5 Reasons to Visit the Maldives in 2019

It’s not difficult to find a good reason to visit the Maldives; it was noted as one of the top 10 “flights to” searches on Google in 2018 http://www.traveller.com.au/top-10-destinations-for-australians-in-2018-most-searched-flights-on-google-h19c9a#ixzz5bAnzx16C

At Secret Paradise we have had an another amazing year introducing tourists from all around the world to the local island life in the Maldives and here are five reasons we think you should choose the Maldives as your vacation spot for 2019.

 

  1. Stay in Some Amazing Boutique Style Hotels and Guesthouses

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Some interesting questions often pop up in conversation when people are enquiring about local island guest houses. ‘Do they have hot running water?’ ‘How basic is basic?’ The guest houses we recommend have been handpicked by our team for their facilities, comfort and service. Many of the guest house owners have worked on some of the most luxurious resorts and have therefore received some of the best hospitality training in the world. So not only do you get to enjoy the Maldives at a fraction of the price of a resort stay, you can also be assured of amazing hospitality and the opportunity to embrace local culture and traditions.

You have the opportunity to find guest houses with a difference like Boutique Beach Hotel which is an all inclusive dive hotel on Dhigurah Island, each room has open air showers and even docking stations for divers to upload and view all their underwater footage. Aveyla Boutique Hotel is located on Dharavandhoo island near the only UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in the country. The crown of Baa atoll is truly Hanifaru Bay, which is home to some of the largest congregations of manta rays in the world.

 

  1. Discover Culture and Traditions with a Local Secret Paradise Tour Guide #letusguideyou

 

A taste of local life food tour

The Maldives offers a lot more than just water sports and lazing around on the beach. If you prefer to explore the local islands and learn more about the Maldivian culture and traditions our local tour guides will be delighted to guide you around. They have in-depth knowledge of the local islands you visit as well as local traditions and Maldives history, so they are able to answer all your questions, tell you some amazing stories and introduce you to the local people. We offer experiences such as dining in the home of local families where you get to enjoy traditional food that is not offered in the local cafes and restaurants. The Maldivian hospitality is second to none and the local island people love nothing more than meeting tourists from all over the world.

 

  1. Travel Responsibly

Leeann and her friends showing nostraw needed to enjoy a kurumba on yesterday's Male walking tour

If you are conscious about responsible tourism and environmental issues around the world, then Secret Paradise tours are perfect for you.

Secret Paradise tours are designed to allow our guests to experience the best from the paradise we call home, whilst ensuring that there is limited or no negative impact on the community or the environment.

We are committed to informing and demonstrating to our competitors, our team, our partners and ultimately our guests that we are committed to following social and environmental best practices.

A new initiative we launched in 2018 was the #strawarMV read more about our fight to ban the single use plastic straw and be sure to tag us https://secretparadisemaldives.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/secret-paradise-maldives-war-on-straws

 

  1. Discover the Deep South

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If you haven’t visited the Maldives before you will more than likely book your flight to the main airport in Male, Velanaa International Airport. However did you know that a select number of international flights now also arrive in South Maldives into Gan, Addu Atoll.

There are amazing and unique opportunities to explore in the wonderful Deep South and Gan is a Maldivian adventure like no other. Addu Atoll offers an amazing natural environment including  Hithadhoo’s protected Nature Park which at 570 hectares is the largest of its kind in the Maldives. This area is home to a remarkable array of bird life, open water lakes, coral reefs, seagrass beds, mud flats mangroves and forests. Diving at Addu can be extremely exciting because of the greater chances to encounter larger marinelife such as like Manta Rays, Grey Reef sharks and Eagle Rays. If you are very lucky you may encounter Tiger & Hammerhead Sharks as well. There are around 20 dives sites, for novice and experienced divers alike. Addu is also steeped in history including being home to a military base for the Royal Navy in 1941 and offers a different perspective on how the Maldives is usually perceived.

 

  1. Stretch Your Budget

Gangehi Island Resort

If you have travelled this far then we highly recommend you set a little budget aside to experience one or two nights on a luxury resort. Rest assured we can usually find the right resort for your budget so don’t believe resorts are out of your price range. Why not book an experience of a lifetime and stay a night or two at a luxury resort and experience some of the new amazing concepts from the underwater villa at Conrad Maldives Rangali, to a retro resort experience in the Beach Bubble tents at Finolhu.

