What Are The Best Ways to Explore the Maldives?

What Are The Best Ways to Explore the Maldives?

When you haven’t visited a country and are not familiar with what to do and where to stay it can be reassuring to know that you have everything organised before you arrive. But what type of Maldivian experience will suit you? There is more than just one way to explore the Maldives with holiday styles including safari boat cruises, low cost and luxury resorts and now also local island experiences.

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Cruising

Advantages

If you want to visit and see multiple locations in a short period of time cruising is ideal for you. It is the easiest way to gain a snap shot of a country in one vacation without having to live out of a suit case. You can comfortably unpack and relax. It’s an incredibly relaxing experience with plenty of on board activities and an abundance of food and drink! You not only have the luxury of cruising through the aquamarine waters of this island paradise but have the opportunity to jump on and off and discover local islands, resorts and deserted sandbanks at your leisure. There will be a number of pre-organised activities on board including snorkeling, Picnic Island BBQs and fishing for example as well as plenty of time to relax and sit back and watch the Maldives drift by!

The Maldives offers dive cruises, snorkeling cruises and even swimming cruises! Choose from small traditional dhoni’s with basic but standard facilities or a top of the range luxury experience. If a group travel is not for you there are also opportunities for private cruising quite often in catamarans or sailing boats.

Compromises

The down side to cruising may be the length of time you are allocated on an island or to a given activity, particularly if you are travelling with a large group. It can also sometimes be hard to get a feel of local life and you may miss out on a true local experience due to insufficient time to explore local islands. On board a cruise you are also more susceptible to poor weather conditions and whilst you would be very unfortunate to experience long periods of wind and rain, if you suffer from motion sickness you should consider the time of year that you travel.

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Resort Life

Advantages

As we all see from the beautiful magazines, online images and celebrity endorsements – resort life is the lotto winners dream. From over water villas, to 5 star restaurants, underwater spas, infinity pools and powder white sandy beaches, it is certainly one of the most luxurious way to enjoy the Maldives. Usually these trips are booked through a tour agent, online or direct with the resort and the minute you arrive in the Maldives you are collected and taken to your chosen island without a moment’s thought. Everything is done for you; all you have to do is relax and enjoy. Every resort island is slightly different and offers different facilities, experiences and accommodation styles that it would be hard not to find the most perfectly suited resort island for you needs.

Compromises

It can be a pricey vacation and often for many only a once in a lifetime trip. Generally you will stay on one resort island with the only opportunity to explore provided through excursions offered by the resort. Whilst many resorts hold a weekly Maldivian evening with the opportunity to sample local food from the restaurant buffet and watch traditional singing and dancing it is not quite the same as immersing yourself in Maldivian cultures and traditions alongside locals within their community.

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Live Like a Local

Advantages

Living like a local, on local islands is not only for the budget traveller although local island guesthouse and hotel accommodation does now provide the opportunity for everyone to visit and experience the Maldives regardless of budget. It is also however the perfect way for people who enjoy learning more about local culture and traditions and really want to get under the skin of a country. Staying on a local island allows you to be part of the local community and provides you the opportunity for example to try traditional local foods that you may not have the chance to try elsewhere. There is also the opportunity to explore with your own personal guide. Travelling with a Secret Paradise guide allows you to really experience local life, try your hand at traditional crafts and learn more about the history and culture of these islands. Maldivians are renowned for their warm hospitality and love tourists visiting their islands where they can share their culture and stories with you. Because communities are small in these islands it generally creates a safe environment and local islands are a popular choice for solo travellers as well as for families.

Compromises

Due to the Maldives being an Islamic country there are certain restrictions.The wearing of bikinis on local islands is not acceptable and care should be taken not to cause offence by maintaining a more conservative approach to how you dress. However nearly every local island has a beautiful designated tourist beach area where guests canwear bikinis and relax, sun bathe and enjoy swimming in the warm Indian Ocean. Alcohol is also not permitted on local islands and you cannot bring your own alcohol from duty free into the country either. Instead you can make a day trip to a resort or even a safari boat where alcohol is served and are accessible from most local islands.

