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Secret Paradise - Interview with founder Ruth Franklin

Ruth discovered the Maldives 15 years ago, visiting as a scuba diver in search of mantas and whale sharks. She was fortunate to find a reasonably priced resort that allowed her to stay and indulge in her hobby but then came along development and her well-loved resort went luxury and beyond her price range. So she moved to diving from a boat and this also in later years enabled her to gain an understanding of local island life. Ruth’s love and appreciation of the Maldives, its people, its culture and traditions was almost immediate and resulted in her visiting the archipelago on over 30 occasions in the years since. In 2012 the opportunity to relocate arose, so with the support of a local business man, they formed Secret Paradise. Their mission is to introduce the Real Maldives to guests and support local communities.

How many days of travel would you recommend for visiting the local islands?

If you are planning on basing yourself on one island then 4-5 days would be in my opinion a good starting point. Given that your arrival day and departure day are spent travelling be that by ferry, speedboat or domestic flight you are then left with 2-3 days to explore and participate in excursions and activities. If you are considering island hopping, then whilst it can be done in less days a week or longer allows you plenty of time to enjoy each of the islands on which you stay.

What differences would it make to hire a tour guide for the visit?

Traveling with a Secret Paradise guide will save you the time and hassle of researching your own Maldives itinerary. As we have been in operation for over 5 years in the Maldives – it’s safe to say that we have a little local ‘know-how.’ Travelling with a local guide not only provides an opportunity to learn about a country and culture; it’s also safe and convenient. Guides offer perceptions that travellers simply cannot gain from a reading a guidebook, researching online or from travelling independently. I believe that a great guide is the difference between a good holiday and a memorable one. Travelling with one of our Secret Paradise local guides you are bound to experience much more then the vast majority of travellers that journey here.

Which parts of Maldives are the most popular?

The central atolls, North and South Male as well as Ari are the most popular, however, this is more often than not because they offer ease of accessibility from the airport. For guests who are looking to avoid the main tourist areas then travelling further north or south to areas such as Baa, Vaavu and Laamu or even Addu in the deep south and Haa Alif in the deep north, provide access to some really beautiful, natural and untouched islands in the Maldives.

What is the price range and what will be included in your offer?

Our tours start at $399 per person for a 3 night tour combining cultural experiences with those activities you would expect in the Maldives, snorkeling for example and go up to $2499 per person for a 14N volunteer and island hopping combination tour. We offer a range of tours including day tours starting from $40, self guided tours, yoga packages, diving and snorkeling packages and if we don't have what you are looking for then we are happy to tailor make!

Which are the most frequented diving spots/sights in the area?

Most diving guests visiting the Maldives for the first time want to encounter whalesharks and mantas, so then location comes down to season. South Ari stunning coral formations, incredible colours and a huge variety of fish life have made Ari Atoll one of the top diving destinations around the world. Add into the mix regular Manta Ray and Whaleshark sightings, and it’s clear why people keep coming back for more. Popular dive sites include Broken Rock, Protected Marine Area Kudarah Thila, Panettone and Angaga Thila. This atoll is also on many of the dive liveaboard routes so again if you want to get away from the crowd travel further north or south!

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Secret Paradise - Interview with founder Ruth Franklin Reviewed by JaamZIN on 6:36:00 PM Rating: 5
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