Which Local Islands to Visit in the Maldives – Part 3

Although this is our third and final part for this blog series, there are certainly plenty more local islands to visit  and explore and by no means are you limited to just the ones we have mentioned! What we hope we have done however, is to give you a snapshot of some of our favourite islands that will allow you to select an island  destination that will provide the style of holiday you wish to experience. Some of us enjoy adventure, some of us want to learn more about the environment, some want to surf, dive, snorkel and some simply want to relax on a white sandy beach and read a book. We are so lucky in the Maldives that we have it all.

 

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Live Like a Local on Guraidhoo Island

This quiet fishing island in South Male Atoll is ideal if you are looking for a culture based holiday. Local ferry transfers from Male mean it is ideal for the traveler on a budget and is popular with divers and surfers as well as those looking to experience the real Maldives.Wander the sandy roads of this island and observe locals going about their daily routine. Sit and watch the sunset alongside the locals on the public beach or kick back in a traditional seat called a ‘jolie’ and watch the world slowly pass by.

What the island lacks in the way of a tourist bikini beach it makes up for with a fantastic house reef accessible direct from the island. There are chances of encountering Turtles, Stingrays, Octopus and many more fish among the many types of coral.

A newly built water sports and diving centreprovides plenty of activities and excursions. There are some great dive sites and surf breaks within easy reach, as well as numerous luxury resorts should you wish to indulge in a resort day visit.

Guraidhoo is a regular stopping point for safari boats and local shops have quickly adapted by offering all kind of souvenirs making it an ideal location to pick up a memory of your holiday.

UB’s TOP TIP: Look for locally crafted souvenirs made from coconut wood and avoid purchasing shells and coral product.

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Fuvahmulah, a very unique island adventure

Fuvahmulah is perfect if you are looking for a Maldives escape that is more than just a beach holiday. This island has many distinct features setting it aside from the other local Maldivian islands. Set just south of the equator Fuvahmulah is the only one island atoll in the Maldives and the locals even speak their own distinctive form of the Dhivehi language, known as “Mulaku bas”.

With an island that is so unique it is not hard to understand why you may also come across marine species unique to Fuvahmulah and not found in other parts of the Maldives. Promethichthys Prometheus, locally called Kattelhi, is native to the waters around Fuvahmulah, with Kattelhi Rarudhiyabeing the locals’ favourite soup and definitely a dish you must try when you visit.

For SCUBA divers close encounters with tiger sharks and thresher sharks are possible and in season whale sharks and oceanic manta rays, you never know what is out in the blue.

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Take time to explore in and around this wonderful island and discover tropical woodlands, wetlands and even fresh water lakes; from the unique Thundu shiny pebble beach to the tropical woodlands you will never be bored on an island that gives you so much to discover.

Immerse yourself inhistory, culture and tradition. Swim, kayak or fish the fresh water lakes. Take a mud bath! Surf the waves direct from Fuvahmulah’s beaches or snorkel the Indian Ocean. There is so much to do you will wish you had booked to stay longer!

Ruth’s TOP TIP: Fly from Male and collect a certificate for crossing the equator line!

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Thoddoo Island a culinary adventure!

Thoddoo is a paradise island for fruit and vegetable lovers and you can even access it by taking the overnight fruit ferry from Male (not for the faint hearted)!Thoddoo is the largest producer of watermelon in the Maldiveswith papaya a close second. Watch the fruit ferry being loaded at the harbourside and see how many varieties of fruit and vegetables you can identify. Many guesthouses will organize an island tour where you get to pick your own fruit and vegetables which will be cooked for your dinner later that evening.

One third of the island is given over to agricultural farm land with an abundance of fruit and vegetables grown all year round. The village with a number of guest houses, cafes and small shops sits in a further third and the remaining third of the island is left to its natural beauty and vegetation. In order to explore and discover the full island hop on a bicycle or hitch a lift on a scooter!

