The Opening of the Sinamale Bridge and What It Means to Tourists Visiting

The Sinamalé Bridge officially opened at the end of August 2018 with fanfare and fireworks! The bridge links the capital of the Maldives, Malé with Hulhulé and Hulhumale. The 1.39 km long bridge has two car lanes and separate lanes for motorcycles, and pedestrians.  It was originally called the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge due to funding having been received from the Chinese government. Accessing the bridge from Male you pass through the main entrance which depicts Islam, unity and nationalism of Maldives.

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Prior to the bridge being built, local island residents and tourists would have to take a local ferry or speed boat to commute between the two islands which are only 10km apart. With the opening of the bridge the daily commute for residents of Hulhumale working in Male and been cut dramatically. Whilst for the residents of Male it has allowed ease of access to Hulhumale and the beach front cafes and watersports.

For tourists it makes an interesting photo opportunity in a country where there has been no such structure previously.

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What does this mean for tourists visiting the Maldives?

Besides the photographic opportunities the bridge provides it also allows greater ease of access between the airport, Male and Hulhumale.

More Choice for Airport Transportation

Whilst speedboats and ferries will still continue their service between the airport and Male and the public bus service will operate between the airport and Hulhumale; like most international airports there will be for the first time the opportunity for tourists to make use of a taxi service.

It is now possible to take a private taxi to Hulhumale and Male from the taxi rank directly outside the airport arrival area. Previously only designated licensed vehicles could journey to and from the airport. Note that vehicles are currently not allowed to wait but from our experience there appears to be a steady stream of vehicles so you should not have to wait long. Charges are likely to fluctuate as this new airport services settles down. Expect to pay 100MVR to reach Hulhumale and 150MVR to reach Male, which also entails crossing the bridge!

We have learnt that potentially a ruling will be implemented that means a taxi from Male will only be allowed to drop at the bridge bus terminal in Hulhumale. Watch this space for updated information! For the moment we would advise that if you are getting a taxi at the airport it is worthwhile double checking if the vehicle can drop you to your hotel or guesthouse in Hulhumale.

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Need to know!

Hulhumale to Male by taxi – currently individual taxi’s are charging anything between MVR45 and 150MVR.  Our advice would be to determine the cost before getting in the vehicle. Luggage will be charged in addition to the fare.

Whilst there is a taxi call centre in both Male and Hulhumale, you can hail a taxi on the road in both Male and Hulhumale. Look out for the green lights on the roof of the cab.

The bridge bus terminus in Hulhumale is at the very end of the main road to the airport – Nirolhumagu. Currently the bus across the bridge is free with rates still to be finalised. The bridge buses are pink, where as the standard buses are red!

In Male the bridge bus stop is near to Mary Brown restaurant on the south west side of Male.

It is possible to walk across the bridge with access being easier from Male side.

The best place to view the bridge if you want to take photographs is from Male artificial Beach or near the previous surf point (Raalhugandu).

Airport Arrival

If you have booked with a tour company like Secret Paradise or with a hotel, guesthouse or resort it is likely that you will have provided them with your flight arrival details. If this is the case then it is usual for them to send a representative to meet with you at the arrival gate. They will then take care of your onward transfer meaning less hassle for you!

If you are travelling independently you can find more information on transportation from the airport as well as other important pieces of information to assist you travelling through the Maldives in our previous blog 10 Things you should know if you are travelling to the Maldives on a budget

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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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Why Travel in Low Season to the Maldives?

Many people ask  “when is the best time of year to visit the Maldives” and our immediate response is any time! Typically May to September is regarded as low season but this does not mean the Maldives should not be visited during this period, in fact there are some great reasons to visit at this time of year and our team have put together a few of them for you.

Regardless of when you visit you are sure to fall in love with our island paradise

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Weather

The Maldives consistently has two seasons – dry season and wet season. Dry season lasts from December to April and has little rain with a lower humidity. Wet season lasts from May to November and can be prone to heavy rain and high winds with the water temperature a couple of degrees lower. However this doesn’t mean that low season in the Maldives is a complete wash out. The Maldives usually has at least 6-8 hours of clear skies and sun most days and whilst there may be some heavy showers which on occasion may last more than a day, generally tropical storms come and go very quickly and provide an amazing visual spectacle!

As with many places in the world it is getting harder to predict weather patterns based on historical data, however, you would be very unlucky to visit and not experience some sunshine during a week long stay, in fact many of our guests have been delighted to discover that the sun can shine every day of the week even in what is known as the wet season!

