Eydhafushi hosts second successful Baa Atoll Manta Festival
The second Maldives Manta Festival took place on B. Eydhafushi from 20-21st September 2019 and was a booming success. The Baa Atoll Manta Festival, collaboratively spearheaded by Manta Trust, the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Baa Atoll Education Centre (BAEC), Baa Atoll and Eydhafushi Island Councils, and Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, engaged over 50 businesses and environmental organisations. Dozens of stalls and activities featured educational games designed to excite 320 participating students from thirteen schools about marine conservation.
The memorable opening ceremony featured a welcome dance by students of Manta Trust’s Moodhu Madharusaa Marine Education Program from BAEC, dancing to the theme song ‘Hanifaru Bay’, written by Abdulla Muaz. Inspirational speeches were given by Baa Atoll Council President Mr Mabrook Naseer, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director General Ibrahim Naeem, Minister of State for Environment Dr Abdulla Naseer and Chief Guest Vice President Faisal Naseem. Mr Naseem highlighted the sacrifices the community has made to be a part of the Biosphere Reserve and the importance of continuing to protect the Maldives’ precious environment, including the World’s largest recorded population of reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi).
Thirty stalls open to the public featured marine conservation themed games and goodies from NGOs including the Olive Ridley Project, the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program, Atoll Marine Centre, Zero Waste Maldives and BeLeaf. Visitors engaged in competitions offering sustainable prizes, printed their own personalised reusable bag and shopped from Malé businesses including Island Bazaar, Oevaali Art shop and Pepper Dots. Manta Trust offered the unique opportunity to swim with manta rays in virtual reality whilst Maldives Post offered the international crowd the chance to send manta-themed postcards home.
Despite unfavourable weather which affected snorkelling-based activities, students were able to engage in a wide range of educational events at the school. Saturday 21st September saw the students getting involved in a waste segregation session for World Coastal Clean-up Day, hosted by BAEC, Soneva Fushi, Parley and Manta Trust. Students from thirteen islands bought jumbo bags of beach clean-up waste to the event and engaged in a hands-on session to learn how to properly separate recyclables.
A live art competition saw exciting prizes awarded to paintings which creatively highlighted the plight of the ocean, with the adult category winner receiving return flights from festival Airline Partner, Manta Air. Saturday afternoon brought the school drama competition, with each performance centred around a different charismatic megafauna species. BAEC received a standing ovation following an emotional performance focused on the threats of fishing on manta rays. Thulhaadhoo took home the second prize whilst K. Dhiffushi won third place following a performance packed with creative costumes.
In the month leading up to the festival, 200 students of ten schools from Baa and Raa Atoll were taken snorkelling with manta rays by partner resorts and the Biosphere Reserve team. Students spent an hour inside the World-renowned Hanifaru Bay, snorkelling with up to fifty of these gentle giants. The trips built on the event’s aim to inspire young Maldivians to become ocean advocates and engage more with water-based activities, featuring snorkelling equipment funded by donations from last year’s festival.
For Ifaasha Abdul Raheem, the festivals school coordinator, the experience was memorable:
“This has been one the best experiences in my life! Manta festival has not only boosted my love towards nature, but it also has made me a better person in every possible way. This festival has brought an immense impact to our youth to fall in love with our environment and made them realise the crucial role they can play in their community! Most importantly, this was an opportunity for our students to explore, learn and a golden chance to show their creativity and love towards nature. I loved every bit of it! Glad to be part of this amazing event.”
The festival concluded with an energetic prize giving ceremony and an air of anticipation and excitement for the next event.
The festival was generously sponsored by 15 resorts: Four Seasons, Vakkaru, Ocean Dimensions at Kihaa, Anantara Kihavah, Nautilus, Reethi Faru, Milaidhoo, Sea-Explorer and Reethi Beach, Finolhu, Amilla Fushi, Dusit Thani and Ocean Group, Westin Maldives, Euro-Divers Maldives and Meeru Island Resort, and Soneva Fushi. Festivities were covered by Media Partner PSM and Online Media Partner Eydhafushi Times. 260 visiting students were hosted overnight by Baa Atoll Education Centre, whilst guests reached Eydhafushi with support from Travel Partner MTCC and Airline Partner Manta Air.
