Page 1

win free holidays

2015 ISSUE | FREE

Published by Water Solutions, www.water-solutions.biz

JOURNEY TO THE

No.1 Travel Magazine in the Maldives. Get the latest information, updates and more on Maldives.


aaaVeee Nature Paradise A nature discovery Maldivian retreat by aaaVeee.....”to serVe”. Dhoores Island, Dhaalu Atoll, Maldives. www.DhooresMaldives.com


THE ISLAND Set on the beautiful Island of Dhoores in Dhaalu Atoll Maldives, aaaVeee Nature Paradise is a secluded haven embracing the untrammeled elements, colours and wonders of the Earth, covered lush tropical vegetation, numerous palm trees bordering the natural beauty of the turquoise, pristine waters, white powderly beach, vibrant reefs with abundant marine fauna and open to the warm, gentle breezes, sights and sounds of the magnificent Indian Ocean. At aaaVeee Nature Paradise, we’re just as passionate about nature and its beauty as you are. In fact, this Maldive Island is one of the greenest beach island resorts in the Maldives. To preserve the natural ecosystem is our main paramount. Less than 5% of the island is utilized to build the infrastructure and the rest of the island is left as it is to preserve the natural environment for you to discover more about our fragile bionetwork. At aaaVeee Nature Paradise, guest rooms are simple and complimenting to the style that only aaaVeee Nature Paradise can provide. These Island rooms come with a traditional Maldivian touch along with all the modern amenities needed for your comfort. LOCATION The mesmerizing aaaVeee Nature Paradise is located in Dhaal Atoll, just a 40 exhilarating minutes on a scenic sea-plane ride, or a breath taking 180 minutes speedboat ride from MalÊ. This verdant, beach-fringed lush vegetated coral island embraces the idyllic retreat and sophisticated pleasures which will totally drive away from your everyday life. FACILITIES At aaaVeee, we have 16 Nature deck villas, 12 nature garden villas, 2 natural house suits, restaurant, bar, spa and diving and water sports facilities.


in this issue 92

66

16

General info

Nature

Features

10 Basic Maldives

30 The Amazing Seashores

66 Travelling to the Atolls

Some quick facts and information for the traveller that will surely get you going and make your visit more worthwhile.

11 Map of Male’ A map of Male’ as your travel companion is the best piece of paper to carry during a visit to this tiny but vibrant city.

12 Photos from Maldives A collection of photos from all over Maldives, most of which are never seen on postcards.

Destinations 16 Journey to the TIP of the Maldives Sometimes being isolated is a blessing which is why Thuraakunu, the northern most island is a special place. It is an ordinary tropical island by all standards, but one must be there to experience this wonderful tropical bliss.

4

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

Maldivian seashores are not only unique, but it is an important place for everyone from locals to visitors. Seashores may be synonymous with beach, but its more than this. In resort islands, it is a place for relaxing, playing, dining and more. In the rural islands, seashores are more than this.

50 Massive Coral Reefs The top 10 biggest coral reefs of the Maldives provide interesting statistics about the linkages between, nature and humans. These reefs are more than just natural wonders. Examining how these reefs support livelihood and its geographical formation, size and other facts are important to understand the complex geography and linkages with the Maldivians.

With the rapid expansion of guest houses, the Maldives has never been this open for independent travellers. It is now possible to travel anywhere in Maldives. However, with more than 1200 islands, deciding where to go is a difficult decision. How do you decide which atoll to go or to which island to visit. It is difficult to say that one atoll is better than the other. We provide some insights in to the Atolls and islands of Maldives and why each atoll is important.

92 The magic of Rihaakuru The thick brown paste so popular in Maldives, that it is not just a delicacy, but part of tradition, history and culture. Its origins go back to many hundred years. For some people, life would be impossible without this, while for many, its an everyday necessity.


in this issue 100

116

DISTRIBUTION

win free holidays

ScubaDiving

Published by Water Solutions, www.water-solutions.biz

2015 ISSUE | FREE

100 Celebrity Wreck

116 Vertical Reefs These artificial man made ecosystems are hot spots of biodiversity and an ideal environment to experience a different kind of marine environment.

Agenda 126 Product Reviews Reviews of Books, Maps and DVD’s on Maldives.

Singapore - Sea & Sea Underwater Camera Equipment;1 Coleman Street; #02-13; The Adelphi; Singapore China - 16E NO.1 Heng Fu Building, NO.288 Heng Fu Road,Yue Xiu district, Guangzhou,

No.1 Travel Magazine in the Maldives. Get the latest information, updates and more on Maldives.

ON THE COVER

The seashore of Hanimaadhoo island in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, on a typical day. Photo by Amooo.

If you would like to distribute DISCOVER MALDIVES, Please contact info@water-solutions.biz or call +960 3341643 / +960 7793502 ADVERTISING RATES To advertise on the magazine, please contact info@water-solutions.biz CONTRIBUTIONS Please send in your comments, contributions and letters to the editor to: info@water-solutions.biz

ON ASSIGNMENT

Victory wreck in north Male’ Atoll is not just a wreck. It is the most dived wreck in the Maldives. Divers from all over the world dive this famous wreck. For more than three decades, she has entertained thousands of divers and still continue to do so. What is so special about this wreck?

100

Writer and underwater photographer Amooo in Baa Atoll (left photo). Rifaa busy taking photos in Banana reef on an assignment (Right photo).

6

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


High Resolution Aerial Photography Affordable high resolution aerial photography by Water Solutions uses the latest drones to capture high quality photos for various uses from aerial surveying; marketing; resource managment; coral reef monitoring; beach managment and many more. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

water-solutions.biz


Contributors Ahmed Jameel (AJ) is an Environmental Engineer and has many years of experience in environmental management and particularly in GIS and disaster risk. AJ has authored many papers for international conferences and seminars. AJ’s involvement with various government and private sector projects has established very good links with the island community and the private sector. His personal interests include snorkelling, travelling, photography, geography and writing.

Faruhath Jameel (Farey)

is a professional surveyor with more than 8 years experience. He is also a keen diver and have undertaken many diving and surveying missions for Discover Maldives magazine. Farey is considered among the best surveyors in Maldives and his portfolio includes resorts, islands, lagoons and reefs. He also leads the mapping and GIS work in Water Solutions.

Amooo is an Environmental consultant and a keen photographer. Has good knowledge of the Maldives, especially the outer islands. Personal interests include snorkelling, diving, particularly exploring new dive sites, travelling, photography, watching movies, geography, writing, and spending time with family. Favourite word is “Shoesnshy”.

Damon Pyke

is a freelance travel writer based in Maldives. After graduating from New Zealand in Travel and Tourism studies, she is back in the Maldives and is a regular contributor to the magazine. She frequently travels to Sri Lanka and enjoys cooking in her past time.

Hassan Shah

Special Thanks to; Universal Resorts, Coco Palm Resorts Murray (Equator Village), Bakuru-Kaimoo Hotels & resorts Andulla Ali - Regional Manager, Water Solutions, Huvadhoo Branch, Ahmed Fayaz, Abbu, Shyka, Shoeshy, Hawwa Constance Halaveli Resort, Constance Moofushi Resort, Blue Tribe Dive Centre, Moofushi,

Damon Pyke is an environmental scientist, currently working as a coordinator of an indigenous ranger group, the Bardi Jawi Rangers, who look after the land and sea environments of their traditional area..

is an environmental professional working for Water Solutions. With a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Management, he is currently involved in a number of projects run by Water Solutions. He is a keen traveller and scuba diving is a regular activity for Faiz.

Hawwa Amira

Michelle Walker is an environmental scientist with a particular interest in working with communities to reduce environmental impact. She first visited the Maldives in 2011 and was fascinated to see parallels between remote island life and life in remote outback Australia.

Ibrahim Faiz

has a background in environmental sciences and has undertaken several environmental projects for both government and the private sector. He is a keen SCUBA diver.

Hussain Rifaa is a divemaster and the SCUBA diving consultant for Escale Maldives. He has over 8 years of diving experience and logged more than two thousand dives. He works six months a year on liveaboards and the rest based in Male’. He is very familiar with South Male’ and Ari Atoll dive sites. His knowledge and experience is continuously used by Escale Maldives for their activities, including organizing diving tours and exploration dives.

Hamdhulla Shakeeb is a professional surveyor and a keen scuba diver. He is also the photography assistant in all underwater photo shoots and have dived many reefs from North to South of Maldives. He has also snorkeled more than 100 reefs in Maldives and the number keeps rising.

Mohamed Waheed Thorif Waheed Rory Davis is a professional acupuncturist from Australia who has been trained in Australia and China. Being married to a Maldivian, Maldives is his second home. He enjoys snorkeling, local food, traveling, diving and watching movies while in Maldives. He joined the Discover Maldives team in 2011.

is an adventure SCUBA diver. He continues his exploration with Escale Maldives SCUBA diving team and continuously is on the look for new and exciting dive sites.

Waheed is a nature lover and an amateur photographer. With more than 20 years experience in the tourism field, Waheed has contributed to the environment and tourism of the Maldives in several ways. His past time activities include photography, reading books and teaching.

Would you like to contribute? Would you like to be part of us or do you have a passion to write or have photos that are worthy of publishing? We are looking for photographers and writers to contribute to our magazine. Water Solutions is very keen to develop the Maldivian youth and if you think you have the motivation and interest to try something new, then write to us. Travellers / foreigners on in general anyone who has a story to tell may also write to us. Please send all your queries to the editor at info@water-solutions.biz.

8

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Hello and welcome to the 2015 issue of Discover Maldives. I hope you are all ready to read another exciting issue of our magazine. Just like other issues, we have tried to stick to our policy of bringing authentic and unique stories from all corners of the Maldives. 2014 had been a busy year for our team. We travelled the Maldives exploring new dive sites, islands, reefs, wrecks and communities to bring exciting reading material to our readers.

Editor on assignment in Lhaviyani Atoll.

2014 also saw the opening of new resorts, and guest houses, not to mention new hotels throughout the Maldives. Our destination for this issue has been focused on a very unique place in Maldives, Thuraakunu island, which is the northern most island in the Maldives. The nature section also has an article forcusing on the 10 largest coral reefs in the Maldives. Our Scuba diving focus for this issue covers a very special wreck, which is dived by thousands every year.

DM is celeberating its 5th year and we are glad to continue publishing this magazine,,

hoto P g n i n Win

We are confident that this issue will provide readers with interesting and important information. As always, we are desperate to hear your critical comments so that out next issue will be even more exciting. Vicy and Adam from Auckland, New Zealand, wins the prize for submitting the best photo among readers.

DISCOVER MALDIVES Registered at Maldives Issue 5, 2015 Published by: Water Solutions Pvt.Ltd. Ma.Fas Eri, 1st floor, Ameenee Magu, Male’, Maldives T +960 334 1643 F +960 333 1643 Web: www.water-solutions.biz Email:info@water-solutions.biz EDITORIAL Editor: Ahmed Jameel | aj@water-solutions.biz Publishing Director: Amooo | amooo@water-solutions.biz Editorial Consultant: Hassan Shah PRODUCTION & ADVERTISING Production: Ahmed Fazeel | Fazeel@water-solutions.biz Marketing: Ahmed Fazeel | Fazeel@water-solutions.biz Cover & contents page layout: Abbu | abbufayax@gmail.com Page Layout: Atoll Images | info@water-solutions.biz Accounts: Aravind | aravind@water-solutions.biz MAPS AND CHARTS by WATER SOLUTIONS Farhath Jameel | farey@water-solutions.biz Hamdhulla Shakeeb | hamdhulla@water-solutions.biz Ibrahim Faiz| faiz@water-solutions.biz Atheeulla | info@water-solutions.biz LOGISTICS & DIVE OPERATIONS Water Solutions | info@water-solutions.biz

DISCOVER MALDIVES is an annual magazine published by Water Solutions Pvt.Ltd and marketed through its brand Atoll Images, www.atoll-images.com. Atoll Images is a full subsidiary of Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd and was created with the objective of informing, educating and creating awareness through visual media.

Happy reading! Follow us on twitter

@discovermaldive Follow us on Instagram

@discovermaldives

Give us a like on Facebook

www.Discovermaldives.atollimages

As part of the CSR, Water Solutions publishes, books, magazines, maps and other visual media on various subjects and is marketed through the brand Atoll Images. All letters to the editor should be sent to info@water-solutions.biz

You can now read DISCOVER MALDIVES online by visiting

www.atoll-images.com win free holidays

THE MAGAZINE OF ESCALE MALDIVES. WWW.ESCALEMALDIVES.COM

2010 ISSUE | FREE

DESIGNING REEFS MALDIVIANS AND SAND BANKS WRECK HUNTERS DREAM DESTINATION

THE MAGAZINE OF ESCALE MALDIVES. WWW.ESCALEMALDIVES.COM

2011 ISSUE | FREE

All contents of the article is the sole responsibility of the author. The author bears responsibility for the contents of the article.

BLUE, BLUER THAN BLUE THE TWO WORLDS OF FELIVARU KANDU GREAT NORTH MALE’ ATOLL SURF TRAIL HIDDEN CORALREEFS ANATOMY OF AN UNDERWATER PHOTOSHOOT THE DANCING SHORELINE

THE BIG 7 OF MALDIVES SHAPES OF ISLANDS KAASHIDHOO ISLAND

SAFEGUARDING THEWHALE SHARKS No.1 Travel Magazine in the Maldives. Get the latest information, updates and more on Maldives.

2010

SNORKELLERS’ GUIDE TO REEF FISHES No.1 Travel Magazine in the Maldives. Get the latest information, updates and more on Maldives.

2011

2012

2014

SEND IN YOUR PHOTOS! Send in you photographs taken with DISCOVER MALDIVES. The best photo selected will be published in the next issue and the winner will receive a DISCOVER MALDIVES T-Shirt.

Read the magazine online at

www.atoll-images.com


Basic Maldives Land Area

National Flower

1,190 islands with a land area of 115 square miles (298 sq. km)

Haa Alif Atoll Haa Dhaalu Atoll

Language

Dhivehi is the national language. The script is called “Thaana”. English is widely spoken in the government offices, business sectors and is the medium of instruction in schools.

Shaviyani Atoll

Noonu Atoll Raa Atoll Lhaviyani Atoll Baa Atoll

Pink Rose(Rosa Polyantha)

Religion

100% Islam

Major Industries

Tourism, fish canning, manufacture of garments, boat building, and handicrafts.

Kaafu Atoll

Temperature

Average temperature of 28˚C. Temperature varies between 31˚C during the day to 23˚C during the night.

Literacy Rate

North Ari Atoll

MALE’

South Ari Atoll Vaavu Atoll

220 - 240 volts

Political Status

Meemu Atoll

Dhaalu Atoll

Working hours Thaa Atoll

Independent Republic

Administrative Divisions

Gaafu Alif Atoll

20 atolls

Time Zone

+5 Hrs GMT (some resorts add +1 hour)

Currency

Immediate Neighbours India and Sri Lanka

Faafu Atoll

Electricity

98.2percent (Age group 10-45 years.

Working Banks : 9 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. (Sun to Thu), Government Offices : 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Sun to Thu), Fri and Sat holidays. Private Offices: Open between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and close between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. with a lunch break in between.

DIDYOU KNOW?

Maldives has 10 airports. Four International and 6 domestic. In addition, Maldives also has the largest seaplane operation in the world. The sea plane operator carries thousands of passengers to the atolls on a daily basis.

Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll

Gnaviyani Atoll

Seenu Atoll

BASIC ATOLL GEOGRAPHY

Maldivian Rufiyaa (1 US$ = Rf 15.42)

Koattay

DIDYOU KNOW?

Maldives has two Monsoons. The South-west monsoon extends from May to October and brings more rain accompanied by wind. The North-east monsoon extends from November to April and is drier and brings less wind.

