12-Day The 'Other' Maldives

Women Only

Max group 12

Lifetime Deposit

Forget everything you think you know about the Maldives. We would even say it’s a misconception. Instead, we’ve lined up local guides to show you what life is really like outside of the shiny island resorts.

Stay with village communities where you’ll try your hand at indigenous cooking, get involved in an ancient game for women and discover the legends and secrets of the atolls, including an ancient archeological site yet to be fully uncovered.

Seriously, prepare yourself for an experience your average tourist will never see!

Sure, you may island-hop through one tropical paradise after another, stroll along white sandy beaches, and snorkel the coralled waters among masses of marine life. But expect to get up close to the atoll way of life…  known to the locals as the real Maldives. You’ll learn how tourism affects the Maldives’ incredibly precious ecosystem and join in firsthand with the locals who are working to protect their island paradise.

Get ready to make some very special memories this Christmas and New Year with only 11 other women, on the tropical gem of an island-collective, that we call the Maldives.

Highlights

Stay in island communities away from the tourist resorts

Join in with local environmental conservation activities

A chance to snorkel alongside whale sharks

Kayak to a deserted island & traditional picnic lunch

Learn to cook the Maldives way

See in the New Year with a beachside dinner

Island-hop by public speedboat

Snorkel and swim almost whenever you want!

Trip Details

Price

$5,947 AUD (per person twin share)

  • $1,500 AUD deposit.
  • 2-week cooling-off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips.
  • Twin Share: we’ll match you with a roomie if you’re travelling solo.
  • Private supplement available (max 2 spots): $1,145 AUD

Please refer to our payment terms in the FAQs.


Trip length

12 days, 11 nights


Dates

Starts: Malé, 23 December 2023

Finishes: Malé, 3 January 2024
ALMOST BOOKED OUT


Meeting point

Ocean Grand, Hulhumale, Kaafu Atoll


Ending point

Nazaki Residences Beach Hotel, Gan Laamu


Group size

Maximum 12


Participation requirements

Please see our “Is this trip right for you?” section under the Participation Tab.


Included

  • Meals: 11 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 11 dinners
  • 1 domestic flight/private speed boats/public ferries/vehicle transportation/kayak/bicycle
  • 11 nights of boutique accommodation on non-resort islands.
  • A top-rated and English-speaking tour leader
  • Environmentally-respectful sea life encounters
  • Snorkelling activities
  • All listed activities and more!

Not included

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Any visas required
  • Late check-out at hotels
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Drinks with included lunches and dinners
  • Tip kitty. Note: as Aussies and Kiwis, we are not used to tipping! However, guide and driver tipping is customary for tours in the Maldives.
  • Personal expenditure

Click the tabs to find out more
Day 1 – Hulhumale

Welcome to the Maldives! You’ve just entered a palm-tree lovers’ delight and a land full of beaches so beautiful any attempt to describe them comes across as cliché. Other places may brag about white sandy beaches and crystal-clear blue waters, but in the Maldives, it’s actually true.

Meet your guide at Malé International Airport. Then it’s a short 10-minute transfer by boat to your hotel in Hulhumale. The property is not a 5-star resort, but who needs that when you can sleep in a beachside Inn on a reclaimed island that’s home to local Maldivians! Start your holiday off with a swim at the public beach, or get your first introduction to island life at one of the local coffee shops. Then tonight, you’ll get to know your fellow Patchies over dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Ocean Grand (or similar)
Included: Dinner

Day 2 – Maaenboodhoo

Tourism has had a huge effect on the Maldives for better – and for worse. Today, you’ll meet with NGO Save the Beach on the island of Villimale. See first-hand how the group is working to protect the area’s delicate ecosystem.

In the afternoon you’ll travel 175 kms to the island of Maaenboodhoo. As your speedboat powers through the brilliant sea and passes between island atolls and coral reefs, you’ll realise there is so much to explore of this Archipelago paradise. Today’s trip takes around 3 ½ hours and you won’t even travel ¼ of the length of the island chain! You’ll see more of this remote fishing island in the morning.

