Following on from part one of Plastic Pollution, Marine Life and Sustainable Tourism with Secret Paradise Maldives we wanted to highlight some of the initiatives recently implemented by our accommodation partners on local islands.
All of our guesthouse accommodation is carefully selected to provide a balance of comfort, service, local atmosphere and value for money, as well as ensuring each property shares our values for responsible tourism and sustainability. So we are always delighted to see guesthouse partners coming together with tourists and local communities to make a difference.
Guraidhoo is another forward thinking island with exciting eco initiatives introduced this year (2019). Their band new NO PLASTIC program has been introduced on the island and is being very well received by locals and visiting tourists. They knew when setting this up that the only way this would work is to involve all the community in the efforts including the local island children, local school, teachers, parents, Island council members, guesthouses, dive center, watersports center and the local island community.
They completed their first island clean up last month and collected a massive 1700kg of plastic; what amazing results – which ultimately will have a positive impact on our environment and the local island children’s futures, thanks guy and keep up the great work.
Guraidhoo Palm Inn our partner here have pledged to remove plastic drinking water bottles which is also forms part of our initiative in 2019 .
TME Retreat another property partner of Secret Paradise is taking the sustainable opportunities to a whole new level and as part of the #Earthday2019 celebrations they announced that TME Retreats will be producing its own water at Dhigurah. The water will be distributed to all the guests in refillable glass bottles and all guests will be able to fill their glass bottles from the water dispenser at the lobby free of charge.
Barefoot Eco Hotel
The Barefoot Eco Hotel on Hanimaadhoo island has always followed the principles of eco-sustainability and conservation of the environment; that’s why we have always loved working with them. They actively educate their guests in reducing their eco footprint, their initiatives include:
Paper bio-degradable straws instead of plastic straws
Aluminium cans instead of plastic bottles
Reusable Aluminium bottles for senior staff
Yogurt served in ceramic cups instead of single use plastic containers
No more plastic bags: only juta or fabric bags
No more plastic sachets of coffee: Coffee now comes in paper bags
But how do you make a difference as a tourist when travelling abroad?
Most individuals are now trying to do their bit in the war against single use plastic particularly, but how can you continue your positive actions when travelling and at the mercy of the people and places visited?
Bring your own shopping bag
In the not so distant past here in the Maldives, every shop you made a purchase in, you were given a blue plastic bag. This is starting to be addressed but make life a little easier for the shop keepers and bring your own re-useable bag and say no to these wasted items.
Say no to single-use plastic straws
If you are buying a drink in a café or bar say no to the plastic straw. We would love to give kudos to the places you visit who are embracing this so make sure you take a snap and #strawwasMV.
Bring your own water bottle
When you are travelling especially in the heat, you must stay hydrated but you don’t need to keep purchasing single use plastic bottles, ask a local café or bar to refill your water bottle. The local accommodation you stay in will be sure to assist you.
Choose plastic-free destinations
If you are really serious about reducing your carbon footprint then choose destinations and places where they are taking the sustainable approach seriously. Reward those businesses who are committed to making a difference in their environment, like the ones we mentioned above.
Participate in cleanups
Our team of tour guides regularly participant in beach clean ups with local island residents and we encourage our guests to join us too. It is a fantastic way to meet the local community and also make a massive difference to the amount of plastic waste in the ocean.
Spread the word
Don’t be shy, let people know what you are doing, if everyone takes small steps daily together we will make a huge difference. We need to create awareness and let people know what do to and how to do it.
If you want your holiday to make a real difference why not think about a volunteer based visit, we offer volunteer trips with our partner Sunshade Maldives as well as a 14 night island hopping volunteer tour.
Ruth Franklin is the co-founder of Secret Paradise Maldives and together with her energetic and engaging team of local guides, they have been leading local island Maldives tours since 2012. Ruth was recently interviewed about being a women in business in the Maldives and here is what she said:
Tell us more about Secret Paradise Maldives
We partner 25 guesthouses on 15 islands across 8 atolls. The properties we partner are owned and in the main operated by local island families where everyone is instrumental in the day to day running of the guest house ensuring profits are directed back into local hands. We are also using services developed and managed by locals which in turn provides employment and business opportunities for local people.
Sustainability What are your key communities? How does your organization actively support and strengthen these communities?
Local communities are crucial to sustainable tourism and this has always been the foundation of the Secret Paradise offer.
We have built over a period of time what I would see as three key communities.
Our local island partner community
We chose to work with only selected guesthouses in order that we could build strong relationships. This has resulted in us being able to support them from a business management and marketing perspective in the very beginning, to them supporting us in our sustainable tourism wish list such as the removal of plastic straws, the introduction of water coolers to minimize the use of plastic bottles which is a project we are working on this year.
