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

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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

The Wonders of Maldives Seagrass

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

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

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

Did you know?

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

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The story so far 

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

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

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

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Why is Sea grass so important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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