Island

EIDHIGALHI KILHI

HITHADHOO

Rujjehera

Gaukedi Hankede Hankedehajaru

10

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

Maradhoo

Reef


Maafannu

Total Male Female

Total Male Female

Machchangoalhi

Total Male Female

Galolhu

H

Raaveriyaa

Viligili Ferry Terminal

H

Raambaa

Cemetry 4

Fulooniya Ma gu

Muranga Magu

Ali Rasgefaanu Ziyaarai

Lemon Grass

Irama Magu

M A J E E D H E E

A m e e n e e

South West Harbour

Buruzu Magu

P

ATM

Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital

ATM

395

Royal Inn

n Higu eree

e

Hav

Sri Lankan Foods

West Park

Villingilli View Inn

29,964 14,833 15,131

19,580 9544 10,036

19,414 9578 9836

ni Hingun

Kanba Aisa Ra

23,597 11,648 11,949

agu

nu M

ufaa

akur

Bod uth

Higun Handhuvaree

anu

Nalahiya Hotel

fa kuru

Stadium

M a g u

ATM

Farivaa Stay

H ATM

agu

P

Iskandharu Magu

u

g Ma

Buruzu Magu

Cemetry 3

Transit Inn

Juway’s

H Café

Garbage Dumping Area

Cemetry 5

ATM

Synthiana

ATM

Ahmadhee Bazaar Area

Fish Market

Seagull Café Salsa Café

Olive Garden

Theemuge

Symphony

Local Market

M A J E E D H E E

e

he

ed

re Fa

Salsa Royal

uM

aar

diy

Fan

agu

oM

ivey

Mu

u

Mag

M A G U H H Abalone Tourist Inn

tha Bodu

Maldives Ports Authority Area

end ru K Koa

Total Male Female

gu

Izzudheen Ma

i Ma gu

Henveiru

Hilaalee Magu

O

rch id

Ma M

aa ve

103,693 51,992 51,701

anu Magu

GU

Total Male Female

nu Magu

gu

gu yo

Ma

Maafaiythakurufa

N

ATM

M A G U

gu

H

P

Sinamale’ Flats

gu

Lonuziyaarai Ma

Bodurasgefaanu Magu

National Art Gallery

Sea Wall

A m e e n e e M a g u

H

Host Inn

H Champa Moon

Athama Palace

H Central Hotel

UN Building

Falhumathee Ma

Jumhooree Maidhan

Jetty 5

ATM

H

Cemetery 2

Children’s Park

igas

Magu

Magu

ATM H Hotel / Guest house Bank of Maldives Mosque Bank of Maldives ATM Places of interest P Police Station Banks Cinema Public Toilet Excercise area Restaurant Ferry Terminal Swimming Area Filling Station Traffic Light

LEGEND

400 Meters

Artificial Beach

Lonuziyaaraikolhu Surf Break

Tandoor

Dinemore

Map courtesy of amooo.com

ATM

ATM

P

City Palace

H

Dine N Dine

M A G Hotel U

Henveiru Grounds

agu

Male’ Inn H

u

Mag

Roa sha nee M

Viole t

Dharubaaruge / Convention Center urufaanu Boduthak

STELCO Powerhouse

H

Kinb

Sea House Hulhumale’ Ferry

H Terminal Alimas Carnival

N

Maagiri Area Lodge Ground Six H H Farivaa Inn KAM Hotel H Mookai Hotel Dolphin Café Candies H

Trends H Nasandhura Palace Hotel

Airpo Jetty 1 rt Ferry 0

M A J E E D H E E

ATM

ADK Hospital

H

Skai Lodge

ATM

Fisherman’s Park

0

MAP OF MALE’, 2008

Raiy vila aM agu Cemetry 1

Hut

Galanga

Fasfinn Lodge City Hideaway

H

National Stadium

Dhonveli Inn

Buruneege Residence Wood Apple

H

President’s BandeyrigeOffice ATM Maldives Amee r Ahm National Defence ed Ma gu Islamic Center Force (MNDF) Minaret Hukuru Miskiiy Republic Monument Medhuziya National Royal Garden araiy Magu Museum Muleeaage Medhuziyaarai Parliament Sultan Park House Light house Café Lily Magu

P

Official Jetty 2 Jetty

Jetty 1

gu isy

Ma Da

E

Jetty 3

Rehendhi Hig un

DHA NE

Jetty 4 Magu faanu

Alikileg e

MA Rah

u

a Mag uheen Husn Koimalaa Higun

CHA

S Shooupvenir s S Shooupvenir s debai M agu

Jetty 6

Kashimaa Higun

Population Census 2006 (March)

un

POPULATION

Dhonadharaadha Higun

S O S U N

Jetty 9

Janavaree Magu

Jetty 7 Irudheymaa Hig

Jetty 8

M A G U

Moonima Higun

Magu Nikagas Higun Amina Rani

aanu Magu

Boduthakurufaa

Janavaree Higun

La

Raiyvilla Higun

gu

Ma

gu

aru

Bodufungandu Ma

of ino

Boduthakuruf


photosfrom Maladives e’ A to ll N o rt h M al

R aa A to ll

H a a A li f u A t o ll

Baa Atol l

A to ll H aa D h aa lu

c ap it al M al e’ , th e


Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll

A to ll S o u th A ri

L h av iy an i

A to ll ll D h aa lu A to

c ap it al M al e’ , th e


e’ A to ll N o rt h M al

photosfrom Maldives

No rt h Ar i At ol l

Male’ Atoll

ll L aa m u A to


H aa D h aa lu A to ll

A to ll H aa A li f u

A to ll H aa A li f u e’ A to ll N o rt h M al


Journey to the TIP OF THE MALDIVES... Sometimes being isolated is a blessing which is why Thuraakunu, the northern most island is a special place. It is an ordinary tropical island by all standards, but one must be there to experience this wonderful tropical bliss. For most people in Maldives, this island holds nothing special and relatively few have been lucky enough to be there. Text by AJ ; Photos by: Atoll Images


View of Thuraakunu island from above. The white sandy beaches sorrounding the island is one of her biggest assets. In addition, the island is blessed with several natural features that includes a surf break, thick forest with native plants and perhaps one of the most dynamic beaches. As the island lies on the northern tip, there are no reefs to protect her from the waves, except her own reef, resulting in waves impounding her from all directions. Beyond her shores to north, the nearest island is Minicoy, an Indian territorial Island.


Hot Tip

Annual EID holidays is a good time to visit the island as there will be many transport options.

18

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Destinations

“It is not clear when the island was inhabited but many of the famous scholars and figureheads have originated from this island.” The old mosque of Thuraakunu is one of the important landmarks in the island. This historical mosque sits in a large compound sorrounded by lush vegetation. The partly ruined boundary wall marks the mosque’s compound which was also home to the old cemetery. Some of the tombstones can still be seen today, most of which are ruined badly. Except during the prayer times, one can hardly see anyone around here as the island has a small population. This was the only mosque in the island in the old days until a new mosque was built in recent history.

Published by Water Solutions 19


Fact

F

rom the time you step on to this island, there is a special feeling that calms your mind and instantly the sensation of being very stress free takes over your mind and body. My journey takes me to the tip of the Maldives where beyond its fringed reef is the vast Indian Ocean. All around her, strong waves impound her reefs day and night, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The Island of Thuraakunu is not just any ordinary island. It is the northern most island in the Maldives. Along her north side, one can be at the northern most point in Maldives, the tip of Maldives. Being there will be a special achievement for anyone. Its a fate that relatively few Maldivians have achieved. Thuraakunu is an inhabited island in Haa Alifu Atoll. By all standards, it is a typical island jus tlike any other in Maldives. Being on the northern tip, Thuraakunu is also the closest to the island of Minicoy, which formerly belonged to the Maldives but is now under Indian Territory. The latest census of 2014 indicates a population of 414, considered a very small population even under Maldivian standards. Historically this has been an important island as the island marks the northern border of Maldives, as far as dry land is concerned. It is not clear when the island was inhabited but many of the famous scholars and figureheads have originated from this island. It is an island whose existence has been both politically and geographically important to Maldives. The island is geographically located on the northern rim of Haa Alifu Atoll. The closest inhabited island is Uligamu, about 1.5 kilometers south east of Thuraakunu. Its unique location means that only people or boats traveling to this island end up here. It is very rarely that one sees even passing boats close by as there are no resorts nor inhabited THIS PAGE: Top photo; A small boy running on an empty street with his books and pencils, what looks like a trip to his school. The streets are very safe for even children to run around as there are hardly any motor vehicles in the island. Bottom photo; Island Counsellor Nasrullah takes a break from his hectic work day to make a call while a government employee passby a house. FACING PAGE: A typical house in Thuraakunu. Most houses do not even have a gate nor a boundary wall and is open. The island is peaceful and every one knows each other and hence, people are not bothered to keep doors locked. Behind the house is the thick coconut forest which occupies a large percentage of the island.

20

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

The island has hardly any motor vehicles and therefore the streets are very calm and safe, even for children.


Destinations

“The people of Thuraakunu live in simple houses made from corals and it is rare to see even a double story house.�

Published by Water Solutions 21


islands close by, except Uligamu. This gives the island the uniqueness and serenity caused by her isolation, which is perhaps one reason why this island is so unique. The population is kept low and so the island is never crowded. The infrastructure is minimal and not too over developed. The island still contains large areas of untouched forest and around her border are thick coconut grooves that cools the island from the intense heat. The people of Thuraakunu live in simple houses made from corals and it is rare to see even a double story house. Over the years, the development has transformed the most basic houses made from coconut thatch to coral and brick houses. Despite this, one can still see very basic houses that were once the most common types of houses. There are basic facilities and services such as a health center, school, mosque, shops and one cafĂŠ in the island. Even during the day, one will never feel being in an inhabited island as the few locals are engaged in their daily routines. Unlike other islands, one cannot see too many people on the streets. There are hardly any motor vehicles in the island except for few. As a result, even children roam around the streets and can be seen running and playing on the streets without any fear. The partially completed harbour on the southern side is never too over crowded with boats as only limited boats come and go. The harbour is the face of the island and the place where most of the activities happen as boats come and go on and off. Close to the harbour is a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach that keeps moving from season to season.

An island of isolation Due to her isolation, the island was once a banishment ground for political prisoners; some during their isolation got married and had children. Very few foreigners get to THIS PAGE: Top photo; A local prepares his fishing rod to catch some fish from the beach. Fishing from the beach is a common past time activity for the young and the old. Bottom photo; The island’s health centre is well built and equipped with basic facilities. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Relaxing time on a local hammock beside the harbour is a very common scene in this island Botton photo; A motorcycle is parked in the middle of the street. This may be odd, but being home to a very small population, the streets of Thuraakunu can be said to be very peaceful and hardly without any motor vehicles except for few. This makes it very safe for people to move around.

22

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Destinations “Due to her isolation, the island was once a banishment ground “the sandy white shores are for political prisoners” lined with large slanting coconut trees that are just like the post cards”

Published by Water Solutions 23


visit this island, mainly due to its isolation and there are no nearby resorts or regular transport networks. However, the many yachts that pass along the north sometimes provide opportunities for foreigners to visit Thuraakunu and Uligamu while they dock in Maldivian waters. Even for locals, only few people other than the residents or relatives of the island have visited mainly due to its isolation and difficulty in getting there. No regular ferries means one has to fly to Hanimaadhoo Airport and then charter a boat ride across the treacherous Gallandhoo Kandu or pass which is notorious for being extremely rough in bad weather. It is a nasty sea during rough weather and you would not want to be even near this Kandu when it is rough. Even very few seafarers stop by this island during rough weather as they hardly pass through this island. Despite the isolation, the island is unique and geographically diverse in its formation, with a unique beach, vegetation and community life.

An island of friendly people The islanders are a friendly bunch of people most of whom are engaged in fishing, carpentry, construction and in the tourism sector. Fishing is the major activity for locals living in the island. Few islanders are engaged in other economic activities such as boat building and employed in resorts. Due to the limited economic potential and job availability, most youths opt to

24

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Destinations

Hot Tip If you plan to visit

Thuraakunu, make sure to arrange your accommodation before.

“the people of Thuraakunu are well known as hardworking and friendly, which could be attributed to their isolation from rest of the country� leave the island and work elsewhere. This keeps the population of the island limited. Nevertheless, the people of Thuraakunu are well known as hardworking and friendly, which could be attributed to their isolation from rest of the country. It is also widely believed that this isolation creates the special welcoming feeling by locals as they are not used to frequent visitors. Whenever a boat enters the harbour, most locals would gather to greet people and any new comer to the island is welcomed with a big smile. Locals, most often relatives and friends of the community have often described this island as the friendly island.

Unique coastline Thuraakunu has one of the most unique coastlines or beaches found anywhere in Maldives. One can find beautiful beaches that rival even the best beaches in Maldives. On the other hand, one can find rocky shores with numerous shellfish and crabs that are continuously seen running around the beach. The beach is exposed to strong winds and waves from the Indian Ocean almost every THIS PAGE: A group of women and children wait on the streets under the shade. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Street corners are widely used to spread news to the community in typical rural islands but is a dying method today. Nevertheless, it is widely used in Thuraakunu where this wall has been filled with news and information of various kind from community meeting calls to invitations for gatherings and many more. Bottom photo; A tower is erected to mark the northern most point of the island and the Maldives where a man climbs to get a glimpse of the island from above. The tower also act as a light house.

Published by Water Solutions 25


day. Being the tip of Maldives, there are no reefs or islands to protect Thuraakunu from the north which results in the shoreline being impounded with strong waves and exposed to severe weather that pass along the north of Maldives. Over time, these harsh conditions have helped to shape the island’s coastline and together with the reef, provides protection to the island. Strong wind is also the reason for the formation of the highest beach berms along certain areas of the shore that can be as high as 3 meters. As strong winds hit the shores, it moves the beach sand higher up, making the beach around the island in some areas very high. The unique shaped vegetation along these areas is a continuous reminder of the harsh environment they are exposed to. The trees along certain areas of the shore have adopted themselves for the strong windy conditions which can be visibly seen with trees without any leaves, resembling more of a bush. Along the shores are also fine sandy beaches which are counted among the best in the Maldives. These beaches are formed with fine white sand and they continuously change over time reacting to the forces of nature. Their shape and size keeps changing throughout the year and is a continuous reminder of the beauty and dynamism of nature. Most locals, especially children and the young make use of the beach in the afternoons for a variety of recreational purpose from kite flying to beach fishing and so on. One can find a myriad of activities to do on these beaches throughout the day. There is also a good surf break which is not known to most surfers or perhaps it is too difficult to get there. Locals kill their time surfing these great waves during the surfing season. THIS PAGE: Top photo; Two locals get busy fishing from inside the harbour during the afternoon. Small time fishing or recreational fishing is popular in the island, especially when schools of fish congregate inside the harbour. Bottom photo; Waves impound the shores almost every day of the year due to the location of the island. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Despite its small size, much of the island is still thick forest, mainly coconut palms. The island council has allocated new house plots for locals but the rate of population growth is kept low and hence the development in the island is slow. This is one reason for such a large area of thick forest. Bottom photo; Bushy vegetation on the beach along the north-west side is a clear indication of the harsh environment on this side. The trees have no leaves and has adapted to strong winds and waves. The beach on the other hand is much higher than in other islands.

26

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

“forgotten by many but with unique characteristics, Thuraakunu is a perfect place to get away from the rest of the world and from Maldives”


Destinations With a population of only 414 people and an area covering 38 hectares, Thuraakunu still has plenty of space unused. At the present rate of population growth, the island is expected to remain as it is, due to limited developments in the island. Despite these slow growth, the community has plans to develop guest houses to attract visitors, not necessarily foreigners, but locals too. The development of guest houses and a good transport network that connects the regional airport is presently a priority for the community. It is hoped that in the near future, these developments will happen and many visitors will flock the island. Thuraakunu is an island displaying the true rural colours and characteristics of a rural island in Maldives. Forgotten by many but with unique characteristics, Thuraakunu is a perfect place to get away from the rest of the world and from Maldives. For the adventure traveller who wants to be part of the history and experience the true rural Maldives, this is the place to be. But getting here is not easy, but it is worth a try.

Thuraakunu island at a glance Where is it? In Haa Alifu Atoll. Getting there: Fly to Hanimaadhoo International Airport, which takes about 40 minutes from Male’ and then another 60 minutes via speedboat. Accommodation: The island does not have guest houses and so prior arrangment is necessary. However, most locals will be willing to rent a room. Activities: Surfing, fishing, snorkeling, mingling with the island, exploring the beaches and island hopping are things one can do in Thuraakunu.

Published by Water Solutions 27


itouch Blue Diving Centre www.itouchbluediving.com

Accommodation, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Whale Shark Snorkeling & Picnic Trips

itouch Blue Diving Centre, Venus Villa Guest House, Blue Sky Guest House

itouch Blue is a government registered company (Reg. No. C – 0223/2014) to operate and run Scuba Diving, Travel Agency, Guest House Business & other Watersports activities in Maldives. We are located in one of the local island (Keyodhoo) in Vaavu Atoll. itouch Blue team has European & Maldivian Instructors – with 19 years of experience in Maldives. We own and operate few guest houses on the island. Our main focus is to serve our guests and provide them the best holiday experience in Maldives. We want to show our guests that this is a better way to explore this unique country. Staying in a local island, living with locals and diving with locals can be your dream vacation.

For enquiries and bookings, contact us: Tel: +960 7743094, 7420803, +39 328 1654081 Email: itouchblue1@gmail.com


Feeding time in a popular resort. Excited guests gather around the seashore to witness the large school of fish just few feets from the beach. While some take photos, others feed the fish during the busy lunch hour. Such scenes are all too common in most resort islands where regular feeding attracts fishes of all types to the same spot, every day. In this resort, this is adjacent to the restaurant and therefore keeps the guest entertained while they enjoy the food.


The amazing SEASHORES

Text and photos by: Atoll Images

The 26 geographical atolls and more than 1200 islands in the Maldives are surrounded by a coastline that is unique to itself. A beach holiday in the Maldives is the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of life where visitors can laze under the sun and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves. It is almost true to say that this experience is second to none in the world. But the Maldivian seashores are more than just a place for sun bathing only.


F

amous for its white sandy beaches and clear lagoons, the seashores of the Maldives is definitely one of her best kept secrets. From honeymooners to adventure divers, from young to mature, a large majority of visitors to Maldives come to lay back, relax and enjoy these wonderful seashores. Beach is the heart of any seashore and in Maldives, it is the white sandy beaches that attracts the most attention. At the seashore, there is the sun, the salty air, the ocean breeze and the sand beneath your feet beside the ocean. For some, experiencing this wonderful combination is a vacation, luxury and a novelty; for most Maldivians, it’s a daily way of life. For many species of birds and a variety of other animals, seashore is the place where they spend most of their life. To many people, seashore may be a confusing term, but in simple terms, it simply means the beach and its surroundings. Some people also refer seashore as the coastline or shoreline. Regardless of its definition, the beaches of Maldives are at the heart of the tourism industry that drives the country. A large percentage of the tourism industry depend on white sandy beaches found in our seashores and it is one of the top reasons for the high visitor numbers to Maldives. Amazingly, Maldives is blessed with more than 1200 islands and countless amounts of sand banks with unrealistic beaches. Though beaches may be the biggest attraction around a seashore, there is more than white sand that makes the Maldivian seashores, one of the best.

The beaches Our seashores feature a variety of beaches with varying composition from fine sandy beaches to beaches with a mix of corals or sand and a combination of many other things such as coral fragments, shells, seagrass etc. There are islands with very long beaches, wide beaches or narrow beaches that are found in many inhabited, uninhabited and resort islands. It is difficult to classify which is the best as every seashore has a combination of many natural features THIS PAGE: Children playing on the beach, a typical scene in the islands where from morning till evening, locals make use of the seashore in more than just few ways. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Young men take their time off to practice scuba diving skills while their dinghy boat is getting ready for the dive. Shore diving is a common sport in some islands and resorts, especially for those with close enough house reefs like this one in Dhoores island, Dhaalu Atoll. Bottom photo; The most popular scene from the Maldivian beaches; sun tanning and relaxing on the beach.