The feedback we have received from the families with whom we work closely is that they are proud to be able to provide such opportunities . At first they could not understand why we would want our guests to interact with them, share meals and visit their home. Now they understand that their everyday practices are of interest to international visitors. Our role with the local communities has been to highlight that not all tourists are visiting for an affordable beach holiday and that many are looking to get under the skin of the country and learn about culture and traditions. For me this is important as these traditions need to be kept alive.
Our NGO community
We seek out ways to open up channels to allow NGO organisations the opportunity to interact with guests and in so doing increase their exposure to a wider audience. Many of our tours involve some form of conservation awareness or activity. Our guests spend time with NGOs gaining an insight into the conservation challenges that face local islands or social challenges that people within the local community may face. We offer opportunities for guests to get involved if they wish, supporting local conservationists on coral nurseries, attending beach cleans or events held within the community. Even on our Villimale day tour our guides and guests can be seen collecting rubbish as they explore the island. As a business we try where ever possible to support environmental events organised by our NGO partners both financially and in person and a proportion of the tour cost is provided in the form of a donation to their funds.
Our employee community
Tourism has seen an increase in demand for experiential travel opportunities. Meeting and travelling with local people and seeing the Maldives through their eyes allows guests to connect with locals and enhance their trip. No one should know the Maldives better than a Maldivian and hence why with the exception of myself the Secret Paradise team is 100% local.
We provide good working conditions, the opportunity to travel, a fair wage and performance reviews for local employees. Our guides achieve personal development through interaction with guests from different cultures and backgrounds. They also have the opportunity to participate in tour leader development programs available from our international partners.
How do you consider societal well-being and benefit as part of your strategy and daily operations?
I came from a 30 year retail background and therefore my tourism knowledge was based on my own experiences as a traveler as well as my desire to give back to the people who had welcomed me into their homes when I visited the Maldives myself as a tourist.
When Secret Paradise was formed in 2012 local tourism was at the beginning of it’s journey and I was conscious that however we developed the business we needed to be mindful of ensuring we promoted local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs. With this in mind our core strategy was formed and has over time developed on the basis of three values – economic responsibility, social responsibility and environmental responsibility.
I am a great believer in keeping it simple and as a small business we needed to recognize that it was far better to build a solid foundation of a few key principals that could be followed through and kept alive than produce a manifesto or sustainable tourism standard operating practice that would gather dust on a shelf.
We drew up three key actions for each value.
To use locally owned and operated tourism infrastructure.
To use wherever possible business services in country which are operated by locals and not out source to businesses aboard.
To provide employment for local people.
For a local guide to travel with our guests from time of arrival to departure.
To educate our guests on local history, customs and cultural practices and provide opportunities for guests to engage with the local community in some format.
To actively support local communities, NGOs and environmental organisations.
To limit the physical impact of trips and work with our partners to educate and improve awareness within local the community.
To brief all our guests on the Green fin snorkeling etiquette
To encourage our guests to deal with waste appropriately, to lead by example and where possible take plastic waste home.
We are fortunate that we are in a position that our business model allows societal well being to form part of our day to day practice.
Our guests stay in local island guest houses. We utilise local transportation providers as opposed to owning our own vehicles.
Our guests eat at local cafes, regularly enjoy evening tea – hedikaa, we buy food items for our tours from the local market and we encourage guests to purchase locally made souvenirs, all this mean means that local individuals and small businesses benefit.
We encourage our guests through briefings and general conversation to respect the environment and lead by example, for example to refuse plastic straws and bags.
We carry out annual audits of our guesthouse properties that includes a review of responsible and sustainable practices and we offer support and advice on improvements. Our guides provide a trip report following each tour which amongst other things will highlight best practice or improvement opportunities. Our guests complete feedback forms which again include the opportunity to feedback and comment on sustainable practices.
We hold regular training sessions with our guiding team and provide opportunities for their education and development. For example the team recently spent two days with Coral Doctors learning more about coral and reef rehabilitation and we have a planned session on the importance of seagrass up and coming.
Our social media feeds include images and information that are locally inspired. We highlight historical facts, religious festivals, national holidays, food, wildlife and overviews of local islands. We share and celebrate environmental best practices such as beach cleans by local communities, awareness days and community news that we feel would be of interest to our followers.
We provide guests with pre trip information as part of the booking process to ensure they understand the requirements of travelling to a locally inhabited island. Content provides information on local customs and requirements, particularly in relation to religion, dress, food and beverages and upon arrival they receive a further briefing from one of our guiding team which includes environmental and cultural awareness and highlights the opportunities they may have during the time with us to support local environmental initiatives.
With local island tourism continuing to grow my dream would be that government policies would be brought into place to regulate and provide accreditation to properties across a number of standards but with sustainable practices playing a significant role.
Raising awareness about environmental issues seems to be on everyone ‘s agenda these days. But we all need to understand that this is not a short term project that needs a year or two focus only to fall by the way side when a new trend emerges.
But how do we all keep focused and ensure our efforts are not in vain?
