Why Travel With Secret Paradise?

It is no secret that wherever in the world you plan to travel it will result in happiness and satisfaction, because apart from the obvious truth that you are not going to be working while on vacation, your travel will allow you to recharge, renew and just step away from the realities of your daily life. You may travel with your family, different groups of friends or simply travel solo – whatever floats your boat and whatever you think will make you enjoy your time away, will be entirely up to you.

Just recently, Dina M. finally decided to book her flight to Maldives and this is what she has to say – “I have wanted to go to the Maldives for some time but was of the impression that it was not really a place to go as a solo traveller. That was until I stumble on the Secret Paradise website.

With the range of activities/ programmes they offered I decided to give it a go and I absolutely am not sorry I did. I have travelled a lot and always as a solo traveller, both guided tours and trips with no guide, and I have to say the level of service provided was something I had not experienced previously. It started from the minute I landed in Male where UB met me at the airport and advised me that due to a delay in my flight from Singapore to Male I arrived too late to board the flight I was scheduled to take to Laamu GAN and had to wait 3 hours for the next flight. UB stayed with me at the airport until I was able to board the later flight and then dealt with the airport staff on my behalf to get me through the airport procedures with no drama. It was totally unexpected though very much appreciated as I had already had a long day of travel to get to that point having travelled there from Sydney.

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When I finally arrived at the Reveries guesthouse, after the flight had been delayed another 3 hours I was met by Kokko who made sure I got dinner even though I arrived well after dinner had finished. Kokko proved to be an absolute superstar. He obviously loves his work and his country and the enthusiasm with which he shared it with me allowed me to also develop a love for his country. As I was alone he joined me for every meal without me feeling like I was imposing on his time and I am very grateful for the generosity he showed me over the week.

The programme developed for this trip was the perfect balance of enough activities to prevent me from getting bored as I am not the type who can happily sit on a beach for a week and do nothing else, and enough free time to allow for flexibility if I wanted to go off programme without missing out on any activities planned, which is exactly what I did. After taking the introductory scuba dive, at the encouragement of the staff of Emperor Divers I decided to take two days to gain my open water diving certification, so Kokko worked his magic to ensure I could manage that and still complete all the activities that had been planned. I could not be more grateful.

 

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The accommodation was not the resort style you think of when you think of the Maldives but I do not think I missed out on anything as a result. The room was very comfortable and clean and the staff were very friendly and accommodating. I was there for New Year’s Eve and although there was not an option of alcohol as I was not in a resort I really did not notice as the staff arranged a party on the private beach for all the guests and it look amazing after they had worked all day stringing lights and transforming the beach in a way only photos can explain.

 

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It was very apparent that the main goal of everyone involved was that I had the holiday I hoped for and they were prepared to be as flexible as necessary to ensure that happened. I was able to get a feel of how the Maldivians lived and got a real feel for island life rather than being in the more artificial environment of a resort. There is a real chance I will return to the Maldives and when I do I will absolutely do so with Secret Paradise. I cannot thank Ruth and her team enough for ensuring I had an awesome holiday and this is not the last you will hear from me.”

 

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Can you imagine how wonderful our guest must have felt to write such a thoughtful and heart warming review?

So why then should you travel with Secret Paradise Maldives? Let us count the ways…

  1. Secret Paradise specializes in individual and group travel for people of all ages. It is not just for young adventurers, it is also for the young at heart! Our passionate and experienced guides will be ready to provide you the best service you deserve. Come and #letusguideyou!
  2. The basis of our tours has always been to allow guests to learn about the Maldives, its culture, beliefs, and traditions and what better way to do this than to see the country through the eyes of a local and experience daily life by travelling by public ferry, staying on a locally inhabited island where the local community benefit directly from the income gained from local island tourism, sharing breakfast with a family in their home, exchanging stories of daily life, relaxing with a coffee in a local café with their local host. Secret Paradise guides can open doors that may remain closed as an independent traveller and you’ll never be left wanting with authentic experiences.
  3. Responsible travel is at the core of our system. Secret Paradise Maldives fosters social and cultural awareness among its employees and the clientele that they cater to as well. They make it a point to be in tune with understanding their effect on places you visit that they bring you to and ensure that each visit will be a meaningful one – something for the books.
  4. Every guide has completed the Lead Amazing Tours Online Academy as well as first aid and rescue certification and you can therefore be assured of both your safety and comfort.
  5. We offer more than just day tours. We also have multi-day tours with itineraries that can’t be beat. https://secretparadise.mv/product/maldives-day-tours/

Are you ready to book your flight to Maldives? #letusguideyou

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The Wonders of Maldives Seagrass

As you may have seen this week we pledged our support to to be a part of a growing coalition of environmentally-conscious resorts and organisations that recognises the importance of sea grass habitats in the Maldives.

