Everyone knows that the Maldives is home to the world’s most beautiful beaches. Just scroll through Instagram and you will see countless examples of travelers bathing in the bluest and clearest waters on earth. But this pristine paradise is also a fragile environment, which is why you should only book eco-friendly and sustainable tours when traveling to the Maldives.
There is no better local company than Secret Paradise Maldives for sustainable and environmentally conscious trips across the archipelago of 1,200 coral islands. Award-winning and long-established, this tour operator can transport you outside the comforts of a luxury resort to the true Maldivian culture and to secret hidden gems that you could only dream of.
With a range of day trips, multi-day tours and tailor-made journeys to choose from – the options are endless to explore the Maldives responsibly. Those who need to escape the resort for the day can dive into the culture of Malé – a densely populated city with a bustling atmosphere. Or day-trippers could enjoy a snorkeling trip out in colorful coral reefs.
Day tours are just the beginning of what Secret Paradise offers. The multi-day tours include everything that makes authentic travel so special. On these trips, travelers will stay at guesthouses where local families participate in the running of the properties. Visiting destinations outside of resorts ensures tourism dollars get into the hands of local people.
Not only will guests be introduced to the natural beauty of the Maldives, but they will also have the chance to meet locals and discover the cultural elements which make these islands such a unique place. Every traveler knows that it’s always the people that make the place and the same is definitely true about the Maldives. The people here are wonderful.
One unique aspect about Secret Paradise is that they partner with NGOs, marine-life charities and local organizations in order for guests to get involved in conservation efforts. One of their island-hopping tours, for example, incorporates a mini volunteer program. Another allows guests to stay in the Maldives for a few months to work on volunteer projects.
On their ocean-based tours, guests are briefed on a proper swimming and snorkeling code of conduct. This is called the Green Fins Guidelines and it helps people stay responsible in the water. Local guides can also give presentations on coral reef preservation and recycling practices, which is rewarding for travelers interested in these important topics.
So, whether this is your first visit to the Maldives or your fifteenth, what better way to experience the islands than on one of the eco-friendly and sustainable tours offered by Secret Paradise. Travel with a clear conscience and help create a better Maldives for future generations. Meet local people along the way and exchange greetings, stories, laughs and more.
Best Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Tours in the Maldives
1. Malé City Walking Tour (4 Hours)
It’s hard to believe that 150,00 people live in Malé, a tiny atoll in the Indian Ocean, but they do. This is the business heart of the archipelago where commerce is done and life is faster paced than what you would expect in the Maldives. Buildings are tall and packed together and there are great cafes and restaurants where you can find traditional Maldivian food.
Experiencing Malé on a walking tour allows travelers to step inside the life of an ordinary Maldivian for a few hours. Soak up the city as you walk past incredible architecture, taste local delicacies at the food markets, learn interesting facts about the world-class education system and see what traditional life is like. You can choose to book morning or afternoon tours.
2. Villimale Eco Walking Tour (4 Hours)
Villimale has a long and checkered history. Once a prison and then a resort, today it boasts a small community of Maldivians who moved here to escape some of the hustle and bustle of Malé. Located 15 minutes away by ferry, Villimale has a more relaxed atmosphere than the Maldivian capital. Here you can find a dash of greenery and a few beautiful beaches to visit.
Heading through the island, on a 60-minute walking tour, reveals a touch of “city life” in combination with conservation projects. The community in Villimale have partnered with an NGO called Save the Beach. Together they help protect the island and surrounding oceans. It’s fascinating to learn about the challenges of coastal development on tiny atolls such as this.
3. Maldives Local Food Tour (4 Hours)
Foodies will relish the opportunity to try some of the most authentic flavors of the Maldives on this tour. Beginning at a fish market in Malé, travelers will shop for fresh ingredients and produce (to cook for lunch) as well as try some of the most colorful and unique fruits and vegetables in the world. After, they will jump on a 20-minute public ferry to Hulhumale.
Here a local family will host the group for lunch – limited to six people. Meeting a Maldivian family is a special experience and cooking with them is even better. Your job will be to chop the veggies, grate the coconut and prepare the fish. Then sit down for a nice lunch together and share your thoughts on the cuisine and how it compares to food back home.
