It was a really insightful look at the culture and environment of the Maldives, which was a world away from all inclusive luxury resorts. I learnt a lot about reefs and the huge climate and plastic challenges facing the islands. All in all, the guides and people in the group made it a lot of fun, the sea and sea life were stunning and I came back more relaxed than I’ve been for years!
Engage with the local community
Our short stay Goidhoo Explorer is ideal for those seeking a more authentic and secluded experience which provides an introduction to the Maldives, its culture, marine life and environment. For travelers who also wish to experience resort life in the Maldives or are planning a vacation in Sri Lanka or India it offers an excellent way to combine both styles of vacation, particularly as the tour starts and finishes at Male International Airport.
- From USD 1499 per person
- Tours available all year round
- Arrival on day 1 by midday
- Velana International Airport (MLE)
- 5 days & 4 nights
- Minimum 2 person
- Maximum 8 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.
- 4 Night Garden Room accommodation including breakfast
- 4 Dinners
- 1 picnic lunch
- Airport and domestic transfer assistance
- Return transfer by public speedboat
- Island tour and Hedika Experience
- 2 Point Snorkeling tour included equipment
- Mangrove kayaking
- Farm to Table Experience
- Atoll Explorer including snorkeling equipment
- Services of English speaking Secret Paradise Tour Leader
- All Local Tax (10% service charge, 16% GST and $6 Green Tax per person per night)
- 7 Lunches
- International Flights
- Travel Insurance
What to bring
- All this together with full details on everything you need to know about travel within the Maldives will be provided in our welcome information pack.
- The Maldives is a Muslim country and therefore alcohol is not available on local islands.
- Bikinis are not allowed to be worn on local island beaches; however, all of our guesthouses offer either private gardens, balconies or tourist beach areas for guests where bikini swimwear can be worn.
1300Kg of CO₂e – average carbon emission per person
Find our more about our Carbon Management here
Snorkel marine rich tropical waters.
Kayak mangroves lakes.
Cook traditional dishes with locals.
Delve into the history and culture of the people.
Make an impact. Complete a community beach clean.
What to Expect
Arrive Male International Airport where you will be greeted by your tour leader, who will assist with your scheduled speedboat transfer, a two-hour journey north west to the local island of Goidhoo in Horsburgh Atoll, a southern section of Baa Atoll.
After checking into your island hotel we drop by a local cafe to sample traditional hedika. This afternoon tradition is best described as the Maldives equivalent of tapas! Walk into any café between 3pm and 5pm and you will find an array of bite size savoury and sweet delights, served with black tea. It will become a firm holiday favorite!
Then it’s time to hit the beach for a sunset swim before dinner.
The Maldives is rich in marine life but unfortunately, our marine life is under threat because of activities carried out by us humans. Over a coffee your tour leader will highlight the harmful practices that are pushing the balance in the eco system and what we can do to limit the impact.
Following breakfast, take your first Maldives underwater encounter. Your guide will provide a safety briefing on responsible snorkeling and act as your ‘spotter’ during the experience, 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. Your tour leader will assist less confident or inexperienced snorkelers, ensuring your equipment is comfortable and you feel safe in the water. There will be the opportunity to encounter turtles and reef sharks, as well as a multitude of colorful fish.
Mid-afternoon as the heat of the day begins to subside, accompanied by your tour leader explore Goidhoo and delve into its cultural history and discover why there are some families from Goidhoo who can trace their decadency to an African ancestor. Be introduced to the local forest crabs known as the ‘ Kadoofa Kakuni’, hear the story of how the atoll was designated as ‘Horsburgh Atoll’ and understand the connection, Frenchman, Francois Pyrard, has with the atoll.
Following dinner spend time at the beach, where surrounded by lush vegetation see how many of the glittering constellations you can name as they stretch out above you in an inky black sky.
This morning, dive into a farm-to-table culinary immersion. Engage with a local farmer, explore Goidhoo’s agricultural region, acquiring insights on Maldivian farming practices, the challenges faced, and harvest fresh produce.
Following the farm visit, enjoy the warm hospitality of ladies of the village. We gather in their home, where they will graciously guide you through the preparation of a delicious meal and share culinary secrets passed down through generations. Watch as they expertly demonstrate the art of grating fresh coconut using a traditional ‘Huni Gondi’ then, with excitement, pass the task to your hands, allowing you to actively participate in the culinary experience! An experience where you will truly uncover the heart of Maldivian gastronomy, celebrating the versatility of tuna and showcasing locally sourced ingredients such as coconut and chili, defining the unique flavors of the islands.
This afternoon we kayak the mangrove lake and learn why the mangroves play such an important role in the Maldives. Goidhoo Koaru, located on the northern side of the island was declared protected in 2011. This area has rich biodiversity and is one of the largest mangrove ecosystems within the Maldives. It is a type of mangrove that grows alongside the coast, being exposed to the elements of the sea and is known as a fringing mangrove. This site is also a popular roosting site for migratory birds. Your tour leader will coach you on how to paddle and manoeuvre the kayak before setting off to explore this unique Maldives ecosystem.
This evening your Tour Leader will introduce you to the work of the Manta Trust. Providing an insight into their environmental monitoring and manta ray studies preparing you for our snorkeling tomorrow, when conditions are right we may be lucky enough to spot a manta ray!
Today traveling by boat we explore this stunning atoll, visiting the local island of Fulhadhoo and hopping between a string of sandbanks. Fulhadhoo is a long, narrow island where a half-hour walk, passing through a tropical forest with a canopy of palms will bring you to one of the best beaches in the Maldives, in fact it has been rated in the world’s top 25 beaches! During your stroll to the tip of the island your tour leader will share their knowledge on the plant and animal life in the Maldives. You will already be familiar with the vast diversity of marine life, however, the land itself has been shaped by the tropical climate and boasts 260 native plants, despite its somewhat less than perfect soil and several fascinating small animals. It’s all about knowing where to look!
Making the most of the quiet beautiful reefs of this area we also take the opportunity once again to discover coral reefs that are teeming with fish and marine-life. Whilst never a guarantee we may be lucky enough to encounter manta rays which are often sighted in the atoll. Before entering the water your tour leader will share the manta snorkeling code of conduct, ensuring the experience is memorable for both you and the manta ray.
Returning to Goidhoo the remainder of the afternoon is yours to relax or for those still feeling energetic take advantage of the watersport options available before enjoying your final Maldives sunset.
Following an early breakfast transfer by scheduled speedboat to Male International Airport, where your tour ends.
Goidhoo – Olive Goidhoo
Olive Goidhoo is a 12-bedroom guest house with an outdoor terrace, that overlooks the island’s vast agricultural fields and the ocean. All rooms are furnished with king-size beds. Garden View Rooms feature a balcony facing the lavish island greenery. Omala Café & Restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining facilities. All rooms offer an en-suite bathroom, AC and fan, in-room safety deposit box, Wi-Fi and tea and coffee making facilities.
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.
Hear From Our Previous Guests
One of the most unforgettable travel experiences to date. There is a whole other side to the Maldives that can and should be explored, far away from the outdated resorts holiday which produce unfair tourism leakages. Being able to experience the local islands, and the impact that local responsible travel can have on local communities and their fragile islands ecosystem was truly inspiring.