Wow it’s Vaavu: Highlights from the Visit Maldives Storytellers' Conference 2023 Sideline Program

The Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023, which took place on the 30th of May, can be described as nothing short of a resounding success. With over 70 participants in attendance, the conference provided a platform for sharing stories and experiences, fostering connections, and immersing oneself in the breathtaking beauty of the Maldives. 
photo credit Nakai Alimatha
MMPRC went to great lengths to handpick the regions, ensuring that each participant would be treated to exciting and unique experiences. Those who ventured to Vaavu returned with tales of a truly spectacular time. At the heart of their adventure lay the Vaavu Keyodhoo Shipwreck, one of the most renowned wreck sites in the Maldives. As they explored the wreck's depths, they discovered a vibrant ecosystem teeming with life. Corals painted the submerged ruins in an array of colours, while schools of tiny fish darted between the crevices. The participants revelled in this enchanting underwater paradise, capturing many moments of awe-inspiring beauty to share with the world.
“It was an incredible experience, I never felt something like this before. It’s something you have to do at least one time in your life. The fish swimming around the shipwreck… it’s like, the first time you look under the sea, it's a paradise that you can’t imagine.” - Emanuele Guido Vigna & Martina Riccio from Italy 
But the wonders of Vaavu did not end with the shipwreck. The participants also had the privilege of visiting the nearby uninhabited island of Vaavu Anbaraa. It was here that they witnessed a truly magical spectacle—the mesmerising dance of bioluminescent plankton. The sky reflected in the shimmering waters as the plankton illuminated the surroundings with their ethereal glow. The Ocean Sapphire team added their touch of creativity by sculpting a sand whale shark—a tribute to the region's abundant marine life. This dive safari culture, full of surprises and innovation, left the participants spellbound.
What truly set this trip apart, however, was the warm and grand welcome orchestrated by the Vaavu Felidhoo Council. As the participants set foot on the island, they were greeted with flower garlands, the island greeted the attendees with open arms and infectious joy. Led by the council members, the participants were guided to a beachside lunch area, accompanied by cultural dancing and the rhythmic beats of boduberu music. Immersed in this vibrant atmosphere, the participants couldn't help but join the procession, dancing and celebrating alongside their gracious hosts. The council further showcased their hospitality by providing a guided tour of the island and presenting the participants with charming souvenirs, such as coconut shells painted with classic Maldivian scenery. Every detail had been meticulously arranged to make the participants feel truly welcome, leaving an indelible impression of the Maldives' warm and inviting culture.
During their time in Vaavu, the participants had the privilege of staying at two remarkable accommodations: the NAKAI Alimatha resort and the Ocean Sapphire liveaboard. The NAKAI Alimatha resort, with its stunning surroundings and impeccable service, offered a slice of heaven on earth. The special poolside tea that they arranged for the participants was an especially well-received and delightful surprise. The participants found themselves immersed in luxury, waking up to breathtaking views and indulging in the finest amenities.
On the Ocean Sapphire liveaboard, the participants experienced the magic of living on the ocean. With comfortable cabins and top-notch facilities, they sailed through the crystal-clear waters, exploring hidden corners of Vaavu and forging deeper connections with their fellow participants. It was an adventure unlike any other, leaving them with a profound appreciation for the wonders of nature.
Photo credits: Ocean Sapphire 
“View is ultimate, experience is ultimate, and everything is always going the best in the Maldives. I have experiences in other countries, and I would say it’s going really well in the Maldives. It’s rock!” - Mr Manoj Mehta from India 
As the time came to bid farewell to the Sunny Side of Life, there was a collective sentiment among the participants - nobody wanted to say goodbye. This experience was distinct from any previous visits to the Maldives. Throughout their journey, they were not only well taken care of but also accompanied by a dedicated staff from MMPRC. This personal touch left an indelible mark on their hearts, forever altering their perception of the Maldives, our people, and our undeniably welcoming culture.
The Visit Maldives Storytellers' Conference 2023 was a transformative experience. It brought together storytellers, adventurers, and lovers of the Maldives, providing them with an opportunity to connect with the beauty of the islands and share their experiences with the world. The participants left with a profound sense of gratitude, armed with stories and memories that would continue to inspire and captivate audiences for years to come.
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