I remember my first visit to the Maldives almost twenty years ago, the resort I stayed on had a very large area of sea grass and in the morning a member of the resort staff would come along and rake the beach, like raking up autumnal leaves back home.

Whilst I was not adverse to swimming in this area, what I didn’t appreciate at the time was the importance of these sea grass beds.

Did you know?

  • A sea grass meadow creates a home for up to 20 times more fish! Up to 100,000 fish can live in just one hectare of sea grass.
  • Sea grass produces oxygen, stabilises sediment, protects shorelines, and gives food and shelter to marine life.
  • One hectare of sea grass can be a home for up to 19 turtles.

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The story so far 

In 2016 the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) and Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), along with luxury resort Six Senses Laamu,  all joined together to demonstrate how sea grass and tourism can coexist and generate positive outcomes.

As their work gained momentum, the collaboration launched the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign, asking resorts, as well as the public, to pledge their support for the protection and preservation of sea grass beds in Maldives.

Marteyne van Well, Six Senses Laamu General Manager, explains the benefits sea grass has had on tourism since the resort pledged to help protect it almost two years ago. “Whether it’s watching green sea turtles feed meters from their villas or snorkeling alongside eagle rays, numerous guests have praised us for pledging to help protect our sea grass. This feedback from guests shows that sea grass and tourism can coexist – with overwhelming benefits to all parties”

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Why is Sea grass so important?

The following taken from The Edition’s Protecting the green that gives blue oceans life
explains why.

Seagrass, by definition, is a complex underwater flowering plant that can form dense underwater meadows. These beds of grass grow in lagoons around islands, providing habitat for megafaunas such as turtles, rays, sharks as well as innumerable numbers of fishes and invertebrates.

Although it grows on the sea floor, seagrass photosynthesises just like terrestrial plants and act as a carbon sink that converts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into oxygen. Moreover, sea grass helps to maintain healthy reefs and facilitates sustainable fisheries by providing a habitat for various marine animals.

In addition to this, the roots of sea grass dig deep into the sand holding the sea floor in place and protecting sandy beaches from erosion. Quite literally, these marine plants hold our islands in place.

Since sea grass is a completely different ecosystem from coral reefs, it is known to house certain marine creatures not typically seen in reef habitats. It is also a fun activity to search for signs of marine life within sea grass beds as many fishes and invertebrates hide under the canopy, and camouflage themselves by becoming all but invisible in their surroundings. Sea horses, a rare sighting in the Maldives, have been spotted hiding between the greenery of the grass beds surrounding Six Senses.

So should you take to the air and view the Maldives archipelago from your seaplane or domestic flight transfer or even as you arrive and depart on your international flight, look out for the handful of dark areas standing out against the aquamarine blue lagoons and remember that despite their insignificant appearance they are vitally important to the seas surrounding them and house an entire ecosystem within them.

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Join us and take a small step in a good direction.  Help secure the future of  Maldives sea grass and support our marine life, our coasts and our climate, go  to  #protectmaldivesseagrass  and add your name.

Want to learn more about seagrass book now to join us on our Discover Huraa day tour.

Banning Plastic Straws Will Not Be Enough: We Need To Clean The Ocean

There is a huge call to ban plastic straws all over the world and even celebrities have used their voices in the attempt to make this initiative known to a much wider audience and gain traction and support. Big brands such as Starbucks and Disney have joined the movement to ban straws as well. *Supporters of the plastics ban say that every year, more than 35 million tons of plastic pollution is produced worldwide and about a quarter of that ends up in the water.

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**Straws are consistently on the top 10 lists for marine debris collected every year during International Coastal Cleanups and the Maldives is no different as we have found from our own experience of beach clean ups. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more pieces of plastic in our ocean than fish (Secret Paradise Maldives). Last year alone, 1.4 million tourists visited the Maldives with each guest staying an average of 6 days. If each of those guests only had one drink served with a straw per day during their stay that is 8.4 million straws and that is most likely a conservative estimate.

