Keyodhoo is a small, beautiful island located in Vaavu Atoll – often referred to as WOW Atoll by open-mouthed tourists experiencing the natural beauty of the atoll for the first time. The island, home to about 700 residents, is about 1 ½ hours (79km) away from Velana International Airport and the Capital City Male’ by speedboat. Fishing was the main source of income for Keyodhoo but starting from 2012 they have expanded to adopt local island tourism (classified as guesthouses by the government). Currently there are eight guesthouses, plus dive schools, located on the island, ready to welcome tourists.
Geographically, Keyodhoo has a lot to offer for travelers of all types and interests. Most tourists want to relax and enjoy the natural wonders of a peaceful tropical island. The warm weather, the shallow lagoons teeming with marine life, and the white sandy beaches provide this in spades. A designated private beach area is available for guests, and since it’s the tropics, bring your suntan or sunblock lotion. If you prefer having a drink while watching the spectacular sunsets paint the skies in incredible colors from the comfort of your sunbed at the beach, this is the place for you as the private beach offers the best view of the island’s spectacular sunsets. It’s an Instagrammers dream come true. The island has a limited number of motorized vehicles – just 2 or 3 motorcycles and an ambulance – so the sound of winds and waves, the rustle of palm trees, and birdcalls; that’s the background noise you will have to get accustomed to during your stay.
Even in Maldives, Vaavu atoll is famous for its fishing… and Keyodhoo, traditionally a fishing island, has everything to offer for even the most adventurous and discerning fishing enthusiast. Let’s just say it is rare for anyone to ever return from a fishing trip in Keyodhoo empty handed. After all, fisherman from various islands in the atoll catch over 3000 in various tuna species daily, selling them at the fish market in the capital city. Keyodhoo is also one of the very first islands to export reef fish – grouper to be exact – to countries like Hong Kong and Japan. It is a common sight for even locals to visit Keyodhoo just to experience the night-fishing and even big game fishing right alongside excited tourists.
Keyodhoo residents have embraced their roles as hosts easily, their innate caring and hospitable nature coming to the fore in a remarkable way that leaves guests with a warm fuzzy feeling that reminds them of home. Most of the locals have learned various foreign languages in an effort to make their guests’ stay more comfortable; English and Italian are the most widely spoken. According to a local guesthouse owner, Italian is the most spoken foreign language in the entire atoll, surpassing even English! The reason could be that numerous locals have worked in resorts located within the atoll – Alimatha Resort and Dhiggiri Island Resort. In fact, an Italian woman and her daughter, Orietta and Claudia, together with the help of the residents of Keyodhoo, wrote a fantastic cookbook about the Maldivian cuisine called “Taste of Maldives”. It’s not just a book with recipes though, but a real tribute to their love for the country and the island which made them so welcome. The book is lavishly decorated with incredible photos, not just of the recipes and dishes, but also filled with anecdotes of their amazing time in Keyodhoo and the people they met, and the lives they led.
If you feel like taking a break from fishing, for whatever reason, Keyodhoo has other activities that could help you stay active. Although football is the number one sport in Maldives, Keyodhoo residents are really passionate about volleyball and have lifted volleyball trophies in a number of local tournaments across the country. And it’s not just the men; it is common to see women of different ages playing volleyball as you walk around the island. Ahmed Abdul Kareem is popularly known as “Longey” (loosely translated to as the “tall guy”), and was born and raised in Keyodhoo. He is regarded as one of the most valuable volleyball players in the country. Longey has now retired from the national volleyball team, yet continues to play as a hobby and serves the nation in Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF). Keyodhoo is also home to another celebrity, Nahu. The little boy was pushed into the spotlight and rose to fame during the airings of one of the most popular shows ever shown on local TV – Maldivian Idol. Nahu played a series of commercials with Allied Insurance Company that cemented his status as a local celebrity.
Since 2012, tourism has blossomed in Keyodhoo. The entire island deserves credit for transforming from a well-established fishing village to a tourist destination. One of the most remarkable initiatives that deserves true credit is making the island plastic-free. Keyodhoo banned the use of ‘single use plastics’ 5 years ago, the second island to do so in the country. The project was launched by Guesthouses Maldives (now Local Island Tourism) a subsidiary of Orca Media Group – one of the leading marketing and media groups in Maldives. This was a phenomenal achievement, even making international headlines.
Credit for the island’s success goes to the residents, and especially the three gentlemen: Haape, Nafiu and Kubbe. All have worked tirelessly in the promotion of the island from the very first day, helping make Keyodhoo visible as a top destination on print magazines all across the world and travel websites.