12 dreamy places like the Maldives but cheaper

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

A vacation to the luxurious resorts of the Maldives is an unforgettable affair, but we want you to look back on your vacation and remember powder sands and cyan-blue waters – not the hefty price tag or the long flight with stopovers.

Be kind to your bank account by opting to fly to one of these fabulous locations that are similar (if not better) and more importantly, cheaper. So much cheaper that we’ve even found a host of deals to go alongside them.


Belize

1. 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 can be cheap, especially if you travel in the off-season, with fares starting from $390 from Toronto. To add, it’s the cost on ground that makes this choice cheaper than the Maldives with meals starting from $4 according to Numbeo.

  • Flight time from Canada: Approx. 6 hrs and 15 minutes (from Toronto, 1 stop)
  • Flight prices from Toronto: Start from $390 return
  • Resort (4-star): Sapphire Beach Resort starts at $158 per night
  • Domestic beer: $2.80
  • 3-course meal for two: $42.20
Check hotel prices in Belize

Curacao

2. 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 savouring the rich history dating back to the 16th century at its capital city Willemstad.

  • Flight time from Canada: Approx. 5 hours (from Toronto, direct)
  • Flight prices from Toronto: Start at $495 return
  • Resort (4-star): Santa Barbara Beach Golf Resort starts at $132 per night
  • Domestic beer: $2.67
  • 3-course meal for two: $57.16
Check hotel prices in Curacao

Fiji Islands

3. Fiji

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

When it comes to costs on ground, Fiji prices are on-par with the Maldives with a cheap meal costing around $6 and a sit down meal for two around $30-40 according to Numbeo. That said, flight prices are more pricey to Fiji from Canada and you’ll spend quite a few hours on the plane.

  • Flight time from Canada: Approx. 18 hours and 50 minutes (from Toronto, 1 stop)
  • Flight prices from Toronto: Start at $1,559 return
  • Resort (4-star): DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Fiji Sonaisali Island starts at $111 per night
  • Domestic beer: $3.32
  • 3-course meal for two: $39.79
Check hotel prices in Fiji

Gili Islands

4. 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 for that matter – is dirt cheap compared to the Maldives, with a day’s worth of meals costing under $10 and the average cost per person, per day coming in under $50.

  • Flight time from Canada: Approx. 21 hours and 30 minutes (from Toronto to Bali, 1+ stops)
  • Flight prices from Toronto: Starts at $848 return
  • Resort (4-star): Seri Resort Gili Meno starts at $50 per night
  • Domestic beer: $3.42
  • 3-course meal for two: $14.64
Check hotel prices in Gili Islands

Phillippines

5. 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 $750 return. When in the nation, the cost of living drops dramatically as well with similar meals half the price of those on the Maldives. It’s a winner in our eyes for super budget-friendly vacations once your on ground in the Philippines.

  • Flight time from Canada: Approx. 16 hours and 20 minutes (from Toronto, 1 stop)
  • Flight prices from Toronto: Approximately $760 return (Toronto to Cebu)
  • Resort (4-star): Alta Vista de Boracay starts at $51 per night
  • Domestic beer: $1.30
  • 3-course meal for two: $52.05
Check hotel prices in Boracay

Beach in Kauai, Hawaii

6. Kauai

With lush tropical rainforests, incredible hikes, pristine beaches and dramatic cliffs, Kauai is one of the most beautiful islands of Hawaii. Affordable flights leave from major Canadian cities, making the trek to this Central Pacific island very affordable.

Once you get on the island, you are looking at pricier accommodations, food and drinks than some of the other locations on this list. But the cheaper flights can help to offset the more expensive on-ground costs to visit this beautiful island.

  • Flight time from Canada: Approx. 11 hours and 46 minutes (from Toronto, 1 stop)
  • Flight price from Toronto: Starts at $538 return (Toronto to Kauai)
  • Resort (4-star): Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu Autograph Collection starts at $492
  • Domestic beer: $6
  • 3-course meal for two: $90
Check hotel prices in Kauai

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

7. Perhentian Islands

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

With reasonably priced flights from Canada to Malaysia, you can often catch a break for under $810 return, undercutting the Maldives flights by a margin. 5-star hotels are a little pricier as they’re more scarce but the cost of activities can be a dream with diving activities starting from $25, including equipment.

  • Flight time from Canada: 20 hours and 35 minutes (from Toronto, 1 stop)
  • Flight prices from Toronto: Start at $806 return (Toronto to Kuala Lumpur)
  • Resort (3-star): Shari-La Island Resort starts at $36 per night
  • Domestic beer: $5.08
  • 3-course meal for two: $21.99
Check hotel prices in the Perhentian Islands

Lakshadweep, India

8. 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 Canada: 1 day and 15 hours (from Toronto, 3 stops)
  • Flight prices from Toronto: Start at $587 return (Toronto to Mumbai)
  • Resort (3-star): Bangaram Island Resort (No prices available.)
  • Domestic beer: $4.26
  • 3-course meal for two: $36.33
Check hotel prices in Lakshadweep

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:

Mauritius

9. 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 Canada: 22 hours and 22 minutes (from Toronto, 1 stop)
  • Flight prices from Toronto: Start at $1,115 return
  • Resort (4-star): Sands Suites Resort Spa starts at $391 per night
  • Domestic beer: $2.04
  • 3-course meal for two: $28.58
Check hotel prices in Mauritius

Whitsundays Australia

10. 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.

This will definitely be one of the more pricier locations on our list, but it’s worth it for the pristine beaches and emerald sea.

  • Flight time from Canada: 1 day and 3 hours (from Toronto, 2 stops)
  • Flight price from Toronto: $1,514 return (Toronto to Cairns)
  • Resort (4-star): Boathaven Spa Resort starts at $155 per night
  • Domestic beer: $7
  • 3-course meal for two: $80
Check hotel prices in Whitsundays

Bora Bora

11. 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 Canada: Approx. 19 hours and 36 minutes (from Toronto, 2+ stops)
  • Average flight price from Canada: $2,255 return (Toronto to Bora Bora)
  • Resort (4-star): Le Meridien Bora Bora starts at $618 per night
  • Domestic beer: $12.28
  • 3-course meal for two: $150.14
Check hotel prices in Bora Bora

Seychelles

12. Seychelles

Located on the east coast of Africa, Seychelles offers utterly pristine beaches, crystal clear waters and plenty of peace of quiet – but it’ll be an expensive flight to paradise. Accommodations and food tend to be pricier, but for the crystal clear water, nature reserves and unique flora and fauna, it might be worth it.

  • Flight time from Canada: Approx. 20 hours and 55 minutes (from Toronto, 2 stops)
  • Flight price from Canada: Starts from $1,082 return (Toronto to Mahe, Seychelles)
  • Resort (4-star): Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort Casino starts at $205 per night
  • Domestic beer: $6.19
  • 3-course meal for two: $56.76
Check hotel prices in the Seychelles

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Flight costs sourced from Skyscanner and are based on the cheapest cost of flights for bookings and travel from Toronto using the cheapest month feature for 2019/2020. Prices based on economy return fares for one adult. Food and drink costs sourced from: Numbeo.com. Hotel costs sourced from HotelsCombined. Hotel price based on a per-night price in November 2019 quoted on 29 July 2019. Prices are based on a per-night rate for a 1-night stay at a 3 or 4-star beach resort in the above destinations. We used the dates 1-2 November 2019 as a guide.

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