The Maldives is paradise on Earth, where the water is warm and clear, the sand is powdery and soft, and the reef is teeming with marine life. And while rest, relaxation and luxury are absolutely still high on our travel agenda, so too is the desire to give back to the places we visit – to make a meaningful and positive impact on the environment.
Conservation travel in the Maldives is a way to experience life-affirming moments, whether you are releasing a rehabilitated turtle back into the wild, planting a new coral reef that will provide homes and food for the island’s wildlife, or helping to protect and monitor the dolphins and blacktip sharks.
Gain a complete understanding of this island paradise by spending time with the people who live and work there, and the creatures that call it home.
Rehabilitation of turtles
The Maldives is home to five of the world’s seven species of sea turtle and they are at the heart of the islands’ history and culture. Hawksbills, Green sea turtles, Loggerheads, Olive Ridleys and Leatherbacks have been swimming in those famous turquoise waters for 100 million years – long before any human set foot on the sand. But their numbers are in decline, and some are now classed as critically endangered, so turtle rehabilitation in the Maldives has become paramount.
Play your part in the mission by helping out at a turtle rehabilitation centre. Offer hands-on care to injured turtles, helping to feed and nurture them before experiencing the heart-warming joy that comes from releasing the recovered turtles back into the wild.
Depending on the time of year you could also help to monitor the hatchlings as they make their intrepid first steps towards the sea. Watch over the baby turtles as they make that first journey from their egg to the water – so fraught with dangers. From ID tagging to simply making sure they don’t get stuck in the sand, there are plenty of important roles to play that will lift your trip to somewhere far beyond a normal holiday.
Reefscapers - coral reef building
The awe-inspiring coral reefs of the Maldives have fascinated divers for decades. Pretty pastels, vivid yellows and a myriad of sea creatures combine in this technicolour world. Take the opportunity to dive around the reef with our team of marine biologists. Find out how climate change is taking its toll and what you can do to help.
Working with the islands’ experts, you can build your own section of the reef using a frame that will be planted underwater and over time will grow new, healthy corals. You will receive photographs over the years showing its progress, meaning that your holiday in paradise has genuine, long-lasting positive effects.
Protection of blacktip sharks
Blacktip sharks are a fairly common sight in the shallow waters of the Maldives. As a protected species they have established breeding areas where their behaviours are monitored by the islands’ marine biologists - and volunteers like you.
Take the opportunity to get to know these mysterious creatures first-hand. You will learn about the species as a whole – their breeding habits and ecology, and the various threats that they face. But also get to know the individuals, from the greedy alphas to the favourite females and those playful pups. You can take valuable measurements to help identify and monitor their growth and take ID photographs (usually of their fins) to help record a Maldives-wide database.
Once you have gained confidence you can have the opportunity to go diving with our expert guides for a deeper understanding of the sharks’ finely balanced ecosystems. It all combines to build an intrinsic knowledge of the ocean and the islands, which can inform your choices for your lifetime.
The Maldives is one of the best places in the world to see dolphins. During your holiday you can travel out by boat to watch pods of these joyful creatures at play. Learn the daily activities of the spinner dolphins, who spend their days resting and socialising in the protected lagoons, before heading out into the deep waters to hunt at nightfall. Watch them bow riding (or surfing the wake of your boat) or just sit back and admire their acrobatics from your breakfast table.
You don’t need to spend long in the Maldives to fall in love with these gentle creatures, and if you feel inspired to get involved in the conservation effort to protect them, then there is plenty that you can do. One of the biggest dangers to dolphins, and indeed many of the island’s sea creatures are the ‘ghost nets’ - old, discarded fishing nets, that can entangle them. Spend some time with the island divers whose job it is to retrieve the nets, help to nurse any injured dolphins back to full health, and help marine biologists with data collection and identifying individual dolphins.
Of all the beauty and colour on display in the Maldives, it is the humble seagrass that plays one of the most important roles in the archipelago’s conservation efforts. The seagrass meadows act as nurseries for prawns, fish and turtles as well as being natural filters to protect the coral reefs from any harmful toxins. They are also rated the third most valuable ecosystem globally (after estuaries and wetlands), so the work to protect them is among the most important on the islands.
Explore the Maldives’ seagrass meadows with our local experts. Immerse yourself in the flora and fauna of these beautiful isles and discover steps people are taking to preserve them. Then walk the beaches and surrounding tropical forests with our guide for the most beautiful beach clean that you will ever take part in. The Maldives will absolutely fill your heart, and by taking part in the islands’ conservation projects you can make a meaningful difference in its future.
Get in touch so we can help you to plan your perfect trip to the Maldives, whether that is conservation work, relaxation, or the perfect balance