32

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

“At the seashore, there is the sun, the salty air, the ocean breeze and the sand beneath your feet beside the ocean�


Nature

Hot Tip One can do shore diving from many resorts and always check this before booking.

Published by Water Solutions 33


and characteristics that makes them very unique from one another. There are longer and wider beaches in the world but none can match what you find in Maldives. In a typical Maldivian resort, the guest rooms are built very close and hence, for proximity to your room, quality, colour and the breathtaking combination with lagoon and reef, you can’t beat the Maldives. These sandy white beaches combined with the sparkling turquoise lagoons and a bungalow on the beach is perfect for a beach holiday. As a result, the seashores of Maldives offer countless opportunities to the tourists for sunbathing, snorkelling and fishing or simply lazing around in the sun. Seashore marks the border between sea and land which gives it unique characteristics. Hence, it is profoundly influenced by the sea in terms of its composition, weather, what activities people do and so and so. Seashore is a place where humans and nature interact on a daily basis. It’s a rich ecosystem where many animal species live and interact each other. It’s a place where the waves continuously help keep the beach sand moving. This makes them one of the most unique and interesting places in the Maldives to be. Hordes of tourists flock and take up their space on the beach every day. In most islands in Maldives, the seashore is not just a stretch of white sandy beach, but an ecosystem, a playground, a place to party and a place to relax. For locals, it means many things and has many uses in everyday life. Gatherings, feasts, picnics, parties and events are just few activities the seashore entertains in rural islands. The seashore therefore is not only a place of natural beauty, but has its importance in our social life as well.

The most important place in a resort island It is true that in a resort, every building, services and facilities are equally as THIS PAGE: Top photo; Hammocks and modern day beach umbrellas lined on the beach in one of the luxury resorts in Maldives. Beaches in Maldives are considered as one of the top attractions in any island. As a result, their use is very high and during the day, most beaches in resort islands are filled with tourists. Bottom photo; For Anil, a windsurfing instructor, beach is his workplace. It is where he displays his skills and spend the most number of hours in a day. FACING PAGE: Contrary to what postcards and brochures say about the beaches of Maldives, it is not only a place for sun tanning or relaxing. Many resorts utilize the beach for an added uniqueness in guest dining experience like in this luxury resort. The dining tables are extended as far as few feets from the lagoon providing the best dining experience one could have.

34

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Nature “In most islands in Maldives, the seashore is not just a stretch of white sandy beach, but an ecosystem, a playground, a place to party and a place to relax. For locals, it means many things and has many uses in everyday life.

Hot Tip

Demand for dinner tables on the beach is high, therefore always remember to book early.

Published by Water Solutions 35


Fact

Most bars and restaurants in resort islands have extensions on the beach for added speciality.

important as the other. For a resort island, it is one of the most important place and making sure their seashores are kept well managed and protected is a priority for every resort island. In Maldivian resorts, almost all the guest rooms are built close to the beach or sometimes on the beach itself. For these rooms most of the year, there is a glorious beach right outside the door. And when there isn’t, the islands are generally so small that you only have to stroll a few seconds away to get to an area of ideal beach. Most of the public facilities such as restaurants, swimming pools and bars are also developed close by the shore to take advantage of the beauty of the environment. Apart from these, the resorts make use of the beach in a number of ways. It is a place where sunbathers and beachgoers spend countless hours under beach umbrellas or soaking themselves in the shallow lagoon or just lazing around during the day. Ceremonial activities and functions such as weddings and parties are held on the beach. Almost all the weddings in a resort island takes place on the beach. Most water sports activities in a resort are concentrated on the beach and it is where new skills are acquired in water sports. In some resorts, novice scuba divers practice their skills in the lagoon, often beside the shore. After sunset, the seashores are transformed to entertain a totally different variety of activities. At night, most resorts make use of the beach to host parties, dinners, BBQs or even open air movies. Special events such as Christmas and New Year celebrations are two notable events that are entirely associated with the beach. Having said that, it goes without saying that the seashores play such an important role for any resort island and the beach experience in the Maldives is very likely to be wonderful and unique, second to nowhere else in the world. Keeping the shores and the beaches well maintained is a priority for each and every resort in the Maldives.

FACING PAGE: Top photo; Soccer is commonly played on the beaches in a number of resorts, especially in very small islands where there is no ample space on the island. During such games, guests and the staff both engage in friendly games. Bottom photo; A beach villa in Maldives is the ideal description of a beach villa such as this one which is built right on the beach. Guests literally step out straight on the beach. THIS PAGE: Top photo; An outdoor extension to the bar in a resort where comfortable sofas are placed outdoors to provide the best experience for guests. Bottom photo; Most weddings in resort islands takes place on the beach itself. It is the most desirable and romantic locations in any island.


Nature “The utilization of the beach in most resorts takes this factor in planning their guest allocations to rooms and other daily activities�

Published by Water Solutions 37


Beaches change all the time Beaches are dynamic environments and in fact, the only thing permanent on a beach is change. From dawn till dusk, the seashore is subjected to various forms of change influenced by the effects of waves and weather. As tide rises and recedes, it influences the seashore in many ways more than one can imagine. When tide recedes, it exposes beach materials, burrowed animals, shells, corals and others on the beach. Similarly the beach moves around an island throughout the year that one can observe drastic changes in terms of beach size and composition. A large beach in January may not have the same beach or no beach in August. This change over time is caused by the movement of sand influenced by weather. For people who are not familiar with islands, this may be strange but it is how the seashores react to the forces of nature. These changes have important implications, especially in resort islands. The utilization of the beach in most resorts takes this factor in planning their guest allocations to rooms during different months of the year and other day to day activities. The beauty of seashores is hence much attributed to the dynamic nature of the beaches. It is an exciting environment where nature works its magic from dawn till dusk.

Animal life on the seashore The seashores attract more than just us humans. The beaches of Maldives are known to attract various species of sea turtles that heave themselves onto the beach to lay their eggs in the sun-warmed white sands. It is a unique site for all beach lovers. Along many beaches, one can see sea turtle eggs buried in white sand and when it happens in a resort island, it becomes part of a very exciting activity for guests to enjoy and experience this rare opportunity. Other than sea turtles, one can find different types of birds along the seashores. For a THIS PAGE: Stingray feeding on the beach has become a very popular beach activity in Maldives. This is an exciting activity as these large creatures, sometimes as many as 10 to 15 are fed by a trained guide who while doing it, gives a guided tour to the curious guests. Most stingray feeding is done in the later afternoons. FACING PAGE: Top photo; It cannot get any better than this. A man rests on a swimming bed just beside the beach surrounded by a large school of fish. Small fishes varying in numbers can be seen very close to the beach, either looking for food or to be protected against the large predators. Bottom photo: A Grey Heron takes off. Herons are the most popularly seen sea birds in the seashore and in most resorts, they are well accustomed to humans and will never shy away.

38

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Nature variety of seabirds, the seashore is their home and the place they spend most of the time. A wide variety of seabirds can be found along the shores of islands and sand banks. Seabirds are a familiar sight in most isolated sand banks where large schools of birds enjoy the serenity and isolation from human beings. This is a familiar site for many beachgoers who take their days off at these sand banks, especially for guests in resorts. The most famous of the seabirds are grey herons that can be seen poking their sharp bills in the sand for crabs and fish. Crustaceans such as crab is another common inhabitant in Maldivian shores. They attract lot of birds of prey as well as eels, especially just before the dawn. One can find different varieties of crabs crawling on the sandy beaches of the islands. Along most sea shores, one can also find eels hunting for crabs just along the edge of the beach in very shallow waters. Hermit crabs are extremely common in Maldives and it is almost impossible not to see a crab or crab holes in any beach in the Maldives. In the rural islands, children often hunt for crabs in the afternoons and it is a common past time activity for them.

Hot Tip

Most herons you find on the beach are friendly and will not shy away unless you provoke them.

Published by Water Solutions 39


“The seashores attract more than just us humans. � Beach goers get excited by a passing baby shark just within few inches from the beach. Relaxation may be the top beach activity in Maldives, but there are tons of other activities happening around the beach while you sunbath. Such baby sharks are common inhabitants in the shallow lagoons, often hunting and spending most of their time in very shallow waters.


Nature

“Giant stingrays can be seen gliding near the beach in many islands� A women pose for a photo in the presence of two large stingrays behind her. In most islands, especially in resorts, the seashore can be considered as a mini zoo where many variety of seabirs, crabs, sharks, fishes and large pelagics like Eels and Stingrays can be observed in ways that you never thought was possible.

Published by Water Solutions 41


heaven for juvenile fish Other than seabirds and crabs, the shallow lagoons around the seashores provide a haven for juvenile fish. The lagoons around most islands provide good protection for juvenile fish from predators. As a result, many small fishes take refuge in these waters and very often schools of small fishes can be seen swimming very close to the beach. The lagoons also act as a nursery for baby sharks and stingrays. In many islands, one can easily see dozens of inquisitive baby black tip reef sharks basking in the shallow lagoon very close to the shore. Very often, they will be swimming at few inches of deep water while they hunt for small fish. In most islands, they are so used to the people around, that they wouldn’t mind swimming beside swimmers. Many stingrays glide along the beach and secretly hide under a thin layer of sand near the shores. Many resort islands have regular feeding sessions for stingrays and sharks which is an interesting activity. These giants, sometimes as big as 6 feet in wingspan and numbering in dozens gather on the beach. Stingray feeding by hand is a popular tourist attraction in many resorts of the Maldives. Before every feeding session, information will be given about stingrays and their habitat to orient guests about these creatures. Some resorts also allow guests to feed these beautiful, marine creatures that congregate along the shores, but under careful supervision of guides. To enhance this spectacle of nature, baby sharks swim amongst the stingrays, while elegant herons linger nearby waiting for their catch. Many of the resorts offer stingray feeding as a daily activity and it usually is held in later afternoons or in the evening.

Beaches, not only for sunbathing Maldivian beaches are famous for sunbathing and relaxation. Everywhere you go, sunbathers lying on the beach is perhaps the most common sight in the islands of Maldives. From postcards, posters and to books, beaches are depicted with sunbathers Top photo: The best use of the seashore is displayed in this resort island where a shed is build, part on land, part on water, for guests to relax when they want to avoid the hot sun while being near the seashore. Bottom left photo: Photos, photos and more photos are taken every minute on the beach everywhere in Maldives like this Japanese couple. A resort staff comes to their aid just in time for a snap on this beautiful day. Bottom right photo; Fun around the beach takes a slight turn away from the conventional beach activities. A female guest ventures on a semi fallen coconut tree hoping to get some coconuts with some help from her local counterpart.

42

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Nature

Published by Water Solutions 43


“In the rural islands, seashores play an equally important role in everyday life. It is not only a place for locals to enjoy the sea breeze, but rather a multitude of activities happens around the shore.� The best illustration of the interconnectedness of the seashore and the Maldivian way of life. In Hanimaadhoo island which has one of the best beaches in the country, women, children and men engage in various activities. In the late afternoon, young children are enjoying a day out on the beach playing and running around while a group of women sit and relax to enjoy local snacks on the beach. At the same time, a group of men gets ready to go fishing, preparing their nets and other gear. While everything is going on, crows curiously lurk in the background hoping to get something out of all this.

44

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Nature

Fact

Seashores in rural islands is a very interesting place to be due to the many activities that happen.

Published by Water Solutions 45


from Europe to Asia. The reputation of the beach has always been associated with a place for sunbathing and relaxing in Maldives. Nevertheless, it is not only a place for sunbathing only. While sunbathers can lie whole day on the beach, there are beachcombers who can enjoy searching for exquisite seashells, corals and many more along the beach. Others can observe interesting animal life on the beach. For the more adventurous, even a massage is possible. More recently, massages on the beach has become a regular activity in most resorts and it’s a very different experience. Traditional Maldivian sand massage or “Veli Modun” has been practiced by locals or centuries in our islands. It’s a natural form of healing. It is done by utilizing wet, salty sand, a process that not only restores your healthy glow, but also alleviates aches and pains. A therapist rubs sand over your body and massage the body giving extra relief from the pressure exerted by the sand particles. This type of massage is done on the seashore and it is provided in almost every resort in the Maldives. In the islands, locals can be seen practicing this, mostly during weekends. This is a highly recommended activity for anyone who has not tried this before. Other than this, the beach is a place where one can do many free activities. Beach volleyball, beach football, crab racing and a vast array of games are played on the beach. You will most commonly see this in resort islands, where sports like beach volleyball and soccer are commonly played on the beach.

Seashore, a place of importance in rural islands In the rural islands, seashores play an equally important role in everyday life. It is not only a place for locals to enjoy the sea breeze, but rather a multitude of activities happens around the shore. From fishing, playing soccer, cooking, washing, cleaning and a myriad of other activities happen in and around the seashore. For instance, boat building, maintenance and repair is an important industrial activity that takes place on the seashore. It is where dhonis and THIS PAGE: Seashore is considered as the home for boat building, boat repairs and maintenance in Maldives. In Vilufushi island in Thaa Atoll, boats are line along the shore, some being repaired and some waiting to be repaired. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Locals in a resort island under construction take a break under a custom made coconut thatched roof built as a shed on the beach. This shed will eventually be used by guests while they enjoy the beautiful scenery. Bottom photo; Two men fishing near the shore in Meedhoo island, Dhaalu Atoll, which is a very common activity in the islands.

46

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

“boat building, maintenance and repair is an important industrial activity that takes place on the seashore”


Nature boats, big and small are beached, maintained, cleaned and washed before they are put back in the water. In many islands, one can see lined boats either being build one by one or being repaired, cleaned and washed on the beach. Often these boats are covered in makeshift huts or traditional hangers made from coconut tree parts and coconut thatch as the roof. These traditional boat huts or hangers are hardly seen these days as development over time has transformed these coconut roofed structures to more robust steel structures that lasts longer. If you are lucky, you can also see locals, often both men and women pulling boats on land or vice versa. Often times, the whole community is mobilised depending on the size of the boat. Although mechanical means are being increasingly used today, this is something that is still practiced quite often. It is also a good display of communal strength. This is a rare scene but a must see for all visitors if one ever gets the opportunity. Boat building in Maldives is an activity that revolves around the seashore from its humble beginning to the end. In rural islands, many people are engaged in fishing either as a profession or a hobby. Fishing besides the seashore is quite common in rural islands, which is mostly done as a hobby or to kill time. Nevertheless, there are instances when it is also commercially practiced. In many islands, it is quite common to see large population of small fishes in the shallow lagoon. These schools of juvenile fish take refuge just few feets besides the beach, often due to the protection it offers from large predators. Often times, such schools are trapped near the shore and stay there for weeks unable move in to the deep ocean. This can be seen in many islands and its a perfect opportunity for locals to engage in a fun activity. It not only provides subsistence but extra cash income from selling the fish as well. Men and young children will often use nets or even small local boats to catch these fishes. Serious fisherman catch these as bait fish by utilizing their time spend in the island in a useful way. When large schools of small bait fish congregate near seashores, harbours and in areas of the lagoon to get better protection from harsh weather and potential predators, its when they are caught. This is the ideal time for islanders to catch them and large schools with thousands of fish can be caught in a single try. In small islands, seashores even play a much important role in the daily lives of locals. It is the place where most locals spend the day, evenings, afternoons and mornings too. In most small islands, lack of recreational space

Published by Water Solutions 47


drives people to the beach to do even basic things like feeding children, cooking and drying fish among others. It is mostly women who does the daily chores and when they do, children are left to run around the beach, play games or hunt for crabs. And this does not end here. One can see Joali’s, a traditional Maldivian hammock like chair and coconut trunk benches lined along the beaches in a lot of islands, where people take their time off, sleeping, chatting, reading or gossiping. Seashores are also the best choice when it comes to playing games in rural islands. Although games like soccer and volleyball are seriously played in the fields, women, children and young men often make the use of the beach to play games of their choice. One such game is Bashi, a very popular game in the islands played with a tennis raquet and a ball. In the late afternoons, women and children gather at the beach and play Bashi which is a symbol of Maldivian women and culture. It is a game reserved for women and it is only played in the Maldives. This game is synonymous with women and the beach as traditionally it used to be played on the beach. If you ask anyone visiting Maldives to rate the country’s top attraction, it will definitely be the beach. It is a place where many things happen. Unlike what you see in most postcards, it is not a place for sunbathing only, but a place where hundreds of people enjoy in many ways. As you penetrate the Maldivian communities, you begin to realize that the beach is more than white sand only reserved for sunbathing. Indulging in the Maldivian culture and communities is the best way to understand the linkages between the seashore and daily life. For most local communities, beach is everything, their backyard, their workplace and playground. Next time you visit Maldives, try something different and make use of the beach in ways that you never thought was possible. Seashores of the Maldives are truly an amazing place.

THIS PAGE: A local displays two large octopus caught and cleaned on the beach in Maafushi island. Hunting octopus, especially from nearby seashores is very popular among young people. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Men trying to catch bait fish just inches from the beach. They will eventually be used in fishing. Bottom photo; The iconic sport, “Bashi” being played in Magoodhoo island in Faafu Atoll. Bashi is a game synonymous with Maldivian women and often played beside the shore.

48

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

“During certain times of the year, large schools of small bait fish congregate near seashores, harbours and in areas of the lagoon to get better protection from harsh weather and potential predators.”


