In North Nilande Atoll (South of Male) - 35 minutes by sea plane from Male airport. Now, that is fun.
Filitheyo is by Maldivian standards not a small atoll - but is still only 900 metres long and 500 metres
wide. A week was about right.
Accommodation mid-range, totally fine with nice 'ethnic' appearance and feel.
buffet, plus some cooked 'while you wait', a wide variety and very good. Two bars, both offering
a two-hour, 'happy hour'.
There are slightly better Maldivian reefs but snorkelling is good here. There
is quite an area to snorkel and visibility tends to be good.
The snorkelling plus the onshore ambience makes this a very good destination.
Fish are the main attraction versus the coral/ sponges - excellent number and variety of fish.
Reef access points have been introduced.
Access is quite easy. Walk across the island from the restaurant/ bar area to
area shown on the map below as 'good snorkelling'.
Current - direction varies, off the North beach.
Check the current, walk to your
chosen end and wander in at signposted access point. If current looks strong just wait a bit for it
The best snorkelling area is a nice, extensive, house reef where visibility is usually good.
Near exits 7 and 8 (map below), from a nice snorkeling depth of just a few metres there is a drop-off from
which larger fish appear.
Very worthwhile half-day snorkel excursion by boat. Covers three good drift dives over near-surface
atolls with excellent visibility.
These group excursions don't suit photography. `You can get left behind when the boat
departs because you've dawdled while taking photographs! I saw a very close call.
Filitheyo Island Resort
Very good here - fish varied and quite prolific.
Hang around a few outcrops and the fish start coming to you.
No beach at this side
advised not to go in here
strong currents apparently.
Reasonably deep beyond villas
so didn't entice us to explore.
Mainly sandy area....
Not a patch on the opposite side
busy with swimmers and boats.
(captions below needn't be read as you will have seen them with the gallery pictures -
repeated below so are visible to Google/ search engines)
captions to Filitheyo 'fish and critters' gallery pictures
captions to left 'fish' thumbnails
- critically endangered - the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) diving into the drop-off at the
western end of the north beach - near exit 5 - can be extremely approachable so resist touching pleas
- Brown butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleinii) - less common than some other butterflyfish - 12cm. Initially
shy but got used to my hanging around after about 10 minutes
- Scribbled leatherjacket filefish (Aluterus scriptus) - not seen this guy before - swimming over drop-off
- commonly 55cm (can be bigger) - interesting habit of jamming itself into a crevass when alarmed
- Phantom bannerfish (Heniochus pleurotaenia) - up to 17cm - often hide under overhangs but this pair was out
and about - reasonably common although often have to look under coral etc. to find them
- photogenic, quite common grouper - the Peacock rock cod (Cephalopholis argus) - up to 45cm - usually keeps
moving amongst the coral so can be challenging to get a good shot
- Spotted butterflyfish (Chaetodon guttatissimus) - length 10cm - browsing coral - initially skittish but
settled down - another case of hanging around in the same spot paying dividends
- Sabre squirrelfish (Sargocentron spiniferum) - near exit 8 outcrop - the largest squirrelfish at 45cm -
unusually out and about during the day - often found under coral overhangs - easy to photo
- Humpback snapper (Lutjanus gibbus) up to 45cm - in the drop-off - we also saw amongst coral - but didn't
see often - was always solitary and quite wary. Apparently also schools
captions to Filitheyo 'seascape' gallery pictures
captions to right 'critters' thumbnails
- easy to spot, beautiful, small (4cm/ 1.6in), tube-dwelling, Christmas-tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus)
- various colours - worm burrows into living coral - plumes are for catching food and for respiration
- Edible sea cucumber (Holothuria edulis) Edible? Really? Apparently so!
Reasonable sized 'meal' up to 30cm Take your time, it doesn't go anywhere fast Hoovers detritus up
from the bottom
- easy to spot, stunning, small (4cm/ 1.6in), tube-dwelling, Christmas-tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus) -
- Bristle coral (galaxea fascicularis) - can grow up to 3 metres. A small example, apparently typical of
the Maldives. IUCN reports that this coral is 'near threatened' - definitely not common on our visit
- Secret coral (Favites abdita), up to a metre across - with soft didemnums (didemnum molle) below -
didemnums 2.5cm/ 1" across. Internal green from blue-algae living symbiotically within this sea squirt
- in-cushion sea star (Culcita schmideliana) - unusually a sea star without arms
- not any great size but called a Large giant clam
- possibly a red algae generating oxygen bubbles in the sunlight
captions to left 'seascape' thumbnails
- a variety of corals at the edge of the drop off
- setting up camp near this outcrop meant normally shy fish completely ignored me
- an encouraging sign of coral regeneration
- new coral growth (nosey coral?) and soft didemnums
- several new corals on this outcrop
- two nice corals (Verrucose pocillopora?)
- nice corals, triggerfish had become so used to me he was simply showing off
captions to the Filitheyo Island resort gallery pictures
captions to right 'seascape' thumbnails
- pair of rabbitfish doing their usual thing, ie scarpering towards the drop-off
- the main outcrop near exit 8 with the strongest currents which attracts all sorts of fish
- another time - different fish, including Sweetlips, a Squirrelfish and Yellow-tail basslets around the
exit 8 outcrop - just snorkel here and let everything come to you
- yet a different mix of fish at the exit 8 outcrop - a lot of brassy rudderfish
- Schooling bannerfish are predominant around this outcrop
- the outcrop, this time with orange-finned emperors, brassy rudderfish and schooling bannerfish
- yet more fish around the exit 8 outcrop, a squirrelfish is very clear
- schooling bannerfish this time in much shallower waters - normally are over drop-off
- a nice selection of corals next to the drop-off
captions to left 'resort' thumbnails
- early morning seaplane departure
- Male below - the capital city of just over 100,00 people, maximum of 2.4 metres above sea level.
Republic of the Maldives - the lowest country on the planet - a population of about a third of a million
- aerial view of Filitheyo - over-water bungalows obvious on the left - best snorkeling is where the reef
is narrowest ie the top of the island in this shot
- a clear sense of humour& with;the sign on the seaplane pontoon
- 10 minute boat transfer from seaplane pontoon to Filitheyo - so you want to head straight back to a
European winter do you?
- es - that little pagoda-shaped building on the right is the main jetty - entry through the coral is
- south side of the island - there are much better places to snorkel
- over-water bungalows done in a nice, ethnic style, typical of Filitheyo
- this island is large enough to spend 5 minutes crossing it through the trees - small Filitheyo might be but
a reasonable size by Maldivian standards
- a few villas amongst the trees on the northern side
- villa porch - not flash but very nice
captions to right 'resort' thumbnails
- the central food area where some food is cooked while you wait plus there is a large, buffet-style selection
- the food is good and the selection should suit most tastes
- one of the three wings which come off the central food area (as does the kitchen) - the design ensures a
spacious feel - note the natural, ethnic design - essentially Filitheyo
- another view of one of the restaurant wings - ;the restaurant never seemed full (although the resort itself
was full at the time, without feeling as if it was)
- the garden bar - quieter than the pool bar
- infinity pool, strategically placed close to the pool bar
- the bar and adjacent pool - ;serves light food here as well
- the best snorkelling is off here as the current is sped up here being funnelled by an adjacent atoll -
the current can make our photography difficult but there are great fish here