That’s quite a staggering number if you think of it in this scale. When we use straws, we actually don’t really realize the effect of it to our environment. Thinking of it in this proportion and spreading such awareness, does really make you think. But will simply banning straws be enough to save our oceans? The answer is obviously NO! There needs to be a collective and conscious effort across individuals, businesses, organizations and governments as a whole.

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We think we could definitely do more than just refusing to use straws or banning the use of straws. On World Environment Day, June 5th 2018, Secret Paradise Maldives we invited all our partner guesthouse properties to pledge to STOP the use of plastic drinking straws in their guest houses.

However, there’s another problem hiding in plain view and that is the presence of micro-plastics in our oceans. Micro-plastics are the degraded particles sometimes seen floating as giant globs in the ocean being devoured by fish and seabirds. Imagine that on a larger scale and realize that these micro-plastics are degrading our oceans. At this point though, actions on an individual scale wouldn’t be felt anymore. There needs to be a massive and widespread awareness across all sectors and banning straws whilst a start is simply not enough.

What Else Can We Do At This Point?

We are living in a period of extraordinary times where plastics are all over us and the population dependence of plastics, especially on single-use plastics, is really alarming. We need concrete measures to rise above just banning straws. Here are some suggested steps that we and others feel could have a bigger impact:

  1. Make the producers pay for their waste. When we say pay, it should involve a hefty amount of money so they will be more responsible in their manufacturing practices.
  2. Make the consumers pay premium for plastics. – Increase the prices for plastics so people think twice before using it.
  3. Cut waste – shift from an opt-out to an opt-in model. Teach people responsibility, provide awareness and education.
  4. Go after the bigger cause, the root cause. – We need to look at the systems in place and determine where the disconnect is. Determine what we can do to solve the problem about cleaning our ocean at a much larger and effective way because let’s face it, just banning straws will not magically clean our oceans.
  5. Start a movement and make it less effort, more impact. – ***Environmentalists hope the movement will stir a larger conversation about runaway plastics pollution. Straw bans alone — which have been criticized for not truly reducing waste — will barely dent the flood of plastic spewing into the environment each year.
  6. Declare a massive clean-up drive. – Mobilize everyone to help clean our oceans – schedule a worldwide clean-up day and make sure to implement sustainable measures.

****To understand the magnitude of the environmental dilemma facing Earth, consider the explosion in the use of plastic bottles. Beverage companies produced 239 billion plastic bottles in 2004. That total had more than doubled by 2017 to 494 billion, and the trend continues, with plastic bottle production predicted to hit 594 billion by 2022, according to the market research firm Euromonitor International. That means bottlers will be churning out more than 1.6 billion every day.

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What we are doing at Secret Paradise Maldives is a good start and we will continue to support other initiatives. “This we know is the start of a long journey, but a journey that we hope will gather momentum and support across all local islands, not just with our partner guesthouses but with other businesses too. Our guiding team continually monitor properties on their tour visits as well as when we complete our annual property audits. This ensures that each guesthouse maintains its commitment to our initiative and offer support as necessary.We also speak with our guests upon arrival to encourage them to refuse plastic straws and bags”

How about you? How do you think we can clean our oceans?

 

 

*https://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/banning-plastic-straws-and-bags-isnt-enough-to-save-our-oceans-opinion-20181009.html

**https://secretparadisemaldives.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/are-our-efforts-in-the-maldives-to-reduce-plastic-waste-really-worth-it/

***/****https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/banning-plastic-straws-will-not-be-enough-fight-clean-oceans-n951141

 

 

 

 

Maldives experiences are not just limited to resorts.

A recent article by W Travel Magazine showcases all the different things you can experience at different locations in the Maldives and offers suggestions for resort stays. But what if we told you, all of these can also be experienced on a local island tour at a fraction of the price and still with personalised service?

With over 1,200 beautiful islands in the Maldives; whether you are visiting a local island or a luxury resort, in every part of the Maldives you will still experience the beautiful crystal blue clear waters of the Indian Ocean, breath taking marine life and perfect white sandy beaches. However, as Lindsay Lohan recently discovered there is more to the Maldives than just this and one of the best things about visiting local islands is the Maldivian hospitality.