4. North Malé Island Hopping Tour (Full Day)
Visit the islands of Huraa and Himmafushi on this full-day tour with Secret Paradise. In between these island trips, travelers will also get the chance to go snorkeling in pristine waters and see different fish species, colorful coral, sea turtles, reef sharks and rays. With a snorkeling guide nearby at all times, you will be able to snorkel with confidence and in total safety.
The great thing about this tour is that the islands are very different from each other and they contrast beautifully. Himmafushi is a surfing island and has a modern economy with industries like water bottling and tuna. Huraa, on the other hand, is known for its simple village life. Here you will see how boats are made and how Maldivian dry fish is prepared.
5. 3 Point Snorkeling Tour (2.5 Hours)
A two and a half hour, eco-friendly snorkeling tour where guests will learn how to snorkel responsibly while having a blast out on the water. The three snorkeling points can differ depending on the weather conditions but they usually include: Kandu Giri, Coral Garden, Stingray City or Kurumba House Reef. All of these spots have guaranteed tropical fish and coral sightings.
Most snorkeling trips also have sea turtle sightings, clownfish swimming among the array of different tropical fish (the fish from Finding Nemo) and the chance to see reef sharks and rays. Even if you don’t consider yourself a strong swimmer, you can utilize the buoyancy aids and get instructions from the guide on how to stay afloat and snorkel under the water.
6. Maldives Cultural Break (3 Nights)
The multi-day tours offered by Secret Paradise are where they can really take your Maldives experience to the next level. On this cultural break, guests are transported to the South Malé Atoll – to the tiny Guraidhoo – where they will be able to immerse themselves in local island life. This island is known for its laid-back fishing, palm trees and sandy roads.
Highlights of the tour include a dinner with a local family, snorkeling around the island on guided tours, the chance to go scuba diving or surfing, exploring cultural sights such as mosques and learning how local wooden boats (‘dhoni’) are made at the harbor, trying some savory treats and black tea, and enjoying a beach BBQ under the stars on your last night.
7. Maldives Marine Life Break (3 Nights)
Paradise awaits on this tour in Dhigurah – the definition of an island postcard located in South Ari Atoll. In Dhigurah, you will be treated to a long beach, a sandbar and a lagoon. After you have settled in on your first night, the next day will give you the chance to spot whale sharks on a boat trip. Nothing is guaranteed but usually at least one shark can be found.
On the third day, visitors have a free day where they can spend their time how they please. Options include sunbathing, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, sunset gazing and more. You can book this tour to kick start your Maldives travels and then move onto other islands or fly into Malé, do the tour and then fly out again. Either way, Dhigurah will take your breath away.
8. South Malé Island Hopping Tour (7 Nights)
This tour is a bestseller and provides a beautiful way to spend seven nights in the Maldives. The South Malé Island Hopping Tour takes you to four islands where natural beauty and local culture go hand-in-hand. These four islands are: Hulhumale, Guraidhoo, Maafushi and Gulhi. On the trip, guests can get involved in environmental projects too like beach clean-ups.
Guraidhoo is the first port of call and the highlight is having a traditional dinner with a local family. You will be staying in a guest house and sharing meals with locals. Maafushi provides the best snorkeling on this tour while Gulhi gives visitors a sneak peek into the fishing and boating traditions of locals. These seven nights will create one of the best weeks of your life.
9. Maldives Discovery Cruise (7 Nights)
Travel for seven nights through the Indian Ocean onboard a beautiful boat – navigating your way through countless atolls and waking up with the sun everyday. There is an option to book this trip as a private charter or in a public group setting with a maximum of 10 people (minimum of six). The boat cruises slowly through the paradisiacal South Malé and Vaavu Atolls.
Along the journey, revel in the island scenery that passes you by during the day and at night soak up the stars on the boat’s deck. All the best Maldives activities can be expected on this cruise such as snorkeling with turtles, swimming at beaches and sandbars, fishing and eating your own catch for dinner, traditional dancing ceremonies, delicious traditional cuisine, etc.
10. Maldives Volunteer Local Tour (1 Week – 6 Months)
Imagine taking your gap year in the Maldives and spending six months giving back to the community, learning about conservation and having the time of your life. That is what’s on offer with the volunteer opportunities at Secret Paradise Maldives Tours. Each volunteer program is different depending on the skills and interests of the volunteers themselves.
Some might join the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program, while others might get involved in education or development. Of course, these programs are suited for people of all ages – whether you want to take a gap year at 21 or wish to do something unique in your retirement years. The Maldives has to be one of the most unique volunteer places in the world.