Kuramathi, Naturally Maldives
current weather - Sat 30 Aug 2014 17:09
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Nature Walks

Botanic Walk

The Botanic Walk is where you will find an array of interesting plants in a long yet informative pathway. Edible plants, plants used for its medicinal value, plants rich in fragrance and those used for its ornamental properties are few floras you shall find along this walk.

Nature Trail

The Nature Trail is set on an untouched area of tropical Maldivian forest. A winding pathway exposes you to a Maldivian rainforest where interesting sites are set throughout including a seed station, decomposition station and a dedicated area to showcase the “lifecycle” of a coconut.

Hermit Crab Walk

The Hermit Crab Walk is a circular walk, where you find plenty of these wonderful marine crustaceans. An information board is set up explaining more about this adorable little crab. This is a great experience for both kids and adults alike.

Hydroponics Garden

Set in the heart of the Kuramathi, the Hydroponics Garden is a remarkable facility which caters 70% of fresh salads to the food outlets on the island. The garden which runs by a greenhouse system consisting of 20 greenhouses produces herbs such as coriander, arugula, mint, green basil, purple basil, dill, sage and lemongrass. This efficient and eco friendly method facilitates rapid harvesting where plants grow within a month’s time, under the careful supervision of our resident horticulturist.

Plants of Kuramathi

The island of Kuramathi has a huge variety of plants, yet most of them are introduced by humans, like in most Maldivian islands. The estimated number of plant species one can find on the island is 200 and of these plants 40 species can be considered local. The relatively poor original diversity of plants is due to the geographical isolation and marine environment of the Maldives islands. Few species are able to tolerate salt, drought, floods and nutrient-poor soils.

Coconut Palm, Cocos nucifera, Dhivehi Ruh

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The Coconut Palm is one of the most valuable plants of the Indian and Pacific Ocean and it may live as long as 100 years! It is a primary source of food, drink and shelter. Basically all the parts of the tree are used: the trunk provides wood, the leaves are used to make baskets and roofing thatch, palm wine (“toddy”) is extracted from its sugar sap, the nut meat can be eaten raw or shredded and dried and is used in most Maldivian recipes. Also, its meat is a source of coconut oil.

The fruits weigh 1-2 kg and coconuts float on the water because of the thick outside layer of fibrous husk. This way it can be carried long distances by water while keeping its ability to germinate for a long time. Taking this together with its ability to tolerate salt, this plant is one of the most important colonizing species.

Fan Flower or Sea Lettuce, Scaevola taccada, Magoo

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This bushy, low branching shrub grows up to 3m tall. It grows preferably on the seashore and is one of the most common plants on the island. The leaves are succulent, the white flowers look like a fan, hence the common name. This shrub is an important component of beach vegetation. It requires full sun for good growth and it is highly tolerant to drought and salt spray. Its fruits are buoyant and thus allow it colonize beaches easily.

Beach Heliotrope, Tournefortia argentea, Boashi

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The Coconut Palm is one of the most valuable plants of the Indian and Pacific Ocean and it may live as long as 100 years! It is a primary source of food, drink and shelter. Basically all the parts of the tree are used: the trunk provides wood, the leaves are used to make baskets and roofing thatch, palm wine (“toddy”) is extracted from its sugar sap, the nut meat can be eaten raw or shredded and dried and is used in most Maldivian recipes. Also, its meat is a source of coconut oil.

The fruits weigh 1-2 kg and coconuts float on the water because of the thick outside layer of fibrous husk. This way it can be carried long distances by water while keeping its ability to germinate for a long time. Taking this together with its ability to tolerate salt, this plant is one of the most important colonizing species.

Iron Wood, Pemphis acidula, Kuredhi

IronwoodIronwood-(1)

This dense shrub with small white flowers grows on seashores, frequently together with the Sea Lettuce and Beach Heliotrope. It is slow growing and can reach a height of 4-6m. It is one of the most favoured timbers in the Maldives. It is very hard, heavy, strong and durable and resistant to wood-boring molluscs and termites. It is used for boat building, for carved objects, toys and other handicrafts.

Seashore Screw Pine, Pandanus tectorius, Kashikeyo

ScrewpineScrewpine

These trees are either male or female and females produce large segmented fruits, somewhat resembling a pineapple. Ripe fruits are fragrant, healthy and can be eaten raw or cooked. The fibrous nature of the fruit can even serve as natural dental floss!

Banyan Tree, Ficus benghalensis, Nika

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The Banyan Tree is a more than 30m high fig tree with an unusual growth habit. A fig-eating bird deposits the seed on another tree, so it is starting life as a seedling on top of another tree. Afterwards, the roots descend over the trunk and branches of the host towards the soil. Where the rapidly growing fig roots cross each other they fuse, squeezing the host to death. The Ficus benghalensis has several medicinal uses and is used in treating fever, inflammations and leprosy.