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Surf

Finding the perfect wave is every surfer’s main life goal!  The Maldives boasts over 20 surf breaks and the water is a tropical 28-degree Celsius meaning there is no need for a wet suit! There are four distinct surf regions in the Maldives with North Male atoll providing the most consistent breaks. Travel to the South, Central and Southern atolls to find uncrowded line-ups and perfect almond shaped barrels. The ideal waves occur in  North Male Atoll usually from April to October with the biggest swells experienced between June and September. The Maldives offers waves for all levels of expertise, combine this with less tourists visiting at this time of year means you can enjoy the ultimate waves with like minded individuals, followed by the best relaxation and a great social vibe on local islands.

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Diving

Diving during low season provides a very affordable dive holiday option for both the experienced diver and for those looking to learn to dive. As the number of tourists visiting is lower, there tends to be less boat traffic above water resulting in the underwater world getting much busier! It is said that hammerhead sharks and reef sharks are more visible during low season as the water temperature is a couple of degrees cooler and they swim at shallower depths.  Low season also brings plankton to areas such as Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll and in turn mantas and whale sharks come to feast!

Ruth’s diving tip is: “Diving is good all year-round, although a basic rule is that reef life is more varied and visibility is better on the western side of any atoll from May to November and on the eastern side of any atoll from December to April.”

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Cheaper Rates 

Like all holiday destinations, travel in low season means cheaper accommodation rates and less tourists travelling. The beauty with the Maldives is there is never a ‘winter’ as such so as long as you are happy with an odd day of rain here and there you can travel all year round. If you are travelling from Europe where July, August and September are busy travel months and usually more expensive, you can create a great holiday at a fraction of the cost of visiting a destination closer to your home and benefit from the year round tropical climate! Plus because there are less tourists, you get more of the islands to yourself.

Take advantage of special offers and last minute discounts that are often offered by resorts and local island properties during low season and with an increasing number of low budget airlines flying to Male International Airport flight ticket rates have never been more competative!

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Maldivian Celebrations

One thing the Maldivians are great at and that is celebrating. There are some wonderful celebrations during  low season and if you book a trip which includes experiencing local culture, you may be lucky enough to join in the festivities.

4 hour Male city walking tour

Independence Day Celebrations July

Independence Day is a very important celebration for the Maldivians; they celebrate gaining full independence from Britain in 1965 after being under their ruling since 1887. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate on the local islands with the communities coming together with parades, music, dance, festivities and plenty of delicious local food.

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Eid Celebrations

Eid is one of the most important celebration for Muslims worldwide and as a tourist it is a real privilege to visit the local islands during this time and join in the festivities.

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Eid ul Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting all Muslims commit to as a mark of respect for their faith. During the month of Ramadan local island residents will not eat or drink from sun rise to sun set, but this rarely affects tourists as locals have experienced this discipline for many years and are very much used to working during this time. Local cafes and restaurants will be closed but your tour guide or travel advisor will advise you on what is available during this time.  Eid ul Fitr marks the last day of Ramadan where local island families will visit the Mosque for special prayers followed by a feast at their homes with their families.

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Eid al Adha celebrates the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. This five day festivity marks the end of a spiritual journey all Muslims are urged to experience by visiting Mecca at some point in their lives. Many people return to their home islands to celebrate this occasion with big family reunions and a five day festivity of local music, dance, and celebrations and as always plenty of delicious local foods to try.

If you would like more information about visiting the Maldives during low season feel free to contact us and we can advise you on the best tour package to suit your travel requirements.

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Which Local Island to visit in the Maldives Part 2

As we continue our series of three blogs, our guiding team share their personal recommendations in order that you can find a local island to suit your needs in the Maldives.

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Visit Dhigurah Island and encounter Manta and Whale Sharks

Dhigurah in Ari Atoll is not just one of the prettiest local islands you can visit, it has a gorgeous expanse of white sand and is located in the heart of some of the best sites in the world for snorkeling and diving. If your ideal holiday is an under-the-sea adventure, then start planning your trip to this gem of an island.

Select your time of stay correctly and swim with the resident Manta Rays and Whalesharks of Ari Atoll. These bucket list ocean-farers are frequently spotted in this areaand that’s just one of the reasons why Dhigurah has become such a popular island.

From January till end of April visits to manta sites are made several times a week.  Whilst at any time of year there is a good chance of encountering whale sharks if conditions are right. So regular are their visit’s that this is where the Maldives Whale shark Research Program is based.

