3 of the best luxury eco retreats in the Maldives

With the Maldives introducing a new ‘green tax’ to fund conservation efforts, here’s our pick of three of the best sustainable and eco-friendly hotels and resorts in the region…

Soneva Fushi

This resort lives by the ‘S.L.O.W. L.I.F.E’ philosophy (Sustainable Local Organic Wellness, Learning Inspiring Fun Experiences). With a carbon offset programme, its own organic food production and facilities for on-island bottled water production, this beautiful resort pairs great eco credentials with ‘intelligent’ luxury. Secluded chic beach villas and a ‘Mr Friday’ butler service are available for guests, and wildlife fans will appreciate the stretches of undeveloped shoreline that have been left to encourage turtles to continue nesting on the beach.

Soneva fushi
Soneva fushi

Coco Palm, Dhuni Kolhu

This resort is ideal for those passionate about marine wildlife. A ‘Manta Ray Day’ is held every Wednesday, where guests are led by Coco Palm’s resident marine biologist into the shallows to observe the island’s beautiful creatures. As well as manta rays, the house reef provides excellent snorkelling opportunities with chances to spot whale sharks and dolphins too. Coco Palm is also located in the Baa Atoll, a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve whose resorts work together to conserve the area.

Coco Palm resort
Coco Palm resort

Kuramathi Island Resort

There’s a long list of green initiatives being undertaken  by Kuramathi, one of the biggest islands in the Maldives. There is an education eco-centre, filters and ozonators to save water in the modern Jacuzzis, water recycling system, energy saving air-con in the newer villas and a hydroponics garden where fresh salads and herbs are grown for the resorts kitchens.

Eco Kuramathi
Eco-friendly Kuramathi

A closer look at the Indian Ocean, like you’ve never seen before…

The many islands of the Indian Ocean are famous for their white sand beaches and beautiful turquoise waters. Although gorgeous to look at, these paradise beach images can give the impression that the Indian Ocean islands are all very similar to each other. In fact, when you take a closer look, the Maldives, Mauritius and other destinations are all very different from each other.

Maldives close-up
Maldives close-up

In November, luxury travel experts Kuoni launched their collection of microscopic sand photographs taken from their seven resorts in the Indian Ocean. The initiative behind the project is to show travellers that when you take a closer look at the smaller details, the islands of the Indian Ocean are all completely unique from one another.

The different sand grains reflect the geology of each island, giving clues as to what kind of activities you can enjoy there. For example, the sands from La Reunion (an island just west of Mauritius) have yellow lava crystals and black grains made from volcanic basalt. These point to the volcanic origins of the island and travellers here can indeed trek through the forests to see amazing craters and live volcanoes. On the other hand, the grains from the Maldives show six tiny snail shells and a rod spine from a sea urchin, pointing to the amazing snorkelling and diving opportunities to be found in the coral reefs of the Maldives.

Seychelles close-up
Seychelles close-up

 

 

5 of the world’s best wildlife experiences

Imagine sitting in a safari hide at the crack of dawn, silence all around…then a lioness and her playful cubs come sauntering into view, oblivious to your presence. Or picture snorkelling on a coral reef, dipping your head underwater and seeing a technicolour marine world swimming around you.

Giraffes in Africa

Some of travel’s most memorable moments involve witnessing the world’s most incredible wildlife. Sadly, with the endangered species and habitats list growing ever longer, we are all too aware of how precious this wildlife is. Going on a wildlife holiday helps increase our understanding and respect for the natural world, but always remember to use a responsible tour operator for your trips.

Here are some of Goodtrippers’ ‘world’s best’ wildlife experiences:

Cruising the Galapagos Islands – This archipelago has attracted explorers for centuries. Its remote location and unique wildlife inspired naturalist Charles Darwin to write his theory of evolution. A trip today will bring you face-to-face with whales, dolphins, penguins, vast colonies of sea lions and birds, and real rarities such as the Galapagos tortoise, marine iguana and flightless cormorant. Flora includes mangrove, saltbush, cacti and carob trees.

Giant tortoise

Tiger watching in India – These beautiful and majestic big cats used to be found all over Asia in their hundreds of thousands. Today, there are barely over 3,000 left in the wild thanks to the destruction of their natural habitats and the illegal trade in tiger skin. However, a visit to some of India’s National Parks may reveal a rare and unforgettable sighting of species such as the elusive Bengal Tiger.

The ‘Big 5’ African safari – There are several countries, and several National Parks, where you can spot Africa’s ‘Big 5’ (i.e. lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard). South Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the most well-known for a traditional safari experience – camping under the stars, exploring the bush and plains by Jeep, and keeping a pair of binoculars (and your wits about you!) at all times. The Big 5 are an awesome sight, but don’t bypass the rest of Africa’s natural wonders – watching a pack of wild dogs at night, bird-watching on a lake at dawn, or getting up-close to insect life are all unforgettable safari experiences. Try other spots including Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Green sea turtle

Diving on New Zealand’s Poor Knights Islands – Two-thirds of the Earth is ocean so an underwater experience has to make this list! There are countless top dive sites – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Thailand’s Similan Islands being just two – but I’ve included one you may not have considered (even though the great Jacques Cousteau named it one of his top ten dive sites in the world). As the 11 million year-old landscape is volcanic in origin, the cliffs, caves and tunnels harbour a unique biodiversity making New Zealand’s Poor Knights Islands an outstanding Marine Reserve and Nature Reserve.

Spotting orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo – These gentle red-heads are only found in Sumatra and Borneo, albeit in rapidly decreasing numbers as the animals are still hunted and their habitat destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. Support local efforts to help protect these wonderful creatures by booking a trek through a National Park with a responsible tour operator, or volunteering at a rehabilitation centre. There’s nothing like looking up into the trees and spotting a flash of orange swing high over your head and catching your first glimpse of a wild orangutan!

The world is rich with wildlife experiences and our list barely scratches the surface! If you have a great wildlife experience to share, let us know. (This post by Goodtrippers was originally published on Frontier’s Gap Year Blog)

If that’s inspired you, browse our Amazon Affiliate store for some of the best wildlife books (buying via these links won’t cost you a penny more than using Amazon your regular way, but commission earned by Goodtrippers helps keep our site ticking along thanks to you!).