Accommodation: Rindali Maldives (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 – Christmas Day Snorkelling and Island Jewellery

Did you ever think you’d spend Christmas morning exploring the hidden world that exists beneath the water’s surface? Today’s the day when you’ll get your first chance to see the coral reefs you’ve heard so much about and come face to face with brightly-coloured fish. Not an experienced snorkeller? Not to worry! Your guide will make sure you feel confident each step of the way.

After lunch, the group will take a guided island tour of Rinbudhoo. Known as Jewellers Island, the history of jewellery-making here dates back to ancient days. At one time, almost everyone on the island was part of the intricate trade, and you’ll find a number of people crafting jewellery using traditional methods even now. And later, we’ve arranged a little surprise catch up with another local community – just wait and see!

Tonight, you’ll replace the traditional Christmas glazed ham and plum pudding dinner with a relaxed beach meal, as the sun sets on another day in paradise.

Accommodation: Rindali Maldives (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 – Gaadhiffushi

This morning you’re off to Kudahuvadhoo Island by ferry. There you’ll discover the mysterious mounds known as “habitats”. Pause as you admire the Buddhist temple ruins and the remains of a mosque with well-crafted carvings, showing off the skill of their creators, even after so many hundreds of years have gone by.

Move aside Romeo and Juliet, the Maldives have their own legend of star-crossed lovers. After lunch, visit Buruni, the island setting of the ill-fated romance of Dhonhiyala and Ali Fulhu! Explore the “Kamana beach” and the field of “Koamas” mentioned in the tale.

To finish the day, it’s back onto a speedboat to Gaadhiffushi where you’ll feel welcomed with fresh kurumba, or coconut drink – who needs Egg-Nog! The island is your home base for the next few days. 

Accommodation: Bambukeyho (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 – Kayak and Beach Picnic

Make sure to get a good night’s sleep because this morning, you’re providing your own muscle-power. Your destination? The sandy shores of a nearby uninhabited island. As you paddle your way alongside tropical fish and over coral reefs, you’ll wish you could start off every day with a view like this.

Enjoy your own Robinson Crusoe moment as you spend the day far from the signs of civilization. Unlike Crusoe though, you won’t be in any hurry to leave. It’s a time for you to slow down and soak up your surroundings. You’ll enjoy “majja” together, a traditional Maldivian beach picnic, and there is plenty of time to appreciate the sunshiny beach – free from the cares of everyday life.

Accommodation: Bambukeyho (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6 – Gaadhiffushi

What’s on the menu for today? You’ll find out at today’s cooking lesson as locals teach you how to make some local dishes. No matter how your cooking skills stack up, the results are going to be tasty!

Once the noon heat eases, we’ve arranged for an experience you’ll treasure in your heart for a long time. Ladies from the island will show you how to play Bashi – an ancient game exclusively played by women. Go from outsider to friend as you bond with the ladies through the universal language of sport.

Accommodation: Bambukeyho (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7 – Thimarafushi

Welcome to the island of Thimerafushi. At one time fishing was the island’s main industry, the art of fishing handed down from one generation to another. Evidence of a strong fishing industry from days-gone-by is still clearly on display. Tour the island’s modern fish processing factory and leave with an understanding of how its evolution has impacted life on the island.

Always dreamed of discovering sunken treasure? While you won’t find gold snorkelling in shipwrecks near Thimarafushi, you will find a different kind of eye-catching treasure – the area’s abundant marine life. Watch as fish in every bright colour you can imagine swim around you. Admire the corals, and keep your eyes open for unique aquatic life. Look closely and you may catch sight of turtles or rays.

Then, back to the guest house in Thimarafushi to relax. You’ve got another exciting day on the water tomorrow!

Accommodation: Stay Mikado (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 – Whale Sharks

The only way to spot a whale shark is to get on a boat and go look for one. So, that’s what you’ll do after breakfast! There’s no way of knowing for certain how many times you’ll see signs of the ocean’s largest fish species. Perhaps you’ll see so many whale sharks you’d think they’re having a family reunion! Or you might only see one. Or even none. The unpredictability is just part of the anticipation as you wait for the truly magical opportunity to snorkel alongside these giant creatures.

