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

Kamey’s Top 5 Tips on Visiting the Indian Ocean in the Maldives

At Secret Paradise we hand pick only the best tour guides to give our guests the most authentic experience of the local islands in the Maldives. All our tour guides are given specialist training to ensure they have in-depth knowledge of the local islands and their people, to give you, our guests the best experience. However many of them already have extensive knowledge of the islands and surrounding ocean as they have grown up here. All our tour guides have areas they are especially passionate about. Here one of our guides gives you his top 5 tips when visiting the Indian Ocean in the Maldives.

Kamey

Meet Kamey who has been with us at Secret Paradise from the beginning. Kamey has been working as a tour guide in the Maldives for almost 8 years, where he started on the safari cruises and then moved to us. He has an innate love for the ocean, diving and snorkeling and we wanted to know a little more about why he is drawn to the big blue.

The ocean has been my backyard since I was born so it came as no surprise that it would become my office and place of work and has been for more than 10 years. I am so fortunate to work in my favorite place on earth – the ocean, where I get the opportunity to learn more about the wonders of this amazing place. I love meeting people on my tours and teaching them about the ocean, sharing my knowledge and life experiences of the sea.

  1. The Maldives Marine Wildlife Tour is particularly special as we come across the most amazing places for snorkelers. We choose places that will give you the most memorable experience and you don’t have to dive to encounter the amazing marine life that the Maldives has to offer. The best part about this tour for me is that the ocean is my home for the week; it’s an amazing adventure for everyone.

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2. I’m sure you have heard the expression ‘white sandy beaches’ when people are describing the beaches in the Maldives. But have you ever wondered why they are so beautifully bright or how they even came to appear on our small islands? Well first and foremost we need to thank Mr. Parrot fish for their hard work and generous kindness to their surroundings. Parrot fish are beautifully bright and colourful they live anywhere from 1 – 20 metres depth in the water, and are a common finding in the Maldives. Adult parrot fish are busy fish creating a ton of sand each year; it’s crazy to think that something so small can create such a massive amount of sand, Mother Nature truly is amazing. Some say having parrot fish close by is a sign of a healthy reef. But parrot fish aren’t the only hard workers in the ocean, Surgeon fish also help keep the reef clean and tidy by feeding on the algae that grows around the coral. It’s common to see herbivores(eating plants) fish that are common on the top reef and few carnivores(eating animal) fish that live among other and studies show more omnivores (eat plant and animal) are getting more on the slope of the reef.

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3. The Maldives is famous for its colorful underwater beauty. The pictures that people take under water have high exposed light and maybe a little touch of Photoshop magic. However before we had such complex technology in the earlier days their techniques were much simpler. They would physically filter the colors by brightening the colors of the coral with artificial light, that’s reality and we are thankful it doesn’t happen today. Coral carries photosynthesis cells that create these beautiful, bright colors, so they need proper sun light not above or below their suitable temperature. When the temperature is too high or too low the coral starts getting stressed and starts losing color. Sad but true. The good thing is some new generation of coral are resilient to its surrounding temperature and they have more adaptation and mutation methods although they are a little dull in color. There are so many colorful coral in the reef depending on the sun light and even though some light may not reach [parts of the reef the coral is still beautiful but fragile. It’s common to find dusty brown, dark brown, light faded green and dark green that looks almost black in the day time and it can be hard to tell its original color especially when at depth which changes the color.

4. If anybody asks, what the biggest fish in the world is, you can tell them it is the Rhincodontypus or we fondly know them as the whale shark, one of the most magnificent fish on earth. The largest confirmed size was 14.3m (47.2 ft.) weight of 22.8 t (20683.8 kg). The most amazing part is they eat the smallest living plant in the world. They eat a lot more then even I expected a massive 30,000 calories a day to service their large body. That’s a lot for the big guy. Lots of research is going on but we still have a million questions we want answered, like how they breed and how many times they deliver their eggs. It’s still a mystery. Funnily enough they are amazing deep divers. They can dive up to 2km and even deeper. They come up to surface to heat their body because the big guy doesn’t have much oil stored in its body so they need to recharge before deep dives. We are so lucky they do this because while they are filling up their tanks with warm temperature blood, that’s the time, we can swim with them. Isn’t this an amazing creature?

5. Next on my list are giant slow moving butterflies. What a breathtaking movement that’s gonna be – Manta rays. The way they move and communicate is amazing it’s unbelievable how a creature can do that. Their feeding patterns and how they move while they feed is orchestrated by so brilliantly that you can’t find a flow. From November to April a higher number of manta can be encountered from the Western side of Maldives. Unlike in May to October they change to be on the Eastern side of Maldives due to high presence of plankton in the area.

