Eco-minded escape: A look at Velaa Private Island Maldives’ groundbreaking sustainability initiatives

When Radka & Jiří Šmejc first dreamed up Velaa Private Island Maldives, they envisioned an ultra-luxury playground that was in harmony with its environment. Situated in the untouched Noonu Atoll, a 45-minute seaplane ride from Male, this tropical hideaway is grounded in a deep respect for the planet, from the eco-minded architecture and design, to housing one of the largest coral restoration programmes in the Maldives. Discover why Velaa Private Island is flying the flag for sustainable, high-end stays in the Maldives.

Restoring the reef

As custodians of this precious patch of Planet Earth, Radka & Jiří are passionate about giving back to the environment. A key contribution is the development of one of the largest coral restoration programmes in the Maldives. Overseen by a team of dedicated marine biologists, the Velaa Coral Project is revitalising the underwater world surrounding the resort, resulting in steady growth over the past three years. By fitting the reefs with the latest Biorock technology, along with increasing stress resistance in the corals, Velaa expects to further restore 10 per cent of its house reef in the coming year.

Visitors to the island can take a guided snorkel or scuba diving tour of the coral gardens with the resident coral biologist to learn more about the work being done and the role coral plays in supporting a healthy marine ecosystem. Guests can also adopt an individual coral line to add to Velaa’s intrinsic rainforest of corals, receiving a coral adoption certificate and biannual updates on their coral’s development. You can learn more about this inspiring programme on the Velaa Coral Project’s Instagram channel,

Giving back to the local community

Velaa Private Island isn’t just giving back to the local environment – they’re supporting their Noonu Atoll community, too. Launched in 2021, the Fehikuramaa initiative helps local Maldivian communities improve their environmental practices. Last year’s focus was on improving waste management practices via awareness, training, and support. This year, Fehikuramaa has its sights on ocean pollution and the importance of maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. The initiative has installed 30 water purification and cooling systems in local public schools, giving communities easier access to clean water. Volunteers have also carried out accredited swimming instructor courses, teaching 113 students how to swim.

In announcing the initiative, Wayne Milgate, General Manager of Velaa Private Island, said: “Fehikuramaa in Dhivehi language broadly means ‘Let’s make the environment greener’, and that’s precisely what we hope to achieve. One of the biggest takeaways from the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference is the consensus that all nations need to do much more if we want to move towards a greener planet.”

“We believe that we all need to be part of the solution and know that the Fehikuramaa project will help local communities to adopt the best waste disposal and management practices, and improve the health of our ocean. We are grateful to live and work in this beautiful part of the world and are driven to bring about change and help preserve the beauty of the Maldivian islands.”

In harmony with nature

Designed by award-winning Czech architect Petr Kolar of ADR, Velaa Private Island is “an elegant fusion of Maldivian culture with contemporary luxury, intimate with Maldivian nuances”, that has been thoughtfully constructed to celebrate and protect the surrounding environment. Natural and traditional materials have been tastefully incorporated into the villas and communal spaces, including the use of local palm leaves for the thatched roof coverings. Spanning the size of 25 football fields, the island has been extensively planted with local flora to create a lush, flourishing environment that is itself a microcosm of the Maldives.

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