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Board a traditional Maldivian dhoni cruise and sail through idyllic turquoise waters and palm-fringed beaches. This relaxing journey includes the islands of South Male, Felidhoo and Meemu, visiting remote fishing communities and stopping at beautiful reefs for snorkelling in crystal clear waters.
6 nights simple boat
1 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 10
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our adventure begins in Male at the hotel where we spend the night. The circumference of the island is little more than 5 kilometres so it's very easy to explore on foot, and is a hive of activity, in stark contrast to the laid-back islands of the archipelago that we will be exploring in the coming days.
If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Male International Airport (MLE). For those arriving on time our representative will meet you in the hotel reception at 4pm for the initial tour briefing and to take us on an orientation walking tour of the town, taking in the Mosque, to the fish market and strolling along the water's edge to watch the ferries coming and going.
Please note that if you wish to join the orientation tour today, you must arrive at the hotel by 4pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least one hour to clear the airport and the short transfer to the hotel. Therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 3pm. Should you miss the meeting, our rep will leave you information giving the meeting time for the next day in the hotel reception and will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
Mookai Hotel (or similar)
This morning we walk to the waterfront to meet our moored dhoni and crew. We take our breakfast on the boat and then begin cruising south for two to three hours, passing through the Vaadhoo Canal to the South Male Atoll - a smaller and quieter neighbour to the more developed North Male Atoll. Here, many of the islands are inhabited simply by vegetation and white sand, surrounded by clear turquoise water and reef. Heading further south we cruise to the Vavuu Atoll, where we spend time exploring the uninhabited and picturesque islands of Kudiboli and Kuda Anbaraa. When exploring this and other islands in the itinerary, it isn't necessary to bring special footwear. Most customers seem to manage well in flip-flops, and these have the obvious advantage of being quick to get on and off - ideal for walking through sand. Our afternoon is spent snorkelling or relaxing on board. Over the course of the week, underwater fauna we are likely to see include green turtles, reef sharks and gigantic manta rays, as well as smaller sting rays and eagle rays. At each stop, we will also swim among a rainbow of small, colourful fish, including the famous Clown Fish. Our knowledgeable local guides will be able to help identify many of the underwater species that we come across.
Today, and each day, afternoon tea with freshly baked cake will be served by our talented chef.
Every meal is included on the dhoni . Menus are likely to include freshly-caught fish each day, as well curries and pasta. Drinking water, tea and coffee are readily available, with alcoholic and soft drinks available for purchase on-board. You can pay your bill for drinks at the end of your cruise in US dollars or by Credit Card.
Our cabins are compact, but with plenty of room for two people and luggage. However, many customers choose to enjoy the tranquillity of sleeping under the stars on deck for at least some of the nights.
Aboard Dhoni (or similar)
Today we sail south for a further two to three hours, crossing to Meemu Atoll - home to one of the longest stretches of reef in the Maldives. On this or other crossings, we may be lucky enough to be chased by spinner dolphins, sometimes swimming and jumping alongside the boat. As well as this on some occasions we will spot flying fish close to the dhoni. Meemu Atoll is made up of 34 islands, of which 25 are uninhabited. Some of the inhabited ones grow yams, and all of them are largely dependent on fishing. Here more than anywhere, we are likely to experience the true Maldivian way of life. Shortly after entering the atoll, we arrive at Fenboa Finolhu - another beautiful uninhabited island where we aim to base ourselves for the night. We will have plenty of time to enjoy the white-sand beach and to snorkel on the reef. This evening, we can look forward to a barbeque beach banquet in an idyllic spot on the island, laid on by the dhoni crew.
After a relaxed start, we head east to the inhabited island of Dhiggaru. Here, we drop our anchor by a particularly good snorkelling reef. Later in the afternoon, when it has cooled down a bit, we plan to go ashore to meet the island's inhabitants. We may be struck by the traditional, yet relaxed, way of life in the island's lively village. Very few tourist groups visit and we must remember to dress and act respectfully, removing our shoes when visiting a house or a mosque.
Today, we head back to Felidhoo Atoll and its administrative centre, Felidhoo. With a population of about 400, this is the least populated of all the country's administrative centres. Again, we take time to visit the village and have the opportunity to enjoy a Bodu Beru performance in the evening, the traditional folk music of the country.
By now, we are likely to be feeling completely relaxed, as our routine of reading, sunbathing and napping between island stops and snorkelling spots has become second nature. With a subtly different name to our previous day's stop-off, we break today's journey with a visit to Fulidhoo Island. Once again, we meet the locals and gain more of an appreciation of their life in this tropical paradise. After a further visit to the island of Hulhidhoo, we anchor by a large reef, where we can spend time snorkelling.