One final consideration is that local islands are not always as pristine as resort islands and the internet images you may have viewed. Local communities are working hard towards a cleaner environment and whilst local islands are certainly catching up in this area and are still beautiful in their own right, be forewarned that there are still some growing pains and some room for improvement as far as waste management practices are concerned.

 

If you would like to know more about the different options for travelling to the Maldives and what is the most suitable option for you, contact our friendly reservations team who will be help you find the best style of Maldives holiday experience for you. Contact the team at. sales@secretparadise.mv

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Why You Should Visit Ukulhas the Fishing Island

If you have travelled with our guide Kokko Ibbe you will know that he is passionate about fishing. You may also have discovered that before he forayed into the tourism field he spent a year as a fisherman. With plenty of fishing tales to tell (especially about the one that got away!!) we asked him to share more about the industry that has forever been associated with the Maldives.

The Maldives is well known for its luxury resorts, stunning turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, tall palm trees and is renowned for being the perfect honeymoon destination.

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The tourism industry has been the main economy of the Maldives since it was introduced in 1972 and in 2017 1.39 million tourists arrived to enjoy this island paradise.

If you search online about the Maldives you will generally be able to find all the classic tourist information. However every island has a different story to tell and I wanted to share the story about one of our local islands famous for fishing.

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Ukulhas, a beautiful island located in North Ari atoll 72km from Male is famously known as the fishing island. People of the island are well known for big yellow fin tuna fishing. Most local island residents own a dingy and as a hobby go out to fish for Marlin, Dogtooth (Mahi Mahi), Trevally and more. Early morning after prayers elderly people will gather around near the jetty looking at the ocean and talking about fishing. Our third president Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said “Fishing is the lifeblood of our nation, it is inborn. From the soil on which we live, to the sea around us, it remains an integral part of our existence“. These words will always be in the fisherman heart.

 

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I have personally experienced Yellow fin tuna by joining a fishing boat for a year with these brave people. The local island fishermen take long journeys often not seeing their loved ones for long periods of time and with no communication while on the sea, this takes a lot of courage and faith when they first step on to the boat. It is almost as though they step into the fishing bubble which to them becomes everyday life and their families and friends will remain outside this bubble until they return home to their island. They don’t mind the big waves, no need of holidays, they don’t shiver in the rain, all their focus is on fishing.

The boat captain will say to start a fishing journey you require the resources from other fisherman, including bait and information as to where the best fishing locations are at that time. Typically there is an average of 16 people in a boat for fishing according to other islands, but almost every boat in Ukulhas there will be an average of 24 people. The reason for this I believe is because the elders will take their children (on holiday) to teach them how the traditional fishing practices are done. Once the journey out to sea starts, the people in the boat are considered their family and everyone depends on the captain. In peak season some fisherman will only come to their island once a month, but the average would be twice a week to see their family. With the first bite on the fishing line people hurry with other lines to catch more, the feeling is something else. In other words, only a fisherman truly understands this feeling and believe me this feeling is good!

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You may not know, but yellow fin tuna is caught by line only and fishermen are prohibited to use nets. This way the fish that is caught is of good quality plus it is also a sustainable way for the yellow fin tuna growth. Boats will sell to factories if they don’t have enough ice and bait, and they can also sell their catches at a higher price to the re-sellers at fish markets.

A local fisherman once said to me:

“Time changes, people are educated, they are in decent jobs, even my kids I want them to study and choose their career and go on, but I don’t want fishing to vanish from Maldives, this is how we raised our kids with the money we earned from fishing and this is a hard life. You cannot compare us with a desk job.”

And with a smile he quoted to me

“It is the Fisherman who eats the fresh fish, no one else”

Ukulhas is also known for its beautiful white sandy beach which attracts a lot of tourists to the island. With the local tourism introduced in 2009 the island is getting a lot of visitors from all around the world. Like most local islands there are excursion’s to sandbanks, snorkeling with manta and picnic island visits but many tourists who visit Ukulhas are looking for fishing trips. Big game fishing for Marlin, Yellow fin tuna, Wahoo and Dogtooth Tuna which are widely caught. Youngsters who learned to fish from their forefathers are now part of the guest house industry and teach tourists how to fish the local way.

