you book 21 days in advance. Destinations include Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Auckland and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Virgin AustraliaVirgin Australia

Up to 15% off domestic flights with code

Available on Australia flights until May 2022 when you book 7 days in advance. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Get $10 off Vivid Sydney experiences

Available from 6-28 August 2021 on activities including cruises, skywalks and more. Minimum spend of $300 required.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

AgodaAgoda

Up to 77% off Sydney hotels + an extra 5% off with code

Available on stays until December 2021. Includes free breakfast, free cancellation and pay at the hotel option on select properties.

Last verified

Deal ends

Cheap FlightsCheap Flights

Australia-wide flights from $55 return

Available on flights until December 2021 to Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Hobart, Adelaide, Launceston and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Melbourne with Jetstar.

Last verified

Deal ends

Cheap FlightsCheap Flights

New Zealand flights from $287 return

Available on flights from June - November 2021 to Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington and more. Sample fare is Melbourne-Auckland with Jetstar.

Last verified

Deal ends

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to 31% off flying experiences plus an extra $5 off with code

Available on select dates when you spend a minimum of $250. Activities include hot air ballooning, skydiving, helicopter scenic flights. Destinations include Whitsundays, Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hunter Valley, Sydney and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to 28% off things to do in Sydney + Extra $5 off with code

Available on select dates when you spend a minimum of 250. Activities include hot air balloon flights, tandem skydives, whale watching cruises, dining, classes, high teas, spa treatments, getaways and attraction passes. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to 50% off things to do in Gold Coast + Extra $5 off w/ code

Available on select dates when you spend a minimum of $250. Activities include indoor skydiving, sightseeing cruises, hot air ballooning, getaways, jet boat rides, spa treatments and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to 11% off Perth activities + an extra $5 off with code

Available on select dates when you spend a minimum of $250. Activities include driving experience, bike tours, kayaking, art workshops, spa treatments, skydiving and much more.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Extra $10 off Australia getaway packages

Available on select travel dates when you spend a minimum of $300. Destinations include Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Blue Mountains, Cairns, Canberra and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Activities for kids from $17 + an extra $5 off with code

Available on select dates when you spend a minimum of $250. Activities include day tour cruises, zoo experiences, hop-on hop-off bus tours, attraction passes, zoo and animal interactions and more. Destinations include Gold Coast, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Extra $10 off Northern Territory activities with code

Available on select dates and activities include sightseeing tours, zoo and wildlife experience, spas, sailings, hot air balloon flights and scenic flights. Minimum spend of $300 required. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to $10 off Adelaide activities with code

Available on select dates when you spend a minimum of $300. Activities include winery tours in Adelaide Hills, tandem skydives, kayak tours and more. Sample price is for River Torrens sightseeing cruise. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

$10 off hot air balloon experiences in Perth

Available on select travel dates when you spend a minimum of $300. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to 25% off driving experiences + an extra $5 off with code

Available on select dates when you spend a minimum of $250. Activities include rally driving, go-karting, quad-biking and more. Destinations include Sunshine Coast, Newcastle, Perth, Melbourne, Hobart and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to $10 off Canberra hot air balloon flight experiences

Available on select travel dates when you spend a minimum of $300. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Expedia.com.auExpedia.com.au

Up to 47% off last-minute domestic escapes

Available on stays within the next 14 days. Destinations include Sydney, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Canberra and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloonRedBalloon

Up to $10 off Hobart activities with code

Available on select dates when you spend a minimum of $300. Activities include winery tours, getaways, high teas, spas, sightseeing cruises, helicopter flights and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Virgin AustraliaVirgin Australia

Up to 50% off: Flights from $70 each way

Available on flights from June - September 2021. Sample fare is Melbourne-Adelaide. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Priceline.comPriceline.com

Up to 63% off Sydney stays

Available on select travel dates until December 2021, include during Vivid Sydney Festival dates. Sample stay is at Meriton Suites Campbell Street.

Last verified

Deal ends

Virgin AustraliaVirgin Australia

Australia-wide flights from $79 each way

Available on flights from 13 July 2021 - 31 March 2022 to Melbourne, Launceston, Gold Coast, Canberra, Darwin, Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Newcastle, Hobart, Adelaide and more. Sample fare is Ballina-Sydney. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.