An unusual Maldives tour discovering the local life, culture, food & unique island capital Malé and joining a marine conservation project as well as exploring its fabulous reefs & turquoise seas
Off the beaten track Maldives mini-tour
Our Hidden Maldives tour provides you with some glimpses into the authentic country, people and culture that few visitors get to see. The luxury resorts on private, tourist islands and turquoise atolls are world-famous; but what about the rest of the vast, sprawling archipelago nation?
On this 1-week mini-tour, we’ll stay in family-run accommodation in a traditional fishing village and visit local markets, meet the residents in tea shops and discover the authentic Maldivian cuisine as well as taking a walking tour of the fascinating labyrinth of narrow lanes that form the nation’s unique but little-known capital Malé. In addition to exploring the vibrant coral reefs, deserted sandbanks, white sand beaches, and with luck, spotting some of the still abundant turtles, rays and dolphins, we’ll also spend a day with the excellent Save the Beach organisation who make great efforts to preserve the flora and fauna of this rich and fabulous marine environment.
This tour has all the elements of a classic Maldives visit as well as, more unusually, providing a genuine insight into the local culture and traditions that lie behind the picture postcard cliches of this popular, yet surprisingly little-explored destination.
Hidden Maldives is offered as a private tour and as such does not have set departure dates. Let us know when you want to go and we will arrange any dates to suit you.
Note, while we’d originally conceived this tour as an add-on to our itineraries in neighbouring Sri Lanka, the Maldives is in fact very easily combined with most of our Southeast Asian tours and so lends itself to any kind of combined 1-week culture, 1-week island trip with most other South or Southeast Asian destinations. The islands are situated roughly half-way between Dubai and Bangkok and offer excellent flights connections both east and westwards.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Malé - arrival and walking tour of the unusual town
Arrival at Malé Airport and transfer by vehicle the short distance to Hulhumale. Check-in to a comfortable beachfront hotel from where, after a Maldives style lunch in a local cafe, we’ll offer a walking tour of the narrow cobbled lanes of this fascinating, and highly unusual, Malé City including markets, the waterfront and some of its complex history at the National Museum.
Overnight: Hulhumale Transport: Walk, Meals: L,
Day 2 - Villimale Island
Off by local ferry to neighbouring Villimale Island to visit the Save the Beach organisation and learn about, and participate in, their initiatives to tackle some of the Maldives contemporary issues such as coral and marine life conservation. Our visit will include a walking tour of the island as well as snorkelling to visit their coral nurseries. In the afternoon we’ll transfer by local boat to Guraidhoo Island in South Male Atoll where we’ll check in to the cosy, friendly and comfortable Guraidhoo Palm Inn in the centre of the island’s tiny fishing village.
Overnight: Guraidhoo Transport: Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 3 - Guraidhoo - morning snorkelling and afternoon island tour
A boat trip to explore some of the surrounding atolls and their vibrant reefs with lunch on an uninhabited sandbank including guided snorkelling tours. In the afternoon we’ll return to Guraidhoo for a look around the island taking in the village mosque, traditional wooden boat building and of course one of the island’s local tea shops! A night fishing trip is also an evening option if you want to try your luck at catching your own dinner?
Overnight: Guraidhoo Transport: Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 5 - Gulhi - island hopping tour and barbecue
An island hopping tour taking in the local fishing community of Gulhi Island as well as a barbecue lunch on a deserted island beach. Plenty of opportunities for snorkelling and a chance to spot some dolphins if we’re lucky. In the evening there is a chance to catch the island’s dance group for a display of traditional drum, dance and song.
Overnight: Guraidhoo Transport: Boat, Meals: B, L, D,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the many highlights
Malé street-life, local markets and cafes, village life and a reef and beach conservation project are on the menu as well as fishing, island hopping and guided snorkelling tours on the atolls' vibrant coral reefs
- Discover the real country and everyday life beyond the private island, luxury tourist resorts
- Walking tour of the fascinating, colorful and unique labyrinth of narrow lanes that form the capital Malé
- Visit coral nurseries and learn about, and assist in, the Save the Beach organisation's conservation and development projects
- Meet the friendly locals in village tea shops and sample authentic Maldivian food in local cafes
- Stay in a simple but comfortable and cosy, locally-run inn in a fishing village on Guraidhoo Island
- Boat trip to a visit the surrounding atoll including guided snorkelling tours and picnic lunch on a Indian Ocean sandbank
We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...
Hotel Laze Malé
- Delightful little hotel - low-key but comfortable
- Set in the heart of Malé's labyrinth of narrow lanes
- The perfect spot to explore fascinating & little known Malé
Guraidhoo Palm Inn Guraidhoo Island view
- Cosy, comfortable - our clear fave on laid back Guraidhoo
- Spotless rooms, great food and very friendly staff
- A little guesthouse on Guraidhoo's sandy 'high street'
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
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