Leave a positive
impact

Marine Conservation

Environmental Awareness

Cruise our island paradise in collaboration with Manta Trust and encounter graceful manta rays and experience the ultimate in marine conservation and snorkeling adventures. This small group snorkeling cruise of no more than 10 people, coincides with the new or full moon, which usually brings with it an increase in sightings and numbers in Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll.

Through a series of activities and presentations on topics led by a Manta Trust expert and your Secret Paradise Tour Leader, you will gain an increased awareness of both the marine life we encounter and the fragile Maldives environment. Learn about the challenges faced by our oceans and how you can assist in making a positive impact. Assist in data collection, identify individual manta rays and contribute to the research work carried out by Manta Trust.  

 

Trip Details

Trip Details

Price

  • USD 2699 per person
  • Single Supplement USD1349

Availability

  • 17th – 24th August 2024
  • 15th -22nd  September 2024

Start time

  • Arrival on day midday by 11:00

Duration

  • 8 days & 7 nights

Meeting point

  • Velana International Airport (MLE)

Group size

  • Minimum 6 persons
  • Maximum 10 persons

WHAT ARE THE MALDIVES ENTRY REQUIREMENTS?

  • Travelers must have a confirmed accommodation/tour booking.
  • Travelers must have a passport or travel document valid for a minimum 30 days from date of entry to the Maldives.
  • Travelers must have a return flight ticket.
  • The online traveler declaration form IMUGA must be completed within the 96 hour period prior to arrival in country.

Included

  • 7 Night twin/double cabin accommodation including breakfast
  • 7 breakfasts, 7 lunch & 7 dinner
  • Daily morning and afternoon snacks
  • Airport and transfer assistance
  • Return transfer of guests from the airport to boat – airport
  • Welcome drinks on arrival
  • Unlimited house tea and coffee
  • Unlimited drinking water – bring a reusable water bottle
  • Snorkeling activities
  • Local Island Tours
  • Entry to Hanifaru Bay
  • Dingy or dhoni transfer to snorkeling points and islands
  • Services of English-Speaking Secret Paradise Tour Leader
  • Manta Trust Researcher
  • All Local Tax (10% Service Charge, 16% GST and $6 Green Tax per person per night)

Not included

  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks purchased on board

What to bring

  • Full details will be provided in our welcome information pack

Important note

  • Day-by-day itinerary subject to change due to weather, ocean conditions and presence of marine life.
  • Alcoholic beverages available onboard from USD $4 (payable at end of the cruise).

Carbon Footprint

800Kg of CO₂e – average carbon emission per person
Find our more about our Carbon Management here

Highlights

Accompanied by Maldives Manta Conservation Programme

Assist in research and data collection

Learn about the unique Maldivian ecosystem and the conservation challenges

Learn how to protect the biodiversity and marine life of the Maldives

Snorkel diverse reefs and marine rich tropical waters

Encounter manta rays, turtles, sharks, dolphins and more

What to Expect

Upon arriving in the Maldives, you will be met by your tour leader at Male International Airport and board MV Akoya Pearl. After settling in, we set sail through North Male Atoll. Sit back and enjoy your first views of the many islands unfolding around you. Your initial snorkeling experience will not only allow you to test out your equipment and for your tour leader to assess your skills, but will provide a taste of what is to come on our week-long voyage. Your tour leader will provide a safety briefing on responsible snorkeling and act as your ‘spotter’ pointing out marine life that may not have caught your eye. Coral reefs are fragile ecosystems so learning how to snorkel responsibly can help minimize your impact on the marine environment and protect the delicate balance of marine life.

In the evening, a presentation by Manta Trust focuses on the history of the Manta Trust, their role in manta ray conservation and Secret Paradise’s involvement with the Local Island Fund for the Environment (LIFE).

Learn more about our collaboration with Manta Trust here

A new day begins with an early navigation crossing from North Male Atoll into Baa Atoll. Following breakfast as we cruise the ocean wave, your Tour Leaders will introduce you to the work of the Olive Ridley project, providing an insight into their environmental monitoring and turtle studies.  They will also share the turtle snorkeling code of conduct, preparing you for responsible turtle encounters later today at Dhonfanu, where these ancient creatures are often encountered.

This evening a further informative presentation will provide insight into manta ray biology, the Maldives manta ray population and how research contributes to both a greater understanding of the species and environmental decisions being made by Maldivian government bodies.