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Thoddoo hosts a wonderful house reef where marine life is abundant as well as access to some good dive sites and in season manta encounters. There is a bikini beach tucked away on the west side of the island and with water sports, snorkeling and diving trips on offer, those who enjoy a more active holiday are well catered for. Evening fishing trips followed by BBQ dinners with your catch are a popular excursion.

Kokko’s TOP TIP: Visit during EID celebrations and experience traditional dancing and games.

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Gulhi Island a haven of peace and relaxation

Gulhi island is located in South Male Atoll, easily accessible from Male and is close by to Guiradhoo and Maafushi. Visiting any one of these islands means you can island hop with local ferries (except Friday where there is limited transport). Gulhi is unique because you will not see any vehicles and because the island is only 700×500 you really don’t need one!

This tiny quiet island’s main economy is fishing and it also hosts the oldest dry dock boat yard in the Maldives. Wander round the dock yard and see the locals hard at work developing, refurbishing and fixing all different types of vessels.

Gulhi has two beautiful white sand tourist bikini beaches equipped with sun loungers and parasols and is ideal for a holiday where relaxation and sun bathing is the priority! Gulhi was one of the few islands that hosted tourists during the early 80’s, when local islands were allowed to provide a bed and breakfast service. The locals are friendly by nature and readily welcome visitors to their charming island.

The house reef is worth getting up off your sun lounger for, enter directly from the bikini beach but be aware there can be a strong current. Watersports and diving currently offered by one operator so ensure you plan ahead to avoid disappointment due to prior bookings.

Zaff’s TOP TIP: Evenings on Gulhi are very quiet so pack a book, a pack of cards or have a few films downloaded.

Where do I find more information about the best vacation for me?

At Secret Paradise Maldives we are always available to answer questions for you.  We work with many guest houses and islands across the Maldives and we can offer a wide range of vacation packages for all types of travellers and budgets. Drop us a line today and say hi!

https://secretparadise.mv/contact-us

Check out our ‘Responsible Tourism Policy’ on our website.

 

 

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Which Local Island to visit in the Maldives Part 2

As we continue our series of three blogs, our guiding team share their personal recommendations in order that you can find a local island to suit your needs in the Maldives.

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Visit Dhigurah Island and encounter Manta and Whale Sharks

Dhigurah in Ari Atoll is not just one of the prettiest local islands you can visit, it has a gorgeous expanse of white sand and is located in the heart of some of the best sites in the world for snorkeling and diving. If your ideal holiday is an under-the-sea adventure, then start planning your trip to this gem of an island.

Select your time of stay correctly and swim with the resident Manta Rays and Whalesharks of Ari Atoll. These bucket list ocean-farers are frequently spotted in this areaand that’s just one of the reasons why Dhigurah has become such a popular island.

From January till end of April visits to manta sites are made several times a week.  Whilst at any time of year there is a good chance of encountering whale sharks if conditions are right. So regular are their visit’s that this is where the Maldives Whale shark Research Program is based.

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Aside from Manta Ray and Whale shark sightings, Dhigurah Island also offers easy access to some amazing dive sites including the famous Kudu Rah Thila and Five Rocks. You will find an abundance of marine wildlife and breathtaking coral formations. Whether you’re an experienced snorkeler and diver or a total beginner, we can find a dive or snorkeling package that suits you best.

Kamey’s TOP TIP: Local dining options are limited on Dhigurah so book half board.

https://secretparadise.mv/product/dive-local-from-dhigurah

 

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Soak Up the Sun on Dhiffushi Island 

Are you a solo traveler, a group of friends or a couple looking for a short beach getaway? Then this island is for you.

Soak up the sun and relax on the beautiful beaches of Dhiffushi Island. Located in North Male Atoll this island boasts two white sandy tourist beaches and a picturesque blue lagoon. As with all local islands there is no need to spend all your time on land and a range of half day tours including visiting a sandbank and snorkeling are on offer. Whilst beach BBQs are a great way to finish the day, for couples many guesthouses will offer a romantic beach dinner which is ideal way to celebrate an anniversary or even a proposal.