Nature

Published by Water Solutions 49


Massive

CORAL REEFS Coral reefs are offshore defenses and a very vital and important natural resource that not only provides protection to the islands. Their numbers are numerous and they come in all kinds of sizes and shapes. Among these, the 10 largest coral reefs in the Maldives display spectacular geography and interesting statistics. Text and photos by: Amooo

The eastern rim of Vaavu Atoll, home to the largest coral reef in Maldives. Vaavu Atoll has numerous reefs but relatively very few islands. The eastern most island in the Maldives is also found on this huge reef.

50

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Nature

Published by Water Solutions 51


T

housands of coral reefs that make up the Maldives are ecological wonders and home to millions of marine life. Some are small, some even hidden from us while others are massive. They not only support the diverse marine life but provides livelihood to hundreds of people and impact our lives both directly and indirectly. The total area of only few coral reefs surpasses the total land area of Maldives. What is the size of a massive coral reef in the Maldives? Coral reefs are like underwater forests. Twenty-five percent of all marine life lives in coral reefs. The combination of plant life and colorful marine fish make coral reefs among the most desired destinations for holidaymakers. For this reason, thousands of divers come to the Maldives annually as diving is the number one attraction in any coral reef. These reefs are filled with colorful fishes and marine life. Regardless of their size, coral reefs are unique ecosystems and are such an important natural resource for Maldives. Without coral reefs, Maldives would not survive. Coral reefs are critical for the natural and cultural heritage of Maldives. They provide protection to islands, livelihood through fisheries and tourism, construction materials and a vast range of other products. They are intertwined with our lives. It is hard to imagine Maldives without coral reefs. Coral reefs in the Maldives play a vital role in the tourism and fisheries sector, the two main industries which rely heavily on coral reefs. When tourism started in the 70’s, reef fishery was not common but over the past three decades, the growth of the tourism sector has stimulated the expansion of reef fishery which includes sea cucumbers, groupers and aquarium fish. At the same time, diving has been a major contributor for high visitor arrivals. Every year new dive sites are explored and even today, majority of our reefs are yet to be explored. As tourism expanded, the use of reefs also increased. Resorts began to expand beyond the island borders on to the reefs. The importance of reefs thus grew exponentially. The Maldives, along its entire length of 900 kilometers are lined with coral reefs that make up a total of 26 geographical atolls with an estimated width varying between 80 to 130 kilometers. The Maldives archipelago contains 2,041 distinct coral reefs greater than 1 ha in area. Among these, there are numerous large reefs spread across the atolls and some of them are considered as very large while others can be classified as massive reefs. These reefs display varying geographical characteristics and supports a multitude of marine life that inhabits them.

52

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

Fact

Meemu atoll contains a reef in the top 10 list that is also the only reef to have 2 resort islands among the 10.


Nature

Most areas of these reefs are still unexplored despite the growth of tourism throughout the Maldives. Among the thousands of reefs in Maldives, the 10 largest coral reefs are of particular interest. Most people and visitors may not notice these and are not aware of these massive reefs. One reason could be that they are located further away from the most populous regions and hence there is little opportunity to see and visit them. Therefore, most visitors are never exposed to these reefs. The islands are generally very small and historically, most people have also inhabited in small islands. Most of the tourist resorts are also developed on small islands and perhaps these are few reasons why massive coral reefs have not attracted visitors. Nevertheless, from time to time, they attract the attention of investors vying to make the best use of these vital natural resource. Yet, most of them still remain intact. As the Maldives recently opened up the inhabited islands for tourism activities, it is likely to get more attention as more travellers penetrate the remote corners of the country. These 10 reefs are fairly evenly spread throughout the Maldives with Laamu Atoll having three of them.

“Coral reefs in the Maldives play a vital role in the tourism and fisheries sector, the two main industries which rely heavily on coral reefs. �

THIS PAGE: Moofushi island in South Ari Atoll. The island is formed on a large coral reef and it is the only island on this reef. The island occupies only a very small proportion of the entire reef. This coral reef is famous among snorkelers and divers. However, despite the size, it is not big enough to be counted in the top 10. FACING PAGE: Two of the smallest inhabited islands in the Maldives, Maduvvari and Dhiggaru in Meemu Atoll. Size of an island and reef does not have any relation as seen in this case. A very small island can be found on a very big reef and vice versa.

Published by Water Solutions 53


The 10 BIGGEST Coral Reefs in Maldives

68 474 16,977 185 19 02 0 03 21

The largest coral reef in the Maldives is in Vaavu Atoll and measures an area of 68 SQ KM. The combined area of the 10 largest reefs is 474 SQ.KM These 10 reefs supports a population of 16,977 people (As per 2006 census). These 10 reefs provide a safe environment for 185 uninhabited islands. In total, 19 inhabited islands are formed on these 10 reefs. Within these 10 reefs, there are only 2 resorts. It is in Meemu Atoll. The largest coral reef does not support any population and there are no inhabited islands on this reef. Three of these reefs are found in Laamu Atoll.

The combined area of the 10 largest reefs is 21 times the size of the Republic of Nauru in the Pacific Ocean.

Foththeyo Reef Muli Reef Makunudhoo Reef Madaveli Reef Hithaadhoo Reef Olhuvelifushi Reef Kudahuvadhoo Reef Gan Reef Goidhoo Reef Isdhoo Reef Area in sq.km

Population

0 3 1 5 2 0 0 3 3 2

68 57 52 46 46 45 42 41 39 37 Inhabited Island

0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Uninhabited island

3 14 2 83 30 17 8 11 4 13 Resort island

Infographic developed by Water Solutions. www.water-solutions.biz. Source of information: WS GEO database.

54

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

= 500


Nature

Fact

Isdhoo island in Laamu atoll is formed on the 10th biggest coral reef in the Maldives.

Exploring facts about these massive reefs reveal interesting facts and statistics for anyone from researchers to students to the average traveller. For someone who is not familiar with Maldives, certain assumptions can be made. One might think that the larger islands are formed on larger reefs or maybe more inhabited islands are formed on large reefs. However, this is not the case. The combined area of the 10 largest reefs is 474 sq kms, that’s nearly 58% more than the total land area of Maldives which is estimated at 300 sq km. Together, these 10 reefs supports a population of 16,977 people living in 19 islands spread across them. These reefs are home to 185 uninhabited islands, some of them having few islands while others having more. Surprisingly, only two resort islands are found in any of these 10 reefs. The most striking statistics about the largest coral reef is that it contains only 3 uninhabited islands. Three of these top 10 reefs are in Laamu Atoll, which is also the home to the biggest island in Maldives, Gan. Besides these, there are various other interesting statistics about these reefs that may or may not have any connection with how civilization and development tin the Maldives have occurred. Nevertheless, the knowledge of these reefs and where they are located is essential basic knowledge for every Maldivian that will provide a more clear picture about our geography, culture and heritage. Here are the top 10 largest reefs in the Maldives.

10th Place: Isdhoo reef 10th in the list is the reef on which Isdhoo Island is formed, in Laamu Atoll. Isdhoo is one of the biggest islands in Maldives and this reef lies on the north and north east side of the atoll. The northern most point of the atoll is the tip of this reef which contains the island of Isdhoo, Dhanbidhoo and a number of other islands. The total area of this reef is 37 sq km and contains 13 islands. Among these, two (2) islands are inhabited. In 2014, Isdhoo Island was declared as two separate islands, Isdhoo and Kalaidhoo islands, THIS PAGE: Top photo; The island of Isdhoo, one of the biggest islands in Maldives is also formed on a huge reef. The large area of the reef provides many natural resources and opportunities. Bottom photo; Coral Reefs provide many resources including lobsters, crabs and not just fish. Such resources keep many fisherman and their families going on. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Bottom photo; The island of Dhan’bidhoo in Laamu Atoll, formed south of Isdhoo island is formed with a large shallow lagoon around her which makes navigating difficult during low tide.

Published by Water Solutions 55


despite being geographically one single island. It is impossible to miss this reef if you fly to Laamu Atoll or further south as the flight usually pass along this reef. This is an important reef not only because it contains one of the largest islands in Maldives, but it is used by locals for bait fishing and other recreational activities. With only one resort in the atoll, this reef is not as much explored by divers but the growth of local tourism is slowly catching up with tourists having more access to this reef. In time, this will likely be a reef where many divers will dive. The shallow lagoons in this reef are in most parts very shallow and becomes dry during low tide. These are times when locals venture on shell hunting and revert to all kinds of exploration of the reef from young to the old.

9th Place: Goidhoo reef 9th place goes to the reef on which the island of Goidhoo is formed in Baa Atoll. This is a separate geographical atoll with an oval shaped reef that supports the largest island in Baa Atoll, Goidhoo. Part of the administrative Baa Atoll, this used to be an important atoll for maritime travel. As such, historically many ships ran aground the reef while crossing the Maldives and today there are many shipwrecks on the northern side of the reef. There has been many tales about shipwrecks and perhaps the most famous being the Corbin. The total area of the reef is 39 square kms including the deep and shallow areas. There are 7 islands in total, of which 3 are inhabited. The three inhabited islands are Goidhoo, Fulhadhoo and Fehendhoo. Goidhoo is an agricultural hub with large areas of the island used for farming. There is only a single natural pass to access this atoll and the reef. Together in these three islands, there is a total population of 811. THIS PAGE: Top photo; A turtle lurks in the shallow waters of a coral reef. Turtles are big attractions in the tourism industry and hence, their population is vital for sustainable tourism. Bottom photo; Manta ray’s contribution to the tourism industry in Maldives is something that is unmeasurable. Every year thousands of visitors come to Maldives to watch manta rays. These majestic creatures are found only in certain reefs. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Coral reefs provide sand, the building blocks for the construction industry. Sand mining from reefs have been practiced for centuries and it is at the heart of the construction industry in Maldives. Locals mine sand using manual methods without any machinery which is packed in bags and sold to customers. Bottom photo; A diver approaches a swim through in a reef popular among divers in Dhaalu Atoll. Coral reefs, both small and big provide unlimited opportunities for recreational diving from caves, overhangs, pinnacles and wall diving among others.

56

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Nature

Fact

Sand from coral reefs are widely used in the construction of houses even today.

Published by Water Solutions 57


8th Place: Gan reef 8th in the list is the coral reef that contains the inhabited islands of Gan and Fonadhoo in Laamu Atoll. Gan is the largest island in Maldives with an estimated area of 595 Hectares. The total area of the reef measures 41.4 square kilometers. Fonadhoo island is the atoll capital and Kahdhoo is home to Kahdhoo domestic airport. From Gan to Fonadhoo island, one can go by land transport as the islands are connected by course ways. A modern fisheries complex is developed in the island of Maandhoo island, which cannot be presently differentiated as a separate island as the island has completely being joined with Gan. There are a total of 14 islands on this reef of which 3 are inhabited. Kahdhoo is an important regional hub due to the domestic airport which connects the region to other areas of Maldives. Just immediately north of Gan are two small islands that are presently being developed in to resort islands together with part of Gan island. Gan island presently has a rapidly developing guest house and hotel industry which is transforming the region into a tourism hotspot. Gan and Fonadhoo are also two islands where agricultural farming is widely undertaken due to ample space.

7th Place: Kudahuvadhoo reef 7th on the list is a reef located on the southwest of Dhaalu Atoll in central Maldives. The reef is home to Kudahuvadhoo island, the capital of Dhaalu Atoll and an important regional hub. Kudahuvadhoo is also the only inhabited island on this reef. The reef begins from the southern rim of the atoll immediately west of Kudahuvadhoo Kan’duolhi (channel) and stretches all the way to the western rim where it meets Hulhudhelee Dhekunu Kan’du, the channel south of the island of Hulhudheli. An airport is presently under development on this reef by reclaiming and extending the island of THIS PAGE; The island of Gan, the largest island in Maldives and the islands on the north of her. Gan is formed on the 8th biggest coral reef, formed on the eastern rim of Laamu Atoll. This reef also supports the atoll’s capital, Fonadhoo and the island of Kahdhoo where an airport is built. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Amra Palace, a newly opened guest house in Gan island. Due to the large size of the island, more and more guest houses and hotels are being developed in the island. The growing number of guest houses are allowing access to new areas of coral reefs that were previously unexplored. Bottom photo; Kudahuvadhoo island, the capital of Dhaalu Atoll is formed on the 7th biggest reef.

58

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Nature

Fact

Gan is the largest island in the Maldives and is formed on the 8th biggest reef.

“An airport is presently under development on this reef by reclaiming and extending the island of Kudahuvadhoo�

Published by Water Solutions 59


Kudahuvadhoo. The long stretch of reef has beautiful islands and sand banks that are lined one another and plans are already in place to develop some of the islands in to resorts.

6th Place: Olhuvelifushi reef 6th in the list is a reef that is known to have one of the most unique and famous island in Maldives, Hudhufushi. This reef is located on the eastern rim of Lhaviyani Atoll and home to the island of Olhuveliushi, one of the only 4 inhabited islands in Lhaviyani Atoll. The reef has a vast expanse of shallow lagoon starting from the southern side of the atoll and stretching all the way across the east side with 17 islands in total. Hudhufushi is an ecologically important island as the V-shape of the island provides a perfect habitat for sharks, mantas rays and many types of crabs that are not seen elsewhere in Maldives. The total area of this reef is approximately 45.4 square kms.

5th Place: Hithaadhoo reef 5th in the list is also a reef in Laam Atoll with a total area of 45.8 square kilometers. There are a total of three (3) inhabited islands and 30 uninhabited islands on this reef. Maavah, Hithaadhoo and Kunahandhoo are the inhabited islands on this reef. Maavah island is a famous fishing island with many light to medium scale fishing industries that rely on the multiple fishing grounds nearby. Mendhoo is an uninhabited island between Hithaadhoo and Kunahandhoo islands where agricultural research was undertaken by the government. Even today, many locals undertake farming in this island and it can be reached on foot from both Kunahandhoo and Hithaadhoo as the shallow lagoons are very shallow even in high tide and during low tide, the seabed is completely dry, making it possible to cross from one island to the other.

4th Place: Madaveli reef 4th in the list lies in the southern Maldives in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. This is a reef which contains 88 islands, of which only five (5) are inhabited. With an estimated area of 46.1 square kilometers, this is the reef with the THIS PAGE: Top photo; Hudhufushi, one of the most unique islands in the Maldives and one of a kind, in Lhaviyani Atoll (Photo: Digital Globe). Bottom photo; The 6th biggest coral reef in Lhaviyani Atoll formed on the eastern rim of the atoll. This reef contains the island of Hudhufushi and many sand banks. FACING PAGE: The islands of Kunahandhoo and Hithaadhoo in Laamu Atoll share this reef with many other islands. This is the 5th biggest reef in the Maldives.

60

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

“The reef has a vast expanse of shallow lagoon starting from the southern side of the atoll and stretching all the way across the east side with 17 islands in total�


Hot Tip

One can walk several kilometres on foot even in the biggest coral reef, especially during low tide.

Nature most number of inhabited islands among the top 10 reefs. The reef begins immediately south of Kaadhehdho Kan’duolhi, a large atoll channel. On its northern tip is the island of Madaveli, an important fishing island in the region. The reef extends south and then south-east with numerous small islets lined one another with the last island as Fiyori. Fiyori is home to one of the most famous surf breaks in Maldives which is known to provide big waves for surfers. It is a famous surf break among surfers and most surfers travelling to Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll will have this break on their agenda. It is possible to walk along its entire coral reef on foot.

3rd Place: Makunudhoo reef The 3rd largest coral reef in the Maldives is very isolated from the rest of the atolls and it is the Makunudhoo reef in Maamakunudhoo Atoll in Haa Dhaalu Atoll. This is the western most atoll in Maldives and with just 52.4 square kilometers, it has only one inhabited island, Makunudhoo which is one of the most isolated islands in Maldives. Due to its isolated nature, this is considered to be among the most pristine of the reefs. Even the safari boats that roam the Maldives do not often visit this atoll due to its isolation.

2nd Place: Muli reef The second (2nd) largest coral reef in the Maldives is in Meemu Atoll on the south-east rim of the atoll. This is the only reef among the top 10 that contains a resort. Chaayaa Lagoon Hakura Huraa and Medhufushi are the two resort islands on this reef with an estimated area of 57.4 square kilometers. There are three (3) inhabited islands on this reef including the capital island Muli. This coral reef supports a population of 1878 people in these three islands. This is also the reef in Meemu atoll with the most number of islands. The northern tip of this reef has a famous surf break where every year hundreds of surfers from all over the world come to surf.

1st Place: Fohtheyobodufushi reef On top of the list is Fohtheyo reef in central Maldives located in Vaavu Atoll. This is the largest coral reef in the Maldives in terms of area. Measuring over 68 square kilometers, it is a long stretch of looped reef on the south and east side of Vaavu atoll. Surprisingly this reef does not support any population, meaning that there are no inhabited islands on this reef. This reef contains the island of Fohtheyobodufushi, the eastern most island in the Maldives and the eastern rim of this atoll is the furthest point of Maldives on

Published by Water Solutions 61


the east side. Fohtheyobodufushi island is a narrow and long island which will soon be developed into a resort. Being the largest reef, it has relatively less number of islands compared to much smaller reefs elsewhere in the Maldives. In addition to this, Vaavu atoll is the smallest in terms of population. This reef is home to several sandbanks that are mostly exposed during high tide. As the water level rise and falls, the number of sand banks keep changing. The marine life of this reef cannot be described in words as it is such a big area with deep and shallow lagoons. Most part of this reef is still undiscovered. Due to the remoteness of this reef and with just 2 resorts in the atoll, it is not a reef that receives regular guests. However, liveaboards and special tour groups are known to dive the various areas of this reef and channels nearby. The scale of this reef can only be realized when it is compared with something we all know. For example, if we were to place the largest island of Maldives on this reef, it would accommodate 11 islands of that size. If we were to place the island of Male’ (capital of Maldives) on this reef, it can support 35 Male’s. Assuming that Male’ has a population of 100,000 and an estimate size of 192 hectares, this reef can thus support an island 35 times larger than Male’ and with a total population of 3.5 million people. The top 10 largest coral reefs in the Maldives are an amazing work of nature that provides curious and important information about the geography of Maldives. Apart from these 10 reefs, there are several other large coral reefs that are worthy of exploring and equally with impressive statistics.

