Our head office
Encounters Travel
Leigh House
Varley Street
Leeds, LS28 6AN
West Yorkshire
United Kingdom
+44 203 725 8921
tours@utwtravel.com
Agent log in

MALDIVES ON A SHOESTRING

Price from
US$1,395
(per person)
Duration
8
Days
Tour Type
Shoestring

HIGHLIGHTS

Boat trips, snorkelling over the coral reefs, uninhabited islands & sand bars, cultural shows, beach barbecues, dining with local families, diving options
COUNTRIES : Maldives

Our Maldives on a Shoestring tour (formerly Maldives Magic) gives you the chance to see the real Maldives and to discover the culture, beautiful scenery, friendly local people and atmosphere of this tropical paradise while staying in comfortable locally owned guesthouses. The itinerary starts with a tour of the modern capital of Male, before visiting both Guraidhoo and Maafushi local islands. Activities include a sunset Dhoni cruise and evening fishing trip, beach barbeques, cultural shows, snorkelling trips, meals taken with local families, the chance to prepare traditional Maldivian snacks and much, much more! Scuba-diving options are available and we also offer the option to extend your tour in the Maldives with an add on extension to one of the many amazing island resorts for some more luxurious relaxation.

Private tour option

If our scheduled departure dates don't work for you, or you would prefer not to travel with a group, then we can also run this tour privately for you. Please contact us for more information and prices.

Upon arrival at Male International Airport you will be greeted by our representative and transferred by the airport shuttle taxi to your guesthouse on Hulhumale, just 15 minutes away. Settle in after your flight before taking your first steps on the sands of this tropical paradise. The beach is 3 min walk away, with several local cafes and local restaurants, plus a watersports centre. For travellers arriving before 5.00pm there is an optional visit to Male for sunset mocktails at the top of the highest building in Male which provides panoramic views of the city and surrounding islands.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Hulhumale guesthouse
  • EXTRAS:
    Extra day in Hulhumale - pre-tour, Single room supplement (MASHMM)

Following breakfast served at the guesthouse you will transfer by public ferry to Male, a 20-minute journey, where a guide will accompany you on a tour of the capital city, providing opportunity to visit places of interest including The Friday Mosque, The National Museum and Sultan Park.

After lunch transfer by local ferry (approx. 14.30) to your harbour-side guesthouse on the local island of Guraidhoo, South Male Atoll, 120 minutes from Male. Sit up top on the ferry to view the beauty of the many Maldives islands that pass you by whilst keeping your eyes open for dolphins!

Upon arrival you will have time to settle in before either relaxing on the beach or on the terrace of your guesthouse to watch the sun go down, followed by dinner freshly cooked at the guesthouse.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Guraidhoo guesthouse
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner

Breakfast this morning is taken with a local family allowing you true access to Maldivian local life.

Accompanied by a guide the morning is spent exploring Guraidhoo with the opportunity to learn about the local way of life including a visit to the Mosque, perhaps participate in a lesson at the school and at the boatyard learn how the common wooden boat known locally as a 'dhoni' is built.

The afternoon is at your leisure to relax on the beach or enjoy optional watersport activities before being taken to a deserted sandbank at around 4pm (exact times depend on the tide as the sandbar is covered at high tide!) where with nothing but a few birds in sight you will be able to swim and snorkel in the waters surrounding the sandbank before enjoying dinner served Robinson Crusoe style!

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Guraidhoo guesthouse
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner

Following breakfast you will be taken by speedboat to an uninhabited picnic island, approximately 1km long, with a picture perfect sand bar. Here you have the opportunity to swim, snorkel or just lie back and relax before enjoying a BBQ lunch and then enjoying more of the same! Timing approx. 10.00-16.00, toilets & washroom available, island landing fee included. Dinner this evening is spent with a local family trying more traditional Maldivian food, just don't expect silver service as traditionally meals are eaten without the aid of a knife and fork!

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Guraidhoo guesthouse
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Start early today for breakfast and then a transfer by local ferry to the local island of Maafushi, just 20 minutes away. After checking into the guesthouse, this morning you will have the chance to enjoy the underwater beauty of the Maldives. The coral reefs of the Maldives are inhabited by diverse marine life and are teaming with colourful fish and corals. A half day snorkelling excursion (approx. 09.00-13.00) takes you out to some of the best reefs to discover this underwater world for yourself.

On return to Maafushi enjoy an afternoon at your leisure to relax on the screened tourist beach or enjoy optional watersport activities. Dinner this evening will be a selection of local dishes accompanied by traditional dancing and the beat of the 'bodu beru' where a group of men sit around the 'bodu beru' - big drum and sing to a rhythmical beat until they reach a crescendo.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Maafushi guesthouse
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner

Following breakfast served at the guesthouse, today is yours to enjoy as you please, relax on the beach or for those feeling energetic participate in the various optional watersport activities on offer. Optional diving trips can be organised for certified divers.