At Secret Paradise we educate our guests in ways that encourage them to support local hotel and guest house programs. Our tour guides are our ambassadors, they lead by example every day in and out of work. For myself having worked and managed teams of over 200 people I have plenty of experience in how to continue to motivate and re-focus my team on our mission to make long lasting environmental change. These topics need to be spoken about on a regular basis, new initiatives need to be implemented and the existing initiatives need to be boosted every once in a while to bring it back to focus.
For example, in 2018 we launched our #strawwarmv initiative where local guest house owners and business operators were encouraged to replace the use of plastic straws in their business with other alternatives. We were delighted with the positive response we received from our local island partners, people all over were posting their photos online and tagging us using #strawwarmv. With our partner guest house owners fully committed to working with us to make sustainable changes we have challenged ourselves to look for additional ways we can work in partnership with properties to make changes.
This year we are taking our sustainable initiatives to the next level by introducing water coolers into a number of our local guest houses encouraging our guests to re-fill their water instead of buying new bottles each day. This is something that is being introduced worldwide including in many popular coffee shops offering a small discount if the customer brings in their own travel mugs. It’s simple; it really doesn’t take that much effort but it will make such a huge positive impact on our environment not just in the Maldives but worldwide if we all make these small changes.
Working with local island guest house partners means that we also support a sustainable local community. You can image that with many islands as small as 1-2 square kilometres there is only so much employment available for local people. Many of them over the years have left their families to work in resorts but with the introduction of mindful tourism it means families have a choice and don’t have to live apart from one another because job opportunities are now available for them locally. You may wonder what do we mean by mindful tourism? Well many countries around the world have adapted to cater for the needs of tourists, this often means losing their local culture and traditions. At Secret Paradise we are determined to help maintain Maldivian traditions and local island culture by allowing our guests to be exposed to them through local island tours and engagement with locals. It benefits our guests greatly as they leave with a greater understanding of the Maldives and are also welcomed as family into the island homes, having the opportunity to learn how to cook a local meal and even dine alongside a local family. These amazing feasts are not to be missed! We’ve even had guests attend local birthday parties and weddings!
Because we employ only local island tour guides it opens a new channel of communication between visiting tourists and local island people. They are keen to learn about their island visitors as our guests are to learn about their host’s local island life! This intrigue often results in islanders inviting guests and our tour guide into their homes, sharing stories and history of each others cultures. Where else do you get to experience something so unique, educational and inspiring? For me it is essential that these traditions are kept alive and that the local islands never lose their culture and uniqueness. After all we are visitors to their country and their environment.
In our next blog we will continue to showcase initiatives we have and are implementing at Secret Paradise in order to create a more sustainable environment in the Maldives.
During the month of Ramadan many guests who contact us are unsure as to whether it is a good time to travel to the Maldives. Will local island shops be open? Will there still be tours and trips or will the services be reduced during this time? Will they be able to eat and drink during the day? So let us put the record straight!
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the 9th month on the Islamic calendar which is celebrated by Muslims Worldwide by fasting for a month. Ramadan commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. Fasting is from dawn until sunset during which Muslims refrain from drinking, eating, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations.
Ramadan and fasting is the fourth pillar of the Islamic faith and therefore forms a very large part of our guiding team’s way of life. We asked our team to share the benefit of fasting and what it meant to them.
‘The whole thing about fasting is being faithful to your soul, it teaches you about sincere love as when Muslims observe fasting they do it out of a deep love for their god. Its a period of time where I feel closer to Allah and my soul feels lighter. It teaches patience and self control’
What restrictions will I experience as a tourist?
During the month of Ramadan there will be some changes to opening hours of local island businesses. Certainly you will not find local cafes or restaurants open during day light hours and possibly the timings of local ferry and speedboat transfer services will change. However travelling with one of our tour guides means as a tourist you will not be inconvenienced. Your tour guide will give you all the information you need throughout your trip and they will be able to adapt plans accordingly. If not travelling with a Secret Paradise guide your guesthouse or hotel should be able to provide this information.
Although there are no restrictions for non Muslim’s during Ramadan, it is respectful to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public areas during daylight hours.
What to expect during this time?
Government offices and public services shorten their working day to four hours and many local island people will also reduce their working hours in order to preserve energy. If travelling with a guide during this period they will be fasting but they do not expect special treatment as they say that after a few days they get used to fasting and that they don’t feel weak or light headed. I have known some guests to fast for a day or two themselves in order to share the experience and reflect on different cultures and religions, but there is certainly no expectation for guests to fast.
Locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful during the season of Ramadan. Local markets and shops will over flow with fresh salad leaves, papayas, bananas and watermelons. Men and women will be seen shopping throughout the afternoon and sometimes right up until sunset, seeking out a last minute forgotten purchase.