The Maldives literally has it all for travelers and explorers, from adrenaline pumping water sports, to zen yoga on the beach. Island hopping, deserted islands, star gazing and diving in some of the most breathtaking dive sites in the world. No wonder more and more people are choosing the Maldives to visit every year. Take a look below at just some of the amazing things you can experience even if staying on local islands.

Flyboarding

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Just when you think there can’t be another new water sport in comes flyboarding! For those of you who love water sports this is a must to experience, a real adrenaline rush as you lift off over the water, flying high enough to see right around the island. Flyboarding is a hydro device which propels a flyboard, on which you are stood, into the air with jet nozzles.

Recommended Island

Maafushi is a great place to experience flyboarding but any island that is active with water sports will be able to offer this. Let us know the type of holiday you would like and we will recommend the best locations!

Yoga Retreat

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Many people will travel to India for Yoga retreats but why not combine a beautiful local island vacation with a revitalizing Yoga Retreat. Enjoy Yoga at sunrise on white sandy beaches overlooking the tranquility of the clear blue waters and evening meditation watching some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

Where to Stay – Barefoot Island

The Barefoot is located within an almost untouched forest on Hanimaadhoo island in the preserved deep North of Maldives. This 4 star Eco Hotel is well connected to Male international airport by numerous daily 45 minutes flights. Due to its luxuriant vegetation and privacy everybody can fall in love with untouched nature, as well as experiencing the genuine and natural Maldives. With a half mile private sandy beach, a turquoise lagoon and modern accommodation facilities you can be assured of a relaxing holiday without breaking the bank!

Check out the 7 night Yoga Retreat here https://secretparadise.mv/product/7-night-maldives-yoga-holiday/

Liveaboard

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If you are an avid diver and are looking to explore a large area during your stay then a dive liveaboard is just for you. The liveaboard experience allows you to dive multiple locations throughout your holiday and be with like-minded divers. With more routes taking in the deep south, with the possibility of encounters with tiger sharks, thresher sharks and maybe the elusive mola mola, this is an experience every keen diver should try.

Recommended Liveaboard

MV Keana offers high standards of comfort and some great sustainable travel initiatives. In order to avoid unnecessary waste draft beer is served and water is available from a water dispenser. Warm water comes from a solar-device and the non-avoidable generators are modern and fuel-effective. All Cabins are above the water line across two decks meaning that all windows and doors can be opened preventing the need to switch on your AC!

Night Diving

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Night diving is a must on any scuba divers bucket list. Fulidhoo Alimatha reef is just one of the popular night dive sites in the Maldives and by speedboat is not too far from Male International Airport. The location offers some of the best channel dives and divers have seen up to 100 nurse sharks at one time during their night dives.

Where to Stay

Fulidhoo is the first island in Vaavu Atoll and is historically famous for being a stopover island before Male. The friendly and caring people of Fulidhoo still maintain the tradition of offering a warm welcome today. A typical peaceful and relaxing local Maldivian island Fulidhoo is also known for its traditional Boduberu and bandiyaa “pot dance”.

It has a beautiful beach and a great coral reef abundant with coral and fish life. The reef structure is formed in caves and overhangs perfect for exploration by divers and snorkelers alike.

Check out full tour details here https://secretparadise.mv/product/dive-local-from-fulidhoo

Desert Island Lunch

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One of our favourite locations for a Robinson Crusoe style get away for the day is  Island. A small deserted island located a short boat ride from Mathiveri, this is a fantastic experience where you can enjoy the peace and tranquility of these untouched deserts islands. Take along a picnic lunch, explore the natural beauty of the area, lay in the sun or head out for some snorkeling. It is an amazing experience not to be missed.

Where to Stay

The islands of Rasdhoo, Ukulhas and Mathiveri are surrounded by the breathtaking Indian Ocean. This area of North Ari Atoll is widely regarded as one of the best diving spots in the world and when the season is right it is possible to snorkel or swim with manta rays. With an abundance of green vegetation and beautiful white sandy beaches this tour provides the ideal opportunity to indulge in the activities the Maldives is famous for as well as brushing shoulders with local culture and people.

Check out full tour details here: https://secretparadise.mv/product/7-night-north-ari-atoll-island-hopping

Star Gazing

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Did you know you can see the night time stars from both hemispheres in the Maldives? Any local island away from the capital city, Male is perfect for viewing the constellations and you might even be able to make a wish on a shooting star.