 

There are literally so many ways to explore and enjoy the Maldives and we don’t expect you to know exactly where you want to go and what you want to do – that is why we are here! So #letusguideyou in 2019 and allow us to design the most memorable trip of a life time within your chosen budget allowing you to explore and experience the very best of the Maldives, our island home.

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Exciting New Year Ahead.

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Travelling Safely to the Maldives

Whether you are taking a family holiday, travelling with friends or on a solo trip, at Secret Paradise Maldives we believe that the following considerations should be made before embarking on your travels to ensure you travel with peace of mind.

Booking

Even before booking your holiday we would suggest that you book with a reputable and registered travel business like Secret Paradise Maldives.

Why?

Well firstly, you have the reassurance that the business has been vetted by governing authorities ensuring that they meet codes and standards required for registration. These codes and standards are set in place to protect you the traveller and make sure you are equipped with the right knowledge and support for your trip. It also provides confidence that financially you are paying who you think you are paying and your money is going to be secure.

Not all travel businesses, especially those outside Europe and the UK have access to register with well-known travel associations such as ABTA but if you do your homework you will find similar associations that support local travel businesses. An association specific for the Maldives is called MMRPC which is a state owned corporation promoting registered businesses in the Maldives.

Reputable travel and tour companies will have risk assessments, Standard Operating Practices, will very likely audit properties and suppliers and will hold insurance policies such as Public Liability Insurance. Whilst there is no definitive way to know whether a business processes any of these the simple answer is to ask your booking representative or point of contact. Established, reputable business will not bat an eyelid when you ask and will be willing to provide documentation or proof of such practices.

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Do You Need Travel Insurance?

Given the adventurous nature of many of our tours we do recommend that our guests hold travel insurance and we often get asked whether it is essential.Certainly if you are planning to dive or participate in motorised water sports; in our opinion it is a must have. Make sure when you are taking out insurance that you are covered for these activities as not all insurance policies automatically cover them.

Travelling outside of your own country is exciting, however if you fall into difficulties like getting injured or ill you may find it a costly lesson if you haven’t taken out travel insurance. It may also be worthwhile checking if you have private health insurance to see if they cover you for illness or injury abroad, this also applies for home owners if you have house insurance it might cover you for lost or stolen valuables outside of the home.

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Remember that travel insurance covers you for more than just illness or injury it also covers cancelled flights, lost luggage and even lost or stolen items. You are also covered prior to travel (as long as you take out insurance as soon as you booked your flights) just in case something unexpected happens and you cannot go.

There are many different types of travel insurance. If you will be travelling for more than one trip during the year it’s probably better value to purchase an annual plan. You will have options like single trip, multi trip, single, family, and couple.

Why Travel Insurance is important for the Maldives

Accessibility to airport – how weather can impact arriving on time for flight

The main airport in the Maldives is called Velana International Airport or Male International Airport (previously called Ibrahim Nasir International Airport) and is located on a separate island next to the capital Male. Some guests will visit Male or the adjoining island Hulhumale but will spend the majority of their vacation on an island which can be reached by local ferry, speed boat, sea plane or domestic flight. With this in mind when you are booking international flights, be sure to give yourself enough time to get from the island where you are staying to the airport island. Be mindful that is your flight arrives later in the evening you may not be taken directly to your chosen island until the next day so you will need to consider overnight accommodation. We recommend Hulhumale and our team can assist you with choosing a guest house and transporting you from the airport to your over night accommodation, plus we will ensure you are guided to your ferry/boat terminal the next day for your transfer.

