How to Get The Best Value Dream Maldives Holiday

There are so many options these days when it comes to booking your holiday. There are an abundance of online platforms to choose from, as well as travel agents and tour operators, but how do you know when  you are getting the best value?

Resort holidays in the Maldives have always been a popular choice and now there is also the option of staying in guesthouses and hotels on local islands at a fraction of the price.

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The Maldives is a perfect destination for all year round travel because of the amazing weather and consistent temperatures. For European’s it can cost the same to travel to the Maldives in the European summer months than a package holiday somewhere close by like Spain or Italy for example. For those in Asia there are a large number of budget  airlines offering flights at an affordable price.

When people search online for local island holidays it looks like a very cheap and affordable option, maybe from around $50 for bed and breakfast per night with food options around an additional $10 per person – sounds like the cheapest option right? Maybe it is and you have located a great deal, but it may also not always be the case.

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Like many countries the Maldives has additional taxes and charges for purchases including accommodation, excursions and food. Usually when prices are quoted they do not include these fees. So we would always advise you to check the small print and ensure all applicable tax is included – 10% service charge, 12% GST and $3 Green Tax per person per night ($6 if you are staying on a resort or boat).

Next are the transfers from the airport island to whatever local island you are visiting, this can be via a local ferry maybe costing as little as $2 each way, but options for islands further away can cost from $30 per person upwards for a speedboat transfer and from $150 per person one way for a domestic flight, with seaplane flights being a lot more. Again the price of your ‘cheap Maldives holiday’ starts to creep up.

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Close your eyes and imagine – you are now in the Maldives surrounded by the beautiful turquoise waters, crystal clear lagoons and don’t get us started on the breath-taking sunrise and sunsets……..and you decide to add some excursions into your trip. Maybe a little snorkelling, a day visit to a resort, a discover scuba dive, a sunset cruise to see the dolphins playing in the water or maybe a trip to encounter Whale sharks, nurse sharks and Manta rays.  This so called ‘cheap getaway’ is no longer quite the budget holiday you had bargained for. All these additions can soon add up and if you are not careful your dream holiday takes you over your initial budget expectations.

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Image Credit @movingtomaldives

At this point you may be asking – why then do so many people manage to take local island holidays to the Maldives and enjoy a budget trip, what is their secret? Well we think there are two answers to that.

Firstly, they have taken time to do their research. Researching and planning a trip can be quite fun, but it can also be overwhelming. A good starting point is to chat with family or friends who may have visited. Search Maldives blogs online and check out the advice of other travelers, there is a wealth of first hand information from bloggers and travelers. Blogs are a great way to get insider knowledge about logistics, costs and things to be aware of in a destination. As well as Google, check out Pinterest and Instagram to get an idea of what sights you may want to see and capture yourself. There are plenty of Instagramable opportunities in this island paradise! It’s also worthwhile checking sites like Viator to understand what tours, activities and unusual experiences are worth considering and finally be sure to read reviews especially when booking accommodation.

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Secondly, they may have booked with a tour company such as Secret Paradise who have provided a tour package inclusive of accommodation, meals, activities and experiences,  as well as advice on additional expenses that may be incurred.  This will then allow you to budget for your entire trip, know exactly what is covered before you even board your flight to the Maldives and how much ‘pocket money’ to bring along with you.

According to Google search the 7 most popular local island activities are:
–  Island hopping
–  Surfing the waves
–  Snorkeling with sea stars
–  Dolphin spotting on a sunset boat tour
–  Sunset fishing
–  Visiting a deserted island or sandbank

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Secret Paradise have you covered with all of these activities and much more. You can pick and mix day tours if you are staying in Male or Hulhumale or choose from one of our popular multi day tours and explore further afield.

So when you are booking your dream vacation to the Maldives and are looking for the best experiences at an affordable price, drop us a line and #letusguideyou on the most amazing Maldivian tours of the local islands.

The Importance of Responsible tourism, Sustainable tourism and Eco-tourism in the Maldives

When Secret Paradise was formed in 2012 local tourism was at the beginning of its journey and our co-founder, Ruth Franklin, was conscious that however we developed the business we needed to be mindful of ensuring we promoted local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs.  As many of you know Secret Paradise provides a range of unique guided local island multi tours as well as day tours and guesthouse accommodation options. All combining the beauty of the Maldives, with activities and cultural engagement.

