Of Manta rays and corals: greener tourism on the Maldives
Soft white beaches, crystal clear water and all kinds of colorful fish: the Maldives are a paradise for nature lovers. However, the islands are endangered due to environmental damage and rising sea levels. Avoiding this popular holiday destination is not a solution to the problem. Not only does a great part of the island’s inhabitants live on the income from tourism, there are also many projects for the protection of the environment that can be financed in this way. We present you some greener ways to travel on the Maldives.
Environmental awareness in the hotel business
You have probably already heard of the so-called island of garbage Thilafushi. Here, tons of garbage are dumped or burnt without being sorted. In contrast, sustainable resorts such as Reethi Faru make sure that their waste is sorted and recycled and seek to avoid plastic. By using modern technology such as photovoltaics or a biogas plant, which transforms food waste into gas that is used for cooking, Reethi Faru Resort also reduces its carbon footprint.
A strong commitment to marine life
In addition to showing environmental awareness in the hotel routine, some hotels also initiate and support exciting projects for the protection of nature. Last year, the resort Gili Lankanfushi opened the Gili Veshi, a Marine Biology Centre supporting research and giving you the opportunity to get involved: here, you can participate in monthly reef cleaning efforts, take part in the planting of seagrass or assist in transplanting corals.
Growing corals and saving turtles
Without corals the Maldives wouldn’t exist, as the islands are a part of atolls, circular coral reefs. Only healthy reefs can contribute to counteracting the consequences of the rising sea levels and prevent the islands from disappearing. However, due to the effects of the climate change and the high levels of pollution, a huge amount of the reefs has already been destroyed. That is why a lot of resorts take concrete actions for transplanting new corals on reefs. At some of them, for example the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu as well as the Gili Lankanfushi, you have the opportunity to assist the marine biologists in growing these corals. You can also take an active part in one of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu’s many other conservation and monitoring projects and thus contribute to the protection of sea turtles, mantas or sharks.
Discover Maldivian culture
The Maldives consist of 1196 islands – 87 of them are reserved exclusively for tourists and 220 are inhabited by locals. That is why it is so interesting to take a trip off the beaten tourist track to one of the islands inhabited by natives. At every turn you will be able to watch locals weaving mats from palm leaves. These are traditionally used for thatching roofs like those at Coco Bodu Hithi – by using only hand-made palm roofs for their villas and houses, they contribute to preserving this old craft. You can also discover Maldivian culture during trips to fisher islands, mosques or schools. Some hotels, such as Reethi Beach Resort organize trips to islands inhabited by locals.
Snorkeling with manta rays and whale sharks
On the Maldives, with a little luck even snorkelers are able to come close to whale sharks – the biggest sharks living today with a length of 13 meters – or to be circled by majestic manta rays. One of the most famous places for sighting these animals is Hanifaru Bay in the Baa Atoll, only a short boat trip from Reethi Beach Resort. During the monsoon between May and November, plankton gathers in the funnel-shaped lagoon and attracts these amazing sea creatures. This way, up to 200 manta rays and 20 whale sharks can be sighted at the same time! For Reethi Beach Resort, being near to a special place like this one means having great responsibility. That is why in 2007 they founded the NGO BAARU (Baa Atoll Resorts United), a union of all the resorts and dive centers in the atoll making an effort to protect the ocean.