The Maldives. The place conjures images of white sand, crystal clear waters and luxury resorts. The first resort opened in 1972 and since then tourism has flourished with now more than 105 foreign backed resort islands ranging in price from $50 to $30,000 per night.
These 105 islands together with another 95 local and fishing islands make up the 200 inhabited islands of the Maldives - still dwarfed by the 1,800 uninhabited islands.
One island has a unique history, once a resort throughout the 80’s and 90’s, now being reclaimed by nature; the island of Villingillivaru (Villivaru).
18 miles south of Male International Airport, originally the sister resort of Biyaadhoo, Villivaru can now only be accessed by private boat. Once owned by the Indian travel company Taj Group and more recently the Sri Lankan Sunland Group it has lay abandoned for several years.
To some, who spent honeymoons, significant birthdays and first holidays there in the 80’s and 90’s memories of the island are bittersweet, as its decline shrouded in corruption, multimillion dollar deals and mismanagement means the are unable to return.
Photos from April 2016
Access to the island by private boat revealed the original ferry jetty.
The first building we found was a beach side family bungalow covered in graffiti.
Anything left behind with value had since been looted, leaving only broken electronics, old furniture and plastic bottles.
As the Maldives is a muslim country most all islands will have a mosque. Construction was underway on Villivaru before its abandonment, as a part of the construction left behind was an incomplete mosque.
The 2-storey main complex would have housed a restaurant and lobby. Structurally it was still sturdy.
Signs of life
While we saw no one, there were signs of people squatting on the island.
The amount of plastic both left behind and washed up on the the beach was jaw dropping.
In order to get the picture perfect pristine beaches the Maldives is best know for, resort employees will constantly be cleaning the beaches. Left alone coconut shells, driftwood and a lot of plastic will washed onto the shore.
More information on Villivaru