Just before sunset you will board a traditional Maldivian fishing dhoni in order to cruise the Indian Ocean and weather providing enjoy a Maldivian sunset with the possibility to catch a glimpse of schools of dolphins. You can also try your hand at fishing Maldivian style. The Maldives is unique in that its history depends on tuna fishing and the locals are excellent fishermen using pole and line and are happy to share their line fishing skills with you. Your catch will be freshly prepared for you to enjoy as a BBQ dinner.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Maafushi guesthouse
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Full-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi, Half-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi, Manta Ray boat trip from Maafushi

Following breakfast served at the guesthouse today is a day of relaxation on the beach. Again, resort visits, snorkelling boat trips and diving excursions are available. Some of these can be booked in advance, but further snorkelling boat trips and day trips to resort islands should be arranged locally - your guide will assist with this.

In the afternoon, a visit to a local cafe is included to sample traditional 'hedika' - Maldivian savoury and sweet short eats served with black tea.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Maafushi guesthouse
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast
  • EXTRAS:
    Full-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi, Half-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi, Manta Ray boat trip from Maafushi

After breakfast you are transferred back to Male by public ferry (approx. 07.30-09.00), across town, and on to Male airport where the tour ends. You should expect to arrive at the airport by around 10.30am.

If you have a flight departing earlier than 1pm then we recommend taking an earlier speedboat transfer from Maafushi to the airport (at extra cost).

If you have a late afternoon or evening flight departure and understandably do not want to spend a long time waiting at the airport, then day-use rooms are available at the Newtown Inn. Alternatively, there are day package options at Hulhule Airport hotel to use the swimming pool, restaurant, bar etc. or a half day visit to Vilingilli local island which is 15 minutes from Male. Other snorkelling trips or other watersport activities are also available.

Those travellers booking a resort extension will transfer from Male airport on to their resort via the resort's own transfer boat. Our guide will assist you with meeting this transfer though there may be a short wait depending on the resort boat's schedule.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    N/A
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast
  • EXTRAS:
    3-night resort island extension, 4-night Dhoni cruise extension, Extra day in Hulhumale - pre-tour, Speedboat departure transfer, Day-use room & airport transfers in Hulhumale, Extra day in Hulhumale - post-tour
Included:
  • 7 nights accommodation: 1 night Hulhumale guesthouse, 3 nights Guraidhoo guesthouse, 3 nights Maafushi guesthouse
  • All transport and transfers
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Free 30-day tourist visa on arrival to all nationalities
  • Local guides

Excluded:
  • International flights (available on request)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks, tips and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Any other items not mentioned above
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we use most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
newtown-inn-hulhumale.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
New Town Inn
Hulhumale, Maldives

The Newtown Inn, boasts an authentic Indian restaurant, Bombay Darbar, as well as a roof terrace where you can dine under the stars. With 10 well appointed en-suite deluxe rooms guests can experience a level of luxury at an affo


The Newtown Inn, boasts an authentic Indian restaurant, Bombay Darbar, as well as a roof terrace where you can dine under the stars. With 10 well appointed en-suite deluxe rooms guests can experience a level of luxury at an affordable price. Nominated in the Leading Guesthouse category 2014 MATATO Awards and ranked number 1 on Trip Advisor, guests are already recognizing the point of difference Newtown Inn and its team offers.

FACILITIES & AMINITIES

* All rooms are ideal for two persons * Twin and double beds * En-suite bath rooms / Hot and cold shower * AC and ceiling fan * Wardrobe and writing table * Hair dryer upon request * Toiletries * In-room TV * Telephone * Tea and coffee making facilities * Internet access * WiFi * Room service * Restaurant * Laundry Service

TYPES OF ROOM

Rooms are designed with comfort and a good night's sleep in mind. Our beds are with extra bedding including feather and foam pillows, duvet and a down blanket to make it more comfortable for our guest to sleep.

ifja-inn-guraidhoo.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Ifja Inn
Guraidhoo, Maldives

Nestled in the heart of South Male Atoll, Ifja Inn offers water sports facilities like diving and snorkelling available in the property itself. The inn also offers free Wi-Fi at all areas.