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Over recent years the terms responsible tourism, sustainable tourism and eco-tourism have become common vocabulary within the travel industry and through discussions with our guests, but what do they actually mean?
There are countless interpretations of these terms floating around the internet and while there are a lot of overlaps between these terms, there are also significant differences.
The differentiation of the individual terms might not seem very relevant at first, but knowing the differences is especially important for businesses such as ourselves as well as for travelers wishing to ensure they book wisely and inline with their values.

Responsible Tourism
Responsible tourism refers to the way in which visitors, residents and businesses interact with a destination. This style of tourism should maximize the benefits to local communities and minimize negative social or environmental impact, helping local people to preserve fragile cultures and habitats.
In many instances it is reflective of those who choose to travel responsibly and foster a positive interaction between themselves and their chosen destination.
Examples include
• Choosing environmentally friendly products
• Respecting local customs and traditions
• Conserving energy
• Choosing and supporting local businesses
• Buying souvenirs that are produced locally.

 

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Sustainable Tourism
This is tourism that leads to the management of resources in such a way that economic, social, and environmental needs can be fulfilled.
In essence it is the stakeholders of a destination,  be that businesses such as Secret Paradise or governments and tourism related bodies who work to achieve and improve sustainability within their destination. Sustainable tourism is integral to the continued practice of the travel industry worldwide.
Examples include
• Conservation of resources such as water
• Reduction of waste
• Strengthening local production
• Protection of the environment
• Promoting local economy and securing jobs
• Involving local people in decisions that affect their lives.

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Ecotourism
Ecotourism is now defined by the International Eco Tourism Society as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015). Education is meant to be inclusive of both employees and guests.
The interests of the local population and a positive guest experience are the top priorities of ecotourism. Interference with nature, the local traditions and ways of life are to be kept to a minimum. One of the big advantages of ecotourism is that the majority of revenue produced flows into the local economy.
In essence ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainability.
Examples include
• Providing positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
• Providing direct financial benefits for conservation
• Generating financial benefits for both local people and private industry
• Designing, constructing and operating low environment-impact facilities.

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With people now able to travel to the remotest locations, tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world, one that employs countless people and keeps many nations afloat. Whilst there is an argument by environmentalists that international flights does nothing to support an individual’s green foot print, the United Nations state that annual international trips around the world are expected to double to 1.6 billion by 2020, a quarter of them by long-haul travelers. That’s a substantial figure isn’t it? So we think it is fair to say tourism will not be disappearing any time soon.

Travelers however increasingly want to take steps to cut their holidays’ environmental impact. We have seen this in the type of questions our guest’s ask and the activities and experiences our guests are looking for.
According to the 2019 Booking.com survey, 86% of global travelers would be willing to engage with activities that counteract the environmental impact of their trip – whether that be helping with beach cleaning projects or consciously booking more eco-friendly stays.
71% of travelers think that travel companies should offer consumers more sustainable travel choices
73% of travelers intended to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2019, up from 68% in 2018 and 65% in 2017.
Around 77% of all consumers state that they trust companies that produce or offer ethnically correct products.
The transition then from mass tourism to sustainable tourism is we would suggest not simply a temporary fad but an unavoidable step to combine our responsibility as a tour company  towards the environment, the needs of our guests and the economic interests of our destination and local communities.

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At Secret Paradise Sustainable and Responsible Tourism plays a very large part in what we do. We are mindful of ensuring we promote local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs and through education of both guests and locals we aim to protect the environment and limit where ever possible any negative impact to local life.

By staying in local island guest houses our guests are contributing to the local economy and increasing local employment. The properties we partner are run by local island families where everyone is instrumental in the day to day running of the guest house.
Buying locally made souvenirs and eating local produce means that local farmers and small businesses benefit. We recommend souvenir shops in Male that are off the main tourist route, where guests have the opportunity to buy locally crafted products as opposed to the imported souvenirs that are sold in standard tourist souvenir shops.
We attend and support local art and craft exhibitions and share on social media to create awareness to locals and guests alike.

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We provide employment, good working conditions, a fair wage and performance reviews for our local employees. Our guides are all Maldivian and with the exception of our Sales Director, our operations team are Maldivian. Not only does this ensure our guests get a real insight to Maldivian life, our guides achieve personal development through interaction with guests from different cultures and backgrounds. They also have the opportunity to participate in tour leader development programs available from our international partners.