Once the sun has set and the call to prayer rings through the air, families will join together with a feast of local food called iftar. The fast will traditionally be broken with 3 dates and a glass of watermelon juice. There will be varieties of hedhikaa – short eats. fathu mashuni – asian cabbage leaf, tuna and coconut that is mixed with rihakuru bondi – tuna paste fish balls, roshi – flat bread, rice and quite often two different curries made from tuna or vegetables. There is also kulhi mas – chili fish that will play a big role on the table and certainly creates a centre piece. Fresh juices to assist in re hydration include fresh coconut water, mango and pineapple. Faloodha is popular with many families made from rose syrup, condensed milk, water and basil seeds.
You will also often find that local cafes and restaurants will offer Iftar buffet dinners with a wide variety of cuisines and flavours. Bookings will be taken in advance and it is not then until Iftar has finished that cafes will re-open for general use. It is far more common nowadays for families, friends and work colleagues to opt to go out and break their fast at one of these restaurants at least once or twice during Ramadan. I am sure these evenings away from home come as a welcome relief to those ladies in the family who would normally be found in the kitchen preparing Iftar at home from midday during the Ramadan period.
Following Tarawih Prayer, which falls two hours after the sunset prayer, families and friends gather again for Tarawih Buin where they share short eats and drinks which may include traditional drinks such as Sooji ( Semolina and tropical almonds) and desserts like Pirini (a yummy rice pudding).
A supper called Haaru or Suhoor is taken traditionally just before the dawn prayer and usually consists of curry with roshi or rice which is completed with a porridge call “baihpen” and plenty of water.
As with all Islamic countries Muslim’s pray 5 times a day. Prayer is increased during Ramadan as the holy month is a time of reflection and to study the Quran. Special prayers at the local mosque take place for all ages after Isha (evening prayer) called Tarawih and is a longer prayer ending at 21:00.
Guests often ask our tour guides what they do when working as they often can’t get to the mosque to pray. Kamey advises that ‘during the day we have time periods between the prayers that we can use to complete the prayer when we reach the destination. If we are traveling for a longer journey we can combine midday prayer and afternoon prayer and we can also combine the evening prayer and night prayer.’
As an expat in the Maldives, whilst I am not a Muslim I do choose to fast, although I have to admit I do often lapse to drinking water. This decision to fast was made partly out of respect because my life is filled with local family, friends and obviously the team and secondly, because it is a time of self discipline, self control and reflection and regardless of religion these are worthwhile actions to take even if just once a year, perhaps not dissimilar to giving something up for Lent in the Christian faith. I am privileged that I always join with my local island friend’s and their families to break fast and if they are lucky I will assist in the meal preparation!
If you want to experience local homemade Maldivian food, we offer a ‘Come Dine With Me’ evening visit to a local family home where you can sample authentic food enjoyed by local island families.
As Ramadan draws to an end preparation starts for the celebrations called Eid Al Fitr. This is a time of celebration, social gatherings, plenty of food and drink as well as traditional dance and music. It is a wonderful time as a local island tourist to be in the Maldives as many guest house owners will invite you to join them in the celebrations.
There really is nothing like visiting the local islands in the Maldives, and even more so when you can experience local traditions like Ramadan and Eid. It is a privilege to be a part of it all and will provide wonderful memories of your Maldivian dream holiday.
For more information about travelling with one of our local island tour guides << Contact Us Here >> ………. and #letusguideyou
Maldives is composed of a few thousand small islands located south of India. These diverse islets make the Maldives quite a fascinating and undoubtedly picturesque destination. It is safe to assume that Maldives can be found on almost everyone’s travel bucket list. It’s truly a piece of paradise here on Earth. The Maldives is also considered as an important crossroad in the Indian Ocean trade routes. Through the years, the country’s population has steadily increased and has become more diversified.
The culture and traditions of the Maldives and Maldivians in general have been greatly influenced by the Indians, Sri Lankans, Arabs and North Africans who visited the Maldives while on these trading routes of the central Indian Ocean. Maldivian culture is incredibly rich and vibrant due to the infusion of several other cultural elements from neighboring countries.
The Republic of Maldives is an archipelago consisting of twenty-six coral atolls, in the northern Indian Ocean. The chain of islands extends 510 miles (820 kilometers), but occupies an area of just 116 square miles (300 square kilometers), roughly 1.5 times the size of Washington D.C. The closest neighbors are India and Sri Lanka. The capital is Malé.
The twenty-six coral atolls contain 1,190 very small islands of which 198 are inhabited. Most of the islands are close to the atoll enclosure reef, and some are still in the process of forming. The longest is Gan in Adu atoll. Because the islands are coral-based, they are flat and low-lying. As a result, the water table is high. However, the islands are protected from the elements by the reef and rarely have major storms. In the older islands a larger layer of topsoil has formed, and these islands are covered with coconut trees, breadfruit, and dense shrubs. Agricultural potential is limited by the high alkalinity of the soil and its poor water retention. However, people grow vegetables, fruits, and yams.