Nestled in the heart of South Male Atoll, Ifja Inn offers water sports facilities like diving and snorkelling available in the property itself. The inn also offers free Wi-Fi at all areas. Guests may choose to explore the islands offerings or simply soak in the atmosphere at the patio. A front desk can assist with laundry and ironing services, fishing equipment, as well as barbeque facilities. Marble floored rooms are equipped with air conditioning and a fan, as well as a wardrobe. An en-suite bathroom includes shower facilities. While the property does not house any dining facilities, the island offers many local restaurants and eateries, located very close to the inn. Ifja Inn is located within 40 km from Male International Airport.

arora-inn-maafushi.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Arora Inn
Maasfushi, Maldives

Situated near the beach, just a stones throw from Maafushi Harbor and Maafushi Reef. The inn features 3 restaurants, a coffee shop/cafe, and a business center.


Situated near the beach, just a stones throw from Maafushi Harbor and Maafushi Reef. The inn features 3 restaurants, a coffee shop/café, and a business center. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Additionally, dry cleaning, laundry facilities, and a 24-hour front desk are onsite. Rooms provide conveniences like refrigerators and microwaves, plus free WiFi and minibars. Room service, coffee makers, and free bottled water are among the other amenities available to guests.

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you're visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Single room supplement (MASHMM)
Price from
US$499
per person



Single room supplement (MASHMM)
Min numbers: 1 Adult

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares may be available but the supplement is payable if a room share cannot be arranged.


This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. If you are a single traveller and would be happy to share a room, let us know and we will see if we can pair you up with another single traveller of the same sex. If a room share is not available when you book then we will add the single room supplement to your booking and it will be payable with your balance payment unless we have arranged a room share for you by then. If a room share is arranged after you have paid the supplement then we will refund it to you. Room shares are arranged in order of booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

Extra day in Hulhumale - pre-tour
Price from
US$79
per person



Extra day in Hulhumale - pre-tour
Min numbers: 2 Adults

Is your flight arriving early or departing late? You can easily add an extra day in Hulhumale either at the start or the end of your tour.


Is your flight arriving early or departing late? You can easily add an extra day in Hulhumale either at the start or the end of your tour. The price is based on the Hulhumale Inn and is per person, with a minimum of 2 people sharing.

 Extra day in Hulhumale - post-tour
Price from
US$79
per person



Extra day in Hulhumale - post-tour
Min numbers: 2 Adults

Is your flight arriving early or departing late? You can easily add an extra day in Hulhumale either at the start or the end of your tour.


Is your flight arriving early or departing late? You can easily add an extra day in Hulhumale either at the start or the end of your tour. The price is based on the Hulhumale Inn and is per person, with a minimum of 2 people sharing.

Full-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi
Price from
US$219
per person



Full-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This boat trip includes three dives at some of the Maldives great scuba-diving locations. Destinations and species targeted vary day by day. Tanks and weights are included; other equipment may be hired locally. Available to certified divers only.


This full day boat trip includes three dives at some of the Maldives great scuba-diving locations. Destinations and species targeted vary day by day. Tanks, weights, boat fees and guides are included. Wet suits, BCD, regulators, fins, masks and snorkels are not included, but are available for hire locally (budget around USD 30 per dive). This option is available to certified divers only - please ensure you bring your logbook with you.

3-night resort island extension
Price from
US$799
per person



3-night resort island extension
Min numbers: 2 Adults

Why not extend your tour with a fabulous 3-night stay on a resort island. Ideal for those wanting some more luxury for the end of their stay. Relax and enjoy a perfect end to a perfect holiday.


Why not extend your tour with a fabulous 3-night stay on a resort island. Ideal for those wanting some more luxury for the end of their stay. Relax and enjoy a perfect end to a perfect holiday. Our preferred options are located close enough to Male airport that expensive sea plane transfers are not required. Please contact us for current prices to fit your dates, preferred resort and number of travellers.

  • Eriyadu Resort (3-star) - small & laidback mid-range resort, good for snorkelling & diving
  • Bandos Resort (4-star) - another good mid-range resort with good snorkelling & diving
  • Paradise Island Resort (5-star) - a good value 5-star resort close to Malé airport with beach bungalows and more luxurious water villas
Day 8: Sat
Transfer to Malé airport and on to your resort
 
After breakfast you are transferred back to Male by public ferry (approx. 07.30-09.00), across town, and on by ferry to Male airport where your resort transfer will pick you up. Our guide will assist you with meeting this transfer though there may be a short wait depending on the resort boat’s schedule.
 
Overnight: Resort
 
Extras: Various resort options
 
Meals: Breakfast at guesthouse, lunch at resort (own cost), dinner at resort (own cost)
Day 9: Sun
Resort island. Free time
 
Your time is free to relax at your luxury resort, and to take advantage of any of the excursions and activities available (at extra cost subject to options and prices offered by the resort).
 
Overnight: Resort
 
Extras: Various, subject to resort offering
  Meals: Breakfast at resort, lunch at resort (own cost), dinner at resort (own cost)
Day 10: Mon
Resort island. Free time
 
Your time is free to relax at your luxury resort, and to take advantage of any of the excursions and activities available (at extra cost subject to options and prices offered by the resort).
 