THIS PAGE: The island of Bodumohoraa is a very beautiful island in Vaavu Atoll blessed with white beaches all around and a vast lagoon. This island is formed on the biggest coral reef in the Maldives. FACING PAGE: Top photo; A diver takes a close look at a sea cucumber, one of the many natural resources a coral reef provides. Cucumber fishery is a thriving bussiness and hundreds of fisherman are engaged in this occupation which mainly exports dried sea cucumber to South East Asia. Bottom photo; Corals have been used in the construction of houses in Maldives until it was banned in the 1990’s. Coral reefs provide livelihoods to thousands in more than few ways.

62

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

“The top 10 largest coral reefs in the Maldives are an amazing work of nature ”


Nature

Fact

Corals were the building blocks for houses until it was banned in the 90’s. It is illegal to use corals now.

Published by Water Solutions 63


Designed reefs created by Water Solutions are sustainable, because we use environmentally friendly technology and methods which do not damage the existing corals of an island’s reef. To find more information about artificial reefs, contact us.

water-solutions.biz


atoll-images.com


A group of European tourists travelling on a local boat, where most stay on top of the deck for most part of the journey. With the opening of Maldives to the budget and independent travellers, a new wave of opportunities has opened up for people wanting to explore Maldives on their own.

66

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Features

Travelling to the ATOLLS

Text by Amoo & photos by: Atoll Images

With more than 1200 islands to explore, the islands of Maldives offer countless possibilities for the adventurous traveller. From Thuraakunu to Gan, all these islands offer one thing common, unique beauty. Their shape, colour, formation and natural beauty must be seen to believe it. But deciding where to go is a difficult decision to take.

Published by Water Solutions 67


S

tretching more than 900 kilometers, from north to south in the Indian Ocean, lie the islands of Maldives. For centuries, these islands have been on the agenda for many travellers. Maldives is presently among the top tourist destinations, mainly because of her natural beauty that comes from a combination of factors, namely: the shape and size of reefs and its formation; the clear waters that flow between the atolls; the crystal clear lagoons; the palm fringed islands and their white beaches. These features play a vital role in making these islands one of the most sought after destinations in the world. Beauty is a relative term, and to different people, it means different things. There is no one single island that can be called the most beautiful island in the Maldives. From north to south, one can find a myriad of islands that have many geographical characteristics that are worthy of exploring. There are islands with thick vegetation and on the opposite end are islands where vegetation is sparse. There are islands with mangroves and lakes, while others have large pockets of deeper lagoons and vast expanses of shallow lagoons that become completely dry during low tide. So what does a traveller look for in an island? Is it the natural beauty or something else? There are many kinds of islands in the Maldives but every feature of an island plays a vital role in its own way. Travelling in the Maldivian atolls raises many questions and one must realize that these islands offer a variety of opportunities for the adventurous traveller to explore and enjoy. No single island or atoll can fulfil all the dreams of a traveller. For this reason, it is important to know what each atoll offers in terms of nature, history, beauty or something else. One of the main reasons for the popularity of Maldives is the natural beauty of the islands and the coral reefs. Therefore, for a truly enjoyable travel experience, one must THIS PAGE: Top photo; Guests walk pass a local cafe in Thulusdhoo island, North Male’ Atoll. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Two guests take a break under the hot sun to relax on a local version of a Hammock known as “Joali” in one of the rural islands. BOTTOM PHOTO: A modern day guest house in Thulusdhoo island, in North Male’ Atoll. Thulusdhoo is home to the famous surf break, “Cokes” and also close to a number of world class surf breaks. Most visitors to the island are surfers. During the surfing season, rooms are hard to get and one must make prior booking. Thulusdhoo island is just 45 minutes away from Male’ and has a good network of transport ferries and flexible options, which makes it very easy to reach with a small budget.

68

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Features

“Maldives is a haven for sea lovers and beachgoers and it is a Mecca for those seeking a living or intending to do a wide variety of activities close to the sea�

Published by Water Solutions 69


have a good knowledge of all the atolls and islands and what they are like. It may not be practical to learn about every island in an atoll, but at least having the knowledge of some key islands and sites would definitely help the traveller make a better decision.

Haa Alifu Atoll Start your research from north to south. Haa Alifu is the northern most atoll in the Maldives. This atoll has 14 inhabited islands and a number of uninhabited islands. There are presently only three (3) operating resorts. Haa Alifu atoll contains Utheemu island, one of the historically important islands in the Maldives. Utheemu island has the Utheemu Ganduvaru, where Mohamed Thakurufaanu lived in the 16th century and is believed to be his family’s palace. Mohamed Thakurufaanu, aka. Bodu Thakurufaanu, is considered to be a national hero for liberating Maldives from 15 years of Portuguese rule, in 1573. Utheemu Ganduvaru, is perhaps the most important historical site in the Maldives, and every year we make Mohamed Thakurufaan’s victory as our Victory Day. Apart from the rich history, Utheemu is also a very small island with a unique beach and lagoon. Soft and white sandy beaches are found around this island and the lagoon is lovely for swimming. The capital of the atoll is Dhihdhoo island, a rapidly growing island with a number of government institutions and offices. It is a small city in the making. Next is the island of Baarah; counted among the largest and the most unique islands in the Maldives with many significant characteristics. It is home to many freshwater lakes and mangrove swamps and acres and acres of thick Maldivian forest. The Island itself is shaped like the letter “Baa” in Dhivehi script “Thaana”. Its beautiful people have physical features rarely seen anywhere else in the Maldives. The island’s shape makes it geographically unique with a protected bay in the lagoon where boats can harbour in rough weather. This feature increases the linear beach of the island. The THIS PAGE: Top photo; Dhihdhoo island, the atoll capital of Haa Alifu Atoll. Bottom photo; Aerial view of Baarah island. FACING PAGE: Top photo; The famous Utheemu Ganduvaru seen from above. The palace is the surviving monument attributed to Mohamed Thakurufaanu’s bravery that defeated the 15 years of treacherous Portuguese rule during the 16th Century. For the people of Utheemu, the palace is their pride. The maintenance and the upkeep of the courtyard and its premises are assured by a dedicated group from the island itself. Palace visits are organised by the Bodu Thakurufaanu memorial centre and visitors are required to purchase tickets for the tour. Bottom photo; A lettuce farm in Maafahi island where commercial scale agriculture is practiced.

70

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Features

Hot Tip

Most resort islands in Haa Alifu Atoll will organize day trips to the island of Utheemu.

house reef is well known among divers in the region as having immense underwater beauty. Baarah is also home to the first Miss Maldives ever crowned in the 1950s. If you can visit this island, you will be able to meet her even today. Islands like Maafahi, Dhonakuli island and Uligamu also have unique features and characteristics. Maafahi island is a very beautiful and special island where commercial scale agriculture is undertaken. It is where a lot of coconuts, chillies, vegetables and fruits are grown and supplied to Male’. Dhonakulhi is the first and the only yacht marina in the Maldives. Last, but not least, the island most worthy of visiting in this atoll is Thuraakunu, the northern most island in the Maldives. This is the tip of Maldives and one can stand on the northern most point of Maldives and gaze at the vast Indian Ocean. The coastline of Thuraakunu has something unique that is characterized by how the shoreline is shaped, its beaches and the vegetation found along the shoreline. Thuraakunu is very isolated and as a result, only few people visit this island. Hence, the first thing a visitor will notice is a unique calmness that is not experienced in other islands. Getting to Haa Alifu atoll is easy, but travelling within the atoll requires expensive private boat charters as regular ferries are not operational in this region. Hanimaadhoo airport is the main gateway to Haa Alifu Atoll by air.

Published by Water Solutions 71


Hot Tip If you visit

Kulhudhuffushi island, dont forget to go and catch sail fish with locals.

72

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

“This wetlad is home to many birds, fresh water fish and various species of crabs and shellfish”


Features Haa Dhaalu Atoll South of Haa Alifu atoll is Haa Dhaalu Atoll. Notable islands include, Hanimaadhoo, Nolhivaranfaru, Hondaafushi and Kulhudhuffushi. The island of Hanimaadhoo is a long J-shaped island, home to Hanimaadhoo International Airport. This is the gateway to the northern Maldives. Hanimaadhoo is considered among the longest and largest islands and also one of the most beautiful with several kilometers of white sandy beach on the western side. Beaches of this length are rarely seen in the Maldives. Nolhivaranfaru is another beautiful island with a natural harbour and an unspoilt lagoon with long stretch of beaches. The capital island, Kulhudhuffushi, is a metropolis in the making with a population of nearly 10,000 people. Kulhudhuffushi has good infrastructure like paved roads, a harbour, a hospital, regional port, schools and many other important government institutions. The island is also naturally unique with a large freshwater lake on the north side with a rich ecosystem. This wetlad is home to many birds, fresh water fish and various species of crabs and shellfish. Presently, there are no resorts in this atoll, but some have been allocated for development. Haa Dhaalu Atoll also contains the island of Makunudhoo, which is the western most inhabited island in Maldives. Further west of Makunudhoo is the tiny uninhabited island of Innafushi. This is the western most point of the Maldives. Makunudoo island was a politically important island as most political prisoners were banished and kept in isolation for many years at a time. His Excellency President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom who was the President from 1978 to 2008 was banished to Makunudhoo island before becoming the President. It is hence an island with political history as well. THIS PAGE: Top photo; Nolhivaranfaru island’s beach will easily be counted among the top 10 most beautiful beaches in Maldives. The island has a natural harbour and two mangrove lakes and acres of undeveloped forest. Locals are friendly and not many travellers visit the island. Nevertheless, new guest houses are being build and visitor numbers are expected to rise in the coming years. Bottom photo; View of Hanimaadhoo island from her north side. This long and big island is home to Hanimaadhoo International Airport. In 2014, a new city hotel openend on the northern part of the island. Visitors to this city hotel get to experience the beautiful beach of Hanimaadhoo as well as get a taste of the local culture without spending much on travelling. FACING PAGE: Kulhudhuffushi, the capital of Haa Dhaalu Atoll is a city in the making. It has well developed infrastructure like the hospital, port and roads. The island also containts a large wetland on its north side.

Published by Water Solutions 73


Shaviyani Atoll Further down is Shaviyani atoll and presently a fair distance away from the nearest airport; getting here is not as convenient as Haa Alifu and Haa Dhaalu atolls. In terms of getting here, this will be one of the most difficult as the islands are quite spreadout and the nearest airport is in Haa Dhaalu Atoll. With only a single resort operational at present, travelling via seaplane is also a limited option. The most notable feature of this atoll is that it contains the most unique shaped islands found anywhere in Maldives, such as Nalandhoo and Eriadhoo. Nalandhoo is the strangest shaped island in the Maldives and contains a number of brakish water lakes in the island that are used for sea cucumber farming. The island is located in the northern part of shaviyani Atoll and it is not accessible to the general public. This is a very unique and beautiful island that is highly recommended to visit if an opportunity comes. The atoll also has a G-shaped island called Eriadhoo which is also one of its kind. The unique shape creates a protected inner bay on its western side and a long beach. This bay is used by fisherman during the rough periods in south west monsoon as a harbour. Islands like Ekasdhoo is also considered as a big and very unique with a large enclosed lake inside the island. Around the lake is a mangrove belt that runs around its perimeter. There are few species of large fish that make this their home while the mangrove areas and the mudy soil is home to millions of seashells that adds to the richness of this ecosystem. The island is being developed as an agricultural island with crops such as papaya, chillies and bananas being grown. In few years time, this island would be a top attraction for people wanting to see commercial scale agriculture and mariculture in one island with a unique ecosystem. Other islands like Narudhoo and Noomara are small islands with small populations. The islands of Farukolhu and Funadhoo THIS PAGE: Top photo; Ekasdhoo island in Shaviyani Atoll, a large island that has a fresh water lake that takes up more than 60 percent of its land area. Bottom photo; Abandoned island of Maakandoodhoo where the remains of the houses, school, office, mosques lay in ruins. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Nalandhoo, the only island of its kind in Maldives. This island has the most unique shape and has many lakes where sea cucumber is farmed commercially. Unfortunately visiting this island is not easy as commercial activities takes place on the island. One must take prior permission to go to this island. Centre photo; The island of Eriadhoo is shaped like the alphabet “G”. Bottom photo; Faiz, the President of the Milandhoo Island Council showing off the breadfruit trees that line the streets.

74

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

“The most notable feature of this atoll is that it contains some unique shaped islands such as Nalandhoo and Eriadhoo.”


Features are formed on one reef and is another top destination for nature lovers. Funadhoo is the capital of this atoll. At present, there is only one resort operational but few are under development. There are many islands in this Atoll with enclosed lakes or wetlands where mangroves and other unique plants thrive side by side with a number of different species of birds. Islands like Maakandoodhoo has been uninhabited after people were moved to the island of Milandhoo. If you want to see an abandoned island, then Maakandhoodhoo is the best place to visit. The roads, houses and everything else in the island has been turned in to thick jungle. This oval shaped island was one of the most difficult islands to live with regular flooding during rain and difficulty in accessing the island due to the lack of a proper reef and lagoon, one of the main reasons why people had to abandon this island. If you get an opportunity to visit this island, you can still see the ruins of the houses and other community buildings like school, the island office, health centre and mosques, most of which have been taken over by weeds and other plants. When people of this island moved, they only took their belongings and the roofing sheets, which is why one can see the ruins of the houses and other buildins lay open with their walls only. Milandhoo is a huge island which was built from scratch to resettle people from small islands like Maakandhoodhoo. Today Milandhoo is a small city in development with well built houses and infrastructure. The island also has plenty of space for agriculture, which is widely practiced in the island. Milandhoo is an agricultural powerhouse producing many types of crops from water melons, papaya, chillies and a variety of other vegetables. The island is also home to the most abundant breadfruit tree population in the country. When the island was developed from scratch, large areas were cleared to construct houses. When the houses and other structures were built, it left roads without any trees and this lead to the islanders initiating a large scale island wide campaign to plant trees. The community decided to plant bread fruit trees along the centre of every road as it is not only a cash crop, but provides shade. Today one can see small to large breadfruit trees budding with the fruits lined along every road in the island. The people of Milandhoo are also known to have very high community spirit and hard working as no empty area in the island is left without use, most of which are utilized to grow some cash crop. The atoll has only one island, Van’garu, developed as a resort. The resort has some of the best water villa designs and a beautiful beach on the easter side of the island.

Published by Water Solutions 75


Noonu. Raa & Baa Atoll Noonu, Raa and Baa Atolls have many islands and only a handful of them are very big. Most of these islands are quite beautiful and spread across the atoll. Noonu, Raa and Baa atoll contains some very beautiful islands, some of which have been developed as resorts and some are being developed into highly upmarket resorts such as Randheli island, which recently opened in Noonu atoll under the brand, Cheval Blanc Randheli. It is believed to be one of the most luxurious resorts in the Maldives. Noonu and Raa atoll boasts to have some of the best islands with white beaches all around. There are also many small islands in these two atolls that are presently either leased as tourist resorts or left untouched. Maafaru and Ken’dhikulhudhoo islands in Noonu atoll are two very long islands that are considered among the largest in the Maldives. Maafaru island has a very long stretch of beach and a beautiful shallow and dep lagoon. On its northern lagoon are a series of sand banks that one can walk miles. If you are an adventurer and want to be alone, yet be in an inhabited island, there is no place better than Maafaru. Only a portion of the island is developed and people live around the centre, leaving most part of this long narrow island just with thick forest and beaches. If there is a perfect definition of an island, then Raa atoll is the place to go where dozens of perfect islands are found. Beaches, palm trees and clear lagoons are typical in the islands of this atoll. If you want to experience the local way of life and the other side of Maldives, Raa Atoll is the best place. It is the atoll with the most number of inhabited islands of varying social class. Islands like Un’goofaaru, Dhuvaafaru and Meedhoo are well developed with large populations and many services. On the other hand, islands like An’golitheemu and Fainu are small communities and with basic facilities. Raa atoll is also home to Kan’dholhudhoo island which was evacuated after the 2004 Tsunami. Some of the uninhabited islands in Baa atoll were previously inhabited as historical ruins in these islands provide good evidence of it. Islands like Horubadhoo in Baa Atoll, presently Royal Island Resort and Spa used to be inhabited. It is also a very mature island with large, mature (and very) old trees, indicative of the age. Baa atoll is also a bisophere reserve and home to the world famous Hanifaru Bay, where Mantas and Whalesharks congreagte.

76

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

BOTTOM PHOTO: The island of Karinmavattaru in Noonu Atoll, one of the many beautiful islands that are presently uninhabited. Noonu atoll has a number of such islands varying from very small to very large islands with huge lagoons. FACING PAGE: Top right photo; Hanifaru, Dhonfanu and Kihaaduffaru islands in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. Hanifaru is world famous for Manta and Whaleshark watching and considered as one of the most visited dive sites in Maldives. Bottom right photo; The tall minaret of the symbolic mosque serves as a backdrop during this friendly soccer game in the Atoll’s capital island, Eydhafushi. Eydhafushi is considered as a much developed island both socially and economically. TOP MAIN PHOTO: Aerial view of Meedhoo island in Raa Atoll. Most inhabited islands in Raa Atoll have reached their carrying capacity and in most of these islands, land is scarce. In Meedhoo, there is hardly any empty space left for housing, resulting in population congestion. BOTTOM MAIN PHOTO; The historical ruins of the old house of Abu Al Barakat, also known as Thabureyz, who converted Maldives from Buddhism to Islam. This historical landmark in the island of Kendhoo in Baa Atoll is famous for its historical and cultural significance. Kendhoo island is believed to be one of the earliest islands inhabited in the Maldives. .


