An unusual Maldives tour discovering the local life, culture, food & unique island capital Malé and joining a marine life conservation project as well, of course, its fabulous reefs & turquoise seas
Our Hidden Maldives tour provides you with some glimpses into the real 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 archipelago nation?
On this trip, we’ll stay in family-run accommodation in a traditional fishing village and visit markets, meet the residents in local 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 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 local Save the Beach organisation who make great efforts to preserve this fabulous marine environment.
This tour has all the elements of a classic Maldives visit as well as providing an insight into the local culture and traditions that lie behind the postcard images of this popular, yet surprisingly little-explored destination.
This is a private tour and as such does not have set departure dates, let us know when you want to go and we will arrange the 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. The islands are situated roughly half-way between Dubai and Bangkok and offer excellent flights connections.
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 beach front 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.
Additional nights' accommodation is available before or after your tour on request.
Overnight: Malé Transport: Walk, Meals: L, D,
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 atoll and it’s 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
- Stay in a simple but comfortable and cosy, locally-run inn in a fishing village on Guraidhoo Island
- Meet the friendly locals in village tea shops and sample authentic Maldivian food in local cafes
- Boat trip to a visit the surrounding atoll including guided snorkelling tours and picnic lunch on a Indian Ocean sandbank
Air Departures (UK)
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Male
*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.
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...
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'
Hotel Laze, Malé view
- 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
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
Visa Info & Notes
Visas: A 30-day visa is available, free of charge, on arrival at Malé International Airport. As usual, a minimum of 6 months validity from the date of arrival and at least 1 blank page in your passport is required.
Meals: local food on the Maldives is, as you’d expect, very much fish – specifically tuna – based and shows varied influences from India and Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and the Gulf region. Tuna curry – perhaps the national dish – is coconut milk based and mild and creamy.
Outside of off-shore bars belonging to the larger international style resorts alcohol is prohibited with the main stimulants being tea, coffee and betel nuts.
Lunches are usually simple and often picnic style where day trips are involved while local-style dinners are more elaborate and consist of a selection of dishes ordered by your tour leader. A number of meals during the tour are not included to allow you to ‘do your own thing’.
Accommodation: our selection is a local-style, family-run village guesthouse; simple but comfortable with en-suite bathrooms and air-conditioning.
Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and any can be tailored for any fitness level or alternatives suggested. All snorkelling trips specified in the itinerary are accompanied by a professional snorkelling guide and instruction is available for any level of experience.
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