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

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

Creating Employment

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

Image from Maldives Authentic Crafts Coop Society

 

Saving Energy with a More Efficient Production Process

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

Happy Marine Life!

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

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Healthy Humans

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

 

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Money Saved on Clean Up Can Be Used For Other Things

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

Saving Money on the Weekly Shopping

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

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

Reusable Containers

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

Refuse Plastic Straws

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

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

Re-useable Water Bottles

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

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Join a Beach Clean Up

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

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

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

 

Ref following website for info

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

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

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 Islands to Visit in the Maldives – Part 3

Although this is our third and final part for this blog series, there are certainly plenty more local islands to visit  and explore and by no means are you limited to just the ones we have mentioned! What we hope we have done however, is to give you a snapshot of some of our favourite islands that will allow you to select an island  destination that will provide the style of holiday you wish to experience. Some of us enjoy adventure, some of us want to learn more about the environment, some want to surf, dive, snorkel and some simply want to relax on a white sandy beach and read a book. We are so lucky in the Maldives that we have it all.

 

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Live Like a Local on Guraidhoo Island

This quiet fishing island in South Male Atoll is ideal if you are looking for a culture based holiday. Local ferry transfers from Male mean it is ideal for the traveler on a budget and is popular with divers and surfers as well as those looking to experience the real Maldives.Wander the sandy roads of this island and observe locals going about their daily routine. 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.

What the island lacks in the way of a tourist bikini beach it makes up for with a fantastic house reef accessible direct from the island. There are chances of encountering Turtles, Stingrays, Octopus and many more fish among the many types of coral.

A newly built water sports and diving centreprovides plenty of activities and excursions. There are some great dive sites and surf breaks within easy reach, as well as numerous luxury resorts should you wish to indulge in a resort day visit.

Guraidhoo is a regular stopping point for safari boats and local shops have quickly adapted by offering all kind of souvenirs making it an ideal location to pick up a memory of your holiday.

UB’s TOP TIP: Look for locally crafted souvenirs made from coconut wood and avoid purchasing shells and coral product.

https://secretparadise.mv/product/3-night-budget-cultural-break

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Fuvahmulah, a very unique island adventure

Fuvahmulah is perfect if you are looking for a Maldives escape that is more than just a beach holiday. This island has many distinct features setting it aside from the other local Maldivian islands. Set just south of the equator Fuvahmulah is the only one island atoll in the Maldives and the locals even speak their own distinctive form of the Dhivehi language, known as “Mulaku bas”.

With an island that is so unique it is not hard to understand why you may also come across marine species unique to Fuvahmulah and not found in other parts of the Maldives. Promethichthys Prometheus, locally called Kattelhi, is native to the waters around Fuvahmulah, with Kattelhi Rarudhiyabeing the locals’ favourite soup and definitely a dish you must try when you visit.

For SCUBA divers close encounters with tiger sharks and thresher sharks are possible and in season whale sharks and oceanic manta rays, you never know what is out in the blue.

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Take time to explore in and around this wonderful island and discover tropical woodlands, wetlands and even fresh water lakes; from the unique Thundu shiny pebble beach to the tropical woodlands you will never be bored on an island that gives you so much to discover.

Immerse yourself inhistory, culture and tradition. Swim, kayak or fish the fresh water lakes. Take a mud bath! Surf the waves direct from Fuvahmulah’s beaches or snorkel the Indian Ocean. There is so much to do you will wish you had booked to stay longer!

Ruth’s TOP TIP: Fly from Male and collect a certificate for crossing the equator line!

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Thoddoo Island a culinary adventure!

Thoddoo is a paradise island for fruit and vegetable lovers and you can even access it by taking the overnight fruit ferry from Male (not for the faint hearted)!Thoddoo is the largest producer of watermelon in the Maldiveswith papaya a close second. Watch the fruit ferry being loaded at the harbourside and see how many varieties of fruit and vegetables you can identify. Many guesthouses will organize an island tour where you get to pick your own fruit and vegetables which will be cooked for your dinner later that evening.

One third of the island is given over to agricultural farm land with an abundance of fruit and vegetables grown all year round. The village with a number of guest houses, cafes and small shops sits in a further third and the remaining third of the island is left to its natural beauty and vegetation. In order to explore and discover the full island hop on a bicycle or hitch a lift on a scooter!

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Thoddoo hosts a wonderful house reef where marine life is abundant as well as access to some good dive sites and in season manta encounters. There is a bikini beach tucked away on the west side of the island and with water sports, snorkeling and diving trips on offer, those who enjoy a more active holiday are well catered for. Evening fishing trips followed by BBQ dinners with your catch are a popular excursion.

Kokko’s TOP TIP: Visit during EID celebrations and experience traditional dancing and games.

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Gulhi Island a haven of peace and relaxation

Gulhi island is located in South Male Atoll, easily accessible from Male and is close by to Guiradhoo and Maafushi. Visiting any one of these islands means you can island hop with local ferries (except Friday where there is limited transport). Gulhi is unique because you will not see any vehicles and because the island is only 700×500 you really don’t need one!

This tiny quiet island’s main economy is fishing and it also hosts the oldest dry dock boat yard in the Maldives. Wander round the dock yard and see the locals hard at work developing, refurbishing and fixing all different types of vessels.

