And when you think you have it all planned and figured out for your 2 months travel to Bali, you end up finding yourself on a local island in the heart of the Maldives volunteering during Christmas Vacation at a Marine Conservation Centre. Now check that off your bucket list :)) Long story short: one volcano erupting in Bali, one flight ticket canceled and 3 days before departure I found myself with no destination to go. My mum as smart and lovely as she always is asked me directly: “why don’t you go to that turtle program you found in the Maldives? You always wanted to volunteer abroad and since you came back from your last Bali adventure you just talk about turtles ALL the time”.
Half a day later I had the plane ticket booked, paperwork done, insurance signed, ready to pack and hit the Maldives within the next days. The standard procedure is planed in advance and takes some time, but those amazing devoted volunteers in the Maldives made it possible for me to join right away. The island where I was supposed to go was 3 hours away by boat from the capital Malé and it was called Naifaru. It is an island populated by locals and host the Atoll Marine Centre, a conservation centre for marine life. Their main programs are for turtle conservation, coral monitoring and Clown Fish breeding.
Those 2 weeks passed by like a dream cut out of one of those 1001 nights. The 3 hours small boat ride through the heart of the Indian Ocean, the atolls, the local markets with fruits I have never seen before, living on a small local island with own culture and tradition, everything was more than fascinating. And then there was the tropical island life with it´s own time ticking and rhythm. The day were always warm, the streets with sand, late night activities and very quiet mornings, amazing sunsets. I was really content being there and being lucky enough to witness all of this beauty and marvelous experiences.
The days volunteering at the Atoll Marine Centre had pretty much the same structure and offered a sweet island life routine. In the morning we went directly to the center to say “Hy” to the turtles there, had breakfast in the bar next door, then made breakfast for the turtles and cleaned some tanks, sometimes got visitors at the center to show and teach about marine life. After the morning shift we went to lunch and had some free time to wander around, interact with the locals and the local culture, shop or whatever suited us during the hot midday. The afternoon came with “ocean time” with the marine biologists and other volunteers and it involved coral monitoring in the ocean or swimming with Nadia an injured turtle. The day ended with an amazing sunset (see for yourself in the post Maldives in 14 sunsets ), then it was dinner time with funny table games. 🙂
And then there was resort day. The day you get to live the high life of the Maldives you see only in internet pictures and travel brochures. Kuredu is the resort that accommodated us that day, being also a supporter of Atoll Marine Centre’s Programs. Having one of the best diving spots in the Maldives it guarantees you to see turtles in their natural habitat. That was the place I did one of the best snorkels of my life seeing 2 green turtles, 1 hawksbill turtle, 1 reef shark, banks of unicorn fishes, parrot fishes, many Dory fishes (blue tang) and not Dory (blue Surgeonfish) and even a trigger fish that followed us to protect his territory.
All in all it was a once in a lifetime experience, an unforgettable and memorable adventure that I will for sure tell stories to my grand children.
A T O L L M A R I N E C E N T R E http://atollmarinecentre.com
A T O L L V O L U T E E R S http://www.atollvolunteers.com
Feel free to like and share and let me know if you have any questions regarding any volunteering programs with the Atoll Marine Centre in the Maldives.
Spreading travel love, yours, Ioana <3