With only a dozen tourist properties Dhiffushi still maintains its local island feel whilst providing a choice of both premium hotels and smaller guesthouses. There is even a private luxury villa ideal for a family stay.

Kokko’s TOP TIP: Take traditional evening tea and enjoy sunset at the local café on the west side of the island.

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Have an Adventure of a Lifetime in Gan, Laamu Atoll

Gan is a Maldivian adventure like no other. Not only is it the largest island in the Maldives but it is also connected with three other islands called Fonadhoo, Kadhdhoo and Mandhoo. The four islands are connected with a road so it is easy to explore by bicycle. Take a tour around the big fishing factory on Mandhoo Island, which produces canned tuna or a short speed boat ride from Ganto Baresdhoo Island, which became famous as the filming location of Star Wars Rogue One in 2016.

Prepare to have an adventure-filled holiday in this exciting island and the longest beach in the Maldives. Gan Island offers plenty of activities so you’ll never have to worry about running out of things to do. Try your hand at a whole range of water sports such as paddle boarding, sea kayaking, windsurfing, surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. First time trying some of these activities? No problem! Coaching sessions are available. Experienced instructors will be happy to assist you with any of the activities.

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What else does Gan have to offer? The island has some unique sights – like a fresh water red-tinted lake which is caused by leaves falling in and colouring the water. For those who are interested in knowing more about local Maldivian culture and history join a guided tour of the ancient Buddhist ruins and other historical places.

For beach lovers there is a private tourist beach and access to a Robinson Crusoe style uninhabited island where you can laze away your day with a picnic or BBQ lunch.

Kamey’s TOP TIP: Take a sunset cruise in a traditional sail dhoni.

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Still not sure which island is for you? Contact the Secret Paradise team who will help you to select an island or even islands that are right for you and your holiday budget.

Which Local Island to visit in the Maldives Part 1

Want to know why the local islands of the Maldives remain our best kept secret? This breathtaking destination is perfect for all types of travellers. Whether you’re a solo backpacker on a budget, an adventure-seeking couple, or a group of eco tourists, you’ll definitely find something that suits your needs. That’s the wonderful thing about the Maldives – it has so much to offer for everyone.

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White sandy beaches, sparkling tropical lagoons, tall palm trees. Sounds like the perfect getaway, doesn’t it? And here’s an added bonus – the rich and vibrant culture of this beautiful destination.

Our guiding team share their personal recommendations in order that you can find a local island to suit your needs.

Looking for a social vibe with plenty to do? Head to Maafushi Island

Many people dream of visiting the Maldives but simply cannot afford luxury resort prices. But here’s the good news – you can go on holiday in the Maldives on a budget.

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Maafushi is an ideal destination for travellers on a budget. This was the first island in the Maldives to introduce guesthouses and promote local tourism. Enjoy a mix of beach relaxationon the island’s tourist bikini beach and ocean-based activities on this fun, lively island. Try exciting water sports like parasailing, Jet Ski or diving. Want to experience a more relaxed activity? Then join a dolphin cruise that everyone can enjoy. There are also plenty of restaurants and local cafes to choose from and even a small spa.

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With ease of accessibility to the international airport by ferry or speedboat the island of Maafushi is the busiest of all local islands and with over 50 guesthouses and hotels you will be sure to find plenty of like-minded tourists to make new friends as well as a hotel or guesthouse to suit your budget. Certainly in Maafushi you won’t run out of things to do on this budget-friendly island.

Zaff’sTOP TIP: For a quieter stay select a property located on the southern part of the island.

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Catch the Waves from Thulusdhoo Island

Located in the North Male Atoll Thulusdhoo is a popular destination for surfers. Spend your holiday in this surfers’ paradise and be captivated by the island’s relaxed vibe, white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and fantastic surf breaks.