The climate is warm and tropical. Seasonal changes are determined by the two yearly monsoons. The season of the northeast monsoon is characterized by dry, mild winds, and generally extends from December to April. The southwest monsoon, although irregular, extends from May until August and brings heavy rains and wind. The northern atolls are drier, while the southern atolls are wetter. The humidity is fairly high throughout the year.
Maldivians have built and preserved an exclusive cultural identity amidst the many different factors that shaped it in the past up to the present. Other traditions have been inculcated and adapted through the years largely brought about by population migration and commerce.
Accordingly the Maldivians converse using a language of their own; In 1153 AD Maldivians converted to Islam and the religion has transformed and introduced new fundamentals to the Maldivian culture.
Traditionally the island communities were very close-knit. This togetherness is still prevailing in the small island societies. Accordingly men will be mainly engaged in fishery, carpentry and toddy tapping. Women were mainly engaged in household duties and raising families. Certain rituals and practices were followed in the islands on special occasions like weddings. Some of these rituals survive to this day. The advent of tourism in the 1970’s accelerated the modernisation process of the country. Today an increasing number of women hold crucial positions within the public and private sector. As a result of economic growth, dramatic lifestyle changes were introduced.
Maldivian culture is rich and varied, and influenced by the cultures of the people of different ethnicity who have settled on the island over the years.
The state religion of the country, Islam, also dictates various cultural aspects of the people. Elements of African culture can also be observed in the Maldivian culture.
Established in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives islands are multi-faceted. The culture, traditions and customs of the country are influenced by Indian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Arab, Persian, Indonesian and even African influences. A fabulous cultural mix that makes all the richness of the Maldives.
In music and dance, for example, you will be surprised to recognise a purely African rhythm. The Boduberu, a traditional Maldivian dance, illustrates this perfectly. The language accompanying this dance, followed by the rhythm of the drums, will take you to East Africa.
Other music as well as some culinary specialties refer to the South African or Indian origins of the Maldivians. Local island residents of the Maldives consume a lot of spices, including curry. Coconut milk and fish also find their place in the traditional dishes of the country such as in the Roshi.
Daily life in the Maldives
Besides their origins, the other peculiarity of the inhabitants of the Maldives lies in their attachment to the sea. During the day, women take care of the home while men go fishing for tuna. The way of life of the Maldivians depends very much on the sea. When the fishermen return, people gather on the beach to collect the catch that will be cooked by the women. In short, sea fishing takes an important place in the economy of the archipelago in addition to tourism.
As for religion, if the Maldivians were originally Buddhist, today Islam is the only religion allowed. You will have the opportunity to contemplate a high number of mosques especially in the capital, Male. The Islamic centre, Old Friday Mosque and Rasrani park are among the must-see attractions and will delight lovers of beautiful architecture.
As well as handicrafts, you can bring back from your Maldives trip, braided mats and various jewelry. You will also find beautiful lacquered vases and small wooden boats evoking your beautiful walks in the sea an inexhaustible memory of your holidays in the Indian Ocean!
If you want to experience the culture and traditions of Maldives, why not book a day tour or a multi-day tour with Secret Paradise Maldives? Are you ready to book your holiday to Maldives? #letusguideyou
It is no secret that wherever in the world you plan to travel it will result in happiness and satisfaction, because apart from the obvious truth that you are not going to be working while on vacation, your travel will allow you to recharge, renew and just step away from the realities of your daily life. You may travel with your family, different groups of friends or simply travel solo – whatever floats your boat and whatever you think will make you enjoy your time away, will be entirely up to you.
Just recently, Dina M. finally decided to book her flight to Maldives and this is what she has to say – “I have wanted to go to the Maldives for some time but was of the impression that it was not really a place to go as a solo traveller. That was until I stumble on the Secret Paradise website.
With the range of activities/ programmes they offered I decided to give it a go and I absolutely am not sorry I did. I have travelled a lot and always as a solo traveller, both guided tours and trips with no guide, and I have to say the level of service provided was something I had not experienced previously. It started from the minute I landed in Male where UB met me at the airport and advised me that due to a delay in my flight from Singapore to Male I arrived too late to board the flight I was scheduled to take to Laamu GAN and had to wait 3 hours for the next flight. UB stayed with me at the airport until I was able to board the later flight and then dealt with the airport staff on my behalf to get me through the airport procedures with no drama. It was totally unexpected though very much appreciated as I had already had a long day of travel to get to that point having travelled there from Sydney.
When I finally arrived at the Reveries guesthouse, after the flight had been delayed another 3 hours I was met by Kokko who made sure I got dinner even though I arrived well after dinner had finished. Kokko proved to be an absolute superstar. He obviously loves his work and his country and the enthusiasm with which he shared it with me allowed me to also develop a love for his country. As I was alone he joined me for every meal without me feeling like I was imposing on his time and I am very grateful for the generosity he showed me over the week.