Our guests travel the Maldives with one of our local guides who between them have years of local knowledge and expertise to share. They are passionate in sharing their country’s culture, history and tradition, as well as their own personal experiences.
Our tours are designed so that guests not only experience the natural beauty and participate in activities commonly associated with the Maldives but that they have the opportunity to learn about it’s people and culture first hand.

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Eco tourism and sustainable tourism has always been an integral part of our philosophy and part of our mission statement. As we have grown we have looked for opportunities where we can support local initiatives. We seek out ways to open up channels to allow Maldives based organisations, NGOs, marine-life charities the opportunity to interact with guests and in so doing increase their exposure to a wider audience.
Our guests can become actively involved in conservation programs and learn how they too can be responsible during their stay in the Maldives. We specifically developed an island hopping tour that incorporated volunteer opportunities in order that guests who wished can contribute to the environment by attending beach cleans or working on coral nurseries as well as enjoying a Maldives holiday.

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Both education and communication play a vital role in the growth of sustainable tourism. They allow people to make informed decisions, take considered actions and understand how their decisions and actions can impact a destination. We provide guests with pre trip information as part of the booking process to ensure they understand the requirements of travelling to a locally inhabited island. Social content provides information on local customs and requirements, particularly in relation to religion, dress, food and beverages and upon arrival our guests receive a further briefing from one of our guiding team which includes environmental and cultural awareness and highlights the opportunities they may have during the time with us to support local environmental initiatives.

We understand that sustainable tourism requires focus and adaption. It requires long-term thinking and realization that change is often cumulative and gradual. We also believe that in  a destination such as the Maldives it is our responsibility to make that difference and we are proud to have that responsibility and voice.

 

How Our Team at Secret Paradise are Making Sustainable Waves in the Maldives

Since 2012 we have been providing a range of unique Local Island multi day tours and holidays as well as day tours and guesthouse accommodation options. All combine the beauty of the Maldives, with activities and cultural engagement. We are delighted that  for the fifth year running we have been awarded the TripAdvisor certificate of Excellence and that we remain the number one provider of day tours in the capital.

There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by our guests and it is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business, out amazing guiding team and to our continued commitment to sharing our island experiences.

For those that have travelled with us you will know that responsible tourism plays a very large part in what we do. We are mindful of ensuring we promote local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs and through education of both guests and locals we aim to protect the environment and limit where ever possible any negative impact to local life.

Our team of tour guides have been specially selected for their commitment and passion to local island tourism and environmental initiatives, our TripAdvisor recognition would not be achieved without them.  Check out why some of our team do what they do and why we love to #letusguideyou

Engaging guests with local life, culture and traditions

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The best and unique aspect of my job with Secret Paradise is touring with our guests around this special Island paradise I am lucky enough to call home. They get to experience local culture and traditions like dining with a local family, sampling local foods that they would not get to experience in a local restaurant or café, interacting with local families and learning first hand how local island people live. My mission with each tour is to teach them at least 3 local phrases and pass on as much knowledge about our traditions and culture as I can so that they leave with a greater understanding of my island home.

Kokko Ibbe – Tour Leader

Educating guests on responsible snorkelling

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Responsible snorkeling is essential in the preservation of our coral reefs. Following the Green Fin protocol is not only for the safety and well-being of marine life and it’s habitat but our own as well. Think of entering the ocean as entering someone’s home.

Ahmed Mashir Ali – Tour Guide

Why work for Secret Paradise

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I’ve been working in the travel industry for more than five years and joined Secret Paradise just two months ago. I am really pleased to be working with a company that is committed to its employees. There are not many companies in the Maldives that can boast 100% local employment with the exception of one member of the team, who is the boss and we class as a local anyway!

Archie Athif – Tour Guide

Reducing the use of plastic

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Reducing plastic is a must for a cleaner safer environment for future generations. Saying no to plastic is something everyone must consider. Reducing the use of plastic is becoming easier with all the plastic replacement biodegradable/reusable products on offer and as part of our tour briefings as guides we highlight how plastic impacts our environment. We encourage our guests to support this fight on plastic by using reusable bags for shopping, re-fillable bottles for water and refusing plastic straws. Small actions making a difference.