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Both experienced and intermediate surfers will enjoy catching a wave since Thulusdhoo offers a variety of reef breaks of which Cokes can be accessed directly from the island, no need to get a boat! Not into surfing? Don’t worry, you can just kick back and relax on one of the day beds or hammocks scattered along the shoreline. Or Thulusdhoo offers a wide range of activities such as diving including free diving, snorkeling and kayaking to keep you active.

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The island has a long stretch of tourist beach with a small sand-spit allowing you to walk as far as the eyes can see in the sparkling crystal clear waters. The sandy beaches are the perfect spot for sunbathing and relaxing so whether you want to surf, enjoy the underwater world of the Maldives, or just chill, you’ll definitely have a blast on Thulusdhoo.

UB’s TOP TIP: Surfing solo or on a tight budget check out one of Thulusdhoo’s surf camps.

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Experience a great value Resort-Style Holiday on Hanimaadhoo

Hanimaadhoo Island is one the biggest islands in Maldives and is geographically located in the far north of the Maldives. This Maldivian paradise is quite a distance to Male approximately 300 km, so the only type of transfer available is a domestic flight. This island’s remoteness promotes pure nature, true solitude, and magnificent views. With lush vegetation, long beaches and a turquoise lagoon it opens the door for an adventure and genuine gateway from day to day life.

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Hannimaadhoo itself is a quiet village with lots of tree-shade and swings, fishing and agriculture is the main source of income. Take the opportunity to walk the plantations and discover a host of tropical fruits including coconut, bananas and papaya

On the west side of this island is a long white sandy beach and a lagoon with a stunning house reef, however, it does involves a good swim to reach but the abundance of marine life makes this worthwhile.On the eastern side it is possible to catch a few waves with the locals.

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At the Northern end of the island is a climate observatory. The data retrieved here is not only monitoring the weather but also climate changes in the region.

Whilst there are a few guesthouses available for the budget conscious, Hanimaadhoois home to The Barefoot Eco Hotel bridging the gap between guesthouses and luxury island resorts. The property is focused on sustainability and conservation soyou are sure to learn plenty about eco tourism and environmental initiatives during your visit.

Ruth’s TOP TIP: Take a day tour to the local island of Utheemu which is of great cultural and historical significance.

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Still not sure which island is for you? Contact the Secret Paradise team who will help you to select an island or even islands that are right for you and your holiday budget.

Island Hop and Help Clean Up the Environment in the Maldives

One of the tours we offer at Secret Paradise Maldives is an island hopping experience that allows guests to assist in local environmental projects. As part of our commitment to Eco Tourism and Responsible Tourism Policies we bring international tourists to the Maldives each year to become more educated about the growing environmental issues not only specific to the Maldives but around the world.

We were delighted to welcome a guest from the UK in January 2018, Sandra, island hopped between 4 islands and whilst on Maafushi spent time with the team at Eco Dive Club along with her guide Kamey.

Sandra’s trip included:

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Snorkeling with her guide Kamey to enjoy the wonders of the beautiful Indian Ocean. Sandra also over came her fear of diving completing a Discover Scuba dive, not only was she so delighted with her accomplishments but also we were so glad she got to try something she actually said she would never do!

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Beach Clean Up

Another day they went to Lily Rest beach front to do a beach cleanup. What they found was very concerning and a continuing problem on the beaches. They found bottle tops from water bottles, drinking straws and plenty of Supari papers (Supari is a fruit nut called Acrea, many locals chew this like many Westerners chew gum). A further beach clean of the same area is conducted later in the week to highlight how quickly rubbish can accumulate.

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Coral Watch

This exercise teaches our guests about the health of the coral reef. You don’t have to be a marine biologist to recognize and register your findings with the Australian Coral Watch database. There is a comparison table where you can check the health of the coral you find, the darker the colour of the coral the healthier it is.

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Learning About the Indian Ocean

Sandra met the team daily at the dive centre where she learned more about how the Maldives was ‘born’, the importance of fish species and so much more. The team love sharing their passion and knowledge with visitors.

