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:

Snorkeling and Beginner Dive

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.

Coral Nursery

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

There’s Nothing Quite Like A Snorkeling Holiday In The Maldives!

1200 islands of 26 different atolls make up the island paradise of the Maldives. Once prehistoric underwater volcanoes, the coral reefs and ecosystems that surround these picture perfect islands offer some of the world’s very best snorkeling locations. There’s no better destination than the pristine tropical waters of the Maldives for first time snorkelers or veteran underwater lovers. With an average of 200+ sunny days per year, the Maldives really is second to none when it comes to choosing an idyllic snorkeling escape.

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What is Snorkeling In The Maldives Like?

You’ve probably seen the picture perfect images of the Maldives floating around the internet, popping up on your Instagram feed or plastered across what it seems like, pages of every other travel magazine. Thoughts of ‘there’s no way that ocean water can be real’ or something along the lines of ‘that’s definitely photo shopped’ may have crossed your mind more than once. Take our word for it from us here at Secret Paradise, as we can assure you that yes – the water is really the colour depicted by the magazines. In fact, the island waters here reflect a spectrum of blue tones that seem to change façade with every spec of light. This island paradise is just waiting for you to dive beneath the surface to discover its abundance of incredible reef life and the spectacular coloured corals.

If you’re privileged enough to delved into the underwater world of the Maldives, you can expect nothing but excellent clarity and visibility, combined with blissful year round ocean temperatures of 26 – 29 degrees Celsius. You may also be thinking that a snorkeling holiday in the Maldives is probably out of your budget … Again, let us reassure you that there has never been a more affordable time to travel to the Maldives. A snorkeling vacation is very reasonable and can begin from as little as USD$50 per night … let us show you how.

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What Are The Options For Maldives Snorkeling Holidays?

Here at Secret Paradise, we offer quality and value for money snorkelling day trips and bespoke multi-day island hopping itineraries. On our tours, expect to explore the uncharted local islands of the Maldives, an alternative to an expensive resort style vacation.

Staying on a local island in a guesthouse allows for exploration of some of the Maldives’ very best snorkeling sites and marine life, whilst experiencing the local tradition and culture of the Maldives. Think palm trees, white sandy beaches, sun bathing and of course snorkeling, all combined with wandering locally inhabited islands, tasting Maldivian foods and seeing local traditions first hand. Enjoy being transferred from your local island via a traditional wooden dhoani boat, to stunning nearby snorkeling sites – the very same sites that resort guests snorkel at, all for a fraction of the cost! Our affordable snorkeling holidays and day trips will leave you with long lasting Maldives memories.

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Is The Maldives Best For First Time or Experienced Snorkelers?

The answer to this question is both. The Maldives is spread across a thousand small islands scattered throughout the Indian Ocean, meaning it offers vast ocean environments, perfect for both beginner and experienced snorkellers and everyone in between.

The islands here in the Maldives consist of both shallow and deep-water lagoons. Beginners can simply choose to snorkel the reefs adjacent to the shoreline, in the safety of still water. Intermediate snorkelers can explore reefs a little further off shore whilst advanced snorkelers who are more daring have opportunities to try the local ‘drift-snorkeling’ method, using the aide of the ocean currents to explore the underwater terrain. As the ocean currents here in the Maldives are extremely tidal, our local guides will accompany you to ensure that you experience a safe yet ‘bucket-list’ type of underwater snorkeling experience.

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What Is The Best Time of Year For Snorkeling In The Maldives?

The snorkelling season of the Maldives runs yearlong. As the Maldives is located near the equator, it is susceptible to two monsoon seasons, better known as the wet and dry seasons. From May to November (the wet season), the abundance of reef life is more varied and the visibility levels are better on the western side of each island. December to April is generally known as the ‘dry’ period, where the eastern side of each atoll is best for snorkelling.

Buy or Rent Snorkeling Equipment?

When it comes to packing for your Maldives snorkelling vacation, deciding upon whether to buy or rent your snorkelling gear is certainly a great question and one that needs to be given substantial consideration, as everyone’s snorkelling needs are different.

Firstly, decide how often you think you may snorkel on your Maldives trip. Do you think that number is worthy of purchasing your very own snorkelling gear? Let us help you make a wise travel decision.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like owning your own snorkeling equipment – being assured that your own mask, fins and snorkel fit your face and body perfectly, not to mention they haven’t been worn by the many tourists before you. It’s a great little luxury if you believe you will be snorkeling frequently throughout your Maldives stay. It will also save you the hassle of searching for the snorkeling equipment that is right for you.

