The Visit Maldives Storytellers' Conference 2023, held on 30th May, was a resounding success, bringing together over 70 participants from across the globe. After the conference, these adventurous souls embarked on a three-day sideline experience, immersing themselves in the wonders of eight handpicked regions of the Maldives. Among these regions, Fuvahmulah stood out as a true gem, offering its visitors an extraordinary and unforgettable experience.
This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is around 13,000 hectares (4.5km long) and the island is volcanic, not formed from coral reefs like the rest of the islands in the Maldives. A quaint city thrives amidst the green-on-green scenery in this single-island atoll, the only one of its kind in the Maldives. From the very beginning, Fuvahmulah welcomed the participants with open arms. Upon arrival, the Mayor and council staff extended a heartwarming greeting, introducing the travellers to the sole one-island atoll in the Maldives. The accommodations were arranged at Ataraxis, the host property that ensured a comfortable and convenient stay throughout their visit.
The journey commenced with a delightful BBQ dinner hosted by the Fuvahmulah Council at Thoondu Beach, the only beach break in the Maldives. The participants loved playing with the unique little pebbles found only in the Thoondu Beach. They relished the opportunity to savour the delicious local cuisine while engaging in heartfelt conversations, delving deeper into the island's rich culture and the lives of its welcoming residents.
The second day brought even more remarkable experiences. While exploring the wetlands, the participants indulged in a therapeutic mud bathing session in the Koda Kilhi, immersing themselves in the healing properties of the mud. They then ventured to a Yam field, where they discovered the intricacies of farming in Fuvahmulah. The immersive experience continued as they shared a traditional Maldivian lunch with a local family, learning about the local way of life in the south of the Maldives and forging meaningful connections.
“My favourite and funniest moment was the mud bath, walking barefoot on grass and getting dirty. I am also meeting lovely local people, it’s such different and authentic experience. Not the usual Maldives that everyone expects. My word to describe my experience here is ‘unexpected’.” - Consuelo Gennari from Italy
One of the major highlights of the Fuvahmulah adventure was the visit to 'Bandaara Kilhi,' one of the two freshwater lakes in the region. Freshwater lakes are exceptionally rare in the Maldives, making the encounter all the more special. Additionally, the participants had the opportunity to explore the depths of Olige, the deepest pool in the Maldives. Under the guidance of the exceptionally-hospitable Extreme Dive Maldives, they prepared for the next day’s ultimate adrenaline-pumping experience of diving with tiger sharks, an exhilarating and awe-inspiring adventure that left them entranced.
As the day drew to a close, the participants gathered on a terrace overlooking the breathtaking hues of the setting sun, indulging in a serene and soul-soothing sunset tea. The tranquil atmosphere provided the perfect backdrop for reflection and appreciation of the natural wonders that surrounded them.
On the final day, the travellers had the chance to explore Fuvahmulah Nature Park, where they encountered adorable native creatures found in the southern Maldives. They also embarked on a historical journey, visiting, among others, the Kedeyre Miskiy, one of the smallest but oldest mosques in Fuvahmulah, built in the 1500s. Strolling through the island, they engaged in heartfelt conversations with locals, experiencing the warmth and genuine hospitality that made them feel truly welcomed and valued.
“My sideline experience was in Fuvahmulah, a very unique island, very different from other local islands I've been. The nature, the pebbles beach, the beautiful people, and the tiger shark diving made from trip an experience that I will never forget. Thank you Visit Maldives and see you soon!” Andra Darie from Romania
The participants unanimously praised the exceptional arrangements made by the Fuvahmulah Council, noting their attentiveness and support throughout the journey. Special provisions were made for dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and kosher meals, ensuring that every participant had a truly memorable experience. Ataraxis, the host property, deserves a special mention for their immediate response and dedication to providing the best possible experience for every traveller.
The sideline adventure to Fuvahmulah surpassed all expectations, leaving a lasting impression on the participants. Their experiences and stories serve as a testament to the beauty and uniqueness of Fuvahmulah, enticing the world to explore and discover the hidden wonders of this extraordinary location in the Sunny Side of Life.