The programme developed for this trip was the perfect balance of enough activities to prevent me from getting bored as I am not the type who can happily sit on a beach for a week and do nothing else, and enough free time to allow for flexibility if I wanted to go off programme without missing out on any activities planned, which is exactly what I did. After taking the introductory scuba dive, at the encouragement of the staff of Emperor Divers I decided to take two days to gain my open water diving certification, so Kokko worked his magic to ensure I could manage that and still complete all the activities that had been planned. I could not be more grateful.
The accommodation was not the resort style you think of when you think of the Maldives but I do not think I missed out on anything as a result. The room was very comfortable and clean and the staff were very friendly and accommodating. I was there for New Year’s Eve and although there was not an option of alcohol as I was not in a resort I really did not notice as the staff arranged a party on the private beach for all the guests and it look amazing after they had worked all day stringing lights and transforming the beach in a way only photos can explain.
It was very apparent that the main goal of everyone involved was that I had the holiday I hoped for and they were prepared to be as flexible as necessary to ensure that happened. I was able to get a feel of how the Maldivians lived and got a real feel for island life rather than being in the more artificial environment of a resort. There is a real chance I will return to the Maldives and when I do I will absolutely do so with Secret Paradise. I cannot thank Ruth and her team enough for ensuring I had an awesome holiday and this is not the last you will hear from me.”
Can you imagine how wonderful our guest must have felt to write such a thoughtful and heart warming review?
So why then should you travel with Secret Paradise Maldives? Let us count the ways…
Secret Paradise specializes in individual and group travel for people of all ages. It is not just for young adventurers, it is also for the young at heart! Our passionate and experienced guides will be ready to provide you the best service you deserve. Come and #letusguideyou!
The basis of our tours has always been to allow guests to learn about the Maldives, its culture, beliefs, and traditions and what better way to do this than to see the country through the eyes of a local and experience daily life by travelling by public ferry, staying on a locally inhabited island where the local community benefit directly from the income gained from local island tourism, sharing breakfast with a family in their home, exchanging stories of daily life, relaxing with a coffee in a local café with their local host. Secret Paradise guides can open doors that may remain closed as an independent traveller and you’ll never be left wanting with authentic experiences.
Responsible travel is at the core of our system. Secret Paradise Maldives fosters social and cultural awareness among its employees and the clientele that they cater to as well. They make it a point to be in tune with understanding their effect on places you visit that they bring you to and ensure that each visit will be a meaningful one – something for the books.
Every guide has completed the Lead Amazing Tours Online Academy as well as first aid and rescue certification and you can therefore be assured of both your safety and comfort.
We offer more than just day tours. We also have multi-day tours with itineraries that can’t be beat. https://secretparadise.mv/product/maldives-day-tours/
Are you ready to book your flight to Maldives? #letusguideyou
As you may have seen this week we pledged our support to to be a part of a growing coalition of environmentally-conscious resorts and organisations that recognises the importance of sea grass habitats in the Maldives.
I remember my first visit to the Maldives almost twenty years ago, the resort I stayed on had a very large area of sea grass and in the morning a member of the resort staff would come along and rake the beach, like raking up autumnal leaves back home.
Whilst I was not adverse to swimming in this area, what I didn’t appreciate at the time was the importance of these sea grass beds.
Did you know?
A sea grass meadow creates a home for up to 20 times more fish! Up to 100,000 fish can live in just one hectare of sea grass.
Sea grass produces oxygen, stabilises sediment, protects shorelines, and gives food and shelter to marine life.
One hectare of sea grass can be a home for up to 19 turtles.
The story so far
In 2016 the Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI) and Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), along with luxury resort Six Senses Laamu, all joined together to demonstrate how sea grass and tourism can coexist and generate positive outcomes.
As their work gained momentum, the collaboration launched the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign, asking resorts, as well as the public, to pledge their support for the protection and preservation of sea grass beds in Maldives.
Marteyne van Well, Six Senses Laamu General Manager, explains the benefits sea grass has had on tourism since the resort pledged to help protect it almost two years ago. “Whether it’s watching green sea turtles feed meters from their villas or snorkeling alongside eagle rays, numerous guests have praised us for pledging to help protect our sea grass. This feedback from guests shows that sea grass and tourism can coexist – with overwhelming benefits to all parties”
Seagrass, by definition, is a complex underwater flowering plant that can form dense underwater meadows. These beds of grass grow in lagoons around islands, providing habitat for megafaunas such as turtles, rays, sharks as well as innumerable numbers of fishes and invertebrates.
Although it grows on the sea floor, seagrass photosynthesises just like terrestrial plants and act as a carbon sink that converts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into oxygen. Moreover, sea grass helps to maintain healthy reefs and facilitates sustainable fisheries by providing a habitat for various marine animals.
In addition to this, the roots of sea grass dig deep into the sand holding the sea floor in place and protecting sandy beaches from erosion. Quite literally, these marine plants hold our islands in place.
