Want to go on a holiday that makes a difference? Well, you may just want to check out the Maldives next.

The award-winning Vakkaru Maldives is teaming up with ocean explorer and conservationist, Oliver Steeds OBE for a week-long residency. Vakkaru Maldives’ A Deep Sea Odyssey taking place from 27 August to 2 September 2022 serves as a unique summer conservation holiday hosted by the resort and Steeds.

Set on its own white-sand island, Vakkaru is in the middle of the Baa Atoll provides the perfect setting for such an initiative. 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, it offers the perfect setting for guests to explore this fascinating underwater world.

Oliver Steeds
Ocean explorer and conservationist, Oliver Steeds

Whether its through a variety of activities including snorkelling and diving on the house reef, in blue holes or nearby Hanifaru Bay or engaging with the resort’s resident marine biologist, they will get a deeper insight into this wonderful aquatic ecosystem. Taking it a step further, the five-star resort will partner Steeds, for a week-long residency in which the conservationist will guide guests on ocean life and its conservation in the Maldives.

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. Steeds 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.

A portion of the revenue generated from the various sustainably sourced dinners and other activities hosted during Steeds’ residency at Vakkaru will go towards the Baa Atoll Conservation Fund which helps finance projects designed to conserve the environment in Baa Atoll.

An Immersive Nature Program

Vakkaru Maldives reef

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. A Deep Sea Odyssey will also 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 Steeds 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.

Part of the program will also include guided beach walks to discover the island’s land and seascape. There will also be two sea-going expeditions, on board a yacht and speedboat, which will take guests to various stop-offs around the atoll to snorkel or dive with Steeds 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.

A portion of revenue generated from the various sustainably sourced dinners and other activities hosted during Steeds’ 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.

Ahead of his upcoming residency in Vakkaru Maldives, we touch base with Oliver Steeds to find out what else guests can expect and the importance of ocean conservation.

What can guests look forward to in this upcoming residency?

We’ve so much planned. Diving and snorkelling trips to explore and discover ocean life, all the extraordinary animals that live beneath the surface; kids camps to learn about coral, reefs and how to be a submersible pilot and lead deep sea missions… and then a series of unique evening events from talks about exploring the ocean from the surface to full ocean depth (11,000metres down) to special movie nights on the beach.

Why is Vakkaru Maldives the perfect place to highlight the importance of conservation?

Oliver Steeds Nekton
Oliver Steeds is the founder and mission director of Nekton

Maldives is on the frontline of the climate and biodiversity crises. Maldivians have done so little to cause these crises but are in the crosshairs of its impact. Maldives is 99% ocean and the average height above sea level is one and half metres. And Vakkaru is in the heart of an UNESCO Biosphere, one of the most biodiverse parts of the global ocean. It’s a beacon that shows us what a healthy ocean should look like it.

Why is ocean conservation so important in our current climate?

The ocean regulates our planet’s climate, along with our planet’s chemistry, producing oxygen and cycling carbon. The ocean makes life possible on Earth and yet it remains the least known part of our planet and the least protected. The science is clear – we are facing an existential crisis and protecting the ocean is critical to our survival.

What more needs to be done to highlight the importance of conservation in your opinion?

For many the ocean is out of sight and out of mind. The surface of the sea is like a mirror to the sky. We need to find innovative ways for more and more people to witness the ocean, because if we can fall in love with the ocean, we will want to protect it.

Your thoughts on resorts like Vakkaru who are advocating important issues like conservation?

Vakkaru are guardians and gatekeepers to the ocean. As guests visit, they have the opportunity to learn about the wonder, vitality and importance of the ocean. We all have a responsibility to help and we need thousands more like Vakkaru to step up.

Personally, what are you most looking forward to with this upcoming residency?

Vakkaru Maldives Baa Atoll
Vakkaru is in the middle of the Baa Atoll

The opportunity to show my kids how awesome the ocean is – join them on snorkel trips off the beach and off the boats and see how many different species we can discover. And see how they react when they learn that the sand on the beaches are very rare and made of parrot fish poo, from crunching up coral (the majority of beach sand elsewhere in the world is quartz).

What are you hoping guests come away with following this experience?

A new or renewed passion for the ocean, a sense of hope that if we act now at speed and scale, we can protect our ocean for future generations.

Oliver Steeds upcoming residency at Vakkaru Maldives takes place from 27 August to 2 September 2022. This will serve as a precursor to him leading the Maldives Mission in September. Guests will stay a minimum of six nights at Vakkaru Maldives during Oliver Steeds’ residency. Prices start from US$1,185++ per night in an Overwater Villa. 

(Images: Vakkaru Maldives)

written by.
Richard Augustin
Former chef turned writer; Richard has tip-toed around the publishing industry for two decades. When not busy chasing deadlines, you can still find him experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.

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