Overnight: Resort
 
Extras: Various, subject to resort offering
 
Meals: Breakfast at resort, lunch at resort (own cost), dinner at resort (own cost)
Day 11: Tue
Transfer to airport for departure
 
Your resort will transfer you back to Male airport in time for your departure flight.
 
Overnight: None
 
Extras: N/A
 
Meals: Breakfast at resort
4-night Dhoni cruise extension
Price from
US$909
per person



4-night Dhoni cruise extension
Min numbers: 2 Adults

Add 4 more nights onto your Maldives tour with a 4-night Dhoni cruise. Ideal for those wanting some peace and tranquillity at the end of their stay.


Add 4 more nights onto your Maldives tour with a 4-night Dhoni cruise. Ideal for those wanting some peace and tranquillity at the end of their stay. The price is based on a group of at least 4 people sharing the boat. Discounts apply for larger numbers booking together. If you would like to book this for fewer people we can also quote a price for you.

Day 8:
Board Safari, cruising
 
Upon arrival at Male International Airport (or at the end of your tour with us) you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your safari dhoni, home for the next 4 days. You will be settled into your cabin and given a full tour of the boat before beginning your voyage of discovery!
After lunch cruise to Maniya Faru, Male Atoll, during which, time is yours to do as you please, relax on the sundeck, sit in the shade of the sun canopy and watch the beauty of the Maldives pass you by and maybe catch sight of dolphins.
When at anchorage you can choose to do as much or as little as you please. Options include snorkelling and swimming, fishing or just relaxing.
 
Overnight: On board Tropic Breeze Dhoni or similar
 
Extras: N/A
 
Meals: Breakfast on board, Lunch on board, BBQ beach Dinner
Day 9:
Cruising, Picnic Island, BBQ dinner, option to camp overnight on deck
 
Following breakfast depart to a beautiful uninhabited picnic island, with a picture perfect sand bar. Here you have the opportunity to swim, snorkel or just lie back and relax.
This evening enjoy a beach dinner 'Robinson Crusoe' style before having the option to spend the night camped on deck under the stars!
 
Overnight: On board Tropic Breeze Dhoni or similar
  Extras: Full day resort visit, full or half day diving trip for certified divers 
 
Meals: Breakfast
Day 10, 11:
Free time
 
The next two days are mainly free with various snorkelling stops. One morning an early start before sunrise is required in order to experience the art of Maldivian fishing! The Maldives is unique in that its history depends on tuna fishing and the locals are excellent fishermen using pole and line and are happy to share their skills with you. Your catch will be freshly prepared for you to enjoy later in the day. Following breakfast the day is one of relaxation on board or on the beach. For those feeling energetic snorkelling and swimming are available.
 
Overnight: On board Tropic Breeze Dhoni or similar
 
Extras: N/A
 
Meals: Breakfast on board, Lunch on board, Dinner on board
Day 12:
Transfer to Male airport for departure
 
After breakfast you are transferred back to Male International Airport where the tour ends. You should expect to arrive at the airport by around 12.00pm.
Earlier departures can be arranged if required (at extra cost).
If you have a late afternoon or evening flight departure and understandably do not want to spend a long time waiting at the airport, then day-use rooms are available at the Hulhumale Inn (price includes an airport departure transfer to meet your flight). Alternatively, there are day package options at Hulhule Airport hotel to use the swimming pool, restaurant, bar etc. or a half day visit to Vilingilli local island which is 15 minutes from Male. Other snorkelling trips or other watersport activities are also available.
 
Overnight: None
 
Extras: Day-use + airport transfer at Hulhumale Inn, day package at Hulhule Airport Hotel, half day visit to Vilingilli local island including transfer back to airport, tourist passenger submarine trip
 
Meals: Breakfast on board
Speedboat departure transfer
Price from
US$59
per person



Speedboat departure transfer
Min numbers: 2 Adults

If your flight departs Male airport before 1pm on Day 8, then you will need to book a speedboat transfer from Maafushi to the airport instead of using the local ferry as per the standard itinerary.


If your flight departs Male airport before 1pm on Day 8, then you will need to book a speedboat transfer from Maafushi to the airport instead of using the local ferry as per the standard itinerary. Prices depend on how many people will be travelling on the boat with you, and range from US$200 for one person to US$60 per person for 8 or more people. Prices shown here are for 2-3 people. Please proceed to booking or contact us for exact prices to fit your party.

Day-use room & airport transfers in Hulhumale
Price from
US$59
per person



Day-use room & airport transfers in Hulhumale
Min numbers: 2 Adults

If you have a late afternoon or evening flight home, this option give you a day-use room at the Hulhumale Inn and still includes airport departure transfer.