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Cost of accommodation for missed flights

The Maldives is fairly consistent temperature wise all year round and wet season is usually between May to September. However this doesn’t mean that we don’t experience a possible 24 hours of torrential rain or high winds every once in a while. During this time boat transfers may be at a standstill as it may not be safe to travel. This is another reason for taking out travel insurance as it will protect you and ensure you are covered for possible missed flights. If you find you get into this situation please feel free to contact our office and one of our team will be more than happy to assist you. However if you are on a tour with us, this would have all been taken in to consideration by our team and we will make the necessary arrangements for you. But please remember you may incur additional costs for overnight emergency accommodation so check with us first before you book your flights and we can guide you on the best options.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Distance from hospitals – Geographic nature

If you require medical assistance that the local island medical centres cannot treat be mindful that you may have to get emergency transport to the capital Male via private speed boat or sea plane. The right travel insurance will have all this covered for you. If you do require medical treatment make sure you have all your travel and insurance documents to ensure the process is smooth. The hospitals may require some payments prior to some treatments and definitely prior to discharge

This information is not to scare you but rather prepare and forearm you with the right knowledge when you are travelling abroad. It is highly unlikely you will need to claim from your travel insurance but wouldn’t it be great to have the peace of mind knowing that for example if you did get sick or injured, if you had to fly home for a family emergency or your bag was lost or stolen in transit that you have insurance to cover you so you don’t incur additional and often hefty fees.

 

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What they say:

“Prepare for the unexpected”

“The people who work for Secret Paradise are fantastic! We thoroughly enjoyed our island hopping holiday. We loved having the chance to visit different islands and enjoyed staying in the guest houses. I had a serious illness while on the holiday, and the staff from Secret Paradise were wonderful! They helped with hospital issues, accommodation, insurance claims and even paid some of the bills up front for us. We definitely recommend Secret Paradise to book your Maldivian holiday!” Carol Lomax Travelled with us 2013

Need a travel insurance quote? Check out our recommended adventure travel provider World Nomads, more details here <<Quote Me>>

Facebook Live Chat – Secret Paradise Interview with Go to the Maldives

Heidi from Go to the Maldives recently interviewed Ruth from Secret Paradise Maldives via Live Facebook chat. Heidi wants to dispel the myth about the Maldives being an expensive holiday destination, so she asked Ruth if she could run a live interview and ask her the pressing questions on everyone’s lips about visiting the Maldives.

 

 

Many people still consider the Maldives a holiday destination for a once in a life time trip or if they win the lotto. How has that now changed?

Indeed that still remains the perception for many. However, since local island tourism and guesthouses were introduced in 2011 the Maldives has become a far more affordable destination. There are now opportunities to island hop and discover history and culture as well as the beautiful beaches and amazing marine life that it is already known for.

Why was Secret Paradise introduced?

In a nutshell I was in the right place at the right time!  I had visited the Maldives on over 30 occasion after being introduced to the country by my dive buddy, Romney, who you will know from Boutique Beach! Following a stay of almost three months to complete a diving course I was provided the opportunity to start a travel agency with a local business man,  but being me I said let’s not do resorts let’s do something different!

Our tours are designed to allow guests to engage with local people and experience the best from a paradise that as we said a moment ago is generally known as a luxury resort destination. As well as at the time providing the platform to market and promote the newly formed guesthouse industry.

What kind of customers do you get?

We are fortunate to welcome guests from all over the world, of all ages and from all walks of life. We have even welcomed a celebrity or two! Guests may be travelling solo or with family or friends. They may be on a tight budget or have no restraints. However, the one thing they have in common is that they are looking for a memorable experience.

Many people tell me that if they are only paying $100 a night for bed and breakfast in the Maldives the accommodation must be terrible. What do you say to those people?

Accommodation certainly isn’t terrible and as local tourism has developed so has the range of guesthouses and hotels on offer. For under $50 a night you can generally expect a basic standard room with ensuite shower room, AC and access to Wifi. I believe the saying you get what you pay for is quite apt. Expect to pay between $90-$140 for an ocean view room with modern décor and facilities.  At the other end of the scale there are some fabulous boutique style properties where the level of service equals or surpasses that of some resorts.

My advice – Check out online reviews or for real peace of mind book with a company like us who audit their hotel and guesthouse partners on an annual basis.

What will people experience in the local islands?

Local islands certainly offer the opportunity to see the real Maldives and observe Maldivians go about their daily life. But like resorts every local island is slightly different and with a little bit of research or advice from Secret Paradise you can find one that meets your holiday needs be that surfing, diving, relaxing or discovery!