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At the Eco Dive Centre in Maafushi they have a coral project. The coral nursery in the lagoon is being regrown by attaching pieces of coral with cable ties to create a new coral frame! It’s initiatives like this thatallow guests to learn as well as assist with projectsthat keep the eco development alive in the Maldives. We hope that many more islands follow suit.

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During Sandra’s stay she learned so much about what they do at the Eco Dive Club. We asked Renee Sorensen, whose first experience of the Maldives was with Secret Paradise, from Eco Dive Club a few questions:

What is Eco Dive Club and how does it differ from a regular dive club?

Eco Dive Club, Maafushi is different from others – we are more environment oriented. We have a big passion for the ocean and the environment… we want to make a difference. We use nature every day when we are diving, so we want to give back to nature and especially the ocean. The ocean doesn’t need people, people need the ocean.  We arrange beach cleanups, reef clean ups, Crown of thorns clean ups, coral planting and work hard to inform everyone possible about the importance about the corals and the problem with trash and plastic.

What do you find have been the biggest changes to the ocean in the last 10 years?

The biggest change is that there is so much more plastic and trash

Far more dead corals, because of bleaching in 2015 and more recently, as well as due to reclamation and construction.

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Can tourists visiting the Maldives make a positive impact on the environment during their visit?

Tourists who are coming to the Maldives can make a big and positive impact. Tourists that are diving with us and assisting with projects are an inspiration for other tourists and locals. They spread the word both in the Maldives when they are here and when they come home. Then other tourists come, because they also want to help or join on coral planting and other environment activities.  Locals see that it will make a difference if we work together. Tourists that come will spread the awareness.

What suggestions would you make when someone is looking to book an eco friendly vacation?

If you want to make a difference, contact us for Eco active diving or Secret Paradise Maldives. We are both passionate about the environment. Secret Paradise has a lot experience here in Maldives and Ruth knows where to book your holiday eco friendly, or even if you want to join to assist in projects. You can be a diver or non diver, there is plenty to achieve both above and below the water!

Book your eco holiday now

Eco Travel – What Can We Do to Save The Planet?

Awareness of environmental issues are all around us these days. We see it in the news where we are reminded of the issues with plastic waste, polar bears becoming extinct, our sea life is suffering in so many ways from the waste disposal issues to rising sea temperatures – above and below ground we seem to be fighting a losing battle with ice bergs melting and coral reefs fading away.

“But what can I do? I can’t make a big impact on my own so why bother at all?”

Well actually there are plenty of things you can do when you are at home and even when travelling abroad for your vacations.

What is eco tourism?

Secret Paradise Maldives is an Eco Tourism Business encouraging travellers to visit places and businesses who work hard to sustain the natural areas of a country, through education and well-being. We ensure that local communities receive a fare share of the revenue generated through these initiatives utilising local produce, local businesses, local employment, as well as creating ways to sustain the natural beauty of the environment around them and take action to protect where needed.

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How do I know I am travelling to an eco friendly business?

If a business or company is actively working alongside local communities and helping sustain or protect their culture and environment then you can be sure they will be shouting very loud about it.

The Maldives for example has an organisation called Save the Beach where regular beach clean ups are organised as well as amazing initiatives like reef monitoring and rehabilitation are taking place and the team at Secret Paradise Maldives actively work with them on their many projects.

Save the Beach also work with us to offer educational trips and tours for tourists who are interested in learning more about the projects and also show them what they can do to help. These tours are a wonderful way to experience the gorgeous local islands and meet the local people who are always so warm and friendly.

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Guest Houses and Local Islands versus Resorts

In 2009 the Maldivian government changed the laws to allow tourism on local islands. This created huge opportunities for local families to open their own guest houses and boutique hotels. Many of them employ their own family members and will buy produce from local suppliers on their islands creating a ripple effect for eco tourism within their local communities. Resorts in the Maldives are situated on their own self contained islands so therefore much of the revenue is being put back into sustaining their private islands with a large proportion of it actually leaving the country. Many resorts however do take environmental issues very seriously and are making huge efforts to assist in this area. Visiting and staying in the local guest houses however not only allows you to do your part for ecotourism but also gives you an opportunity to see how the local people live, eat locally prepared foods and believe us there is nothing better than tasting traditional meals prepared by the local residents who have grown up with these foods.

