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

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

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

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

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

Engaging guests with local life, culture and traditions

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

Kokko Ibbe – Tour Leader

Educating guests on responsible snorkelling

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

Ahmed Mashir Ali – Tour Guide

Why work for Secret Paradise

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

Archie Athif – Tour Guide

Reducing the use of plastic

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

UB Waseem – Tour leader

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

You can view our Responsible Tourism Policy Here

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

 

 

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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

Secret Paradise Maldives War on Straws

The now viral Utube video of the sea turtle having a straw removed from its nose with a set of pliers was certainly heart breaking to view but most certainly it appeared to make the world sit up and pay attention to the plight of our oceans.

Straws are consistently on the top 10 lists for marine debris collected every year during International Coastal Cleanups and the Maldives is no different as we have found from our own experience of beach clean ups.It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more pieces of plastic in our ocean than fish.

FACT – 1 straw is manufactured in 1 minute

FACT – 1 straw is used for an average of 10 minutes

FACT – 1 straw takes 100 years to decompose

Last year 1.3milion tourists visited the Maldives with each guest staying an average of 6 days. Even if each of those guests only had one drink served with a straw per day during their stay that is 7.8milion straws and that is most likely a conservative estimate.

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Sadly, plastic pollution has become a key environmental issue in the Maldives as well as Worldwide. In the Maldives evidence of plastic bottles, straws, carrier bags and other plastic waste scatter our islands and wash up regularly on our beautiful beaches and this waste has a negative impact on our environment and our marine life.

Local NGOs, island communities and environmental groups are working hard to clean up the countries plastic issue with initiatives including beach clean ups, reduction of plastic bag use and environmental awareness campaigns.

The simple fact of the matter is, that we all need to join together and fight this worldwide plastic issue. If everyone makes a small change it will only have a huge long term positive effect on the environment and our oceans.  Britain has announced this week that they are banning single use plastic straws alongside Canada and other countries. In the Maldives we are seeing many of the luxury resorts ban the straw and move to biodegradable alternatives. Now it is the time for local island businesses to make that change.

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War on Straws

On World Environment Day, June 5th 2018 we invited all our partner guesthouse properties to pledge to STOP the use of plastic drinking straws in their guest houses.

In return we pledged to:

  • Collect any remaining straws from them.
  • Dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way.
  • Provide a certificate for each business to display and use to promote their support.
  • Provide information that can be shared with both staff and guests as to why the plastic straw should be no more.
  • Request all our guests to refuse the straw.

We were delighted to gain the support of the following properties within less than 24 hours and we are confident that other partners will swiftly come on board.

Lily Rest – Maafushi

Guraidhoo Palm Inn – Guraidhoo

Bibee Maldives – Dhiffushi

Canopus Retreats – Thulusdhoo

TME Retreat – Dhigurah

This we know is the start of a long journey, but a journey that we hope will gather momentum and support across all local islands, not just with our partner guesthouses but with other businesses too.

Our guiding team will continually monitor properties on their tour visits and when we complete our annual property audits to ensure that each guesthouse maintains its commitment to our initiative and offer support as necessary.

If you are a tourist visiting local islands in the Maldives and find a local guesthouse or hotel still serving plastic straws, we encourage you to take a photo and tag us on Instagram @secretparadisemaldives #letusguideyou #strawwarMV and we will make contact with them to see if they will unite with us on our mission to ban plastic straws altogether.

The call to action to eliminate single use plastic including plastic drinking straws is getting louder and louder worldwide, let’s add the voice and actions of the Maldives.

Become A Volunteer + Make A Difference In The Maldives

What better destination in the world is there to volunteer in than the beautiful Maldives? Embark on a once in a life-time trip – the type where you can island hop through paradise whilst making a difference!

Become A Volunteer In The Maldives

We at Secret Paradise can help you to become exactly that – a valuable volunteer here in the Maldives. As a volunteer, your contribution will help local Maldivians to gain better access to basic necessities such as food, water, housing, health and safety. Volunteering and helping to make a difference is a rewarding and gratifying experience.

