Weâ€™ll start our Maldives tour with some shopping, gathering the ingredients weâ€™ll need for our delicious lunch. Youâ€™ll be taken to the local market and a fish market, where youâ€™ll be able to browse and taste fruits and vegetables typical of this 1,200-island nation.
From there, walk along the harbor jetties to the Hulhumale Ferry Terminal, where weâ€™ll board a ferry to Hulhumale, anÂ artificial islandÂ settled in 2004 to meet the booming housing, industrial,Â and commercialÂ developmentÂ demands of the MaleÂ region. Weâ€™ll gather on board with locals making their daily trips â€” you can start up a conversation with some, or just take in the awesome view (you might even be lucky enough to spot some dolphins!).
The ferry ride will take about 20 minutes, after which point weâ€™ll disembark at Hulhumale Island, the sixth district of MalÃ©. From here, weâ€™ll take a local bus to the family home where weâ€™ll be hosted for lunch.
Along the route, youâ€™ll see a bit of local life in a residential neighbourhood away from the resorts, passing by the Hulhumale hospital, local shops, small cafÃ©s, a youth centre, and a mosque.
Once we arrive at our hostsâ€™ home, youâ€™ll be asked to leave your shoes at the door, and your guide will teach you the traditional greeting to be made before entering a local home. Youâ€™ll meet some of the family members, and even though there may be people there who are unable to communicate with you in English, youâ€™ll see how local hospitality transcends language barriers
Together, weâ€™ll pull out the ingredients we picked up the market, and youâ€™ll be invited to participate in lunch preparation, helping to chop and grate coconut.
Want to impress friends back home with your new Maldivian culinary skills? Weâ€™ll help you to make notes so you can cook up an island feast on your own.
Once all the cooking is done, weâ€™ll set the table and enjoy a freshly prepared meal with our hosts. Sitting around the table together, weâ€™ll share our thoughts about Maldivian cuisine, discuss local life in the Maldives, and youâ€™ll even learn some common words that you can use during the remainder of the holiday.
After our meal, your guide will walk with you to the ferry terminal and accompany you back to MalÃ©.
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Your Maldives snorkel tour will begin with a safety briefing at the jetty before we board the speedboat that will take us out onto the water. (Life jackets will be available onboard). Â Â Â Â
Weâ€™ll leave Hulhumale lagoon behind and head to our first stop, a coral reef where just two metres below the surface there, youâ€™ll find young and delicate hard coral, as well as a multitude of reef fish. Your guide will give you tips on how to snorkel without causing damage to the coral, as well as talk you through the key points for using snorkel equipment, remaining calm in the water, and protecting marine life. Youâ€™ll also get a mini marine life lesson, so that you can put names to many of the colourful fish youâ€™ll see.
From there, weâ€™ll travel to Kandu Oiy Giri island, where, just beyond the harbour wall, we might spy the many stingrays and moray eels that come to feast on the fish scraps thrown back into the water by the local tuna fish processing plant.
Afterward, weâ€™ll head to a sandbank where you can swim and snorkel some more, or just relax on the beach. Weâ€™ll enjoy a traditional Maldivian tea accompanied with fresh coconut, and get the chance to chat with our boat crew. Weâ€™ll snack on bite-size sweet and savoury delights â€” the savoury ones filled with vegetables, tuna, egg, and chili, the sweet ones with coconut, banana, or sponge cake.
As the afternoon comes to a close, your Maldives tour will take you back to Hulhumale, where you will be able to catch a ferry to return to MalÃ© or a taxi to your Hulhumale guesthouse.
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This eco-friendly Maldives tour will take us away from the city of MalÃ© and into a local community, where we'll meet with a local NGO helping to preserve the country's beaches and reefs.
Once weâ€™ve all gathered at the jetty, weâ€™ll take a short taxi ride to the ferry terminal on the west side of MalÃ©. From there, a 10-minute ferry crossing takes us away from the hubbub of MalÃ© city to the peaceful island of VilimalÃ© . Formally a prison island, VilimalÃ© now provides a haven of tranquility for its residents, many of whom commute to the capital daily.Â
On the other side of our ferry ride, weâ€™ll be met by a member of Save the Beach, a local NGO that started in 2008 as a youth movement in Vilingili (now named VilimalÃ© ) to conserve the local beaches.Â The main activities of Save the Beach include regular beach clean-up programs, planting of trees in and around Vilingili, coral reef conservation as well as organising educational and awareness community events. Their activities are not just confined to VilimalÃ© but also reach out to other local islands throughout theÂ archipelago.Â
Hassan Ahmed led the initiatives and co-founded the movement, along with the youth of Villingili. Hassan has been a resident of Villingili from the very beginning and has been a conservationist from the time the first harbour was built, when he noticed the reefs were dying. Hassan orchestrated all of the activities of Save the Beach as a movement even before he had registered the organisation. Today, Save the Beach is now registered as a non-profit initiative.Â
A 90-minute walking tour of the island provides insight into the conservational challenges that face small island states. Youâ€™ll see how VilimalÃ© has transformed from an island with a rich biodiversity on land and in the sea, to one that is struggling to maintain its natural ecosystems. Youâ€™ll witness these impacts firsthand alongside local conservationists, who will show you images of VilimalÃ© past as you observe the present.Â
Youâ€™ll wander the quiet streets, observe locals going about their day, learn the names of local trees, and, if itâ€™s open, visit the tiniest of spice factories. Weâ€™ll finish the tour at a local tea shop looking out across the water to MalÃ©, where you can sample a traditional hedika â€“ and afternoon break of sweet and savoury snacks served with black tea. When it is time to leave, your guide will walk with you to the ferry terminal and accompany you back to MalÃ©.