However, remember transporting and carrying your own snorkeling gear can often be bulky and heavy, and the last thing you want is for your equipment to be damaged in transit. Renting your snorkeling equipment is essentially easier, as your gear you won’t need to be transported from place to place. Fins especially take up a substantial amount of room in your luggage.

Another alternative is to purchase your own face mask and snorkel before your trip and hire your fins whilst on holidays. A mask and snorkel combination is small and lightweight – it takes up minimal space in your luggage. This way you will be assured that your mask will fit you comfortably, it won’t leak and it is sanitary, plus you won’t have to awkwardly lug fins around in your luggage.

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Our Secret Paradise Packing Tip:

Cushion your mask between clothes to ensure the lens won’t be damaged in transit. As fins are durable, pack them on the outer edge of your luggage to prevent your other belongings from being damaged.

BOOK ONE OF OUR SECRET PARADISE SNORKELING HOLIDAYS TODAY!

Our beautiful Maldives Islands are awaiting your underwater presence.

Book a Secret Paradise snorkelling tour today – we would love to help you discover the pristine underwater world of the Maldives!

Our tours include:

  • Morning snorkeling
  • Snorkeling Day Trips
  • Snorkeling and sandbank trip
  • Multi day island hopping Snorkeling tours

https://secretparadise.mv/tour/local-day-activities/

ANSWERS TO YOUR TOP 10 MALDIVES TRAVEL QUESTIONS

It comes with the territory that as a destination expert we are frequently contacted to answer any number of questions in relation to the Maldives. The following appear to be those that are most commonly asked that we thought would be useful to share.

1. How do I book a transfer to a Maldives resort?
As resorts are individual private islands it is usual for the property to arrange your return domestic transfer to and from the airport in line with your arrival and departure flight times wherever possible.
If you have booked with a travel agent or operator the transfer should be part of your package.
If you have booked online you most likely will have been requested to provide your arrival flight details. Providing the resort has this information your transfer will be aranged and payment will be made direct to the resort upon your arrival.
We often receive requests for speedboat transfer rates to and from a resort. In all honesty it is very rare that a private transfer by a local operator to and from the airport/resort will be less than the rate provided by the resort. The reason for this is that the resort will be operating group transfers throughout the day for arriving and departing guests. Whereas for a local provider not only will you need to cover the cost of the journey from the resort with you on board, you will need to cover the cost of the return journey without you. So effectively for a return transfer you will be charged one way x 4 per person.
Note that if no flight information has been received by the resort your transfer Is unlikely to be arranged prior to your arrival and you should be prepared for a delay. in the event of no seats being available particularly on board domestic flights and seaplanes during high season you may well have to spend a night in the capital at your own expense.

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2. Which Maldives resorts are accessible by public ferry?
There are no public ferry services to and from resorts. Public ferries operate between local islands only.
Generally resorts located within North and South Male Kaafu Atoll will offer transfers by speedboat. For resorts within the central atolls many offer both seaplane and domestic flights. Whereas for resorts in the deep north and southern atolls transfer is by domestic flight.

3. Which local Maldives islands can i visit by ferry from Male and return the same day?
From Male it is possible to take regular public ferries to and from Hulhumale and Villimale.
It is not possible however to visit other local islands and return the same day. This is because the ferry network is designed to allow islanders to reach Male in the morning, complete their business and return home in the afternoon.

4. Which Maldives local islands have bikini beaches and serve alcohol?
As a Muslim country alcohol is not available on any local island. Hulhule Island Hotel located on the airport island does have a bar serving alcohol. There are also a handful of local islands where a bar boat is anchored during high season however this is subject to change and never a guarantee.
In general there are very few local islands where there is not a tourist bikini beach now, however, some are far better than others both in terms of quality and size.

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5.Why are domestic flight transfer timings not confirmed prior to arrival in the Maldives?
Whilst domestic flights are booked based on a schedule this is subject to change. As Male International airport currently has only one runway, changes to international flights will generally take precedence. Also in the day weather conditions may alter flight timings as well as international flight delays.

6.Why are transfer timings for speedboats and ferries subject to change?
As we have already mentioned the public network of ferries is designed for locals and not for tourists. and sometimes the needs of the island community may alter the ferry timing. However, more often than not weather and mechanical problems will be the cause of delay and cancellation. The national travel and transport provider MTCC will generally be able to replace a broken down ferry from their fleet. However there is likely to be only one province ferry per island, this ferry is owned and operated by the islanders and therefore if broken has no immediate replacement.

