While The Maldives has plenty of private islands, some travellers prefer to look beyond the luxury resorts and experience some local culture, too. On this holiday, you’ll stay on two residential islands that have the extraordinary beaches and marine life that make The Maldives so lust-worthy, plus a flavour of authentic Maldivian life. Travelling on local ferries and eating traditional food, you’ll contribute to the local economy while going beneath the surface of this white-sand wonderland.
After your flight to Male, whizz across the Indian Ocean by speedboat to the island of Guraidhoo (keep your eyes peeled for dolphins!) What's brilliant about this island is that it grants an insight into the 'real' Maldives, the local lowdown that the vast majority of travellers don't experience. You will check in to the Guraidhoo Palm Inn - a simple yet comfortable family-run guesthouse, just moments away from a glittering turquoise lagoon. Spend your days here exploring local mosques and markets, snorkelling, diving, and soaking up the scenery.
OVERNIGHT FLIGHT // 4 NIGHTS AT GURAIDHOO PALM ISLAND
ETG Maldives specialist Sara suggests a walk to the southeast side of the island, over a small footbridge to a tourist picnic island. Plus, take a browse of the souvenir shops on the main road - and don’t be embarrassed to haggle!
Included in this holiday are two guided snorkelling trips to the dazzling nearby reefs where, among the colourful coral and shoals, you can look out for turtles, whale sharks and manta rays. Also included is a beach barbecue under the stars, accompanied by traditional dancing and the beat of the ‘bodu beru’ (big drum).
Most travellers to The Maldives stay in shiny resorts; beautiful but polished, and mostly internationally-owned. By contrast, this is a simple, family-run place; it’s friendly and will leave you feeling far more connected with Maldivian culture. Plus, it’s near the pristine tourist beaches and impressive diving and snorkelling sites.
It’s back to Male for a short flight to your next destination. Located in a northern atoll, the exquisite Hanimaadhoo Island has lush vegetation, long beaches, a turquoise lagoon and house reef. This is another local island in which the 2,500 inhabitants mostly work in fishing and agriculture. Your hotel, the Barefoot Eco Lodge, is set apart from the village, right on a forest-shrouded, powder-sand beach, which gives a sense of seclusion and tranquillity.
6 NIGHTS AT BAREFOOT ECO LODGE
At an additional cost, you have windsurfing, Hobi Cat expeditions, paddleboards, dhoni sailing and kitesurfing available, as well as dolphin watching, manta monitoring, fishing, and sunset cruises.
We have included a complimentary morning trip to nearby Utheemu to visit Utheemu Ganduvaru, a 16th-century wooden palace, where Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu fought off Portuguese invaders in a fascinating 8-year battle. Also at the hotel, there are snorkelling excursions and bikes to explore the island, as well as kayaking, beach volleyball and a daily group yoga session.
It has the intimacy, friendly service and laid back atmosphere of a guesthouse, combined with the excursions and facilities (including a swimming pool, restaurant and spa) of a resort. And what's more, Barefoot's commitment to protecting the natural environment and supporting the local community is very inspiring and there are numerous ways guests can get involved during their stay.
Thanks to the low-lying nature of the islands, The Maldives is a year-round destination. Its most reliable season runs between November and April, which primarily sees cloudless days, bright sunshine, and a calm sea. From May to October the southwest monsoon begins, and you’re likely to see some showers, but the clouds don’t tend to hang around - it is very rare to see back-to-back cloudy or rainy days at any point.
On your first night in Guraidhoo, we have arranged dinner with a local family to give you a fantastic, traditional introduction to Maldivian life. Plus, as part of this holiday, the final night of your stay at Barefoot Eco Lodge is on us.
Revitalise is a culmination of 16 years’ work, research and client feedback. Our travel team take annual trips to each of our destinations, testing the experiences and inspecting the hotels (someone’s got to do it, right?). We are passionate travellers in our own lives, and we have all visited Asia with our friends, family or backpacks. Basically, we’ve done the legwork: we know travel. And that’s why these trips are nothing short of magical.
We understand that while you may be itching to travel again, committing to a trip right now feels daunting. That’s why we have introduced our COVID-19 promise. We promise that if you book a holiday with us, but for any reason cannot travel due to COVID-19, we will refund you the bulk of your money, up to the day of your departure. We hope that this will give our travellers a little peace of mind and help you enjoy the magic of travel anticipation once again.
An ETG experience cannot begin unless our travellers feel secure in every respect. Financially secure: we are fully ABTA and ATOL bonded. Fully supported: our friendly team is on hand to help 24/7 before, during and after your trip. Free from hassle: we will ensure your trip runs like clockwork. Plus, all our experiences are tried and tested by our discerning team, so you can rest assured every excursion you book with us is both worthwhile and ethically sound.
With ETG, the experience starts the moment you pick up the phone. We are committed to seamless service at every stage of your journey. Before you depart, your dedicated travel consultant will provide all the information and insider tips you need to get you prepared (and excited!). Your in-country experiences will be distinctive, tailored to you, and always reveal the fabric of the destination. And you will come home with memories to share - not just photos to show.