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Travel lover walking on white sand strip in the Maldives

Secret Paradise: Making Maldives travel a force for good

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The Maldives continues to grow in popularity as a tourist destination, and with it the susceptibility of damage to its delicate ecosystems. Secret Paradise is an award-winning Maldives-based tour company that allows visitors to explore the beauty of the Maldives in a responsible and meaningful manner

‘Paradise’ is a strong word, but you could hardly pick a more apt term to describe the Maldives. Hundreds of pristine, palm-fringed islands, ringed with golden sands, bathed in glorious sunshine, caressed by gentle seas. Just beneath the serene surface of the Indian Ocean is a kaleidoscopic carnival of spellbinding marine life.

Truly, the Maldives is an extraordinary place. Albeit a fragile one. On average, the Maldives, is only one metre above sea level, and is especially vulnerable to climate change, and disruption to its delicate ecosystems at the hands of development. Which is why visitors need to be especially sensitive to questions of sustainability.

Secret Paradise is a unique tour company created expressly to share the culture and the natural beauty of the Maldives in a responsible manner. That means exploring this heavenly setting and its friendly communities while simultaneously contributing to vital conservation efforts and the local economy.

Small group, expert-led tours — never numbering more than 10 guests — are led by knowledgeable Maldivian guides, fully certified in first aid and lifeguard skills and with a passion to protect their island home. Families, couples, solo travellers and groups are all welcome. Let’s deep dive into just some of the outstanding activities available…

Coral nurseries

Coral reefs are not only spectacularly beautiful, they’re also a vital habitat for countless species of precious marine life, not to mention important natural barriers that protect delicate coastlines from erosion. Around the world, coral is dying on a terrifying scale because of climate change, ocean pollution and overfishing. Many Maldives islands are taking a world-leading, proactive approach to this problem. How? With the development of coral nurseries. These artificial reefs aim to replace dying coral. Secret Paradise offers eye-opening opportunities to snorkel these ingenious coral farms, with the opportunity to contribute and learn all about these fragile, essential lifeforms and the marine life that depends on them — hopefully before it’s too late.

Fish in a coral nursery in the Maldives
Coral reefs are a vital habitat for marine life.
Beach clean-up

Sadly, the blight of ocean plastics is a near-universal problem all around the world. The Maldives’ exquisite shorelines are no exception. Secret Paradise sets out to both educate travellers on the challenges of waste management in the Maldives and make a tangible difference by conducting beach clean-ups. These can take the form of community events, where guests join NGOs or just a stroll along the beach with their tour leader armed with a rubbish collection bag. Single use plastic is segregated and sent to the Parley Maldives’ collection centre in Male, from where it is exported for the purpose of recycling. Did you know you can purchase sportswear by Adidas that has been made from recycled single use plastic – maybe a bottle you have collected from the beach? This active, social activity comes not only with the satisfaction of a job well done and a habitat saved, but the prospect of natural refreshment in the form of Kurumba – coconut and a sunset swim.

Woman on beach doing plastic clean up
Embark on a beach clean up with Secret Paradise.
Whale shark snorkelling safari

The Maldives is one of only three places on Earth where whale sharks can reliably be observed. Astonishingly little is known about these elusive gentle giants of the deep. Where do they breed? What’s their life cycle? What we do know is that the majority of whale sharks visiting the Maldives are teenagers. Guests of Secret Paradise can join representatives from The Maldives Whale Shark Research Program, observing these awesome creatures in their natural habitat, while simultaneously collecting valuable scientific data. If a whale shark encountered on the cruise isn’t already on the database — their distinctive markings are helpful for identification — then keen-eyed guests can even have a role in naming the shark. Then, best of all, swim alongside, at a safe distance, when conditions allow. In this way data for conservation can be harvested and these majestic creatures enjoyed at a respectful distance.

Read more: Why Paris is an underrated spot for a wellness break
Whale shark swimming in Maldivian waters
Swim alongside these gentle giants.
Mangrove Kayaking

Approximately 75% of the world’s mangroves are found in just 15 countries, the Maldives being one of them. Mangroves play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the islands, protecting shorelines from erosion, and providing crucial defence mechanisms against the forces of nature. But more than that, the Maldivian mangroves are a home to a rich biodiversity of marine life. Explore the mangroves and greet its humble residents by kayak — this eco-friendly mode of transport allows for an up-close and personal experience without scaring off or startling wildlife, and allows for easy manoeuvring of the intricate waterways. Here, you may get a chance to see juvenile sharks and rays before they brave the open waters, as well as an exciting array of crabs, shrimps, lizards and marine birds.

Read more: 48 hours in Basel
Two kayakers exploring the green waters of the mangroves in the Maldives.
Explore the natural beauty of the mangroves.
Island-hopping

Naturally, there’s far more to The Maldives than nature alone. Maldivian culture derives its influence from South Asian, African, Arabian traditions in a fusion that’s totally unique to these islands. The only way to really get a true sense of local life on this diverse island nation is to travel between local islands. Secret Paradise is deeply involved and committed to many of its various island communities, and is a powerful advocate for protecting not only the environment but also the integrity of local traditions. Visiting local islands throughout the archipelago, from the far north to the deep south — Secret Paradise guests will learn to appreciate subtle differences in culture. Guests are invited to share local customs such as Hedhika, the Maldivian take on afternoon tea. They’ll spend time with Maldivian families’ learning to cook traditional cuisine and sharing meals, explore the vibrant capital of Malé, learn how dhoni boats are constructed and maybe even try their hand at the local boduberu dance under the stars.

Woman walking down a street on a Maldivian island.
Explore the cultural differences between islands.

If you are seeking to travel responsibly, leaving the Maldives having trodden lightly on its environment and contributed in a meaningful way, book your cruise to paradise now at secretparadise.mv.

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