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

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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

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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.

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

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.

 

Maldives Fishing

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?

Solo Travel is on the Rise in the Maldives!

At Secret Paradise over the past few years we have seen an increase in solo travellers booking their trips with us. People are becoming more confident with exploring the world alone; gone are the days when we only book a trip if we have a travel buddy; sometimes spending months planning and plotting new adventures. These days people tend to be well travelled and have no problem jumping on a plane and heading off on new adventures alone.

However solo travel can still be met with some reservations; a recent survey commissioned by Intrepid Travel of 2,000 American travellers found that 73 percent of respondents worry about safety while travelling completely alone, 53 percent worry about getting lost, and 39 percent worry about the stress of planning a trip.

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Not all travellers are alone through choice, some have had friends cancel at last minute, and some don’t have friends who have the same travel interests. So whether you are travelling by choice or through other circumstances, Secret Paradise is the perfect tour and travel company to help you plan your perfect trip to the Maldives.

Safe Travel

The Maldives is considered a fairly safe place to travel and even on local islands as a solo traveller you will feel relaxed and at ease. Maldivians are known for their warm hospitality and are very well accustomed to tourists so are more than happy to help you.

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Getting Lost

Getting around from island to island can be a little confusing if you are unfamiliar with the Maldives and this is where a pre planned trip can make travelling solo a little easier. Our team of expert tour guides will give you as much assistance as you need throughout your trip. If it is simply assisting with transfers from the airport to the islands/your accommodation, this can be arranged, or if you would like someone with you throughout your trip to guide you on the local islands, this can also be part of the service. Our bespoke tours and packages mean you can feel safe and secure knowing every part of your trip to the Maldives will be looked after. The great thing about booking a private tour guide with us is that you don’t have to worry about any aspect of your holiday and you can just focus on enjoying our island paradise.

Planning Your Trip

If you like to travel alone but just need assistance with the logistics, we can organise your trip from start to finish and offer support with island transfers with one of our tour guides on hand to collect and drop you to the right jetty.

There are also opportunities to join group tours should you wish to hook up with like minded people. You may get the opportunity to share a room so the costs can be split rather than paying single supplement but remember once again the local island guest house prices are not like the resorts so you may be able to afford to book a single room on your budget.

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No Single Supplement

It can be a gripe of solo traveller having to pay extra for travelling alone, but with our 7 night South Male Island hopping tour, there is no single supplement if you book on the scheduled departure dates. This tour to us is best way to experience the natural beauty of the Maldives and gain an insight into the Maldivian culture and tradition of an inhabited local island. You will experience local life with popular excursions, watersports and even a little relaxation. Accompanied by your Maldivian guide, travel to four local islands in South Male Atoll; Hulhumale, Guraidhoo, Maafushi and Gulhi. Staying in guesthouses you will have the chance to visit local homes, share traditional meals and stories with the family. Discover how the local dhoni boat is built and perhaps learn the art of the BoduBeru dance. Add in snorkelling, sandbanks, breathtaking sunsets, great company and you have the perfect Maldives local experience.

Set the Cultural Scene for Your Holiday

You may not want a full trip organised by a tour company, you may be ready to embark on your own solo trip, but when visiting a new country where do you start? Why not book a day tour or activity with us to find your footing. Discover history and culture on on a half day Male City walking tour or take a day trip around North Male where our experienced guides will accompany you on a tour of two local islands, Himmurfushi and Huraa, sharing information on their culture and tradition. In-between islands we offer the opportunity to snorkel and discover the underwater world. Take the time to quiz your guides on what are the must do’s during your stay and what top tips they have for your onward travels.

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Eat Local, Try New Foods, Meet New People

Its one thing we think you should try in every country – the local cuisine. Here in the Maldives a local restaurant does not always mean you will be able to taste authentic local dishes as many places focus on Western and Asian foods. Why not come join our local family and your guide for an authentic Maldivian dinner in their home. Maldivian meals include the staple ingredients of fish, coconut and chilli.  Rice and curries have also become an integral part of Maldivian food. Our lunch or dinner will provide the opportunity to savour the exotic flavours of home cooked Maldivian cuisine not found  in local restaurants and in the traditional way we finish our evening dinner on the beach for coffee under the stars!

Secret Paradise Relax Local

Reviews from Lone Travellers:

But don’t take just our word for how much fun it is to travel solo in the Maldives check out what some of our past guests have said:

“Secret paradise is the perfect organisation for anyone on a budget and/or wishing to see the real Maldives. Lovely Ruth was so helpful in organising all my activities when I emailed her my stay duration and interests just a few days before (having already booked a hotel and flights). She also gave a lot of honest, simple information about local customs, costs and getting around the islands etc. During my brief stay (I was travelling onwards) I went on a city tour of Male, snorkelling trip and picnic island, all of which were fabulous the perfect balance of full of Maldivian culture, wildlife and total tranquillity. I would liken the experience to being shown around the Maldives by a friend, (taking you on public ferries and to local dive centres and Maldivian restaurants) which was ideal for me being a (first time) lone traveller. My guide Kamey was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic but also super laid back and easy to talk to. He came to collect me and walk me back to my guesthouse every day and was even kind enough to invite for meals and coffees with his friends in the evenings. Wonderful company, well done Ruth! I will certainly be back for a longer stay next time!” Lizzy Kaye

 

“After getting an incredible flight deal from JFK to the Maldives, I started researching and looking to put together a trip to the Maldives. As an experienced solo traveler, I knew I did not want to stay on resorts. Shortly into the planning process, I was extremely overwhelmed with the huge number of islands and challenges of getting between them. I found Secret Paradise. I reached out to Ruth, and her replies were extremely quick and extremely thoughtful. I gave her an idea of my budget and that I am an avid diver and what I was looking to do. I knew I wanted a bit of island hopping and to see different aspects of the Maldives. She was able to discuss the different atolls/reefs/islands and what each has to offer. She addressed questions and concerns as well. I was concerned as the Maldives is usually promoted as a “couples” destination and I was going to be doing it solo. Originally I also had a need to be able to telecommute several of the days I was in town. She took everything into account and put together a wonderful package, well detailed and well priced. She never seemed to tire of my endless questions including things like a realistic budget and her replies were almost instant. Her blog was really helpful too. From the moment I contacted Ruth to getting on the plane to fly back to the US, Ruth made sure everything was taken care of.  From the moment I got off the plane to the moment I departed, the Secret Paradise team seamlessly took care of the logistic.” Shannon

 

Want to know more about solo travel in the Maldives? Contact one of our team sales@secretparadise.mv

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!’

Mahee Tour

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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