On Kuramathi you can find one of the biggest Banyan Trees of the Maldives. Its age is estimated to be 300 years.

Papaya, Carica papaya, Falho

The Papaya is an evergreen small tree originally from southern Mexico, but it is now present in every (sub) tropical country. The fruits (and leaves) contain a substance which helps digestion and is used to tenderize meat. The edible seeds have a spicy flavour somewhat alike that of black pepper.

Breadfruit Tree, Artocarpus altilis, Ban’bukeyo

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This tree is native to Indonesia and New Guinea and nowadays grows in all tropical regions. The green breadfruit is large, bowling ball-sized, usually yellow-green with hard starchy white flesh. Its fruits are eaten fresh cooked (usually baked or boiled). It is also used to make popular ‘chips’ by deep frying thin slices.

Banana Plant, Musa paradisiaca, Dhonkeyo

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As Banana plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy, they are often mistaken for trees, but the ‘stem’ of Banana plants are made from the leftovers of overlapping leaves. Banana plants are well known for their seedless fruits, the banana. Although most (European) people usually eat the dessert bananas, also another banana type exists, the green cooking banana. Here is an interesting fact: bananas grow sticking up, not hanging down!

Animals of Kuramathi

Due to its big size and lush vegetation Kuramathi is also home for a number of terrestrial animals. Walking through the island you will see and hear some of them. They include noisy birds, colourful lizards, fast crabs and Flying Foxes.

Land Hermit Crab, Coenobita variabilis, Baraveli

Hermit-Crab

Hermit crabs utilise the shells of (sea) snails to live in, since they cannot grow shells themselves. This means that, as the hermit crab grows, it has to find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. We should not collect shells, because they are essential as home for the hermit crabs. They eat vegetation, hunt insects, scavenge and in some areas the big ones eat the small ones.

Ghost Crab, Ocypode ceratophthalmus, Kakuni

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These crabs are sand-coloured and highly active at night, hence the common name. They live on sandy beaches where they make deep burrows. The juveniles are extremely fast moving and nearly invisible over sand. Fully grown Ghost Crabs have a carapace size of 40mm. They are unmistakable with eyestalks bearing straight horns above the eyes. They are scavengers, but also feed on bivalve molluscs and will attack and eat turtle hatchlings.

House Gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus, Hoanu

Gecko

The House Gecko is a native of south-eastern Asia and the northern parts of Africa. The nocturnal geckos can be seen climbing walls of houses and other buildings in search of insects attracted by light. They grow to a length between 7-15 cm and live for about five years. This gecko is very adaptable and may prey on insects and spiders. Like many geckos, this species can lose its tail when alarmed.

Oriental Garden Lizard, Calotes versicolor, Bon’du

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The lizards are day active and are often found scampering around to snatch up their favourite food, insects and small vertebrates. In the breeding season males develop a red throat to attract females. Also, they are able to see several things at ones, since their eyes can rotate independently. Agamid lizards shed their skin and do not drop their tail, like most other lizard species.

White-Breasted Waterhen, Amaurornis phoenicurus, Dhivehi Kanbili

This secretive waterhen is usually heard before it is seen. It is a noisy bird, especially at dawn and dusk with a loud ruak ruak call. The birds mostly live in pairs and during the breeding time (June-October) the hens make their nest on low lying trees. It may lay 4 to 7 eggs at a time.

Asian Koel, Eudynamis scolopacea, Koveli

Asian-Koel

The Koel is the noisiest bird on the island. The sound starts before dawn and is rising to a manic ko-el, ko-el, ko-el. The bird also produces various gurgles and shrieks. It belongs to the cuckoo family and is a brood parasite of crows. Females and juveniles are dark grey-brown and spotted whitish. Males are all black with a long tail and ruby red eyes. The Koel eats mainly fruit but also robs birds’ nests.

Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea, Maakanaa

Grey-Heron

This large, grey and black bird inhabits all types of inland and coastal waters. During flight is the neck retracted and the feet are extended. It breeds colonially high up in trees. It feeds mainly standing hunched and motionless, waiting to spear prey with its powerful bill. The Grey Heron takes mainly fish, but also incautious waterbirds and mammals as well as amphibians.

Fruit Bat or Flying Fox, Pteropus giganteus, Vaa

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Characteristically, all species of flying foxes only feed on nectar, blossom, pollen, and fruit, which explains their limited tropical distribution. They do not possess echolocation, such as the Microbats to locate and catch prey such as insects in mid-air. Instead, smell and eyesight are very well-developed in flying foxes. Feeding ranges can reach up to 40 miles. When it locates food, the flying fox “crashes” into foliage and grabs for it. It may also attempt to catch hold of a branch with its hind feet, then swing upside down — once attached and hanging, the fox draws food to its mouth with one of its hind feet or with the clawed thumbs at the top of its wings.

This mammal produces live young and adults can get a wing span of 1.2 m (5 feet)!