Features “Noonu and Raa atoll boasts to have some of the best islands with beaches�

Hot Tip Eydhafushi island

is well served by regular ferries which makes it affordable and easy to visit.

Published by Water Solutions 77


Lhaviyani atoll This is the home to the country’s first Tuna cannery located in the island of Felivaru. The cannery was setup in the late 70’s by the Japanese and even today, it is one of the most vital infrastruture in the country. There are few inhabited islands and the capital is Naifaru island. Naifaru and Hinnavaru are two small islands with large populations. Hence, these two islands have been recently reclaimed and from above, one can hardly see any trees. This is not a typical Maldivian island where you will not see the typical beaches and palm trees along the coast. Rather, these are two islands that are more like small cities. These two islands are well connected by regular ferries to Felivaru where most workers live during the day. Hence, if you are in one of these two islands, it is easy and cheaper to go to the other on the ferries. Lhaviyani atoll is also popular among divers as there are many channels and passes but very limited Thilas. Hence, it is popular among advance divers who come to dive the channels where large pelagics such as sharks, barracudas and other marine creatures are often seen. Lhaviyani Atoll is also home to Shipyard, a dive site with two wrecks side by side across the channel north of Felivaru island. One of the wrecks is partly submerged and it has become the identity of this atoll. These two wrecks are also considered among the best as they sit on the mouth of a channel with strong currents. If you are into wreck diving, then this is a must dive wreck. Divers can often cover two wrecks on a single dive. There are also other interesting islands and nature spots in this atoll like the island of Hudhufushi on the eastern rim of the atoll. This is a V shaped island, and having characteristics that only few islands posses. The island’s shape provides an ideal breeding ground for the inner lagoon which is protected by the V shape of the island. As a result, Hudhufushi is a place where sharks and mantas breed and hundreds of them can be seen from the lagoon even just by snorkeling or walking on the shallow lagoon aroune the island. Hudhufushi is also a top beach island with white sandy beaches on its western side. There are several other features of Hudhufushi that makes this island so special like the thick vegetation and the mangrove swamps. All in all, Hudhufushi has many natural features but unfortunately this beautiful island has been leased to develop a resort and hence accessing requires prior permission. This atoll is also home to the 6th biggest coral reef in the Maldives. This coral reef is found on the eastern and south-east side of the atoll.

78

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

Hot Tip If you love wreck

diving, then head to Shipyard near Felivaru island, one of the best wrecks.


Features North Male’ Atoll North Kaafu Atoll or North Male’ atoll has the highest concentration of resorts, which also means that there are very few uninhabited islands in this atoll. There is hardly any left in north North Male’ Atoll, except for Rasfari, Kagi and Vabboahuraa island, a small islet near Chaayaa island Resort, Dhonveli. Every other island in north North Male’ Atoll is either a resort, leased to develop a resort or inhabited. This feature makes North Male’ atoll limited for the free traveller who wants to experience a pristine island, unless one is ready to explore the resorts and inhabited islands. Having so many resorts also has many advantages. North Male atoll has got a mix of resorts varying in their class, which means one can choose from a very low end resort or opt to visit a high end upmarket resort. The atoll has resorts to cater for almost all level of travellers and there is also more flexibility of staying in more than one resort during your holiday. The atoll is home to the largest artificial resort island, “One and Only Reethi Rah”. This was a small narrow island on the north-west rim of the atoll but has been expanded by reclaiming the lagoon. Today the island caters for the high end travellers and has a very odd shape, instantly distinguishable from above. North Male’ atoll is the birth of tourism industry and the first resort to open is just 20 minutes away from the capital Male’. Kurumba Maldives, the first resort to open in Maldives is a very popular resort today that has atleast seven different restaurants. The atoll is also home to the Maldives first underwater Spa at Huvafenfushi resort. FACING PAGE: Top photo; The islands of Lhaviyani Atoll with the island of Felivaru and Maafilaafushi on the bottom. Felivaru is home to the country’s first tuna cannery and it is still an important island for the country’s economy. Bottom photo; Shipyard, as it is famously known among the diving community is a part submerged wreck just few minutes away from Felivaru Island. This is considered one of the best wrecks to dive in Maldives. Beside this wreck, at 30 meters below, just 20 meters away is another shipwreck. Travellers to this Atoll can therefore take the advantage of diving two wrecks in the same reef just side by side. The Atoll is also famous for its many channels that provide the opportunity for divers to see large pelagics like sharks. THIS PAGE: Top photo; The island of Kaashidhoo in North Male’ Atoll is among the largest in the country. It is also one of the most isolated islands, lying on its own reef in the middle of the ocean. Going to Kaashidhoo is not easy especially in rough weather as Kaashidhoo Kandu is famous for being very rough when weather is bad. Bottom photo; A typical street in Gaafaru Island.

Published by Water Solutions 79


Most resorts may be costly for budget travellers, but it is not the only option available. There are countless reefs, dive sites and surf breaks that are freely accessible and some of them are also considered among the best in the world? Dive sites like HP reef is close to both resorts and inhabited islands and is just next door to Himmafushi island. Himmafushi island with its own surf break is a popular and lively island with a booming guest house bussiness. In addition, the island has many interesting attractions, such as a water bottling factory, a boat yard and small to large scale fish processing factories. The island’s proximity to dive sites and several surf breaks provide numerous opportunities for the free traveller to explore them on a tight budget. North Male’ Atoll is also home to some of the world famous surf breaks. Thulusdhoo island, home of the surf break Cokes is considered among the top surf breaks in the world. The break was named “Cokes” as the island of Thulusdhoo is home to the country’s first Coca Cola factory. Nearby Thulusdhoo island, there are several other surf breaks that are also world famous. Every year hundreds of surfers flock these surf breaks to catch their favourite wave. Lhohi’s, Pasta Point and Chicken’s are other famous surf break in North Male’ Atoll near Thulusdhoo Island. Huraa, Thulusdhoo, Himmafushi and Dhiffushi islands in this atoll are now open for budget tavellers and there are plenty of accommodation options in these islands. Islands like Thulusdhoo are popular among surfers and as a result during the surfing season, its hardly possible to get a room. New hotels and guest houses are being built every year and the proximity to Male’ means thes islands are well served with ferry networks. For divers, this atoll will never dissapoint as it has got wrecks, protected reefs, manta and shark points that are all too familiar. Banana reef is one of the top dive sites in North Male’ atoll and it is a marine protected area. This reef is close to Male’ and also not too far away from the islands of Himmafushi, Huraa and Thulusdhoo. HP reef, Naseemu Thila, Bandos Rock and Okkobe Thila are considered among the top in the Maldives. Most of these dive sites are not very far from the inhabited islands and therefore makes it very easy for diving. For those who want to stay in Male’ or Hulhumale’, the largest artificial island, it is also a good option as there are surf breaks and dive sites that can be visited daily. Male’ and Hulhumale being big cities, accommodation options are much more than the islands.

80

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


THIS PAGE: Top photo; The island of Guraidhoo in South Male’ Atoll has a well protected reef, the reason why most safari boats anchor in this reef. Guraidhoo is also becoming increasingly popular among free travellers with the increasing number of guest houses. Bottom photo: The island of Maafushi in South Male’ Atoll has become the guest house island in just few years. It is now a busy island with more than 700 guest rooms, the highest in any inhabited island other than Male’.

FACING PAGE: Top photo; Himmafushi is home to many fish processing and packing facilities where tuna is bought, frozen, packed and exported as seen in this photo. Bottom photo; Thulusdhoo island (bottom right island) and her famous surf break, “Cokes”. Thulusdhoo is famous among surfers and many hundreds visit every year not only to surf the Cokes, but also due to her proximity to many other great surf breaks such as Chickens (top left) which is just few minutes from Thulusdhoo island.

Features

Fact

There are several top surf breaks near the island of Thulusdhoo which makes the island very popular.

South Male’ Atoll South Kaafu Atoll or South Male’ Atoll is also similar in the sense that only three islands in this atoll are inhabited while the majority of the islands are resorts. The highlight of this atoll is the boat yard in Gulhi, the prison in Maafushi island and the famous “Home for people with special needs” based in Guraidhoo. Guraidhoo has a natural harbour that makes this island a popular destination for safari boats. Almost all safari boats travelling or passing by use the lagoon of Guraidhoo at some time during their journey. Gulhi island may not have many guest houses, but has a boat yard and is close to many top dive sites in the atoll. Maafushi island has within just a few years become the guest house capital of Maldives. Today the total number of beds in Maafushi stands around 700, making this the island with the highest number of guest rooms. The island is presently a thriving guest house capital with many activities and fringe businesses developing. Many dive centres, water sports centres and restaurants are already catering in Maafushi and it is a good place for the free traveller with many accommodation choices to choose from. Getting to Maafushi is also very cheap and many options are available for the traveller. The island is served well by regular ferries from Male’ daily. The atoll also contains popular surf breaks mostly found near the island of Guraidhoo. The island itself is home to a surf break and the reef south of it is also a famous surf break. During the months from April to November, safari boats can be seen lined up near Guraidhoo as the peak surf season brings hundreds of surfers daily. This atoll is also good for diving and especially one can access good dive sites just within few minutes from the islands of Maafushi and Guraidhoo. Kandooma Thila is a top dive site in Maldives found on the north of Guraidhoo island. This dive site is popular for watching large pelagics like sharks, Napoleans and large schools of fish. Embudhu express further up north is the most famous shark point, perhaps in the whole of Male’ atoll.

Published by Water Solutions 81


Vaavu Atoll Vaavu is the smallest atoll in terms of population, just over 2000 as per the latest census of 2014. The Atoll is huge and has hundreds of reefs, most of which are famous dive sites. With only two resorts and five inhabited islands, the rest of the atoll is mostly undeveloped. Vaavu Atoll is almost always on the itinerary of most safari boats, especially those specialized in diving. The eastern most island of Maldives, Fohtheyobodufushi is located in this atoll and is formed on the largest coral reef in the country. The most notable feature of this atoll is the small number of islands and abundant coral reefs. Vattaru Falhu, an oval shaped coral reef, separate from the main atoll and formed on the south is considered part of Vaavu Atoll, too. Hence, Vaavu atoll actually is two geographical atolls. The atoll is home to islands with some of the least populations like Rakeedhoo and Thinadhoo. Thinadhoo today is an island with a thriving guest house business and their numbers are growing day by day. Other islands like Keyodhoo are also following Thinadhoo. The capital of this atoll is Felidhoo island. The atoll being close to Male’, the possibility of travelling between the islands and Male’ is much easier. Although there are no regular ferries, some of the islands do operate ferries. Most inhabited islands of Vaavu atoll are very quite as the population is quite low. The atoll is most famous for channel diving as there are plenty of channel on the atoll ridge. The channel next to Rakeedhoo island has been voted among the top 10 best dive sites in the world by Conde Naste magazine in 2015.The eastern reefs of this atoll is also reputed to be very beautiful for diving with dive sites of all kinds ranging from soft coral gardens to shark points and more.

THIS PAGE: Top photo; Vaavu Atoll is famous for having great dive sites, most notably channels. the Atoll has the smallest population and contains two (2) resorts. . Bottom photo; Island of Aarah in Vaavu Atoll, a small private island. Visit to this island is only through prior arrangement. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Constance Halaveli Resort in North Ari Atoll, one of the many resort islands in this atoll. Bottom photo; A ferry takes passengers from the island of Rasdhoo in North Ari atoll to the nearby resort of Kuramathi island. Rasdhoo is an island which is increasingly becoming a budget friendly island with many guest houses and dive centres coming up. At present, many independent travellers come to visit Rasdhoo for diving, most notably to see Hammerhead Sharks.

82

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

Fact

Only 2 resorts and 5 inhabited islands are there in Vaavu Atoll, which is the smallest in terms of population.


Features

“Vaavu atoll actually is two geographical atolls and is home to islands with some of the least populations like Rakeedhoo and Thinadhoo� Alifu Atoll (ari atoll)

This is a huge atoll and as a result, it is administratively divided in to north and south. This atoll consisits of three geographical atolls. On the north is Thoddoo, a single island atoll followed by Rasdhoo atoll and then the main atoll. Together these three atolls form Alifu Atoll. Alifu Atoll, also called Ari Atoll has the second highest concentration of resorts after North Male’ Atoll and numerous uninhabited islands and dive sites. Some of the uninhabited islands in this atoll are very very small, less than a hectare but contains immense beauty. Even though these islands are very small, the natural beauty of islands like Alikoirah, Heenfaru and Bodukaashihuraa is next to none. There are also very large islands such as Madhiriguraidhoo or the famous Sun Island Resort and Spa, Maamigili and Ariyadhoo. Islands like Kuramathi resort are very big and contains features that other resorts do not posses. The atoll is most famous for diving as there are hundreds of dive sites that are considered among the best in the country. As this atoll has the second highest number of resorts, more dive sites have been explored and there are plenty of choices from easy dive sites to experienced dives sites. Dive sites like Maayaa Thila is in this Atoll. This world famous dive site is a popular night dive site where it has been reported that sharks swim along side by side. The natural Rasdhoo atoll in north of Ari atoll is well known as the home of hammerhead sharks. It is the most famous dive spot to watch hammerhead sharks in the Maldives. Recently, the opening of Maamigili International Airport on the southern tip of the atoll has opened new opportunities to access this atoll at a much affordable price. Despite being located on the southern tip of the Atoll, Maamigilli is close to many resorts and inhabited islands in the region. The airport is served by daily flights operated by Villa group.

Published by Water Solutions 83


Meemu, Faafu and Dhaalu Atoll

A local from Bandidhoo island in Dhaalu Atoll displays a bucket of Bell fruit.

Meemu, Faafu and Dhaalu atolls are located in the centre of Maldives. Meemu Atoll, though is a geographically large atoll, contains relatively few inhabited islands. Islands like Maduvvari and Dhiggaru are some of the smallest inhabited islands in size. There are more islands on the atoll rim rather than inside the atoll. The atoll contains two resorts and a massive reef that is ranked among the top 10 biggest reefs in the Maldives. The capital island of this atoll is Muli, where there is a regional hospital and many government offices. Muli is also home to one of the best dive sites in the region, just on her north reef. Muli island is formed on a huge coral reef that stretches all the way up to the southern tip of the atoll. Kolhufushi, an island formed on the southern part of this reef was badly hit by the 2004 tsunami and reconstruction of the island took many years and challenges. There are only two resorts in this atoll. Faafu and Dhaalu atolls are very small in size and lie very close to each other. Only a narrow channel seperates these two atolls. Faafu Atoll has one resort, Filitheyo island which is considered as a big resort. Notable islands in this atoll are the capital, Nilandhoo. Nilandhoo is a popular fishing island and many fisherman and fishing related activities happen in this island. The island supplies dry fish, smoke fish and Rihaakuru to other regions of the Maldives through small commercial backyard type processing factories in the island. Magoodhoo island has an outpost of the University of Milano-Bococca and is therefore visited by many students doing marine and coral reef research. Dhaalu atoll is much bigger than Faafu and contains much more islands. The capital is Kudahuvadhoo island, which is a fast developing island. At present, the island is being extended to develop a domestic airport which will serve the region. New resorts are being developed in islands like Dhoores and Vommuli. The atoll contains the famous Jewellers island, Rinbudhoo. After the tsunami of 2004, many people from Rinbudhoo moved to Thulusdhoo and only a small population remains today. However, the island is now a thriving tourist destination as guest houses are slowly being developed in this island. The eastern rim of the atoll has many beautiful and uninhabited islands lined one by one on the same reef. These islands can be reached simply by walking on the lagoon during low tide. The development of the airport is expected to open the atoll to free travellers.

84

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

Locals in Nilandhoo island, the capital of Faafu Atoll taking time off under a shady tree.


Features “Faafu and Dhaalu atolls are very small in size and lie very close to each other�

Dhoores Island in Dhaalu Atoll is blessed with a beautiful beach and a large lagoon. Dhoores Island, a newly developed Eco-Resort has been developed with Maldivian traditional designs incorporated into the guest rooms, bar, restaurant etc. The Island boasts to have one of the most Ecofriendly designs to be adopted in the Maldives.

Published by Water Solutions 85


Thaa, laamu and huvadhoo Atoll Thaa, Laamu and Huvadhoo atoll is known for having some of the largest islands in Maldives. Gan in laamu Atoll is the largest of all the islands in the Maldives. Isdhoo in the same atoll is also another large island. Laamu atoll is famous for being having large islands and on the eastern rim of the atoll, the islands from Fonadhoo (the capital) to Gan are connected by small bridges. This stretch of islands provide the traveller to experience the longest transport route on land. Gan island has communities living in three settlements and on the western side of the island is a large stretch of beach that one can easily rank among the top 5 in the Maldives. Due to the large size of the island, there is plenty of space for agriculture and it is an island where one can see how agriculture and crops are grown in Maldives. Famous crops like chillies, papaya and many other varieties are grown in this island. Gan island is also becoming a popular desitnation due to the many guest houses and hotels that are being developed every year. Just north of the atoll capital is the island of Kahdhoo where a domestic airport is built. The airport is 35 minutes from the capital and with it, makes travelling to Laamu atoll easy, flexible and very affordable. Thaa Atoll contains a 7 km long island called Kalhufahalafushi, which was separated in to two islands during the tragic tsunami of 2004, but have been joined again after nearly 10 years. Vilufushi island was completely destroyed in the 2004 tsunami but since then has been redeveloped as a safe island. The island of Thimarafushi now serves as a domestic airport expected to increase visitor numbers. Despite having only one resort operational so far, many more have been alloacted to be developed as resorts. Further south of Laamu and Thaa is Huvadhoo atoll. This is the largest atoll in the world and contains the most number of islands; more than any other atoll in the Maldives. It’s lagoons, reefs and islands are very unique and continue to amaze travellers. There is one single reef in south Huvadhoo atoll with more than 80 islands that can be reached on foot. Such features make Huvadhoo atoll one of the most diverse and beautiful in the Maldives. For administrative purpose, Huvadhoo Atoll is divided in to two administrative atolls and each atoll is accessible by air. Tourism was introduced to Huvadhoo Atoll in 2009 and the first resort to open was in Han’daha, presently Park Hyatt Hadaha. Following years, many new resorts opened and for the first time travellers were able to visit these islands.