One thing every island though has in common is the warmth and hospitality of the locals who will take great delight in welcoming you to their island home.

What tips would you give someone visiting the Maldives for the first time?

Read the small print when making a booking or payment – is all local tax included GST, service charge and green tax for accommodation.

If you are booking independently understand the cost of transfers to the island you have selected. You may have got a real bargain for accommodation only to find you need to take a $400 domestic flight to reach your holiday home.

Don’t over pack, you need very little in the way of clothes and shoes! Sun screen, mozzie repellent and a rash guard if snorkelling are essential.

You offer tour guides on your trips, surely that is only for the wealthy how can I afford a private tour guide in the Maldives?

Certainly you don’t need to break the bank to have a tour guide, although expect to pay more for a tour including their services than if you were just to book accommodation online.

However, travelling with a local guide not only provides an opportunity to learn about the country and culture it allows you access to experiences or places that many tourists may not encounter. Plus it’s safe and convenient and ensures a hassle free holiday experience.

Where can people find more information about your trips and tours?

Take a look at our website www.secretparadise.mv. Plenty of information regarding our day tour sand multi days tours as well as travel advice. Follow the link to our blog which has loads more travel advice and information on what to expect when travelling in the Maldives.

We are hearing a lot in the news about plastic pollution what are the challenges the Maldives are facing with this?

Sadly, plastic pollution has become a key environmental issue in the Maldives as well as Worldwide. We see evidence of plastic bottles, straws, carrier bags and other plastic waste scattered on our islands and washed up regularly on our beautiful beaches and of course this waste has a negative impact on our environment, our marine life and the impression we give visitors.

The positive news is that local NGOs, island communities and environmental groups are working hard to deal with plastic issue with initiatives including beach clean ups, reduction of plastic bag use and environmental awareness campaigns.

But we also need effective policies to be implemented for meaningful long termchange.

Why did you introduce the #strawwar initiative?

There was so much international coverage regarding single use plastic that I felt Secret Paradise was in a position to influence and encourage our partners to lead a change in the Maldives.

We have had a terrific response from our partners as well as guests. Currently we are in the process of obtaining EPA approval which will hopefully assist us in taking #strawwar to the next level.

Surely banning single use straws is a small feat for such a large problem, wouldn’t it be better to ban plastic bottles?

In the ideal world yes and I would love to think that this could be achieved in the future, but unfortunately for the time being both locals and tourists have become reliant on bottled water as tap water is not promotedas being perfectly okay to drink.

This together with the fact that a new water bottling plant that will produce 10,000 plastic bottles every hour, is being opened makes single use plastic bottles a real challenge.

What are local business do to work with you on the strawwar?

It’s easy, contact Secret Paradise and pledge to stop using plastic straws!

How can tourists get involved?

Take a photos and tag @Secretparadisemaldives and use #strawwarmv when they refuse a straw or find a property or café who do not use plastic straws.

Kamey’s Top 5 Tips on Visiting the Indian Ocean in the Maldives

At Secret Paradise we hand pick only the best tour guides to give our guests the most authentic experience of the local islands in the Maldives. All our tour guides are given specialist training to ensure they have in-depth knowledge of the local islands and their people, to give you, our guests the best experience. However many of them already have extensive knowledge of the islands and surrounding ocean as they have grown up here. All our tour guides have areas they are especially passionate about. Here one of our guides gives you his top 5 tips when visiting the Indian Ocean in the Maldives.

Kamey

Meet Kamey who has been with us at Secret Paradise from the beginning. Kamey has been working as a tour guide in the Maldives for almost 8 years, where he started on the safari cruises and then moved to us. He has an innate love for the ocean, diving and snorkeling and we wanted to know a little more about why he is drawn to the big blue.

The ocean has been my backyard since I was born so it came as no surprise that it would become my office and place of work and has been for more than 10 years. I am so fortunate to work in my favorite place on earth – the ocean, where I get the opportunity to learn more about the wonders of this amazing place. I love meeting people on my tours and teaching them about the ocean, sharing my knowledge and life experiences of the sea.

