Fuvahmulah – Where Are We Located
Located in the southern region of Maldives, Fuvahmulah is the only single island atoll in this island nation. The island is 4.94km2, the third largest island in Maldives, and is a mere 33 km from the Equator. Fuvahmulah takes its name after the areca nut palm, Fuvah, in the local Dhivehi language.
Why is Fuvahmulah Special
Due to the island’s distinct geography and diverse range of habitats, Fuvahmulah is on the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve listing since 2020. The island is home to seven shark species, some on the vulnerable to extinction list, and five endemic bird species. Not only that but the island also has the largest vegetation of jambul in the Maldives. Comparatively, this plant that is nearly extinct any elsewhere in the country.
Fuvahmulah - The Best Dive Sites in Maldives
Fuvahmulah, located in the south, has some of the best dive sites in Maldives for pelagic scuba diving. The distinctive geography as a solitary island and distant from other land mass brings nutrient rich ocean currents. This phenomenon creates an ideal environment for a cleaning station and nursery for a diverse range of pelagic fish.
Pelagic And Shark Diving In Maldives
The island is also fast gaining popularity as the place for the best Maldives shark diving. Fuvahmulah is believed to have the healthiest population of tiger sharks because of the island’s unique topography. To date, the island has over 200 individuals identified. As a result of this, tiger shark diving in Maldives is guaranteed at Tiger Harbour, the famous Fuvahmulah dive site.
Seven rare sharks are found at Fuvahmulah dive sites, including the elusive thresher sharks. Divers have one of the best opportunities in the world to encounter thresher sharks when shark diving in Fuvahmulah. These thresher sharks are usually in deeper waters but are drawn to the cleaning stations in the shallow waters.
In the right conditions, divers can watch in awe as schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks cruise the currents. These oddly shaped head sharks usually start to make an appearance in October and can sometimes last till April. The gentle giants of the ocean, the majestic whale sharks are also known to visit Fuvahmulah between January to May. The silver tip, grey reef and white tip sharks are some of the other shark species that complete this rich ecosystem.
Other Activities to do in Fuvahmulah
Apart from scuba diving in Fuvahmulah, the island has many other exciting activities to experience. Fuvahmulah has two nature parks with the largest freshwater lakes in Maldives. At Dhadimagi Kilhi nature park, visitors can go swimming, pedal boating or canoeing at the lake. Bicycles are also available for rent here. Bandaara Kilhi, the other nature park, is where the popular mud bath is. Both locals and visitors alike, come here to have fun and relax in the mud rich minerals.
Visitors could have a try at surfing or join the local fishermen for a fishing trip. There is a growing popularity for surfing among the community and some even take part in national level competitions. Whether you’re a beginner or have experience, there are local surf schools like Arifiyaalho that will take you surfing. Fishing is one the main revenue for the community and fishermen often go out fishing twice a day. Visitors are able to join a fishing trip for a fee and learn techniques of line fishing from them.
Things to do in Fuvahmulah – Historical Sites of Interest
For history buffs, Fuvahmulah has a few historical sites that may be of interest. Said to be the oldest ruins on the island, Havithha is the remains of a Buddhist stupa. Located in the Dhandimagu ward, North East of Fuvahmulah, it was the center of the Buddhist community pre-Islamic period. In its prime, the stupa stood at least 40 feet in height. Unfortunately due to excavation in the early 1980s, the stupa lost majority of its shape. Majority of what remains now is a mound of earth although in some parts, the original stones are still visible.
Dhandimagu was the last ward in Fuvahmulah that accepted Islam. Upon conversion to Islam, one of the temples near Haviththa was converted into a mosque – Gemmiski. This is the first mosque built in Fuvahmulah, post-Buddhist era. The tomb of Addu Meedhoo Abu Bakr Naib Kaleygefaanu, who built the mosque, is said to be within the mosque compounds. There is a rectangular well and a veu (big communal well) within the mosque area. According to legend, whoever drinks from the well will return to Fuvahmulah and the island will have special place in their heart. Although no longer distinguishable, the waters from the four corners of the well tastes different according to folklore.
Built in the 1550s, Keydere Miski is one of the older mosques in Fuvahmulah. It is located on the eastern side of the island. Construction of the mosque was by interlocking coral stones, known as Hiriga a local building method. The cemetery at the mosque also has early gravestones that were carved from coral stone.
Relaxing Like a Local
Head to the island’s popular beach, Thoodu, to enjoy some sun, fresh ocean breeze and sunsets. Rather than the usual coral grain beaches, Thoondu’s beach are small white pebbles instead. A natural phenomenon called Bissaaveli, when natural swimming pools form when the beach moves, occurs at Thoondu. During this time, locals will flock to the beach to swim in these pools.
Stop by one of the local stalls by the road to rehydrate with fresh coconuts and try some hedhika (small snacks) or areca nuts. Many of these stalls are also selling homemade savoury snacks and homegrown vegetables. What better way to engage with the local community than to support small local businesses.