Calling all shopaholics

Island Bazaar’s fabulous collection of curated art and vivid celebration of Maldivian artistry is unmatched elsewhere in the Maldives. Though their humble little shop is a little out of the way from the souvenir shop district, what they offer is authentic, and in many ways more affordable.

Come and support the local art community and purchase a handcrafted keepsake that is truly Maldivian, as well as ethically sourced and environment-friendly. Here no one will try to sell you something that will only be confiscated at customs during your departure and the prices are standard so you’ll never get ripped off but best of all, their products are heartfelt and completely unique – truly #MadeinMaldives.

Island Bazaar is located in Malé City on the 1st Floor of M. Karishma, Fareedhee Magu. Prices range from US$6 to $312 (MVR 100 – MVR 5,000), their highest priced product being a stunning fibreglass replica of a Maldivian fishing ‘dhoni’. Follow their picturesque Instagram @islandbazaar or contact them on Facebook @islandbazaarofficial

Live like a local

The collection of cultural escapades offered by Secret Paradise includes adventures such as cooking and eating a homemade meal in a Maldivian home, joining community activities like weaving coir rope or making coconut oil, taking off on a ‘dhoni’ with local fishermen and catch some tuna – all authentic Maldivian experiences, tailored especially to your liking. This year, Secret Paradise has hosted three international TV Film Crews, including celebrity chef and co-host of Masterchef UK, John Torode for his UK TV Series ‘Taste of Asia’ where he cooked and ate with a local family at their home (episode set to air later this year).

The conscious traveller would be pleased to know that Secret Paradise ensures that all of their tours are environmentally responsible, teaching guests to be responsible snorkellers or divers using Project Aware and Green Fins guidelines, even partnering with Sun Shade Volunteers and Travel Teachers to promote Volunteerism in the Maldives. They also offer Conservation Tours with environmental NGO’s such as ‘Save the Beach’ and Maldives Whale Shark Research Program.

Secret Paradise has even hosted bespoke tours in over eight atolls, prices range from US$30 per pax (50% child discount) for day tours to US$1149 per pax for seven-day tours. For more information send a mail through to sales@secretparadise.mv or check them out on Facebook @SecretParadiseMaldives

Wellness-minded

Imagine relaxing your mind, stretching your body and releasing all the negativity that holds you back as you gaze across infinite blues. What could possibly be more heavenly? Picked up by a beautiful safari, cruise into your digital detox with an internationally acclaimed Holistic Wellness Ambassador Simona Siclari at her Tantra Water Awakening Retreat or Tantric Women Awakening Retreat held in the Maldives.

Her seven-day retreats include transfer to the cruise, full-board accommodation, and of course, mandatory Kundalini Yoga Classes, Water Bliss Classes and Tantric Sessions held on board, in the water and on sandbanks. The offer is open for twelve participants who also receive a Tao Tantric Playbook, Meditation Recordings and a Certificate for completing the course.

For travellers looking to awaken their soul and revitalise their spirit in the most beautiful surroundings can get more information on upcoming retreats by sending an email to Atoll Jade info@atolljade.com

For the digital nomad

Completely Instaworthy for the Snap-happy, the very aesthetic Bliss Dhigurah was made by two ‘wanderlust’ers and caters for tech-addicts serving a digitally adept environment with a side of Whale Sharks and sultry tropical surroundings. Setting them aside from your typical guesthouse in the Maldives are inbuilt USB ports by your bedside, laptop-friendly tables and bars and the fastest Wi-Fi found on a secluded isle.

Here you can sip on a cuppa fresh roasted coffee, munch on a slice of fresh pizza straight from wooden ovens on the rooftop without missing a beat on your keypad. Plus, when you need a break from viewing pixels, stretch your legs on yoga mats set to gaze at endless blues or get an adrenaline boost on their extensive watersports offerings.