7.Where can I swim with dolphins in the Maldives?
It is not possible to swim with dolphins and it is not a practice we condone. It is however always a possibility to encounter dolphins whilst travelling by boat. Always wise to be on the look out! Dolphin cruises quite often combined with sunset are offered from resorts and local islands alike. As dolphins are creatures in their natural habitat no one can ever provide a 100% guarantee of encounters but there are locations in all atolls where the probability is greater due to the current and feeding conditions.

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8.How can ​I​ visit the Maldives ​S​ea of ​S​tars?
The so called ‘sea of stars’ is a natural phenomenon and cannot be guaranteed.
This phenomenon is caused by a natural chemical reaction known as bio​ ​luminescence, which occurs when a microorganism in the water is disturbed by oxygen. These microorganisms or marine microbes are called phytoplankton and there are a variety of its species that create bio​ ​luminescence seen in different parts of the world.
The images depicted on the internet, which is where most clients have come across it, are of Vaadhoo Island in Raa Atoll,​( not to be confused with Vaadhoo Island in South Male Atoll)​ ​which requires a domestic flight transfer and a stay on either a local island or a resort island.
The bio luminescence can occur throughout the country’s 26 atolls​ in varying degrees. ​Visitors to the Indian Ocean archipelago say they have had the most luck seeing the blue glow from about July to February, especially during a new moon since the darkness of the sky helps intensify the light.

9.How can I book lunch/dinner at a Maldives underwater restaurant?
There are ​four resorts with underwater restaurants​, Ithaa at the Conrad Maldives, SEA at Anantara Kihavah Villas​, Subsix at PER AQUUM Niyama​, 5.8 at Hurawalhi Island Resort. Guests not staying at the resort can make bookings by contacting the resort directly. Tables are subject to availability and priority will always be given to in house guests. Bookings will not be taken more than 14 days in advance. Transfer to the resort will also need to be arranged which if you are not located close by will mean a transfer to Male and then an onward transfer by seaplane to the resort. It is unlikely that you will be looking at an overall cost of anything less than $500 per person.

10.I am staying on a Maldives resort can​ I book one of your Secret Paradise day tours?
Whilst we are happy to provide excursions to guests staying on resorts within Male Atolls, there would be an additional charge for transfers between the resort and Male. This cost will be dependent on the distance the resort is from Male. We would also require permission from the resort to allow us to collect you from their private jetty which can be obtained via the guest relations team at reception. Note not all resorts will provide permission. Alternatively, you wish to take the resort transfer to the airport or Male from where we can arrange a guide to meet with you.

Find our more about all our day tour and local island multi day tours by visiting us at www.secretparadise.mv 

Or have a question we haven’t answered drop an email to Ruth, your Maldives expert, at sales@secretparadise.mv

Understanding Hajj through the Eyes of a Local

Today we celebrate Hajj and so to find out more about this symbolic festival and celebration we quizzed our guide UB.

What exactly is Hajj?
Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca which is the holy city for Muslims. Every year Muslims from all over the world gather at Mecca to perform holy duties.

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Why is it important?
Attending Hajj is one of the 5 pillars on which the Muslim faith is founded. However, it can only be fulfilled if the individual is financially and physically capable.

How long is Hajj?
There are 8 days leading up to the day of Hajj. Hajj days are seen to be the most holy days in the Muslim calendar. Most Muslims will fast and pray for these 8 days following the same fasting principal as during Ramadan.

What happens on Hajj Day?
On the day itself Hajjajies (people who have attended Hajj) will have made their way to a piece of land 20km east of Mecca. Here they will atone for their past sins and seek mercy from Allah and listen to sermons from islamic scholars who deliver them from Jabal al Rahmah (The Mount of Mercy)

Why is the Mount of Mercy so significant?
According to Islamic tradition the Mount of Mercy is the place where the Islamic prophet Muhammad stood and delivered the Farewell Sermon to the Muslims who had accompanied him for the Hajj towards the end of his life.

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What happens after Hajj?
After the Hajj Muslims all celebrate Eid al Adha. Eid al Adha is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Hence why it is also called ‘the feast of sacrifice’. In the Maldives, we call it Bodu Eid which means Big Eid. The reason behind this is that this Eid is considered the holier of the two celebrated Eid festivals.

In the Maldives we will celebrate this holiday with family and friends. Islanders will join together in celebration for a big feast, games and dancing and as with Ramadan it is a time of bonding and well being amongst communities.

Eid Mubarak!

Whether you travel with Secret Paradise during Eid or at another time of the year, you can be sure to learn more about Maldives culture and traditions and have a holiday that is filled with unique local experiences.