Where to Stay

Boutique Beach All Inclusive Diving Hotel is a luxury, contemporary diving property located on the beautiful Maldivian island of Dhigurah in the South Ari Atoll. Set against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean’s azure waters and magical sunsets, they offer guests a truly all-inclusive accommodation and diving package. Spend your days diving, snorkeling, relaxing or exploring – making memories, before returning ‘home’ where the Boutique Beach team will welcome you to their rooftop terrace for sun-downers and star gazing lazing on the bean bags. A perfect day in Paradise!

Resort Day Visit

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You can still experience resort life without staying for your entire holiday. Our team will happily organise a resort day trip for you to enjoy pure luxury. The location of the local island where you are staying will determine which resort we recommend. However one place that is truly memorable is in South Male called Anantara Veli which has a classic swing out in the ocean. Fantastic photo opportunities and amazing memories.

For more information about how and what to book on your local island Maldives adventures, contact our sales team who will be delighted to help you.

Contact us today and start your Maldives adventure!

Island Hop the Maldives with Secret Paradise

Island hopping in the Maldives does have its logistical challenges but makes for a far more exciting and interesting way to explore our paradise home. Why not allow us to make life easier and join  our 7 night South Male Island Hopping tour to discover culture and tradition as well as all the best the Maldives has to offer.  Accompanied by your Secret Paradise guide discover Male, Guraidhoo, Maafushi & Gulhi on a 7 night trip that provides the perfect opportunity to combine local life with popular excursions, water sports and relaxation.

Male City

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Male is the capital city of the Maldives. It is the ideal place to enjoy local culture and the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capital before being whisked away to tropical paradise. Accompanied by one of our tour guides you will visit the fish market and local market, Presidents Palace, Sultan Park and Friday Mosque as well as a few hidden gems off the main tourist path.

Guraidhoo Island

 

 

 

Guraidhoo island located almost on the southern tip of South Male Atoll is recommended for scuba diving, snorkeling and surfing. It is a perfect island to experience and learn more about local culture and traditions. A 60 minute tour around the island highlights locals going about their daily routine; carpenters at the small boat yard traditionally constructing typical dhoni boats, locals drinking coffee in the many small coffee shops and children playing simple games in the street. 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. You will also get to enjoy dining at a local family’s home with traditional Maldivian food that you will not experience in a café or restaurant.

Maafushi Island

 

 

 

 

Maafushi was once a very typical Maldivian local island but since the introduction of local tourism it is proving a popular destination for those wishing to experience the Maldives without paying resort prices. Maafushi is located only 90 minutes away from Male by ferry boat or 30 minutes by speedboat. There are two beaches on opposite sides of the island, one of which is a tourist bikini beach. With over 70 guesthouses some with 6 floors there are plenty of accommodation options to meet all budget needs. There are a variety of local cafes and guesthouse restaurants, some situated on the harbor and with water sport and excursion providers all eager for your business Maafushi provides the ideal destination to discover the Maldives on a budget and mix with other tourists.

Gulhi Island

 

 

Gulhi island is practically next door to Maafushi  but is a much different island to its close neighbour. This island has hardly any vehicles as it is only 5.8 sq km. You can walk around the whole island in maybe 10-15 minutes and it is really quaint and retains it’s local feel. This island is ideal for people who love the quite life with a little bit of R&R. It has two beautiful bikini beaches and is ideal for a holiday where relaxation and reclining on a sun lounger is the priority!  You can still enjoy a range of water sport activities, snorkeling, scuba diving and even surfing here just ask your tour guide who will be pleased to assist you with arranging this.

What our guests think

“Best holiday ever”

“Just got back from our first visit to the Maldives. Me and my husband chose to spend our honeymoon in the Maldives after we found a nice flight offer I was so overwhelmed by the amount of information and things to do, how to choose activities, resorts I decided to contact a local agency who could advise us better.

I have found the Secret Paradise contact details in the book along with Ruth’s name and contacted her via the online form on their website. She replied very quickly proposing different options. We wanted to experience the true Maldivian culture so we chose the South Male Island Hopping Tour for the first week and then Ruth helped us choose a resort for our 2nd week and we chose Olhuveli.