If you have a late afternoon or evening flight departure on Day 8 and understandably do not want to spend a long time waiting at the airport, then day-use rooms are available at the Hulhumale Inn. Prices include an airport departure transfer to meet your flight.

Half-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi
Price from
US$149
per person



Half-day scuba-diving boat trip from Maafushi
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This boat trip includes two dives at one of the Maldives great scuba-diving locations. Destinations and species targeted vary day by day. Tanks and weights are included; other equipment may be hired locally. Available to certified divers only.


This boat trip includes two dives at one of the Maldives great scuba-diving locations. Destinations and species targeted vary day by day. Tanks, weights, boat fees and guides are included. Wet suits, BCD, regulators, fins, masks and snorkels are not included, but are available for hire locally (budget around USD 30 per dive). This option is available to certified divers only - please ensure you bring your logbook with you.

Manta Ray boat trip from Maafushi
Price from
US$69
per person



Manta Ray boat trip from Maafushi
Min numbers: 2 Adults

The Maldives is one of the best places in the world to swim with and view Manta Rays and this boat trip takes you out to one of the locations where they are well known to congregate, often for cleaning by smaller fish.


The Maldives is one of the best places in the world to swim with and view Manta Rays and this boat trip takes you out to one of the locations where they are well known to congregate, often for cleaning by smaller fish. The exact destination visited may vary seasonally. Snorkelling equipment is included.

maldives-shoestring-map.jpg
Maldives on a Shoestring tour notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

The guesthouse accommodation on this tour is designed to provide a balance of comfort, local atmosphere and value for money. These are not luxury properties, but are clean, comfortable, have friendly staff, and often provide some excellent local food. A range of mid-level and luxurious island resort stays are available as extensions at the end of the tour for those looking for some extra comfort and luxury.

If you are a single traveller, you may share a twin room with another single traveller of the same sex or pay the single room supplement fee (see Extra section above for more information). Couples will be provided with a private double room. Occasionally double rooms may consist of two single beds pushed together.

Local island tours:
Private vehicles are used for sightseeing tours and airport transfers. Public ferries are used for crossings between Male, Guraidhoo and Maafushi. Domestic flights are used between Male and Gan. Speedboat transfers or sea-planes are used for transfers to and from island resorts. A range of motor boats and Dhonis are used for the water based activities included in our tours. All boats carry sufficient life jackets for our travelers. Safety/emergency procedure briefings will be provided by your guide or the boat crew at the start of each journey.

Sailing safari tours:
The boats used on these tours will vary depending on the size of your group, and range from deluxe catamarans to Turkish style gulet sailing boats.

Arrival arrangements:
All our tours include an airport meet and greet and transfer service on the first day of your tour. Our rep. will be holding an Encounters Travel or Uncover the World signboard with your name displayed for easy identification. If you can't find our representative, our emergency contact numbers are given on your tour confirmation voucher. No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to incorrect flight details being provided or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.

Departure arrangements:
Our local island tour itineraries will return you to Malé airport from Maafushi Island in time for flight departures after about midday. If you have an earlier flight departure, please let us know as soon as possible as you may need to book an extra speedboat transfer (at extra cost). If you have a late afternoon/evening flight departure, then we offer a range of options to help fill your day. Please see the tour dossier for details.
If your tour includes a domestic flight back to Male at the end of the tour (for example from Gan) then this flight will be timed to ensure you catch your international flight.
Most of the resort extension options that we offer are based close enough to Malé airport that the resort’s own standard boat transfer service will be able to get you to the airport in time for flights departing at any time of day. However some resorts may charge extra for very early departures, especially if sea plane transfers are required. Please contact us for details and any extra costs if you have an early flight departure before confirming your flight arrangements.
Sailing safari tours will be customised to ensure you are at the airport in plenty of time for your departure flight(s).

There is currently a departure tax in place at Malé airport. Please ensure you have US$13 p/p in cash on you to pay this tax when you leave.

If your flights arrive/depart before/after the tour starts/ends then we will be very happy to arrange additional accommodation and airport transfers for you. We will aim to book these in the same hotel as the main tour, though this will be subject to availability (upgraded hotels are also available on request). If you do not book your additional accommodation through us, then our arrival/departure service is not included and you will need to make your own airport transfer arrangements.

We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to book your flights for you, and our ATOL (UK flight sales license) covers all holidays booked together with a flight from the UK.

Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from. Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour whether you book your flights independently or through us.

On our local island tours we generally finish with a transfer by local ferry from your island back to Male and on to the main airport island on the last day of the tour. If your international flight departs before around 1pm you will require a speedboat transfer to the airport at extra cost – see the Options section for details.

