X

The Maldives: Cruising the South Male, Vaavu & Ari Atolls

Resort:The Maldives: Cruising the South Male, Vaavu & Ari Atolls
Operator: Riviera Travel
Destination: Indian Ocean, Maldives
Price From: £3299.00

Overview

Embark on a unique and unforgettable cruise exploring the best of the Maldives aboard the three-star MV Yasawa Princess. The Maldives is one of the lowest countries in the world, with coralline beaches at around four feet (1.2 metres) above sea level and its highest natural point measuring just under eight feet (2.4 metres). What makes these numerous tiny islands so special is that theyre actually the crowns of coral reefs and submerged volcanic mountains in fact, just 1% of the Maldives is land-based, so one of the best ways to explore this archipelago is by boat. Its 1,192 coral islands are grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, comprising ring-shaped coral reefs and sand bars. Only 200 of the islands are inhabited, which means there are many idyllic desert islands awaiting your fresh footprints on their unblemished shores.

From the mid-16th century, the region came under the influence of European colonial powers, from the Portuguese to the Dutch, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887 until 1965.

Traditional Maldivian cuisine, which is influenced by neighbouring India and Sri Lanka, offers a tantalising variety of flavours. Local menus typically feature freshly caught fish and all manner of ingredients obtained from coconuts, such as its refreshing water, grated flesh and creamy milk an essential element of many Maldivian curries and drinks. For breakfast, mas huni grated coconut mixed with finely chopped tuna, onion and chilli is often served with roshi, Maldivian flatbread similar to chapati. Western food will also be available on your ship if you want a taste of home.

Your days are filled with carefree pleasures, such as relaxing on pearly white-sand beaches in the shade of natural tropical vegetation, taking a dip in crystal waters of sparkling azure hues, and gazing at the glittering night sky. There are plenty of opportunities to snorkel beneath the warm waters of the Indian Ocean your swimming pool for two weeks and immerse yourself in remarkable underwater worlds. The average sea temperature ranges from 20 – 30 degrees. Blessed with natural reefs, the Maldives is home to fascinating marine life, from colourful tropical fish to whale sharks, manta rays and turtles. So kick off your shoes, forget the news, relax, rejuvenate and enjoy the welcoming hospitality of this unique island nation.

Full Itinerary:

DAY 1 – DEPARTURE

Arrive at the airport for your overnight flight to Male via Colombo.

DAY 2 – ARRIVAL IN MALE

On arrival youll be taken by dhoni (traditional Maldivian wooden boat) to the Yasawa Princess, your charming home for the next two weeks, where the friendly crew will help you check into your comfortable cabin. During this evenings informal welcome meeting, youll be briefed on the cruise itinerary, meet crew members and the other guests on board. Enjoy your complimentary pre-dinner cocktail as you catch the first of many spectacular sunsets over the Indian Ocean.

DAY 3 – KALHUHURAA SANDBANK

Get your first taste of cruising as we cross the Vaadhoo channel into the South Male Atoll. The ships tender makes trips to the beautiful Kalhuhuraa sandbank in the morning and afternoon, ideal for soaking up the sun and cooling off in the lagoon.

DAY 4 – RANNALHI ISLAND

A short cruise within the atoll takes us to the stunning, 8-acre resort island of Rannalhi, which boasts powder sand beaches, fringed by charming water bungalows and a superb house reef. The resort offers excellent facilities (available at extra cost) such as water sports and the excellent Balinese-style Chavana spa. Tonight, why not try your hand at traditional fishing in the open ocean under the stars? Maldivians are true fishermen at heart, so youre in good hands with our local guides.

DAY 5 – ALIMATHA SANDBANK

Early this morning we cross the channel into the Vaavu Felidu Atoll. The ships tender makes trips in the morning and afternoon to the splendid Alimatha sandbank, whose gleaming white sand contrasts beautifully with the surrounding turquoise lagoon. Wade in the warm waters of the sweeping turquoise lagoon, snorkel on the reef, or take a barefoot stroll to nowhere. This evening, you may wish to experience a thrilling night snorkelling trip, at a small charge, in the Alimatha house reef, home to nurse sharks, beautiful sting rays and many nocturnal marine creatures you would not get to see during the day.

DAY 6 – ANBARAA ISLAND & BEACH BBQ

After a leisurely cruise this morning, we arrive at the tiny island of Anbaraa. With soft white sands, lush coconut trees and astonishingly clear water, this remarkably picturesque island appears to have sprung to life from the cover of a travel magazine. There is easy access to the reef for snorkelling. Lunch today is a picnic on the island.

For many, this evening will be a real highlight. Few experiences can compare with a meticulously prepared barbecue on the beach, served with warm Maldivian hospitality. Enjoy a wide selection of delicious food including traditional Maldivian Boduberu music and dancing under a starlit sky a truly memorable experience.