Located on the south eastern side of Baa Atoll, Hanifaru Bay is part of a channel close to the local island of Dharavandoo. The bay’s reef is twice as wide at the mouth as it is towards the lagoon, forming a distinctive funnel shape that assists it in being a potential hotspot for manta rays between May – November. During this period, plankton gets trapped in the bay due to the funnel formation and this high concentration of plankton attracts both manta rays and whale sharks. 

This UNESCO biosphere reserve has been designated as a Marine Protected Area since 2011 and there are strict regulations in place to protect and preserve this amazing wonder of nature, which also includes a ticketing system which provides access to the bay on alternate days for vessels. Your Tour Leaders will brief you on how to ensure any encounters are positive for both you and the manta rays.

Our cruise coincides with the new or full moon, which usually brings with it an increase in sightings and numbers in Hanifaru Bay. So, whilst never a guarantee, we hope to be lucky enough to encounter manta rays and capture important data.

This afternoon we visit the uninhabited island of Huraa Faru. As you step onto its shores, you will feel like an intrepid explorer, discovering a place that feels like it belongs only to you. The island’s beaches will invite you to wander and explore their hidden corners. Unfortunately, plastic is often not hidden and we will spend time completing a beach clean-up activity, ensuring we leave a positive mark on the island. The act of cleaning is a powerful reminder of the importance of responsible tourism and environmental stewardship.

As we cruise to our anchorage point of Veyofushi, learn about the biology and behavior of whale sharks, the research efforts of Maldives Whale Shark Research Program and the importance of protecting these gentle giants.

Today provides further opportunities to encounter manta rays at Veyofushi and Reethi Beach lagoons. When we do spot them, following the manta ray code of conduct we will snorkel alongside them. A truly magical experience. As part of the data capture process, assist in collecting valuable information such as size, behavior, markings and photo IDs. This hands-on experience contributes directly to the ongoing research efforts of Manta Trust.

Cruising north into Raa Atoll we head for the beautiful reef of Kottefaru, where, if we are lucky, we will encounter feeding manta rays. Manta rays are filter feeders meaning that they eat by swimming with their mouths open and taking in food from the water around them. As large animals they need to eat a lot of food to sustain themselves and their anatomy is designed to process on average 7 KG of plankton per day by filter-feeding!

The Maldives archipelago is globally unique in terms of biological diversity, the diversity of the reef structures it possesses, and their mode of evolution. It is also extremely vulnerable to future sea-level and climate change. This evening we look at the geology of the Maldives and the projects in place to build climate resilience.

Staying in Raa Atoll we will conduct explorative snorkeling at Dhikkuredhdhoo Finolhu, Boduhaiykodi and Madivaafaru. Whilst never a guarantee, we may encounter manta rays and following the manta ray code we will add to our collection of data research.  Our snorkeling activities will also provide an opportunity to observe different coral reef formations, encounter a variety of fish species, and appreciate the intricate balance of these underwater ecosystems.

This afternoon we delve into the work of NGO Miyaru, custodians of the protection of sharks in the Maldives. The Maldives is one of the most important shark sanctuaries in the Indian Ocean and home to globally significant populations of large predatory sharks, including several critically endangered species.

While sharks are protected from targeted fishing within the nation’s waters these elasmobranchs continue to face anthropogenic pressure from climate change, pollution and entanglement, interaction with vessels, rising tourism numbers, as well as habitat loss due to land reclamation. Gain an insight into environmental monitoring and shark studies.

The day ends with a BBQ beach dinner, under the stars at Dhorangali.

As the sun rises, we start our journey back into Baa Atoll where we have the opportunity to visit the local island of Kamadhoo. This is a small but beautiful island rich in vegetation. As you wander the sandy lanes with your tour leader you will witness the community going about their daily lives and will learn how culture and tradition remains the backbone to their daily rhythm and routines. Kamadhoo is part of Soneva Namoona project which focuses on reducing waste, recycling and reusing. The island segregates its waste and this process is managed by the council and the local people themselves. Finally, stop by a local cafe to refresh yourself with a cool Kurumba (coconut).

Afternoon snorkeling at either Dhonfanu or Dhaandhoo Reef provides another mesmerizing underwater encounter. Discover a coral reef that is teeming with fish and marine-life.

The Maldives is rich in marine life but unfortunately, our marine life is under threat because of activities carried out by humans. This evening, your tour leader will highlight the harmful practices that are pushing the balance in the ecosystem and what we can do to limit the impact.

Today we cruise from Baa Atoll back to North Male Atoll. While cruising we will spend some time ensuring all our trip data has been recorded and review our findings. On route to Hulhumale, which will be our final anchorage of the tour, we stop off at the local island of Huraa to visit its mangrove lake and learn why mangroves play such an important role in the eco-system of the Maldives. There will also be the opportunity to see how fish is dried and taste fresh rihakaru paste, a love it or hate it delicacy!

