Discover our Paradise Home

The Maldives Islands, a tropical paradise nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, beckons you with its pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and a rich cultural tapestry waiting to be explored. Secret Paradise Maldives is leading sustainable travel company in the area, offering the very best of this island nation’s hidden treasures. From cultural attractions and natural wonders to local cuisine and historical tales. Join us on an unforgettable journey to this dream destination.

Where are the Maldives located?

The Maldives is a tropical paradise located in the Indian Ocean, situated southwest of Sri Lanka and India. It is an island nation consisting of 26 atolls, which are made up of over 1,200 islands spread north to south across 850km. The Maldives Islands are dispersed across the equator and boast a warm climate year-round, making it one of the world’s most renowned destinations. It boasts remarkably picturesque landscapes, warm, crystal-clear waters and is a perfect destination for travellers seeking sunshine, adventure and genuine cultural interaction with local communities.

How expensive is a trip to the Maldives?

Today a trip to the Maldives can be as affordable or as lavish as you desire. There is more than just one way to stay and explore the Maldives – holiday styles can vary from low cost tours to high end luxury resorts, from safari boat tours to liveaboard diving holidays. And now you can also stay in local island guesthouses and hotels, meaning your budget can start from as little as $50 per night to upwards of $1000s per night. Local island guesthouses and liveaboards provide budget-friendly options, while luxury resorts offer unparalleled indulgence and the quintessential Maldives holiday dream. Consider splitting your stay across different types of accommodation in so doing stretching your budget. Careful planning and research, speaking with local travel companies such as Secret Paradise Maldives, will help you find the right balance between cost and the experience you seek in this tropical paradise.

When is the best time to visit the Maldives?

With a tropical climate, plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 30°C throughout the year, there is never a bad time to visit the Maldives. Like many places in the world today, the climate and weather pattern is changing and historical data is less reliable as an indication of what to expect in the here and now.  As the Maldives is an archipelago spread across 850km north to south, weather will be different in one location to another and sometimes from one island to another even if it is close by! The Maldives has two seasons; dry season (northeast monsoon) from January to March and the wet season (southwest monsoon) from May to November. Wet however doesn’t mean rain all the time, it just means during this period we see greater rainfall than during the dry season. There is usually more wind during this period but this helps keep the temperature at a nice level and you can still expect plenty of blue skies and sunshine.

There can be heavy rain showers pretty much any time of year, but they tend to be short and cannot be accurately predicted seasonally (in other words – don’t worry too much about them). You will quite possibly experience some rain showers, but the majority of the weather should be great, and you will be unlucky to get several consecutive days of heavy rain. Note as the Maldives is situated so close to the equator it is possible to burn even on a cloudy day and sunscreen should be applied as a matter of course.

How to get to the Maldives?

Flights into Male are regular and you should have little difficulty booking one no matter from where in the world you will start your journey. However, during peak periods, for example Christmas/New Year, Easter, cheaper flights do tend to sell out quickly, so we advise booking early. Flights to Male are served by British Airways, Virgin, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Turkish Airlines, Fly Dubai, Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines as well as a number of smaller airline operators throughout Asia. Travellers currently fly into Malé International Airport (MLE), which is the main international gateway, although there is an International Airport in the south of the Maldives at Gan, Addu. A northern atoll international airport will open in 2024 at Hanimaadhoo, Haa Alif. From the international airport, you will take a pre booked domestic flight, seaplane, speedboat or public ferry to reach your final destination within the Maldives.

Do I need a visa to visit the Maldives?

No prior visa arrangements are required. Tourists are issued a 30-day visa on arrival. A passport valid for one month and travel documents (flight tickets) are necessary. You will need to present the QR code provided once you have completed the online IMUGA Traveler Declaration form. To obtain immigration clearance it is a requirement to provide an address of the place of your stay or proof that you have a booking. Without pre-booked accommodation you may be refused entry. Immigration will assist with the booking of your first night’s stay and you can expect to pay considerably more than the standard room rate.

What are the options for accommodation in the Maldives?

Where to find your island home.