UB Waseem – Tour leader

If you have any questions, require copies of the tour itineraries or just wish to seek advice do not hesitate to contact us.

You can view our Responsible Tourism Policy Here

Keep up to date with Secret Paradise news and offers by joining our Facebook family

 

 

Women in Business, Eco Tourism & Sustainable Travel

Ruth Franklin is the co-founder of Secret Paradise Maldives and together with her energetic and engaging team of local guides, they have been leading local island Maldives tours since 2012. Ruth was recently interviewed about being a women in business in the Maldives and here is what she said:

Tell us more about Secret Paradise Maldives

We partner 25 guesthouses on 15 islands across 8 atolls. The properties we partner are owned and in the main operated by local island families where everyone is instrumental in the day to day running of the guest house ensuring profits are directed back into local hands. We are also using services developed and managed by locals which in turn provides employment and business opportunities for local people.

Sustainability What are your key communities? How does your organization actively support and strengthen these communities? 

Local communities are crucial to sustainable tourism and this has always been the foundation of the Secret Paradise offer.

We have built over a period of time what I would see as three key communities.

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Our local island partner community

We chose to work with only selected guesthouses in order that we could build strong relationships. This has resulted in us being able to support them from a business management and marketing perspective in the very beginning, to them supporting us in our sustainable tourism wish list such as the removal of plastic straws, the introduction of water coolers to minimize the use of plastic bottles which is a project we are working on this year.

The feedback we have received from the families with whom we work closely is that they are proud to be able to provide such opportunities . At first they could not understand why we would want our guests to interact with them, share meals and visit their home.  Now they understand that their everyday practices are of interest to international visitors. Our role with the local communities has been to highlight that not all tourists are visiting for an affordable beach holiday and that many are looking to get under the skin of the country and learn about culture and traditions. For me this is important as these traditions need to be kept alive.

Our NGO community  

We seek out ways to open up channels to allow NGO organisations the opportunity to interact with guests and in so doing increase their exposure to a wider audience. Many of our tours involve some form of conservation awareness or activity. Our guests spend time with NGOs gaining an insight into the conservation challenges that face local islands or social challenges that people within the local community may face. We offer opportunities for guests to get involved if they wish, supporting local conservationists on coral nurseries,  attending beach cleans or events held within the community. Even on our Villimale day tour our guides and guests can be seen collecting rubbish as they explore the island. As a business we try where ever possible to support environmental events organised by our NGO partners both financially and in person and a proportion of the tour cost is provided in the form of a donation to their funds.

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Our employee community  

Tourism has seen an increase in demand for experiential travel opportunities. Meeting and travelling with local people and seeing the Maldives through their eyes allows guests to connect with locals and enhance their trip. No one should know the Maldives better than a Maldivian and hence why with the exception of myself the Secret Paradise team is 100% local.

We provide good working  conditions, the opportunity to travel, a fair wage and performance reviews for local employees. Our guides achieve personal development through interaction with guests from different cultures and backgrounds. They also have the opportunity to participate in tour leader development programs available from our international partners.

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How do you consider societal well-being and benefit as part of your strategy and daily operations?

I came from a 30 year retail background and therefore my tourism knowledge was based on my own experiences as a traveler as well as my desire to give back to the people who had welcomed me into their homes when I visited the Maldives myself as a tourist.

When Secret Paradise was formed in 2012 local tourism was at the beginning of it’s journey and I was conscious that however we developed the business we needed to be mindful of ensuring we promoted local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs. With this in mind our core strategy was formed and has over time developed on the basis of three values – economic responsibility, social responsibility and environmental responsibility.

I am a great believer in keeping it simple and as a small business we needed to recognize that it was far better to build a solid foundation of a few key principals that could be followed through and kept alive than produce a manifesto or sustainable tourism standard operating practice that would gather dust on a shelf.

We drew up three key actions for each value.

Economically:

To use locally owned and operated tourism infrastructure.

To use wherever possible business services in country which are operated by locals and not out source to businesses aboard.

To provide employment for local people.

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Socially:

For a local guide to travel with our guests from time of arrival to departure.

To educate our guests on local history, customs and cultural practices and provide opportunities for guests to engage with the local community in some format.