Gulhi has two beautiful white sand tourist bikini beaches equipped with sun loungers and parasols and is ideal for a holiday where relaxation and sun bathing is the priority! Gulhi was one of the few islands that hosted tourists during the early 80’s, when local islands were allowed to provide a bed and breakfast service. The locals are friendly by nature and readily welcome visitors to their charming island.

The house reef is worth getting up off your sun lounger for, enter directly from the bikini beach but be aware there can be a strong current. Watersports and diving currently offered by one operator so ensure you plan ahead to avoid disappointment due to prior bookings.

Zaff’s TOP TIP: Evenings on Gulhi are very quiet so pack a book, a pack of cards or have a few films downloaded.

Where do I find more information about the best vacation for me?

At Secret Paradise Maldives we are always available to answer questions for you.  We work with many guest houses and islands across the Maldives and we can offer a wide range of vacation packages for all types of travellers and budgets. Drop us a line today and say hi!

https://secretparadise.mv/contact-us

Check out our ‘Responsible Tourism Policy’ on our website.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Gan

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.

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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.

Which Local Island to visit in the Maldives Part 1

Want to know why the local islands of the Maldives remain our best kept secret? This breathtaking destination is perfect for all types of travellers. Whether you’re a solo backpacker on a budget, an adventure-seeking couple, or a group of eco tourists, you’ll definitely find something that suits your needs. That’s the wonderful thing about the Maldives – it has so much to offer for everyone.

Blue Secret Paradise

White sandy beaches, sparkling tropical lagoons, tall palm trees. Sounds like the perfect getaway, doesn’t it? And here’s an added bonus – the rich and vibrant culture of this beautiful destination.

Our guiding team share their personal recommendations in order that you can find a local island to suit your needs.

Looking for a social vibe with plenty to do? Head to Maafushi Island

Many people dream of visiting the Maldives but simply cannot afford luxury resort prices. But here’s the good news – you can go on holiday in the Maldives on a budget.

Maafushi

Maafushi is an ideal destination for travellers on a budget. This was the first island in the Maldives to introduce guesthouses and promote local tourism. Enjoy a mix of beach relaxationon the island’s tourist bikini beach and ocean-based activities on this fun, lively island. Try exciting water sports like parasailing, Jet Ski or diving. Want to experience a more relaxed activity? Then join a dolphin cruise that everyone can enjoy. There are also plenty of restaurants and local cafes to choose from and even a small spa.

Maafushi 2

With ease of accessibility to the international airport by ferry or speedboat the island of Maafushi is the busiest of all local islands and with over 50 guesthouses and hotels you will be sure to find plenty of like-minded tourists to make new friends as well as a hotel or guesthouse to suit your budget. Certainly in Maafushi you won’t run out of things to do on this budget-friendly island.

Zaff’sTOP TIP: For a quieter stay select a property located on the southern part of the island.

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Catch the Waves from Thulusdhoo Island

Located in the North Male Atoll Thulusdhoo is a popular destination for surfers. Spend your holiday in this surfers’ paradise and be captivated by the island’s relaxed vibe, white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and fantastic surf breaks.

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Both experienced and intermediate surfers will enjoy catching a wave since Thulusdhoo offers a variety of reef breaks of which Cokes can be accessed directly from the island, no need to get a boat! Not into surfing? Don’t worry, you can just kick back and relax on one of the day beds or hammocks scattered along the shoreline. Or Thulusdhoo offers a wide range of activities such as diving including free diving, snorkeling and kayaking to keep you active.

Thulusdhoo Secret Paradise

The island has a long stretch of tourist beach with a small sand-spit allowing you to walk as far as the eyes can see in the sparkling crystal clear waters. The sandy beaches are the perfect spot for sunbathing and relaxing so whether you want to surf, enjoy the underwater world of the Maldives, or just chill, you’ll definitely have a blast on Thulusdhoo.

UB’s TOP TIP: Surfing solo or on a tight budget check out one of Thulusdhoo’s surf camps.

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Experience a great value Resort-Style Holiday on Hanimaadhoo

Hanimaadhoo Island is one the biggest islands in Maldives and is geographically located in the far north of the Maldives. This Maldivian paradise is quite a distance to Male approximately 300 km, so the only type of transfer available is a domestic flight. This island’s remoteness promotes pure nature, true solitude, and magnificent views. With lush vegetation, long beaches and a turquoise lagoon it opens the door for an adventure and genuine gateway from day to day life.

Barefoot Secret Paradise

Hannimaadhoo itself is a quiet village with lots of tree-shade and swings, fishing and agriculture is the main source of income. Take the opportunity to walk the plantations and discover a host of tropical fruits including coconut, bananas and papaya

On the west side of this island is a long white sandy beach and a lagoon with a stunning house reef, however, it does involves a good swim to reach but the abundance of marine life makes this worthwhile.On the eastern side it is possible to catch a few waves with the locals.

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At the Northern end of the island is a climate observatory. The data retrieved here is not only monitoring the weather but also climate changes in the region.

Whilst there are a few guesthouses available for the budget conscious, Hanimaadhoois home to The Barefoot Eco Hotel bridging the gap between guesthouses and luxury island resorts. The property is focused on sustainability and conservation soyou are sure to learn plenty about eco tourism and environmental initiatives during your visit.

Ruth’s TOP TIP: Take a day tour to the local island of Utheemu which is of great cultural and historical significance.

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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.