Check out the Baa Atoll Manta Festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BaaMantaFest or find out more about manta ray conservation at www.mantatrust.org.
Diverse Travel expand Maldives programme with Boutique Beach
Dive holiday experts Diverse Travel have added Boutique Beach to their Maldives programme.
Designed specifically with divers in mind, Boutique Beach is a charming boutique hotel, perfect for those who want a taste of the real Maldives without compromising on incredible diving. This award-winning hotel is situated just steps away from a spectacular 2.5km stretch of white sandy beach on the ‘local’ island of Dhigurah in the famous Whale Shark area of South Ari atoll.
The waters surrounding South Ari atoll are renowned in the Maldives for their unique, year-round sightings of Whale Sharks, and the area attracts many divers and snorkellers involved in Whale Shark conservation and research. There are over 50 dive sites within close reach of the island of Dhigurah including many of the most famous and exciting thilas – deep channel reefs full of marine life – in the Maldives. Spectacular sites such as the marine protected reef of Kudarah Thila are just minutes by boat from the island. Mantas regularly feed in the lagoon directly in front of Boutique Beach, as well as at the cleaning station at Rangali, which is within easy reach of the hotel.
With six large double / twin guest rooms, each with balcony or private garden, Boutique Beach is the perfect base for a small group of divers or snorkellers. In-room camera workstations also make this hotel an ideal choice for underwater photographers. The PADI 5* dive centre specialises in guiding in small groups with an emphasis on safety, personal service and maximising marine life encounters.
As well as boasting excellent diving and snorkelling, Boutique Beach’s location on Dhigurah adds another interesting dimension for visitors. One of the longest islands in the Maldives, Dhigurah is home to a population of around 600 Maldivians who are happy to share their way of life with international guests. Boutique Beach supports many community initiatives on the island, and visitors staying at Boutique Beach are able to partake in local activities such as cooking, crafting and sports, allowing for a unique travel experience.
Diverse Travel Product Manager Phillip Connor says:
“Adding Boutique Beach to our programme is an exciting move for Diverse Travel. The Maldives is one of our top destinations, and it’s great to be able to offer our guests truly spectacular diving, alongside the chance to experience a little of real island life, at an excellent price. We’re confident that this unique, British diver designed and managed hotel will become one of our most popular holidays, and look forward to hearing about all the tremendous marine encounters from our guests.”
Introductory Special Offer
Diverse Travel are currently offering an introductory saving of up to 25% on holiday packages to the Maldives staying at Boutique Beach. Dive holiday packages start from just £2575pp (based on November 2022) and include return flights London to Male with 30kgs baggage + extra 15kgs for dive baggage, 7 nights at Boutique Beach in a double / twin room with a ‘soft’ all-inclusive meal plan, up to three dives per day with boat trips, tanks and weights, return speedboat from Male (sea plane at an additional charge), local taxes and green tax, plus ATOL and full financial protection as standard.
Discover more about Boutique Beach on the Diverse Travel website at www.diversetravel.co.uk/dive-resorts/maldives/boutique-beach
Euro-Divers celebrates 50 years! (Watch Video)
Euro-Divers is celebrating its 50th anniversary! October 1972 marked the beginning of the Maldives’ tourism industry and the opening of the country’s first resort, with the first Euro-Divers dive centre providing scuba diving activities. A great passion for diving brought the right people together in the right place, which has developed over the years.
Euro-Divers would like to say a big THANK YOU to all their clients to all their partners who gave them the trust and opportunity to provide diving services throughout all those years.
The Euro-Divers team look forward to continuing to provide world-class diving, watersports, and excursions, giving clients access to the best locations in the world in a safe, friendly, and professional manner.
Congratulations Euro-Divers on five decades of incredible diving with friends!
Find out more at www.euro-divers.com