The ocean surrounds Vakkaru Maldives and is one major reason many people return to the five-star resort again and again. Set on its own white-sand island, Vakkaru is in the middle of the Baa Atoll, 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. Guests are able to explore this fascinating underwater world through a variety of activities including snorkelling and diving on the house reef, in blue holes or nearby Hanifaru Bay, whilst learning about the life aquatic from the resort’s resident marine biologist.
This summer, however, Vakkaru takes a deeper dive into ocean conservation with a unique week-long residency by Oliver Steeds OBE. Oliver is a former investigative journalist and the founder and mission director of Nekton, a science-based organisation that works with ocean nations to protect the seas and increase humanity’s knowledge of marine life.
With marine conservation at the forefront of the climate-biodiversity crises, this new experience brings together a pioneering figure in environmental research with one of the Maldives’ best resorts. During the week, guests of all ages can participate in a variety of activities to learn more about ocean life and its conservation in the Maldives, with workshops, cinema screenings and two expeditions, as well as sustainably sourced dinners and cocktail evenings.
From 27 August to 2 September 2022, A Deep Sea Odyssey will include two Young Ambassadors of the Ocean workshops designed for budding coral reef scientists and aquanauts aged between 7-11 and 12-15. Hosted by Oliver at the resort’s Parrotfish and Coconut Clubs for kids, these workshops will teach youngsters about the threats to coral and what it takes to become a Mission Director running expeditions to explore the deep sea. Budding aquanauts will also learn how submersible pilots operate, and how to protect healthy coral reefs.
Oliver will also lead a beach walk for kids and adults to discover the island’s land and seascape, and draw on films from his expeditions to inspire a love for the sea and a passion to protect it. These workshops will continue to run after Oliver’s residency at the Vakkaru’s kids’ clubs respectively, as part of the resort’s commitment to offering a dynamic kids programme that informs younger generations of the importance of conserving and protecting marine life.
Two sea-going expeditions, on board a yacht and speedboat, will take guests to various stop-offs around the atoll to snorkel or dive with Oliver and Vakkaru’s resident marine biologist. During the evening, Oliver will play host to beachside movie nights, screening documentaries such as Seaspiracy, Chasing Coral and Blue Planet.
The week will begin with a cocktail evening for adults, with bespoke marine-inspired cocktails from Vakkaru’s mixology team, while two dinners – one in the island’s Organic Garden, the other by a beach bonfire - will be informal occasions to speak to Oliver and learn more about his work and passions.
A portion of revenue generated from the various sustainably sourced dinners and other activities hosted during Oliver’s residency at Vakkaru will go towards the Baa Atoll Conservation Fund which helps finance projects designed to conserve the environment in Baa Atoll, as well as support local livelihood activities.
“Exploration is the discovery of new knowledge that can help humanity move forward,’ says Oliver Steeds. ‘The ocean is the beating heart of our planet, it’s the most important part of the planet, but it’s the least known. There’s never been a more important time to explore the ocean”.
“We are honoured to welcome Oliver Steeds for a week-long residency at Vakkaru Maldives this summer,” says Vakkaru’s General Manager, Iain McCormack. “Educational and fun, A Deep Sea Odyssey will be a chance for guests to learn more about the Maldives’ beautiful marine life from a real expert in his field. And all from the luxurious comfort of our beautiful five-star resort – a truly immersive experience in the best sense. With the growing post- lockdown desire for meaningful, experiential travel, Oliver’s residency promises to be a rewarding holiday that will stay in the mind of our guests for years to come.”
Stay a minimum of six nights at Vakkaru during Oliver Steeds’ residency. Prices start from US$1,185++ per night in an Overwater Villa, inclusive of breakfast and dinner, plus complimentary stay and meals for up to two children under 12 years old.
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