The Maldives is a spectacular Indian Ocean archipelago and by now you’re aware that I am a huge fan. Renowned the world over as the consummate tropical island getaway, the intoxicating destination is a magnet, not just for sun-worshippers drawn to the turquoise lagoons and powdery white beaches, but for wildlife enthusiasts who highly rate the biodiversity factor, especially in the protected atolls.
AN EYE ON CONSERVATION
When I travel, finding out more about nature and conservation is very important to me and I was keen to discover about the creatures that call this region home.
Maldives has been under serious environmental strain for decades. From marine pollution to rising sea levels and habitat loss, the nation has its fair share of eco stress to deal with. So while you’re there, take note of how you’re there. Tread lightly and do whatever you can to leave no trace. The eco systems are fragile, and we need to be mindful as we benefit from the exquisite emerald isles.
Beginning with the ocean, Maldives is the holy grail of deep sea diving, an experience unmatched anywhere else in the world. Not being a diver I can’t speak to this accolade from personal experience but I know people – like my good friend Justin Fox– who was with me on the magical trip and who can attest to this fact.
Visibility beneath the surface is legendary, particularly between December and May when the seas are at their calmest, allowing for a clear line of sight for up to twenty metres. The underwater landscape is a vibrant vision, a silent universe of grottos, reefs, and sea grass gardens that harbour schools of psychedelic fish and other thriving marine life such as sharks, dolphins, turtles, eels and many types of rays.
According to a 2014 UN report, 50% of 724 of animal extinctions recorded in the last 400 years worldwide were island species. It’s clear that time is of the essence and my advice to you is to book a flight and experience it in all its abundant glory.
VEGETATION ON LAND
Back on terra firma, the most obvious tree is the signature coconut palm, synonymous with any vacay in the tropics. Think hammocks, beach swings, siestas and pineapple daiquiris on repeat.
Most resorts, especially the more established ones, enjoy a profusion of plants, shrubs and trees. One minute you’re on the beach and the next you’re walking or cycling under a cool canopy, birds overhead and .
The Maldives has around 166 known land species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles of which only 0,6% are endemic. The Asian Koel, a bird also common in the Thai islands, is my favourite, with a call I absolutely love.
Each of these dense green spaces, while a haven for its inhabitants, also acts a bio-shield playing a crucial part in conserving the native biodiversity. One thing to note is that Maldives mangroves are not faring too well. The reason is still unclear but marine pollution and toxic waste is sure to be a factor so please make an effort to use only earth- friendly tanning products, soaps and shampoos.
Mangroves are the first line of defence in cases of floods and act as a buffer between the land and the sea, and Maldives is on a mission to save them. By taking small steps each tourist can also play their part by being more conscious and leaving as low a footprint as possible.
Of all the birds I saw, I think the Grey Heron must have made it to my Insta Stories at least once day. It turned up everywhere – on piers and patios, on the beach and in the shallows. A poised and hurried wader with a purposeful gait. On early morning walks I would always come across a lone heron. I’d sit in the sand and watch it for a long time, hypnotised by the stillness and the way it walked, deliberate and slow, hardly causing a ripple in the water as it moved along the shore searching for prey. The awkwardly beautiful heron will forever remind me of my time in Maldives.
I found this poem online, author unknown –
the epitome of
Remember to take your own water bottle with you. Did you know that 280k plastic bottles are discarded daily in Maldives 😳. There are several amazing upcycling projects doing their best to deal with that issue, like the Maldives Plastic Project
If you’d like to get involved with community tourism, check out the fine work Planeterra does and make a Maldives connection.
WHEN YOU GO-WHAT TO REMEMBER
- Getting there from OR Tambo: Air Seychelles will be operating the flights to Maldives through Priority Escapes. Book your flight at firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 (0)10 023 1234. The flight is the shortest you’ll find, just 9hrs with a stop over in Seychelles.
- This makes travel to the world’s leading destination much easier. Good to note that the long haul with other carriers can be as much as 16 hours!. AIR SEYCHELLES (HM) maintains a great partnership with Visit Maldives, to further meet demands of holidaymakers planning an escape into paradise.
- It is important to dress modestly in public places in local islands and residential areas. During Ramadan and other festive occasions, operational hours are different in certain restaurants and shops in local islands. These restrictions do not apply on resort properties.
- Maldives is a 100% Muslim country and it prohibited to bring in alcohol or tobacco products from Duty Free in transit.
- The accommodation options range from resorts, hotels, live-aboard and guesthouses. Many of which have special offers.
- Remember that 2022 is Maldives Tourism Golden Jubilee Year and it is expected the destination will likely host fabulous celebrations to mark the milestone.
- Check the weather – you’re in monsoon territory so be sure you know what to expect. Rainy season is June & July but even then there is plenty of sun all year round.
- Remember – 2022 is Maldives Tourism Golden Jubilee Year! Keep an eye on all their social media platforms!
COVID-19 PROTOCOLS UPDATE
- While rules around pandemic travel have largely settled, it’s always a a good idea to check the Maldives Ministry of Tourism’s website for COVID-19 updates and protocols: https://www.tourism.gov.mv/covid19
Passengers entering Maldives are NO LONGER required to present a PCR negative test result upon arrival if the individual(s) have completed the prescribed dose(s) of a Covid-19 vaccine that is being approved by the Maldives Food & Drug Authority or by the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL) and at least 14 (fourteen) days have passed since. (Booster dose(s) are not required to be eligible for this exemption).
Tourists who spend their holiday in tourist facilities in inhabited islands are NO LONGER required to do a PCR test when departing from respective inhabited islands.
Bon voyage, until next time,