Faafu Atoll Maldives – Idyllic Beauty and Spectacular Diving
Poets of long have forgotten to sing of the beauty of the undersea world, except for some wildly imaginative stuff upon mermaids. And here’s a look at why Maldives is one of those places on earth that these people would have derived their inspiration out of.
Imagine a world where there’s absolute silence except for the subtle whispers of a breeze or a quite sigh from a waves washing over coralline sand. Miles away from any sort of industrial set up, Faafu Atoll is one of the few places in the Maldives that’s only accessible by chartered seaplanes or boats, and has a handful of resorts.
Staying in a quiet guesthouse here, or just dropping by on a custom itinerary plan on some safari boats is probably the best way to experience Faafu Atoll, if you don’t have bottomless pockets like some others do, who end up visiting one of the most exclusive resorts in the Maldives, The Rania Experience.
Of course, if you want to play nice and experience the reality instead of holing up on an island with your own chef, masseuse and six bungalows and a private 86ft long yacht dubbed “Rania”, the Maldives offers just that. In fact, sitting on a homemade rope swing hung on a tree by the beach on, say, the inhabited island of Nilandhoo amounts to hmm… just about the same as doing exactly just that, superstar style.
So, what’s under the sea?
Most of the dive spots in Faafu atoll are for the experienced divers, with just one spot for beginners and a protected marine area. This means you’ll need a little bit more safety equipment, but the trade is quite worth it. Faafu atoll dive
spots offers a sense of unspoiled beauty and solitude rarely seen elsewhere in the Maldivian archipelago, or for that matter, the world.
The protected marine area in this atoll is the channel between Filitheyo island resort and an island called Maavaruhuraa. The two kilometer wide stretch of water has strong currents during changing tides, so the right timing is crucial, unless you want a bit of a challenge.
There are three dive areas here. One is the outer reef of Filitheyo island resort, another is the undersea promontory jutting out of Maavaru hura, called the Dolphin Corner. Either of these reefs can be your starting point, again, depending on the tides. In the middle, there’s the Filitheyo Thila, a beautiful reef that rises out of the middle of the floor of the channel at 35 meters depth, all the way to breaking the surface at very low tides.
The navigation around here is tricky, and some prefer to view the sites in multiple dives. The Filitheyo Island reef area is a beautiful reef with some stepping stones leading the way gracefully down to a depth of about 30 meters. Several caves are located at various depths on the south eastern façade, inhabited by batfish, a few varieties of snapper and sweetlips. The Dolphin Corner is quite similar, except that the aquatic life here is relegated to various kinds of corals, sponges and featherstars. Towards the ocean, one can see white tip reef sharks lurking about while towards the atoll on the leeward side, one can find Moorish idols, lightly colored surgeons and other gentle reef fish who take sanctuary in the gentler currents.
The main event of course, is the Filitheyo Reef. Shaped like a rectangle with a missing corner, the reef has a profusion of caves all around, populated mainly by surgeon. Below on the floor, you’ll find eagle rays and sting rays, and the schools of fish catching a break in the middle of the rectangle are a sight to behold.
And in between dives…
There are several historical places to visit in Faafu atoll. If you’re lucky enough to be on Filitheyo island resort, you’ll find an ancient graveyard not far from the reception area of the resort. One of those intricately carved headstones is the tomb of the so-called “Filitheyo Ismail”, who was believed to be a mage, of sorts. There are tales of villagers leaving tributes to the mage near his tombstone, believing that it would bring good fortune. Strangely, most of these tributes do get acknowledged by some mysterious force…
Then there’s the old mosque of Biledhdhoo island, which is believed to be built right on top of a Buddhist shrine. Also, don’t forget to check out the administrative capital of the atoll, the Nilandhoo Island. A raised area in the island once had about seven Buddhist temples, which were destroyed around the middle of the 12th century, when the idols where destroyed or buried, and the masonry was used to construct what became the second mosque ever to be built in the Maldivian islands. Some of the stonework still persist, and suggest that the religion was similar to the Hounen Fertility Festival in Japan.
The Maldivian people used to be Buddhists before all the population was converted into following the Islamic religion. Eons of relics were destroyed and hidden, in a largely successful attempt to forgetting the roots of what could possibly be one amongst the oldest civilizations on Earth.
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