Some resort islands may require an extra sea-plane transfer to be taken if you have an early departure flight from Malé. This will also be at an extra cost  - please ask for details.

You can visit the Maldives all year round, and be pretty sure of getting great weather. There are rains from time to time, but it is hard to predict exactly when they will come, and you'll be unlucky to get more than a couple of rainy days in succession.

Scuba diving is good all year round. Wind can obviously impact the surfing/windsurfing/catamaran activities, and if this is the case we will aim to move these to a day later in the tour.

The winter season (December till April) is definitively not great for surfing. Generally it is also less windy, however, there is usually wind strong enough for sailing and even for windsurf. Catamaran sailing requires less wind than windsurfing so this isn’t particularly seasonal.

Maldivians, being Muslims, are prohibited by law from consuming alcohol; hence there is a total restriction on alcohol being available on inhabited local islands, this includes the capital Malé. Alcohol is available at Hulhule Island Hotel which is located at the airport. Arrangements to visit can be made through our local rep. We have tried where possible to take this into account on our local island tours by providing opportunities to visit picnic islands and resorts where alcohol can be made available. However please bear in mind that is difficult to get hold of and even where alcohol is available, it is very expensive!

All tourist island resorts and safari yachts stock alcohol for guest consumption. Traditional beverages include “toddy” – aged coconut sap and plain coconut sap.

Please don’t bring alcohol through the airport as it will be confiscated.

The traditional food of the Maldivians is based around fish, (tuna to be more specific) and coconuts. White rice and “roshi” (a flour based flat-bread) are staple items. Fish is normally smoked, fired, barbequed or roasted. Pork products are strictly prohibited.

Visiting the Maldives is the chance for you to break out the brightly coloured summer clothes that are so often out of place in colder climates. The higher temperatures and ever-present sunshine means that locals and visitors alike prefer dressing in lightweight materials. T-shirts, cotton clothing, skirts and shorts would be the best option to stay cool. The ideal footwear would be sandals and flip-flops. Whether to pack only the more casual options like shorts and khakis or the newest Gucci number depends on what you plan to do, or where you plan to stay. Casual clothing is fine on the local islands and in guesthouses, smart casual clothing is usually enough for Malé or resorts, but the more up-market resorts may require that you dress up for dinner. Sunscreen, insect repellent, and hats are all necessary for a comfortable holiday, but they are available widely for purchase in resorts and around Malé.

With a tropical climate, plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 30°C throughout the year, there is never a bad time to visit the Maldives. Maldives has two distinct seasons; dry season (northeast monsoon) and wet season (southwest monsoon), with the former extending from January to March and the latter from mid-May to November. The rare thunderstorm in the Maldives (especially around the southwest monsoon months) can be a welcome respite from the sun. Cloudy skies and slate grey seas, and crashing thunder makes for lovely reading weather. The warm temperatures will allow you to go for a walk in the rain, a verdant, wet, thoroughly enjoyable experience. For extra exhilaration, take a swim in the rain - the sea will be extra warm.

There can be heavy rain showers pretty much any time of year, but they tend to be short and cannot be accurately predicted seasonally (in other words – don’t worry too much about them – you will quite possibly experience some rain showers, but the majority of the weather should be great, and you will be unlucky to get several consecutive days of heavy rain). Diving is good all year-round, although a basic rule is that reef life is more varied and visibility is better on the western side of any atoll from May to November and on the eastern side of any atoll from December to April.

The Maldives is a Muslim country and care needs to be taken in relation to the dress code on local islands. Whilst it is acceptable for men to wear T Shirts and shorts or swim shorts; females should avoid causing offence by maintaining a more conservative approach to clothes by wearing T Shirts, loose shorts or sarongs. Whilst the islands we visit are more tolerant of guests wearing traditional beachwear, females should avoid wearing bikinis and swimwear unless on an un-inhabited island, picnic island, sandbank, screened off local beach (Maafushi for example), dive boat or resort island. Whilst the law restricts the wearing of bikinis on local islands, some guesthouses do provide a private sunbathing area on the beach or on the terrace of the guesthouse, our local rep will advise when and where this is possible. It is common practice by both locals and visitors for females to swim from local beaches wearing a t-shirt and shorts. When visiting the home of a local family or during the island tours where we may have access to mosques and family homes, shoulders and thighs should be covered out of respect of local customs.

