I discovered the Maldives 15 years ago, visiting as a scuba diver in search of mantas and whale sharks. I was fortunate and found a reasonably priced resort that allowed me to stay and indulge in my hobby but then came along development and my well-loved resort went luxury and beyond my price range. So i moved to diving from a boat and this also in later years enabled me to gain an understanding of local island life. I always consider myself lucky to have found a group of Maldivian friends who would invite me to their family homes for dinner, share afternoon hedika and invite me for coffee and beetle nuts! My love and appreciation of this country, its people, its culture and traditions was almost immediate and resulted in me visiting the archipelago on over 30 occasions in the years since. In 2012 the opportunity to relocate arose. I had at that point worked for British Home Stores for over 25 years and felt it was time for a change and so with the support of a local business man, we formed Secret Paradise. Our mission to introduce the Real Maldives to guests and support local communities.
Experiencing the Real Maldives
Maldivians are known for their friendliness and hospitality and nothing is too much trouble for them. It was through my own experience of Maldivian hospitality and their eagerness to please that gave rise to the cultural aspects of our tours which allowed us to engage with local families, communities and businesses.
Sitting in the home of a local family for dinner can be a humbling experience. We encourage our local families h to sit and eat with our guests. On my initial visits to a local home I would be provided with an array of food, enough to feed a small army, but as I sat and stuffed my face the family would sit and watch me and no amount of encouragement would get them to join me! Any young children at first can be a little shy of a group of strangers but they soon come out from behind their mothers legs and more often than not end up sitting on someone’s knee. The older generation sometimes may not be able to speak English but will do their upmost to understand your sign language which as you can imagine generally adds laughter to the proceedings.
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 specializes in individual and group travel for people of all ages, don’t think it is just for young adventurers, it is also for the young at heart! My 75 year old mother tested our 4 day discovery package and more recently we had a group of seniors visit from Australia who are coming back again this year! We are happy to act as a portal for independent travelers offering advice and recommendations on where to stay and the best way to discover the Maldives. Most importantly whichever way you choose to explore the country we aim to provide holidays that meet your budget, are fun and provide comfort along with a warm welcome allowing you, our guest, to experience the best from the paradise I am now privileged to call home.
Isn’t it time you adventured Maldivian style?