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Even now, the ocean still amazes and surprises me with its beauty. I never get used it, I’m always excited to be in the water you never know what next will surprise you, turtle sharks, mobiles’, moray ells,Gianttrevallies, I can go on with a long list. The ocean holds so many secrets and stories I been learning about them for long time. I’d love to tell you stories about our ocean and its great adventures so why not join me on your next adventure to the Maldives and #letusguideyou.

For more details about our trips and tours <<click here>> or contact our sales team direct sales@secretparadise.mv

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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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

Mahee Tour

 

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/

 

#letusguideyou

Secret Paradise Relax Local

Dreaming of Paradise? Take a guesthouse local island escape in the Maldives.

Did you know there has never been a more affordable time to plan a vacation to the beautiful Maldives? The picturesque island nation currently boasts over 8500 local island beds across the country, throughout the growing guesthouse industry.

In 2019, guesthouses in the Maldives are an affordable holiday alternative to luxury resort vacations. Located on local islands, guesthouses provide a bed and breakfast style accommodation experience for global travellers.

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Aside from the price tag, one main difference between resorts and guesthouses is the exclusivity. Resorts are located on entire private islands, ranging from 2.5km to 150m long, whilst guesthouses are located within the local communities of larger inhabited islands. Whilst guesthouse rates should not be compared with budget accommodation in Asia, a comfortable Maldives guesthouse experience can begin from as little as USD$50 a night during the low season.

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There is a great diversity of guesthouse facilities and services offered on local islands and these of course differ to the facilities and services on offer at luxury resorts. Essentially every guesthouse island is different with each individual guesthouse also providing a different accommodation experience for guests. While a selection of Maldives guesthouses resemble a small boutique hotel-like environment and offer all-inclusive packages for their guests, others are more simplistic. However, these are not home stays and you can expect  private en-suite bathrooms, hot and cold water showers, WiFi and air conditioning as standard.

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One big advantage of a guesthouse stay means you are free to explore the local islands independently. Travel by local ferry, book day excursions such as snorkeling, diving, surfing and fishing trips. Visit sandbanks and visit surrounding islands, all at an affordable price. We at Secret Paradise believe 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 one of our professional guides.

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As the Maldives is a Muslim country and guesthouses are not located on private islands, travellers must be respectful of the Maldivian people, their local communities, traditions and customs. Consideration needs to be given in relation to the dress code on a local island. In particular, women will need to dress modestly and remember to swim in a t-shirt and shorts at all times, unless an island offers a designated bikini beach and swimming area.  Maldivians as Muslims are prohibited by law from consuming alcohol, meaning there is a total restriction of alcohol on local islands, including in the capital Male. However, should you not be able to survive without your favourite tipple, alcohol is available at resorts and safari boats for tourist consumption.

secret-paradise-guraidhoo-lady(image: Hupa Ibrahim Photography)

A great tip to help stretch the budget and enjoy local travel yet indulge in a luxurious resort experience is to combine a stay in a guesthouse and a resort – yes it is possible to do both! Did you know resorts also offer day trip passes and transfers to guests staying at nearby local islands? This enables you to experience all of the luxuries of a resort, including the glamorous wining and dining facilities then return home to your chosen guesthouse accommodation at the end of the day. Rates for day visits range from $50 to over $200 per person dependent on the package offered by the individual resort and can be subject to availability especially during high season.

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With so many guesthouses to choose from it can be difficult to know which property is right for you and your style of holiday. Here at Secret Paradise, we carefully select and annually audit our partner properties to guarantee the best holiday experience for our guests. We ensure chosen guesthouses are locally owned and tourism certified and provide a 100% guarentee that all our guests are greeted on arrival at the International Airport regardless of the time of day you may arrive! We aim to ensure our guests experience a comfortable guesthouse stay, with the focus on service, safety, sustainability, food, cleanliness and value for money. As we offer unique holiday experiences for all ages and budgets, we can assist you in determining the perfect guesthouse island that is right for you and your Maldives vacation desires.

Another worthwhile tip is don’t be fooled by a guesthouse containing the name ‘Ocean View,’ ‘Ocean Front’ or ‘Seaside.’ This does not necessarily mean the guesthouse will offer views of the Indian Ocean and if staying within the capital area bear in mind that with land space at a premium, views may cost extra!

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Why not experience our 7 night North Ari Atoll Island Hopping Tour?

The 7 night North Ari Island Hopping Tour provides the opportunity to travel independently but secure in the knowledge that there is a designated local host on hand to ensure your travels are smooth and problem free. Visit the breathtaking islands of Rasdhoo, Ukulhas and Mathiveri in North Ari Atoll – widely regarded as one of the best diving spots in the world and a great destination to snorkel with manta rays or dive with hammerhead sharks!

