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There is so much more to the Maldives than white sandy beaches and turquoise blue lagoons. Journey with us to the north of the Maldives and discover stories of years gone by on the historical island of Utheemu. Explore the tropical forests and mangroves of Baraah and learn how these vast areas of vegetation are the life blood of the Maldives. Dip into the past on Kelaa and find out why the British established a staging position on this most north eastern Maldives island. With opportunities to relax on quiet white sandy beaches, snorkel tropical waters and enjoy uninterrupted views of Maldivian sunsets this is a Maldives island hopping experience not to be missed.
Starting From USD 2098 per person
Following a relaxed tour briefing at our hotel base in Hulhumale we travel by vehicle and local ferry to Villimale to join “Save the Beach” and discover the quieter side of city life. Wander the quiet streets, learn the names of local trees and learn more about the coral reef conservation work and waste management practices being carried out by NGO “Save the Beach”. Before returning to Hulhumale we take time to sample traditional ‘hedika’ at a local café on the beach. Hedika is traditional sweet and savory snacks traditionally served with black tea and taken between 3.00 and 5.00pm.
Following breakfast, with luggage stored we take a 3 hour walking tour of Male city accompanied by your guide. Traditionally Male was the King’s island, from where the ancient royal dynasties ruled the country and where their palace was built. Nowadays Male’ has become a commercial, financial, & administrative urban city but still offers a number of historical buildings and a flavor of local life in this the most densely populated capital of the world!
Taking the ferry to the airport there is time to take lunch (not included) before boarding our domestic flight to Hanimaadhoo. The flight time will soon ‘fly’ by as you admire the picture-perfect archipelago from a bird’s eye perspective. From Hanimaadhoo it is a 30 minute speedboat journey across the ocean to Kelaa where you will have time to settle in and freshen up before dinner. ‘Kelaa’ meaning sandal wood, is a unique island situated geographically in Haa Alif atoll. This 3 km island is home to a population of over 1600 people and consists of distinct bio-geographical features on different parts of the island. The local community inhabit less than one third of the island, while the rest is the forest to explore. You can find powder fine white sandy beach on one side of the island and a rocky coral shore on the other side. A mix of sand and stones in the northwest and a newly forming wetland at the very south. It also has one of the largest lagoons in Maldives approximately 6km in length.
Following dinner your guide will provide a presentation giving an insight into Waste Management in the Maldives and the work Parley play in the war against plastic.
Following breakfast we take a walking tour of the village which includes a mosque built during the reign of Sultan Mohamed Ibn Ali (Muhammad Mohyeddine) (AD 1692-1701) of the Utheemu Dynasty, the king who re-established the Islamic penal code.
There is time after lunch to relax in the comfort of the guesthouse, take a short stroll to the beach and sit in the shade of a palm tree or join a guided house-reef snorkel.
As the heat of the day subsides we will take a walk with a member of IDEAs NGO. Island Development and Environmental Awareness Society (IDEAS) is a non-governmental youth organization based in the northern tip of the Maldives, Ha. Kelaa. Founded in 2002, IDEAS mission is to promote socio-economic development of youth, women, differently-abled and the community, as well as to promote sustainable development in the Maldive islands. They will introduce us to the mangroves that run along the rocky beach of Kelaa, one of the biggest small leafed orange mangrove areas in the Maldives. And we will learn about the interesting history of ‘kandoo’ as a food source in Kelaa and why it gained particular importance during the Second World War.
Following dinner a presentation by your guide provides an understanding of the importance of seagrass in the Maldives and why locals are campaigning to protect it.
Following a presentation made by your guide on Maldives Coral Reefs and Marine Life, we take a speedboat to a nearby reefs in search of turtles, reef sharks and tropical marine life. Returning to Kelaa we will take lunch before transferring by speedboat a 30 minute journey to the historical island of Utheemu. The kings of the Utheemu Dynasty, Sultans Muhammed Imaduddin I (1632 to 1648 AD), Ibrahim Iskandar I (1648 to 1687 AD), Kuda Muhammad (1687 to 1691 AD) and Mohammed Moheyeddin (1691 to 1692 AD) all descended from this island. Regents from Utheem also ruled the Maldives from 1573 to 1632 AD.
Following time to settle in and freshen up we take a short walk to Utheemu’s beautiful beach where you can relax on the shore and watch the sky change colour or take a dip for a sunset swim.
An early breakfast today allows us to visit Utheemu Ganduvaru and Kandhuvalu Mosque before the main heat of the day. Utheemu is famed as the birthplace of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu, who with his brothers and his companions fought an eight-year-long war to drive out the Portuguese invaders who occupied the Maldives from 1558 to 1573. Utheemu Ganduvaru is the wooden palace in which Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu lived and grew up. It is well preserved and evokes more than any other existing building in the Maldives, the lifestyle of the rich, centuries ago. The date of construction for this stone-and-wood mosque is unknown, although national hero Mohammed Thakurufaanu is known to have prayed here in his youth, meaning that it's been here since at least the mid-16th century. It's a tiny place with a beautiful teak interior that can be glimpsed from the entrance and Thakurufaanu's father is buried in the cemetery here.
The afternoon is free for you to relax at the guesthouse, on the beach in the shade of a palm tree or participate in optional excursions available including snorkeling and fishing.
Following breakfast we make a short speedboat journey to the island of Baraah. Historically, Baarah was the island where the vessel Kalhuohfummi was built in the latter half of the 16th century. The ship played a key role in Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu's war against the Portuguese invasion of the country, however, we are here to specifically visit the mangroves and take in the view from an unexpected lookout point. The Maldives is known for its coral reefs and beaches; mangrove ecosystems in Maldives are over-shadowed by these environments and oftentimes neglected and under constant anthropogenic threats despite their crucial ecological and geomorphological function to this small island nation. Mangroves create unique ecological environments that host rich assemblages of species. The muddy or sandy sediments of the mangal are home to a variety of epibenthic, infaunal, and meiofaunal invertebrates. Channels within the mangal support communities of phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish. Following our exploration of Baraah we take a 40 minute speedboat transfer to Hanimaadhoo and the Barefoot ECO Hotel where the remainder of the afternoon is yours to relax.
Following dinner Barefoot’s Marine Biologist will provide an insight into their environmental monitoring and marine life studies.
This morning we take a guided tour of Hanimaadhoo Agricultural Centre. Lush with an impressive variety of crops, discover local favorites such as watermelon, banana, and papaya, as well as more exotic varieties such as grapes, aloe vera and dragon fruit. Dedicated to enriching local diet and knowledge, the Agricultural Centre also boasts a goat pen and a greenhouse and a small team of interns.
Following a stop at a local café for refreshment we head to Hanimaadhoo Meteorological Centre and Observatory. After a short tour of the sophisticated equipment dedicated to collecting climatic data from Northern Maldives, we move on to the observatory. Here research activities ae conducted at a laboratory located within a buffer zone. In addition to ruling out fears of local interference on the atmosphere, the legally protected buffer zone ensures that the walk to the observatory is dominated by nature. Dubbed one of a kind not only in Maldives but across the entire South Asian region, Hanimaadhoo Observatory is noted for its dedicated research into trans boundary air pollution. The remainder of the day is your to relax and enjoy the beautiful beach and surroundings of the property.
Departure flight to Male arriving by 10:00 or the option to extend your stay at the Barefoot Eco Hotel.