Why not join us on our North Ari Island Hopping tour and take the chance to join the fishermen of Ukulhas yourself?

10 Historical Facts of Maldives

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to explore Male with our guide Maahee, on one of our popular walking tours, you will know the reason why he is referred to as a ‘walking Maldives encyclopedia!’

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For those who have yet to meet Maahee or indeed visit the Maldives we asked him to share a few key facts about the Maldives and it’s history.

Geography and Climate

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The Maldives is an archipelago of 21 atolls and a total of now over 1192 inhabited and uninhabited islands. I have not visited even half of them, so I have plenty of islands still to explore. Islands are spread from North to South covering 820km length and 130km width, with the ocean covering 90,000sq km. The islands are formed on top of stone crusted bed rocks which are called the coral reef islands; 5% of the world’s coral reefs are found in the Atolls of the Maldives.

The ecosystem in the Maldives is a subtropical area to the central equator of the world. From January to December the Maldives experiences a monsoon climate and the temperature of the Maldives is stable in between 24″ degrees to 33″ degrees centigrade. June and July will experience the heaviest monsoon rain showers across the region.

The Maldives is known to be the lowest altitude to sea level and the islands are under threat with global warming and sea levels rising.  President MaumoonAbdhulGayoom called upon the United Nations to unite for a global warming campaign for all low altitude island such as the Maldives. Whilst this remains an issue coral reefs bleaching and the crown of thorn starfish are additional obstacles that we face today.

Religion

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I were born and raised asa Muslimand the country’s official religion is Sunni Islam. The Maldives is 100% Muslim and is believed to be one of the few countries in the world with this status. The practise of other religions is denied; being found doing to do so is punishable by law. According to the first settlement, the early civilisation were seafarers travelling across the continent of India and Sri Lanka, this is where the influence of the Buddhist religion is believed to originate from, The remains of Buddhist monuments can still be seen on some islands. The Islamic religion were brought by the Arab traderAlhafisAbullbarakaathulBarrbaree,who came sailing from Morocco in 12th century 1153 AD. Would you believe it took almost a century of time for the Islamic religion to spread across the country.

Language

Whilst today we also speak English and mine is quite good, during early civilisation the spoken language in the Maldives was sanscript which was practised by Buddhist priests using Brahmi scripts for written communication. When the Maldivesconverted to Islam the language was then transformed to a new form of letters combining Arabic and san script. The transformation of the new letters were initially written from left to right and by the Islamic revolution changed the scripts from right to left and through time the language was transformed to new characters. The modern day language used in the Maldives isDhivehiThaana with 24 different letters and spoken on all local islands. There is evidence of copper plates which were kept safe in the old coral stone mosques with written letters ofevelaaakuru,dhivesakuru proving the written and spoken language.

Population

As you will know we welcome visitors from all around the world to the Maldives but did you know that from as early as the 5th century early civilisation in the Maldives bought a mix of nationalities. People travelling from countries like East Africa, South Asian India and Sri Lanka sailed across the Indian Ocean. Why they arrived it is unsure but there is suggestion that they may have been traders or even ship wrecked.  Central Male Atoll was considered to have the largest population of migrants in the Maldives, with most living in the capital Male. During the time of conversion from Buddhism to Islam the population of Male was around 5000 people. In contrast today the City of Male’s population is over 150,000 people bringing the total population of the Maldives to 400,000 with people spread across 26 Atolls in the archipelago.

Government

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The Maldives was originally ruled by Kings and their families across different parts of the Atolls. The Maldivian Kings were called Sultans but by the 16th century the nation was brought together by one ruling family Sultanate. The Maldives ruling family Sultanate changed the constitution of Maldivian law to Republican and the monarchy ended when the countries first president Mohammed Ameen Didi was voted into office in 1953. He ruled for a total of eight monthsbefore the republic was abolished and replaced by the ruling monarchy again headed by his Royal Majesty King Mohamed Fareed. Fareed stayed in power from 1953 to 1967 whenIbrahim Nasir, the Maldives second republican President was then voted into power. This again saw the end of the ruling kings in the Maldives.