Since sea grass is a completely different ecosystem from coral reefs, it is known to house certain marine creatures not typically seen in reef habitats. It is also a fun activity to search for signs of marine life within sea grass beds as many fishes and invertebrates hide under the canopy, and camouflage themselves by becoming all but invisible in their surroundings. Sea horses, a rare sighting in the Maldives, have been spotted hiding between the greenery of the grass beds surrounding Six Senses.
So should you take to the air and view the Maldives archipelago from your seaplane or domestic flight transfer or even as you arrive and depart on your international flight, look out for the handful of dark areas standing out against the aquamarine blue lagoons and remember that despite their insignificant appearance they are vitally important to the seas surrounding them and house an entire ecosystem within them.
Join us and take a small step in a good direction. Help secure the future of Maldives sea grass and support our marine life, our coasts and our climate, go to #protectmaldivesseagrass and add your name.
Want to learn more about seagrass book now to join us on our Discover Huraa day tour.
There is a huge call to ban plastic straws all over the world and even celebrities have used their voices in the attempt to make this initiative known to a much wider audience and gain traction and support. Big brands such as Starbucks and Disney have joined the movement to ban straws as well. *Supporters of the plastics ban say that every year, more than 35 million tons of plastic pollution is produced worldwide and about a quarter of that ends up in the water.
**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 (Secret Paradise Maldives). Last year alone, 1.4 million tourists visited the Maldives with each guest staying an average of 6 days. If each of those guests only had one drink served with a straw per day during their stay that is 8.4 million straws and that is most likely a conservative estimate.
That’s quite a staggering number if you think of it in this scale. When we use straws, we actually don’t really realize the effect of it to our environment. Thinking of it in this proportion and spreading such awareness, does really make you think. But will simply banning straws be enough to save our oceans? The answer is obviously NO! There needs to be a collective and conscious effort across individuals, businesses, organizations and governments as a whole.
We think we could definitely do more than just refusing to use straws or banning the use of straws. On World Environment Day, June 5th 2018, Secret Paradise Maldives we invited all our partner guesthouse properties to pledge to STOP the use of plastic drinking straws in their guest houses.
However, there’s another problem hiding in plain view and that is the presence of micro-plastics in our oceans. Micro-plastics are the degraded particles sometimes seen floating as giant globs in the ocean being devoured by fish and seabirds. Imagine that on a larger scale and realize that these micro-plastics are degrading our oceans. At this point though, actions on an individual scale wouldn’t be felt anymore. There needs to be a massive and widespread awareness across all sectors and banning straws whilst a start is simply not enough.
What Else Can We Do At This Point?
We are living in a period of extraordinary times where plastics are all over us and the population dependence of plastics, especially on single-use plastics, is really alarming. We need concrete measures to rise above just banning straws. Here are some suggested steps that we and others feel could have a bigger impact:
Make the producers pay for their waste. When we say pay, it should involve a hefty amount of money so they will be more responsible in their manufacturing practices.
Make the consumers pay premium for plastics. – Increase the prices for plastics so people think twice before using it.
Cut waste – shift from an opt-out to an opt-in model. Teach people responsibility, provide awareness and education.
Go after the bigger cause, the root cause. – We need to look at the systems in place and determine where the disconnect is. Determine what we can do to solve the problem about cleaning our ocean at a much larger and effective way because let’s face it, just banning straws will not magically clean our oceans.
Start a movement and make it less effort, more impact. – ***Environmentalists hope the movement will stir a larger conversation about runaway plastics pollution. Straw bans alone — which have been criticized for not truly reducing waste — will barely dent the flood of plastic spewing into the environment each year.
Declare a massive clean-up drive. – Mobilize everyone to help clean our oceans – schedule a worldwide clean-up day and make sure to implement sustainable measures.
****To understand the magnitude of the environmental dilemma facing Earth, consider the explosion in the use of plastic bottles. Beverage companies produced 239 billion plastic bottles in 2004. That total had more than doubled by 2017 to 494 billion, and the trend continues, with plastic bottle production predicted to hit 594 billion by 2022, according to the market research firm Euromonitor International. That means bottlers will be churning out more than 1.6 billion every day.
What we are doing at Secret Paradise Maldives is a good start and we will continue to support other initiatives. “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 continually monitor properties on their tour visits as well as when we complete our annual property audits. This ensures that each guesthouse maintains its commitment to our initiative and offer support as necessary.We also speak with our guests upon arrival to encourage them to refuse plastic straws and bags”
How about you? How do you think we can clean our oceans?
A recent article by W Travel Magazine showcases all the different things you can experience at different locations in the Maldives and offers suggestions for resort stays. But what if we told you, all of these can also be experienced on a local island tour at a fraction of the price and still with personalised service?
With over 1,200 beautiful islands in the Maldives; whether you are visiting a local island or a luxury resort, in every part of the Maldives you will still experience the beautiful crystal blue clear waters of the Indian Ocean, breath taking marine life and perfect white sandy beaches. However, as Lindsay Lohan recently discovered there is more to the Maldives than just this and one of the best things about visiting local islands is the Maldivian hospitality.