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Aside from Manta Ray and Whale shark sightings, Dhigurah Island also offers easy access to some amazing dive sites including the famous Kudu Rah Thila and Five Rocks. You will find an abundance of marine wildlife and breathtaking coral formations. Whether you’re an experienced snorkeler and diver or a total beginner, we can find a dive or snorkeling package that suits you best.

Kamey’s TOP TIP: Local dining options are limited on Dhigurah so book half board.

https://secretparadise.mv/product/dive-local-from-dhigurah

 

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Soak Up the Sun on Dhiffushi Island 

Are you a solo traveler, a group of friends or a couple looking for a short beach getaway? Then this island is for you.

Soak up the sun and relax on the beautiful beaches of Dhiffushi Island. Located in North Male Atoll this island boasts two white sandy tourist beaches and a picturesque blue lagoon. As with all local islands there is no need to spend all your time on land and a range of half day tours including visiting a sandbank and snorkeling are on offer. Whilst beach BBQs are a great way to finish the day, for couples many guesthouses will offer a romantic beach dinner which is ideal way to celebrate an anniversary or even a proposal.

With only a dozen tourist properties Dhiffushi still maintains its local island feel whilst providing a choice of both premium hotels and smaller guesthouses. There is even a private luxury villa ideal for a family stay.

Kokko’s TOP TIP: Take traditional evening tea and enjoy sunset at the local café on the west side of the island.

https://secretparadise.mv/product/three-night-beach-break

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Have an Adventure of a Lifetime in Gan, Laamu Atoll

Gan is a Maldivian adventure like no other. Not only is it the largest island in the Maldives but it is also connected with three other islands called Fonadhoo, Kadhdhoo and Mandhoo. The four islands are connected with a road so it is easy to explore by bicycle. Take a tour around the big fishing factory on Mandhoo Island, which produces canned tuna or a short speed boat ride from Ganto Baresdhoo Island, which became famous as the filming location of Star Wars Rogue One in 2016.

Prepare to have an adventure-filled holiday in this exciting island and the longest beach in the Maldives. Gan Island offers plenty of activities so you’ll never have to worry about running out of things to do. Try your hand at a whole range of water sports such as paddle boarding, sea kayaking, windsurfing, surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. First time trying some of these activities? No problem! Coaching sessions are available. Experienced instructors will be happy to assist you with any of the activities.

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What else does Gan have to offer? The island has some unique sights – like a fresh water red-tinted lake which is caused by leaves falling in and colouring the water. For those who are interested in knowing more about local Maldivian culture and history join a guided tour of the ancient Buddhist ruins and other historical places.

For beach lovers there is a private tourist beach and access to a Robinson Crusoe style uninhabited island where you can laze away your day with a picnic or BBQ lunch.

Kamey’s TOP TIP: Take a sunset cruise in a traditional sail dhoni.

https://secretparadise.mv/product/7-night-multi-activity-adventure-holiday

Still not sure which island is for you? Contact the Secret Paradise team who will help you to select an island or even islands that are right for you and your holiday budget.

ANSWERS TO YOUR TOP 10 MALDIVES TRAVEL QUESTIONS

It comes with the territory that as a destination expert we are frequently contacted to answer any number of questions in relation to the Maldives. The following appear to be those that are most commonly asked that we thought would be useful to share.

1. How do I book a transfer to a Maldives resort?
As resorts are individual private islands it is usual for the property to arrange your return domestic transfer to and from the airport in line with your arrival and departure flight times wherever possible.
If you have booked with a travel agent or operator the transfer should be part of your package.
If you have booked online you most likely will have been requested to provide your arrival flight details. Providing the resort has this information your transfer will be aranged and payment will be made direct to the resort upon your arrival.
We often receive requests for speedboat transfer rates to and from a resort. In all honesty it is very rare that a private transfer by a local operator to and from the airport/resort will be less than the rate provided by the resort. The reason for this is that the resort will be operating group transfers throughout the day for arriving and departing guests. Whereas for a local provider not only will you need to cover the cost of the journey from the resort with you on board, you will need to cover the cost of the return journey without you. So effectively for a return transfer you will be charged one way x 4 per person.
Note that if no flight information has been received by the resort your transfer Is unlikely to be arranged prior to your arrival and you should be prepared for a delay. in the event of no seats being available particularly on board domestic flights and seaplanes during high season you may well have to spend a night in the capital at your own expense.

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2. Which Maldives resorts are accessible by public ferry?
There are no public ferry services to and from resorts. Public ferries operate between local islands only.
Generally resorts located within North and South Male Kaafu Atoll will offer transfers by speedboat. For resorts within the central atolls many offer both seaplane and domestic flights. Whereas for resorts in the deep north and southern atolls transfer is by domestic flight.