Our last day on the boat sees us cruising back towards Male. We take the opportunity for some final snorkelling and swimming, before enjoying a farewell meal with our boat crew.
The trip ends after breakfast on our dhoni in Male.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Male at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at the airport for a cost of $6 per item. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Male International Airport (MLE).
Day time temperatures are remarkably consistent throughout the year ranging from 30°C to 32°C dropping to between 25°C and 26°C at night. Although rain is heaviest in June, July and August, heavy rain can fall at any time of year - even in February and March when statistically only 50mm usually falls during those months combined. The south-west monsoon lasts from May to November and not only brings the rains but also stronger winds and storms, although the transitional periods of early May and late November are supposed to be calm with exceptionally clear water.
3 Pin Flat
Only lightweight clothing is needed. Local people in Male and in villages on the islands find western styles of dress extremely offensive. Brief shorts, tight fitting clothing etc. should be avoided by both men and women. A sarong and something to cover the head (for women) is recommended. Don't forget swimming gear and clothes to protect you from the sun including a wide brimmed hat. You may consider wearing a Tshirt whilst snorkelling to avoid bad sunburn on the back and shoulders.
Comfortable shoes and sandals.
One main piece of baggage and a daypack. A soft holdall is the best option as luggage is stored under the beds in the cabins. Remember you are expected to carry your own baggage - so don't overload yourself.
Snorkels, masks and flippers are provided on the Dhonis. All equipment is thorough sanitised after each use. You are welcome to bring your own equipment if you prefer. Bring a high factor sun protection and a hat. We recommend Factor 30 plus for snorkelling as the water intensifies the sun's strength, swimming in a tshirt is a good idea for extra protection. Both bath and beach towels are provided on the Dhoni. We advise you bring a water bottle for day to day use.
We work with a local operator who owns a number of different Dhonis; all of which are different sizes with different layouts. We plan to use a 5 berth Dhoni. All Dhonis that we use are fitted with diesel engines, which are used most of the time that we are travelling. Some of the boats still have sails but these are used very infrequently. The 5 cabins are small and simple but adequate for sleeping and changing. In all of the cabins there will be bunk beds and so the person on the top will need to be prepared to climb up to their bed. Two of the cabins have slightly wider (4.1ft) lower bunk beds and where possible we will allocate these to couples but we cannot guarantee this, couples should state preference when booking. Four cabins have an ensuite bathroom with WC and shower. The other cabin is assigned a bathroom with WC and shower that is not ensuite. There are plugs available in each cabin with electricity available when the boats generator is running (when the boat is moving or the crew are cooking meals) so it is possible to charge cameras and phones during the tour. There is no A/C but there is a fan in each cabin. There are small cupboards in each cabin for you to store valuables such as passports. Good quality snorkelling equipment including mask, snorkel, flippers and swim noodles are provided (we will ask for your shoe/flipper size before you travel!). You are free to bring your own equipment should you wish. No scuba diving equipment will be carried on board. Whilst we do our best to deliver the advertised itinerary, the safe operation of the boat and all passengers is the crew's priority and as such, deviations from the planned itinerary may be necessary due to weather/local conditions. All Dhonis are inspected annually in order to retain their license. They carry enough lifejackets for all clients and crew plus buoyancy aids and a dinghy with small outboard engine. All boats have a CB radio, and for most of the voyage the boat is in mobile phone range of the islands. Full fire fighting equipment is also carried on every boat. There will be a minimum of 4 crew on board including the captain and cook - depending on the number of people on the boat. Most of the cabins offer couchette accommodation on a twin share basis with all bedding provided.
All meals and a bottle of drinking water each day are provided on board the Dhonis. There is a bar for any additional soft and alcoholic drinks you may wish to buy, a dining area and a sundeck to relax and sunbathe throughout the day. It should be noted that it is not permitted for tourists to bring alcohol in to the country and it will be confiscated at the airport if you attempt to do so. Breakfasts are often mashuni - a tuna and coconut combination which is served with roti style bread or a more western start to the day with eggs and toast. Most lunches and dinners will have a pasta element and during the afternoons the boat crew will often bake a cake. Plenty of fresh veg, meat and fruit is also provided. Please advise us at time of booking if you require a gluten free or vegetarian diet.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
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Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Maldives: Citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, US and Canada are given a free 30 day permit on arrival. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. Flights via Sri Lanka: If your flight requires you to transit in Sri Lanka then you will not be required to obtain a Sri Lankan visa if your transit time is less than 48hrs. The Sri Lankan authorities require that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after departure from Sri Lanka.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis & polio. Travellers may wish to immunise themselves against meningitis. PLease consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.