Resorts: The Maldives is renowned for its luxurious overwater bungalows and high-end resorts, which can be quite expensive. Prices for a night at a luxury resort can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars per night, depending on the level of luxury, the type of room or villa, and the resort’s location. These resorts typically offer all-inclusive packages that include meals, activities, and spa treatments, adding to the overall cost.

Local Island Guesthouses: For budget-conscious travellers, staying at local island guesthouses is a more affordable option. These guesthouses provide comfortable and often charming Maldives accommodations on inhabited local islands. Prices are significantly lower than at resorts, with nightly rates ranging from $50 to $200, depending on the island’s popularity and the guesthouse’s style, level of service and amenities. Travellers to local islands can experience local culture, dine at local cafes and explore nearby islands.

Liveaboards: Liveaboards are popular among those looking for scuba diving in the Maldives, offering a unique way to explore the local underwater wonders. These are essentially small cruise ships equipped with diving facilities, and they take guests to various dive sites. Liveaboard prices vary depending on the duration of the trip, the level of comfort, and the itinerary. A basic liveaboard can start at around $150 per night, while more luxurious options can exceed $500 per night.

What can I see in the Maldives?

The Maldives boasts a natural beauty that’s second to none:

Natural beauty: The pristine white sandy beaches of the Maldives stretch out like ribbons of pure silk, glistening in the sunlight and inviting visitors to take leisurely strolls along the shore. The crystal-clear waters that caress these shores reveal a mesmerising underwater world teeming with colourful coral reefs and exotic marine life.  Amidst this oceanic splendour, the Maldives offers hidden gems like sandbanks that seem to magically emerge during low tide, creating dreamlike settings for intimate picnics or romantic walks. Lush mangrove forests provide a haven for wildlife and serve as a protective barrier for the islands, while swaying palm trees grace the landscape, casting soothing shadows on sun-drenched beaches. Beneath the surface, seagrass meadows thrive, harbouring diverse marine species. The Maldives is a sensory symphony of natural wonders, inviting travellers to lose themselves in its beauty and tranquillity.

Coral Reefs: The reefs of the Maldives play host to hundreds of species of tropical fish, as well as other marine life, including moray eels, sea turtles, octopus, lobsters and shrimps. You may encounter sting rays, eagle rays and reef sharks. For many the allure of the Maldives remains manta rays and whale sharks but it’s important to understand when and where you can see them as these creatures are seasonal and are not encountered in all atolls of the Maldives. Tiger Sharks, thresher sharks as well as the allusive sunfish have recently become synonymous with the southern island of Fuvahmulah, while manta rays congregate in the UNESCO biosphere of Hanifaru Bay between May and October and whale sharks can be found year round in the South Ari Marine Protected Area.

Bioluminescent Beaches: Experience the magic of bioluminescent beaches, where the water glows with a celestial blue hue at night. The so-called ‘sea of stars’ is a natural phenomenon and cannot be guaranteed. It can happen anywhere. This year we have personally seen bioluminescence in Fulhadhoo and Hulhumale during December/January. This phenomenon is caused by a natural chemical reaction known as bioluminescence, which occurs when a microorganism in the water is disturbed by oxygen. These microorganisms or marine microbes are called phytoplankton and there are a variety of its species that create bioluminescence seen in different parts of the world. The images depicted on the internet, which is where most clients have come across it, are of Vaadhoo Island in Raa Atoll, this is a domestic flight from the capital and requires an overnight stay. Visitors have the most luck seeing the blue glow from about July to February, especially during a new moon since the darkness of the sky helps intensify the light.

Breathtaking Sunsets: Watch the sun dip below the horizon in hues of orange and pink, casting a spellbinding glow over the serene waters. Maldives sunsets are renowned for their breathtaking and ever-changing colors, captivating all who witness them. The vivid and dynamic hues that adorn the evening sky are a result of several natural factors unique to this tropical paradise. First, the low altitude of the Maldives allows for a clear, unobstructed view of the horizon, providing an expansive canvas for the sun’s final descent. The reflection of sunlight on the surrounding ocean, which is often calm and crystal clear, intensifies the spectrum of colours. Additionally, the presence of atmospheric particles and moisture in the air scatters sunlight, creating a mesmerising array of oranges, pinks, purples, and reds. These elements, combined with the Maldives’ idyllic setting, make each sunset a magical and ever-evolving masterpiece that leaves indelible memories for those fortunate enough to witness them.