The Maldives literally has it all for travelers and explorers, from adrenaline pumping water sports, to zen yoga on the beach. Island hopping, deserted islands, star gazing and diving in some of the most breathtaking dive sites in the world. No wonder more and more people are choosing the Maldives to visit every year. Take a look below at just some of the amazing things you can experience even if staying on local islands.
Just when you think there can’t be another new water sport in comes flyboarding! For those of you who love water sports this is a must to experience, a real adrenaline rush as you lift off over the water, flying high enough to see right around the island. Flyboarding is a hydro device which propels a flyboard, on which you are stood, into the air with jet nozzles.
Maafushi is a great place to experience flyboarding but any island that is active with water sports will be able to offer this. Let us know the type of holiday you would like and we will recommend the best locations!
Many people will travel to India for Yoga retreats but why not combine a beautiful local island vacation with a revitalizing Yoga Retreat. Enjoy Yoga at sunrise on white sandy beaches overlooking the tranquility of the clear blue waters and evening meditation watching some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
Where to Stay – Barefoot Island
The Barefoot is located within an almost untouched forest on Hanimaadhoo island in the preserved deep North of Maldives. This 4 star Eco Hotel is well connected to Male international airport by numerous daily 45 minutes flights. Due to its luxuriant vegetation and privacy everybody can fall in love with untouched nature, as well as experiencing the genuine and natural Maldives. With a half mile private sandy beach, a turquoise lagoon and modern accommodation facilities you can be assured of a relaxing holiday without breaking the bank!
If you are an avid diver and are looking to explore a large area during your stay then a dive liveaboard is just for you. The liveaboard experience allows you to dive multiple locations throughout your holiday and be with like-minded divers. With more routes taking in the deep south, with the possibility of encounters with tiger sharks, thresher sharks and maybe the elusive mola mola, this is an experience every keen diver should try.
MV Keana offers high standards of comfort and some great sustainable travel initiatives. In order to avoid unnecessary waste draft beer is served and water is available from a water dispenser. Warm water comes from a solar-device and the non-avoidable generators are modern and fuel-effective. All Cabins are above the water line across two decks meaning that all windows and doors can be opened preventing the need to switch on your AC!
Night diving is a must on any scuba divers bucket list. Fulidhoo Alimatha reef is just one of the popular night dive sites in the Maldives and by speedboat is not too far from Male International Airport. The location offers some of the best channel dives and divers have seen up to 100 nurse sharks at one time during their night dives.
Where to Stay
Fulidhoo is the first island in Vaavu Atoll and is historically famous for being a stopover island before Male. The friendly and caring people of Fulidhoo still maintain the tradition of offering a warm welcome today. A typical peaceful and relaxing local Maldivian island Fulidhoo is also known for its traditional Boduberu and bandiyaa “pot dance”.
It has a beautiful beach and a great coral reef abundant with coral and fish life. The reef structure is formed in caves and overhangs perfect for exploration by divers and snorkelers alike.
One of our favourite locations for a Robinson Crusoe style get away for the day is Island. A small deserted island located a short boat ride from Mathiveri, this is a fantastic experience where you can enjoy the peace and tranquility of these untouched deserts islands. Take along a picnic lunch, explore the natural beauty of the area, lay in the sun or head out for some snorkeling. It is an amazing experience not to be missed.
Where to Stay
The islands of Rasdhoo, Ukulhas and Mathiveri are surrounded by the breathtaking Indian Ocean. This area of North Ari Atoll is widely regarded as one of the best diving spots in the world and when the season is right it is possible to snorkel or swim with manta rays. With an abundance of green vegetation and beautiful white sandy beaches this 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.
Did you know you can see the night time stars from both hemispheres in the Maldives? Any local island away from the capital city, Male is perfect for viewing the constellations and you might even be able to make a wish on a shooting star.
Where to Stay
Boutique Beach is a luxury, contemporary diving hotel located on the beautiful Maldivian island of Dhigurah in the South Ari Atoll. Set against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean’s azure waters and magical sunsets, they offer guests a truly all-inclusive accommodation and diving package. Spend your days diving, snorkeling, relaxing or exploring – making memories, before returning ‘home’ where the Boutique Beach team will welcome you to their rooftop terrace for sun-downers and star gazing lazing on the bean bags. A perfect day in Paradise!
Resort Day Visit
You can still experience resort life without staying for your entire holiday. Our team will happily organise a resort day trip for you to enjoy pure luxury. The location of the local island where you are staying will determine which resort we recommend. However one place that is truly memorable is in South Male called Anantara Veli which has a classic swing out in the ocean. Fantastic photo opportunities and amazing memories.
For more information about how and what to book on your local island Maldives adventures, contact our sales team who will be delighted to help you.
Contact us today and start your Maldives adventure!