We had the two most amazing guides taking care of us UB and Mashir. We bonded straight away, we felt like traveling with old friends and not two guides we have just met 1 day ago 🙂 Everything was perfect: from the local guesthouses to the food, to the people on the different islands, the activities, absolutely everything. It was my first time snorkelling but UB made it a lot easier for me by explaining what I needed to do in detail and even holding my hand for the first 10-15 minutes or so (thanks UB). I must admit I absolutely love snorkelling now and I am not that scared of the water anymore.

I am sure we would not have had the same experience without Ruth and her priceless guidance and the company of both Mashir and UB. Without any hesitation, I would recommend them to anyone wanting to experience the Maldives and have a perfect holiday. Also, I am sure that we will return very soon for part 2.”

Iona ~ Trip Advisor July 2018

This 7 day/8 night tour departs every Sunday, book before end of January 2019 and save 10%. Quote XMAS18. Private and tailor made tours available upon request

For more information on this tour or other trips contact our sales team here sales@secretparadise.mv

Have You Tried a Discover Scuba Dive in the Maldives?

I am sure if you are a SCUBA diver you will recall where and when you had your first underwater experience. It’s a magical moment of in-trepidation, discovery and wonder.  A moment that for many leads to new opportunities as well as new holiday destinations. The Maldives with year round warm waters and good visibility is perfect for your first SCUBA diving experience as our guide Maahee discovered recently.

 

“DSD or Discover Scuba Diving is as program from PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), the world’s leading scuba diving training organization. A quick and easy introduction into what it takes to explore the underwater world. Although this is not a scuba certification course, you’ll learn all the steps it takes to be a PADI certified diver.” https://www.padi.com/courses/discover-scuba-diving

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When I first joined the team at Secret Paradise Maldives as a tour guide, one of the tours I found myself leading regularly for our guests were the morning or afternoon snorkeling tours.

I love taking guests into the crystal clear blue waters in the Indian Ocean and exploring the coral reefs. I always make extra time during my tours to take our guests to the edge of the coral reef to see the beautiful deep blue sea and reef wall that is known as the terrace.

We always see many different types of fish and colourful coral whilst snorkeling on top of the reef but I always wondered what it would be like to dive deep down to the bottom of the ocean, was it really so different than this? What more could I really see?

I have seen many of our guests join a scuba dive day trip but had never had any experience of scuba diving myself.  I always dreamed of one day making a dive and I was so happy when my boss, Ruth the founder of Secret Paradise Maldives suggested I tried a Discover Scuba Dive (DSD).

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I was lucky enough to join a trip to Maafushi with the Secret Paradise team in September 2018. Secret Paradise runs regular team training trips staying at our partnering guest houses so that we can all experience where our guests are may stay and be able to talk knowledgeably about a location. We combined the trip with an opportunity to do a DSD dive so that I could finally experience what some of my colleagues have been doing for years.

In the afternoon we all went to the Eco Dive Club, Maafushi for registration and when we reached there I went in to the dive center to request an enrolment for the DSD dive. The dive instructor gave me a form to read carefully and fill in and then he asked me” Is this your first time?”

I said YES! The registration was easier than I thought.

After I registered my dive instructor gave me theory instruction on how to use the equipment. There was information about:

  • How to use the regulator
  • How to breath
  • How to inflate the jacket
  • Remind me not to hold my breath
  • How to clear water from the mouth by sharply breathing out from the regulator or I can press the mouth piece rubber of the regulator
  • How to clear water from the face mask
  • Plus much more

I then was fitted for the right size jacket, face mask and fins. My dive instructor ensured me he would stay close by to help me descend into the water.

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We then went down to the jetty at Maafushi harbour where we were met by the boat crew and captain. The crew were really friendly and reassuring. The boat captain explained we would be traveling about 20 minutes to get to our dive location.  The dive location was called ‘Sexy reef’! It’s a house reef of a sand bank.

When we arrived we were told to get ready with our dive gear. I was assisted to put my equipment together, about how to adjust the oxygen tank to the buoyancy control device (BCD)so that I wouldn’t bang my head on the tank and how to inflate air into the BCD. Finally we checked the regulator to make sure it was properly working and we were ready to dive.

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Whilst the rest of the experienced team got in to the water, I held back with my dive instructor so he could guide me into the water to do a practical test in the lagoon in about 5 meters depth. When we had completed this successfully my guide asked me “Are you ready?” I strapped on my face mask and said “YES!”