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A cultural experience – whether you are travelling alone, in a couple, group or family the local island guest houses are a fantastic way to experience the best of the Maldives. If you are travelling with children they get to experience local cultures and play with local children who love nothing more than making new friends and practising their English language skills. You can enjoy an active social time on the islands or a tranquil relaxing time. With a strong Islamic culture many of the local women wear head scarves called hijabs and alcohol is not prohibited. But with the intense heat and so many activities to enjoy it is rarely missed. However for those who do wish to enjoy a glass of wine or beer, day trips to resorts can be organised by your guest house host.

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Why travel with Secret Paradise Maldives Eco Trips?

Secret Paradise Maldives offer an array of tours for the eco tourist. All our trips are focused on learning about the local islands, culture and also giving back to the local economy by utilising local guest houses and boutique hotels run by Maldivian families. But we haven’t forgotten about the crystal clear waters surrounding the beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean – snorkelling and scuba diving is available also using eco friendly businesses to ensure our underwater world is not disrupted by inquisitive tourists!

Our team have specially designed trips and tours for visitors to the Maldives, offering you the opportunity to enjoy local traditions in the heart of the community. You can join our local family and your guide for an authentic Maldivian dinner in their home, you can spend the day accompanied by your guide visiting key sites of interest in local islands as well as discovering a few points off the beaten track sharing information on Maldivian culture and tradition.

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Eco trips are more expensive and for high end earners

Agreed that the perception is this but actually visiting local islands, local businesses and employing local resident’s means that the overheads are not as high as elite resorts where they have international staff and internationally built properties. So if you chose right there are eco travel options to suit every budget.

Where do I find more information about the best vacation for me?

At Secret Paradise Maldives we are always available to answer questions for you.  We work with many guest houses and islands across the Maldives and we can offer a wide range of vacation packages for all types of travellers and budgets. Drop us a line today and say hi!

https://secretparadise.mv/contact-us

Check out our ‘Responsible Tourism Policy’ on our website.

 

We were long listed for the World Travel Responsible Tourism Awards in 2015

 

Traveling Solo on a Reasonably Priced Dive Holiday in The Maldives

After getting an incredible flight deal from JFK to the Maldives, I started researching and looking to put together a trip to the Maldives. As an experienced solo traveler, I knew I did not want to stay on resorts but wanted to explore locally inhabited islands. Shortly into the planning process however I was extremely overwhelmed with the huge number of islands and challenges of getting between them. At this point I was fortunate to discover Secret Paradise and I reached out to Ruth whose replies were extremely quick and extremely thoughtful.

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I gave her an idea of my budget and that I am an avid diver and what I was looking to do. I knew I wanted a bit of island hopping and to see different aspects of the Maldives. She was able to discuss the different atolls/reefs/islands and what each has to offer. She addressed all my questions and concerns,  I was most concerned that as the Maldives is usually promoted as a “couples” destination and that I was going to be doing it solo I wanted to know what to expect and would I be seen as an ‘outsider’. Originally I also had a need to be able to telecommute several of the days I was travelling but Ruth took everything into account and put together a wonderful package, well detailed and well priced. She never seemed to tire of my endless questions including things like a realistic budget and her replies were almost instant. The Secret Paradise blog was also really helpful too. From the moment I contacted Ruth to getting on the plane to fly back to the US, Ruth made sure everything was taken care of.

