Want a vacation that makes the difference? Well, you might just want to visit the Maldives next.
The award-winning Vakkaru Maldives is teaming up with ocean explorer and conservationist Oliver Steeds OBE for a week-long residency. A Deep Sea Odyssey by Vakkaru Maldives, which runs from August 27 to September 2, 2022, is a unique summer conservation holiday organized by the resort and Steeds.
Situated on its own white sand island, Vakkaru is in the middle of Baa Atoll and provides the perfect setting for such an initiative. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2017 and home to a rich diversity of marine life including manta rays, sharks and a variety of fish species, it provides the perfect setting to explore this fascinating underwater world.
Whether through a variety of activities including snorkeling and diving on the house reef, in the blue holes or nearby Hanifaru Bay or engaging with the resident marine biologist on the complex, they will have a deeper insight into this marvelous aquatic ecosystem. Going a step further, the five-star resort will partner with Steeds, for a week-long residency during which the ecologist will guide guests on ocean life and its conservation in the Maldives.
With marine conservation at the forefront of climate-biodiversity crises, this new experience brings together a pioneering figure in environmental research with one of the best resorts in the Maldives. Steeds is a former investigative journalist and the founder and mission director of Nekton, a scientific organization that works with ocean nations to protect the seas and increase humanity’s knowledge of marine life.
A portion of the revenue generated from the various sustainably sourced dinners and other activities held during Steeds’ residency in Vakkaru will go to the Baa Atoll Conservation Fund, which helps fund projects designed to preserve the environment in Baa Atoll.
An immersive nature program
During the week, guests of all ages can take part in a variety of activities to learn about marine life and its conservation in the Maldives, with workshops, film screenings and two expeditions, plus dinners and cocktails from sustainable sources. A Deep Sea Odyssey will also include two Young Ocean Ambassador workshops designed for budding coral reef scientists and aquanauts ages 7-11 and 12-15.
Hosted by Steeds at the resort’s Parrotfish and Coconut clubs, these workshops will teach youngsters about the threats to coral and what it takes to become a mission director and lead expeditions to explore the deep sea. Budding aquanauts will also learn how submersible pilots work and how to protect healthy coral reefs.
Part of the program will also include guided beach walks to experience the island’s land and seascape. There will also be two sea expeditions, aboard a yacht and a speedboat, which will take guests to various stops around the atoll to snorkel or dive with Steeds and the Marine Biologist. resident of Vakkaru. During the evening, Oliver will host movie nights on the beach, screening documentaries such as Seaspiracy, Chasing Coral and Blue Planet.
A portion of the proceeds generated from the various sustainably sourced dinners and other activities held during Steeds’ residency in Vakkaru will go to the Baa Atoll Conservation Fund, which helps fund projects designed to preserve the environment in Baa Atoll, as well as supporting local livelihood activities.
Ahead of his upcoming residency at Vakkaru Maldives, we’re reaching out to Oliver Steeds to find out what else guests can expect and the importance of ocean conservation.
What can guests expect in this upcoming residence?
We have planned so much. Diving and snorkeling trips to explore and discover marine life, all the extraordinary animals that live under the surface; camps for kids to learn about corals, reefs and how to be a submersible pilot and conduct missions on the high seas… then a series of unique evening events ranging from talks on exploring the ocean from surface to the full depth of the ocean (11,000 meters deep) to a special movie nights on the beach.
Why is Vakkaru Maldives the perfect place to highlight the importance of conservation?
The Maldives are on the front line of the climate and biodiversity crises. Maldivians have done so little to cause these crises but are in the crosshairs of its impact. The Maldives are 99% ocean, and the average height above sea level is one and a half meters. And Vakkaru is at the heart of a UNESCO biosphere, one of the most biodiverse parts of the world ocean. It is a beacon that shows us what a healthy ocean should look like.
Why is ocean conservation so important in our current climate?
The ocean regulates our planet’s climate, as well as our planet’s chemistry, producing oxygen and cycling carbon. The ocean makes life possible on Earth and yet it remains the least known and least protected part of our planet. The science is clear – we are facing an existential crisis and protecting the ocean is essential to our survival.
What more needs to be done to highlight the importance of conservation in your opinion?
For many, the ocean is out of sight and out of mind. The surface of the sea is like a mirror to the sky. We need to find innovative ways for more and more people to witness the ocean, because if we can fall in love with the ocean, we will want to protect it.
What do you think of resorts like Vakkaru championing important issues like conservation?
The Vakkaru are the guardians and guardians of the ocean. During their visit, guests have the opportunity to learn about the wonders, vitality and importance of the ocean. We all have a responsibility to help and we need thousands more like Vakkaru to step up.
Personally, what are you most expecting from this upcoming residency?
Opportunity to show my kids how awesome the ocean is – join them on snorkeling trips off the beach and boats and see how many different species we can spot. And see how they react when they learn that beach sand is very scarce and made of parrot fish poo, crushed corals (the majority of beach sand elsewhere in the world is quartz).
What do you hope guests leave after this experience?
A new or renewed passion for the ocean, a sense of hope that if we act now quickly and on a large scale, we can protect our ocean for future generations.
Oliver Steeds’ next residency at Vakkaru Maldives will be from August 27 to September 2, 2022. This will serve as his precursor to leading the Maldives mission in September. Guests will stay a minimum of six nights at Vakkaru Maldives during Oliver Steeds’ residency. Prices start from US$1,185++ per night in an overwater villa.
(Images: Vakkaru Maldives)