What are the best activities to do in the Maldives?

Adventure and relaxation await in the Maldives:

Watersports: Snorkel, paddleboard, and jet ski in the crystal-clear waters. Maldives snorkelling reveals a vibrant underwater world, where coral gardens host an array of marine life, from colourful fish to majestic whale sharks and graceful sea turtles. Paddle boarding or kayaking offers a serene way to explore the calm lagoons, while jet skiing provides an exhilarating rush of adrenaline as you speed across the turquoise waves.

Diving: With its diverse marine ecosystems, the Maldives is a diver’s paradise. Whether you’re a novice or experienced diver, the archipelago offers a plethora of dive sites. From exploring dramatic drop-offs and coral-covered pinnacles to encountering large pelagic species like mantas and reef sharks, Maldives diving promises unforgettable underwater adventures for all diving enthusiasts.

Sailing & Cruising: The calm and navigable lagoons, as well as the open sea, provide an ideal setting for sailing and cruising. You can hop from one island to another, anchor in aqua blue waters and enjoy the solitude of uninhabited islands and sandbanks. Sunset cruises in the Maldives are particularly magical, as the vibrant colours of the evening sky reflect off the tranquil waters with always the possibility to encounter dolphins.

Island Hopping: Exploring the Maldives isn’t limited to a single island. Island hopping in the Maldives allows you to discover the distinct charm and character of various atolls and islands scattered across the archipelago. Choose to island hop between private islands resorts or between local islands on a day tour from your island base. Or tour through a number of islands with a local tour guide over a number of nights. Each island has its own features and benefits so research is key to ensuring you select the best islands for you and your holiday needs. Whether you opt for public ferries, speedboats, or domestic flights, each mode of transportation provides a unique perspective of the Maldives’ diverse landscapes and cultures, from bustling fishing villages to tranquil private islands.

Walking Tours: Guided walking tours offer a unique and immersive way to uncover the hidden gems of this island nation. Tours with a local guide in the capital city of Male provide opportunities to gain a deeper understanding about the culture, history and daily life of this unique capital city and its people. While local island walking tours take you through traditional Maldivian fishing villages, where you can engage with friendly locals, learn about their customs, and sample delicious Maldivian delicacies. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit historic sites, such as ancient mosques, gaining insights into the rich heritage of the Maldives. Whether it’s a leisurely beachfront walk or a guided tour of a local island, exploring the Maldives on foot allows you to soak in the natural beauty and vibrant culture of this paradise at your own pace.

Spa and Wellness: Rejuvenate your mind and body with luxurious spa treatments, yoga sessions, and meditation. Beyond their stunning landscapes, Maldives yoga retreats are a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation. Luxury resorts offer world-class spa treatments, yoga sessions in serene beachfront settings, and meditation programs to help travellers unwind and reconnect with their inner selves. It’s a place where you can leave behind the stresses of everyday life and embrace tranquillity.

Adventure Sports: For adrenaline junkies, the Maldives offers a range of adventure sports to get the heart racing. Kiteboarding and windsurfing take advantage of the steady trade winds, providing thrilling rides on the ocean’s surface. Parasailing offers a bird’s-eye view of the picturesque atolls and lagoons, making the Maldives a destination that caters to adventure enthusiasts seeking excitement amidst its serene beauty. Sky diving is also a possibility from selected resorts!

Positive Impact: Engaging in giving back and positive impact activities while visiting the Maldives can transform your vacation into a meaningful and responsible travel From volunteering for marine conservation efforts, planting coral, planting coconut palm trees or participating in beach cleanups, there are numerous ways to make a positive contribution. By aligning your travel choices with the best sustainable tourism practices, you not only help protect the Maldives’ pristine environment and unique marine ecosystems but leave a positive and lasting impact on this tropical paradise while fostering a deeper connection with its natural beauty.