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With an abundance of green vegetation and beautiful white sandy beaches, our tour provides the ideal opportunity to indulge in the activities the Maldives is famous for as well as brushing shoulders with local culture and people. We book all accommodation, breakfast meals and organise your island transfers. There are plenty of additional activities for you to select, all of which can be organised during your trip or in advance, if you prefer a more scheduled holiday itinerary. Get in touch with us at Secret Paradise to find out more about an Indian Ocean local island escape today!

Discover my Secret Paradise

The local islands close to Male were the first to benefit from the advent of local guesthouses, their ease of proximity to the capital and the international airport has allowed transfer costs to be kept at a minimum and wherever possible Secret Paradise will always transfer guests by public ferry. This ensures that the journey itself is an experience, choose to sit up top and watch local islands and resorts pass you by and if you are lucky you may spot dolphins. Or sit inside amongst the locals returning from a shopping trip to Male and whilst it would be very unusual to share your seat with any live animals, more often than not there will be a few motor cycles, a mattress or two and boxes and bags of unknown purchases. On one of my first ferry journeys, I sat on the roof travelling from Male to Himmufushi, a 90 minute journey, during which time 3 local women chatted with me, eager to learn where I was going and what I was doing, eager to teach me a few local words of Dhivehi and eager to marry me off to one of their sons!

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How to dress

Staying on a local island verses a resort is not without its differences. The Maldives is a 100% Muslim country; therefore bikinis are a no-go on the local islands unless the island or guesthouse has a private garden or a tourist bikini beach. This, however, should not be a big deal as most excursions involve a boat or an uninhabited island where the law does not apply. To be honest the locals are far more tolerant now of western dress, t-shirts and shorts, sundresses and vest tops are not frowned upon. My advice however, to fellow female travellers is to dress modestly, keeping your chest and top of thighs covered, we are after all guests in another country. For tours that may involve wandering the sandy roads of a local island community, visiting a mosque or a family home extra care should be taken to respect Maldivian culture and cultural values.

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 Alcohol

One other big consideration regarding staying on a  local island is alcohol, or lack of it. Laws prohibit alcohol being drunk on local islands but this can be easily overcome by a day or evening visit to a resort. From some islands it is also possible to take dinner on a boat allowing access to your favorite tipple and should you choose to take the real budget option and stay within the capital area then a trip to the bar of the airport hotel is only a short bus journey away! It’s surprising however, how much fun you can actually have without alcohol even more so when you are visiting an island paradise and I have yet to come across a guest who has felt they were on a self enforced detox! If you are a coffee drinker then the Maldives should be your ideal destination! If there was a national drink it would be Nescafe, served strong and black. The likes of Costa and Starbucks would have a field day should they ever be allowed to get their foot in the door.

 

What to eat

Dining on a local island pretty much guarantees freshly cooked food on a daily basis. Tuna and reef fish will generally form some part of a meal especially if there has been a good catch had that day by the local fishermen, add to this chicken, beef, pasta, noodles, rice, salad and fresh papaya, water melon, banana and mango and you have a veritable feast! A word of warning, more often than not you will find guesthouses and local cafes offer a wide menu of western and European dishes and very little in the way of Maldivian food. Never be afraid to ask for a local dish you will find the chef to be accomodating and pleased to show off local cuisine.

Whilst we are talking about food, I should mention hedikaa. The Maldives equivalent of ‘tapas’ is how I would best describe this afternoon tradition. Walk into any coffee shop, café or restaurant between the hours of three and five pm and you will find an array of bite size savory and sweet delights. Certainly, not one of the healthiest snacks if you are watching your waistline, as most are deep fried but none the less I’m very partial to my afternoon treat!!! Savory ones are filled with vegetables, tuna, egg and chili. Whilst a few of the sweet ones will look familiar – pancakes, French toast, sponge cake you must try is coconut pirini. Select as many as you wish and then to follow true Maldivian tradition accompany them with a mug of black tea.

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Chili incidentally is incorporated into pretty much everything so if this fiery spice is not your thing, ensure you ask for less or indeed none! Pork is forbidden so don’t expect bacon butties for breakfast but instead take the opportunity to try a traditional Maldivian breakfast dish: masshuni and roshi – flaked tuna, grated coconut, chilli and lemon mixed together and eaten with a flat style bread which makes a refreshing change and if like me you are converted it is very easy to make at home!
Before we move off the subject of food i should highlight that It is common practice for Maldivian’s to finish their meal off with beetle nuts and leaves. Plates are automatically placed on the table but beware there is an art to the preparation of this Maldivian equivalent of an after dinner mint! Flatten out your leaf, add slices of beetle nuts, a clove, a cardamom seed and sprinkle with a ground fruit and spice flavored powder. Fold up into a bite size parcel and pop into your mouth! Oops forgot to mention it’s an acquired taste and for many westerners the phrase that is commonly used is it’s like chewing cardboard!