Your tour starts with an overview of Male and the harbour area, a very important aspect of any island nation.
Passing by the oldest school in the city, learn about the education system and why the Maldives has a 98% literacy rate. Visit Hukuru Miskiiy - Old Friday Mosque and the tomb of Abu -al - Barakaath and learn why the Maldives converted to Islam and how the Islamic faith underpins everyday life.
Stop for a refreshing cup of traditional black tea at Royal Garden CafÃ©, a popular spot for locals. Housed in a rare example of a â€˜ganduvaruâ€™ a noblemanâ€™s house, it provides a great example of traditional dark carved wood interiors.
Stopping at the November 3rd Memorial, hear the story of how 8 brave military servicemen died in the protection of their country from a terrorist attack in 1988. Wander through Sultan Park, a reference to the time the Maldives was governed by a sultanate with an optional visit to the National Museum. (Note: Entrance fee not included.)
Walking back towards the harbour area, pass by the Grand Friday Mosque and the Islamic Centre, Male's famous architectural landmark and onto Jumhooree Maiden - Independence Square. From here, learn the meaning of the Maldives national flag and pick out key government buildings.
Heading west along the harbour, visit the bustling fish market and the local market, where the sights, sounds and smells will fill your senses. Chat with the local stall holders and taste tropical produce and homemade sweets.
The tour finishes at the top of one of the city's tallest buildings, providing a great back drop to your final tour photo image!
From the meeting point, jump into a taxi with your guide in order to reach the terminal where your ferry departs to Villimale from.
Experience the hustle and bustle of the ferry terminal, local people will be coming and going between theirÂ homeÂ island and Male. Observe the variety of items that are being transported after a days shopping in the capital.Â The ferry journey to Villimale is a short 15 minute crossing but don't be afraid to start up a conversation with those sitting next to you. They will be interested to know where you have come from and what you think of the Maldives.
The island, once a resort and also a prison, was 'developed' to assist with the ever growing population of Male.Â It offers the ideal escape from the ever busy capital city. Wide, open streets, an abundance of greenery so unlike Male, two local beaches and peaceful almost tranquilÂ atmosphere.
Stepping off the ferry in Villimale, you may not be stepping back in time but you will be able to understand and visualise how the city islands would have beenÂ prior to urban modernisation.Â After an introduction to the NGO Save the beach representative, they will conduct a 60-minute walking tour of the island, which will allow you to understand and appreciate the local way of 'city' life.Â
Learn about the Maldivian ecosystems and conservation challenges arising from coastal development, unique to small island nations. Observe the before and after ofÂ reclamation works and harbor development. Identify trees and learn the Dhivehi names for species that may be common to you back home.
Traditional evening tea at one of the local cafes on the beachÂ provides time to chat further with your guide and the NGO representative. Save the Beach is passionate about conservation, waste management, coral planting and more and they will willing share information and insights into how improvements are being made in these areas throughout the Maldives.
SampleÂ 'hedika' local savoury snacks served with black tea and allow your taste buds to discover Maldivian flavors. Before returning to the 'big city,' we take time to sit back and relax in true Maldivian style and watch theÂ sunset colours fill the sky.
The reefs of the Maldives are famous for reef sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, sting rays, and more. This 3-hour tour takes you to threeÂ snorkeling spotsÂ filled teeming withÂ marine life and colorful coral â€” an idealÂ escape from the capital city of the Maldives. You'll transfer by speedboat from Hulhumale Jetty in Male.
Make your way toÂ Hulhumale Jetty and depart by speedboat on a small-group tour with your guide and boatÂ captain. You will visit threeÂ of the best snorkeling points close to Male. Sites vary, depending on weather and current conditions, but you can be guaranteed an abundance of colorful tropical fish and coral life.
Following a safety briefing on responsible snorkeling, put on your provided fins, mask, and snorkel and jump into the warm, azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Keep your eyes open for sea turtles, reef sharks, and rays the Maldives are home to;Â youngsters will want to be on the lookout for Nemo (akaÂ clown fish).
Your snorkel guide will not only act as your 'spotter' to point out marine life that may not have caught your eye, but will assist less confident or inexperienced snorkelers, ensuring yourÂ equipment is comfortable and you feel safe in the water. Buoyancy aids are availableÂ if needed, but participantsÂ should have the ability to swim unaided.
The 3-hour morning or afternoon itinerary concludes at the starting point.
(*) All prices are approximations due to currency fluctuations.