When it comes to embracing sustainability and conservation, Soneva Fushi, a luxury resort nestled in the Maldives’ Baa Atoll, has always been ahead of the curve. As a lifestyle writer who frequently covers the world of travel and hospitality, I’m delighted to share the news of Soneva Fushi’s latest groundbreaking venture: the launch of the AquaTerra center.

Soneva Science Center

For those who cherish the beauty of the ocean and the land, the AquaTerra center is a beacon of hope. This state-of-the-art conservation, education, and science facility elevates the resort’s ongoing commitment to understanding, conserving, and regenerating the surrounding natural environment. Soneva Fushi is known for its focus on sustainability, and with AquaTerra, the resort is taking that dedication to new heights.

Soneva Fushi overhead shot of AquaTerra

The AquaTerra center serves as the hub for the resort’s conservation efforts, which include the Soneva Foundation Coral Restoration Program. The center has a twofold mission: education and scientific research. Through inspiring experiences, AquaTerra educates Soneva’s guests about the local ecosystem. In addition, the center hosts cutting-edge scientific research through partnerships with universities and visiting scientists.

Sonu Shivdasani, co-founder and CEO of Soneva, was recently honored as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to tourism, sustainability, and charity. He passionately spoke about Soneva’s vision: “At Soneva, we will never stop striving to be more sustainable and continue to pioneer initiatives that protect our natural environment and precious resources.” He further emphasized that AquaTerra provides guests with unparalleled experiences and learning opportunities, while also strengthening the resort’s own conservation efforts by facilitating collaboration with scientists from around the world.

The Soneva Foundation establishes the Maldives first coral spawning and rearing lab at Soneva Fushi

At the heart of AquaTerra is the Soneva Foundation Coral Restoration Program. Launched in 2021, this program aims to restore the coral reef systems around Soneva Fushi and create a coral hub for the Maldives. In collaboration with Swiss environmental organization Coralive, the project uses Mineral Accretion Technology (MAT) to accelerate coral growth rates. The center also houses a spawning and rearing laboratory for assisted evolution and heat-resilient super corals, a 3D-Printing laboratory for coral substrate, and an upcoming micro-fragmenting laboratory to produce up to 100,000 corals per year.

Soneva Science Center mosquito traps

Beyond marine conservation, the AquaTerra center supports Soneva’s Terrestrial Biology team in their innovative projects. This includes efforts to eliminate mosquitoes at Soneva’s Maldivian island resorts through sustainable mosquito management traps, avoiding harmful chemical fogging. The team is also tackling the issue of hairy caterpillars on the islands’ Indian almond trees by collaborating with McGill University in Canada and the Canadian National Research Institute on a hyperspectral mapping project, utilizing neem oil and agricultural drones.

Soneva Fushi's AquaTerra grand opening team

One of the most remarkable aspects of AquaTerra is its ability to provide guests with a unique opportunity to contribute directly to the conservation of the reef ecosystem. For a starting price of US $1,000, guests can adopt a coral table, which will play a pivotal role in regenerating the reef over the next decade. These tables are an integral part of the Coral Restoration Program, and each table is personalized with a carved name tag. Sponsors receive a certificate and an exclusive photo of their coral table, serving as a lasting reminder of their contribution to this noble cause.

Student working at AquaTerra Soneva Fushi

By adopting a coral table, guests become active participants in the resort’s conservation efforts, making a tangible impact on the health and vitality of the reef. The adoption initiative also reflects Soneva Fushi’s commitment to involving its guests in meaningful experiences that connect them to the local environment and foster a sense of global responsibility.

Soneva Fushi’s AquaTerra center is more than just a conservation facility—it is a testament to the resort’s vision of a world where sustainability, education, and scientific research are seamlessly integrated into the luxury travel experience. Whether through the Soneva Foundation Coral Restoration Program, the use of cutting-edge technology to protect terrestrial ecosystems, or the educational opportunities offered to young Sonevians and visiting scientists, AquaTerra is paving the way for a brighter, greener future.

Soneva Fushi’s AquaTerra center invites us to embrace the spirit of conservation, to explore the wonders of the natural world, and to be inspired by the possibilities of what we can achieve when we come together in pursuit of a more sustainable future.

As an avid travel writer who has witnessed the transformative power of sustainable tourism, I am both excited and hopeful for what AquaTerra represents. It is a beacon of hope, a center of innovation, and a model for resorts and destinations around the world.