  1. The Maldives Marine Wildlife Tour is particularly special as we come across the most amazing places for snorkelers. We choose places that will give you the most memorable experience and you don’t have to dive to encounter the amazing marine life that the Maldives has to offer. The best part about this tour for me is that the ocean is my home for the week; it’s an amazing adventure for everyone.

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2. I’m sure you have heard the expression ‘white sandy beaches’ when people are describing the beaches in the Maldives. But have you ever wondered why they are so beautifully bright or how they even came to appear on our small islands? Well first and foremost we need to thank Mr. Parrot fish for their hard work and generous kindness to their surroundings. Parrot fish are beautifully bright and colourful they live anywhere from 1 – 20 metres depth in the water, and are a common finding in the Maldives. Adult parrot fish are busy fish creating a ton of sand each year; it’s crazy to think that something so small can create such a massive amount of sand, Mother Nature truly is amazing. Some say having parrot fish close by is a sign of a healthy reef. But parrot fish aren’t the only hard workers in the ocean, Surgeon fish also help keep the reef clean and tidy by feeding on the algae that grows around the coral. It’s common to see herbivores(eating plants) fish that are common on the top reef and few carnivores(eating animal) fish that live among other and studies show more omnivores (eat plant and animal) are getting more on the slope of the reef.

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3. The Maldives is famous for its colorful underwater beauty. The pictures that people take under water have high exposed light and maybe a little touch of Photoshop magic. However before we had such complex technology in the earlier days their techniques were much simpler. They would physically filter the colors by brightening the colors of the coral with artificial light, that’s reality and we are thankful it doesn’t happen today. Coral carries photosynthesis cells that create these beautiful, bright colors, so they need proper sun light not above or below their suitable temperature. When the temperature is too high or too low the coral starts getting stressed and starts losing color. Sad but true. The good thing is some new generation of coral are resilient to its surrounding temperature and they have more adaptation and mutation methods although they are a little dull in color. There are so many colorful coral in the reef depending on the sun light and even though some light may not reach [parts of the reef the coral is still beautiful but fragile. It’s common to find dusty brown, dark brown, light faded green and dark green that looks almost black in the day time and it can be hard to tell its original color especially when at depth which changes the color.

4. If anybody asks, what the biggest fish in the world is, you can tell them it is the Rhincodontypus or we fondly know them as the whale shark, one of the most magnificent fish on earth. The largest confirmed size was 14.3m (47.2 ft.) weight of 22.8 t (20683.8 kg). The most amazing part is they eat the smallest living plant in the world. They eat a lot more then even I expected a massive 30,000 calories a day to service their large body. That’s a lot for the big guy. Lots of research is going on but we still have a million questions we want answered, like how they breed and how many times they deliver their eggs. It’s still a mystery. Funnily enough they are amazing deep divers. They can dive up to 2km and even deeper. They come up to surface to heat their body because the big guy doesn’t have much oil stored in its body so they need to recharge before deep dives. We are so lucky they do this because while they are filling up their tanks with warm temperature blood, that’s the time, we can swim with them. Isn’t this an amazing creature?

5. Next on my list are giant slow moving butterflies. What a breathtaking movement that’s gonna be – Manta rays. The way they move and communicate is amazing it’s unbelievable how a creature can do that. Their feeding patterns and how they move while they feed is orchestrated by so brilliantly that you can’t find a flow. From November to April a higher number of manta can be encountered from the Western side of Maldives. Unlike in May to October they change to be on the Eastern side of Maldives due to high presence of plankton in the area.

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Even now, the ocean still amazes and surprises me with its beauty. I never get used it, I’m always excited to be in the water you never know what next will surprise you, turtle sharks, mobiles’, moray ells,Gianttrevallies, I can go on with a long list. The ocean holds so many secrets and stories I been learning about them for long time. I’d love to tell you stories about our ocean and its great adventures so why not join me on your next adventure to the Maldives and #letusguideyou.

For more details about our trips and tours <<click here>> or contact our sales team direct sales@secretparadise.mv

How You Can Help Sustainability and Eco Tourism in the Maldives

Eco tourism and sustainable tourism may be a hot topic in the travel industry at the moment but it has always been an integral part of our philosophy and part of our mission statement.

