Look beyond beaches in the Maldives and immerse in the island life with Mastercard’s Priceless Programme.
Maldives is no stranger to tourists looking for a luxe stay amid turquoise waters, powder-white beaches, and a paradisiacal setting. According to the country’s Ministry of Tourism, over 11 per cent of the total tourists visiting the tropical land in 2020 were from India. Despite this pull, few explorers immerse in the island nation’s local life.
Thanks to Mastercard’s recently launched Priceless Programme, travel content creators Dimpi and Shashank Sanghvi did a deep dive into some of the country’s offbeat experiences.
Priceless Maldives by Mastercard
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Aiming to showcase the authentic side of the archipelago, the Priceless Programme by Mastercard offers a curated bouquet of experiences that bring to light the country’s unique geography, authentic traditions, and the Maldivian way of living. For the two travellers, this cultural immersion began at dawn.
Fish like a local
Leaving behind the luxuries of a yacht, the Sanghvis embraced the local life on a boat that took them to Vaavu Atoll, one of the least populated islands of the Maldives, and the first stop in the Priceless Programme. Schools of fish, too, joined in for the early morning adventures. The fish in the Maldives bite all year around, but travellers flocking to the tropical island rarely indulge in this recreational activity. But any authentic island life experience is incomplete without a round of fishing! It has historically been the country’s dominant economic activity. The two travellers donned the role of fisherfolk, and the local fishing community and some of the country’s top anglers taught them the tricks of the trade—right from using a traditional pole and line technique to catching fresh bait. This was accompanied by bottomless servings of cocktails.
Explore a shipwreck
By nine, the sun was shining bright. The cool blue waters beckoned; the boat continued to rock gently. Beyond this calm, under the water, hid a gem waiting to be discovered. It is Vaavu Atoll’s secret—a shipwreck site not more than 20 years old. For the Sanghvis, this turned out to be the perfect opportunity to snorkel. The wreckage now doubles as a home for colourful fish and natural corals.
Snorkel with sharks
When underwater, save time to meet the country’s marine inhabitants—sharks. Snorkelling with slow-moving nurse sharks rarely make it to the Maldivies itinerary, but it turned out to be a memorable experience for the Sanghvis. “Swimming with sharks is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Shashank. Dimpi, on the other hand, could not believe she was so close to the majestic creatures. In short, it was truly priceless!
Savour local delicacies
For locals, afternoons in the Maldives are for relaxation. The lesser-explored Thinadhoo island creates the ideal ambience for this. Here, the couple was greeted in Dhivehi, and a scrumptious lunch featuring traditional delicacies and local delights. With many priceless memories crafted in the first half of the day, the husband-wife duo decided to while away time by walking through the quaint lanes of the atoll, exploring local markets, and sampling coconut water straight from its shell. This laidback vibe spilled over to the next experience too: the sandbank.
Visit a sandbank
Sandbanks are low-lying stretches of sand that consistently change shape with a shift in tides and oceanic currents. For the two travellers, these marvels were made more priceless with immense privacy and exclusion. Picture a small, pristine white stretch surrounded by crystal-clear waters for as far as the eye can see.
Camp on an inhabited island
Next, the content creators ventured out to the remote island of Fohtheyo, a reef-dotted stretch in Vaavu Atoll, to unwind with just each other for company. Their nomadic life was further enhanced by a barbeque and bonfires. Soon, the sky above twinkled with stars and the water around glowed with rare bioluminescent planktons, bringing down the curtains on a magical vacation in Maldives.
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