Maldives holidays, Dhoni cruise

“Spend nine blissful days cruising the Maldives on a traditional wooden dhoni. This small group trip is relaxing, yes – but you can never get bored when there’s the possibility of snorkelling with manta rays.”

Highlights

Male | Vavuu Atoll | Kuda Anbaraa Island | Meemu Atoll | Dhiggaru Island | Felidhoo | Fulidhoo | Embudhoo Reef | Cruise on a traditional dhoni | Optional activities include: snorkelling

Description of Maldives holidays, Dhoni cruise

This is your chance to see the Maldives as the locals know it. On a Maldives dhoni cruise leave the resort islands on the horizon and instead cruise between the inhabited islands in the beautiful atolls south of Male. You’ll travel in a small group – up to a maximum of 16 guests – on a traditional motor-powered Maldivian fishing boat called a dhoni on this wonderful nine day cruise. There is ample time to lie back and relax – as well as enjoy the featured star of the show: the snorkelling.

This trip cruises gently from Male through the South Male Atoll, Felidhoo and Meemu. On the way you’ll be able to stop and visit the islands – some totally uninhabited, some little more than sand spits, others with a few hundred or a few thousand inhabitants in fishing and farming communities. You’ll have the chance to visit some villages and see the traditional Maldivian island way of life first-hand.

You can snorkel every day if you want to. This cruise provides masks and flippers – just state your size in advance. The water is warm and exceptionally clear, and under the surface you may be able to spot turtles, clown fish and other colourful reef fish over the unspoilt coral reefs that fringe nearly every atolls. Your guides will be able to help you identify what you’ve seen. You may also see manta rays, and other beautiful species of ray.

Between four and five crew operate the dhoni, leaving you free to relax on board. Accommodation is simple and comfortable, with two bunk beds in each cabin and shared bathroom facilities. You’ll get three meals a day, including beach barbecues and, as you can imagine, plenty of fresh fish – and drinking water, tea and coffee. You can also buy additional drinks on board.

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26 Oct 2019
£1835
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Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure.

Responsible tourism

Maldives holidays, Dhoni cruise

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

This trip avoids the large International resorts altogether, stopping at small local fishing villages on lesser known atolls to gain a genuine insight into the traditional Maldavian lifestyles away from the tourist industry.

We sleep aboard a locally owned and operated converted traditional fishing vessel known as a “Dhoni” with all our food supplies being bought or caught locally, thus ensuring a direct contribution to the local economy of the islands.

Limiting our group size to just 16 minimizes the impact of out visit – “smaller groups leave fewer footprints”Our boat crew and leaders have been trained to operate the Dhoni cruise in a manner to minimise our impact on the amazing coral atolls that form the focus of our snorkelling excursions from our boat.

In addition to the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key and so all staff, Tour Leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage. As well as this, we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of UK travel industry bodies Tourism Concern and AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators. As a company we support Cool Earth. Protecting rainforest is one of the most effective actions to tackle climate breakdown. CoolEarth work with indigenous communities empowering them to conserve their forest; keeping CO2 locked in.

12 Reviews of Maldives holidays, Dhoni cruise

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 09 Feb 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The size of the boat the crew and natural beauty of the Maldives was a win win situation.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Bring swim shoes. The coral and rocks are sharp.


3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes but unfortunately ocean garbage was everywhere and impossible to keep clean.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A 10!

Reviewed on 31 Mar 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The snorkeling was great - saw many beautiful fish, turtles, sharks, dolphins,

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be sure that you can manage two people in a very small cabin - or be prepared to sleep on deck. Take something to do, eg, books, games, etc for the down time. The boat had a small bookshelf but no games. Take very little clothes beyond a swimsuit - but do bring clothes to cover knees and shoulders as this is a Muslim country and you must dress appropriately to visit the island towns. Bring a health appetite as the food was fabulous.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Some souvenier shopping on the small islands would benefit the people. Our crew were very careful to retain all plastic, glass, paper for apprpriate disposal in port.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I really enjoyed this vacation.

Reviewed on 18 Feb 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing a dolphin chasing a flying fish was extraordinary...and one of so many fantastic sights and experiences on board.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't take too many clothes - you just don't need them! Changes of swim suits are a must.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It provided employment for local people. There did not appear to be much waste generated. We only stopped at one inhabited island where there were shops and so our money went to a small local community.
The downside was the holiday involved diesel fuel to power the boat which moved each day and small plastic bottles of water were used quite a lot.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It exceeded my expectations and the description of the holiday from the web site was pretty accurate.

Reviewed on 07 Jan 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


So many wonderful memories of this holiday, the great group of people I met, the dolphins swimming in their natural environment and releasing a turtle back into the sea after having found it caught up in a fishing net. The beautiful sandy beaches and clear waters, my first attempt at snorkling, the list could just go on and on.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go with an open mind to the basic accommodation, it will not spoil your holiday. If you are travelling from the North make sure you get the correct information about the transfer, the only downfall to this holiday for me was that Explore do not seem to cater well for the flights that land early from northern airports.
Don’t just think about it book it you won’t regret it I am sure

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Local people benefited from the night they performed a local drumming and dancing session. I was however concerned about some of the rubbish we saw on the uninhabited Islands, the Maldives does not seem to have any recycling in place so I question how our rubbish from the boat was disposed off, a concern about these beautiful Islands and preservation for the future

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Basic accommodation, fabulous food and crew, sailing around is simply the best way to see the Maldives and experience local life
The best holiday I have ever been on.

Reviewed on 03 Dec 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The multiple shades of blue, and the clear underwater views of the Maldivian
coral and fish. A great team on the boat (Captain Mog, Super Chef Bablu, Waiter
Ahmed and Room boy Yoonus). Not forgetting our guide Bongo. And the other
passengers were a load of fun. This was our first holiday with this operator, and will not be our last.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


A great deal and well worth it.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


A little BUT the trash in the Maldives is getting worse and spoils the islands and the sea.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent value for money.