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A few weeks prior to arriving in the Maldives, Ruth sent an arrival email with who would be meeting me at the airport and where to look for them. The guides are clearly identifiable and exactly where she said they would be. From the moment I got off the plane to the moment I departed, the Secret Paradise team seamlessly took care of the logistics. Two members of the Secret Paradise team greeted me outside of baggage claim in MALE, helped with my bags and ushered me to my local flight to South Ari. They got me checked in, through security and provided instructions and information of what to expect when I landed and where to meet my ferry. When I landed in South Ari, everything was as they said and it was easy to navigate with no surprises. At the ferry landing, my ferry picked me up, took care of my luggage and was escorted me to my guest house. I spoke with the dive shop in the evening and arranged diving for the next 2 days. South Ari is exactly as many say, stunning! The team worked to make sure we were the only people on dive sites and also to make sure that we spotted whale sharks. It is very clear that Whale Sharks are becoming a large source of income for the islands which tends to lead to exploitation. TME however was the opposite. The dive shop and locals worked to make sure the animals are respected and admired. It is clear the team loves the ocean and its creatures and wants to work to protect it, not just create a spot for tourism. As an avid diver, who loves the serenity of the underwater world, this is extremely important to me. My days in South Ari passed quickly and the morning I checked out the the guest house, the team escorted me to the airport and even provided a bagged breakfast.

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My local flight arrived back in MALE and the Secret Paradise team again met me and helped me navigate with my luggage. The team took care of helping me onto the next part of my adventure, to catch a local speedboat to Rasdhoo. Again they explained what to expect when getting off the speedboat at my stop. The guest house met me at the dock, took care of my luggage and getting me checked into my room. It was a stunning room with a beautiful view of the patio. The team even arranged for me to do a 2pm dive. Dinner was provided as part of my package and was wonderful. The first night dinner was a honey mustard grilled white fish that was amazing. I am not a “fish” person normally, but this was one of the best meals I had ever had. Dinner was plentiful and everything always tasted wonderful. Breakfast was also included, however I chose not to take breakfast as I started diving early each morning hoping to see hammerheads. After 2 more days of diving, it was time to leave. The guest house made sure took care of getting me (and my luggage) to the ferry back to MALE.

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Once back in MALE again the Secret Paradise team was there to greet me to take me to Hulhumale for my last night before flying back to the US. Ruth was waiting at the hotel when I arrived to address any questions or concerns and check in on everything. It was a great way to end the trip, to meet the person who had done such a fantastic job putting me at ease and taking care of logistics. She also offered some suggestions on ways to spend the last bit of time on the islands.

In the morning the Secret Paradise Team met me at my hotel to escort me to the airport and make sure I was OK with logistics. They helped me get checked in and take care of my luggage. Once safely behind security we parted ways.

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I could not have done this trip without Secret Paradise!!! As tourism outside of resorts, is relatively new to the Maldives, logistics/transfers/directions are still a bit unclear. I was only the 3rd American one of the dive shops had met and the only solo traveling American. Many of the ferry boats are all created by one manufacturer, making them hard to tell apart or where they are heading. MALE is well marked but very busy, so having someone to meet and help usher you to your transfer points really helps with creating a relaxing environment.

Thank you to the entire Secret Paradise Team for creating an experience, I never thought I would have the opportunity to have.

Shannon traveled with us on  a tailor made dive local experience.  Book yours now!

This article was first published as a TripAdvisor review 7th December 2017.

TRAVEL LOCAL, SHOP LOCAL – Souvenirs & Gifts to Buy in the Maldives

One of the best things about traveling is searching for souvenirs – exclusive objects that proudly represent their home country. Through sight and sound, smell and taste—or simply through memory—they can take you back to a place that’s thousands of miles away. The Maldives is a destination many people want to relive. Keep reading to discover unique and original souvenirs and gifts from the Maldives that bring our island nation into to your home.

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Whether it’s an octopus, a whale shark or a manta ray, Oevaali Art Shop are certain to impress you with their diverse collection of eye-catching art pieces featuring Maldivian influences. This small but engaging little art shop showcases the awe-inspiring works of Raya, one of the four owners of the art shop as well as a host of pendants, notebooks and sketchbooks. All the paintings are finished with a protective coat of matte varnish and gallery wrapped canvas ready to hang.