Regardless of whether the whale sharks show up, your boat trip is not in vain. Either way, you’ll collect data about the aquatic creatures you encounter for the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP).

Accommodation: Stay Mikado (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9 – New Year’s Eve

Hopefully the whale sharks showed up for a memorable appearance yesterday, but if not it’s fine, because you’ll head back out to search again today. There’s never a guarantee the whale sharks will approach your boat, but the expert team will try every method they know to get good luck on your side. Enjoy your second day on the clear waters as an amateur marine biologist!

Look around. It’s New Year’s Eve and you’re in paradise! While you are sharing dinner and your New Year hopes and dreams with your new-found friends, there’ll be plenty of belly-laughs and nurturing hugs to share as well!

Accommodation: Stay Mikado (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10 – Gan Laamu

Is there any better way to welcome the new year, than another day at the beach? Gan has the longest beach in the Maldives. That’s 8 kilometres of white sand beside water that is truly crystal clear.

Your day isn’t all sun and sand though, and neither is life on this island. Dive into local life with a guided journey to historical sites and meet local vegetable farmers in their fields. If you hear hard-to-identify creatures crashing through nearby undergrowth, don’t be alarmed – that’s just a herd of goats.

Let’s head back to the beach (optional). But this time instead of relaxing, you’ll participate in a beach-clean to support the community who’ve made us feel so at home. Cool down with fresh Kurumba and another swim in the ocean as the afternoon fades into evening.

Accommodation: Nazaki Residences Beach Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11 – Snorkelling and Cycle

Take advantage of your last chance to snorkel in the Maldives. Just metres from the shore in front of your guesthouse is a secret underwater world bursting with marine life. Marvel at the wow-worthy coral formations, watch as flurries of fish pass by, and maybe spot an unbothered turtle swimming along.

Had enough snorkelling and just want to spend one more morning soaking up sun on the beach? That’s totally ok! We’ll leave the choice up to you.

For the afternoon, a guided cycle through northern Gan is on the agenda. Link Road, the longest road in the area, linking Gan to the islands of Fonadhoo, Kadhdhoo, and Maandhoo. The palm-lined street opens to epic views of the ocean in spots as you cycle from one island to another.

How did your days together go by so quickly? A farewell dinner is planned for the group this evening. Exchange your contact info, share your best photos, and swap stories of your adventures to perfect your re-tellings for later.

Accommodation: Nazaki Residences Beach Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12 – Farewell, Friends

The time has come for your final breakfast in the Maldives, unless you’ve decided to extend your stay. We’d understand if you never wanted to leave! A flight transfer will take you back to Malé International Airport, and then everyone goes their separate ways.

Included: Breakfast

Trip Map
Good to Know

Fitness

Level 1 or Easy

So long as you have a general level of health and fitness, you’ll be fine. There are some  specific exercises planned for this trip, including snorkelling, swimming and short tours by bicycle and kayak. There will be days where you’ll be walking and spending a lot of time on your feet. Daily activities may include island walks and getting on and off various forms of transport. 

All activities are optional, meaning that if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it but it will be impossible to enjoy your trip if you’re not able to do a walking tour for a full afternoon. Unfortunately, it means this tour cannot accommodate people requiring walking aids. You’ll also need to be a competent swimmer.

 

Local Customs

The Maldives is a Muslim country and some care needs to be taken with the clothing choices of travellers. 

While the islands we are visiting are tolerant, women should avoid wearing bikinis and traditional swimwear – unless it is on an in-inhabited island, Picnic Island, at a screened off beach, or in a resort. Common swimming attire for local women at local beaches is a t-shirt and shorts and we request that you do the same.

During the trip, you may visit local family homes and have access to mosques. At these times, your shoulders and thighs should be covered. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a light sarong tied around your waist, and another draped over your shoulders.

Alcohol is not available on locally inhabited islands. There may be adhoc times when alcohol may be accessed via nearby resorts.