Economy

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Early trade was made widely by a barter exchange using corrie shells. These were considered the 5th most valued currency and used for trade as early at the 5th century. Metal, iron, gold, silver and bronze were also considered high value and used for exchange.

High value items for barter included spice trade, lacquer work items, coir rope, coconut, coral, turtle shells, Triton shells, dry fish, smoked fish, slated fish and shark fin. Thank fully we don’t trade many of these items today and trade of turtle shells and shark fins is prohibitive. A great relief to me.

By the end of the middle age in early 16th century, gold and silver coins were being used for currency. The economy was driven by pole and line fishing,a traditional method introduced by older generations and still widely used to this day. With infrastructure developments a change was brought about to the fluctuating economy as the Maldives embraced the tourism industry. Over a period of 40 years this was to was to grow the Maldives from a third world country to a developing country with a GDPcontribution of 34% from the tourism sector.

Colonial history

In 1558 trade and economy was influenced by the Portuguese after their fleets sailed to the west shore line beach of Malé and fought the ruling Sultan army. Ali Rassgefaanu was martyred by the Portuguese army who took control of the spice and economic trade of the Maldives. The country’s liberation was undertaken by Mohamed Takurufaanu and his compatriot took a powerful base in Mulaku Atoll Kolhufushi where he started a guerrilla campaign in the island against the Portuguese. In an attempt to block the ports built in Malé Mohamed Takurufaanu and his fleet attacked in 1573 AD which became the 1st Islamic month rabee’lawwal and brought an end to the foreign occupation. The Malabars tried to capture Maldives during the reign of Ibrahim Kalaafaanu who took power following the end of Muhamad Thakurufaan’s rule. The Malabars made two more attempts but Dhon Hassan Manikufanu, with the help of the French in Pondichcherry, India, defeated the Malabars. On the 16th of December 1887, the ruling monarch, Sultan Muinuddheen II, signed an agreement with the British governor of Sri Lanka Mr. A.H. Gordon, rendering the Maldives a British protectorate until independence from the British was declared on 26th July 1965 by Prime Minister Ibrahim Nasir. A day which we now celebrate as a holiday on an annual basis.

Constitution

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The first constitution was made in HakuraaGanduvaru in 1932 during the reign of Sultan ShamsuddinlllMajlis’, laying the groundwork for a representational form of government and law which abolished the Islamic Sharia law. The new constitutions were made by the parliament of Maldives called peoples Majilis. The laws were made to bring order as well as benefits to the population of the Maldives. A voting system for public election for president and parliamentary members was introduced as well as for island and city councils. The first parliament reception assembled on the Hakuraaganduvaru in Malé, one of the palaces of the Sultanate. The new Majilis building as you will see it in Male now was a gift from Pakistan in 1982.

Culture

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The Maldives has a culture of Islamic celebrations. The tradition of Ramadan fasting was introduced by early generations and has brought the fashion of dressing for the special EID occasions. Women and men wear unique traditional dress; the woman’s clothing is called rai libaas (a red dress decoratedwith silk thread from the left shoulder to the right shoulder) and the men will wear a kalufeyli and hudhugamees( black kilt and a white shirt). The special Eid traditions include music played with big drums built on goat skin and trumpet flutes where men and women dance to the beat and sound of the music. I am always happy to join in the fun joy and laughter and to watch or even participate in these celebrations.

Food

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Let’s finish with a fact about food, as in my experience everyone loves food! The Maldives traditional cuisine is mainly based on tuna. A very common meal at home is Garudhiya which is a clear soup with a salty sour taste cooked with fresh tuna, rice and side dishes including rihaakuru (fish paste) and fihunumas (baabacu fish). In the time of the spice trade the flavours of cinnamon, cardamom were imported across from India and Sri Lankan introducing different varieties of curries which were made in local homes. The thelhihavaadhu (ground spice with grated coconut) was one of the products used to make the curries. Musamaariha, masriha, valhomasriha are popular Maldivian dishes served with rice or roshi (thin flat bread).When I loved on a fisherman Island one of our family members or a friend who worked on the fishing boats would bring fresh tuna to my home for special occasions.  I still sometimes buy fish direct from the fishing boat or failing that I visit Male fish market. Perhaps if you join me on a Male tour I can take you there.