The Maldives is a place where you don’t require much in order to be comfortable. It is tropical, sunny and very relaxed, so you only really need to bring a few essentials:

  • Valid Passport – with at least 6 months left before expiry.
  • Light weight, casual, non-synthetic clothing (cottons and natural fibres are best) which appropriately cover the body, when in company of the local communities. (Please understand local customs and religious requirements relating to dress codes. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to be respectful)
  • Cool footwear (sandals are best). If you are interested in exploring the reefs, a pair of reef shoes is recommended to avoid injuries.
  • Swimming costumes – rash-guards/t-shirts are recommended for snorkelling to avoid sunburn.
  • Sunscreens, after sun lotions and personal hygiene products – Please adhere to 100ml restrictions for anything you wish to carry on hand-luggage on flights.
  • Prescription medications (if required) – please bring supporting documents.
  • Power adapter for phones, laptops etc – The Maldives uses mostly UK style sockets.
  • Underwater camera – The Maldives below sea level is worth a few photos.
  • Sunglasses and hats
  • Dive certification card and log book if you intend to participate in SCUBA diving.

Luggage allowances:
Most international airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 23kg per person of luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure about luggage allowances on your tour. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover.
Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.

The Maldives has a non-convertible currency – Maldivian Rufiyaa – this cannot be purchased beforehand. One Rufiyaa is 100 Laari and is available in 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 Rufiyaa notes.
One US Dollar is equivalent to 15.42 Rufiyaa. Major international currencies can be changed easily at the airport on arrival. It is advised not to exchange currency in Male where bank queues are common and waiting time lengthy. The US Dollar is accepted as legal tender. All major credit cards can be used (and are preferred) at resorts, hotels, shops, etc., however, on local islands it is usually only guesthouses that accept credit cards and cash is generally preferred.
The national bank, Bank of Maldives has several branches in Male’ as well as other major population hubs such as the Male’ International Airport. Several other regional banks also operate in central city, Male’, including the State Bank of India, Bank of Ceylon, and HSBC. There are no banks on resort islands or on local islands visited in our tours.

ATMs: Most banks represented in Malé provide automatic teller machine (ATM) services and credit card services at several key points in Malé and Hulhumale. Only local currency MRF will be dispensed. Whilst there is an ATM at the Male branch of the Bank of Maldives dispensing USD$, it only dispenses to Bank of Maldives cardholders. There are no ATMs on resort islands or on the local islands visited on our tours. All major credit cards can be used at resorts, hotels and many shops in Male. Most restaurants and shops in Male will accept USD$ in payment providing change in local currency.

Bank Notes: The banks in the Maldives are very particular about the condition of bank notes and will refuse deposits of old style US Dollars; any damaged notes, badly creased or well-worn notes will also be rejected. Therefore, if presenting such a note as form of payment you may be requested to change to a note of better condition. Please do not take offence, it is purely that the note will have no worth to the individual to whom you are paying. Also, note that small bills .i.e. $1 and $5 have a lower exchange value, as the Bank of Maldives charges for small notes to be deposited.

Spending money and budgeting: It is impossible to say exactly what you will need during your local island visit as this varies depending on personal preferences, the number of extra optional activities and souvenirs you may like to purchase. While on the local islands, approximate prices are as follows:

  • Snack lunch: $5-$10
  • Evening meal in guesthouse or local restaurant: $10-$20
  • Tea / Coffee: $1
  • Soft drinks: $1
  • Water 500m: $1

You should expect prices on resort islands to be considerably more expensive than this.

We provide a fully trained local guide to escort you throughout this tour. Tour guiding in the Maldives is a fairly new concept but our guides are keen, friendly, speak good English, and are delighted to be able to provide tourists with a different experience of the Maldives to the normal resort island holiday. A range of boat crews are also used for the various water-based activities. A permanent rep is based in Hulhumalé to assist at the start and finish of the tour.

At Encounters Travel we aim to only use local tour guides as we feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing as well as supporting the local population.

All relevant entry fees, island landing fees and permits are included in your tour price.

While an accepted part of the culture and customs in the Maldives, tipping is always optional, and any amounts paid should reflect excellent service.

It is normal and accepted for people to tip differently, and you should not feel under any pressure to tip any particular amount.

We are often asked for advice on common amounts however, and suggest that up to approx. 5% of the tour price would be a suitable budget for this tour. More information will be provided in your pre-departure information.

We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. There’s no point in us providing great guides if you’ve got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won’t ever put you in a 50-seater coach or boat with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, we set our Maldives group departures to have a maximum of 14 travellers. Private tours and boat charters are also available from 1 to 14 people.

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination.  You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.

In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are: Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Malaria is not generally present unless it has been contracted abroad; you do not need to take malaria prophylactics. You are required to carry a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate if you are arriving from a destination with a Yellow Fever risk. More information is available here.