Local Cuisine

Indulge your taste buds with the exotic flavours of Maldivian cuisine:

Seafood Delights: Savor the freshest catches of the day, from succulent grilled fish to spicy fish curries, Maldivian cuisine is a paradise for fish lovers. Subject to popular belief, seafood is not part of traditional Maldivian cuisine and while it may be common to dine on prawns, shrimps, crab and lobster on a private island resort it is fish that is the star of the show on local islands. All islands are surrounded by bountiful waters teeming with diverse marine life, making fish a central element of Maldives food culture. Tuna, reef fish, smoked fish and dried fish all play a part in Maldivian cuisine. Travellers can indulge in the freshest catches of the day, often served grilled to perfection, bringing out the natural flavours of the ocean. Additionally, the Maldives offers a variety of aromatic fish curries, where the harmony of spices and herbs creates a tantalising burst of flavours on the palate. Dining on fish in the Maldives is not just a meal but a sensory journey through the vibrant marine culture of this tropical haven.

Coconut-Inspired Dishes: Coconut, in its various forms, plays a starring role in Maldivian cuisine. Creamy coconut milk is a luscious base for many dishes, adding richness and depth to curries and stews. Whether it’s a coconut-infused broth, mashuni and roshi, or a refreshing coconut drink, this tropical fruit is a staple ingredient that imparts a unique Maldivian essence to each dish. Head to restaurants such as the Maldives Kitchen and Chef Mode in Hulhumale for authentic Maldivian flavours, or join us on our Taste of Local Tour.

Hedhikaa: To truly immerse oneself in Maldives culture, tasting traditional snacks known as ‘hedhikaa’ is a must. These delectable treats are commonly found in local cafes and offer a glimpse into everyday Maldivian life. Popular options include ‘bajiya,’ savoury pastries filled with fish, coconut, or vegetables, and ‘keemia,’ fish rolls that are crispy on the outside and bursting with flavour on the inside. Hedhikaa offers a delightful fusion of textures and tastes, making it a culinary adventure for those seeking authentic Maldivian flavours in an informal and charming setting.

Chilli: Feel the heat! Chilli, is a versatile and flavorful ingredient that plays a significant role in Maldivian cuisine. Chilies are known for their ability to add heat and depth to dishes, enhancing their taste and they are commonly found in many Maldivian dishes. They are used in a variety of forms, including fresh, dried, and powdered, and are incorporated into soups, curries, sauces, and marinades. Whether you enjoy the mild warmth of bell peppers or the fiery intensity of a Maldivian chilli you can be assured of flavoursome meals.

Tropical fruits: Among the fruits commonly grown and enjoyed in the Maldives are coconuts, which play a central role in Maldivian cuisine. Another favourite is the vibrant and juicy papaya, often served as a refreshing snack or as part of a tropical fruit salad. Bananas, both sweet and finger varieties, are widely cultivated and enjoyed as a nutritious and energy-boosting treat. Mangoes, with their luscious sweetness, are a seasonal delight that locals eagerly anticipate, and they are often used to make tangy chutneys and desserts. The Maldives also boasts a variety of tropical fruits like pineapples, guavas, and passion fruit, offering a delightful medley of flavours that reflect the vibrant essence of these stunning islands.

What is the culture of Maldives like?

Explore the cultural heritage of the Maldives and gain insights into the lives of its warm and welcoming people:

Islamic Culture: Nestled in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, this island nation boasts a rich and diverse cultural heritage that has been shaped by centuries of maritime trade, Islamic influences, and the enduring connection to the sea. Maldivian culture is a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, where ancient rituals and customs coexist with contemporary expressions of art, music, and cuisine. Since the 12th century, when the Maldives embraced Islam the culture and way of life in this archipelago have been deeply intertwined with the teachings and traditions of the Islamic faith. This Islamic heritage is evident in the daily rituals, the 5 times daily call to prayer, architectural craftsmanship like the coral-stone mosques, and the warm embrace of Islamic festivals that punctuate the Maldivian calendar. Islamic culture shapes the Maldivian society, guiding its moral compass, influencing its legal system, and contributing to a rich tapestry of art, architecture, and tradition that reflects the enduring impact of religion on this captivating island nation.