Want to learn more about Maldives history, culture and tradition, join us on our daily half day Male City walking tours, departing at 09:00 and 14:00.

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Are Our Efforts in the Maldives to Reduce Plastic Waste Really Worth It?

We are overwhelmed with the fantastic response from businesses and like minded travellers looking at ways to improve sustainability through sustainable initiatives like banning single use plastic straws in the Maldives and around the world. Everyone is discussing what we will lose if we don’t take action now, but what will we gain? Is there really any benefit to this massive international surge of environmental awareness and initiatives? We discuss here some exciting things we will gain from all our efforts:

Creating Employment

Once people get into the habit of bringing reusable bags when they are shopping people will seek more durable bags so they last longer, thus creating new job opportunities for manufacturing durable sustainable shopping bags, thus creating employment! In Male Maldives Authentic Crafts Cooperative Society (MACCS) an advocate for alternatives to single use plastic bags in the Maldives are producing bags for life and  working with corner stores, supermarkets and households to reduce the usage of single use plastic bags.

Image from Maldives Authentic Crafts Coop Society

 

Saving Energy with a More Efficient Production Process

To produce nine plastic bags it takes the equivalent energy of driving a car 1km. Considering the typical life span of a plastic bag is about 12 minutes of use, this is a very inefficient use of time, energy and products. Creating sustainable, reusable bags makes more sense and uses far less energy.

Happy Marine Life!

There is an estimated 46,000 to 1,000,000 plastic fragments floating within every square mile of the world’s ocean. Often they are mistaken for food by animals, birds, and marine life like fish and sea turtles. The consumed plastic then congests the digestive tracts of these animals, and can lead to health issues such as infections and even death by suffocation. By us all working together to reduce this waste, marine life, birds and other animals won’t have to suffer these terrible infections or slow painful deaths from excessive plastic waste. Meaning they will have a safer, happier environment to live in and both guests as well as those who live in the Maldives can continue to enjoy our marine life bio diversity.

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Healthy Humans

Plastic fragments in the ocean can absorb pollutants like PCBs and PAHs, which are known to be hormone-disrupting chemicals. These chemicals can be consumed and make their way through the ocean’s food chain which then pass into humans who eat fish and other marine organisms.Given that tuna forms part of the staple diet of Maldivians and that the fishing industry is also a key exporter of fish products, less pollutant means healthier humans!

 

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Money Saved on Clean Up Can Be Used For Other Things

A lot of time, money and selfless effort from individuals and groups are contributed to the efforts of ocean and beach clean ups. Image what this money could be spent on if we were no longer fighting the plastic battle. Not to mention the extra time we would all have on our hands! A week doesn’t go by where there is not a beach clean-up organised on at least one island in the Maldives. Let’s estimate that there is 50 people cleaning for 4 hours once a week;our conservative estimate is over 10,500 hours a year being donated for free time by locals and tourists. Together with the expense of rubbish collection bags, gloves and travel.

Saving Money on the Weekly Shopping

Plastic bags cost about 3-5 cents each to produce, and that cost is either incorporated into prices of the items sold at stores or you as the shopper have to pay for the bag, either way you as the consumer are absorbing all the costs of these plastic bags.  It is said that the average American shopper will use 500 bags per year, 80% of these are plastic. Image the money you will be saving if stores didn’t need to apply these additional costs into your shopping. More money to save for your vacations to the Maldives!

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Some Top Tip on Staying Plastic Free on Your Holiday to the Maldives

Reusable Containers

The popular traditional afternoon snack hedhikaa is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. However take outs are often presented in the blue plastic bags. So by bringing your own reusable container you are refusing a single use plastic bag.