Reviewed on 07 Mar 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Everything!! Being in a boat with only a handful of people around, visiting remote areas that most other tourists don't get to see.
Our companions were really great fun to be with. The crew of the Gulfaam (Captain Moe, chef Babloo and Bidde and Yoonus), as well as our guide Bongo looked after us all the time and made the trip really amazing.
And the snorkeling ... it felt like being inside an aquarium. Lots of fish swimming around you.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Lots of sun cream! The sun is stronger than you think, especially when you are in the water. Make sure you have an underwater camera (waterproof is not enough as some of our companions found out a bit too late.
Don't expect luxury; the boat is very basic and cabins very simple, but that was perfect for us.
Finally, just relax ... that's the whole point!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. The crew, most of them Maldivians, seemed very happy with their job, and as the company is a Maldivian company, you know the money will stay there and not go to some hotel shareholders.
The crew kept the rubbish on the boat till we reached the end of the trip.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The best holiday ever!

Reviewed on 05 Feb 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Snorkelling with turtles!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take very few clothes, do take long sleeved top and long shorts to snorkel in.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, all the boat crew were Maldivian and when we did visit an inhabited island that actually had a shop we bought gifts.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was truly an amazing holiday, the beautiful blue sea, fantastic snorkelling, wonderful food, friendly crew. This was the best holiday
I have had.

Reviewed on 06 Dec 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Snorkelling and seeing manta rays, dolphins and other wildlife.
Relaxing and reading on the dhoni.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The cabin is small so do not take too much luggage. You need very little anyway...
The sun is strong so take lots of sun protection.
Take reading material as there is a lot of time to read.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


All dhoni staff were local (very helpful)which provides employment opportunities.
Local produce where possible was used for food.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Relaxing and enjoyable

Reviewed on 21 Jun 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Living on a boat was great fun, good trip to Saklikent Gorge walking through the rapids, the sea kayaking at Kekova was fun too.
My personal highlight was the Turkish Bath in Fethiye on the last day - such a lovely relaxing way to end the holiday!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take mossie spray for the evenings on deck, take lots of sun cream, take few clothes but lots of swimsuits and walking shoes you don't mind getting wet.
Try sleeping on deck at least one night!


3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes; we supported local economies using fresh local food every day and "supported" the travelling pancake- and ice cream boats that cruise the coastline plying their wares.


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent, great guide and crew, relaxing time, no pressure to do lots of trips and we collectively elected to have a "day off" which was accommodated very well by mooring at a small cove for great swimming and snorkelling.

Reviewed on 23 Apr 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Definitely the snorkeling, all of it even if some highlights like following the manta ray or spying on two octopuses gliding hand in hand were particularly exciting.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Absolutely book it if you're not the lie-on-the-beach type and don't care about luxury and entertainment.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think it's a good holiday because it only uses local resources (local staff, boat, food). A bad thing is of course the huge amount of plastic implied by the use of bottled water. Big containers of treated water would surely be a better options. Unluckily you see all those lovely uninhabited islands crammed with plastic bottles.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wow!!

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Ms Palmucci

Thank you for your feedback regarding the above holiday, forwarded to us by responsibletravel.com. We were very pleased to read how much you enjoyed the trip.

We agree with you about the sad sight of plastic waste in the region; we work with all our local agents to try and reduce – preferably avoid completely – our own contribution to this issue. We are very much aware of the environmental issues at stake, quite apart from the unattractive sight. We will see what we can do about a better provision of water supplies for our customers so as to minimise the problems.

I hope though that your overall memories will be the excellent ones – it sounds as though they are – and that you might choose to travel with us again at some point.

Yours sincerely

Teresa Mozley
Customer Relations Executive

Reviewed on 12 Apr 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Snorkeling twice a day with the colorful fish. Incredible! The water is crystal clear azure, the sun is strong, living on a boat was fantastic!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack a lot of high-factor sun block and a t-shirt to snorkel in.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I didn't see anything that would indicate that. The only time I saw any recycling was when the crew set up a beach bar-b-q for us, and used the plastic water bottles as "hurricane lamps" around candles. And then they burned the plastic bottles in their bonfire. Not exactly environmentally friendly!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Amazing. But what else would you expect in the Maldives?!

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your feedback regarding the above tour.

We were delighted to read that you enjoyed your trip, especially life on the boat and the snorkelling. It is always good to know our efforts are appreciated and therefore we are pleased to pass on your kind comments to all those involved with your tour arrangements.

We were concerned to hear that the plastic bottles were burnt and not recycled and this most certainly is not in keeping with the responsible attitude to tourism that we always aim to practice. We would like to assure you that this has been addressed with our local agent and tour leader as we want to make sure that this practice is not repeated on our tours.

Reviewed on 10 Jan 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


I would like to commend our tour leader Yousourie (spelt wrong!). He is only 20 but was able to lead a group of (predominantly) decisive single women over the age of 38! I scored him 15/10 and I do hope you will pass my praise on to his boss. He is a highly intelligent, courteous and amendable young chap with a maturity and civility well beyond his years. He was very passionate about the rubbish in the Maldives and I hope that "responsible traveller" can somehow develop his initiative on this. We were thoroughly satisfied with the crew, our leader and the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Understand that it is basic and that this is the joy.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I think Youserie showed us a facet of the local people, but if he could be supported in his rubbish campaign, that would benefit everyone.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent, the best way to experience the Maldives, so glad I did not go the resort route. We benefited more because we spend the night before the trip in Male itself and that made us more aware of the local culture.

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