86

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Features

Hot Tip

Getting to Laamu and Huvadhoo atolls are easy and the quickest way is to take a flight.

FACING PAGE: Top photo; New houses built after the tsunami of 2004 lined the streets in Vilufushi island, which was completely destroyed. The rebuilding of the island is now complete with new infrastructure, a harbour, new houses, mosques etc. The rebuilding of the island has also resulted in a large sea wall constructed around the island. The island is now considered as a safe island. Bottom photo; Gan island, the largest island in Maldives. The western side of Gan island has one of the top beaches found in Maldives. THIS PAGE: Top photo; Island of Faresmaathodaa in South Huvadhoo Atoll share the reef with numerous other small islands, most of which can be reached on foot during low tide. Huvadhoo Atoll is a heaven for island lovers and contains numerous small and large islands, mostly on the atoll rim. Bottom photo; The first resort to open in Laamu Atoll is developed on the island of Olhuveli.

Published by Water Solutions 87


Fuvahmulah Going further south is the island of Fuvahmulah. This is the only island in this atoll and is located south of the equator. Fuvahmulah is the only single island atoll in the Maldives and its large size is attributed with many unique geographical and natural features. Two large brakish water lakes are home to sea birds like grey heron and several species of fish. Agriculture is widely practiced due to ample space and fisherman need not go further to access the open ocean. The island being on its own in the middle of the ocean with hardly any reef to protect, is thus exposed to some of the harshes waves. The recent opening of a domestic airport has opened this atoll to people who could not visit this island previously.

Addu Atoll Addu Atoll is the southern most atoll and although the atoll is small, it contains few but very large islands like Hithadhoo, Meedhoo and Gan. Addu Atoll Gan was the home to the royal air force base until 1965 when Maldives gained independence from the British. When the British left, they left a legacy of development and several historical ruins of the British still remain today. Addu Atoll was the first atoll exposed to the western world. Today the atoll provides a mixture of historical sites, dive sites, island life, culture and heritage all in one place. The atoll is also home to the largest ship wreck in Maldives located inside the Atoll,

88

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Features

Fact

The islands of Addu are very large, most of which are connected by courseways.

“Addu Atoll is the southern most atoll and although the atoll is small, it contains few but very large islands like Hithadhoo, Meedhoo and Gan” off the coast of Hithadhoo island. This wreck, the British Loyalty is one of the most dived wrecks in the Maldives. Addu atoll provides the best travel experience for budget travellers as most of the islands are connected by courseways or small bridges. This makes travelling from one island to the other relatively very cheap. This land connection also gives freedom for travellers to explore the different islands on their own. Ofcourse for those who want to be secluded, there are two resorts that are developed on seperate islands.

pack your bags and get ready With more than 1200 islands in 26 geographical atolls, the islands of Maldives offer countless opportunities for travellers of all class and type. It will be unfair to say that one atoll or island is better than the other as each of these atolls and islands hold something unique. For a truly enjoyable travel experience, one must explore everything to get a taste of each. The recent opening of Maldives to the budget traveller has opened new opportunities and experiences that was not possible few years ago. A good advice for the enthusiastic traveller is that there is no such island as “the perfect island”. Every island is perfect. Every atoll is perfect and every reef is perfect in its own way. THIS PAGE: The main road of Hithadhoo island, the capital of Addu City. Hithadhoo is one of the biggest islands in Maldives. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Fuvahmulah harbour. The only single island atoll in Maldives. Bottom photo; British memorial monuments in Gan island, home to the Royal Airforce until Maldives got independence.

Published by Water Solutions 89


Features

The magic of RIHAAKURU The thick brown paste so popular in Maldives is not just a delicacy, but part of tradition, history and culture. Its origins go back to many hundred years. For some people, life would be impossible without this, while for many, its an everyday necessity. Text by Rory Davis; Photos by: Atoll Images

W

hich traditional Maldivian food is thick, smelly, potent, fishy and absolutely delicious? It’s a fish paste known as ‘Rihaakuru’. Somewhat similar to the yeast extract ‘Vegemite’ which Australian’s love but many including U.S. president Barrack Obama describe as ‘horrible’. Warning: Sniff a jar of rihaakuru too hard and you could be knocked out cold. This stuff is powerful! It is difficult to trace the origins of rihaakuru as Maldivians have been preparing it for centuries. It is a national delicacy and Maldivians love it. Wherever they go, to the four corners of the globe, a jar of rihaakuru goes with them. I always look forward to my Maldivian relatives coming to visit, because they always bring supplies of rihaarkuru! The standard survival pack for students studying overseas will include rihaakuru. It is not only a delicacy, but a source of essential sustenance for Maldivians.

In Thaa Atoll Guraidhoo island, a women filling a bottle with Rihaakuru, eventually to be sold. This popular local delicacy is high in demand throughout the Maldives. In islands like Guraidhoo, Rihaakuru is produced in small to medium scale industrial settings.

Published by Water Solutions 93


Rihaakuru is often eaten as part of the main meal or even during snack time or as comfort food. In many islands, it is eaten together with dry fish, coconut, mangoe and salt. In Male’, during most afternoons and in the evening, hundreds of people gather near seaside and eat this mixture of local foods.

94

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Features

Cooking and processing Rihaakuru is most often done by women like this lady in Nilandhoo island, Faafu Atoll. The preperation of Rihaakuru takes long hours of cooking a fish stock in a large pot. In Nilandhoo, it is very common to see this near the beach side.

Published by Water Solutions 95


The starting point of Rihaakuru is ‘Garudhiya’, a basic fish soup and common local dish. Garudhiya is made from tuna, water, and salt. Using a large pot, these simple ingredients are cooked on a low heat for a long period of time. Fish heads, bones and organs are all used as well as the tuna meat. As it cooks, a foamy scum is formed on the surfaced and this is removed. Eventually, after all of the marrow and goodness has been extracted, the bones are also taken from the pot. The garudhiya is then simmered slowly for many hours until the water has evaporated and eventually only a thick, concentrated brown paste is left. This is rihaakuru. The unique taste of rihaakuru comes from careful cooking of the fish to extract its essence. Dried chilli, salt and often curry leaves are added in the later stages of cooking. Nutritious rihaakuru is high in protein and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega3’s. With a low microbial count, rihaakuru can be stored for long periods. It is often home made but it is also manufactured commercially. Traditionally Maldivians use rihaakuru as a base for curries and other soups and even use the concentrated paste by itself for eating with rice. Just add a teaspoon to a bowl of rice and you have a meal. Rihaakuru can be used as a condiment to complement a meal. It can also be used as a soup stock. A little rihaakuru in hot water and you have an instant ‘Rihaakuru Dhiya’, a spinoff dish which is more liquid and its somewhere between rihaakuru and

96

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


Features

“Using a large pot, these simple ingredients are cooked on a low heat for a long period of time”

garudhiya. A little bit of rihaakuru with roshi (thin, flat bread) is a standard snack and a favorite at breakfast time when combined with shredded coconut, fish. Over the years, people have experimented with rihaakuru and today you will not only see pure rihaakuru, but different varieties such as ultra spicy chilli with chunks of dried tuna or the famous fried rihaakuru, which many people think is even tastier than the original variety. If you are in Maldives and want to try ‘Rihaakuru’ you can either purchase it at the supermarkets, small grocery stores or go to local markets to find the more traditional homemade stuff. The products in supermarkets are mostly commercially prepared and include nutrition details whereas the homemade varieties are usually packed in recycled jars. It’s an acquired taste but one well worth experiencing.

THIS PAGE: Chakir, a German expatriate on a visit to an island gets to experience Rihaakuru and breadfruit chips. These two are eaten together, similar to the world famous chips and sauce combination. FACING PAGE: Top photo; A traditional kitchen where Rihaakuru being cooked while a stock of smoked fish is stored above the stove. Kitchens like this are rare today. Bottom photo; The quality of Rihaakuru can be determined by its thickness, often attributed to the way it is cooked and what goes into it.

Published by Water Solutions 97


Get a handheld GPS that is not only reliable & Accurate, but light & small enough to carry around in your shirt pocket. Windows Mobile based, Bluetooth & WLAN connectivity, mobile GIS capability, ability to map location using points, lines and area, 2 to 5 meter accuracy, SD card slot for expandable data storage and more..

GPS

water-solutions.biz


Enroll in the PADI Instructor Course with Bluetribe. A 5 Star Instructor Development Centre on the island of Constance Moofushi in South Ari Atoll. Dates: 25th November to 4th December 2014. IE 5/6 December directly on Moofushi. ONLY 6 places available. Contact: moofushi@bluetribe.info


Celebrity WRECK

Wreck diving is a popular activity in Maldives where many wrecks lie from north to south. For most divers visiting Maldives, atleast a dive to the Victory Wreck is a must. Read on to see why it is so special? Text and photos by: Amooo


Ashraf or commonly known as Assarey pose for a photo inside the ships wheel house. The wheel house is encrusted with colourful corals, both soft and hard. Over the years, the wreck has attracted fish, corals and thousands of divers. While his buddy swims outside the wheel house, the ships tall mast can be seen as the visibility was very good during this dive. Assarey, a local dive instructor runs a dive school in Male’ and most of his advance dive courses will have at least one dive to this famous wreck.


“Apart from the celebrity status, this is one of the most exciting dive sites in North Male’ Atoll, but only to those who dare to take the plunge, �


ScubaDiving

F

or three decades, she has been down there attracting hundreds of divers. Home to many types of fish and corals, the wreck of Maldives victory is a remarkable dive site. With a length of 110 meters, and resting at 33 meters deep, she is one piece of metal worth exploring, not only for the marine life around her, but to be part of history as well. Throughout the Maldives, many wrecks lie beneath the sea, some known and famous, while others too deep or unknown. These wrecks have attracted thousands of divers over the years and will always be visited for as long as they are down there. Many famous shipwrecks throughout the Maldives have made their mark in their own ways, but not quite so as the Maldives Victory. Maldives Victory, which ran aground on 13th February 1981 to the western side of Hulhule reef in North Male’Atoll is no doubt the most famous shipwreck in Maldives. It has truly achieved the celebrity status. She is also one of the most explored wreck in the Maldives and she is still there, waiting to be explored. Apart from the celebrity status, this is one of the most exciting dive sites in North Male’ Atoll, but only to those who dare to take the plunge, for it is considered as a challenging dive site recommended only for advance divers. If you have the courage to dive here, you can see the superstructure encrusted with soft and hard corals and hundreds of fishes such as large schools of batfish, fusiliers, barracudas and others that have made this their home. Best of all, diving this wreck even for once, especially in strong currents will expose you to the challenges of diving in strong currents apart from becoming part of the history. A challenging dive here will rid you off with lot of fear and doubts and expose you to diving in very difficult conditions. For many divers doing advance diving courses in Male’ and the nearby resorts and island, a dive here is often the The main deck of the ship with cargo holds open for divers to explore. Inside the cargo hold, divers can explore some of the remains of the cargo the ship was carrying on its journey. Most famous is a radio, which has survived all these years and is still there. The ship’s mast is used as a descent line. Divers also use the mast to take cover while descending during strong currents. Some of the masts have also collapse due to metal fatique.

Published by Water Solutions 103


ScubaDiving “the wreck lies in an upright position, facing north and parallel to the south west reef of Hulhule Island” beginning of their real experience. Diving this wreck in strong currents for the first time can be very difficult and its is unlikely that your first dive would be more than 20 to 30 minutes.

Brief history of the wreck Built in 1958, the vessel was bought by the government of Maldives in 1971 to transport cargo. She was returning to Male’ from Singapore, loaded with 1080 tons of general cargo that contained 65 barrels of petrol, cement, construction materials, food supplies, cosmetics, electronic goods, mattresses and a whole list of other items that were needed for the capital city Male’ and nearby resorts. A total of 35 people were on board, of which four were visitors on their holiday. The disaster had a huge impact on local businesses as many of the renown businessmen had their cargo on board. The force of the ship hitting the reef had made a large hole that opened the hull ultimately taking her down. The wreck lies in an upright position, facing north and parallel to the south west reef of Hulhule Island. Soon after she went down, divers were busy with salvaging whatever cargo they can and within few months, she was stripped of her cargo. A lot of cargo that were stored on the deck surfaced and was easily recovered. It was a very successful salvage operation in those days. Today, nothing much is left in her cargo compartments, except for some sacs of cement bags, bottles and perhaps the most famous cassette radio in Maldives. This cassette radio somehow survived the

FACING PAGE: A diver hovers inside the wheel house, which is one of the most easy areas of the wreck to penetrate. Inside are colourful corals engulfing the structure. THIS PAGE: Top photo; Many fishes make this wreck their home and inside the wreck, within the closed spaces, schools of fish often congregate to stay away from large predators. Bottom photo; The ship’s propeller is also a very popular place for divers. Most divers will first reach the propeller as it lies at 30 meters before exploring the shallow areas. Often, around the propeller, large snappers can be found relaxing. A single blade of the propeller measures approximately 5 feet in length.

Published by Water Solutions 105


“Categorized as an advanced dive site, diving this wreck requires experience and good planning if you want to make the best use of your dive� The sorrounding reef is mostly dead as Hulhule island and its reef had been modified over many years. Neverthless, this large sea fan managed to grow in this busy dive side, just beside its stern on the starboard side. The presence of this sea fan has given an added diversity to those exploring the propeller and th sorroundings. The bottom of the reef is hard rock and sand which makes it unattractive for divers, but this sea fan has surely changed the scenery over the years.


salvage operation and has remained in her cargo compartment ever since, for more than 30 years. It is so popular, that before a dive, almost everyone is briefed about this cassette player, which has become a symbol of this wreck. Divers are often seen holding this close to their ears and take photos with it. Fed by strong currents and aided by monsoon after monsoon, that brings nutrients and the coral lava, the superstructure has become a giant artificial reef with soft and hard corals and a variety of fish species. Soon it became an international hit among the dive community and many divers visited Maldives to experience this wreck.

Diving the wreck Categorized as an advanced dive site, diving this wreck requires experience and good planning if you want to make the best use of your dive. The first thing to consider is your willingness to experience this challenging dive. As the wreck lies on a narrow channel, strong current is the number one enemy, which can be very stressful and tiring. You should at least have advance diving certification and be ready to experience strong currents. Hence, most dive schools recommend that divers should include adequate air supply when planning their dive to this wreck in order to ensure a safe and convenient journey. Sometimes, even the experienced divers cannot stay too long due to the strong currents. It is recommended to have atleast 30 open water dives before trying this wreck. The wreck is marked using a surface marker buoy. It is an ascent and decent line fixed to the wreck’s mast which is at 18 meters. One can descend to the deck from the mast, and swim back to the stern. It is due to the existence of powerful currents that marking a line is essential to dive and return to the surface. First time divers, especially the inexperienced will find it extremely challenging to dive this wreck, but once they do, its well worth it. Dive instructors and guides will almost always accompany novice divers and guide them throughout the dive. Everything from descending, manouvering and safety during TOP PHOTO: The ships deck behind the wheel house. The super structure has been encrusted with algae and corals. BOTTOM PHOTO: Despite the hordes of divers diving this wreck every year, the wreck has never disappointed divers and has managed to provide home for large colonies of coral, like this hard coral patch on its port side. The location of the wreck helps to maintain a good coral cover as nutrient supply is extremely good. The strong currents that flow in this channel feeds the wreck with the right dose that despite many accidental damage caused by careless divers, the wreck has a sufficient amount of large coral colonies on its super structure.

108

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


ScubaDiving

Hot Tip

Practice buoyancy in order to avoid injury and to gain the best experience at Victory wreck.

the dive will be explained and monitored. As with any other wreck dives, precaution and safety measures must be considered when diving this wreck. It is important to remember that the wreck is studded with extremely sharp jagged seashells and urticating hydroids. Moreover, injuries can be caused by sharp, jagged fragments of metal protruding from the wreck. Although descending can be tough when currents are strong, once you reach the mast and the deck, the superstructure acts as a shelter against the currents and you can comfortably swim around the deck and explore one of the three cargo holds. When currents are not strong, you can swim to the bow and still have time to quickly explore other areas of the wreck. For more advance and experienced divers, the wreck is great to go in and explore the different decks, but divers should have good buoyancy and move slowly to get the maximum satisfaction. Penetrating other areas of the wreck is not recommended due to the state of its superstructure which could be hazardous. However, a good dive guide will take you through some of the compartments safely and it’s always a good idea to follow them. A good dive guide can also show ways to avoid strong currents while descending as well as diving inside and around the wreck. After descending from the mast and on the deck, the usual manoeuvre is to swim towards the stern, descending to her propeller from her port side which rests at about 33 meters. From here you can come up to the stern deck and on your way up you will notice that the hull has attracted many fish and a lot of coral and sponges are seen growing on it. On a daily basis, at least few dozen divers or more will dive here, mostly from the nearby resorts and those that move around in safari boats. Despite the over exposure to the dive community, it is amazing to see so much of healthy corals encrusting the superstructure. After few minutes exploring the deck, divers can move to the wheel house where colourful soft corals, most notably sponges have grown in abundance. From here, you can see the entire front of the wreck and is a marvelous site. Coming out of the wheel house, you can swim up to the bridge and exit on to the fly bridge from where there will be a line back to the mast you started from. On the way up, safety stops must always be made and usually due to strong currents, divers are recommend to hold on the ascend rope during the safety stop unless the current is slow.