Historic Mosques: The Maldives is home to a treasure trove of historic mosques that offer a glimpse into the country’s rich architectural and religious heritage. Among these architectural gems stands the Hukuru Miskiy, a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its stunning coral-stone architecture. Visitors can marvel at the intricate carvings and the timeless beauty of this mosque, which bears witness to the enduring Islamic tradition in the Maldives. Its architectural grandeur and historical significance make it a must-visit for those interested in exploring the spiritual and cultural facets of the Maldives.

Cultural Festivals: To witness the vibrant cultural tapestry of the Maldives, planning a visit to coincide with cultural festivals like Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha is a fantastic idea. These festivals are celebrated annually, on slightly different dates each year as the Maldives follows the lunar calendar. and provide a glimpse into the religious and cultural traditions of the Maldivian people. Visitors can join in the festivities, which often include colourful parades, communal prayers, feasting on traditional delicacies, cultural performances and community games. These celebrations not only provide an opportunity for cultural exchange but also create lasting memories of the Maldives’ vibrant cultural heritage.

Local Islands: To truly immerse oneself in the authentic Maldivian way of life, a visit to local villages is a must. Local islands offer a unique opportunity to interact with friendly islanders and savour the warm hospitality that defines the Maldivian people. Strolling through the narrow streets of these villages, visitors can gain insights into the daily routines, customs, and traditions that have been preserved for generations, making for a genuinely enriching and immersive cultural experience. Local islands closer to Male, those within North and South Male Atoll, Vaavu and North and South Ari are more developed with a strong infrastructure catering for tourists. Whereas local islands beyond these atolls still remain off the main beaten tourist track and provide a greater insight to the lives of locals beyond tourism.

Maldivian Art: The Maldives boasts a rich tradition of artistic expression, with its local art reflecting the country’s vibrant culture and heritage. Traditionally handicraft in the Maldives include mat weaving, embroidery (kasabu boavalhu libaas), coir making and lacquer work. It is believed that each of these skills are confined to certain geographic regions, atolls or islands. The island of Gadhdhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll for instance is renowned for its fine hand-woven mats made of dried hau (rushes) used for prayer mats and as a decoration. The finest lacquer work is said to be found on Thulaadhoo, in Baa Atoll. Wooden pots, boxes and vases of all shapes and sizes display beautiful abstract patterns in red, black and yellow. Rinbudhoo in Dhaalu Atoll is famous for its goldsmiths while Hulhudeli in the same Atoll is well known for its silversmiths. Today there is also a strong and active younger artisan community whose skills can be viewed at regular exhibitions at the Maldives National Art Gallery or located online on platforms such as Instagram and in shops such as Island Bazaar and Authentic Maldives.

What are the best sustainable tourism practices in the Maldives?

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll have a respectful and enjoyable experience while immersing yourself in the natural beauty and local culture of the Maldives Islands.

Modest Dress: When visiting Male or local islands, wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, especially when exploring the community areas of islands. Dress modestly when you are not on designated bikini beaches. This shows respect for the local culture.

Cultural Sensitivity: In addition to dressing modestly, it’s essential to be culturally sensitive. Learn about local customs and be respectful towards the islanders. This includes not disrupting daily life, especially during prayer times.

Ask for Permission: If you want to take photos of locals or their property, it’s polite to ask for their permission first.

Sustainable Travel Practices: Help preserve the fragile Maldives environment by following responsible tourism practices such as not touching or damaging coral reefs and minimising the use of single-use plastics.

Respect Wildlife: While exploring both Maldives islands and the ocean, you may encounter various marine life and wildlife. Maintain a safe distance and avoid disturbing them, especially nesting birds or sea turtles.

Support Local Businesses: Whenever possible, buy souvenirs or dine at local restaurants to support the local economy.