To actively support local communities, NGOs and environmental organisations.

Environmentally:

To limit the physical impact of trips and work with our partners to educate and improve awareness within local the community.

To brief all our guests on the Green fin snorkeling etiquette

To encourage our guests to deal with waste appropriately, to lead by example and where possible take plastic waste home.

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We are fortunate that we are in a position that our business model allows societal well being to form part of our day to day practice.

Our guests stay in local island guest houses. We utilise local transportation providers as opposed to owning our own vehicles.

Our guests eat at local cafes, regularly enjoy evening tea – hedikaa, we buy food items for our tours from the local market and we encourage guests to purchase locally made souvenirs, all this mean means that local individuals and small businesses benefit.

We encourage our guests through briefings and general conversation to respect the environment and lead by example, for example to refuse plastic straws and bags.

We carry out annual audits of our guesthouse properties that includes a review of responsible and sustainable practices and we offer support and advice on improvements. Our guides provide a trip report following each tour which amongst other things will highlight best practice or improvement opportunities. Our guests complete feedback forms which again include the opportunity to feedback and comment on sustainable practices.

We hold regular training sessions with our guiding team and provide opportunities for their education and development. For example the team recently spent two days with Coral Doctors learning more about coral and reef rehabilitation and we have a planned session on the importance of seagrass up and coming.

Our social media feeds include images and information that are locally inspired. We highlight historical facts, religious festivals, national holidays, food, wildlife and overviews of local islands. We share and celebrate environmental best practices such as beach cleans by local communities, awareness days and community news that we feel would be of interest to our followers.

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We provide guests with pre trip information as part of the booking process to ensure they understand the requirements of travelling to a locally inhabited island. Content provides information on local customs and requirements, particularly in relation to religion, dress, food and beverages and upon arrival they receive a further briefing from one of our guiding team which includes environmental and cultural awareness and highlights the opportunities they may have during the time with us to support local environmental initiatives.

With local island tourism continuing to grow my dream would be that government policies would be brought into place to regulate and provide accreditation to properties across a number of standards but with sustainable practices playing a significant role.

For more details about Secret Paradise <<contact us here>>

What’s It Like to Travel to Maldives During Ramadan?

During the month of Ramadan many guests who contact us are unsure as to whether it is a good time to travel to the Maldives. Will local island shops be open? Will there still be tours and trips or will the services be reduced during this time? Will they be able to eat and drink during the day? So let us put the record straight!

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month on the Islamic calendar which is celebrated by Muslims Worldwide by fasting for a month. Ramadan commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. Fasting is from dawn until sunset during which Muslims refrain from drinking, eating, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations.

Ramadan and fasting is the fourth pillar of the Islamic faith and therefore forms a very large part of our guiding team’s way of life. We asked our team to share the benefit of fasting and what it meant to them.

‘The whole thing about fasting is being faithful to your soul, it teaches you about sincere love as when Muslims observe fasting they do it out of a deep love for their god. Its a period of time where I feel closer to Allah and my soul feels lighter. It teaches patience and self control’

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What restrictions will I experience as a tourist?

During the month of Ramadan there will be some changes to opening hours of local island businesses. Certainly you will not find local cafes or restaurants open during day light hours and possibly the timings of local ferry and speedboat transfer services will change. However travelling with one of our tour guides means as a tourist you will not be inconvenienced. Your tour guide will give you all the information you need throughout your trip and they will be able to adapt plans accordingly. If not travelling with a Secret Paradise guide your guesthouse or hotel should be able to provide this information.

Although there are no restrictions for non Muslim’s during Ramadan, it is respectful to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public areas during  daylight hours.

What to expect during this time?

Government offices and public services shorten their working day to four hours and many local island people will also reduce their working hours in order to preserve energy. If travelling with a guide during this period they will be fasting but they do not expect special treatment as they say that after a few days they get used to fasting and that they don’t feel weak or light headed. I have known some guests to fast for a day or two themselves in order to share the experience and reflect on different cultures and religions, but there is certainly no expectation for guests to fast.

Locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful during the season of Ramadan. Local markets and shops will over flow with fresh salad leaves, papayas, bananas and watermelons. Men and women will be seen shopping throughout the afternoon and sometimes right up until sunset, seeking out a last minute forgotten purchase.