Departure to Male International Airport.

Your Trip Accommodation

MV AKOYA PEARL

MV ‘Akoya Pearl’ a beautiful premium wooden hull gullet with sails consists of 5 fully air-conditioned cabins, which can accommodate 10 guests onboard at a time and is fully equipped with the required amenities.

  • Air-conditioned cabins with ensuite shower room
  • Salon space with bar facilities
  • Outside deck with dining facilities
  • Large sundecks with sun beds

We require a minimum number of 6 persons for cruises to operate.

There is no minimum number for any of our land based tours.

Accommodation is offered on a twin/double room share basis.

If you are a single traveler and prefer a private single room to yourself throughout the tour/cruise, this can be arranged. A single supplement is charged on all our multi day tours except the following:

Yes, we can assist with organising pre and post tour accommodation, including a transit night in the capital area or a longer independent stay on a local island or resort island.

Like many places in the world today, the climate and weather patterns are changing and historical data is becoming less reliable as an indication of what to expect. With a tropical climate, plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 30°C throughout the year, there is never a really bad time to visit the Maldives. There are two distinct seasons: the dry season (northeast monsoon) from January to March and the wet season (southwest monsoon) from mid-May to November. ‘Wet season’ doesn’t mean it rains all the time, but during this period there is a higher probability of rain. However, in today’s world we do experience rain even during the ‘dry’ season.

More detailed weather information can be found here

The Maldives are a Muslim nation, therefore care needs to be taken regarding dress on small islands and in local communities.

While it is acceptable for men to wear t-shirts and shorts/swim shorts, women should avoid causing offence by maintaining a more conservative approach. T-shirts with sleeves that cover the shoulders, loose shorts that cover the thighs, or sundresses with a sarong around shoulders are advised.

All the islands we visit are more tolerant of guests wearing traditional beachwear, but women should NOT wear swimwear unless on an uninhabited island, sandbank, private tourist bikini beach (available on all islands you’ll stay on) or on board our cruises and snorkeling boats. Your tour leader will advise when and where this is possible.

No previous experience is needed for any of the included activities – just an average level of fitness and a sense of adventure. The activities aren’t strenuous, the only requirement is that you must be able to climb a ladder to exit the water, be comfortable in the water and be able to swim to participate in snorkeling activities.

We strongly recommend you bring along your own mask and snorkel wherever possible. Not only will you be assured the mask fits your face properly (making it more comfortable and less likely to leak), it’s also more hygienic. A mask and snorkel are small and light, so they should take up very little space in your suitcase! Due to the ocean current and wind conditions in the Maldives, the use of fins is essential for almost all snorkelling and these are included in all snorkelling activities we provide on tour. However, if you want to ensure a perfect fit, you are always welcome to bring your own.

On board our cruises we can cater to most diets providing we are advised at time of booking.  If there is something particularly you eat within your diet that you can’t live without we would encourage you to pack some and be prepared for perhaps more repetition of meals than you would be used to back home. For further clarification drop us a message.

Note to support our sustainable approach to cruises we do not offer beef products on board.

When traveling on land based tours properties can cater for vegan and vegetarian diets but it is worth noting in regard to food on local islands, over 95% of products are imported and then from Male they are transferred once or twice a week to outer islands.

Fruit and vegetables whilst available can be limited and they do not form part of the traditional Maldivian diet in the way you may be used to back home with your 5 a day! Given that tuna is a key component of our diet as vegetarians you will find your diet quite limited in comparison to what you are used to, even a potato curry is likely to have dried tuna added. On local islands you can’t just pop out to the supermarket and what you may see in the convenience store one week is not seen again for months!

Maldivians, as Muslims, are prohibited by law from consuming alcohol; hence there is a total restriction on alcohol being available on inhabited local islands, this includes the capital Male. Please do not bring alcohol through the airport as it will be confiscated and returned to you at time of departure.

Alcoholic beverages are available on our cruise itineraries and are purchased on board. Payment is required in USD cash or local currency to the boat captain.

When staying on local islands, visits to tourist resorts and bar boats in certain areas can be arranged.

 

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our multi day tours. You need to be covered for medical expenses abroad, including any emergency transportation costs to the nearest hospital and any emergency repatriation that may be required due to illness/injury. We recommend your insurance covers flight delays, missing flight connections and lost/delayed luggage.

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Three woman do the peace sign on a tropical sandbank