When you travel to off grid places, you often find yourself graced by the generous hospitality of local people, even when these people appear to live a simple kind of life themselves. It’s often at these kinds of destinations that we are faced with ethical and moral challenges, and opportunities for giving back to people less fortunate. The Maldives offers valuable opportunities to connect with local Maldivian people and to make real differences to their small island communities.

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Image Nia Pontius

Volunteer With Secret Paradise

At Secret Paradise, we purposefully design our volunteer itineraries to be the perfect combination between leisure and work. Our volunteers experience the best of both worlds, whilst of course island hopping across the Indian Ocean to Hulhumale’, Guriadhoo, Maafushi and Gulhi Islands.

Part of the role of being a volunteer on these locals islands is to raise awareness about the welfare of the environment. As community awareness is generally low, locals often have a limited knowledge of the dangers and issues they face, such as climate change and waste management. Volunteers may give presentations and design materials such as leaflets and posters, liaise with guesthouses and hotels on environmental matters and offer advice and guidance based on learnings. The welfare of the environment in the Maldives is a supremely important issue, particularly if generations of locals and tourists alike are to enjoy for years to come.

Daily tasks of Volunteers are varied and may include:

  • Conducting reef surveys
  • Cleaning the coral frames/assessing coral health and updating online data base
  • Coral planting
  • Organizing community beach cleans
  • Organizing community/school marine or waste management awareness sessions
  • Tree planting/ care and maintenance of those planted
  • Volunteers with diving skills can assist in Crown of Thorn clean ups
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Image Nia Pontius

How Does Secret Paradise Ensures Volunteers Have A Memorable Stay In The Maldives

Secret Paradise offers several bespoke adventure itineraries to compliment the work placement schedules of volunteers, to ensure volunteer stays are as memorable as possible. We provide volunteers with an insight into the local culture and tradition of the Maldives, as well as experiencing the stunning natural beauty for which Maldives is famed, all whilst making a difference to local Maldives communities.

Here in the Maldives, our recreational activities for volunteers include local island tours and discovering of the underwater beauty of the Maldives. Stay in local guesthouses, visit family homes, mosques and boat yards, experience our SCUBA diving, snorkelling, surfing and fishing excursions, plus enjoy picnics at uninhabited sandbanks, sunset cruises and of course a day at a luxury resort! Volunteers also have the opportunity to spend time with local non-governmental organization ‘Save the Beach,’ to understand the environmental and conservational challenges local islands face here in the Maldives. There’s also plenty of downtime to sit back barefoot in the sand, relaxing – Maldivian style!

‘Secret Paradise Maldives provides an exceptional insight into local culture and aim to deliver unique local experiences to our volunteers, enabling them to immerse themselves in the real Maldives‘ says Travel Teacher founder Mat Ray.

Travel Teacher

 

Secret Paradise Volunteer Partners

Secret Paradise also connects potential volunteers with reputable non-for profit Maldives organisations and local island communities who are in need. We aim to provide valuable information to our guests about possible volunteer collaborations. Secret Paradise Maldives partners with two global volunteer organisations, Teacher Travel and Sun sHADe Maldives. Together we aim to create meaningful work and travel initiatives and provide memorable local island experiences for volunteers, here in the Maldives.

What Is Sun sHADe Volunteers?

Secret Paradise works closely with Sun sHADe Volunteers to provide opportunities for responsible and meaningful working holidays in the Maldives. Established in 1987 by Huvadhoo Aid (HAD), a non-governmental youth organization located in Huvadhoo Atoll Maldives, HAD’s international volunteer program first began in 2009.

Sun sHADe Volunteer projects are based on education, community development, cultural exchange, healthcare and sport. Each project aims to develop community life whilst conserving each island and its surrounding marine life. The organisation works with each volunteer to design a program that is best suited to their individual skill level and volunteer interest, while filling a need within the wider community. Many international volunteers have been a part of the successful program and have had an authentic travel experience in the Maldives, all whilst making a difference and providing positive contributions to small island communities.

 

What Is Travel Teacher?