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Once the sun has set and the call to prayer rings through the air, families will join together with a feast of local food called iftar.  The fast will traditionally be broken with 3 dates and a glass of watermelon juice. There will be varieties of hedhikaa – short eats.  fathu mashuni – asian cabbage leaf, tuna and coconut that is mixed with rihakuru bondi – tuna paste fish balls, roshi – flat bread, rice and quite often two different curries made from tuna or vegetables.  There is also kulhi mas – chili fish that will play a big role on the table and certainly creates a centre piece. Fresh juices to assist in re hydration include fresh coconut water, mango and pineapple. Faloodha is popular with many families  made from rose syrup, condensed milk, water and basil seeds.

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You will also often find that local cafes and restaurants will offer Iftar buffet dinners with a wide variety of cuisines and flavours. Bookings will be taken in advance and it is not then until Iftar has finished that cafes will re-open for general use. It is far more common nowadays for families, friends and work colleagues to opt to go out and break their fast at one of these restaurants at least once or twice during Ramadan. I am sure these evenings away from home come as a welcome relief to those ladies in the family who would normally be found in the kitchen preparing Iftar at home from midday during the Ramadan period.

Following Tarawih Prayer, which falls two hours after the sunset prayer, families and friends gather again for Tarawih Buin where they share short eats and drinks which may include traditional drinks such as Sooji ( Semolina and tropical almonds) and desserts like Pirini (a yummy rice pudding).
A supper called Haaru or Suhoor is taken traditionally just before the dawn prayer and usually consists of  curry with roshi or rice which is completed with a porridge call “baihpen” and plenty of water.

As with all Islamic countries Muslim’s pray 5 times a day. Prayer is increased during Ramadan as the holy month is a time of reflection and to study the Quran. Special prayers at the local mosque take place for all ages after Isha (evening prayer) called Tarawih and is a longer prayer ending at 21:00.

Guests often ask our tour guides what they do when working as they often can’t get to the mosque to pray. Kamey advises that ‘during the day we have time periods between the prayers that we can use to complete the prayer when we reach the destination. If we are traveling for a longer journey we can combine midday prayer and afternoon prayer and we can also combine the evening prayer and night prayer.’

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As an expat in the Maldives, whilst I am not a Muslim I do choose to fast, although I have to admit I do often lapse to drinking water. This decision to fast was made partly out of respect because my life is filled with local family, friends and obviously the team and secondly, because it is a time of self discipline, self control and reflection and regardless of religion these are worthwhile actions to take even if just once a year, perhaps not dissimilar to giving something up for Lent in the Christian faith. I am privileged that I always join with my local island friend’s and their families to break fast and if they are lucky I will assist in the meal preparation!

If you want to experience local homemade Maldivian food, we offer a ‘Come Dine With Me’ evening visit to a local family home where you can sample authentic food enjoyed by local island families.

As Ramadan draws to an end preparation starts for the celebrations called Eid Al Fitr. This is a time of celebration, social gatherings, plenty of food and drink as well as traditional dance and music. It is a wonderful time as a local island tourist to be in the Maldives as many guest house owners will invite you to join them in the celebrations.

There really is nothing like visiting the local islands in the Maldives, and even more so when you can experience local traditions like Ramadan and Eid. It is a privilege to be a part of it all and will provide wonderful memories of your Maldivian dream holiday.

For more information about travelling with one of our local island tour guides << Contact Us Here >> ………. and #letusguideyou

 

What You Need To Know: Maldives Culture and Traditions

Maldives is composed of a few thousand small islands located south of India. These diverse islets make the Maldives quite a fascinating and undoubtedly picturesque destination. It is safe to assume that Maldives can be found on almost everyone’s travel bucket list. It’s truly a piece of paradise here on Earth. The Maldives is also considered as an important crossroad in the Indian Ocean trade routes. Through the years, the country’s population has steadily increased and has become more diversified.

The culture and traditions of the Maldives and Maldivians in general have been greatly influenced by the Indians, Sri Lankans, Arabs and North Africans who visited the Maldives while on these trading routes of the central Indian Ocean. Maldivian culture is incredibly rich and vibrant due to the infusion of several other cultural elements from neighboring countries.