Rubbish awareness

One final consideration is that local islands are not always as pristine as resort islands. Though they’re catching up and are still beautiful, be forewarned that there are still some growing pains and some room for improvement. The Maldivian’s would historically have thrown their waste into the ocean, however, that was in the days when waste would have been predominantly food waste and all biodegradable, then came along plastic and then came over one million visitors. Add all this together and we are presented with a country that has a significant challenge regarding waste removal. Some of you may have seen the BBC documentary on rubbish island, it’s existence as an island to purely burn the tons and tons of waste produced evokes much debate. Positively, there are a number of actions being taken to manage waste and over time a more environmentally friendly waste management process will come into being throughout the archipelago. As guests to the Maldives we can play our part by taking home plastic waste wherever possible and by leading by example.

It is also important to remember, especially if your first impression of the Maldives is the capital area of Male and Hulhumale that like most countries there is less of a community spirit in the city area, whereas on other local islands there is a real sense of community and the need to take care of their home island. But don’t get me wrong you are not going to visit rubbish strewn islands but also don’t expect every local island to be a perfect vision of that picture postcard image.

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Local Culture

What you cannot fault however is the friendliness and hospitality of the Maldivian’s. Nothing is too much trouble for them. It was this hospitality and eagerness to please that gave rise to the cultural aspects of Secret Paradise tours.
Sitting in the home of a local family for dinner can be a humbling experience. We encourage the local families that we work with to sit and eat with our guests. On my initial visits to a local home I would be provided with an array of food, enough to feed a small army, but as I sat and stuffed my face the family would sit and watch me and no amount of encouragement would get them to join me! Any young children at first can be a little shy of a group of strangers but they soon come out from behind their mothers legs and more often than not end up sitting on someone’s knee. The older generation sometimes may not be able to speak English but will do their utmost to understand your sign language which as you can imagine generally adds laughter to the proceedings. Learning to eat traditionally with your fingers is also another great ice breaker and to be very honest combining the components of local dishes – white rice, a clear tuna broth, pickled vegetables, chili paste, a squeeze of lemon as you would if you were making a cake does enhance the flavor enormously. It is also a great way of locating any fish bones!

One of the great things about staying on a local island is that you have the opportunity to see first hand how locals go about their daily lives. As I have already mentioned the Maldives is a Muslim country and therefore there is a call to prayer from the mosque 5 times a day. This compelling and melodious sound particularly at sun rise and sunset can be quite mesmerizing. As part of our local island tours we invite guests to visit a mosque and learn more about how the Islamic faith creates the foundation on how Maldivians live their daily lives.

Also as part of the tour wherever possible we will take you to see how a boat is hand crafted. I’m not just talking about a traditional fishing boat, I’m talking of large 10 cabin live aboard boats used by divers and cruising guests. The unique approach to the construction of boats was invented in the Maldives centuries back.

During the early days, palm trees were used as the timber to build a boat and only hand-crafted tools were used. Carpenters now use automatic tools to work but despite this automation, the skill that was inherited from their forefathers still brings the boats that we see in the Maldives waters today into existence.
A visit to the local school is also included and dependent on school term timings we invite our guests to observe a lesson and on occasion should our guests choose, join in! Schooling in the Maldives is not particularly different to the UK apart from the fact that children are up at the crack of dawn for a 7.30am start. Subjects include Dhivehi, Arabic, English, Math’s and Islamic studies.

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Evening activities

Evening’s on local islands are quiet affairs more often than not spent on the beach, chatting with friends over a cup of coffee. Early evening activities include cruising the Indian Ocean in search of dolphins as the sun sets on the horizon creating a hue of orange, pink and golds or try your hand at fishing Maldivian style. The Maldives is unique in that its history depends on tuna fishing and the locals are excellent fishermen using pole and line and are happy to share their line fishing skills with you. Your catch will be freshly prepared for you to enjoy as a BBQ dinner.

However, in my opinion nothing can beat those tranquil moments of sitting on a white sand beach looking out across the blue expanse of the ocean to the horizon with nothing else in sight. Or lying back under a star filled sky at night on the lookout for shooting stars. With little or no light pollution the night sky is filled with twinkling lights and on a full moon evening, the words ‘by the light of a silvery moon’ take on real meaning. Moments like these remind me of how small and insignificant I actually am in the big scheme of the universe.

Maldivian’s are great believers in a relaxing lifestyle! There is one thing I have come to know about the people of Maldives and that is that they enjoy a slow paced stress-free life; while foreign urban creatures of speed think Maldivians may be slow, they are actually perfectly on time according to their own schedules! The whole point of experiencing the real Maldives is to learn about new cultures and lifestyles and see how diversely people live elsewhere. If you are on holiday and you need to hurry, you aren’t on holiday.

Share my experiences on one of Secret Paradise’s local island hopping tours.