As you can’t talk when diving, there is special sign language to use so divers can communicate at all times. Once we touched down on the seabed we practiced this, how to breathe, how to clear water from the mask and how to equalize the pressure. At this stage we were 5 metres deep and when I said I was ready to go my guide slowly took me down to 12 metres into the deep sea I had longed to visit for so long. He helped me inflate air in to the jacket and balance my body using extra weight hanging on a belt on my waist.

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I was thrilled and excited to see the colorful coral, amazing fish swimming in the ocean and huge caves! I felt confident enough to try swimming in one of the overhangs to explore more and we both went through and out the other side, it was an amazing experience. The reef terrace was very rich in life even more than I could have imagined. There were sea anemones, different types of clown fish, lionfish and Giant grouper and these were just some of the exciting marine life I saw.

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I was so busy enjoying this dive experience I almost forgot about my oxygen tank, until my dive instructor told me in sign language that it was running low and it was time to slowly ascend to the surface. We made a 3 minute safety stop during the accent to equalize the pressure and then in a short time we both came up to the surface.

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This is a life time achievement for me to try and I am so pleased Ruth provided me the opportunity to try such great experience!

I can personally recommend trying a Discover Scuba Dive if you are visiting the Maldives, it will really open up a whole new world for you.I can’t wait to get back in the water and explore more of my underwater paradise home!

For more details about dive holidays for beginner and experiences divers contact our sales team sales@secretparadise.mv

Where to Eat and Drink in Male Part 2

secret paradise maldives

When I first visited the Maldives places to eat and drink in Male for tourists were few and far between. However, Male has flourished over the years since and whilst there are many cafes and restaurants popular with tourists, we know there are a number more difficult to locate that are worthy of a visit giving you the chance to rub shoulders with the locals.

This week Mashir another of our fabulous local tour guides shares his three personal favourite Male cafes.

Shawarma

In 2009, Ali Raeef opened up this café with the idea of offering fast food and good coffee. A middle aged man, but young at heart Ali loved cooking and was always creating unique dishes and drinks that no one would ever think of – like who would ever have thought a milkshake tea would taste good?! But it does!

The most popular dish and my favorite also is the Chicken Shawama, which is freshly made in less than ten minutes. A Chicken Shawama includes grilled chicken breast with cabbage, tomato, chili (optional), cheese and fries, with fresh home made mayonnaise or chili infused mayonnaise wrapped in a flat bread. Delicious! There is a wide variety of drinks including tea, coffee, fresh juices and milk shakes. Ali recently introduced a desert to the Shawama menu called Gluabu-gulab jamun and ice cream.

So if you have an hour to kill before your departure flight or just want to grab a quick bite, I recommend Shawama. Sit inside the air conditioned restaurant or open air dining. They have speedy service and good food at affordable prices. Located on the main street of Male-Majeedhee Magu in front of the football grounds close to the artificial beach.

Average cost of a meal here is $8

Thoum

Thoum brings the best of Middle Eastern Cuisine with a focus on authentic, traditional foods. They offer a wide range of aromatic grilled meats including chicken, lamb and beef served with a side of traditional Yemenu bread Mulawwah or Arabic rice which is an infusion of basmati rice, Arabic spice blend and saffron. Tantalize your taste buds with tasty, aromatic foods such as hummus, ful mudammes, heneeth and kebabs. Thoum is an amazing Arabic themed restaurant located at the end of the main street Majeedhee Magu overlooking the beach with the most amazing view of the ocean. Whenever I visit Thoum I love to order a plate of their delicious homemade hummus with a side of flatbread, plus a mixed spice chicken leg – this meal makes a light yet filling meal. Try something different to drink like a pot of Adani tea (native to Yemen) or a cup of traditionally brewed saffron infused Arabic coffee to complete your meal.

Entice your taste buds with Arabian flavors from $9.

Odegalla Coffee

I just happened to stumble upon this place after walking around Male for a few hours. The heat was getting to me and I needed a place to rest and relax for a bit. My preferred spot would be upstairs on their balcony so I can feel the breeze. One way to beat the heat and get some energy is by ordering their Ferrero milk shake. Who doesn’t love Ferrero Rocher. So a Ferrero milkshake is bliss. Located at a corner of cross roads near Billabong High school.

Chocolaty goodness $5.

Want to discover more off the beaten track locations in the capital, join Mashir or one of our other great guides on a Male City Walking Tour.