As Dhigurah is famous for underwater sightings, if you’re thinking of diving in, you might even be lucky enough to blow a kiss to a majestic whale shark. Book your stay at Bliss Dhigurah by emailing info@bliss.mv or calling +960 743 1973 for more information. Be a part of their growing following on Instagram and Facebook @blissdhigurah.

Satisfying foodies everywhere

If you’re in the capital city (Malé), and in need of a caffeine and munchies fix, you want to head straight to The Civil Coffee Society. Coffee culture is a big part of Maldivian society. However, The Civil Coffee Society was the first to introduce Speciality Coffee in Maldives.

Once there, you get to choose from a selection of freshly roasted coffees sourced from around the world, some even locally roasted! Not to mention, also one of the finest, most scrumptious pastries you can bite into. Don’t be fooled by the understated elegance though. You’ll soon find yourself immersed in conversation with the barista, or fellow patrons, to reading up on coffee, or any good book, or just sipping your brew and observing passers-by.

This is a rarity in this crowded city of Malé. The Civil Coffee Society is just down the road from Island Bazaar, located on Fareedhee Magu, Malé. Prices for a coffee range between US$3 and $6 (MVR50 – 85) and snacks range between USD$2 to $7 (MVR20 – 110). If you have any queries give them a buzz at +960 797 7894 or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @CivilCoffeeSoc

Discover depths of knowledge

If you’re looking to feed your mind whilst soothing your soul, then consider joining the annual Scientific Cruise organised by Luxury Yacht Maldives by Albatros Top Boat who’ve been operating in Maldives for over 20 years. The 2018 cruise will be coordinated by Dott. Monica Montefalcone. Marine Ecologist and Researcher from the University of Genoa, Italy joined by three of her peers from the university as well.

The scientific cruise originated in 1996, by Paolo Colantoni, Francesco Luigi Cinelli, Massimo Sandrini and Dodi Telli to study the structure and functioning of the complex system of coral reefs, crucial research for the conscious and sustainable use of the environment. As the boats cruise along a typical diving route, participation by non-researchers in scientific activity is optional (and free!) although it is a fantastic opportunity to gain in-depth insight into the dynamics of these unique marine ecosystems.

Rates for participating on this cruise on either vessel; My Conte Max or My Duke of York, begin at US$1800 not including domestic flights to Dhaalu (approximately US$150 per pax) where the cruise begins. It does, however, include a full board meal plan, airport transfers by Dhoni, three dives a day, night diving and nitrox, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing during navigation, excursions, island hopping and touring Malé City. For detailed rates and bookings, please contact booking@luxuryyachtmaldives.com and for a detailed article describing the 2017 Scientific Cruise please visit www.savethebeach.org (Save The Beach is the Environment NGO representing Maldives on this research cruise).

Dive into aqua adventures

Baa Atoll, Maldives’ only Biosphere Reserve, is full of underwater phenomena boasting vivid coral reefs teeming with life, everything from turtles to sharks just keeps swimming by. The Maldives is beautiful this way, but every year something magical happens in Baa Atoll’s Hanifaru Bay – during the South West Monsoon the winds and currents create an aquatic funnel accumulating enormous amounts of microscopic plankton and attracting hundreds of manta rays as well as whale sharks to gather and feed.

Witnessing a fever of rays’ dance and sway like a ballet (and occasionally fly) is a life-changing experience! Located close to all the underwater action, Aveyla Manta Village is owned by the same partners that manage a five-star PADI Dive Centre called Liquid Salt Divers. Decades at Baa under their belt, these fantastic guides will make you feel right at home under the sea, no matter your skill or experience level. Once you’re done adventuring this beautifully designed the Manta Village has all the comforts you could ask for from delicious meals and spacious rooms to access to a private beach area.

If you’re ready to tick this one off the bucket-list, send Aveyla Manta Village your request at info@aveyla.com. For some amazing oceanic eye candy, do follow them on Fb or Instagram @liquidsaltdivers and @aveylamaldives