DAY 7 – OSHAGALI SANDBANK

Early this morning we cross the channel into the Ari Atoll. There are visits in the morning and afternoon to Oshagali Finolhu, a wonderful sandbank with a stunning sea-green lagoon and a surrounding reef, making snorkelling an absolute dream.

DAY 8 – ARIADHOO DESERT ISLAND

Your cruise continues to Ariadhoo, an uninhabited agricultural island lush with vegetation. Relax on the soft warm sand, cool off with a dip in the ocean, or snorkel to discover more of the wonderful marine life. This region boasts exceptional sighting records of whale sharks and the Maldives is one of the few places on earth where these sharks may be encountered year-round. For a small additional charge payable locally, you may wish to take a boat out with professional guides and go in search of these gentle giants.

This afternoon we visit the inhabited island of Maamigili, for a closer look at local life and the opportunity to indulge in some retail therapy.

DAY 9 – ANCHOR OFF MAAMAGILI

Today we are moored off the inhabited island of Maamagili. An excursion is to be arranged locally. Alternatively, you may choose to relax on the sun deck.

DAY 10 – HURASDHOO DESERT ISLAND

A short cruise northwest takes us to Hurasdhoo, a small desert island framed by soft white sands. Go snorkelling for another taste of the underwater world, or simply relax by soaking up the sun and cooling off with a dip in the warm Indian Ocean. The ships tender makes trips to Hurasdhoo in the morning and afternoon.

For a small additional charge, payable locally, you may wish to take a boat out with professional guides in search of manta rays. Youll visit a manta ray cleaning station and, depending on the season, have the option to snorkel with these gentle giants. This evening, you may wish to experience night reef fishing with traditional hand lines using the bottom fishing technique. The eco-friendly Maldivians encourage a catch-and-release practice when it comes to reef fishing.

DAY 11 – EMBUDU DESERT ISLAND

A short cruise to the western edge of the atoll takes us to Embudu, a small and picturesque desert island. The tender takes you to Embudu in the morning and afternoon. Theres excellent access to snorkelling and, with a bit of luck, you may find local residents passing by, such as eagle rays and turtles. Or perhaps simply relax on the long stretch of beach. Here, you really are in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Tonight, you have the opportunity to go fishing under the starlit sky.

DAY 12 – RAIYDHIGAA ISLAND & BEACH BBQ

After a leisurely cruise this morning, we arrive at Raiydhigaa, an enchanting island with a natural harbour and easy access to its reef for snorkelling. Lunch today is a picnic on the island. This evening we enjoy a wonderful barbecue on the picnic island beach, featuring a generous spread of mouth-watering food, traditional music and dancing.

DAY 13 – ALIKOI RAH

Our cruise continues to the pristine sandbank of Alikoi Rah in the heart of the Ari Atoll. The ships tender makes trips here in the morning and afternoon. A haven for snorkellers, Alikoi Rahs house reef teems with colourful fish, turtles and rays. This evening, we watch the sky take on a magical array of orange shades as we enjoy a sunset cruise to the nearby Maaya sandbank.

DAY 14 – MAAYAFUSHI SANDBAR

Today were reminded of lifes simple pleasures as we discover Maayafushi, a large sandbar on the northern edge of the Ari Atoll. Our tender visits the sandbar in the morning and afternoon. Snorkelling and swimming off Maayafushi is a sheer delight, as it boasts a stunning sea-green lagoon and superb reef. This wonderful sandbar is also renowned for flocks of common seabirds.

DAY 15 – MALE

This morning we take to the open ocean, crossing the Alihuras Kandu and stopping at a sandbar for a final dip in the Indian Ocean. Upon reaching our final mooring, our tender takes you to Male, where we enjoy an informal guided tour of one of the worlds smallest and most densely populated capital cities. With a population of just under 150,000 and an area of 2.3 square miles, Male is the Maldives fascinating commercial and financial hub the heart of the island nation.

As you wander, observe the bustle of everyday life through the colourful buildings, narrow streets and high rises. Why not enjoy the locals favourite pastime of having an ice-cream or coffee. Watching the world go by from one of the various cafs might just be the ideal finale to a memorable cruise.

DAY 16 – RETURN FLIGHT

After breakfast, we take our return flight to the UK via Colombo.

What is included in the price?

The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharinga lower main-deck cabin and includes:

  • Scheduled return flights to and from Male, via Columbo.
  • Fourteen nights with breakfast, lunch anddinneraboard the three-star MV Yasawa Princess
  • All transfers
  • Local taxes
  • Port charges
  • All excursions as mentioned
  • The services of a Riviera Travel tour manager

We guarantee there are never any hidden costs or surcharges, inflated prices or artificial discounts.