Our other partner Teacher Travel, is a UK based volunteer education program that provides ethical, low-cost volunteer programs throughout Fiji, The Cook Islands and The Maldives. Teacher Travel operates in the Maldives’ capital city, Malé.

The initiative offers a unique combination of education and holiday adventure. Volunteering with Travel Teacher gives individuals the opportunity to support the development of education in rural communities and make a genuine difference to the lives of the children in their partnered schools, through teaching, coaching and mentoring. This year, Teacher Travel will be working with educational partner Ghiyasuddin International School in Malé, to support and add value over a long-term period.

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Image Nia Pontius

A Recent Volunteer’s Experience

Nia Pontius recently participated in the Sun sHADe Volunteers program at Hoandedhdhoo Island, Maldives. Learn from Nia about her experience:

‘I was in the Maldives with the Sun sHADe program for almost a month and it was a good character building experience. I signed up to volunteer on a local island, Hoandedhdhoo, to work on the marine conservation program. I went snorkelling everyday with the local volunteers and surveyed the fish, as well as the corals. Together we created a PVC pipe configuration to sit on the bottom in the sand and revive some of the coral population.

After the construction of the PVC frame, we dropped the fixture into the water and used rocks to keep it in place. We broke off pieces of healthy coral and affixed them with zip ties. We created a frame with almost one hundred pieces of coral to help with the coral bleaching in the Maldives.

On the island of Hoandedhdhoo, almost seventy percent of the coral was bleached on one side of the island. It is an impending issue that volunteer groups are trying to rectify with new regrowth ideas. In addition to the marine conservation work, we also did some reforestation work on the island with the kadele trees and the mangroves. This experience was incredibly insightful and it gave an authentic feel for the local culture in the Maldives.’

 

Like Nia, you too can become a volunteer in the beautiful Maldives. Help make a difference on your travels, whilst making life long memories in paradise.

Find out more  about our Volunteer Programs  Secret Paradise today!

Volunteer and Experience the Real Maldives

We are delighted to share that Secret Paradise Maldives has partnered UK based Travel Teacher in order to support a volunteer education program within Male the capital city of the Maldives.

Secret Paradise will be providing Travel Teacher volunteers with an insight into the culture and tradition of the Maldives as well as providing access to some unique local life experiences, as well as the activities for which the Maldives is famed. Volunteers will also spend time with local NGO Save the Beach to understand the environmental and conservation challenges local islands face.

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Secret Paradise Maldives offers both group and individual tour packages, with a wide range of guided and non-guided local island tours to choose from. Accompanied by experienced local tour leaders they combine activities and relaxation with culture and tradition all designed to let travellers get a taste of the real Maldives.

Ruth Franklin, Co-Founder and Sales Director comments ‘‘we are delighted to partner Travel Teacher and hope to become actively involved alongside them in their projects . It is a great way for us to give back to the community in which we live and operate. As a business we are committed to following responsible and sustainable tourism best practises and these partnerships really under pin our values.”

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Travel Teacher is a unique combination of education and adventure. They provide ethical, low-cost volunteering programmes in Fiji, The Cook Islands and now The Maldives. Volunteering  with Travel Teacher gives individuals the opportunity to support the development of education in rural communities and make a genuine difference to the lives of the children in their partnered schools through teaching, coaching and mentoring . Their bespoke adventure itineraries compliment the volunteers work placement schedule and will assist in broadening horizons, gaining transferable skills vital for the world of work and will also provide an unforgettable experience and lifelong memories.

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Travel Teacher founder Mat Ray comments  ”I spent a great day recently in Male with our friends from Secret  Paradise Maldives. They provided an exceptional insight into local culture and we aim to deliver these unique local experiences to our volunteers enabling them to immerse themselves in the real Maldives. We are looking forward to supporting the Ghiyasuddin International School – our education partner in the Maldives next year and we hope to support and add value over a longer term project period.”

Volunteer applications are already being accepted for next year’s inaugural trip scheduled for the 21st – 29th October 2017. Interested applicants can find further information online at http://www.travelteacher.co.uk/maldives