3. Which local Maldives islands can i visit by ferry from Male and return the same day?
From Male it is possible to take regular public ferries to and from Hulhumale and Villimale.
It is not possible however to visit other local islands and return the same day. This is because the ferry network is designed to allow islanders to reach Male in the morning, complete their business and return home in the afternoon.

4. Which Maldives local islands have bikini beaches and serve alcohol?
As a Muslim country alcohol is not available on any local island. Hulhule Island Hotel located on the airport island does have a bar serving alcohol. There are also a handful of local islands where a bar boat is anchored during high season however this is subject to change and never a guarantee.
In general there are very few local islands where there is not a tourist bikini beach now, however, some are far better than others both in terms of quality and size.

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5.Why are domestic flight transfer timings not confirmed prior to arrival in the Maldives?
Whilst domestic flights are booked based on a schedule this is subject to change. As Male International airport currently has only one runway, changes to international flights will generally take precedence. Also in the day weather conditions may alter flight timings as well as international flight delays.

6.Why are transfer timings for speedboats and ferries subject to change?
As we have already mentioned the public network of ferries is designed for locals and not for tourists. and sometimes the needs of the island community may alter the ferry timing. However, more often than not weather and mechanical problems will be the cause of delay and cancellation. The national travel and transport provider MTCC will generally be able to replace a broken down ferry from their fleet. However there is likely to be only one province ferry per island, this ferry is owned and operated by the islanders and therefore if broken has no immediate replacement.

7.Where can I swim with dolphins in the Maldives?
It is not possible to swim with dolphins and it is not a practice we condone. It is however always a possibility to encounter dolphins whilst travelling by boat. Always wise to be on the look out! Dolphin cruises quite often combined with sunset are offered from resorts and local islands alike. As dolphins are creatures in their natural habitat no one can ever provide a 100% guarantee of encounters but there are locations in all atolls where the probability is greater due to the current and feeding conditions.

Sunset Cruise

8.How can ​I​ visit the Maldives ​S​ea of ​S​tars?
The so called ‘sea of stars’ is a natural phenomenon and cannot be guaranteed.
This phenomenon is caused by a natural chemical reaction known as bio​ ​luminescence, which occurs when a microorganism in the water is disturbed by oxygen. These microorganisms or marine microbes are called phytoplankton and there are a variety of its species that create bio​ ​luminescence seen in different parts of the world.
The images depicted on the internet, which is where most clients have come across it, are of Vaadhoo Island in Raa Atoll,​( not to be confused with Vaadhoo Island in South Male Atoll)​ ​which requires a domestic flight transfer and a stay on either a local island or a resort island.
The bio luminescence can occur throughout the country’s 26 atolls​ in varying degrees. ​Visitors to the Indian Ocean archipelago say they have had the most luck seeing the blue glow from about July to February, especially during a new moon since the darkness of the sky helps intensify the light.

9.How can I book lunch/dinner at a Maldives underwater restaurant?
There are ​four resorts with underwater restaurants​, Ithaa at the Conrad Maldives, SEA at Anantara Kihavah Villas​, Subsix at PER AQUUM Niyama​, 5.8 at Hurawalhi Island Resort. Guests not staying at the resort can make bookings by contacting the resort directly. Tables are subject to availability and priority will always be given to in house guests. Bookings will not be taken more than 14 days in advance. Transfer to the resort will also need to be arranged which if you are not located close by will mean a transfer to Male and then an onward transfer by seaplane to the resort. It is unlikely that you will be looking at an overall cost of anything less than $500 per person.

10.I am staying on a Maldives resort can​ I book one of your Secret Paradise day tours?
Whilst we are happy to provide excursions to guests staying on resorts within Male Atolls, there would be an additional charge for transfers between the resort and Male. This cost will be dependent on the distance the resort is from Male. We would also require permission from the resort to allow us to collect you from their private jetty which can be obtained via the guest relations team at reception. Note not all resorts will provide permission. Alternatively, you wish to take the resort transfer to the airport or Male from where we can arrange a guide to meet with you.

Find our more about all our day tour and local island multi day tours by visiting us at www.secretparadise.mv 

Or have a question we haven’t answered drop an email to Ruth, your Maldives expert, at sales@secretparadise.mv

TRAVEL THE MALDIVES WITH YOUR OWN PERSONAL GUIDE!

Who knew that there’s far more to the Maldives Islands than transparent ocean waters and palm tree lined beaches? Travelling with a local guide in the tropical destination of the Maldives allows for the discovery of the ‘real’ Maldives, all whilst basking in the natural beauty of your island surroundings.