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Location and Geography

(Source: https://www.everyculture.com/Ja-Ma/Maldives.html)

The Republic of Maldives is an archipelago consisting of twenty-six coral atolls, in the northern Indian Ocean. The chain of islands extends 510 miles (820 kilometers), but occupies an area of just 116 square miles (300 square kilometers), roughly 1.5 times the size of Washington D.C. The closest neighbors are India and Sri Lanka. The capital is Malé.

The twenty-six coral atolls contain 1,190 very small islands of which 198 are inhabited. Most of the islands are close to the atoll enclosure reef, and some are still in the process of forming. The longest is Gan in Adu atoll. Because the islands are coral-based, they are flat and low-lying. As a result, the water table is high. However, the islands are protected from the elements by the reef and rarely have major storms. In the older islands a larger layer of topsoil has formed, and these islands are covered with coconut trees, breadfruit, and dense shrubs. Agricultural potential is limited by the high alkalinity of the soil and its poor water retention. However, people grow vegetables, fruits, and yams.

The climate is warm and tropical. Seasonal changes are determined by the two yearly monsoons. The season of the northeast monsoon is characterized by dry, mild winds, and generally extends from December to April. The southwest monsoon, although irregular, extends from May until August and brings heavy rains and wind. The northern atolls are drier, while the southern atolls are wetter. The humidity is fairly high throughout the year.

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Maldivian Culture and Traditions

(Source: https://visitmaldives.com/culture/)

Maldivians have built and preserved an exclusive cultural identity amidst the many different factors that shaped it in the past up to the present. Other traditions have been inculcated and adapted through the years largely brought about by population migration and commerce.

Accordingly the Maldivians converse using a language of their own; In 1153 AD Maldivians converted to Islam and the religion has transformed and introduced new fundamentals to the Maldivian culture.

Traditionally the island communities were very close-knit. This togetherness is still prevailing in the small island societies. Accordingly men will be mainly engaged in fishery, carpentry and toddy tapping. Women were mainly engaged in household duties and raising families. Certain rituals and practices were followed in the islands on special occasions like weddings. Some of these rituals survive to this day. The advent of tourism in the 1970’s accelerated the modernisation process of the country. Today an increasing number of women hold crucial positions within the public and private sector. As a result of economic growth, dramatic lifestyle changes were introduced.

Maldivian culture is rich and varied, and influenced by the cultures of the people of different ethnicity who have settled on the island over the years.

The state religion of the country, Islam, also dictates various cultural aspects of the people. Elements of African culture can also be observed in the Maldivian culture.

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Origins of the Maldives

(Source: https://www.villanovo.com/guides/maldives/culture-traditions)

Established in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives islands are multi-faceted. The culture, traditions and customs of the country are influenced by Indian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Arab, Persian, Indonesian and even African influences. A fabulous cultural mix that makes all the richness of the Maldives.

In music and dance, for example, you will be surprised to recognise a purely African rhythm. The Boduberu, a traditional Maldivian dance, illustrates this perfectly. The language accompanying this dance, followed by the rhythm of the drums, will take you to East Africa.

Other music as well as some culinary specialties refer to the South African or Indian origins of the Maldivians. Local island residents of the Maldives consume a lot of spices, including curry. Coconut milk and fish also find their place in the traditional dishes of the country such as in the Roshi.

Daily life in the Maldives

Besides their origins, the other peculiarity of the inhabitants of the Maldives lies in their attachment to the sea. During the day, women take care of the home while men go fishing for tuna. The way of life of the Maldivians depends very much on the sea. When the fishermen return, people gather on the beach to collect the catch that will be cooked by the women. In short, sea fishing takes an important place in the economy of the archipelago in addition to tourism.

As for religion, if the Maldivians were originally Buddhist, today Islam is the only religion allowed. You will have the opportunity to contemplate a high number of mosques especially in the capital, Male. The Islamic centre, Old Friday Mosque and Rasrani park are among the must-see attractions and will delight lovers of beautiful architecture.

As well as handicrafts, you can bring back from your Maldives trip, braided mats and various jewelry. You will also find beautiful lacquered vases and small wooden boats evoking your beautiful walks in the sea an inexhaustible memory of your holidays in the Indian Ocean!

If you want to experience the culture and traditions of Maldives, why not book a day tour or a multi-day tour with Secret Paradise Maldives? Are you ready to book your holiday to Maldives? #letusguideyou

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