Secret Paradise tours are designed to allow our guests to experience the best from the paradise we call home, whilst ensuring that there is limited or no negative impact on the community or the environment.

We are committed to informing and demonstrating to our competitors, our team, our partners and ultimately our guests that we are committed to following social and environmental best practices.

 

At Secret Paradise we see this as an ongoing commitment in the development of sustainable tourism in the Maldives and pride ourselves that we were longlisted for the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015.

The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part during your holiday but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

Reusing towels and saving electricity in your guest house

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It is seen all over the world in small and large hotels, businesses trying to reduce their carbon foot print and the Maldives is no different.Re-use your towels in your guest bedroom rather than having them refreshed each day. Turn off your air conditioning when you leave your room. Make sure all the lights are switched off. All small actions that will provide long term positive results to the environment for you and future generations.

Plastic in the Ocean

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The Maldives, like many countries has experienced a real challenge in recent years with plastic bottles, straws and plastic bags washing up on the beaches. Local Island residents are making huge efforts to work together with many islands organising regular beach clean ups. Education and awareness regarding littering and how to reduce the use of plastic in daily life has also started to be introduced led by NGOs and dive centres in particular. But as a tourist you can also help. Bring a re-useable bottle with you and re-fill your water bottles where possible. Take your own bags with you when you go shopping and refuse plastic bags every time you leave a shop. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home and consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can.

For more details on local initiatives check out http://www.savethebeachmaldives.org

Buy Local

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By staying in local island guest houses you are contributing to the local economy and increasing local employment. Local island guest houses in the Maldives are usually run by local island families where everyone is instrumental in the day to day running of the guest house. As a guest you benefit from meeting these local families and learning about their cultures and traditions; take it from us nothing beats Maldivian hospitality.

Buying local and eating local means that you are contributing to the local economy just like when you stay in the guest houses.  Buying locally made souvenirs and eating local produce means that local farmers and small businesses benefit.Don’t be afraid to ask where produce or souvenirs have originated as there unfortunately is still a lot of imported souvenirs on offer.

Leave no traces of your visit behind

Many people say ‘I am just one person how can I make a difference to the environment on my own?’But all you need to do is take responsibility for yourself and the people you are travelling with. Don’t leave litter on the beaches or around the islands. Don’t throw garbage over board when on the boats travelling around the islands. Lead by example and pick up rubbish and dispose in the nearest waste receptacle. Every small effort like this will have a positive effect on the future of our environment.

Leave the ocean as you found it

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As tempting as it is to take a piece of beautiful coral home or chase after the sea turtles, mantas or whale sharks and touch them – you are destroying the oceans natural habitat by doing these things. Maldives turtles and Whale sharks are endangered species and need protection. Feel free to view the beautiful underwater world of the Maldives but leave it where it is. The ocean life is wild and we want it to remain that way. The Maldives is one of the many countries affected by coral bleaching due to rising temperatures in the sea and global warming. Campaigns run by Save the Beach and local island guest houses like Eco Dive Club in Maafushi are working hard to rebuild these areas by planting coral nurseries and researching the effects of global warming.

More details on initiatives are here https://www.eco-diveclub.com/copy-of-courses

Respect local culture and dress codes

The Maldives is an Islamic country and tourists should respect cultural differences not try to change them, we are after all only guests in someone’s home. Dress respectably away from beaches, ask permission (and ladies cover your head) if you are visiting religious places. Note local dress codes and follow them. There is so much culture in the Maldives and the local island people love to share their traditions and culture with tourists so ask, learn and enjoy.

Want to help more?

Volunteer/beach clean up

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Many local islands are running initiatives like volunteer beach clean ups on a regular basis. Ask your Secret Paradise guide or guesthouse owner if there is one scheduled during your stay, it’s a great way to meet the local community and you are contributing to environmental clean ups.

How about learning more about the local communities and initiatives?

Secret Paradise Maldives and Sun sHADe Volunteers provide opportunities for responsible and meaningful working holidays in one of the most beautiful places in the world. More details about this program can be viewed here: https://secretparadise.mv/product/volunteer-local

Remember together we can make a difference #letusguideyou

You can also view our full Responsible Tourism Policy here

https://secretparadise.mv/responsible-tourism-policy