A tiny and densely populated island, Malé is not an obvious backpacker or tourist destination on its own merits. Most visitors come here on their way to or from one of the hundreds of resorts on other Maldivian islands, so there really isn’t much to see or do here.
If you aren’t on your way to or from a resort island, it’s important to ask yourself why you might want to visit Malé. There are no hostels and the hotels are fairly expensive for what you get. There is also no alcohol in Malé, except for at one hotel near the airport.
Food in Malé is reasonably priced, especially if you follow locals into a restaurant that doesn’t mainly cater to tourists. On the nearby island of Hulhumalé there are better hotels and some nice tourist restaurants, so it’s a better choice for an overnight visit for most people.
The Maldives is known as home to most of the world’s water villas, and about 10 of those resorts are within a speedboat ride of the airport. Those start at about US$300 per night in low season.