Refuse Plastic Straws

Let’s face it most of us don’t need to use a straw and those that do can use alternatives. So the next time you order a drink or enjoy a local coconut, refuse the plastic straw and tag us online #strawwarMV

Today on the last day of their Beach Break tour, Kavitha and her family were happy to join strawwarsmv and enjoy a coconut the traditional way, drunk without the aid of a plastic straw

Re-useable Water Bottles

So many more places are offering fresh, clean drinking water to re-fill your water bottle. So instead of drinking small bottles of water and throwing them out, re-fill your own water bottle.

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Join a Beach Clean Up

We know you are on your holidays when you visit the Maldives but as you will be visiting the local islands why no find out if there is a beach cleanup organised during your stay. We work closely with Save the Beach and The Cleaning Quest, if you let us know before you arrive we can incorporate it into your tour package.

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If you are yet to join the #strawwarMV campaign with us, then check out our blog here

Make sure you tag us in your efforts to refuse single use plastic straws and use the #strawwarMV and #letusguideyou. We will give you a re-tweet and shout out as a thank you.

 

Ref following website for info

https://www.quora.com/Why-cant-we-ban-plastics

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/reasons-why-plastic-bags-should-be-banned.php

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.

Secret Paradise Maldives War on Straws

The now viral Utube video of the sea turtle having a straw removed from its nose with a set of pliers was certainly heart breaking to view but most certainly it appeared to make the world sit up and pay attention to the plight of our oceans.

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.

FACT – 1 straw is manufactured in 1 minute

FACT – 1 straw is used for an average of 10 minutes

FACT – 1 straw takes 100 years to decompose

Last year 1.3milion tourists visited the Maldives with each guest staying an average of 6 days. Even if each of those guests only had one drink served with a straw per day during their stay that is 7.8milion straws and that is most likely a conservative estimate.

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Sadly, plastic pollution has become a key environmental issue in the Maldives as well as Worldwide. In the Maldives evidence of plastic bottles, straws, carrier bags and other plastic waste scatter our islands and wash up regularly on our beautiful beaches and this waste has a negative impact on our environment and our marine life.

Local NGOs, island communities and environmental groups are working hard to clean up the countries plastic issue with initiatives including beach clean ups, reduction of plastic bag use and environmental awareness campaigns.

The simple fact of the matter is, that we all need to join together and fight this worldwide plastic issue. If everyone makes a small change it will only have a huge long term positive effect on the environment and our oceans.  Britain has announced this week that they are banning single use plastic straws alongside Canada and other countries. In the Maldives we are seeing many of the luxury resorts ban the straw and move to biodegradable alternatives. Now it is the time for local island businesses to make that change.

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War on Straws

On World Environment Day, June 5th 2018 we invited all our partner guesthouse properties to pledge to STOP the use of plastic drinking straws in their guest houses.

In return we pledged to:

  • Collect any remaining straws from them.
  • Dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way.
  • Provide a certificate for each business to display and use to promote their support.
  • Provide information that can be shared with both staff and guests as to why the plastic straw should be no more.
  • Request all our guests to refuse the straw.

We were delighted to gain the support of the following properties within less than 24 hours and we are confident that other partners will swiftly come on board.

Lily Rest – Maafushi

Guraidhoo Palm Inn – Guraidhoo

Bibee Maldives – Dhiffushi

Canopus Retreats – Thulusdhoo

TME Retreat – Dhigurah

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 will continually monitor properties on their tour visits and when we complete our annual property audits to ensure that each guesthouse maintains its commitment to our initiative and offer support as necessary.

If you are a tourist visiting local islands in the Maldives and find a local guesthouse or hotel still serving plastic straws, we encourage you to take a photo and tag us on Instagram @secretparadisemaldives #letusguideyou #strawwarMV and we will make contact with them to see if they will unite with us on our mission to ban plastic straws altogether.

The call to action to eliminate single use plastic including plastic drinking straws is getting louder and louder worldwide, let’s add the voice and actions of the Maldives.

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

Save The Beach Villingili Malives you.theworld.wandering

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