 

Getting There and Away

There are no direct flights to the Maldives from Australia or New Zealand. However there are 1 stop departures via Singapore from multiple cities, as well as some via Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:USD exchange rate. Our trip pricing is determined by what the exchange rates are at the time of publishing the trip.

The pricing on this trip is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:0.67 USD.

A deposit of $1,500 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling-off period of 2 weeks. (Applicable to all bookings made 110 days in advance.)

We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

This is the most frequently asked question we get!

Nearly everyone is in their 50s and 60s, with some people above and below (but of course, everyone is welcome!)

Most Patchies come alone and are matched with a room-mate. Remember, you don’t need to pay for a single supplement if you come solo. We will place you with a similarly-aged roommate.

The typical Patchie has travelled a LOT, is a well-seasoned adventurer, and is not easily thrown by small things. However, many Patchies tell us that this is their first ever group tour. Many of our guests have avoided tours to this point as they’re not attracted to being herded around in large groups.

Oh, and one last thing:

Patchies are warm, generous, and kind. We knew it would be like this, but we weren’t expecting it to be *quite* like this. We’re so blessed as a business to have the customers we do; we consider ourselves to be some of the luckiest people in the world.

Snorkelling equipment is included on the tours and equipment is available to rent at resorts and guesthouses. However we recommend you bring your own mask and snorkel. Not only will you be assured your mask will fit properly and is comfortable, it will also lower any health risks. A mask and snorkel is small and light and should take up very little space in your suitcase.

Similar to snorkels and masks, fins are included in the tour equipment, however you may prefer to bring your own. 

Due to the ocean current and wind conditions in the Maldives, the use of fins is essential in almost all snorkelling locations and especially during pelagic marine life encounters – you’ll be surprised at the speed a whale shark can swim! We understand that you may have been snorkelling elsewhere in the world without fins, but they are a necessity in the Maldives to make the most of your experience.

A free 30-day tourist visa will be granted to all tourists upon arrival in Maldives providing all entry requirements are met. They include an arrival and departure flight ticket and a complete itinerary for your time in The Maldives.

Most of our trips have a tip kitty because many cultures have interesting and diverse rules when it comes to tips. We’ve found it to be the easiest way to combat over-tipping, under-tipping or having the tip fall into the wrong hands. However, in the case of the Maldives a tip kitty isn’t necessary because the country has a legislated and managed 10% service charge for restaurants and activities – so tips are already included in the cost of your trip.

What is not covered is a customary tip at the end of the trip for your guide. If they’ve ensured that your trip is memorable, we recommend the following guidelines:

900 to 1800 Maldivian Rufiyaa per person (equivalent to $60USD to $120USD)

This trip includes a domestic flight. The luggage allowance for this is one carry-on bag to 5 kg and one checked bag at 20 kg.

The Maldives is a Muslim country and some care needs to be taken with the clothing choices of travellers. While the islands we are visiting are tolerant, women should avoid wearing bikinis and traditional swimwear – unless it is on an uninhabited island, Picnic Island, at a screened-off beach, or in a resort. Common swimming attire for local women at local beaches is a T-shirt and shorts and we request that you do the same. A rashie and a pair of board shorts will do just fine.

During the trip, you may visit local family homes and have access to mosques. At these times, your shoulders and thighs should be covered. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a light sarong tied around your waist, and another draped over your shoulders.

Alcohol is not available on locally inhabited islands. There may be ad-hoc times when alcohol may be accessed via nearby resorts.

Airfares are not included.

Solo travellers will be matched with a room-mate. Of course, if you prefer to have your own space, you can reserve the private room supplement.

Please contact us for more information.

In the unlikely event of a health or security related incident during a trip, we’ve engaged a local partner to assist. From our experience, there is not one framework that fits all, and every incident is unique and requires a different approach. With all trips, your guides are your day-to-day support. While behind the scenes, there is an active line of communication – between your guide, the on-ground support team, and Australian Ops.

Have more burning questions?

Check Out Our Other Trips!