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Our Local Secret Paradise Guides

Our professional Secret Paradise local Maldivian guides have years, even decades of local knowledge and expertise to share about their island homeland. The guides are passionate in sharing their country, culture, history and personal experiences with our Secret Paradise guests. Our guides offer perceptions that travellers simply cannot gain from a reading guidebook, researching online or from travelling independently. At Secret Paradise, we believe that a great guide is the difference between a good holiday and a memorable one. Travel in the Maldives with one of our Secret Paradise local guides and you are bound to experience much more then the vast majority of travellers that journey here.

Enjoy The Convenience of Travelling With A Local Guide

Traveling with a Secret Paradise guide will save you the time and hassle of researching your own Maldives itinerary.  As we have been in operation for over 5 years in the Maldives – it’s safe to say that we have a little local ‘know-how.’ Our local guided itineraries are designed to offer the perfect combination of cultural immersion and holiday leisure, at significant local islands and sites.

Travelling with a local guide not only provides an opportunity to learn about a country and culture; it’s also safe and convenient. The best way to experience the stunning natural beauty of the Maldives and gain an insight into the local culture is to stay on a local island and travel with a professional guide. This ensures a smooth and hassle free holiday experience for you throughout your time in the Maldives.

‘Kokko was our awesome local guide for the five days and he completely added to the whole experience. Being shown around by a Maldivian guide was great – he gave us a personal and professional insight into his culture, history, traditions, food and language. I really feel that having a local Maldivian guide was the best thing about the entire week! ‘Kristie October 2016

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Appreciate The Personalised Service Of Our Local Guides

Did you know that our local Secret Paradise guides are all multilingual and speak fluent English? They can offer translation assistance when communicating with local Maldivians to ensure better understandings, they can eliminate any cultural barriers and assure culturally rich holiday experiences.

Our Maldivian guides go above and beyond to ensure your every holiday needs are met, right from the moment of your arrival at the airport, regardless of the time of day you arrive! The guides understand that for many it is a once in a lifetime experience to travel to the Maldives and they aim to make sure that your island vacation is as memorable as possible.

The Secret Paradise guides offer a personalised service and will happily answer all of your questions or queries throughout your stay in the Maldives, plus they will offer lots of helpful tips and suggestions along the way. Each day our experienced guides will discuss with you the next day’s itinerary, ensuring that you are nicely prepared for the coming day’s agenda. Our packages and tours also incorporate free days for you to do as little or as much exploring of the local islands as you like, plus our local team can assist you in personalising your private tour program to fit your every Maldives holiday needs. With Secret Paradise, you are guaranteed a Maldives vacation that is fun, affordable and unique, giving you the best opportunity to experience the island paradise we at Secret Paradise call home.

‘Our guides were super funny, nice and caring. They took care of everyone both ones who can swim and those who are not experienced. They made sure we all had fun and that we are happy about everything. i loved every minute of it! ‘ Anna March 2017

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Experience Cultural Immersion At Its Best

One of the best elements of our Secret Paradise tours is without doubt the opportunities for cultural immersion. Gain exceptional insight into local Maldivian life, culture, history, traditions, food and language from the perspective of a local guide, fused with the exploration of picturesque islands. Our tours include privileges of being welcomed inside a local family’s home for a traditional dinner dining experience, trying ‘hedhikaa’ (local afternoon tea snacks) and spending time with local NGOs such as Save The Beach – experiences that are generally missed if travelling independently or staying at a Maldives resort. Our group tours also provide great opportunities to meet and travel with like-minded travellers, all with the comfort of a local guide.

‘Our tour guide had in-depth knowledge of the history of the city & we had an amazing time with him.’ – Pradhan P 22 May 2017

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‘Special mention our tour guide Kamey, not just a tour guide, he became a friend and that made our stay more fun. He always made sure that we were OK . there were no questions that he didn’t have answers that’s why we learned a lot about Maldives’ – Bonna 30 Jan 2016

Book Local To Ensure Local Profits

When you book a Secret Paradise tour with a local guide, you’re also contributing directly to the local Maldives economy and pockets of local people, as opposed to booking through a large global tour operator. At Secret Paradise, all of our guides and operators are locals, with the exception of the Sales Director.

See You In Our Local Paradise! 

Embarking on a Secret Paradise Tour with your own personal Maldivian guide ensures that your trip is fun, authentic and gives you real insight into local Maldivian life. Book your local Maldives island escape today with one of our professional English-speaking guides!

https://secretparadise.mv/tours-and-holidays/

 

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