Shipwrecks and sunken treasures hold a strange place in our imagination. They conjure up stories of sailors, pirates, explorers and almost always, tales of ill-fated expeditions. They are windows into the past, frozen in time and place in the midst of a disaster. Yet explorers of the ocean know that nothing in the ocean stays still, not even wrecks. The hull ages, and gently yields to the elements. Small schools of fish arrive first, followed by carpets of algae, corals, and other small invertebrates. Within a short time, the wrecks bustle with multicoloured life. And nowhere is this more evident than in the Keyodhoo shipwreck in Vaavu Atoll.
Half-submerged in the crystal turquoise lagoon surrounding Keyodhoo, the shipwreck is speculated to be an Indonesian vessel that drifted in. Like all wrecks, the ship emanates a dual sense of tragedy and awe. Healthy corals and schools of fish call this wreck home, among them are table corals and clownfish (and their sea anemone friends). Experienced freedivers (those with the training for wreck diving) can swim through the captain's cabin, and hold onto that iconic bicycle attached to the hull for that perfect instagram shot.
The Keyodhoo shipwreck rests on a relatively shallow lagoon, with its mast rising above the water. Snorkelling above the wreck is an exhilarating and otherworldly experience, and the unusual perspective can be slightly disorienting in the best way possible. Duck dive to get closer to the hull, and see up-close how incredibly healthy the corals are. Within a few years time, it would not be a surprise if marine life completely encloses the wreck. Exploring the Keyodhoo shipwreck reveals the magnificent resilience and adaptability of nature.
This shipwreck is just one of the gems of Vaavu atoll. Located between South Male’ atoll and Meemu Atoll, Vaavu atoll is home to some of the best dive spots in Maldives. While there is no domestic airport in the atoll itself, there are several in the surrounding area such as adjacent Baa, Dhaalu, and Gaafu Alifu Atolls. Visitors can take a speedboat, dhoni, or a seaplane from one of the adjacent atolls, or arrive in style in a personal yacht or luxury liveaboard.
Each atoll in the Maldives boasts its own unique characteristics and features expansive dive and snorkelling sites just a few metres underwater, and Vaavu is no exception. A night dive at Alimathaa will place you up close with sleeping nurse sharks, and a dive at Golden Wall dive site is akin to exploring a lush garden brimming with life and hanging soft corals. Last but not least, dive into Fotteyo Kandu, often called the mecca of dive spots, for an experience unlike any other. Morning divers on the outer side of the channel will find themselves swimming with hammerhead sharks and eagle rays, and turtles and pods of dolphins on the inner side of the channel.
Vaavu Atoll is home to numerous guest houses for travellers seeking that quintessential local island experience. Thinadhoo, Keyodhoo, and Fulidhoo celebrates a bustling guesthouse scene, with several of the guesthouses rivalling resort accommodations in elegance and luxury. Of course, several luxurious resorts with iconic overwater bungalows dot the atoll, as well as liveaboards that can take you on a journey across the entire atoll. One can experience the Maldives in many different ways. Whichever way you choose will leave an everlasting memory of the sunny side of life.