Unique Amongst the Maldivian Isles
An oasis of life
Fuvahmulah - A Unique Gem in the Southern Heart of the Maldives
Fuvahmulah is one of the most beautiful locations in the Maldives, located at the southern tip of the island nation. Several factors make Fuvahmulah unique even in the Sunny Side of Life; the first and foremost being that it is the only one-island atoll in the country, complete with a domestic airport for easy connectivity. Residents of Fuvahmulah speak a distinct dialect of Dhivehi and it is the closest island to the equator in the nation. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is around 13,000 hectares (4.5km long) and the island is volcanic, not formed from coral reefs like the rest of the islands in the Maldives. Fuvahmulah is the third largest island in the country.
A thriving yet quaint city amidst scenic green-on-green landscapes, there is no shortage of exciting things for visitors to do in this unique gem in the southern heart of the Maldives.
1. A Haven for Diving and Snorkelling
You can’t make a list of things to do in Fuvahmulah without talking about the diving scene. Fuvahmulah is a haven for divers and underwater enthusiasts, as the only location in the Maldives where you are guaranteed to have a shark encounter with every dive, ranging from tiger sharks to threshers. Most visitors to Fuvahmulah go there for these encounters, and several dive schools can accommodate divers of all experience ranges. Besides some 07 different species of sharks, Fuvahmulah is also visited regularly by other interesting marine animals, such as whale sharks and oceanic manta rays. There is no need to fret about the sharks too, if you are nervous about it, as the dive instructors at Fuvahmulah are specialists and will protect you from any potential danger during these unique encounters.
If you are interested in just snorkelling, Fuvahmulah is a wonderful location for it. The house reef of the island is one of the few that remained mostly untouched by the El Niño incident of 2014. Containing mostly hard corals such as brain corals and large limestone deposits, the reef is teeming with tiny, colourful fish of different varieties (over 1,200 unique species of fish in total can be found in Fuvahmulah), leading to a breathtaking underwater landscape that will surprise and delight you.
2. Lush Mangroves, Unique Wetlands and Lakes
Fuvahmulah is geographically very different from other islands, with lush mangroves, wetlands, and lakes dotting the landscape. The island contains two freshwater lakes, extremely rare in the country, with sweet little creatures that can rarely be sighted elsewhere in the Maldives. Fuvahmulah is formed as a very shallow bowl with two water bodies known locally as Bandara Kilhi and Dhadimagi Kilhi. These are surrounded by marshes and covered by thick layers of mud. Coconut palms, along with various plants and shrubs, grow around these marshes, creating a delightfully lush topography that incites peace and serenity.
3. Thoondu - the only beach break in the Maldives
As a single-island atoll, Fuvahmulah has the unique advantage of being the only island in the Maldives with a beach break. Thoondu, a protected beach area at the Northern end of the island, is the Maldives’ only beach break, perfect for surfers and skimboarders. As there is no lagoon between the house reef and the beach, currents are strong at Fuvahmulah leading to ideal surfing conditions, especially between June and August (Southwestern Monsoon). Experiencing the ‘Washing Machine’ effect at Thoondu beach is one to add to the bucket list.
The sand at Thoondu is unique too, unlike the powder-soft white sand that is the Maldives’ signature, the sand at Thoondu is formed of tiny, shiny pebbles that glimmer brightly in the sunlight- not just rare for the Maldives, but also rare in the world throughout.
4. Swimming in the Bissaaveli - naturally-formed swimming pools
Another unique feature of Thoondu beach is that it is the only one in the Maldives that has naturally formed swimming pools right in the middle of the beach. With the movements of waves between seasons, Fuvahmulah experiences an annual phenomenon locally known as Bissaaveli, where the sand in the beach moves away from the shore and towards the reef, creating ‘swimming pools’ right in the middle of the beach. These pools are delightful not only to look at from above but a once-in-a-lifetime experience for visitors as Bissaaveli is rarely found on islands.
5. Revitalising mud baths in Kodakilhi
We have already mentioned that Bandaara Kilhi, one of two large water bodies that form the island, is surrounded by layers of mud. Kodakilhi is located in the wetlands surrounding Bandaara Kilhi and is a famous stop for mud baths. Locals and visitors alike like to submerge themselves in this mineral-rich mud to cool off during an exceptionally hot day, or for natural healing after a day of surfing, fishing, or diving.
Kodakilhi is one of the most Instagram-worthy places in the Fuvahmulah, so don’t forget to take lots of pictures while there.
6. Farm-fresh Local Cuisine
There are several large farms in Fuvahmulah producing fresh fruits and vegetables that create the unique cuisine found on the island. The land at this one-island atoll is extremely fertile, and some of the produce farmed here include mangoes, bananas and taro.
The local cuisine at Fuvahmulah is distinct, as mentioned earlier, so don’t forget to try the short eats and snacks while you are here. You might just be surprised to find that the same snacks you tasted elsewhere in the Maldives taste completely different in Fuvahmulah. A speciality in Fuvahmulah is Kattelhi (a type of snake mackerel), a deep-water fish, served with taro and coconut. Make sure to try a taste of this if you are ever in Fuvahmulah.
7. Fuvahmulah Nature Park and Cultural Curiosities
Fuvahmulah Nature Park is located in Dhadimagi Kilhi. This nature reserve was developed under the Climate Change Adaptation Project and funded by the European Union to promote ecotourism on the island. The boardwalk in the nature park allows you to take in panoramic views of the kilhi while also sighting beautiful birds such as moorhens, waterhens, and different species of herons. The Fuvahmulah Nature Park has facilities that allow you to rent out bicycles, canoes, and paddle boats to best enjoy the freshwater lake it is located in.
Fuvahmulah is also home to many unique cultural landmarks such as the Vasho Veu (Big Round Well) located in the Dhoondigan district – one of the last remaining vestiges of communal water wells used by ancient Maldivians. The Havitha on the island is an ancient Buddhist stupa said to promote fertility. Gemmiskiy is a mosque that was said to have been built in the 1300s, with a famous well. It has been passed down through the ages that the water from this well tastes different depending on which of the four corners of the well you retrieve it from; something that we always encourage visitors to try out.
Fuvahmulah is a city ideal for the slow life and has 20 cosy guesthouses to choose from as stay options. You can also choose to stay aboard a liveaboard and visit the city for a day or two of adventure.
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