Learn Basic Phrases: Learning a few basic Maldivian phrases like “Hello” (Assalaamu Alaikum) and “Thank you” (Shukuriyaa) can go a long way in showing respect.

No Public Displays of Affection: Avoid public displays of affection such as kissing and hugging in public areas on local islands. This is considered disrespectful.

Avoid Alcohol: The consumption of alcohol is prohibited on local islands. If you wish to have a drink, do so at a nearby resort where alcohol is not restricted or on a designated liveaboard or bar boat.

Don’t Sunbathe Topless: While there may be bikini beaches, avoid sunbathing topless or in overly revealing swimwear outside of these designated areas. This is also a requirement at private island resorts.

Don’t Disrespect Religious Sites: If you visit a mosque or religious site, dress modestly and follow any specific rules or guidelines they may have.

Don’t Litter: Respect the environment by disposing of your trash properly. Keep the islands clean and beautiful.

Don’t Engage in Public Arguments: Avoid engaging in public arguments or confrontations. Maintain a calm and respectful demeanour.

What is the Historical Significance of the Maldives?

Delve into the rich history of the Maldives:

Maritime Crossroads: Positioned along ancient sailing trade routes, the Maldives served as a crucial maritime crossroads for traders and travellers from the Indian subcontinent, East Africa, Arabia, and Southeast Asia. This strategic location facilitated the exchange of goods, cultures, and ideas for centuries.

Buddhist Heritage: The Maldives was a prominent centre for Buddhism from the 3rd century until the 12th century, with ancient Buddhist stupas and monasteries dotting the islands. These ancient archaeological remains are found on many islands throughout the Maldives, a wealth of Buddhist relics were discovered on Nilandhoo, with the largest monuments of the Buddhist era located in the islands fringing the eastern side of Haddhunmathi Atoll (Laamu Atoll). The National Museum in Male holds a number of discovered artefacts.

Islamic Conversion: In the 12th century, the Maldives underwent a significant religious transformation as it converted to Islam, making it one of the world’s earliest Islamic states. This conversion had a profound and lasting impact on the culture, legal system, and way of life in the archipelago. In the southern island of Hulhumeedhoo, the oldest burial grounds of Koagannu can be found. This important Islamic site was home to the first mosque in Maldives and the surrounding cemetery comprises some 1,500 tombstones, mausolea and additional mosques, all constructed of coral cut from the shallow reefs around the island. The infusion of Islamic values, ethics, and norms into the Maldivian way of life continues to resonate in today’s society, making it an enduring testament to the transformative power of religion in shaping the course of history and culture in the Maldives.

Colonial Rule: The Maldives experienced a period of colonial rule in the 16th to 19th centuries. The arrival of European colonisers, including the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, brought about cultural syncretism, with elements of European customs, dress, and cuisine blending with local Maldivian traditions. This fusion is evident in the Maldivian cuisine, which incorporates ingredients and cooking techniques introduced by the colonisers, such as the use of chilli peppers from the Portuguese. Architecturally, European-style fortifications and colonial-era buildings can still be found in some parts of the country, including Addu and Kelaa serving as tangible reminders of the colonial past.

Environmental Vulnerability: Environmental vulnerability is a pressing global concern in the 21st century, with regions like the Maldives serving as poignant examples. Situated as one of the world’s lowest-lying nations, the Maldives faces an existential threat from rising sea levels driven by climate change. This vulnerability underscores the urgent need for worldwide climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. It serves as a rallying cry for international cooperation to curb greenhouse gas emissions, protect vulnerable ecosystems, and support nations like the Maldives in adapting to the inevitable impacts of a changing climate. The Maldives’ plight reminds us that environmental vulnerability is not a distant concept but a sobering reality, emphasising the critical importance of sustainable practices and global environmental stewardship for the well-being of our planet and future generations.

At Secret Paradise Maldives, we are dedicated to curating unforgettable experiences that showcase the Maldives’ cultural richness, natural beauty, and historical significance. Join us on a tour of discovery, and let the Maldives captivate your heart and soul.

Book your Maldives tour with us today and embark on a trip of a lifetime!