Personal health:
Sensible precautions should be taken to avoid sunburn and dehydration. On arrival and when travelling in the Maldives, we recommend that you stick to drinking bottled mineral water or to help the environment bring water purification tablets or a water filter and a re-usable bottle. Please ensure you have appropriate travel insurance, which includes health cover. If you require prescription medicines, please bring them with you, and include the appropriate documentation.
There are two hospitals on the main island, Malé. The Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital is the biggest hospital in the country providing sophisticated medical care. Some resorts have in-house doctors. A decompression chamber is within easy reach of most resorts in case of emergency.

No prior visa arrangements are required. Tourists are issued a 30-day visa on arrival. A passport valid for 6 months and travel documents (flight tickets) are necessary. You will need to present a landing card which should be distributed by the crew of your flight. Alternatively you can find cards immediately before the immigration booths. You will given back part of the landing card to present again when you leave, so please look after this and try not to lose it. To obtain immigration clearance it is a requirement to indicate on the landing card an address or provide proof that you have a booking at a resort, guest house or safari boat. We will provide the address of your initial Malé accommodation on your tour confirmation voucher.

Importing goods such as alcohol, pork items, pornography (very broadly defined), religious materials offensive to Islam, idols of worship, narcotics and psychotropic substances, explosives and weapons into the Maldives is strictly forbidden. Alcohol and pork products under a special license are available in resort islands. On the way out, note that exporting sand, turtle shells, seashells and a range of marine products is also forbidden unless you have bought them from a legitimate souvenir shop and can show the receipt.

All baggage including hand baggage is screened as part of the custom’s process before you leave the airports baggage collection area.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

Peru We are able to arrange a comprehensive policy for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.

Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Eurpoe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.

Sockets are mostly three pronged (British style) and 220 volts, however some are European 2 pronged style. Adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don’t have one. All electrical devices running on 110/120 V must have power converters / step-up transformers. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc.
Maldives Standard Time is GMT/UTC + 5. Daylight saving time is not applied.
We run limited small-group departures on this tour, normally starting on a Saturday. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and in our brochures. Please check the website for the most up-to-date prices and any special offers available.

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You can pay your deposit or full balance online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer. We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
If you book a flight departing from the UK from us with your tour, or if you live in the UK and your tour includes domestic flights, then your entire package is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10467.
Additional financial protection is also provided through International Passenger Protection for passengers not booking flights.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don’t prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn’t make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don’t expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don’t worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don’t waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don’t litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you’re travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It’s important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Know Before you Go' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Know Before you Go' campaign

Maldives on a Shoestring dates & prices

This tour is also available for booking privately for travel anytime through the year, and we can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.

Start Date End Date Price (P/P) Offer Price Note
23 Dec, 2016 30 Dec, 2016 US$1560 - - Book now
04 Dec, 2016 11 Dec, 2016 US$1560 - - Book now
13 Nov, 2016 20 Nov, 2016 US$1560 - - Book now
23 Oct, 2016 30 Oct, 2016 US$1395 - - Book now
10 Jul, 2016 17 Jul, 2016 US$1395 - - Book now
31 Jul, 2016 07 Aug, 2016 US$1395 - - Book now
21 Aug, 2016 28 Aug, 2016 US$1395 - - Book now
11 Sep, 2016 18 Sep, 2016 US$1395 - - Book now
02 Oct, 2016 09 Oct, 2016 US$1395 - - Book now
Feefo logo
tripadvisor winner 2014 and 2015
MALDIVES ON A SHOESTRING Reviews
Service

Posted Sep 04, 2015
Service rating : Our agent Amanda was great and so understanding when we needed to completely change the tour we had booked on.

Product : Reading the details before we went on this tour it was full of local content and activities
Read More...
Service

Product

Posted Aug 15, 2015
Service rating : Encounters were a pleasure to deal with; every email was answered quickly and staff were super helpful.

Product : This tour was amazing! It had the perfect amount of free time vs. planned activities. The quality of the included excursions was extremely high and I think that the tour is excellent value for money.
Read More...
Service

Product

Posted Feb 13, 2014
Service rating : Encounters Travel did such a superb job in organizing this tour. I had never heard of them before going on the Maldives Magic tour, however now I will recommend them to friends/family and use them for my future planned trips.

Product : Our tour is what made the trip that much more memorable. Rather than being plopped at a westernized resort, we were able to get a taste of how the locals live, eat and entertain themselves. We stayed in quaint guesthouses on the islands amongst the locals, ate authentic Maldivian cuisine (one day even with a Maldivian family who made us breakfast), and viewed a traditional dance/singing performance which was absolutely delightful. This was a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget.
Read More...
Service

Product

Posted Feb 13, 2014
Service rating : Very good value and a well organised tour in the Maldives.

Product : I loved it! Staying on the different islands and getting a look at real life rather than just a resort was wonderful.
Read More...