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Are you ready to retire your old phone covers and upgrade to something spesh? Get a unique Huvan Art phone case featuring wrap around Maldivian art designs by Mahy, a 26-year-old self-taught artist from the capital Malé. She creates work that focuses on the spiritual nature of Mandalas. Interestingly, she combines the stunning beauty of the nature of Maldives in her art, whether it is a spiraling flower, the cluster center of a coconut palm, she will bring out the magic and take pride for the end product. Take a sneak peek at her work on her Facebook page at Huvan Art.

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Built in 1675, the ‘Munnaaru’ is the minaret of the Hukuru Miskiy (Malé Friday Mosque) and attracts a great number of travelers to Malé. It was used five times a day as the voice of the muezzin rang out, calling worshipers for prayers. Today it stands as a testament that signifies the originality of the Maldivians and its functions have been taken over by the new, taller minaret of the Islamic Center. This replica of the Munaaru will be a lovely ornament for your living-room and an embellishment that you will be proud to show your friends. Check out the Mavantha Products Facebook page for ordering and purchasing information.

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islandbazaar
This scarf is a tribute to the stunning beauty of the Maldivian seas. It evokes the ever-changing colors of the ocean and the glancing off the waves. With its understated border and powerful print, the design is full of depth and movement, whether it’s draped around the shoulders or nonchalantly knotted around a handbag strap. See Island Bazaar’s website for their complete product line.

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tropics
The sands in the Maldives are white as the smiles of its natives, the fish swims happily in the warm Indian Ocean waters, the weather is a dream come true, and the sizzling rays of the sun wait to immerse you with their arms wide open. It is astounding that Maria is able to produce such astonishing array of work. Apart from nature, her imagery ranges from the representational to the abstract and sometimes a combination of the two. She is more specialized in decorating handmade dishes of clay with acrylic paints. Have a look at her collection on her Facebook page, Tropics by Maria.

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mvlacquer
Maldivian lacquer work or “Laajehun” in Maldivian language is used to represent the artistry of local craftsmanship. A piece of wood is sculpted by the craftsman’s desired form, before it is coated, layer over layer with colored lacquer, commonly red, yellow and black. This is also done on wood to conserve its quality for long periods and to prevent it from deteriorating in different weather conditions. With highly impressive designs and vibrant colors on wood imprinted objects such as pens, vases and jewelry boxes, today, this Maldivian tradition and technique has become flawless in decorating homes and buildings from great to wonderful. The young and talented MVLacquer team from the island of Thulhaadhoo has more souvenirs than to the lacquer pen on their website.

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kaashitheyo
The first skin care and essential oils brand from the Maldives. “Kaashi Theyo”, with natural, organic coconut oil sourced from its beautiful islands, Kaashi Theyo has a wide range of products that reflects the ancient Maldivian tradition of holistic medicine & beauty, and each is meticulously designed to promote wellness & beauty both physically and emotionally. For more information visit their website at www.kaashi-theyo.com.

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maldiplay
More than just a board game, MaldiPlay is a great source of both information and incredible photographs from Maldives. It’s a destination promotion board game, best described similar to a Monopoly board, played with two dice with numbers 0, 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7. The 21×21 inch square board along with 2 sets of cards one with 15 and the other with 24 cards is time based and depends on the speed of its players. Visit the Maldiplay website to learn more about this board game.

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funoas
Design inspirations from the Maldivian writing script to patterns derived from the rich marine life on women’s swimwear to remind you that you are part of the ocean, funoas, an eco-friendly clothing brand concerned about responsible tourism and creating awareness about the vulnerabilities of the island nation and spreading its beauty. Boardshorts by funoas are incredibly soft for comfort in the waves, at the breakers and on the sand. Check out their complete collection at www.funoas.com.

So when you plan your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Maldives, keep an eye out for these beauties. If you’re spending money, you might as well invest in responsible tourism and wonderful mementos that will instantly send you back to happier days in Maldives.

Want to discover an original souvenir to take home, join us on any of our Male city walking tours 

The above article was written by Ahmed Ijaz and was first published on his blog Island Logic on 30th November 2017.