Published by Water Solutions 109


“On a daily basis, at least few dozen divers or more will dive here, mostly from the nearby resorts and those that move around in safari boats� Two divers exploring the stern area of the wreck. As many divers dive this wreck on a single day, there is considerable damage to corals growing on its super structure, especially in areas where it is easy for divers to explore, like the stern deck. Nevertheless, its still amazing to see lot of large coral patches in a lot of areas.


Hot Tip In strong currents, you can always use the ships super structure to take cover while diving.

“First time divers, especially the inexperienced will find it extremely challenging to dive this wreck� The use of the descent line is a must, especially when the current is strong. The descent line is tied to the mast and it is through this line that divers ascent and descent. During descent, the divers use the protection from the mast to go down and access other areas of the wreck.


Most popular areas divers explore are the giant propeller, the wheel house and the cargo holds, among others. Inside the wheelhouse, divers will encounter colourful soft corals and sponges that cover the inside of the entire wheel house. In addition, colourful fishes make this their home as with any other reefs. Marine life at this dive site includes giant trevallies, barracudas, turtles, jackfish and fusiliers which makes the dive worthwhile. If you have good eyesight and attention for details, nudibranches and other critters are also seen on the wreck. With normal air, most divers can spend a maximum no decompression time of 35 minutes and one should always be conservative in managing the air supply. The past 34 years under the sea has surely had its toll on the wreck. She shows heavy signs of metal decay and some of the masts had already fallen off. Nevertheless, she is likely to remain at her present status for many years to come. Victory wreck is an amazing dive site and most divers in Male’ Atoll will likely visit this dive site at least once. Her location being just 5 minutes boat ride from Male’ has made her a preferred dive site for student divers undergoing advance diver certification as well as for the locals and expatriate community in and around Male’ area. Most resorts in North and south Male’ Atoll as well as dive schools based in Male’ organize daily dives to this remarkable dive site. With its great history and the location, the wreck is accessible to many divers which make this wreck so famous that even divers who haven’t dived the site will talk about her. Victory wreck is perhaps the only celebrity wreck that you get to see while in Maldives. If you haven’t dived this wreck, then it is strongly recommended to make your plans now.

THIS PAGE: Colourful corals of all kinds encrust the ships super structure, both inside and outside. FACING PAGE: Top photo; An illustration showing the location of the wreck. Bottom photo; One of the lower chambers of the wreck where large schools of fish take refuge.

112

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


ScubaDiving

5m Current

10 m 15 m

Bridge

Passage

20 m

Passage

25 m 30 m

Cargo

Sand / rocky sea bed

Propeller

Fact

Victory is the most dived wreck in the Maldives. Every day dozens of divers dive this wreck.

Published by Water Solutions 113


LUXURY YACHT www.leo.mv


A school of needle fish under a jetty. Underneath jetties, very often you can find schools of fish taking refuge. Its an exciting place for snorkellers. In some places, the structure will itself support multiple varieties of corals that grow on them.

116

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


ScubaDiving

Vertical REEFS

The many vertical structures that support jetties, water villas and other over water structures throughout the Maldives play a vital role in promoting marine life. They are not just engineering structures whose function is only to support a structure. They are vertical reefs and supports a diverse range of marine life from corals to fishes. It’s a wonderful experience to explore these vertical reefs. Text by Amooo; photos by Amooo & Rifaa

Published by Water Solutions 117


L

ike trees in a forest, they stand upright, supporting a plethora of corals and marine life. Above the water, they maintain an infrastructure that is so vital to Maldives. Nevertheless, their significance is rarely appreciated and their beauty hardly noticed. Throughout the Maldives, these vertical reefs are part of a very important infrastructure that supports an ecosystem of its own, with diverse range of corals, marine life and often attracting schools of fishes. Artificially created, they are part of development process which is seen in most islands and resorts in Maldives. Despite their appeal, these vertical reefs go unnoticed for most holidaymakers, perhaps because most are unaware of their beauty. When you first step on a resort island, you will almost always step on a wooden jetty. What you don’t know is what’s beneath the jetty. Vertical reefs are artificial structures or columns made from concrete or timber to support jetties and other water based structures. Jetties and over water structures like water villas, over water restaurants and over water spas are part of a typical resort in Maldives. Among these, the jetty is common to all resorts and underneath the jetty column, is a perfect environment for marine life. Vertical reefs provide good opportunity to add some flavor to a typical snorkeling tour around an island. These vertical reefs are hotspots of biodiversity and people who have snorkeled them would truly appreciate the wonders of this man made underwater landscapes. They are often covered with colourful soft corals, sponges, sea squirts and other animals that grow on, or encrust, the structures. Such reefs could and have facilitated the re-establishment of biological communities in areas where the reef is not so alive. THIS PAGE: A jetty pier with coral growth provides an interesting ecosystem for biodiversity to flourish in places where there are no reefs. These vertical structures promote the growth of corals making them attractive places for fish populations to flourish. FACING PAGE: Top photo; Jetties like this are particularly interesting as the jetty head is placed just within few feets from the reef slope. The jetty columns or piers at the end are in the most favourable place for coral growth as not only sunlight is plenty, but receives plenty of nutrients. Such hotspots can be a fantastic place for snorkellers and even divers, but care must be taken not to snorkel these places when boats are around. Bottom photo; Thist jetty column is covered in a layer of algae and on it are outcrops of hard corals that protrude from everywhere.

118

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


ScubaDiving

Hot Tip Jetties in resort

islands are good examples of vertical reefs that can be snorkeled & dived.

Published by Water Solutions 119


Hot Tip Always take time to explore what’s underneath the jetties, expecially in deep areas.

“Vertical reefs are artificial structures or columns made from concrete or timber to support jetties and other water based structures” A Mooring line tied to a wreck has completely been transformed into an artificial reef. The line is almost entirely covered with algae and a kind of bivalve, a shell fish like animal that thrives by attaching themselves on the rope. and the buoy.

120

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


ScubaDiving

“the jetties with concrete columns are especially of interest”

A diver wanders underneath a set of concrete columns that supports a spa in one of the luxury resort in North Male’ Atoll. The spa is built on an area that is approximately 3 meters deep making this a very good place for photographers. With plenty of sunlight and plenty of coral growth, it is an ideal place for macro photography.

Published by Water Solutions 121


Despite their appeal, these vertical reefs go unnoticed for most holidaymakers, perhaps because most are unaware of their beauty. The appeal of vertical reefs comes from the numerous soft and hard corals growing on them, making them booming with colors and life. Many species of small fish congregate here due to the protection it provides, which makes them worthy of exploring. Smaller schools of glass fish and bait fish are often seen swimming around the piers. Often larger groups of fishes are also present due to the variety of food options from the large number of small animals that grown and live around these columns. Animals such as sponges, sea squirts, and hard corals grow on concrete quicker than on wood and so the jetties with concrete columns are especially of interest. Overtime, corals start to grow and populate the nearby areas which makes them even more interesting to explore. Standing above a jetty, one cannot imagine the life underneath. Thus the true beauty of vertical reefs can only be appreciated after experiencing it. Snorkelers will experience a unique environment around vertical reefs. Underneath jetties, you can experience some of the easiest snorkeling possible in Maldives. Although a snorkel would be sufficient, scuba gear will provide the most flexible opportunity to get up close and explore the real beauty. Exploring the deeper areas, especially at the jetty head can sometimes be more fun and enjoyable with scuba gear. Depending on the island and place, there could be many or just few of these vertical reefs. Imagine swimming through a forest, budding with trees full of fruits and birds around. Divers and snorkelers experience something akin to this. Colourful corals radiate out from each pile A giant foundation base of a navigational light in the middle of nowhere. Such structures become rich ecosystems itself as soon as they are placed underwater. Within just few months, such structures become encrusted with soft and hard corals and attracts hundreds of species of fish. Although the reef around is mostly dead, this structure supports a variety of corals that are growing healthy.

122

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


ScubaDiving “These vertical reefs are hotspots of biodiversity and people who have snorkeled them would truly appreciate the wonders of this man made underwater landscapes�

Published by Water Solutions 123


124

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE


ScubaDiving and enormous schools of fish swirl through the piles, with streaks of sunlight filtering through the piers. Such scenes are usually seen in deep oceans. Dead corals and rocks on the bottom provide shelter and food for many invertebrates and also provide ideal conditions for new coral growth. The recreational value of vertical reefs is mostly underestimated. Due to the congregation of fish, locals revert to fishing from the jetty heads as a recreational activity, but it’s not allowed in resort islands. Many resorts take advantage of the rich marine life to attract large pelagics by regularly feeding the fish, which increases their numbers. Vertical reefs also provides good photography opportunities due to plenty of light. There are numerous possibilities of trying available light photography without strobes, and for learners, the environment provides the right mix of marine life and natural lighting. Colorful corals and fishes are at their best, and combined with the filtering effect of sunlight streaks, the scenery is further made better. Vertical reefs are unique structures with diverse marine life but not necessarily ones that attract a lot of people. Mostly it’s the snorkelers who experience this rather than divers. Holiday makers need to know that every resort has at least two jetties and hundreds of piles. Resorts with over water rooms and other over water structures such as restaurants and spas provide countless opportunities for exploration. Knowing the value of this ecosystem can add extra flavor for your holiday. Vertical reefs are a good place to enjoy a relaxing and comfortable time, especially when you have extra time to snorkel. Next time you are in Maldives, think about sparing some time to explore these vertical reefs. It might as well be under your feet.

Amazing range of marine life photographed from within a vertical reef. Most of these creatures hide inside the coral outcrops that grow on these structures. Its a very safe environment for these juvenile creatures who take refuge among the safety and comfort provided by these vertical reefs. Vertical reefs are ideal places to practice macro photography.

Published by Water Solutions 125


Product Reviews

Title:“Maps of Maldives, The complete guide to the atolls and islands of Maldives” Publisher: Water Solutions, watersolutions.biz Year: 2008 Size: A4, paper back No of pages: 120 What’s it about? This book is the first of its kind completely researched and developed by Maldivians. The book contains detailed maps of all the atolls, in English and Dhivehi. Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the book online.

Title: Above Maldives. A photographic journey over the atolls and islands of Maldives Publisher: Atoll Images, atollimages.com Year: 2009 Size: 210 mm by 280 mm, hard cover No of pages: 96 What’s it about? A new concept featuring satellite photos of the islands of Maldives. This book will be useful for many people. Contains more than 96 satellite photos of different islands. Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the book online.

Title:The Complete Guide to Male’. Year: 2007 Size: A5, paper back No of pages: 120 A guide book exclusively on MALE’. Includes information on Hulhumale’ and Villingili as well. This is the first and most comprehensive guide book on Male’. This 142 page book will be the ideal companion while in Male’. Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the book online.

Title:“Dangerous Marine Animals - Biology, Injuries & Treatment” Published Year: 2009 Whats it about?: Size: A5, paper back No of pages: 84 What’s it about? It provides information for medical doctors about the wide range of injuries which can be inflicted by marine organisms. Secondly, swimmers, snorkelers and divers will find information about the biology of dangerous, venomous and poisonous marine animals. Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the book online.

CHAANDHANEE MAGU SHOPPING AREA Kandi Dhon Maniku

Goalhi

1

Bodutha

kurufaan

u Mag

Hussainy

Ahmadhee Bazaar Area

MMA

Ahmadhee Bazaar Area

u

Republic Square

Art

STO Trade Center

Royal

Kolige Umar Maniku Goalhi

Goalhi

Collection Souvenir Dhivehi Boutique Shop No4 (Sou Ibrahim venir) Hassan Unixpo Didi Mag Jewelry u Reef (elec Side 1 Najah Art tronics) Palace Habib Bank

STO Elect ronics Dive Gear Dhivehi (Dive Gear ) (Souvenir Bandaha s) Atoll surf (Water sport) ics) ctron Kaashi ys (Ele Boat (Sou ena ree Gu venirs) Dhafe Th Trade City souvenirs Manthiri Bharat electro Dhanb Bless 2 u Goalh (Sou nics venirs) i Gloria ute s) Blue Astoria Mar Rep smetic Too Cute (Co E&P Son is (Souvenir Athakuri (Jewelry) s) ics (Souvenir tron are) Farivaa Electronics Neu itew s) Typical MHA (Wh Shop souvenirs Target 1 Bayw Fariva Quartz Albion Chandelie atch (cloth re (Hard dwa s) Target Star Jewe ware) Rio Bout r (Stationa AS Har ls (Jew DAM r Tronics ique (souv ry) elry) ELL Mobile Telecom Water Supetronics) enirs) World Electronic (Elec (Dive Olive E&P s Gear) Garden (Electroni Body Parkway cs & Perfu Glove Fresh Air me) shop

Orchid

Discover

Male’

2

Mai dh be n sl iyya ar nd on ipw Slip co ound th ay in way tim nstr th e lin the is to es ucte is slip k ro Citythe da an y. d st d du way ad co . T ill us ring , a nt si ed the te ou by R loca AF ls

Discover

Addu City Explore this historically rich and beautiful city with Escale Maldives

Explore this vibrant city with Escale Maldives

Magu

Nine Ten O trade Laasaany e trad y MINI Jeweller IGM (souvenir) The reef Time Golden ts/bulb) een (ligh Eigth Traders) Asrafee (Tobacco Root id e) Pyrm Jam (Div Aqua Fihaara Hazash

1 Reef side (watches)

May 2011

CHA

Medhuziyaaraiy

Fareedhee Magu uters Focus Comp

Hardware Fahamas

un

Island Waveuruzu Hig Aab

Hamesedia Clothing) (Men Monalals a Blue Estori (Furniture) Parkway

Salsa Café

Canary

Herblife

Eye Care

Ritzy Electronics Bhaarat trade Link Serve Timex Diplomat

on FDI Stati

NDH

Faamudheyri

ANE

Magu

E

MA

GU

Asha Textiles DhalaTextiles Vaaly Brothers

Magu

Seagull Café Dhiraagu Teleshop

Seagull foods Sissy Sea Sports (surf shop)

Magu

ALIKILEGEFAANU MAGU SHOPPING AREA Rainbow Office Systems

Rainbow Furniture Dhonhiyala Home (Curtains / Home decor)

3 4 5

Asna Tech

Rehendhi (Dress / garments)

Title: Maldives -The Last paradise, 2nd Edition

Title: Maldives -The Beauty of Underwater

Produced & Directed By: Tombe, Image Village Studio Year: 2010 Price : US$ 20 Rted Edition

Produced & Directed By: Tombe, Image Village Studio Year: 2010 Price : US$ 20 Rted Edition

What’s it about? This DVD film is a documentary style travel guide by Image Village Studio. It is a fantastic introduction to the Maldives and also serves as a souvenir. The new edition will be available in English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, French, Italian and German. For wholesale call +960 9868497 or email: tombe2020@ hotmail.com or visit www. imagevillagestudio.com.

What’s it about? Maldives, The Beauty of Underwater is a film about snorkeling and diving. The film includes more than 90% underwater videos. The new edition will be available in English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, French, Italian and German. For wholesale call +960 9868497 or email: tombe2020@hotmail.com or visit www.imagevillagestudio.com.

Highway (Designer Wear) Blow (Designer Wear)

Did

Rainbow (Buildware) College (Designer Wear) Spark 1 Time Zone (Designer wear) Cool Casual Dress Point

www.atoll-images.com Lakme

126

DISCOVERMALDIVES | 2015 ISSUE

yo

u kn On na 19th ow isla tive N ? nd re ovem si ou th wer dent be nd -eas e tr s of r 19 ,w t 57 an dh hich part sfer Feyd , th e oo -F late of ed to hoo ey r be Mar th dh oo cam adho e . e o

$$

atoll-images.com

Title: Discover Male’

Title: Discover Addu City

Publisher: Atoll Images, atollimages.com Year: 2010 Size: A1

Publisher: Atoll Images, atollimages.com Year: 2010 Size: A3 foldable map

What’s it about? An A1 size foldable map of Male’ with tons of useful information for anyone visiting Male’. Also contains an alphabetical list of all the important land marks, restaurant, hotels etc. Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the map online.

What’s it about? An A3 size foldable map of Addu City’ road names, bus routes, dive spots and historical places in this unique geographical area of Maldives. The book features detailed maps of all the island of Addu City. Retail price is US$3.Visit www.atoll-images.com to check the map online.


Agenda

MA. RANGIRI | RAHDHEBAI MAGU | TEL: 3008996 | info@elmomento.biz

Published by Water Solutions 127


Ever since Discover Maldives was first published in 2010, it has been reaching to a wider public day by day. DM has now moved beyond many frontiers and has positioned itself internationally as the no. 1 destination travel magazine on Maldives. Today it is very much appreciated by readers from all walks of life, especially those who are keen to visit Maldives. So if you want your photos here, send your best shot to info@water-solutions.biz.

ex ic o C an c u n, M

M al e’ C it y

ex ic o C an c u n, M

nd N ew Z ea la

H am il to n,

A u c kl an d

nd N ew Z ea la

nd N ew Z ea la A u c kl an d,

C it y

M ee dh o o

u C it y is la nd , A dd

o i, M u h dh o D u s it T h an


B lu eb er ry

es o rt H al av el i R C o ns ta nc e

il to n fa rm , H am

R o to ru a,

nd N ew Z ea la

to ll , L aa m u A G an I s la nd

R o to ru a,

T u rk ey

nd N ew Z ea la

B aa A to ll

es ta u ra nt C it ro en R

nd N ew Z ea la

u c kl an d H o w ic k, A


Discover Maldives 2015 Issue  

The 2015 issue of Discover Maldives Magazine with another exciting collection of articles. Our destination for this issue has been focused o...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you